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Lybeaus Desconus (Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29)


1 Blessed may he be who wrote/copied/recited [this] song/poem. Amen.

2 Hair will grow through his hood (i.e., a threadbare hood indicates poverty)

3 Here I set my pen down. I [not the pen] am blameworthy if I have written poorly.


Line references are consistent for both texts in the early part of the poem. Thereafter we have listed Lambeth (L) first followed by the corresponding line numbers in Naples (N) in parentheses; when lines are omitted in L, N is the first text referenced. Short stanzas or missing lines are noted for both manuscripts. Perhaps these omissions are deliberate or the lines could have been missing from the scribe’s copy-texts.

Abbreviations: A: Ashmole 61 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS 6922) (see Shuffelton); AND: Arthurian Name Dictionary; C: London, British Library, MS Cotton Caligula A.ii (see Mills); L: London, Lambeth Palace, MS 306; LBD: Li Biaus Descouneüs; LD: Lybeaus Desconus; LI: London, Lincoln’s Inn, MS 150 (formerly known as Lincoln’s Inn, MS Hale 150) (see Cooper); MED: Middle English Dictionary; N: Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS XIII.B.29; NAE: Lacy, New Arthurian Encyclopedia; ODOS: Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of Saints; P: London, British Library, MS Additional 27879 (Percy Folio); SGGK: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Shuffelton: Codex Ashmole 61.

Incipit L: A tretys of one Gyngelayne othir wyse namyd by Kyng Arthure Lybeus Dysconeus that was bastard son to Sir Gaweyne. This extended incipit in L is unique among the extant manuscripts. N: Libious Disconious.

1–6 The invocation to Christ and his mother is conventional and appears to include the audience in its storytelling. Renaut de Bâgé’s poem begins with an encomium to the poet’s lady: “Cele qui m’a en sa baillie / cui ja d’amors sans trecerie / m’a doné sens de cançon faire — por li veul un roumant estraire / d’un molt biel conte d’aventure” (For my sovereign lady I have written and sung of a love that knows no false­hood, according to the direction she gave. Now I wish to compose a romance for her from a beautiful tale of adventure) (Le Bel Inconnu, lines 1–5). The substi­tution of the Virgin Mary in the English version underscores similarities between religious discourse and the quasi-religious discourse of courtly love, marking perhaps a shift in emphasis toward piety. The Virgin is the recipient of a number of pleas in the poem, most notably when the maiden Violet is abducted and about to be assaulted by two giants.

4 L: That lysteneth of a conquerour. N: That listenith of a conquerour. The cues of oral poetry are retained, even though this is a late version of the poem; the oral story­telling tradition and minstrelsy are particularly strong in both L and N. Musical instruments, the dwarf’s ability to entertain as well as to advise, and several musical allusions draw attention to the debt that metrical poetry and music owe to each other. See Zaerr, “Music and Magic.” Purdie notes that the rhymes “conqueror/warrior” appear also in the opening of Otuel and Roland (Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111); see Otuel and Roland, lines 3, 11.

7 L: His name was Sir Gyngelayne. N: His name was hote Gyngeleyn. L’s manner of naming the protagonist “Sir Gyngelayne” has the effect of legitimating the natural son of Gawain by dubbing him a knight, whereas N does not. The moniker “Lybeaus Desconus” (spelled in various ways in Lambeth and Naples) is later bequeathed upon the hero by Arthur for practical purposes (see L, N, line 80), an act marked by a marginal note in L. In Renaut’s poem, the hero’s name is not revealed until the end.

7–30 The story of the hero’s enfances in Renaut’s text enters the narrative after the defeat of the enchanters (Mills, p. 42). In LBD, however, the events of the “enfances” differ from the English versions. Following the fier baiser, the disembodied voice of la Pucele as Mains Blancs (the Maiden of the White Hands) informs Guinglain that his father was Gawain and that his mother is Blancemal le Fee (lines 3235–37). The mother of the Middle English Lybeaus, however, is not a “fay” who arms her son to send him to the Round Table. There are several romances where the hero’s mother, estranged from the hero’s father, either because she has been abandoned or because of the father’s death, leaves the court and makes a life in rural seclusion, often in a forest, with her son whom she isolates and protects from the world. In Sir Perceval of Galles, for example, Acheflour retires from court upon the death of her husband and lives secluded in a forest with her young son Perceval. Whereas Lybeaus’s acquisition of a chivalric identity begins with his discovery of a dead knight in full armor, Perceval’s chivalric identity begins when he meets fully alive Arthurian knights. Further, the illegitimacy of Gyngeleyn is lessened by the fact that his father is Sir Gawain, one of Arthur’s most honored knights. Gawain ranks among “the most complex Arthurian characters”; he often exemplifies courtesy and chivalric ideals, but his frequent womanizing also receives attention (Shuffelton, p. 474n8). The stigma of illegitimacy imposed upon Lybeaus at the beginning of the poem is somewhat mitigated at the end by full recognition of the Arthurian court and his marriage to the regal Lady of Synadoun. N and A continue and conclude the hero’s enfances with the return of Gyngeleyn’s mother to Arthur’s court in the final scene, a family reconciliation not present in the other manuscripts. Sir Degaré, like Lybeaus, is an illegitimate son, but he manages to reconcile his parents and promote their marriage, whereas in LD, Sir Gawain and Lybeaus’s mother do not marry.

9 L: Under a forest syde. N: Bi a forestis side. The location of Lybeaus’s conception at the edge of a forest also places him at the outer limits of legitimacy. As Shuffelton notes, “bastardy was often imagined as manifesting itself in moral or physical defect” (p. 475n15); moreover, in the realm of the law, an illegitimate child could not legally inherit property from either parent (Brand, “Family and Inheritance,” p. 73). This medieval context thus provides motive for Lybeaus’s strong drive for public recognition by the Arthurian court and confirms the underlying narrative sense that he is to some extent legitimized by his paternal bloodline and his father’s reputation. According to Thomas Wright, “The story of rising from an obscure beginning is a very common one in medieval literature, and belongs to a principle of medieval sentiment, that noble blood was never lost . . . and that if a knight, for instance, met with a woman, or however low the circumstances under which the child received its first nurture, the blood it had received from the father would inevitably urge it onward till it reached its natural station” (quoted in Hales and Furnivall, Bishop Percy’s Folio, 2:405).

11 L: With Arthur at the Roun Table. N: With Arthur at the Round Table. The Round Table, added to the Arthurian cycle by Wace in the twelfth century in his Roman de Brut (“Fist Artur la Runde Table” [Arthur had the Round Table made], line 9751), has become a symbol of Arthurian governance. The Winchester Round Table shows the names of twenty-four knights, one of whom is Lybeaus Desconus, written “S(ir) lybyus dyscony(us).” See Badham and Biddle, “Inscriptions in the Painting,” pp. 255 and 280.

19 L: For he was full savage. N: For that he was so savage. Narratives of l’enfant sauvage (the wild child) abound in the Middle Ages. In Middle English romance, the wild child trope may include characters such as Gowther, whose kinship with Merlin (as half-brother) renders him a good candidate for taming; that he is conceived by a demon disguised as his mother’s husband (an episode akin to Arthur’s as well as Merlin’s conception) contributes to his lack of civility. His wild behavior is particularly noteworthy when he is described as having suckled nine wet nurses to death (Sir Gowther, lines 119–20). Lybeaus exemplifies his inner wild child in that he inhabits the forest and, like young Perceval, he flagrantly disregards the rules of chivalric behavior.

26 L: His moder clepte him Bewfiz. N: His modir callid him Beaufits. The name means literally “Beautiful Son” (Beau Fitz) and is a term of endearment bequeathed upon the boy by his mother, whose name is unstated, although in LBD, Guinglain’s mother is Blancemal le Fee. It is tempting to see a pun as well on “Bewvisage.” See N, line 72, where Lybeaus is praised for being “so feire of vis” and similarly in L (same line number): “so fayre a vice.” Naming is an important feature of medieval romance, a genre often concerned with questions of identity and chivalric education. His mother’s term of endearment is later supplanted by Arthur’s dubbing of the young man as Lybeaus Desconus, although both names allude to the young hero’s good looks and, by implication, his noble blood through kinship with Gawain and Arthur. Lybeaus’s testing through adventure confirms the outward sign of noble blood, that is, his masculine beauty, and explains his natural prowess.

28 L: And this childe was so nyse. N: And he him silve was nyse. Lybeaus is called a child here not only because of his apparent youth (as indicated by Arthur in L, line 103: “But me thinketh thou arte to yonge” or N, line 106: “But ever me thinkith thee ful yong”) but because his identity is partially defined by his biological kinship with Gawain and by his mother. “Child” also means a young man who aspires to be a knight or a young knight at the early stages of his career. To say that Lybeaus is a “child” because he has not been fully enfolded into chivalric masculinity and Arthur’s court is pertinent to the use of the term here, since Lybeaus’s identity is fully aligned at this point in the narrative with a mother wholly responsible for her son’s nurture. Like other orphaned, abandoned, fostered, or quasi-legitimate male protagonists of medieval romance (e.g., Tristan, Perceval, Lancelot, and Arthur), Lybeaus cannot be fully masculinized until he has been properly trained in the precepts and practices of chivalry. Only A and P assign a specific age to Lybeaus: “Ten yere olde I ame” (A, line 52) and “14 yeere old I am” (P, fol. 157r, line 52 [Cooper]). The typical age at which a young man could be knighted was twenty-one. This rite of passage varied among literary knights: at twenty Chaucer’s Squire is still a squire, while Bevis of Hampton becomes Sir Bevis at fifteen, as does Sir Gowther.

37 L: He toke off that knyghtis wede. N: The childe drowe off the knyghtis wede. In a system predicated upon honor and prowess, armor stripping is a dishonorable and frowned-upon practice. The scene recalls a similar incident in the tales of Perceval in which the young rustic, with the help of Gawain, appropriates the armor of a dead knight. He, like Lybeaus, is unfamiliar with courtly etiquette. Lybeaus’s ignorance and naiveté in this scene illustrate the “savagery” and “outrage” mentioned in lines 19 and 20.

41 L: Glastynbury. N: Glastonbury. A traditional placename associated with Arthurian literature. Its use in the Middle English romance situates Arthur and his court in that part of Britain known as Logres. In Wirnt von Grafenberg’s Wigalois, Arthur’s court is located in Brittany, whereas in LBD, Arthur’s court is in Caerleon in Wales.

45 L: This childe knelyd downe on his kne. Despite his lack of chivalric training, C and L’s Lybeaus seems to know what to do in front of a king, a gesture that tacitly indicates the boy’s innate nobility, an apparently inherited character trait that allows the disadvantaged Lybeaus to claim his proper heritage in this early scene. N, A, and P (the stanza is missing completely in LI) omit Lybeaus’s gesture of kneeling, perhaps in order to underscore his rustic ways. In N, he simply greets (grete, line 45) the king and his knyghtis alle (line 44).

48 L: missing expression. N: Y pray yow, par amour. Literally, for the sake of love, this is a conventional courtly expression added to requests. The expression is used only in N and P.

49 L: I am a child unkowthe. N: Y am a childe unknowe. The boldness of this pronouncement in a court obsessed with gestures of civility and courtesy indicates lack of training in these skills. The translation of L’s unkowthe as uncouth is certainly plausible, but N’s unknowe suggests that it could also mean “unknown,” or that the scribe understood it as a word relating to the overall themes of the poem; the notion that to be unknown is also to be outside the realm of chivalry renders both interpretations possible.

52 L: Lorde, I pray thee nowthe. N: Lord, Y pray you nowthe. This line differs con­sid­er­ably from the other redactions that indicate Lybeaus’s age. (See note for line 28.)

61 L: Sayde Gyngelayn, “Be Seint Jame!” N: The childe seid,“Bi Seint Jame.” L alone among the manuscripts cites the name “Gyngelayn” here. The naming of saints is significant throughout the narrative. This reference is probably to James the Great, the first apostle of Christ to die and to be martyred for Christianity. The shrine with which he is most often associated is Santiago de Compostela in Spain. His cult was so thoroughly linked to pilgrimage that his emblems, the scallop shell and wide-brimmed hat, frequently became the garb of medieval pilgrims (see ODOS, p. 135).

66 L: Clepped me Bewfice. N: Callid me Beaufice. This second occurrence of Lybeaus’s informal moniker underscores its importance to the narrative. In the Promptorium Parvulorum, the nickname means “more beautiful son;” the entry reads “Byfyce. Filius, vel pulcher filius (1:28). Shuffelton’s suggestion that Rate, the presumed author/scribe of A, “may be evoking another famous romance hero, Bevis (or Beuis) of Hampton, who is not otherwise connected to this story” (p. 475n26), lends another dimension of meaning to the designation. Good looks appear to foreshadow a hero’s success.

69 L: Be God and Seint Denyce. N: Bi God and Seint Denyce. Although the naming of saints is a common feature of the English version of the poem, in passages focused on the renaming of the protagonist, the utterance of saints’ names calls attention to their value as mediators between human and divine realms. This saint, for whom the abbey of St. Denis was named, was popular in France and also in England, with forty-one churches named in his honor (see ODOS, p. 135).

80 L: Lybeus Disconeus. N: Lybeus Dysconius. This short line, consisting only of the two words that compose the protagonist’s name, calls attention to itself metrically as well as visually. In L, the name Lybeus Disconious in a later hand appears in the margin; interestingly, the spelling Disconious resembles the Naples spelling Dysconious.

88–93 L: “Now Kyng Arthur hathe made me knyght.” Alone among the manuscripts, L attributes a verbal response to Lybeaus that suggests an innate graciousness and proclaims his new status to the court.

89 L: I thanke him with all my myght. N: And with a swerde bright of myght. Nancy Cooper ("Libeaus Desconus," p. 400) believes that “bright” is erroneously repeated here from the previous line. A reads “suerd of might” (line 89), C: “swerde of might” (line 77), and P rearranges the lines thus: “K[ing] Arthur anon right / with a sword ffaire and bright / trulye þ[at] same day / dubbed that child a knight / And gave him armes bright” (fols. 157r–v, lines 85–89 in Cooper).

92–93 L: to say . . . in feere. N: with a swerde bright of myght (line 89). say (“assail”). See MED saien (v)d: “to test one’s strength on, do battle with; an aphetic form of asseien: to try, test, challenge,” in feere (in the company of men). Having been knighted, Lybeaus is eager to prove himself in combat. In N, he is taught by Gawain.

93 L: Short stanza. Following Arthur’s investiture of Lybeaus, Gawain trains him in knightly combat and provides him with a shield only in N, A, P, and C. The passage is missing in both L and LI. Gawain’s mentorship is important to the shaping of Lybeaus’s identity as a knight and a tacit if unacknowledged recog­nition of their father-son relationship and Lybeaus’s innate nobility. The shield, of course, marks a knight’s identity in the field. N: Aftur, him taught Gaweyn . . . He hongid on him a schilde (lines 91–94). Also missing in L and LI, the details of the shield appear in C, N, A, P. The griffon, a hybrid fabled animal with traits of a lion and eagle, appeared in medieval bestiaries, encyclopedias, and travel lit­er­ature, and was adopted as a common feature in heraldry. It is somewhat ironic that the Fair Unknown should be given such a well-known identifying heraldic device. At N, line 264, however, the shield has only one griffon as its device. N: a schilde / With grefons overgilde, / Ipeyntid of lengthe ful gay (lines 94–96).

95 L: Of Arthure a bone he bade. N: Anone a bone he bade (line 98). The novice knight’s request for the king’s granting his petition is reminiscent of a similar scene in Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, though such a request is an important trope of romances and of Arthurian literature more generally. Notice how N’s “Anone” creates a Lybeaus more impetuous than L’s.

103 L: But me thinketh thou arte to yonge. N: But ever me thinkith thee ful yong (line 106). Arthur’s assessment here emphasizes the youth and inexperience of Lybeaus and perhaps refers back to the king’s initial reluctance to dub him without proof of his abilities or lineage. If Lybeaus is as young as ten or fourteen as some manu­scripts suggest (see note for lines 28 and 52), then Arthur’s hesitancy is well justified, although medieval boys were expected to engage in adult activities earlier than modern boys. Aristocratic males, for example, were generally im­agined to be ready for marriage at age fourteen (for girls, age twelve). Military training also began early. William Marshall served as a squire for eight years, during which time he trained for combat; he was thirteen when he entered the service of William, lord of Tancarville (Painter, William Marshal, pp. 16–17).

108 L: Wesshed and went to mete. N: Thei weschid and went to mete (line 111). The motif is found in Emaré, Sir Orfeo, Le Bone Florence of Rome, and Robyn Hode and the Potter. This custom is reiterated in several different ways in courtesy books that advocated teaching children, particularly boys, from a young age, e.g., The Young Children’s Book from Ashmole 61, Dame Courtesy from Ashmole 61 (previously pub­lished as The Babees Book, ed. Furnivall; see Shuffleton, Codex Ashmole, p. 447), etc. See also the texts in Furnivall's edition of The Babees Book: including Aristotle’s A B C, Urbanitatis, Stans Puer Ad Mensam, etc., the texts in Medieval Conduct Literature.

115 L: Ther con a mayde in ryde. N: Ther come a maid in ride (line 118). As often happens in Arthurian narratives, an adventure ensues just as the court sits down to dine (perhaps the best time to catch everyone at home). There is a strong resemblance to Lunete in Chrétien’s Yvain here.

116 L: And a dwerfe by hir syde. N: A dwarfe rode bi hur side (line 119). The dwarf is a stock character of medieval romance, but this particular dwarf has a name and description of his own. Unlike most medieval dwarves he is more virtuously construed (see notes for lines 130–40 below).

118 L: The may hight Ellene. N: The maid was yhote Elyne (line 121). In LBD, the messenger is named Helie. Other variations include Elene (C), Elyn (A), and Hellen (P). The line is missing in LI.

124–26 L: She was clothed in tarse, / Rownd and nothinge scarse, / I-pured with blawndenere. N: The maiden was clothid in tarsis, / Round and no thing skars, / With pelour blandere (lines 127–29). References here to tarse and blawndenere suggest an exotic opulence to Elene’s dress. Tarse refers to a costly fabric associated with Tharsia, whereas blawndenere refers to rich fur, possibly ermine. The dwarf in Sir Degaré has a surcoat “iforred with blaundeuer apert” (line 794). Other manuscript variants include blandere (N, line 129), blaunner (C, line 117), blaundyner (A, line 129), and Blaundemere (P, fol. 157v). The line is missing in LI. Editors have found blauwndener (L) or blandere (N) difficult. The Auchinleck editors of Sir Degaré transcribe the word as “blaunchener” (line 794), but the manuscript reads “blaundener.”

129 L: Milke white was hir destere. N: Mylke white was hur desture (line 132). According to the MED, the term refers to “a riding horse of noble breed, a knight’s mount.” Later in the poem, the horse is called a palfrey, a steed more closely identified with women and ordinary riding rather than a steed used for battle, although the terms appear to be used interchangeably in LD. The luxurious saddle decorations as well as the milk white color of the horse indicate the high status of both.

130 L: The dwerf was clothed in ynde. N: The dwarf was clothid in ynd (line 133). Ynd(e) could be the color of the cloth (indigo) or a kind of cloth associated with India, extravagant and exotic, distinguishing the dwarf as a special envoy from a signifi­cantly noble court. The manuscripts do not agree on the color or the fabric of the dwarf’s clothing; P clothes him “with scarlett ffine” (fol. 157v). N’s “hynd” is probably an error for “ynd.” Mills (LD, p. 208–09n121–32) notes the similarity between this description of Theodeley (N’s Deodelyne) and the dwarf in the Auchinleck Sir Degaré, lines 781–94.

132 L: Stoute he was and pertte. N: For he was stout and pert (line 135). The term pertte means “attractive” or “comely,” according to the MED. The dwarf here resembles the lady of Sir Launfal as described in lines 292 and 294, “Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May . . . He seygh nevere none so pert.” Stoute here does not represent portliness but rather strength or courage.

135 L: His surcote was so ryche bete. N: His sircote was overte (line 138). Mills (LD, p. 209n126) corrects L with a reading from C, here corroborated by N. The reference is to the surcot ouvert. Mills directs readers to Joan Evans, Dress in Mediaeval France, frontispiece, pp. 17, 31, and fig. 67 (p. 209n126). A reference to sorcot overt also appears in Sir Degaré, line 793. This is another instance where N agrees with C and not with L, A, or P (the line is missing in LI); C reads “Hys surcote was ouert”; P: "His cercott was of greene"; and A: "His sircote was yalow as floure."

136 L: His berde was yelewe as wax. N: His berde was as yelow as wax (line 139). Dwarves play an important part in medieval romance, and not all conform to negative stereotypes of this stock character. Many function similarly to Shakespeare’s “licensed” fools as messengers, philosophers, or counselors to the king. Some­times they are wicked and treacherous as is the dwarf in the Tristan narratives; at other times they are loyal as in Malory’s “Tale of Sir Gareth.” Physiognomy, the medieval science of physical form and shape thought to correspond to one’s intrinsic worth, appears not to apply to these characters. The dwarf in LBD and Wigalois enters Arthur’s court riding on the back of his lady’s saddle. Perhaps it is only by coincidence that the dwarf’s “yellow beard” matches the color of his lady’s hair. However, as Mills notes (See the quotation Mills cites on p. 208n121– 32), the dwarf in Sir Degaré has hair as “crisp an yhalew as wax” (line 786).

137 L: To his girdyll hange his fax. N: To his gurdul [henge] the plax (line 140). C also reads “To hys gerdell henge the plex” (line 128), once again agreeing with N and opposed to L, A, and P. (See Mills, LD, p. 209n128.) According to the MED, plax refers to braided hair or beard, whereas fax refers to the hair of the head.

142 L: Theodeley was his name. N: Deodelyne was his name (line 145). See C Teandelayn; A Wyndeleyn, P Teddelyne. The line is missing in LI. These are the Middle English versions of Tidogolain, the dwarf in LBD, who serves Helie, the lady-in-waiting to Blonde Esmeree, the French text’s equivalent to the Lady of Synadoun. Vernon J. Harward, Jr., The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance, places this character within a category he defines as “romance dwarfs,” whom he describes as often having characteristics such as “beauty or handsomeness of countenance, excellent proportion of body and limbs, and, twice, [as described in this poem, having] fair hair” (p. 29). Theodeley/Deodelyne is clearly what Harward calls a “petit chevalier” (p. 29). The messenger’s name Elyne (the spelling in N) is incorporated into N’s spelling of the dwarf’s name, Deodelyne (italics added). Both dwarf and Elyne function as metonymic surrogates for the Lady of Synadoun, whose messengers they are. Together their attitudes and comments challenge, test, and later confirm the prowess and knightliness of Lybeaus.

146–47 L: Sotill, sawtrye in same, / Harpe, fethill, and crowthe. N: Sotil, sawtre in same, / Of harpe, fethil, and crowthe (lines 149–50). These are the stringed instruments — citole, psaltery, harp, fiddle, and crowthe — that Theodeley/Deodelyne apparently masters, indicating that he is indeed a “petit chevalier” educated in courtly accom­plish­ments pleasing to aristocratic ladies. Music and minstrelsy appear also in the Golden Isle and the enchanted castle of Synadoun. (See Zaerr’s discussion in “Music and Magic”). The debt that medieval poetry pays to music is addressed in Strohm and Blackburn, Music as Concept and Practice, especially in the section on minstrels and their education (pp. 98–103) as well as the section on instrumental music (see below note 216), “Soft Instruments,” pp. 147–56.

148–50 L: He was a gentill boourdour / Amonge ladyes in boure, / A mery man of mouthe. N here (lines 145–53) appears to have a defective stanza, missing L’s triplet. Mills (LD, p. 289) notes that L 148–50 are lacking in N, but that they are present in all other versions of the poem (except LI, where this entire section of the poem is missing). These lines, however, carry an almost sexual implication concerning the relation­ship of the dwarf to women in their bowers, and they appear in neither Sir Degaré (see note to line 136 above) nor LBD. In other words, the omission in N may be intentional, a way of evading an unnecessary sexual implication.

160 L: Mi lady of Synadowne. N: My lady of Synadowne. The imprisoned heroine of LBD, la Blonde Esmeree, the queen of north Wales, is presented by Helie as the “daughter of King Guingras” (line 177). See the note for L, line 1772. Synadoun refers to the ancient Roman station of Segontium, called later by the Welsh Cair Segeint, Caer Seint, or Caer Aber Seint, at the base of Mount Snowdon in Wales. It became known as Snauedon and later simply Snowdon (see Loomis, “From Segontium to Sinadon,” pp. 526–28). Synadoun was also associated with magic and a history relevant to the curse placed upon the queen. According to the AND, a curse inhibited construction on Vortigern’s fortress at Snowdon, which could only be removed by the blood of a fatherless child. His emissaries brought before him Ambrosius (in Nennius) or Merlin (in Geoffrey of Monmouth), who stayed his execution by showing a hidden lake beneath the foundation, where two dragons fought, one white, the other red; the victory of the white dragon, Merlin said, “foretold Vortigern’s eventual defeat” (AND, p. 449). In the Welsh Lludd and Llefelys, the dragons had been buried there by Lludd. In the Historia Meradoc, Snowdon is the capital of Wales, whereas in LBD, it is at the base of the Snowdon mountains laid waste by two sorcerers, Mabon and Evrain, until disenchanted by Guinglain, the son of Gawain (p. 449).

162 L: That was of grete valure. N: That was of grete honour. This description appears to refer to the lady and not the prison, since virtue typically resides in human subjects rather than in inanimate objects. The term valor or honor applied to a woman is significant, however, since, according to the MED, the term embodies chivalric virtues of “nobility of character,” “spiritual worth,” “courtliness,” “refinement,” “bravery,” “courage,” “physical strength,” “stability,” and “endurance.”

164 L: That is of wer wyse and wight. N: In warra that were wyse and wight. N’s reading “warra” conflicts with L and A, which have “wer” and “were” respectively. C deviates completely, omitting the concept of war, and substituting the line “With herte good and light” (line 155). The line is missing in LI, but P carries forth the idea of war in a much altered line, “For to win her in fight” (line 170 [Cooper]; fol. 157r). Given that the manuscripts disagree, N’s “warra” is a possible variant of ware or wara. The phrase “in warra” is probably a variant of “on warra,” meaning watchful or alert (MED). The line thus describes an alert or keen knight who is both wise and courageous.

165 L: To wynne hir with honoure. N: To wyn hur with honour. In LBD, Helie forewarns the Arthurian court that the knight who frees her lady must first accomplish the “Fier Baissier,” the Fearsome Kiss (line 192). Here, in the ME narrative, Lybeaus has no prior knowledge of this expectation and so is taken completely by surprise when the dragon kisses him later.

166 L: Uppe startte that yonge knyght. N: Than stert up a yong knyght. In LBD, Arthurian knights hesitate to volunteer for the task, whereas here Lybeaus simply asks first.

178 L: The mayde began to chide. N: Than gan Elyne to chide. Shuffelton calls Elene a “demoisele mesdisante, a sharp-tongued maid who never hesitates to voice severe criticism, particularly when the hero engages in something foolhardy” (p. 476 n181). One might consider her to be the prick of Lybeaus’s conscience since she reminds him of his promise to Arthur at crucial points in the narrative.

183 L: lose. N: loce. The term refers to “reputation” or “being known.” The Naples scribe frequently uses c and s interchangeably.

197–200 L: He shall do bataylles thre . . . At Poynte Perilowse, / Besyde the Chapell of Awntrous. N: Bataile five othir thre . . . At Poynt Perillous, / Biside the Chapel of Aventours. Lybeaus has many more fights than predicted by the dwarf (William Selebraunch and his three nephews, two giants, Sir Jeffroun, Sir Otis de Lile, Maugys, and Sir Lambert; before he actually sees the Lady of Synadoun, he must fight Iran and Mabon). Nor does Lybeaus begin his adventures at Poynt Perillous by the Chapel of Adventours. In LBD, Tidogolain does not speak or prophesy in this scene. According to Mills, Poynte Perilowse “roughly corresponds to le Guè Perilleus of the same episode in BD (323), but the Old French romance makes no mention of the cause with which the Poynte is presumably identified in L 301” (p. 213). Perhaps its mention here creates a bridge to the French romance and a reminder that Lybeaus is Gawain’s son. According to the AND, this is “a treacherous ford in the land of Galloway that no knight dared to cross. Gawain reached it during his travels and tried to jump his horse across it, but his horse jumped badly and dumped him into the river” (p. 401). Lybeaus will win against his opponent(s) here but will experience a river dunking later in the poem. Moreover, “chapel” is as likely to refer to a haunted place or fairy mound (as in SGGK) as to an orthodox parish church. The MED, in fact, cites this line, (chapele, n5c, “a haunted place, a fairy mound”). According to Shuffelton, “Antrus is a corrupt form of the name found in other manuscripts, Awntrous, and the Chapell of Antrus may be translated as ‘the Chapel of Adventures’” (p. 476n202–03).

203–16 The punctuation that Mills provides in his edition to L (lines 207–10) exaggerates the boast to the point of dissembling, as Lybeaus seems to claim experience in mortal combat that he does not yet have. A slight alteration in punctuation, how­ever, makes more sense in context and avoids vilifying the hero. He has some training in weapons (see note to lines 90–93 above). The remainder of the passage expresses Lybeaus’s firm conviction that to flee the potentially fatal battle is reprehensible.

216–25 L: short stanza. This stanza is missing in L and C, but present in all other manuscripts (N, A, P, and LI). It includes two rather stunning lines quoted in The Squire of Low Degree: “Therfore the dwarfe was full wo, / And sayd: ‘Arthur, thou arte to blame. / To bydde this chylde go sucke his dame / Better hym semeth, so mote I thryve” (lines 620–23). The Naples lines spoken by the dwarf are strikingly similar: “Go home and sowke thi dame / And wynne ther thi degré” (lines 224–25). With this particularly insulting remark, the dwarf cuts Lybeaus down to size and manifests the threat to the young hero indicated as well through his association with music. See note 146–47 above.

223–28 L: The mayden for ire and hete / Wolde neyther drynke ne ete. . . . N: The maide for noye and hete / Wolde nought drinke ne ete . . . (lines 232–37). In LBD, Helie and Tidogolain leave once Arthur has given his decree, before the meal, so that Lybeaus has to catch up with them later. Here the two messengers remain at the table and do not eat, but all three begin the quest together.

227 L: Tyll the table was raysed. N: Til the tabul was unleide (line 236). Shuffelton remarks that “in medieval halls, the large dining tables were movable boards, taken up and stored after meals to make space for other activities” (p. 476n239).

231 L: Foure of the best knyghtis. N: Four of the best knyghtis (line 240). L adds a fifth knight in the arming of Lybeaus, Lawncelett, who gives him a spear (line 258). In L, the first four knights are Gawain, Perceval, Ywain, and Agravain. N’s four differ in identity and order, and where L lists Gawayne, Persyvale, Iwayne, and Agfayne (Agravain), N lists Percevale, Gawayn, Ewain, and “Griffayn,” and excludes Lancelot (see the note for L240 [N250]). Shuffelton believes that the N, A reading of Gryffayn or Geffreyn is a corruption of Agravain (p. 476n257), and although this is plausible, the name may also be a corruption of Griflet (also known as Girflet or Jaufre). The names connected to Gawain, that is, Perceval and Ywain, may have evoked the name Griflet. For an account of the connections among Jaufre/Griflet and Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain and Perceval, see Hunt, “Texte and Prétexte.” Griflet in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur is one of the knights killed by Lancelot in his rescue of Guinevere. For a history of Sir Griflet in French and English Arthurian tales, see Reno, Arthurian Figures, pp. 133–34.

232 ff. L: short stanza. N: Of the best armour that myght be found (line 242).

235 L: That in the flome was baptiste. N: That in the flem Jourdan was baptist (line 245). As the passage makes clear, this is a reference to the archetypal baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The trope is recalled later in the poem when Maugis/Maugus dunks Lybeaus in a river during a battle (see L, lines 1413 ff. and N, lines 1436 ff.).

240 L: To armen him the knyghtis were fayne. N: To army him the knyghtis were fayn (line 250). In LBD, the Fair Unknown appears in Arthur’s court fully armed. Arthur does not knight the young warrior (he accepts him into his service as a knight of the Round Table), nor do his companions give him arms and weapons. The knights “fayne” named in the following lines are interesting, particularly since Gawain is first on the list and his brother Agravain is also included. In the middle are Perceval and Yvain, two knights arguably made most famous by Chrétien de Troyes; Lancelot is named shortly hereafter as the knight who provides lance and sword. Purdie links this scene in LD to the arming scene in Otuel and Roland (Anglicising Romance, p. 125 and n111). N, 271–72 (C, lines 235–36; L, lines 261–62) thus corresponds to Otuel and Roland 312, 315. However, where C, line 232 (L, line 258) recalls Otuel and Roland 303 (Purdie, Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111), N does not. Lancelot does not number among the arming knights in N, A, and P as he does in C and L (the episode in LI is illegible).

242 L: Syr Persyvale. N: Sir Percevale (line 251). In Sir Perceval of Galles, Perceval resembles Lybeaus in that he appears in Arthur’s court without chivalric upbringing and demands to be knighted; he also subsequently confirms his knightly worth. Ironically Perceval and Gawayn, the knights Elyne would have preferred as champions of her lady, are the first knights to prepare Lybeaus for his quest.

244 L: The fourthe highte Agfayne. N: The fourth was Sir Griffayn (line 254). See note 254 below where a griffon becomes part of the heraldry not found in L.

246 L: They kestyn on him of sylke. N: Thei cast on him of sylke (line 256). The arming scene depicted in L beginning at this line and in N at line 256 is an important set piece of chivalric romance and takes on the symbolic meanings of sacred ritual and the dressing of a knight or a priest. See Ramón Lull, chapter vi “The Sig­nificance of a Knight’s Arms,” The Book of the Ordre of Chyvalry, pp. 76–89, a popular text that circulated in England in “numerous manuscripts of French versions” (p. xvi), e.g., St. John’s College, Oxford, Codex 102 (late fourteenth century) and BL MS Additional 22768 first half of the fifteenth century) and translated with some elaboration into English prose in 1456 by Gilbert of the Haye (the Abbotsford manuscript). For Hay’s version of chapter 6, see pp. xli–xlii. The most memorable literary example in Middle English perhaps is the arming of Gawain in SGGK, though Chaucer’s arming of Sir Thopas may be a close second, with its mirror of mockery [CT (VII[(B2)] 857–87]. The attention paid to the description of the arming contrasts interestingly with both the undressing of the enchanted lady and her subsequent redressing as Lybeaus’s bride.

254 L: A shelde with one cheferon. N: A schilde with on griffoun (line 264). Only L varies from the heraldic griffon at this point (but see note for line 93 above). C has gryffoun (line 231); A: gryffyn (line 267); P: griffon (fol. 158v); and LI griffown (fol. 4r). Guinglain’s shield in LBD has a “lion of ermine” emblazoned on it (line 74). The shield hung around Lybeaus’s neck by Gawain is significant, especially in relation to its emblem. Noteworthy in this regard, as Hahn observes, may be “the fifteenth-century depiction of a coat of arms composed of a green field emblazoned with three gold griffins registered to ‘SIR GAWAYNE the good knyght’ (Harleian MS 2169; this is reproduced in The Ancestor: A Quarterly Review of County and Family History, Heraldry and Antiquities 3 [1902], p. 192” (Sir Gawain, p. 390).

257 L: Sir Percyvale sett on his crowne. N: Sir Persevale set on his croun / A griffon he brought with him (lines 267–68). Gawain has just set a helmet on Lybeaus’s head, and Perceval seems to add a crest in the figure of a griffon, which is also the heraldic animal depicted on his shield. This reference to a helmet crest is unique to N. Helmet crests, although first devised in the twelfth century, became fashionable in the fifteenth (Bradbury, Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare, p. 266). Chaucer appears to ridicule such pretensions in the Tale of Sir Thopas, CT (VII[(B2)] 906–08): “Upon his creest he bar a tour, / And therrinne stiked a lilie flour— / God shilde his cors fro shonde!”

260 L: And a fell fauchone. N: And a fel fouchone (line 270). For a good note on falchions see Ewart Oakeshott’s European Weapons and Armour and The Sword in the Age of Chivalry. See also Oakeshott, Archaeology of Weapons, p. 235, and Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050–1350, by David Nicolle. The MED defines a falchion as “A large, broad sword with a curved blade, a falchion; also, a short stabbing-sword or dagger.” The Middle English Breton lay Sir Gowther features a falchion as a weapon that represents in part Gowther’s identity and prowess. As David Salter puts it in a chapter on the poem, this is a weapon that only Gowther “is strong enough to wield” (Holy and Noble Beasts, p. 72).

264–66 L: The knyght to hors gan sprynge / And rode to Arthure the kynge / And sayde, “My lorde hende.” N: The yong knyght to hors gan spring, / And rode to Arthour the kyng, / And seid: “My lord so hynde” (lines 274–76). N here agrees with L (and C, lines 241–42). According to Purdie (Anglicising Romance, p. 125n111), these lines link LD to Otuel and Roland, lines 324–25. Lybeaus departs on the quest here with Elene and the dwarf, whereas in LBD he leaves the Arthurian court only with his squire Robert, as Helie and Tidogolain have already left (see note for lines 223–28 above). Throughout LBD, Squire Robert assists Li Biaus, but Squire Robert is not a character in LD.

270–71 L: Arthur his honde up haffe / And his blessyng him gaffe. N: Arthour his hond up hafe, / And his blessyng he him yafe (lines 280–81). The blessing by the king authorizes the mission. The upraised hand of a monarch with Arthur’s authority is significant in itself, but to have a blessing (here more a sanctioning of the mission than a religious blessing) from him indicates his confidence in Lybeaus’ ability to carry out his mission.

281–82 L: Faste he gan to chide. / And saide, “Lorell, caytyfe.” N: Ever sho gan to chide, / And seid: “Thou wrecche, thou caitife” (lines 291–92). L seems in error here, since Elene is the one who needs to be convinced that Lybeaus is in fact a worthy knight, and since the dwarf has already made his opinion clear, his chiding seems superfluous. Like N, C also attributes the chiding to Elene: “sche be-gan to chyde” (line 258) as does LI, “schee gonne chide” (fol. 4), although in A and P, both Elene and the dwarf combine efforts (“gan thei chyd” [A, line 294] and “they gan to chide” [P, fol. 158v]). Helie also chides at this point in LBD.

288 L: He hat Syr William Delaraunche. N: William Celabronche (line 298). William’s role as the first major opponent of Lybeaus is unique to the Middle English version of the poem. In LBD, Li Biaus’s first opponent is Blioblïeris, guardian at the Perilous Ford (see Theodeley’s/Deodelyne’s “prophecy” earlier) (see note to lines 197–200). Blioblïeris seems to be a crusader; he wears “a silk tunic from the Holy land” over his hauberk (lines 357–58). Li Biaus defeats him and sends him to Arthur’s court. However, his three companions, “Elin the fair, lord of Graie, / the strong knight of Saie, / and William of Salebrant” (lines 527–29) encounter him prior to his departure and seek to avenge his defeat. The English romance substitutes the name William Delaraunche/Celebronche for Blioblïeris, and his three companions become three unnamed kinsmen, probably because of the demands of rhyme scheme. “Celebronche” rhymes in N with “stonche” and “honche” and “lonche”; see also below, lines 376–77, where “Celebronche” again rhymes with “lonche.” Later “William” rhymes with “schame” and “St. Jame” (lines 431, 433). “Blioblïeris,” placed in the same rhyming position, would not rhyme so easily in English. As the main opponent, William is given a more expansive role in the ME version. Lybeaus’s decision to fight against a knight who has just been described as “a werreour oute of wytt” (L, line 290) suggests Lybeaus’s impetuosity and lack of experience in battle, if not in matters of mature deliberation. That he is victorious and does not kill his opponent in this version as he does in LBD places greater emphasis on William’s importance as a witness to Lybeaus’s growing prowess; he is expected to tell his story of defeat when he returns to Arthur’s court. Also noteworthy is that LD appears in the Percy Folio along with The Squire of Low Degree in which there is a reference to Salebraunce, though in the Squire the name refers to a chapel where five battles are to be fought rather than to a person: “Than for to do these batayles fyve / At the chapell of Salebraunce” (lines 624–25). See Kooper, Sentimental and Humorous Romances, pp. 127–79.

306–07 L: He bare a shelde of grene / With three lyons of gold shene. N: He bare a schilde of grene / With three lions of golde schene (lines 316–17). Heraldry is part of an elaborate sign system, a means by which knights could be identified even when their faces were covered by a visor and helmet. Colors, animal totems, design features, and other details signify the status, if not the identity, of the knight.

309 L: Of sute lynnell and trappes. N: To suche lengels and trappis (line 319). The sense here seems to be that the device of the lion on William’s shield is replicated on the harness and trappings of his horse, a typical medieval practice.

314 L: And sayde, “Welcome bewfere.” N: And seid, “Welcome, Beaupere.” (line 324). William’s familiar greeting seems to suggest that he knew Lybeaus was coming or perhaps that the young knight’s distinctive physical features lend him a generic identity, thus prompting a remark akin to “hey, good lookin.’”

368 ff. L: short stanza. N: A quarter fille to ground; / Sir Libeous in that stound / In hart he was agast (lines 379–81). William has sliced away a quarter of Lybeaus’s shield. C has a “kantell,” which the MED (cantel) defines as “A chunk, piece, slice.”

382 L: For the love of Mary. N: For the love of Seint Marie (line 395). William’s call to the Virgin, the emblem of mercy, suggests his desperation. The act recalls Gawain’s plea for aid from the icon of Mary painted inside his shield immediately after which Bercilak’s castle appears in SGGK (lines 753–62).

395 L: Thou shalt to Artor wende. N: Thou schalt to Arthour wynde (line 408). Shuffelton suggests that “Arthur acts as both a lordly receiver of tribute and as a recording authority or audience who validates the accomplishments of the hero” (p. 477n411). He cites a discussion in Maddox’s Arthurian Romances of Chrétien de Troyes, pp. 14–25.

400 L: Lybeus Disconeus. N: Libeous Disconious (line 413).The iteration of the hero’s name in a line of its own calls attention to its significance. The name is repeated at several points in the poem and again at the end, thus trumping the number of times Gyngelayn is used (in L, four times including the incipit). Here the stress pattern guiding the pronunciation of the name appears to be Lýbe?s Dísc?néus. Contrast with line 423 following.

423 L: Lybeus Disconeus he highte. N: Libious Disconious he hight (line 436). The pronouncement of a name that literally signifies nothing recalls the scene in Homer’s Odyssey in which Odysseus says his name is “nobody” when asked by the Cyclops who has just stolen his sheep and done injury to him. Medieval writers are not likely to have known Homer’s epic poems directly but rather through Virgil’s Aeneid and its retelling of the Trojan War. The Lybeaus poet frequently uses amphibrach (unstressed, stressed, unstressed syllables).

428 L: And eke a well fayre berne. N: And eke a wel faire schene (line 441). The description here is of Lybeaus’s squire, who is otherwise not a prominent player in the English version. In LBD, however, he has a name (Robert) and an identity as a squire. That he is also a fair youth is in keeping with the emphasis on Lybeaus’s level of maturity and good looks. The squire becomes something of a reflection of his knight. The equivalent line in N describes the lady “schene” who accom­panies the knight.

430–31 L: That he hathe made me swere / By his fauchone bryght. N: That he hath made me swore / Uppon his bronde bright (lines 443–44). Chivalric society is dependent upon honor by word as well as deed, hence the importance of oaths. There is also an implicit threat in the falchion/brond.

451 L: His hambrek we will to-rasshe. N: We schul his hauberk of bras (line 464). The manuscripts disagree on what exactly the three knights will do with Lybeaus’s hauberk. They will “to-rasshe” it, which Mills renders “tear to pieces” (L, line 451). P and A have them unlacing his hauberk (“unlace” in both). C does not have this line, and in LI the passage is missing. N’s reading “of bras” makes sense, however. William’s nephews do not accuse Lybeaus of having a hauberk made of an inferior metal (brass); rather the verb “bracen” can mean to seize or grasp, to impale, or to wrap or fasten together. The sense here suggests that the brothers threaten to “of bras,” that is, unravel or break Lybeaus’s chain mail to pieces.

452 ff. L: short stanza. N: also missing. Appears only in C as follows:
Now lete we Wylyam be,
Þat wente yn hys jorne
Toward Artour þe Kyng.
Of þese knyõtes þre
Harkeneþ, lordynges fre,
A ferly fayr fyõtynge.
Þey armede hem full well
Yn yren and yn stel,
With-out ony dwellyng
And leptede on stedes sterne
And after gon y-erne
To sle þat knyõt so yenge.
(lines 430–41)
454 L: Syr Lybeus that yonge knyght. N: Ne Libeous, the gentil knyght (line 467). While L emphasizes age, N emphasizes nobility.

458 L: Gamen and grete solas. N: Game and grete solas (line 471). It is unnecessary to understand the line as indicating, as Mills does, “a night of love-making” (LD, p. 58), a reading recently repeated by Shuffelton (p. 477n474) and Cory Rushton, “Absent Fathers, Unexpected Sons,” p. 145. The innocence of the couple’s mirth is evoked by the final line of the stanza, indicating that the dwarf served them “Of alle that worthi was” (L, line 464; N, line 477). For the argument countering the reading by Mills, see Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” pp. 70–71.

470 L: Rydynge from Carboun. N: Come ridyng fro Karlioun (line 483). As suggested by N and the other versions, this is probably Caerleon, a small town in southeast Wales on the River Usk. According to the NAE, Caerleon is a castle important to Arthurian legend “as the place where Geoffrey of Monmouth has Arthur hold a plenary court, after organizing the conquests made in his first Gallic campaign. Geoffrey may have chosen it simply because it was near his native Monmouth and he had seen the ruins, which in the twelfth century were still conspicuous” (NAE, p. 65).

488 L: That he to-brake Gowers thiegh. In C and L, the eldest brother is Gower; in A, he is Banerer; in P, Baner; and in N, Gawer (LI has a missing folio here). Also, in C, L, A, and P, Lybeaus breaks the eldest brother’s thigh or leg, but in N, Lybeaus breaks his spine: And brake his rigge bone (line 500). In general, N presents Lybeaus as more aggressive and violent in his early formative adventures.

499–501 L: Than loughe this mayden bright / And seide that this yonge knyght / Is chose for champyon. N: Than louge that maide bright / And seid: “This yong knyght / Was wel ychose champioun” (lines 511–13). That Elene has finally been convinced of Lybeaus’s capabilities as a knight is indicated in the sense of relief conveyed in her “loughe.” That women often provide the encouragement for a knight’s achievement can also take the form more traditionally associated with courtly love; the knight becomes a better combatant in arms when he fights for his beloved, at least in theory. Chrétien’s Lancelot provides a study in how much power a lady (i.e., Guenevere) could have over her champion.

518 L: short stanza. N: Sir knyght, bi Seint John (line 527). Most probably this refers to John the Apostle, a privileged witness to special events in the Gospels, such as Christ’s agony in the Garden. John was known for his ardent temper, and his invocation here would be appropriate in the context of Lybeaus’s deadly prowess in his battle with the three nephews of William. See ODOS, p. 262. The oath by Saint John at this point in the text appears only in the N, A, P tradition. See also note to line 731 below.

581–82 L: Thei dight a loge of leves, / With swerdys bryght and browne. N: Thei made a logge of levys / With swerdis bright and broun (lines 593–94).The detail of making a lodge out of leaves and swords is not in LBD, but using their swords Bevis and Terri build a lodge of leaves for the pregnant Josian in Bevis of Hampton (see lines 3621–23).

586 L: And evyr the dwerf can wake. N: And ever the dwarfe gan wake (line 598). N streamlines the narrative here by omitting three lines in the C, L, A, LI, and P accounts, which attribute the dwarf’s inability to sleep for fear of theft: L: That nothinge shulde betake / Here hors aweye with gyle. / For dred he ganne quake (lines 587–89).

597 L: Be God and be Saint Gyle. N: By God and by Seint Gile (line 606). Giles is the patron saint of cripples, lepers, and nursing mothers (see ODOS, p. 211). Saint Giles’s shrine was on the pilgrim’s route to Compostela. He founded a monastery at Saint-Gilles in Provence (ODOS, p. 211).

598–99 L: Lybeous was stoute and fayre / And lepte upon his desteyre. N: Sir Libious was stout and gay, / And lepe on his palfray (line 607–08). In LBD, combat with the giants takes place between Blioblïeris and his companions Elin of Graie, the lord of Saie, and William Salebrant. Also, after their defeat, the lord of Saie with the wounded Elin (William has been killed) returns Clarie, the victim of the giants, to her family. In the ME version, Lybeaus takes Violet to her father himself. In Wace’s Roman de Brut, a giant abducts Eleine, the niece of Arthur’s kinsman, Hoel, and he carries her to Mont St. Michel, intending to rape her; she dies in the attempt. Arthur, Bedevere, and Kay interrupt the giant as he is roasting a wild boar on a spit, and Arthur kills him. (See Wace, Roman de Brut, ed. Weiss, lines 11287–560).The story is retold in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, where the giant not only slays a maiden but feasts on children. He has men and beasts roasting on spits when Arthur approaches him, and is more elaborately described in animal terms: “He grenned as a grayhound with grysly tuskes” (line 1075). See the description later of Maugis, who is also cast as a stereotypical subhuman giant. Although this episode is originally found in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, subsequent versions elaborated his representation of the giant, who is not portrayed in explicitly animal terms despite his animal behavior. Further, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s scene of Arthur to the rescue on Mont St. Michel recalls the biblical story of David and Goliath, where the child David defeats the gargantuan threat to the Hebrew nation. One might say that these implications are suggested in every scene of giant slaying in medieval romance. Other exempla include Bevis of Hampton, Guy of Warwick, Sir Launfal, Sir Degaré, Sir Eglamour of Artois, and SGGK; Spenser’s Orgoglio is the giant whose defeat moves Redcrosse into eventual recognition as a figure for St. George.

603 L: Two gyauntes he sawe there. N: Two jeyauntis he founde at the last (line 611). See Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s discussion of this scene in Of Giants, pp. 73–76.

604–05 L: That one was rede and lothelych, / That other black as eny pyche. N: That one was blak as picche, / That othir rede and lotheliche (lines 613–14). There has been considerable debate about whether the color of knights and the giants they fight refers to skin color or the color of armor. (A special issue of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31 [2001] contains a number of essays that address matters of race and ethnicity pertinent to a reading of otherness.)

607–08 L: The black helde in his arme / A mayde i-clypped in his barme. N: The blake gan holde in barme / A feire maide bi the arme (lines 616–17). There is an allusion here to Arthur’s battle with the rapist giant of Mont St. Michel (see note to lines 598–99 above). In Wace’s Brut (and in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History), the maiden dies during the giant’s assault, and so does not suffer the indignity of rape. In LBD, the rape is interrupted, and the maiden does not die (see lines 707–16, p. 45), as is the case in LD.

609 L: So bryght as blossom on brere. N: Bright so rose in brere (line 618). This detail alludes to the flower (rose) on a branch in springtime, and evokes conventional female beauty. Although brief, it gestures to the rhetorical effictio, an elaborate description of (noble) feminine pulchritude consisting of stereotypical details arranged from head to toe (see Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s Poetria Nova). Here the line metonymically suggests the conventional beauty of Violet. Later a similar phrase describes Lybeaus's mother in N: “Hur rode was rede so rys” (2234).

615 L: For some man shuld it wit. N: For sum man schulde it wete (line 621). This appears to be a legal term equivalent to “witness.” In English law, witnessing a crime in the making required the witness to call attention to the deed by raising the hue and cry. The maiden’s prayer to “Mary mylde” appears to be gender specific and notable in that way. As patron saint of childbirth, the Virgin Mary seems an odd choice, but, given the sexual nature of the threat and the Virgin’s traditional function as mediatrix, perhaps all the more understandable.

626 L: Hit is no childes game. N: It is no childis game (line 635). According to the author of Ratis Raving, a child’s game could include gathering flowers, building houses with sticks, making sailing ships with any available materials, making and dressing dolls or “poppets,” and playing at sword fighting (among others). Many children’s games were enacted in imitation of adult activities, including “war games” played by boys. (See Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children, especially chapter 5.) Since Lybeaus is still a “child” in terms of his chivalric experience, if not his specific age, depending on which version of the narrative one is reading, the reference here is significant. In L, C, LI, and P this line forms part of Lybeaus’s speech. In N and A, however, the fearful observation that two of these grim foes pose a threat belongs to the narrator, not the hero. The N, A Lybeaus, in other words, appears more courageous and determined and less timid. Also noteworthy is the proverbial nature of the expression. According to Whiting C221 (p. 83), this line and variations on it appear in several ME narratives, including Otuel and Roland, Gregorius, Octavian, Tottenham, and old Januarie’s lines in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, CT (IV[(E)] 1530–31): “I warne yow wel, / it is no childes pley / To take a wyf,” and Le Morte Darthur. The use of a related proverb in line 1683 (L) to describe how one of Lybeaus’s opponents rocks in his saddle after their combat emphasizes the connection between chivalric readiness and maturity.

643–44 L: And besought swete Jhesus / Helpe Lybeus Disconeus. N: And bisoughte Jhesus, / That he wolde helpe Libeus Disconyous (lines 649–50). That Elene prays to Jesus for aid in helping Lybeaus underscores the specificity of the request for divine intervention. Here Mary is not asked to play her traditional role of mediatrix but rather her Son is called upon to intervene. When envisioned in his role as the sword-wielding apocalyptic Christ, this seems an appropriate choice for a knight.

646–47 L: The rede gyaunte smote thore / To Sir Lybeous withe the bore. N: The rede geaunt smote thore / To Libeous, with the wilde bore (lines 652–53). Mills (LD, 218n616–18) links this idea of the giant striking with a roasted boar on a spit to Wace, where a giant is roasting a char de porc; he sees the passage as perhaps inspiring this event in LD.

648 L: As wolfe oute of wede. N: As wolfe that wolde of wede (line 654). The poet deploys similes rather infrequently, and the repetition of this particular phrase at line 986 in L calls attention to that fact. It may also be calling attention to a trope of the wild beast as a thematic concern of the poem, as well as a reality of medieval life in England. According to a relevant entry in The Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases, “there were enough wolves in England during the reign of King John (1199–1216) for a bounty of 5s to be offered for their catching and killing. There are many AS placenames which indicate the presence of wolves, e.g. Woolley in Yorkshire [< wolves’ + OE leah=wood] and Woolmer in Hampshire, [< wolves’ + OE mere=lake]. In 1209 two colts were killed and eaten by wolves in Hampshire. There are also sufficient records of wolves being caught in the king’s forests to make it unsurprising that during the 1130s there were full-time royal wolf hunters, with a pack of two dozen hounds and also greyhounds. A wolf-catcher in Worcestershire in the early 13c was paid 3s a year. No records survive to show how many, if any, he caught, or whether indeed there were any wolves left in that part of England. Certainly, wolves were killing deer in the Forest of Dean in 1290s [sic]. Wolves appear to have survived in England until the 17c, and longer in Scotland” (ed. Corèdon and Williams, p. 300).

657 ff. L: short stanza. N: The bore was ful hote than; / On Sir Libeous the grece ran (lines 670–71). The detail of the hot grease causing a wound or pain as well as the extended description of the red giant reaching a height of fifteen feet appears in the N, A, and P tradition only (it does not occur in LI). Mills (LD, p. 218n657) compares this scene to one in the First Continuation of Perceval (ed. W. Roach), where a knight strikes Sir Kay with a bird that has been roasting over the fire (see lines 9373–75).

657 L: To quyte the gyaunte his mede. N: To yelde the geaunt his mede (line 663). The exchange of blows is construed as payback and retribution, literal acts reversed by the notion of redemption. Coming on the heels of a plea for rescue, this line appears to be ironic.

662 L: A tronchon oute he laught. N: A tronchon up he caught (line 680). The giant demonstrates his strength by pulling a fully grown tree out of the ground. As he lifts it to deliver a blow, Lybeaus recognizes an opportunity to prune the limb by which the giant just uprooted the tree.

673 L: In Frensshe as it is ifounde. N: In Frensche tale as it is found (line 691). Although a convention of romance is to acknowledge a French source, whether or not it is the actual source, this is probably an allusion rather than an explicit reference to LBD. Shuffelton, who presumes Chestre to be the author of LD, comments: “Though this phrase suggests that Chestre is working directly from a French source, several factors limit the certainty of this interpretation. Several other manuscripts preserve entirely different readings of this line, and it is a common formula used by many other Middle English romances” (p. 477n699).

674–75 L: He that he gave the fyrste wounde, / He servyd hym so aplyght. N: Tille that othir he went that stound / And servid him aplight (lines 692–93). The idea of a “first wound” appears only in L. Mills (LD, p. 219n643–44) notes that N (C, A, P, LI) makes more sense here than L, which contradicts the earlier slaying of the black giant by suggesting that he had only been wounded by “the fyrste wound” (line 674). Mills argues for the superiority of L, however, by noting the repetition of the tag line in N, lines 690 and 693, “in þat stound” and “that stound,” which suggests a scribal error of repetition. He also observes that “Chestre . . . [was] uncon­cerned to accommodate statements made in one part of his work with those found at another.” The possibility of a scribal error with tags, however, does not invalidate the more sensible reading of N (C, A, P, LI).

676–77 L: And then toke the hedis two / And bare the mayden thoo. N: Tho he toke hedis tway / And bare ham to that may (lines 694–95). Lybeaus displays the severed trophy heads to a grateful maiden before sending them to Arthur’s court. Cohen’s comment is worth noting here: “Following the structure received from the David and Goliath story, the display of the conquered giant’s head is often in its simplest terms part of the rite de passage from boyhood to manhood, from mistakes and potential ambiguity into the certainties of stable masculinity” (Of Giants, p. 73).

690 L: His name is Syr Anctour. This line in which Violet names her father is missing in N. Mills’s note on Anctour is useful: “The name of this character recalls the Antore who in AM 9751 meets his death at the hands of giants, but in his function he more closely resembles the aged father of Enide (E 375 in passim). The corre­sponding figure in BD [LBD, i.e., Li Biaus Descouneüs] is not characterized at all (see 892), but in Platin’s Giglan he is described as ancien, and it seems possible that the name in LD [LD, i.e., Lybeaus Desconus] may have arisen from a contracted form of the adjective anci(e)nor (? *ancīor l. ivv) in the OF source. But whatever the provenance of the name it was sufficiently unfamiliar to be replaced by that of Arthur in two of the less reliable texts of LD. . . . This king is also associated with the scene in the version given of it in the Didot Perceval, since the giant there waits for the girl’s father to set out for Arthur’s court, before abducting her” (p. 219n660). According to the entry in the AND, Antor (with variations of spelling including Antore, Antour, Anton, and Entor) is “Arthur’s foster-father, and the father of Kay, in the Prose and Vulgate Merlins, the Didot-Perceval, and Tennyson. Robert de Boron seems to have originated the character . . . [where] Antor raised Arthur after Merlin presented him with the child. . . . His character appears in the Post-Vulgate and Malory as Ector” (p. 28). J. D. Bruce suggests that the origin of the name lies in a possible corruption of Arthur, “given the literary tradition of naming children after their foster fathers” (AND, p. 28). As Shuffelton notes, “A character with a similar name (Antor, Antour) appears in several Arthurian romances as Arthur’s foster father and the father of Kay the Seneschal. See The Erle of Tolous (Shuffelton item 19), line 853 and note. Perhaps the name is meant to evoke loose associations of benevolent paternity” (p. 477n716). The name of Violet’s father in L is Anctour (line 690) or Antore (C, line 3660), Anter (A, line 716), Antory (LI, line 372), or Arthore (P, line 723 fol. 161v. [Cooper line 72]). The omission in N appears to be an error because later reference is made to Lybeaus donning armor, “That the erle of Auntouris was” (N, line 804). Only C preserves a stanza in which the earl offers Lybeaus his daughter in marriage, which Lybeaus refuses. Mills (LD, p. 220n688–99) argues for the authenticity of this stanza on the basis of content and rhyme scheme. However, in LBD, the maid’s name is Clarie, and she is taken back to her unnamed father’s castle by the surviving nephews of Blioblïeris (the events are different). The passage authenticated by Mills, in other words, may not be authentic at all. It does not appear in the original and exists only in C. Mills (p. 221n688–99) locates the origin of the offer of Violet to Lybeaus in the episode of the gerfalcon in Erec et Enide, in which Erec expresses his wish to marry the host’s daughter, Enide.

691 L: They clepen me Violet. N: Mi name is Violette (line 709). In a scene that recalls the beginning of the poem, the maiden is asked to identify herself. Unlike Lybeaus she is able to name her father (except in N), and she describes him as “of riche fame” (L, line 686) The name of the lady is unusual, and the only other reference appears to be Violet the Bold, “one of many ladies at King Arthur’s court to fail a chastity test involving a magic goblet” (AND, p. 488). Gerbert de Montreuil, who wrote the continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, has a romance called Roman de la Violette (c. 1220), where the heroine has a birthmark resembling a violet. Jean Froissart wrote La plaidoirie de la rose et de la violette, an allegorical debate between two courtly ladies, one of whom is named Violette.

698 L: Oute of the busshes con sprynge. N: Out of a busche gan sprynge (line 716). The description of Violet’s abduction recalls the abduction of Guenevere by Meleagant, though here it is construed as an ambush done without much premeditation. Mills notes that “Chestre’s account seems to have been influenced by the later scene at the Îlle d’Or, in which he tells how another black giant (Maugrys) besieges a city to gain possession of a lady (lines 1243–51): this modification makes it seem strange that Vyolette should wander about, so freely and unsuspectingly, on her own” (LD, p. 220n661–66). The idea that a giant lurks in the bushes conventionally associates him with rural, uncivilized, even nonhuman behaviors and values. See the description of Maugis/Maugus below.

713–14 L: To Kynge Arthour in present, / With mekyll glee and game. N: To Kinge Arthour, in present, / With moche gle and game (lines 731–32). The severed heads are sent to the court as proof of Lybeaus’s prowess and growing reputation. The “glee and game” here indicate something of a victory celebration.

717 ff. L: short stanza. N: also missing. The passage is supplied here by C:
The Erl Antore also blyue
Profrede hys doftyr hym to wyue:
Vyolette that may;
And kasteles ten and fiue
And all after hys lyue
Hys lond to haue for ay.
Than seyde Lybeaus Desconos,
“Be the loue of swete Jhesus,
Naught wyue yet Y ne may;
J haue for to wende
Wyth thy mayde so hende.
And therfore, haue good day!”
(lines 688–99)
719 L: Yave him full riche mede. N: Gave Sir Libeous to mede (line 737). The earl rewards Lybeaus with armor and a horse tested “in turnament and in fyght” (L, line 723). These items are notable for their material value, but also stand as an indication of a formal recognition of Lybeaus’s status as a knight. See note to line 690 above.

727 ff. L: The adventure of the knight with the gerfalcon begins here. Compare N, 745 ff. In LBD, the adventure with Otis precedes the gerfalcon story. Renaut’s source for his version of the story is the sparrowhawk episode in Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec et Enide. In LBD, Helie, Robert the Squire, and the dwarf spy a castle, Becleus, and on their journey, they come upon a maiden (Margerie) whose lover-knight has been killed. She explains to them the conditions set by the lord of the castle, Giflet (French Giflés), son of Do: any maiden who dares take the beautiful sparrowhawk that sits on a golden perch must have a knight willing to claim her to be the most beautiful maiden of all. He will then be challenged by the lord of the castle. The party proceeds to where the sparrowhawk sits, and Li Biaus asks Margerie to take it. The lord of the castle appears with his beloved, Rose Espanie; he defends her position as the most beautiful of women, despite the fact that she is “ugly and wrinkled” (LBD, line 1727). Li Biaus defeats him. In LD, the hero’s motive for the challenge lies neither in revenge for past personal insult, as in Erec and Enide, nor to avenge the wrong committed against a maiden, as in LBD, but in Lybeaus’s personal sense of adventure, a motive criticized by the dwarf. Margerie and Robert disappear in LD, and decapitation becomes the loser’s reward. Mills (LD, pp. 220–21n.L 750–53) contends that decapitation, which makes the episode more forbidding, has been transferred from Renaut’s later episode with Malgiers.

731 L: Suche sawe he never none. N: Suche sawe he never none (line 749). Although opulent and marvelous castles are common in romance, Lybeaus’s lack of chivalric experience and his early life in the woods away from Arthur’s court help to explain his awestruck response, “Be Seynt John!” (L, line 733; N, line 751).

744 L: He hathe done crye and grede. N: He had do crye and grede (line 762). The phrase suggests an official and public announcement, here of a challenge to combat.

746 L: A gerfawkon, white as swanne. N: A jerefawken as white as swane (line 764). Possibly the white gerfalcon of Iceland (MED), a large hawk used for hunting and much prized. This hunting bird is a substantial reward for what amounts to a beauty contest between Lybeaus’s lady and the lady of his opponent, Jeffron. Like people, birds of prey were often classified in a hierarchical system. According to Richard Almond, “The basic division in the manual is between hawks of the tower and hawks of the fist, which conveniently corresponds largely to the falcons (Falconidae) and the hawks (Accipitridnae). The short-winged hawks were more popular with the French whereas the long-winged hawks, generically falcons, were more favoured in England. The latter birds include the peregrine, merlin and hobby, all of which were, and still are, used by falconers to fly at live quarry. Roy Modus’s division differs somewhat from the basic classification. He places the peregrine falcon, lanner, saker and hobby as hawks of the tower, whereas the goshawk, sparrow hawk, gyrfalcon and merlin are classed as hawks of the fist” (Medieval Hunting, p. 42). This episode of the gerfalcon, while in LBD, is likely to have derived from Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec et Enide.

754 ff. L: short stanza. N: Ther stont on every cornelle (line 773). Mills translates C’s “karnell” — “Ther stant yn ech a karnell” (line 737)—as battlement. The word means corner or angle, or the front of a building (MED).

757 L: Bi God and Saint Michelle. N: By God and bi Seint Mighelle (line 776). This probably refers to Michael, the avenging archangel and principal combatant against the dragon/devil of Apocalypse. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the Arthurian themes of this narrative, his most famous shrine is Mont Saint Michel, celebrated as a place of divine judgment in The Alliterative Morte Arthur, where, according to the ODOS, “a Benedictine abbey was founded in the 10th century” (p. 349).

761 L: A lemman two so bright. N: A lemman two so bright (line 780). This beauty contest motif is also present in Sir Launfal when Tryamour and her ladies are compared to Guenevere (Gwenore) who has insulted Launfal and made a false accusation, thereby necessitating a trial. Because Launfal has broken his pledge of discretion and silence to Tryamour, he is no longer able to call upon her for aid. The outcome of the trial will depend on whether his claim of a lady more beautiful than Guenevere is true.

768 L: Jeffron le Freudous. N: Geffron le Frediens (line 787). All manuscripts have trouble with this name; C: Gyffroun le Fludous (line 772) or Flowdous (line 751); L: Jeffron le Freudous (line 768) or Freudys (line 789); LI: Jeffron le Frondous (fol. 8v); A: Gefferon lefrondeus or lefrendeus (fol. 46r); P: Giffron la ffrandous (fol. 162r) , and Cooper, line 802, has Giffron La ffraudeus. In LBD, the knight’s name is Giflés, li fius Do (line 1805). Mills notes that “Gyffroun is in himself one of the most polite and reasonable of all the hero’s antagonists” (LD, p. 221n785–89). While Jeffron is clearly more chivalrous than the other antagonists, “polite” and “reasonable” are perhaps exaggerations.

785 L: That Er Aunctours was. N: That the erle of Auntouris was (line 804). This refers to the earl Antore mentioned earlier in L, C, and A as the father of Violet, but omitted in N. The bestowing of the earl’s armor upon Lybeaus, however, is mentioned at N, lines 736–38, so N’s omission of the earlier passage is likely an error. See note to line 690.

794 L: Come prickande with pryde. N: Come prikyng as prins in pride (line 813). The resonance of this with Spenser’s Redcrosse Knight, who goes pricking across the plain at the beginning of Book 1 of the Faerie Queene, is worth noting, though there is no evidence that Spenser knew LD. To “prick” means to spur a horse to move at a quicker pace, but also connotes “distress,” “grief,” “goading,” or “urging to action” as used in the devotional work, The Prick of Conscience.

805 L: Ther is no woman so white. N: That woman is none so white (line 824). The color gestures to the conventional effictio, the formal rhetorical description of ideal beauty, where “white” signals the delicacy of a woman’s skin rather than its color. Thus the line means “that no woman is as beautiful.”

817 L: In Cordile cité with sight. N: short stanza. The site is probably Cardiff as is the case with Cardyle in L, line 830. Variant spellings are: Cardelof, Cardull, Karlof, Cardeuyle, Kardeuyle, Kardill, Karlill, Cardigan. Shuffelton speculates that the city is “[p]ossibly Carlisle, in northern England,” but, as Mills argues, the Welsh city of Cardiff is more likely (Shuffelton, p. 478n844; LD, p. 222n800).

837 L: And hit the mayde Elyne. N: And seide to maide Elyne (line 853). Lybeaus’s election of Elene to the role of substitute maiden differs from source and cognate tales. Chrétien’s Erec selects his host’s daughter, Enide, whom he later marries, as his fair maiden to champion in the contest. LBD has the wronged Margerie claim the sparrowhawk for him so that he can avenge her. Lybeaus, however, has neither love nor justice as a motive here; his is a subterfuge that allows him to meet his opponent in combat and utilize chivalry to promote himself and his reputation.

850 L: Thow doste a savage dede. N: Nowe is this a wondir dede (line 866). The wise dwarf in L reminds the still-churlish Lybeaus that this is not what chivalry is supposed to be, whereas in N he reminds Lybeaus that he is not evincing appropriate adult (chivalric) male behavior. Using ladies as tournament prizes undermines the central tenets of chivalry, that is, to honor ladies and fight on their behalf, and to champion their causes, especially if they involve unlawful captivity. This is the damsel-in-distress motif so prevalent in Arthurian romance. This stanza is not in C. N and A draw attention to inexperience and youth, L, to churlishness and madness (madd hede, line 853).

854 L: As lorde that will be lorne. N: As man that wolde be ylore (line 870). Despite the apparent similarity between L’s “lorne” and N’s “ylore,” the two words are different. L’s “lorne” means “lost,” as the dwarf chastizes Lybeaus for acting mad, as someone who is either “lost” mentally or a suicide (running toward certain death). N, however, alters the charge of madness to childishness; the dwarf accuses Lybeaus of juvenile behavior, acting as a schoolboy who has yet to learn something of value.

857 L: And in Bedlem was borne. N: That we ne come him bifore (line 873). L’s reference to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ Child points to an archetypal event that underscores the religious ideals of chivalry, that is, humility and obedience to one’s Lord, even when He appears in the body of an infant. This will stand in stark contrast to the necromancers depicted later. Lybeaus’s response here indicates his misunderstanding of these chivalric ideals (much akin to Perceval’s early misunderstanding of the purpose of the Grail quest) and his sensitivity to the imputation of his prowess.

861 L: The mayde Ellyne, also tighth. N: That maide feire and fre (line 877). Mills (LD, p. 222n844–91) notes similarities between this description of Elene and Dame Tryamour in Sir Launfal. The description of Elene’s attire, ornamentally beautified with precious metals, jewels, and furs, indicates the wealth supporting Elene, perhaps provided by her lady, the queen of north Wales, also known as the Lady of Synadoun. The rest of Elene’s attire reflects the “best” of the “empire” she represents, that is, North Wales. L adds to her apparel “a robe of samyte” (line 862), a costly fabric that enhances her appearance even further.

885–87 L: He bare ... gold the bordure. N: He bare ... golde was the border, ryngid with floris (lines 901–03). Although the details differ, both texts offer a depiction of Jeffron’s heraldic device; heraldry and its emblems were an important means by which identity could be ascertained when a knight was unknown and his face was covered by a visor. The description of the shield, like the description of the ladies’ attire, typically signals allegiance to a court and kinship group. Its obvious display of material wealth suggests the high standing of the knight in his relation to the court. See notes to lines 93 and 254 above.

898–99 L: A lady proude in pryde, / Iclothed in purpyll palle. N: A lady ful of pride, / Yclothid in purpul palle (lines 914–15). The description of Jeffron’s lady differs somewhat from the description of Elene. Jeffron’s lady wears purple, while Elene wears white. In her edition of LBD, Karen Fresco adds that “purple was a rare and costly fabric, probably made out of silk imported from Tyre and Alexandria. It came in several colors and seems to have been worn by royalty. In LBD only Blonde Esmeree, a princess, wears popre” (p. 393n3279). In LD there is also an elaborate description of the lady’s rosy complexion and her blond hair, “as gold wyre shynynge bryght.” Blond hair is considered desirable in ladies of medieval romance in general, but in the French version hair color is particularly important as indicated by the name of LBD’s Lady of Synadoun, that is, la Blonde Esmeree. For a classical medieval description of idealized female beauty, see Geoffrey of Vinsauf’s Poetria Nova, pp. 36–37.

912 L: Hir browes also blacke as sylke threde. N: Hur browys as silken threde (line 928). Well-shaped, clearly separated, and darkly colored eyebrows were considered a sign of beauty, as were gray eyes, milky white complexion, and an elongated “swyre,” that is, neck. A woman’s eyebrows, if not separated but rather as one continuous growth across the forehead, were considered a sign of sexual promiscuity. There is an interesting contrast to be made with the later description of the eyebrows of the Saracen giant Maugis.

930–31 L: Ellyne the messangere / Ne were but a lawnder. N: Elyne the mesynger / Nas but a lavender (lines 946–47). When it becomes apparent that Elene cannot win this beauty contest, an unflattering comparison to a laundrywoman ensues. In Erec et Enide, the sparrowhawk contest over the most beautiful woman resides less in the relative merits of each woman and more in the power of love to influence the judgment of lovers. Renaut takes this idea to an extreme in that Giflet’s damsel is truly ugly, so that there is no real contest between her and Margerie; instead, Renaut’s narrator marvels at how “love could so disturb his judgment . . . for Love makes the ugliest woman seem a beauty”(lines 1731,1734). In LD, by contrast, the contest is real, and onlookers declare that Elene, though fair, is much less beautiful than Jeffron’s maiden. Unlike Jeffron (or Erec or Giflet), however, Lybeaus is not in love; only pride motivates him here. This is the first of two or three episodes that project weakness or bad judgment by the hero (see note to line 837 above). The mistaken motives are also marked by Lybeaus’s severely violent defeat of Jeffron, who has his “rigge tobrake” (N, line 1006; L, line 990, “Geffrounes backe to-brake”), the same excessive result of violence inflicted upon one of William’s nephews earlier, so that he has to be carried to town on his shield. Shuffelton notes that “In comparison to other versions of this motif, the outcome here is surprising. Usually the hero’s lady is judged more beautiful, prompting a combat to settle the dispute. Though Elyne has been described as bryght, schene, and sembly (lines 120–32), perhaps her beauty is downplayed here so that Lybeaus’s attempt to win the falcon seems all the more rash” (p. 478n953).

944 L: Magré thyne hede, hore (so, too; C, line 915). N: compare line 960. In agree­ment with L, C, has “Maugre thyne heed hore” (line 915) and LI, “Mawgre thy berd hore” (Cooper line 513; fol. 8v), whereas in agreement with N, P has “Maugre thy head indeed” (Cooper line 978; fol. 163r) and A, Thoff thou be wroth therforn (line 971); LI, C, and L imply that Geffron is an older or an old man, which does not make sense here.

951–52 L: Her shaftis brosten asondre, / Her dyntis ferden as thonder. N: Here schaftis brake in sondir, / Hare dyntis fyrde as dondir (lines 967–68). The sound and fury signifies the intensity of this confrontation between the brash young upstart and his experienced opponent.

960 L: This yonge frely freke. N: So this yonge freke (line 976). The description here likely is more positive than it appears to be to modern readers since “frely freke,” according to the MED, denotes the fair, noble, freeborn knight rather than the more negatively construed modern word for one who resides outside the norm in terms of appearance or behavior, that is, “freak.”

967–68 L: As Alysaunder or Kyng Arthur, / Lawncelot or Syr Percevalle. N: As Alexaundre or Kyng Arthour, / Launselake or Persevale (lines 983–84). The comparison to these particular figures, all of whom had similar childhood experiences and a distinctive fearlessness in combat, underscores one of the central themes of romance, that is, that even those fairly unknown can acquire a legitimate place in the annals of literary history, if not history itself. The enfances of LD is often compared to the enfances of Sir Perceval of Galles; both are examples of the fair unknown motif and both men come to Arthur’s court knowing little of chivalry. That all these historic icons are products of a traumatic or atypical childhood appears to be a prerequisite of transformation in narratives of heroic triumph.

986 L: As wolfe that wolde at wede. N: As a man that wolde of wede (line 1002). The shift from wolf to man signals recognition of a proverbial expression and alters the more typical and negative aphorism of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (See note for line 648.)

1000 L: Was borne home on his shelde. N: Geffron in his schilde / Was ybore out of the filde (lines 1015–16). Carrying bodies off the field using a shield as a stretcher is an ancient practice, maybe one reason shields were designed to be as large as possible. See also note for line 488.

1003 L: By a knyght that hight Cadas. N: Bi a knyght that hight Clewdas (line 1019). This may refer to Cadoc the king who “fought in a Castle of Maidens tournament, where he was defeated by Gawain’s son Guinglain” in Renaut’s version (AND, p. 93, s.v. “Cadoc"). In A, this character is named Lucas; other variants are Gludas (C), Caudas (LI), and Chaudas (P).

1011–13 L: He hathe sent me . . . he fyrst byganne. N: He hath sende me . . . Sithe he furst bigan (lines 1027–29). Arthur’s recognition of Lybeaus’s deeds vis-à-vis the “trophies” he sends back to the court points to the central tenet of feudal relations, that is, the king’s duty to reward his knights and the knight’s duty to fight on behalf of the king. Lybeaus has fought, at this point, William, his three nephews, two giants, and Jeffron: seven opponents in four battles.

1019 L: Kardill towne. N: Karlille toune (line 1035). This refers to Carlisle, the chief residence of King Arthur, or perhaps Cardiff. See note for line 817.

1034–35 L: For youre frely sale: / Hit blowis motis jolelye. N: Fer yere ferly falle! / Sir Otis hit blewe, de la Ile (lines 1050–51). The dwarf, presumably speaking to Elene, recognizes the sound of the horn as coming from the vicinity of Synadoun, thus signaling the company’s progress. This marks the beginning of the episode with Sir Otis de Lile (or de la Ile), once a loyal servant of the Lady of Synadoun, who has since abandoned her to her fate. As Mills notes, this name is equivalent to Orguillous de la Lande, the huntsman knight of Renaut’s LBD, line 1486, whose name translates to “Proud Knight of the Glade.” In LBD, the story of the hunter (li venere) and the brachet takes place before the adventure of the sparrowhawk. Clarie, the maiden rescued from giants by Li Biaus, catches up with him and his party. They spy a stag followed by hunting dogs with a small brachet trailing behind. Clarie picks up the brachet, saying that she will take the dog to her lady, when the hunter rides up and demands the return of his brachet. In this version, Li Biaus attempts to persuade Clarie to return the brachet, but she refuses, and at this point the hunter conspires to take the dog back by force. One might compare this situation to Malory’s Torre and Pellinore, a section in which knights go out to claim hounds or deer that belong to someone else, resulting in deaths and destruction that call into question the tenets of chivalry. In LD, the hero seems more at fault for having given Elene the brachet himself and therefore he is completely responsible for refusing to return it to Otis, once more placing himself in the wrong. In LBD, Orguillous de la Lande attacks Li Biaus alone, whereas in LD, Sir Otis later waylays Lybeaus with a host of knights; this proves to be his most difficult combat yet, one in which he is seriously wounded. Mills (p. 226n1009) points out that the name in LD may derive from Duke Otus, who in Guy of Warwick is Guy’s entrenched enemy.

1040 L: West into Wyralle. N: West into Wirale (line 1056). This refers to what was known as the Wilderness of Wirral, a forested area northwest of Liverpool, next to Wales. Gawain finds himself in the “wyldrenesse of Wyrale” (line 701) in SGGK.

1042 L: They sawe a rache com renynge. N: Ther come a rache rennyng (line 1058). Unlike the greyhound bred to hunt by sight, this breed of dog hunts by scent.

1047 L: He was of all coloures. N: For he was of alle colours gay (line 1063). Although N indicates the variegated colors of the canine, “of alle colours gay,” missing from this short stanza are the lines that complete the description, “That man may se of floures / Bytwene Mydsomer and Maye” (L, lines 1048–49).
As Mills (LD, p. 227n1021–23) suggests, the description of the brachet may reflect the multicolored Peticrewe in Sir Tristrem: “He was rede, grene and blewe” (line 2404), although in that narrative the animal is not a hunting dog but a lap dog presented to Duke Gilan of Wales by one of the goddesses of Avalon. The bell around its neck was thought to bring happiness to the owner of the dog, hence Isolde, in her efforts to be as unhappy as Tristan, rips it off. Lybeaus’s chasing of the diminutive canine recalls a similar episode in Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, only there the attention-getting whelp leads the dreamer to a grieving knight (lines 386–449). References to this particular breed of dog appear also in other notable ME romances (see Lupack, Lancelot of the Laik and Sir Tristrem, pp. 224–25, lines 2399–2420).

1048 L: That man may se of floures. This line is missing in N, but the sense survives there without it, namely that the many colors are those nature brings forth between Midsummer and May (see below).

1049 L: Bytwene Mydsomer and Maye. N: Bitwene Mydsomer and May (line 1064). Mid­summer, usually in June, marked a time of festive celebration of the longest day of the year.

1083 L: Quod Sir Otis de Lile. N: Quod Sir Otis de la Ile (line 1098). Mills identifies this name as equivalent to l’Orguillous de la Lande, the huntsman knight of LBD, line 1486 (Mills, LD, p. 236; Fresco, p. 88). The name may also refer to the treacherous Duke Otoun in The Stanziac Guy of Warwick. In A, this character is named Otys de la Byle. See note to line 1034 above.

1088 L: Chorle. N: Chourle (line 1103). The use of churl here suggests Lybeaus’s own lack of training in the finer points of courtesy. He resorts to name-calling to which Otis responds with verbal indignation and an identification of just who his parents were, that is, “My fader an erle was . . . the countesse of Carlehille, / Forsothe, was my dame” (lines 1092–93). Shuffelton notes that “Rate’s spelling of the insult, carle, and the place name, Carlehyll has created a little joke here, perhaps inspired by another Middle English romance, Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle” (p. 478n1120).

1108 L: Rode home to his toure. N: Rode home in that schoure (line 1123). N’s phrase is a variation of “a god schoure,” that is, quickly.

1117–18 L: Though he were the grymmer grome / Than Launcelet de Lake. N: Though he were also stronge / As Launcelet de Lake (lines 1132–33). The comparison here is interesting, since Lancelot is known as much for his fierce loyalty and devotion to Guenevere as he is for his fierceness in battle. So too the term refers to Lybeaus’s immaturity. The MED defines grome as ranging in meaning from “infant” to “boy” to “young man” as well as social ranking: “A man of low station or birth; also, a worthless person.”

1146 L: arblast. N: areblast (line 1161). This is a synonym for a crossbow as well as a term for the missile discharged from the weapon.

1153 L: This is the devyll Satan. N: Here comyth the devil Satan (line 1168). Another example of misidentification and name-calling; this name is often used in romance to describe giants, heretics, and pagan others.

1161 L: For twelve knyghtis, all prest. N: Twelve knyghtis prest (line 1176). There is a distinct imbalance between opposing sides here.

1179–80 L: Lybeous slowe of hem three, / The fourthe begon to flee. N: And four awey gan fle (line 1194). N omits a line here and changes the text so that four flee rather than the fourth.

1183 L: And his sonnes foure. N: And his sonnys fowre (line 1197). Mills notes that “the huntsman’s sons are not mentioned in any of the cognates,” and he cites a similar passage in Bevis of Hampton: “Two ffosters he smote adowne / Wyth the dynte of hys tronchon / vi he slewe at dyntys thre / And odur vi away can flee” (LD, p. 229n1153–58). Shuffelton observes that “The appearance of Sir Otys’s sons is not otherwise mentioned, and seems an afterthought on the part of Chestre” (p. 478n1210).

1186 L: He one agaynes fyve. N: He alone ayenst fyve (line 1200). The imbalance between oppositions heightens the degree of aggression and makes the next line — Faughte as he were wode — necessity rather than the hyperbole typical of chivalric romance. As the scene suggests, getting into a state of battle frenzy enables Lybeaus to overcome the inequity. He is even able to kill three horses, one stroke each. In this instance, Lybeaus does not balk at being outnumbered, as he did when faced with two giants.

1194 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 1180 ff.

1202 L: Bothe mayle and plate. N: Throwe helme and basnet plate (line 1216). That Lybeaus is able to cut through chain mail or helmet as well as steel-plated armor suggests his extraordinary strength. Just as Havelok the Dane demonstrates his manpower in feats of strength that later enable him to reclaim his patrimony and avenge the death of his sisters, so too Lybeaus demonstrates his martial prowess. Havelok, unlike the others, goes through a number of contests literally designed to test his strength as a man, not as a knight. He is also described as taller than other men.

1217 L: Under a chesteyne tree. N: Undir a chesteyne tre (line 1231). As Mills aptly observes “the submission of one character to another under a (chestnut) tree occurs in a number of romances. Sometimes the dominating character possesses supernatural powers, as in Sir Gowther. . . where a fiend begets a child on a lady; sometimes both characters are human, as in Le Bone Florence” (LD, p. 230n1189–94). Other romances in which this motif may be found include The Erle of Tolous, Bevis of Hampton, and Sir Orfeo.

1247 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1233 ff.

1263 L: Kynge Arthur had gode game. N: Kyng Arthour had good game (line 1274). Arthur’s delight in storytelling prior to sitting down to a meal is extended to his reception of prisoners. The submission and recounting of the narrative and the knight responsible for the defeat contributes to Lybeaus’s burgeoning reputation, a necessity for a knight who needs to prove himself. Lybeaus’s growing list of credentials convinces the king that he has chosen wisely. This is the first instance where Arthur and the court recognize Lybeaus as an accomplished knight of the Round Table.

1269–71 L: Nowe rest we here a while / Of Sir Otys de Lyle / And tell we forthe oure talis. N: Rest we nowe a while / Of Sir Otys de la Ile / And telle we of othir talis (lines 1280–82). As is typically found in tail-rhyme romance, these lines mark a transition from one episode to the next.

1273–74 L: And sey awntours the while / And Irlande and in Walys. N: In Cornewaile and in Walis (line 1285). Requisite adventures for the aspiring knight are suggested here. Although crossing the Irish Sea is not a formidable challenge to the resourceful knight, the link between these two Celtic kingdoms is a feature of Arthurian literature, particularly the Tristan thread. Both N and A place Lybeaus’s adventures in Cornwall and Wales, whereas P has him in England and Wales. L and C place him in Ireland and Wales. A journey to Ireland would take Lybeaus out of his way, and there is no such itinerary in any of the sources. Mills, following Schofield, sees the reference to Ireland as a misunderstanding of a source passage, suggesting that C and L represent the author’s line (LD, p. 231n1222–24). N, A, and P, however, place Lybeaus within the conventional settings for Arthurian adventures and offer a more reasonable and typical area of sojourn rather than an extended period of quest such an Irish journey would require. See also the note for line 1479 below, where N also reduces the amount of time Lybeaus spends with Dame Amoure / Diamour. These are examples of N (and often A, P) revising or correcting the excesses of the other manuscripts’ details (see Mills, “Mediaeval Reviser”).

1276 L: Whan fenell hangeth al grene. N: Whan levys and buskis ben grene (line 1287). L’s specific reference to fennel refers to a perennial plant described in one of the quotations in the MED as having a “double manner of kynde, wilde and tame” (p. 487). Although less specific, N, too, marks a shift in the narrative with a shift in seasons, when leaves and bushes were green; see Malory’s opening of “The Knight of the Cart” and “Slander and Strife” in Le Morte Darthur.

1280 L: And notis of the nyghtyngale. N: Of the nyghtingale (line 1291). Nightingales have long been associated with pivotal moments in romance narrative. In Marie de France’s Laüstic, the songbird provides an excuse for the lovers to communicate at night. When the jealous husband discovers the ruse, he kills the bird and throws its body at his wife, staining her white chemise with blood. In Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (Book 2, line 918), the nightingale sings outside Criseyde’s window as she dreams of the white eagle who steals away her heart. There the mirage is ominous in that it recalls the allusion to the myth of Philomela and Procne at the outset of the fated day (Book 2, lines 64–70).

1290 L: Men clepeth this Il de Ore. N: Men clepith hit Il d’Ore (line 1301). Literally the Isle of Gold or Golden Isle, this place appears in LBD as the island replete with a castle belonging to the Maiden of the White Hands (la Pucele as Blances Mains); in LD, the castle belongs to Dame Amoure/Diamour, whose name evokes the seductive love she will later proffer Lybeaus.

1291 L: Here be fightis more. N: Ther hathe ybe fighting more (line 1302). P (line 1337) reads: “There hath beene slaine knights more” (fol. 165v, line 1337 in Cooper).

1296 L: A gyaunt that heght Maugys. N: A giaunt that hat Maugus (line 1307). The corresponding figure in LBD is Malgiers li Gris, a knight who guards the fantastic castle, l’Isle d’Or, the Golden Isle (line 1930) and who is the suitor of the enchantress la Pucele as Blances Mains, the Maiden of the White Hands (line 1941). La Pucele has promised to marry him if he can defend the causeway that leads to the castle:
The maiden had decreed that any knight who could defend her island for seven years, against any knight who passed that way, could marry her. Malgier set his sights on accomplishing the goal, although he was so loathsome that the Maiden would have found some way to get out of the marriage anyway. After five years, he had killed 140 knights and seemed undefeatable, but he was finally killed by Gawain’s son Guinglain. (AND, p. 340)
Malgiers has defeated all would-be suitors and placed their helmeted heads on stakes before the causeway. Although he is an evil knight (“fel, cuvers et mals / mais trop ert plains de mautalans” [cruel, base, and wicked, / a faithless scoundrel]) (lines 2035–36), he is not, like Maugis, a Saracen giant. Mills assumes that the author has confused Malgiers li Gris with “the typical Saracen giant of heroic romances” (LD, p. 232n1243–48). This may not be a matter of confusion. Maugus does resemble stock Saracen giants, who are racially distinct. Maugus is called a “devil so blak” (N, line 1374), as is the Saracen giant in Octovian Imperator, which, like Sir Launfal, has been attributed to Thomas Chestre. The giant in Octovian Imperator does not wear black armor, but he has “blake yghen” (line 935), is similarly associated with animal traits, and has an inhuman height: “He was of lengthe twenty feet” (line 925). Giants in medieval romance are also associated with “unbridled lust,” functioning as emblems of lower or bestial human aspects (Saunders, Rape and Ravishment, p. 209). This reinvention of Maugus, then, may have to do with the parallel shift in the characterization of the lady of l'Isle d’Or. In LD, she is a malevolent enchantress who sidetracks Lybeaus from his true quest to rescue the Lady of Synadoun, while in LBD la Pucelle is a benevolent sorceress who helps him. It is generically and aesthetically appropriate, therefore, for an evil enchantress to have a Saracen giant associated with lust to challenge Lybeaus. The combination of evil enchantress and stock evil giant, then, brings two conventional villains to bear on Lybeaus, whereas Li Biaus fights a combatant who turns out to be another suitor and thus a competitor for la Pucele’s affections. The name “Maugys/Maugus” has eluded modern scholarship, though the chanson de geste hero Maugis bears some kinship to the Maugus of LD. Maugis belongs to the Charlemagne stories of France, and his family exploits are contained in what is known as the “Renaud de Montauban cycle” of tales. Maugis or Maugris was a foundling raised by the fairy Oriane; he became a great enchanter, learned in both white magic and the black arts. Later, he becomes the lover of the enchantress/fairy Oriane. At one point, Maugis dons Saracen arms. Maugus in LD similarly has Saracen arms and battles in the service of an (evil) enchantress. The Middle English author may have imported and adjusted his material in order to develop his version of the LBD, especially his adjustment of the alliance between the “Saracen hero” Maugus and the malevolent Diamour.

1305 L: He is thirty fote on leynthe. N: He is furti fote longe (line 1316). As Mills notes, “the description of Maugys’s size . . . makes his fighting on horseback unexpected.” He remarks, moreover, that Chestre “was not wholly consistent in remodelling Malgiers on the lines of a Saracen giant” (LD, p. 233n1291–93). Perhaps this giant is more akin to Ascopard in Bevis of Hampton, who begins as a supporter of Bevis and Josian but becomes a traitor later in the narrative. Also, Amoraunt, the giant in Guy of Warwick may be alluded to in this recharacterization. Only N has Maugus’s height as forty feet, clearly exaggerating his gigantic size in order to develop the stock Saracen villain. A’s Magus (the name is perhaps a play on the Latin word for magician, magus) is “thryty fote longe” (line 1331): P reduces his height to “20 ffoote of length” (line 1351, fol.165v). The line is missing in LI.

1317 ff. L: missing stanza. N: And so is he grymly / As Y telle thee, wittirly / He is also grete / As is an ox or a kowe . . . Or as grete as any nete (lines 1328-33). Mills (p. 232nL1316) notes that this stanza, which expands the giant’s description, appears only in A and N. It follows the typical elaboration of comparisons to animal traits common to stock giants in medieval romance. See note 1305 above. A, however, introduces an ass and a cow as beasts scarcely able to draw Maugis’ cart of equipment. N, by way of contrast, introduces animals as comparisons to the giant; Maugis is as large as an ox, a cow, or any. The Naples text, then, emphasizes animal characteristics, and we might say that he “transforms” Maugis by moving him in the direction of the bestial, which is perhaps intended to link him more firmly to the Circean Dame Amoure/Diamour.

1331 L: That men calleth Ile Dolour. N: That men clepith Il d’Ore (line 1354). L seems to veer away from the original name of the island to suggest perhaps its dark side, a cause of human pain and sorrow, but N repeats the name of the Golden Isle in anticipation of Lybeaus’s encounter with the sorceress, Dame Amoure or Diamour, who dwells there. In LBD, the Isle d’Or is an enchanted island with a fabulous castle where la Pucele lives.

1337 L: Thre mawmentis therin wes. N: Four mawmetts therin was (line 1360). ME romance often represents Saracens as idol worshipers. Mawmetts are pagan idols. The word comes from Old French Mahomet, a corruption of Mohammed, whose name thus became synonymous with “idol.” A and N characteristically enhance the stock, villainous nature of Maugis, here increasing the mawmetts on his shield from three to four; so too, C, line 1275.

1343 L: Tell me whate arte thowe. N: Telle me whate art thowe (line 1369). In Ywain and Gawain, Colgrevance tells a story in which a peasant asks him, “What ertow, belamy” (line 278), and later King Arthur asks Ywain the same question, “What man ertow?” (line 1341). Such questions in medieval romance foreground the theme of chivalric identity, and therefore Lybeaus identifies himself here as an Arthurian knight. His full identity, his true name and parentage, is later revealed in stages by Sir Lambard, the Lady of Synadoun, and (in N, A only) Lybeaus’s mother.

1353–54 L: Syr Lybeus and Maugis / On stedis proude in prise. N: Maugus on fote yode, / And Libeous rode to him with his stede (lines 1376–77). L and C present Maugis on horseback, which, as Mills (LD, p. 233n1291–93) notes, is unlikely given his size. A, N, P place Maugis on foot, thus eliminating the inconsistency. See also Mills, “Mediaeval Reviser,” pp. 13–14.

1363 L: That levyd on Turmagaunte. N: That levyth on Termagaunt (line 1386). Termagaunt is the name of another pagan god sometimes said in ME romances to be worshiped by Saracens.

1375 L: That his shelde fell him froo. N: That his swerde fille him fro (line 1398). A, N agree that Lybeaus loses his sword here, whereas L, C, P have him lose his shield at this point in his fight with Maugis, which later proves inconsistent. Since Lybeaus reaches for an ax as a weapon in the next stanza, it seems reasonable that he has lost his sword. N omits the detail of the ax’s location found in A, C, L, and P (the stanza is missing in LI); e.g., “That henge by his arsowne” (L, line 1384).

1378 L: And smote Lybeous stede on the hede. N: And hit Libeous’ stede on the hede (line 1401). Horses die as frequently as the knights they carry in this romance. Lybeaus will retaliate against Maugis’s horse by driving his ax “Through Maugis stede swyre”(L, line 1386). The killing of a knight’s horse may be read as a symbolic act, indicting that in chivalry equine lives are also at risk.

1383 L: And an ax hent ybowne. N: An ax he hent ful sone (line 1406). Note that here N once more presents a more coherent text; where L, C, and P have Lybeaus smite off the head of Maugis’s horse (which he is too large to ride), N has him aim at Maugis’s neck, missing, and striking the giant’s shield instead so that it flies away, thus remaining consistent to the idea that Maugis fights on foot and not on horseback. Maugis is depicted in A as losing only a piece of his shield. Later, however, Lybeaus runs to recover that shield: N’s version presents the more credible adventure.

1395–96 L: From the oure of pryme / Tyll it were evensonge tyme. N: From the owre of the prime / Til hit was evesonge tyme (lines 1418–19). It was customary for fighting to cease at evensong or vespers.

1399 L: “Maugis, thine ore.” N: “Maugus, thyne ore(line 1422). Combat would seemingly have few rules, but there are still common courtesies to be expected. Here Lybeaus requests a moment to refresh himself with a drink of water, after which Maugis “smertly hym smytte” (L, line 1412). Maugis's unchivalric action endorses the medieval stereotype of the Saracen giant.

1422 L: I shall for this baptyse. N: Y schalle for thi baptise (line 1445). The irony of this retort suggests the symbolic meaning of Lybeaus’s refreshment. Like Spenser’s Redcrosse Knight, his strength has been renewed by water from the well (or stream). Mills’s remark expands the allusion to a scene in Guy of Warwick in which the eponymous hero battles the giant Amoraunt: “Guy agrees [to allow Amoraunt to drink from the river] and Amoraunt quenches his thirst, but later denies Guy permission to do the same unless he discloses his identity to him. But even when he has done this, Amoraunt refuses to let him go, and he has to make a dash for the river. While he is drinking he is knocked into it by the giant, but he quickly recovers, curses the giant for his treachery, and says that although ‘baptized’ by Amoraunt, he does not owe his name to him” (LD, p. 234n1333–62). The reference to “baptism” is found in the Anglo-Norman Gui and in the ME texts of Guy found in manuscripts Caius 107 (8514–17) and CUL MS ff.ii.38 (8265–68) (Mills, LD, p. 234n1333–62). The allusion to baptism is not in the Stanzaic Guy of Warwick, however.

1445 L: jepowne. The jupon (gipon) may refer to the tunic worn under the breastplate, but, more likely here, it designates his surcoat bearing his coat of arms worn outside chain mail and breastplate. See OED, jupon, n. 1.

1449–50 L: The gyaunte this ganne see / That he shulde slayne bee. N: The giaunt gan to se / That he schulde yslayne be (lines 1472–73). Mills (LD, p. 235n1384–94) observes a close correspondence between this scene and the scene in Octovian Imperator where Florent kills the giant Guymerraunt (in the Northern Octavian the giant’s name is Arageous or Aragonour).

1462 L: la Dame Amoure. N: Diamour (line 1484). La Pucele in LBD, this lady’s symbolic name literally means Love in L, but in N perhaps it is more akin to Duessa in The Faerie Queene. A, C, and P retain the image of “whiteness” found in LBD: A, line 1498, “That lady was whyte as flower;” C, line 1399, “A lady whyt as flowr,” added to N here to retain the sense, and P, line 1507, “A Ladye white as the Lyllye flower.” L and LI mention only that she is “bright” (L, line 1461; LI, line 694). It seems likely, therefore, that N would have retained the image of whiteness captured in A and P. As Maria Bendinelli Predelli (Bel Gherardino, p. 235) suggests, whiteness conventionally marks noblewomen as fitting objects of knightly love, and the phrase “white as flower” or “white as lily flower” is merely a chivalric stereotype. However, it may be a direct echo of LBD or a similar version, where “whiteness” is a significant attribute of la Pucele, figured not only in her name but in her description (see lines 2238, 2403–10): her whiteness, too, is compared to a lily flower — “Mains ot blances con flors de lis” (line 2241) — which conveys a dimension of sanctity to her role, since the lily is traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. Unlike la Pucele, however, Dame Amoure/Diamour is cast as a malevolent enchantress. Blancemal’s name and the attribute of whiteness serve to mark her ambiguity, much like la Fata Bianca in Bel Gherardino or Li Biaus’s mother in LBD. In both LD and Bel Gherardino, the figure of the sorceress retains the “whiteness” of la Pucele, even while their narrative roles have changed. Sanctity, however, is rendered ambiguous in the Old French name, Blancemal, a combination of blance (white) and mal (evil), and perhaps this is why Lybeaus’s mother is not named in LD. Like Circe, Dame Amoure/Diamour tempts Lybeaus away from his quest to liberate the Lady of Synadoun and to disregard Elene: “he forgate mayde Elyne” (L, line 1481). In Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain, the eponymous knight forgets to return to his wife, Laudine, in a year as promised.

1473 L: Lybeous graunted hir in haste. N: Sir Libeous graunt it in hast (line 1495). Dame Amoure/Diamour offers Lybeaus what appears to be her hand in marriage to­gether with all of her cities and castles, that is, her inheritable lands and properties as well as the cities owing her allegiance (and taxes). Lybeaus accepts this propo­sition. Only N inserts the pronoun “it” in Lybeaus’s acceptance, a pronoun that logically connects his agreement to Diamour’s offer. The other manuscript vari­ants include C, line 1411, “Lybeauus grauntede yn haste”; A, line 1510, “Lybeus grantyd hyr in haste”; and P, fol. 166v, “Sir Lybius frened her in hast,” where frened probably signifies “frended,” that is, he became friends with her (Cooper’s text, line 1519 reads frened). The variants without the pronoun perhaps imply his consent to her proposition of marriage, but when combined with “her” might also suggest that his consent was primarily to her person, her beauty. N makes it clear that his consent is to her proposition first, and then afterwards he “love to {plain hur cast” (line 1496). The distinction of the pronoun is significant, given the text’s focus on marital consent throughout; this illegitimate marriage based upon magical coercion contrasts markedly with Lybeaus's later marriage, which is based upon free consent. See Weldon, "Naked as he was bore."

1475–76 L: For she was bright and shene. / Alas, she hadde be chaaste. N: For sho was bright and schene. / Alas, that sho nad be ychastid (lines 1497–98). Shuffelton notes that these two lines are missing in A and suggests that the omission may be deliberate: “Though the lines may have been missing in Rate’s exemplar, it is also possible that he omitted them due to their suggestion of a sexual liaison [as in L and N]. But line 1513 [A]— ‘sche dyde hym traye and tene’—nevertheless hints at Denamowre’s seduction of Lybeaus” (p. 479n1511), as does his protracted stay with her and her offer of marriage. In L and N, the narrator immediately characterizes the enchantress as an improper match for Lybeaus.

1479 L: For twelve monthes and more. N: Thre wokis and more (line 1501). In LBD, the hero spends only one night with the sorceress, whereas Lybeaus spends a year or more with her in C, L, P but only three weeks in A, N. The length of his stay is illegible in LI, line 712, although the reference to “monyth and more” clearly indicates more than several weeks. The reduced amount of time of Lybeaus’s enchanted stay with Diamour in A, N to some extent lessens his culpability as well as the power of the enchantress over him.

1487 L: Than other suche fyve. N: Than othir wicchis fyve (line 1509). N, together with C and LI, introduces the term wicchis, further intensifying the impression that the sorcery practiced by Dame Amoure/Diamour is aligned with the occult. Further, her enchantment is associated with minstrel music (“She made hym suche melodye / Of all maner mynstralsye” (L, lines 1488–89). As Linda Marie Zaerr, “Music and Magic,” points out, a conjunction of magic and music appears in the enchanted hall of Iran and Mabon, where Lybeaus hears and sees minstrels: “Trumpys, hornys, sarvysse, / Right byfor that highe deys, / He herde and saughe with sight” (L, lines 1836–38). As he proceeds further, he sees minstrels in the niches of the walls and again hears their music: “Suche maner mynstralsye / Was never within wall” (L, lines 1855–56). That the necromancy of Mabon and Iran involves magic and music, similar to the musical sorcery of Diamour, is suggestive. Also important to note is that the analogues frequently depict Lybeaus’s mother as a woman of fairy or possibly an enchantress. In LBD, for example, the protagonist’s mother is Blancemal le Fee. In the ME romance, Lybeaus’s mother is not depicted as either a fairy or a sorceress, although in N she is referred to as “a giantis lady” (line 2249).

1498 L: He mete Elyne that may. N: He mette Elyne, that feire may (line 1520). That Elene hangs around until she can catch Lybeaus alone to correct his errancy under­scores her loyalty to the cause of her lady as well as her confidence in Lybeaus’s now-proven abilities to accomplish the mission.

1520 L: Jurflete was his name. N: Sir Jeffelot was his name (line 1539). Also known in other variants as Gyrflete, Jerflete, Jeffelot, or Gesloke. A squire made into a steward marks a distinctive move up the social ladder. In A, this character is called Syr Gesloke. R. W. Ackerman suggests a link with Girflet, son of Do of Carduel, who became a knight of the Round Table and was “slain by Lancelot in the abduction of Guinevere” (Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English, p. 112). See also note to line 240 above. In LBD, squire Robert accompanies the hero from the Arthurian court together with Helie and the dwarf. Furthermore, Gyflet, son of Do, in LBD, is the name of the knight of the gerfalcon. See note to lines 727 ff.

1533–35 L: Cor and fenne full faste, / That men hade ere oute caste, / They gadered ynne iwysse. The custom of carrying waste products outside the boundaries of the city is reversed in these lines. That the use of the word “cor” may suggest the presence of one or many corpses is in accord with the uncanny effects of the occult forces conjured up by Mabon and Iran. In C this passage reads: “For gore and fen and full want / That there was out ykast / To-gydere they gadered ywys" (lines 1471–73); N omits the passage entirely, as does A, while in LI it appears as follows: “Bothe gor and fen faste, / That hadde out beo caste, / Th . . . gedred yn iwis” (lines 763–65); and in P: “They gathered dirt & mire ffull ffast; / Which beffore was out cast, / They gathered in Iwis” (lines 1579–81; fol. 167r). That the city is called “Gaste” or “Desolate” or “Waste” City as an analogous name for Synadoun underscores an implicit connection to the dead and to practices of necromancy, though the term appears to be used ambiguously. Roger Sherman Loomis notes in “From Segontium to Sinadon: The Legends of a Cité Gaste” that the city was built on or near the site of Segontium, the ancient Roman fortress located in north Wales. Also relevant to the haunting elements of this part of the poem may be the site’s association with the defeat and death of the British king Vortigern prophesied by Merlin when he interpreted the symbolic meaning of opposing red and white dragons discovered underneath the tower that Vortigern was attempting to build. The prophecy revealed the demise of the red dragon and the ascendancy of the white, a sign of victory for the Saxons.

1539–40 L: They taken in the goore / That ar was oute yboore. This line and stanza are missing in N. The custom in this enchanted castle appears to be atypical for medieval waste management but perhaps typical for the strangeness of this section of the poem. As Derek G. Neal points out, “Lybeaus arrives with the go-between Elaine and her steward at a town where ‘filth and ordure’ are ‘collected back in’ rather than ‘thrown out.’ In this strange place lurks humiliation rather than death: Lybeaus risks being spattered with filth if he loses the challenge of Sir Lambard, hence (according to Elaine) to be known as a coward” (Masculine Self, pp. 220–21).

1549 L: That hight Syr Lanwarde. N: His name is clepid Lambert (line 1561). Also Lambard, Lambarte, Lamberd, Lambardys, and Lancharde, this character is the constable or steward of the Lady of Synadoun’s castle; he is in a position that bequeaths him responsibility for overseeing everything that goes on both inside and outside. Here he assumes the role of porter, the most relevant example of which is found in SGGK. The name also recalls a character in the Anglo-Norman Gui, who, as Mills explains, “is a vassal of Otes (Otus Guy) and who equals him in villainy. . . . In LD, Lambard is essentially a ‘good’ character, but his habit of fighting with all visitors to the castle, including those who had come to rescue his lady, could easily have raised doubts about his real nature and caused the author of the OF Lybeaus [sic] to bestow upon him a name with associations of treachery” (LD, p. 236n1487). Shuffelton notes that no version is entirely coherent in its portrayal of Lambert (p. 479n1574). Stephen Knight suggests that the name evokes the Lombards, the great bankers of the later Middle Ages, and their powerful importance to aristocratic landholders (“Social Function,” pp. 107–08). See Richard Kaeuper, Bankers to the Crown, on England, Lombardy, and mercantilism. In Thomas Chestre’s Sir Launfal, Lombardy, the setting of Sir Launfal’s tournament with the gargantuan Sir Valentine, provides an amusing satire on such mercantile/chivalric inequalitites.

1549 L omits the detail of the castle-dweller as giant. N: a giaunt felle (line 1559). This line is also missing in C, P, LI but present in A, line 1572, “a gyaunt felle.” Found only in N and A, the phrase seems to suggest (erroneously) that Lambert is a giant, like Maugis. Also in N, A the lines describing the habits of the citizens of Synadoun to throw garbage on the loser (L, lines 1560–68) are omitted (see note to lines 1539-40 above). Mills (LD, p. 236nL1530–68) suggests that the comparison to a giant represents an attempt to make Lambert more negative and that the poet/reviser dropped this effort later, reverting to the more positive characterization of Lambard in LBD. See also Shuffleton, p. 479n1574. N’s use of “giant,” however, differs. The point here is that Lambert is a man of extra­ordinary size or strength (MED) rather than the folktale villain or stereotypical giant; in other words, N makes him a formidable opponent.

1554 L: And ere he do thi nede. N: omitted. Why Lambert should humilate Arthurian knights or why there is an assumption that all challengers are Arthurian knights is not clear. See Textual Note to N, line 1554.

1581 L: And axed ther ostell. N: And axid ther ostelle (line 1591). Medieval hospitality required monasteries and castles to admit travelers, especially at night or in inclement weather. This custom appears in romances; Gawain tells the porter of Bercilak’s castle that he comes “herber to craue” (SGGK, line 812).

1587 L: Who was here governours. N: Who is your governour (line 1597). This expression recalls SGGK, when Bercilak, in his guise as the Green Knight, enters Arthur’s hall, he asks, “Wher is. . . / Þe gouernour of þis gyng” (lines 224–25). See also note 1581 above.

1593 L: The porter prophitable. N: The porter, prestabelle (line 1603). The chain of command is made clear: the porter reports to the constable before letting the knights in. This contrasts sharply with the actions of the porter in SGGK wherein Gawain is admitted immediately once he is recognized as one of the most famous knights of Arthur’s court. According to the MED “prestabelle” may mean “eager to serve” but may also be related to the sixteenth-century French word, prestable, meaning “remarkable,” in which case it would be close in meaning to L’s “prophitable.”

1597 L: “Syre, of the Rowne Table.” N: “Thei bene of the Rounde Table” (line 1607). The identification of Arthur’s knights differentiates them from all others in terms of renown and respectability.

1609 L: As a greyhounde dothe to an hare. N: So as the greyhound aftir the hare (line 1619). In another rare simile the poet creates a hunting image against which the porter is compared ironically — this is what he is not. The greyhound was noted for its speed, and the point here is that porter races to inform Lambard as speedily as a greyhound pursues a hare.

1629–30 L: His shelde was asure fyne, / Thre beer hedis therinne. N: A schilde he bare, fyne, / Thre boris hedis ydentid therinne (lines 1639–40). L’s azure shield differs from N’s merely fine one. Blue is one of the most frequently used colors (or tinctures) in heraldry. Others commonly used are red, black, and green, while more uncommonly used tinctures are purple, sky-blue, and mulberry. The ermine on the shield refers to a pattern, not fur; see Friar, Dictionary of Heraldry, p. 343 and p. 159. The two versions also differ in the animal heraldry, where L has bears’ heads and N, boars’ heads. Both emblems suggest formidable strength. The two shields seem to bring together the details of the shield belonging to Sir Degaré’s father, a fairy knight, who bears a shield “of asur / And thre bor-hevedes therin / Wel ipainted with gold fin” (lines 997–99).

1641 ff. These lines confirm Lambert’s powerful build, which N and A express as giant-like (see note to line 1549 above). L, A, and P compare him in this stanza to a leopard (L: “lebard” [line 1645]; A: “lyberd” [line 1662]; P: “Libbard” [fol. 167v]; missing in LI), whereas only N makes Lambert a Lombard (line 1655). In Chestre’s Sir Launfal, Sir Valentine, another Lombard, is “fyftene feet” tall (line 512), but there is no suggestion that he, any more than Lambert, is a Saracen giant or stereotypical villainous or rustic giant. It is worth noting here that Lambert has none of the inhuman and animal characteristics associated with Maugis or the two giants who abduct Violet.

1655 N: Prowte as eny Lombard. Lombardy is more famous for its bankers than “prowte" knights. Compare the satiric battle between Launfal and the giant of Lombardy in the ME Sir Launfal. See note 1549.

1683–84 L: Sate and rocked . . . in his cradill. N: That he sate . . . in cradille (lines 1693–94). Lybeaus has given his opponent a taste of his own medicine in this scene of role reversal. Whiting lists this line in Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases, p. 83.

1701 ff. N and A arrange this stanza differently from L. The details of the fighting part of the stanza are abbreviated, and Lybeaus, rather than offer more violence (see L, line 1702, “Wilt thou more?”), immediately responds generously to Lambert’s shame at having been unsaddled: “Be nought agrevyd” (N, line 1711).

1701 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1689–1700.

1708 L: Thowe arte of Sir Gawynes kynne. N: Thou art of Sir Gaweynis kyn (line 1717). Unlike what happens in LBD, the Lady of Synadoun’s constable, Lambard, recognizes Lybeaus as a kinsman of Gawain, the most formidable British knight in Arthur’s court and, in a deft maneuver of self-preservation, pledges his loyalty to the stronger knight. Further, in LBD, la Pucele reveals his identity, whereas in LD Lambard partially reveals it; the Lady of Synadoun, after her disenchantment, also recognizes Lybeaus’s identity in terms of kinship with Gawain, but it is Lybeaus’s mother who finally and fully completes his identity when she attends her son’s marriage feast at Arthur’s court and reveals that Lybeaus is not only a kinsman to Gawain but his son (N, A only).

1709 N: He schalle my lady gete (line 1709). See also A: He schall my lady gete (line 1709). Lambard’s prophecy that Lybeaus is the champion who shall rescue the Lady of Synadoun is missing in L and occurs only in A and N.

1736 L: God and Seint Leonarde. N: Jhesus, Hevyn kynge (line 1757). Although N invokes Christ, L refers to Saint Leonard, one of the most popular saints of western Europe. Leonard was patron saint of hospitals, prisons, pregnant women, and captives. The evocation of his name seems appropriate considering the Lady of Synadoun’s imprisonment.

1756 L: Clyrkys of nigermansye. N: Clerkis of nigromansy (line 1777). Necromancy, according to the MED, refers to sorcery or black magic. Corinne Saunders, in Magic and the Supernatural, notes that necromancy may refer to demonic practices and the conjuring of the dead, but observes that “it is very rare for romances to describe explicitly demonic magic practised by humans” and that romance writers “employ ‘nigromancy’ not to depict rituals wholly different in kind from natural magic . . . but rather to suggest more dangerous rituals that enter further into the conscious practice of magic” (p. 154). Helen Cooper, in The English Romance in Time, writes, “Middle English ‘nigromancy’ is magic on the edge of acceptability, not magic conducted through the agency of the dead” (p. 161). In LD, necromancy is only mentioned twice, in the lines above and later in L, lines 1767–68: “Hit is by nygrymauncye / Iwrought with fayreye.” In N the comparable lines are “Hit is made bi negromansy, / Ywrought it was with feyry” (lines 1788–89). The text implies perhaps that the ghostly magicians who perform in the enchanted hall and vanish suddenly are necromantic spirits, but as the text offers no explicit reference to the dead, they seem more illusory than necromantic. The magic of the clerks appears elsewhere in the poem as chambur (L: line 1975; N: charmour, line 2007), chauntement (L, line 2103; N, missing line), chawnterye (L: line 2132), and sorserye (L, line 2055; N: sorcery, line 2087; N: sorserye, line 2171).

1758 L: Irayne ys that o brother. N: Iran is, than, one brothir (line 1779). Variants include Yrayn, Jrowne, and Evrain in LBD.

1759 L: And Mabon is that other. N: And Mabon is that othir (line 1780). Variants include Maboun and Mabouunys. A likely derivation of “an enchanter and hero from Welsh legend derived from the Celtic god Maponos. He was the son of Mellt and Modron (herself taken from the goddess Matrona). He is named as a servant of Uther Pendragon in an early Welsh poem. In Culhwch and Olwen, Culhwch needs his assistance in the hunt for the boar Twrch Trwyth” (AND, p. 333). In LBD, Mabon and his brother, Evrain, enter the city of Snowdon disguised as jongleurs; they cast spells so that the populace believed they were insane, and they laid waste to the city, which became known afterwards as the Desolate City. Mabon attempted to coerce la Blonde Esmeree into marriage by transforming her into a snake, a form she would endure while she refused him or until rescued by “the greatest knight . . . from the court of Arthur” (see LBD, lines 3319–62, especially 3353–59).

1772 L: That is of knyghtis kynne. N: Comyn of kyngis kynne (line 1793). C, L, P make the Lady of Synadoun “of knightis kin.” A is silent on her kinship. LI, fol. 10v, refers to her as “so gent a dame.” Only N raises her status to a king’s daughter, thereby elevating Lybeaus’s station as her (future) husband.

1790 L: Luste they done hir synne. N: Lest that thei bring hur in synne (line 1811). The sense here seems to be that Iran and Mabon are trying to force the Lady of Synadoun to give Mabon all her inheritance, that is, to marry him. Lambard and the townspeople fear that they may “force” her into sin, that is, if Mabon rapes her and then claims her as his wife. The enchantment of the Lady of Synadoun, in other words, has coerced marriage and propertied wealth as its motive.

1833 L: Syr Lybeaus, knyght curtays. N: Sir Libeous reyght his corcis (line 1854). L reads here “knyght curtays,” so too, C, A, LI, and P. N’s reading is unique; Lybeaus arranges his “corcis,” that is, corset, a piece of body armor or corselet, in preparation to enter the enchanted hall. The action suggests the young knight’s trepidation.

1850 L: Butt mynstralis cladde in palle. N: But mynstrell clothid in palle (line 1871). The negative association between fairy magic and music links the enchanted castle to the enchantment of the Golden Isle and Dame Amoure/Diamour. For a useful discussion of minstrels and minstrelsy of the time, see Howard Mayer Brown and Keith Polk, “Instrumental Music.” See also the note to line 1487 and Zaerr, “Music and Magic.”

1854 N: Sir Libeous reyght his corcis. This line appears only in Naples, which the MED locates under “righten” v. 1c, “to aim (a weapon), point; direct (one’s course), in which case the line would mean “Sir Libeous directed his course.” All other manu­script versions of Lybeaus have some form of “curtays” in a line similar to A’s “Syr Lybeus, knyght curtays” (line 1830). However, “righten” v. 2a and 2b may also in­volve armor, as in “set one’s gear in order” or “to make weapons ready”; the MED gives the example, “right her armour” (Merlin, line 150). Similarly, in the Prose Merlin, Leodogan acquires armor: “And [thei] hym unbounden, and right his armoure, and sethen made hym to lepe on a steede that was stronge and swyfht” (Arthur at Tamelide, lines 222–24). The difficulty of the Naples line is compounded by the ambiguity of the word corcis. If the word refers to “course,” as implied in the MED reading, then the Naples line is an anomaly, as MED gives no other example of “righten” connected with course or direction; all other MED examples under 1c collocate “righten” with weapons aimed or pointing, not with setting out on a “course” or “direction.” It may be that the noun corcis is a scribal distortion of cors, corset, or corselet. Hewitt describes fourteenth-century inventories that support this reading: the inventory of Louis Hutin (1316) mentions a “cors d’acier,” that of Humphry Bohun (1322) includes a “corset de fer,” and that of the Earl of March (1330) a “corsetz de feer” (2:136). Corcis as cors, corset, or corselet thus preserves the usual MED senses of righten 1.a.b. and c. and 2.a. and b. Lybeaus does not direct his course or point his horse in the right direction, then; rather, he arranges his armor properly before riding into combat.

1872 L: The halle ypeynted was. N: The halle ypeyntid was (line 1893). The splendor of the locale enhances its enchantment. The hall is reminiscent of other enchanted places, most significantly in ME narrative, such as in the otherworldly palace of the fairy king in Sir Orfeo: “Amidde the lond a castel he sighe, / Riche and real and wonder heighe, / Al the utmast wal / Was clere and schine as cristal” (lines 355–58). Orfeo thinks “it is / The proude court of Paradis” (lines 375–76). Also resonant is the enchanted hall encountered by Sir Degaré, a palace filled with beautiful women, mirth, music, and a sumptuous feast.

1888 L: The erthe began to quake. N: The erthe bigan to quake (line 1908). The natural world marks the impending battle as in the earlier scene of thunder and lightning. It is also possible that the earthquake, thunder, and lightning are illusory, wrought by magic.

1892 ff. L: missing stanza. N: Sir Libeous therof had mervaile . . . Er that Y se what he be, / Aboute this biggyng”(lines 1914–25). This stanza is unique to N. See Sir Gawain’s musings about the “dele” and “fende” that might fittingly inhabit the green chapel, “a chapel of meschaunce” (SGGK, lines 2185–98).

1975 L: His chawntementis ne his chambur. N: His acton ne his charmour (glossed as sorcery, line 2007). There clearly appears to be a scribal error in L since “chamber” makes little sense, even if one stretches the imagination to define the word as “body.” Hence, we have glossed the word as “charms” (sorcery).

2006–08 N: short stanza. See L, lines 1974–75.

2021–22 L: The venym will me spille; / I venymed hem bothe. The mention of venom occurs in C, L, and P (the lines are missing in LI); no venom is mentioned in N or A. The poisoned sword is another means by which Mabon and Iran engage in a nonchivalric mode of combat. Shuffelton notes that “Like N, Rate’s copy-text had these lines instead of three lines in the Cotton manuscript and in L explaining that Mabon has poisoned the swords. As a result of this foul play, Lybeaus’s refusal to spare Mabon’s life seems more explicable in those manuscripts” (p. 480n2009–11).

2037 L: Tho Mabon was slayne. N: Than Mabon was yslayn (line 2069). Lybeaus cleaves the skull of Mabon; in Renaut’s version smoke comes from the skull’s mouth: “Donné li a si grant colee / que mort l’abat guile baee. / Del cors li saut une fumiere / qui molt estoit hideusse et fiere / qui li issoit par mi la boce” (lines 3059–63). (The Fair Unknown dealt him such a great blow / that he knocked him down dead, his mouth agape. / From his body there arose / a horrid and fearful plume of smoke, / which spewed out of his mouth.) Meanwhile Iran appears to disappear.

2060 ff. Both L and N are missing this stanza. Only P includes it as follows: Then he was ware of [a] valley;
Thitherward he tooke the way
   As a sterne Knight and stout.
As he rode by a riuer side
He was ware of him that tyde
   Vpon the river brimm:
He rode to him ffull hott,
& of his head he smote,
   Ffast by the Chinn;
& when he had him slaine,
Ffast hee tooke the way againe
   For to haue that lady gent.
(Cooper, lines 2104–15; see also fols. 120r–v)

2067 L: A worme ther ganne oute pas. N: A worme ther out gan pas (line 2099). Worm is a word typically equated with serpent or dragon. The woman/beast here is clearly a dragon since she is a worm with wings and a tail. Medieval portrayals of the Fall often depict the serpent as a woman; for example, the serpent in the sculpture above the left portal, west façade, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, looks like the archetypal Eve. See page 83 for an image of Eve and the Dragon-Serpent in Speculum humanæ salvationis, and for more on this point, see Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” pp. 73–77.

2069 L: “Yonge Y am and nothinge olde.” N: Yonge and nothing olde (line 2101). In L, the Lady of Synadoun addresses Lybeaus directly as a dragon-woman, whereas in N, the dragon-woman does not address him, and this line represents indirect narratorial comment. No form of this line appears in the French LBD.

2083 L: The worme with mouth him kyste. N: The worme with mouthe him kist (line 2115). This is the fier baiser episode at the heart of the Fair Unknown narrative and the effective cause of the disenchantment of the Lady of Synadoun. Other “fearsome kisses” take place in Ponzela Gaia, Carduino, and Lanzelet, as well as in LBD, but in no other episode is the dragon/serpent endowed with a “womanes face.” Similar to the loathly lady narrative, the kiss disenchants the dragon-lady, transforming her into her previous form, a beautiful woman. This is also the moment in which Lybeaus’s identity is manifestly revealed, for only the kiss by a blood relative of Gawain can affect the disenchantment.

2085–87 L: And aftyr this kyssynge / Off the worme tayle and wynge / Swyftly fell hir froo. N: And aftir that kissing, / Of the worme bothe taile and wyng / Sone thei fille hur fro (lines 2117–19). In LBD, as Ferlampin-Acher notes, the transformation of disen­chantment is never seen (La Fée et la Guivre, p. lixn128); so too, in Lanzelet and the other European analogues where the transformation also occurs “off stage” or is never directly described. Only in LD does the disenchantment take visible form.

2091 ff. L: But she was moder naked, / As God had hir maked: . . . As naked as she was bore. N: But scho was al nakid / As the clerkis hur makid; . . . . As nakid as scho was bore (lines 2123–24; L, line 2137, N, line 2176). The disenchantment involves the disappearance of the serpent-Eve-dragon disguise (“Off the worme tayle and wynge / Swyftly fell hir froo” [L, lines 2086–87]), suggesting that the transformation returns the lady to a state of innocence equivalent to a prelapsarian Eve, the mother of all human­kind. Not only is she innocent but without shame. N’s original reference to clerks recalls the enchantment caused by Iran and Mabon, and perhaps implies their malicious disrobing of her prior to covering her with the magic dragon disguise. Later, however, when Lybeaus recounts the story to Lambard, he describes her, “As nakid as scho was bore” (N, line 2176). Another parallel to this striking image is the story of Saint Margaret, patron saint of childbirth, who is swallowed by a dragon but erupts from its belly reborn. See Weldon, “‘Naked as she was bore,’” p. 81.

2120 ff. L: missing stanza. N: To loke aftir Iran (lines 2153 ff.). This passage dealing with the search for and killing of Iran occurs after the disenchantment only in the N, A tradition. For Mills, it is a revised passage that corrects the unsolved mystery of Iran’s disappearance and provides closure. N omits the repetitive lines from A at this point: “And ther sone he wane. / He went into the towre / And in that ilke chambour” (A, lines 2113–15). Of the two, N is more sensible than A, and from line 2153, the passage is original with N.

Syr Lybeus, the knyght gode,
Into the castell yode
     To seke after Irain.
He lokyd into the chambour
Ther he was in towre,
     And ther sone he hym wane.
He went into the towre
And in that ilke chambour
     He saw Irain that man.
He drew hys suerd with myght
And smote of hys hede with ryght,
     For soth, of Irain than.
(Shuffleton, A, lines 2108–19)

2134 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2097 ff.

2137 L: As naked as she was bore. N: As naked as scho was bore (line 2176). See note for line 2091 above.

2138 N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2109 ff.

2160ff. N: Short stanza. See L, lines 2121 ff.

2178 L: Arthur gave also blyve. N: Arthour, he gave blyve (line 2217). Arthur’s blessing and consent to the marriage sanctions it and renders Lybeaus’s mission complete. He has literally won the lady’s hand in marriage. In LBD, this is a bittersweet reward, since in that poem Lybeaus’s true love is the Maiden with the White Hands whom he had left abruptly to complete his mission.

2192 ff. L: missing stanza. N: 2232 ff. The arrival of Lybeaus’s mother is unique to A and N, and solves what Mills perceives as an inconsistency in the other manuscript versions, where Gawain's sudden recognition of his son is left unexplained (“Mediaeval Reviser,” pp. 17–18). The appearance of Guinglain’s mother not only solves what Mills perceives as an inconsistency, Gawain’s sudden recognition of his son, which is left unexplained in C and L but added to A and N; it also provides reconciliation of the separated and “lost” parents. The family reunion motif appears in Sir Degaré, Octovian Imperator and the Northern Octavian, Emaré, and Sir Isumbras. Illegitimate but chivalric sons occur in the story of Lancelot and Galahad, Le Livre de Caradoc, and Ysaÿe le triste.
Gawain's address to the Lady of Synadoun (N: 2244 ff.) is unique to N, A, P, and LI. Only in N, however, does Gawain refer to Lybeaus’s mother as a “giantis lady” (line 2249) — see note to line 1487 above. A refers to her as a “gentyll lady” (line 2209); so, too, LI, “gentil lady” (Cooper, line 1077; fol. 12v). Although her description as a giant’s lady might seem incongruous, there is a sense in which N’s reading restores the idea that Lybeaus’s mother is kin to a race of nonhuman beings. LD belongs to a group of folkloristic narratives in which the hero’s enfances is obscure; he is raised outside of civilization and his parents or one of his parents and/or guardians is divine or animal (Walter, Bel Inconnu, pp. 49–72). In LBD, Guinglain’s mother is Blancemal le Fee (line 3237), for example; in, Wigalois, she is Florie, daughter of a fairy king. If, as a giant’s lady, Lybeaus’s mother is meant to be a giant’s daughter, then she recalls folklore tradition in which a giant’s daughter helps the hero or marries the hero, as in the British folktale “Nix Nought Nothing.” In the Celtic story How Culhwch Won Olwen, Culhwch weds Olwen, the beautiful and nonmonstrous daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden. In folklore and myth, giants, like fairies, live outside human communities, so the N association of Lybeaus’s mother with giants maintains the obscure and uncivilized (nonhuman) parentage of the hero lost in the other versions of LD. It is also possible that the “giant” status of Lybeaus’s mother indicates her “otherness” — that she resides outside the court and is marginalized by her unwed, single-parent status.

2199 L: Sevyn yere they levid same. N: Ten yere thei levid in same (line 2274). The marriage in N lasts longer than L’s, although neither text (nor any other version) men­tions children, which are often the conventional index of a successful medieval marriage.

2204 L: Grawnte us gode endynge. Amen. N: To blys He us alle bring. Amen (line 2279). Despite the naming of Lybeaus in the incipit of L as Guinglain, the name given to him by Arthur (Lybeaus Desconus) is the name that accrues recognition and authority in the chivalric world. This is the name that is cited on the Winchester Round Table.

2280 N: Qui scripcit carmen sit benedictis. Amen. A formulaic ending which often con­cludes secular as well as religious manuscript entries. The correct spelling is scripsit; however, the variant scripcit also frequently appears in manuscript colophons. For instance, the exact phrasing and spelling closes The Prick of Conscience in Manchester, John Rylands, Library Eng. 51 [olim Quaritch Sale Cat. 344, Item 28], fol. 116v (see The IMEV: An Open-Access, Web-Based Edition of The Index of Middle English Verse, ed. Linne R. Mooney et al., Number 3428: host/imev/record.php?recID=3428.). This is the first of a hierarchy of display scripts in the Lybeaus portion of N, here a bastard display script composed of a mix of more formal bookhand scripts, including an approximation of textualis semiquadrata with its occasional feet in the minims, occasional separate letters, angular letters, and a more formal cursive blend of mainly Secretary forms (the letter a) together with some Anglicana forms (the long s).

2281 N: Hic Explicit Libeus Disconyus. This colophon is written in the scribe’s most elevated and formal bastard display script.

2282–85 N: He that lovyth welle to fare / . . . . / His here wol grow throw his hood. This homely verse, which apart from the more formal capital h and top line with its stylistic decorative features, is written in the same script as the text (a mix of Secretary and Anglicana features) and inserts a conventional moral on the page, although it is not clear whether or not it is meant as a commentary on LD. These moralizing verses appear in Bodley MS 315 (SC 2712) which was presented to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral in the mid-1470s by Magister John Stevens, a canon at Exeter. According to the manuscript, the Naples verses are among several which appeared on the wall of the dining hall of the Augustinian Canons' Priory of St. Stephen of Launceston in Cornwall. See Rossell Hope Robbins, "Wall Verses at Launceston Priory." The sense is that indiscriminate spending leads to poverty, a condition marked by the wear and thinness of the material of the hood that allows the wearer’s hair to poke through the material. The scribe signs his name here as More, whom Manly and Rickert identify as a Harry More, although they offer three other potential scribal candidates who were writing/copying at the same time: an Oxford stationer John More, a London stationer, Richard More, and a Bristol scrivener William More (Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1:376). There is, however, no scholarly agreement on these suggestions. Verses from Lydgate’s “Beware of Doubleness” as well as a disguised signature of the scribe as More concludes the final item in N, Grisilde or The Clerk’s Tale on p. 146 of the manuscript.

2286 N: Hic pennam fixi penitent me si male scripsi. This is a smaller script than that used for line 2281 and less formal, although here, too, there are suggestions of textualis. The same Latin phrase is repeated at the end of the Naples manuscript, con­cluding the tale of Griselde (Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale). See Weldon, “Naples Manuscript.” See the note for lines 2282–85 above.


ABBREVIATIONS: A: Ashmole 61 (Bodleian 6922) (see Shuffelton); C: British Library Cotton Caligula A.II (see Mills); L: Lambeth Palace MS 306; LI: Lincoln’s Inn MS 150 (formerly known as Lincoln’s Inn MS Hale 150) (see Mills); N: Bibliotec Nazionale, Naples MS XIII B.29; P: British Library Additional MS 27879 (also known as the Percy Folio).

1 N: guide letter J and space three lines deep for later insertion of decorated capital.

111 Thei. N: the.

122 and. N: an.

133 ynd. N: hynd.

140 henge. N: kyenge? This word is ill-formed, and the scribe appears to have attempted a correction by superimposing a y, with the result that the first letter of the word is illegible. It may be a k or a b.

149 sawtre. N: swithe. L, C, and A have a version of sawtre here.

152 telle. N: telle me (makes no sense in context).

154 knelid. N: kene.

188 Sir. N: si.

190 errour. N: errout.

202 Lybeus. N: .l., which is N’s typical abbreviation for the name of the hero.

225 Scribal ink blot over g of degré.

239 Commaundid. Linear scribal correction commaandid corrected to commaundid.

254 Compare the fourth person: Agrafrayn (C, line 221), Agfayne (L, line 244).

257 A. N: at.

269 werre. N: were.

282 As. N: and.

287 palfray. N: palfaray.

325 here furth rides. N: he furth right.

327 his. N: hir.

337 two. N: to.

345 her. Interlinear scribal correction with the addition of r after he. The scribe has also corrected the a in al.

384 slygh. N: slyght.

392 his. N: is.

399 a. N: missing.

409 sei. N: seid.

414 Unkouth. N: unkough.

415 on. N: un.

429 Thei. N: the.

439 Scribal correction of e in bifore.

491 Interlinear scribal correction over m in ame, which is then crossed out.

494 Following this line, L reads: And to them stoutly con rede (line 482), giving the stanza an unusual thirteen lines. N omits this line and corrects the stanza.

498 his. N: is.

499 Libious. N: .l.

519 L has three lines here that are missing in N, A, P. The stanza is missing in C and LI. The following stanza also has some missing lines and some new ones added. These words of the youngest brother, for ex­ample, are only in N, A.

533 Sir. N: sir. The letter combination ir is ill-formed. The stem of the r touch­es the stem of the i, and the headstroke of the r is exaggerated.

538 Than. N: That.

554–55 And in that ilke spaas, / The right arme fille him fro. So A. L reads “And in that selfe space / His lyfte arme brast atwoo” (lines 542–43).

574 so. N: se.

592 Scribal interlinear correction — geuy crossed out and greuys written after.

593 Thei. N: the.

594 broun. N: bron.

649 bisoughte. N: bisoughe.

663 geaunt his. N: geauntis.

665 With. N: but. Scribal error perhaps because of following butte.

691 Boxed catchwords at bottom of p. 94b, tille that othir.

692 Underlined catchwords at top of p. 95a, it is founde. These catchwords refer back to p. 94b, the last words of which are “it is found” (line 691).

694 Tho. N: the.

698 thonkid. N: thongid.

705 biforne. N: biforme.

763 feirer. N: feire.

778 What appears to be a partially boxed catchword on p. 95b, turne over, is not actually a catchword. It seems to be the scribe’s note to himself.

787 Geffron le Frediens. N: Geffron Jle Frediens. See line 808 below.

793 his. N: is.

797 dwellid. N: leftin; L: dwellyd (line 778).

813 prins. The scribe uses Latin abbreviations but often modifies or adapts them to the English spellings of his dialect. Here, for instance, the abbreviated p form (see C, lines 256 ff.), which usually signals a Latin abbreviation for per or pre (or pro) but which here represents pri. Prins (not prens) is the usual N spelling: see line 849 below, where prins is writ­ten out fully. See also the notes for lines 849 and 1462.

817 schrille. N: schille.

842 graunt. N: gaunt.

849 prout. Another example where the scribe uses the Latin pre abbreviation for simply pr. See note 813 above and line 318, where the word proute is written out in full.

903 border. N: borders. The plural noun makes no sense here.
ryngid with floris. N: ryng flor, where the scribe has inserted an r above the o. In C and L, the word “floures” (C, line 860; L, line 889) refers to color: e.g., “And of that same colours / And of that other floures” (L, lines 888–89). In the A, N, LI, P tradition, however, flowers are decorative items on the shield; e.g., “Of gold was the border, / And of the same colorus, / Dyght with other floures” (A, lines 914–16). N’s line seems to be a scribal error connected with the A, N, P sense. A plausible rendering of the line, then, is “ryngid with floris.”

906 cromponis. This word “cromponis” and line 903 above are unique to N.

919 ruffyne. Compare LI: rosyn.

926 on. N: in.

927 schyning. N: schynding.

933 straight. N: stranght.

949 Geffron le Fredus. N: Geffron Ile Fredus. See Explanatory Note 768. All versions of LD have difficulty with this name. Here the French article le is mis­spell­ed as Ile.

1051 de la Ile. N: de a Ile.

1078 greyhoundis. N: grewhondis.

1102 wile. N: while. The other manuscripts have gile.

1136 ther. N: the.

1178 cler. N: cleir. See clere, line 943.

1215 actowne: N: attowne.

1220 an ax. N: missing word, as attested in L, C, A, P (stanza missing in H).

1248 Sir Libeous written over illegible erasure.

1280 ff. Guide letter r and space three lines deep for later insertion of a decor­ated capital.

1287 buskis. N: buskid.

1307 Maugus. The scribe writes a Latin abbreviation stroke over the a, and it is likely that he intends the abbreviation to represent au rather than an, Mangus. Elsewhere the spelling Maugus is used.

1318 knyghtis. N: knighti.

1373 turne. N: turine.

1407 nekke. N: hekke.

1420 there seems to be a scribal error. The rhyme scheme is broken: A has “tho” (line 1434); L, “throo” (line 1397).

1440 swore. N: swere.

1462 othir. The scribe has written a thorn with a Latin abbreviation symbol for er, so that the word technically should be other. However, the scribe again adapts the Latin symbol for his normal spelling of othir, the usual form which appears throughout the manuscript. See the note for line 813 above.

1464 After. N: Afer.

1471 sans faile. N: sam faile.

1483a Missing line. L, line 1461: A lady bright as floure. The text in N is supplied from C.

1509 Than othir wicchis fyve. L has “other suche fyve” (line 1487), as does A (line 1522). This is one of the interesting variations where N (and LI) agrees with C, line 1425, as Mills points out (LD p. 235n1425).

1520 He. N: the.

1548 Men. N: me. L, line 1526: men clepen hit.

1554 The word towne is written over an illegible erasure.

1554 A, N omit the lines L:1530–41 and the stanza L:1557–68 where the inhabitants of the castle gather refuse in order to throw it on the heads of challengers to humiliate Arthurian knights, thereby embar­rassing Arthur further. A and N thus delete this insult to Arthurian knights.

1594 porter. N: portelle.

1603 prestabelle is unique to N: other manuscripts have some form of L’s prophitable (line 1593).

1619 Scribal interlinear correction with r inserted above the g of greyhound.

1677 renoune. L has raundon (line 1667), C resoun (line 1605), and A rawndon (line 1684).

1679 To. N: And. And does not make sense since neither really does deliver a mortal wound. They are attempting to do so, however, so “To” is a better choice of expression here.

1684 he him. N: have and. We have corrected this following L, line 1674, So harde he hym hitte.

1690 and. N: an.

1761 Libeous. N: Libeouc. Compare with the c in “chast” (line 1735) and in “clerkis” (line 2130). The scribe forms a miniscule c in two ways, the more common angular variety, and the one here where the angularity disappears. Unlike a t formation, the headstroke differs from the t headstroke and does not cross the stem, as it does in Lambart in the same line. This scribe often alters s and c for spellings; see the certeyne / serteyne shifts and the unique Cinadowne for Sinadowne (line 1548). Libeouc makes more sense as the manuscript reading in this context.

1779 one. N: one is.

1811 Scribal correction of g in bring.

1820 An e has been inserted above makith.

1834 Scribal correction of h to f in of.

1843 Libeousis. N: l is.

1923 onis. N: enis.

1967 sans faile. N: samfaile.

1984 Scribal correction of the r of provid over illegible erasure.

2017 and. N: an.

2024 lame. N: lane.

2063 Sir Libeous. N: si.L.

2134ff. Missing lines. L: Thorowe ther chauntement / To a worme thei had me went / In wo to leven and lende, / Tyll I had kyssed Gaweyne (lines 2103–06).

2165 Scribal correction. The scribe has written t above the r of pertly.

2184 pris. Once more the scribe adapts the Latin abbreviation for his English spelling so that the word reads pris, not pres. See the note for line 813 above. The spelling of this word throughout the manuscript is pris: see lines 2237 and 1304.

2197 a precious. N: a precious a.

2239 delaye. N: delayne.

2283 Ever. N: eur.












































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Jhesu Criste owre Saviour,
And his modir, that swete flour,
Helpe us at our nede,
That listenith of a conquerour
That was wis, witty, and wight werrour,
A doughti man of dede.
His name was hote Gyngeleyn;
Ygete he was of Sir Gaweyn
Bi a forestis side;
Of a betir knyght ne profitable,
With Arthur at the Round Table,
Hurd never yet man rede.

Gyngeleyn was feire and bright,
Gentil of body and feire of sight,
Bastard thoughe he were;
And his modir kepit him with myght
That he schulde se no knyght
Yarmed in no manere,
For that he was so savage,
And blitheli wolde do outrage
To his felowis in fere.
For dout of wikkid loos,
His modir kepid him in cloos
As doughti childe and dere.

For he was so feire of vise
His modir callid him Beaufits,
And none othir name.
And he him silve was nyse
That he ne axid never, ywis,
Whate he hight of his dame.
Tille hit bifille uppon a day
The childe went him to play,
Of dere to have his game.
He founde a knyght where he lay
On armour that was stout and gay,
Slayne and made ful tame.

The childe drowe off the knyghtis wede
And himsilve therin he schrede
In that riche armour.
And whan he had do that dede,
Anone to Glastonbury he yede,
Ther was Kyng Arthour,
As he sate in his halle,
Amonge his knyghtis alle.
He grete hem with honour
And seide: “Arthour, my lord,
Graunt me to speke a worde.
Y pray yow, par amour.

“Y am a childe unknowe.
I come out of the sowthe
And wol be made a knyght.
Lord, Y pray you nowthe,
And with your mery mowthe
Graunt me that anone right.”
Than seid Arthur the kyng:
“Anone, without lesyng,
Telle me thi name aplight,
For sithen Y was bore,
Ne say Y never bifore
None so feire a wight.”

The childe seid: “Bi Seint Jame,
Y note whate is my name,
Y am the more nyce.
But whan Y was tame at home,
My modur, in hur game,
Callid me Beaufice.”
Than seid Arthur the king:
“This is a wondir thing,
Bi God and Seint Denyce,
When he wol ben a knyght
And wote never whate he hight,
And is so feire of vis.

“Y wol him yeve a name,
Bifore yow al in same,
For he is so feire and fre;
Bi God and bi Seint Jame,
So callid him never his dame,
Who woman so ever scho be.
Nowe callith him alle thus,
Lybeus Dysconius,
For the love of me.
Than may ye witen on a rowe
The feire on thatte Y knowe,
Certis, so hate he.”

Kyng Arthur, anone right,
Gan him to make a knyght
Uppon the silve day,
And yave him armour bright,
And with a swerde bright of myght
He gurde him, sothe to say.
Aftur, him taught Gaweyn,
With strenghe in the pleyn,
Poynt of knyghtis play.
He hongid on him a schilde
With grefons overgilde,
Ipeyntid of lengthe ful gay.

Whan he was knyght ymade,
Anone a bone he bade,
And seid: “My lord fre,
In hert were Y glad
The first fighting yef Y had
That men axen of thee.”
Than seid Arthur the kyng:
“I graunt thee thin asking,
Whate bone so hit be.
But ever me thinkith thee ful yong
For to do a good fighting,
For any thing that Y can se.”

Without eny more resoun,
Duke, erle, and baroun,
Thei weschid and went to mete.
Of wilde fowlis and vensoune,
As lordis of gret renoune,
Inowe thei had to ete.
Nad thei ysate but a while,
The montenys of a myle,
At hare tabul ysete,
Ther come a maid in ride.
A dwarfe rode bi hur side,
Al biswat for hete.

The maid was yhote Elyne,
Gentil, bright, and schene,
A ladyis mesynger.
Ther was never cuntas ne quene
So semely on to sene,
Ther myght none be hur pere.
The maiden was clothid in tarsis,
Round and no thing skars,
With pelour blandere.
Hur sadul was overgilde,
With diamoundis fulfillid.
Mylke white was hur desture.

The dwarf was clothid in ynd,
Bifore and eke bihinde,
For he was stout and pert.
Among al Cristen kynde
Suche on schulde no man fynde.
His sircote was overte;
His berde was as yelow as wax,
To his gurdul henge the plax,
For sothe, to se with sight.
With golde his schone were dight,
And kopid as a knyght —
Tho semyth of no poverte!

Deodelyne was his name.
Wide spronge his fame,
Bothe northe and eke bi sowthe.
Moche couthe he of game:
Sotil, sawtre in same,
Of harpe, fethil, and crowthe.
He spake to that maide hynde:
“Damesel, telle thyne erande.
Tyme it were nowthe.”

The maide knelid in halle
Among the lordis and lordlingis all
And seid, “My lord Arthour,
A caas ther is bifalle,
Wors within the walle,
Y note nought suche of dolour.
My lady of Synadowne
Is brought in stronge prisoun,
That was of grete honour,
And praid you send hur a knyght
In warra that were wyse and wight,
To wyn hur with honour.”

Than stert up a yong knyght,
In hert that was lefe and wight,
And seid: “My lord Arthour!
I schall do that fight
And wynne that lady bright,
Yef ye be trewe of worde!”
Than seid Arthoure: “That is sothe,
Certis, withouten othe,
Therto Y bere recorde.”
And seid: “God yeve thee strength and myght
To wynne the lady bright
With dynt of sper and swerde.”

Than gan Elyne to chide.
“Alas,” scho seide, “that tide
That Y was hedir ysende!
This wordis schalle springe wide;
Kynge, loste is thi pride,
And thy loce yschende,
Now thou woldist sende a childe
That is wiltes and wilde
To dele doughti dynt,
Whan thow hast knyghtis of mayne,
Persavale and Sir Gaweyne,
That bene price in every turment.”

The dwarf with gret errour
Stert to Kynge Arthour
And seid: “Thou gentil kyng,
This childe to bene a werrour,
To done a good labour,
He is worthe nought a ferthing.
Er that ever he that lady se,
Bataile five othir thre
He dothe, withoute lesynge.
At Poynt Perillous,
Biside the Chapel of Aventours,
Ther schalle he bigynne.”

Sir Lybeus than answerid:
“Yit was Y never aferd
For drede of mannys sawe.
Sumwhate have Y lerid,
Bothe with spere and with schild.
Ther men have ben yslawe,
The man that fleith for drede,
Bi wey othir bi strete,
Y wolde he were todrawe!
This bataile Y undirtake
And never one forsake,
For suche is Arthouris lawe.”

The may answerid fulle snelle:
“That semyth thee right welle,
Who so lokith on thee!
Thou ne durst for alle this world
Abide the wynde of a swerd,
For ought that Y can se.”
Than seid the dwarf that stound
That, “Dede men on the ground
Of thee aferde may be.
Nowe Y rede thee in game:
Go home and sowke thi dame
And wynne ther thi degré.”

The kyng seide, anone right:
“Here getist thou no nothir knyght,
Bi Him that bought me dere!
Yef thow thinke him noght wight,
Gete thee anothir wher thou myght
That is of more powere.”
The maide for noye and hete
Wolde nought drinke ne ete,
For alle that thei myght do,
But sate hur downe as careful maide
Til the tabul was unleide,
Sho and the dworf in fere.

Kyng Arthur in that stound
Commaundid of that Tabul Rounde
Four of the best knyghtis
To army him hole and sound
Of the best armour that myght be found
To army the childe at rightis.
He seide: “Throwe the grace of Crist,
That in the flem Jourdan was baptist,
That he schulde have myght,
And bicome a good champiowne
To the lady of Synadowne,
To sle hur fo in fight.”

To army him the knyghtis were fayn,
Sir Percevale and Sir Gawayn,
In that semely sale.
The third was Sir Ewayn.
The fourth was Sir Griffayn,
Thus tellith the Frensche tale.
Thei cast on him of sylke
A gippon as white as mylke,
In a semely sale,
And an hawberk bright,
That ful riche was ydight,
With maile grete and smale.

Gaweyn, his owne sire,
Hynge abowte his swire
A schilde with on griffoun,
And an helme of riche atyre
Was stele and none yre.
Sir Persevale set on his croun
A griffon he brought with him,
In werre him with to werre,
And a fel fouchone.
Ewayn brought with him a stede
That was good in every nede,
As eger as eny lyon.

The yong knyght to hors gan spring,
And rode to Arthour the kyng,
And seid: “My lord so hynde,
Yeve me thi blessyng.
Without eny lettyng,
My wille is to wynde.”
Arthour his hond up hafe,
And his blessyng he him yafe,
As curteis kyng and kynde,
And seid: ”God yeve thee grace,
And yeve thee spede and space,
To bring that birde out of bond.”

The maide was stout and gay,
And lepe to hur palfray;
The dworfe rode bi hur side.
Until the thrid day
Uppon the knyght alway,
Ever sho gan to chide,
And seid: “Thou wrecche, thou caitife,
Though thou were so stife,
Sone lost is thi pride!
This place kepith a knyght;
With everi man he wol fight.
His name springith ful wide,

William Celabronche.
His fighting may no man stonche;
He is werrour out of witte.
But throw hart and honche,
With his spere he wol lonche
Al that ayens him mete.”
Quod Libeous Disconious:
“Ys his fighting of suche use
And was he never yhitte?”
Tide so whate bitide,
To him schalle Y ride,
And loke how fast he sitte!”

Than rede thei furthe al thre
Uppon that feire cause.
Biside the Chapel of Aventours
That knyght thei can se,
In armour bright of ble
Uppon the Poynt Perilous.
He bare a schilde of grene
With three lions of golde schene,
Proute and precious,
To suche lengels and trappis.
To dele men rappis
Ever hath bene his use.

Whan he had of Libeous a sight,
He rode to him fulle right
And seid, “Welcome, Beaupere!
Whate man that here furth rides,
He mote with me fight,
Othir leve his armour here.”
Than seid Libeous Disconious:
“For the love of swete Jhesus,
Lete us pas, nowe, here,
For we have fer to wynde
And bene fer fro our frende,
This may and ich in fere.”

Than seid William tho:
“Thou schalt nought ascape so,
So God yeve me rest!
For we shal bothe two
Fight ar that we go
A furlong here bi west!”
Than seid Libeus: “Nowe Y se
That may no betir be,
In hast do thi best.
Take thi cours with thi scheft,
Yef thowe be connyng of craft,
For her is myne al prest.”

No lengir wolde thei abide,
But togadir gan thei ride
With grete renowne.
Sir Libeous in that tide
Smote William in the side
With a spere feloun.
But William sate so fast
That his stiropis tobarst
And his arsoun.
William gan to stoupe,
And over his hors crowpe
In that he felle adowne.

His stede ranne away,
But William nought long lay,
But stert up anone right,
And seide, “By my fay!
Bi this ilke day
Y founde never none so wight.
But nowe my stede is go,
Fight ye on fote also,
As ye be a gentil knyght.”
Than seide Libeous Disconious:
“Bi the love of swete Jhesus,
Therto Y am right light!”

Swerdis thei drowe bothe,
As men that were wrothe,
And fought furthe fast.
So fast thei gan dinge,
The fire, withoute lesing,
Out of hare helme barst.
But Sir William Celabronche
To Libeous gan lonche
Throwe his schilde in hast.
A quarter fille to ground;
Sir Libeous in that stound
In hart he was agast.

Sir Libeous al with myght
He defendid him anone right,
As werrour good and slygh.
Vesour and crest doun right,
He lete fle with myght,
Of Williamis helme in highe,
Than the poynt of the swerd
Schave Williamis berde
And come the flesche to nye.
William smote Libeous tho,
That his swerde brake atwo,
That many men it sye.

Than gan William mercy to cry:
“For the love of Seint Marie,
Lete me on lyve pas!
It were gret vilonye
To do a knyght to dye,
Weponles in a place.”
Thanne seid Libious Disconius:
“Bi the love of swete Jhesus,
Thou getist of me no grace
But thowe swere me an othe,
Ar that we asondir goth
Here bifore my face.

In hast thowe knely adoun,
And swere apon my swerd broun,
Thou schalt to Arthour wynde
And sei: ‘Lord of renoun,
I am come to your prisoun.
A knyght me hidir gan synde
That men clepith, in your use,
Libeous Disconious,
Unkouth of kynde and kithe.’”
William on kneis him sette
And sware as he him hette.
Furthe gan he wynde.

Thus partid thei alle.
William to Arthouris halle
Toke the right way.
A caas ther gan bifalle;
Thre knyghtis proude in palle
Met he the same day.
His sustir sones he mette there,
Feire knyghtis and fre,
That were stout and gay.
Whan thei say William blede,
As wolfe that wolde awede,
Thei mede of grete deray.

And seid to William:
“Who hath do thee this schame?
Whi bledist thow so yorne?”
He seid: “Bi God and bi Seint Jame,
Of on that is nought to blame,
A knyght that is ful stout and sterne.
Libious Disconious he hight.
To falle his foo in fight,
He is nought to lerne.
A dwarf ridith him bifore,
His squyar as he were,
And eke a wel faire schene.

“But on thing grevith me more,
That he hath made me swore
Uppon his bronde bright
That Y schal never more,
Til Y come Arthour bifore,
Stynt day ne nyght.
To him Y must me yelde
As overcome in fielde,
Bi power of his knyght,
And never agayne him bere
Nothir schilde ne spere,
And thus Y have him bihight.”

Than seid the knyghtis thre:
“Thow schalt wel ywreke be,
Certis, without faile!
He alone ayene thre —
He is nought worthe a stre
To bide bataile.
Go furthe, William, and do thi othe,
And though the traitour be wrothe,
We schulle him asaile,
Ar he this forest pas;
We schul his hauberk of bras,
Though it be thik of maile.”

Hereof wist no wight
Ne Libeous, the gentil knyght,
But rode furthe paas bi pace.
He and that maide bright
Maden togadir that nyght
Game and grete solas.
“Merci,” scho gan him crye,
For sho spake him vilonye,
And he forgave hir hur trespas.
The dwarfe was hur squyour,
And servid hem fur and nere
Of alle that worthi was.

On morow, whan it was day,
Thei rod on hare journay
Toward Synadoun.
Than sawe thei in way
Thre knyghtis stout and gay
Come ridyng fro Karlioun.
To him thei cried anone right:
“Traitour, turne thowe and fight
Or els lete thi renoune,
And that maide bright,
That is so feire of sight,
Lede we wolle to toune!”

Sir Libeous to ham cried:
“Y ame redy to ride
Agayne yow al in same,
As princis proude in pride!”
He prekid his stede that tide,
Al in ernyst and nought in game.
The eldist brothir than bere
To Sir Libious a spere,
Sir Gawer was his name.
Sir Libious rode to him anone,
And brake his rigge bone,
And lete him ligge lame.

The knyght merci gan crye.
Sir Libious than sicurlye
Hilde him fast adoun.
The dwarfe, Deodolyne,
Toke the stede bi the rayne,
And lepe up in to the arssoune.
He rode than with that
To the maide ther scho sate
Of so feire face.
Than louge that maide bright
And seid: “This yong knyght
Was wel ychose champioun.”

The myddil brothir stode and bihilde.
His brothir in the filde
Had lorne mayne and myght.
He smote so, hit is tolde,
Into Sir Libiousis schilde
With a spere anone right.
Sir Libious awey gan bere
With the poynt of a spere
The helme awey of the knyght.
The yongist brothir gan furth ride
And prekid his stede that tide,
Egir as lioun wight.

He seide to Sir Libious anone:
“Sir knyght, bi Seint John,
Thou art a fel champioun and light.
Bi God that deide on tre,
Fight Y schalle with thee,
Y trowe, and bere thee doun.”
As werrour out of witte,
Sir Libious gan he hitte
With a felle fauchon;
So stif his stroke he sette
Throwe helm and basnet
He carve Libious croun.

Than was Libious agrevyd,
Whan he frede on his hede
A swerde of egir mode.
His swerde aboute him wend.
Al that him toke he clevyd,
As werrour wilde and wode.
Than seide Libious tho:
“One ayeyne two
To fight it is nought good.”
Fast he hewe on him
With grete strokis and grym,
And stife agenst hem stode.

But throwe Godis grace,
He smote the myddelist in the place
Uppon the right arme tho.
He fledde in that caas,
And in that ilke spaas,
The right arme fille him fro.
The yongist sy that sight;
He had no mayne ne myght
To fight ayen his fo.
Tho up he yelde
Bothe his spere and his schilde,
And mercy he cried tho.

Sir Libious answerid,“Nay!
Thou schalt nought so go away,
Bi Him that bought us bothe.
Thowe and thi brotherne tway,
Ye schulle sicour me your fay:
Ye schulle to Arthour wynde
And sey, ‘Lordis of renoune,
As overcome presone
A knyght us hedir gan send
To yelde you towre and towne,
And be undir your bandowne
To oure lyvys ende.’

“And but ye wol do so,
Certis Y schalle sle you two
Longe ar it be nyght.”
The knyghtis sware to him tho
That thei schulde to Arthour go,
And trewthe to him thei plight.
Libious and that may
Went in hare way
As thei had yheght,
Til the third day
Thei rode in game and play,
He and that birde bright.

Thei rode ever west
Into a grene forest,
And myght not come to toun.
Thei ne wist whate was best;
Nedis thei must rest,
And ther they lighte adoun.
In the grene grevys,
Thei made a logge of levys
With swerdis bright and broun.
Therin thei dwellid al nyght,
He and that birde bright,
So feire of facion.

And ever the dwarfe gan wake.
A fire he sey make,
Fro him nought halfe a myle.
“Arise,” he seide, “Sir Knyght!
To hors that thou were dight,
For drede of more perile!
Certis, Y hire grete bost;
Y have a smylle of rost,
By God and by Seint Gile.”

Sir Libious was stout and gay,
And lepe on his palfray;
He hent schilde and spere.
As he went furthe fast,
Two jeyauntis he founde at the last,
Whan that he come there.
That one was blak as picche,
That othir rede and lotheliche;
Ful fowle thei were of chere.
The blake gan holde in barme
A feire maide bi the arme,
Bright so rose in brere.

The rede geaunte so yorne
On a spitte a bore gan turne.
For sum man schulde it wete,
Sho seide, “Welaway!
That ever Y abode this day
Bitwene two develis to sytte!
Helpe me, Marie mylde,
For the love of thi childe
That Y be nought forgit!”

Quod Libeous: “Bi Seint Jame,
To bring this maide out of schame
Hit were a feire empris!”
He toke his cours with his scheft,
As man that cowthe his craft,
And rode at the right asise.
To fight with ham bothe in same,
It is no childis game;
Thei bith fulle grymme and grise.
The blake he smote smert
Throwe lyver, longen, and hert,
That never he myghte arise.

And than fleygh that maide schene,
And thonkid heven quene.
That socour hur sent.
That came maide Elyne,
Sho and the dwarf bidene,
And bi the honde hur hent.
Thei went to the grevys
Into the logge of grene levys
With welle goode entent,
And bisoughte Jhesus,
That he wolde helpe Libeus Disconyous,
That he be nought yschent.

The rede geaunt smote thore
To Libeous, with the wilde bore,
As wolfe that wolde of wede.
His dynt he sette sore,
That Sir Libeous stede therfore
Doune to grounde he yode.
Sir Libeous than ful smert
Out of his sadille stert,
As sparkil dothe of glede.
As egir as eny lioun,
He faught with his swerde broun
To yelde the geaunt his mede.

The giaunt with the spit gave a stroke
With the butte of a yong oke
That he had on the bore.
He leide on Libeous fast,
While the spit wolde last,
Ever more and more.
The bore was ful hote than;
On Sir Libeous the grece ran,
Swithe fast thore.
The giaunt was stife and strong;
Fifteen fote he was longe,
And smote Libeous sore.

And ever the giaunt
To Libeous, wel Y wote,
Tille his spit brake on two.
As a man that was unsaught,
A tronchon up he caught,
To fight ayens his fo.
With the ende of a tre
He smot Libeous schilde a-thre.
Than waxid Libeous ful wo.
Er he the tre up hafe,
Sir Libeous a stroke him yafe,
That the right arme fil him fro.

The giaunt fille to ground,
And Libeous in that stound
Smote of his hed ful right,
In Frensche tale as it is found.
Tille that othir he went that stound
And servid him aplight.
Tho he toke hedis tway
And bare ham to that may
That he wan in fight.
The may was glad and blithe,
And thonkid God fele sithe
That ever he was made knyght.

Tho seid Libeous: “Gentil dame,
Telle me, whate is your name,
And where ye were ybore.”
Sho seide: “Bi Seint Jame,
My fadir is of riche fame,
And wonyth here biforne.
An erle, ykidde a noble knyght,
That is a man of moche myght,
His name is furre ytolde.
Mi name is Violette,
That the giaunt had bisette
Undir our castelle ful yore.

“Yustirday, in the mornynge,
As Y went in my playnge,
None eville Y thought.
The giaunt, without lesinge,
Out of a busche gan sprynge,
And to his fere me brought.
Of him Y had bene yschent,
Ne God had socoure ysent,
That alle the worlde wrought.
He yilde thee thi mede,
That for us gan blede,
And with his blode us bought.”

Withoute more talkynge,
To hors gan thei sprynge
And rede furthe alle in same,
And tolde the erle tithinge
Howe he wanne in fightynge,
His doughtir fro wo and schame.
Than were the hedis ysent
To Kinge Arthour, in present,
With moche gle and game.
Thanne in Arthouris court arose
Libeous Disconiousis noble lose
And his gentil fame.

The erle, for his good dede,
Gave Sir Libeous to mede
Shilde and armour bright,
And also a noble stede
That was good at nede
In travaile and in fight.
Sir Libeous and that may
Rode in hare journay
Thedir as thei had yhight.
Than thei sawe in a park
A castelle stife and stark,
That wondir wel was dight,

Ywallid was with stone —
Suche sawe he never none —
With towris stif and stout.
Quod Libeous: “Bi Seint John,
Hit were a feire wone,
Whoso had grete dout.”
Than lought the maiden bright
And seide: “This owith a knyght,
The beste here about.
Whoso wol with him fight,
Be he baron, be he knyght,
He dothe him lowe to lowte.

“For the love of his lemmon,
That is feire a womon,
He had do crye and grede.
Whoso bringith a feirer ane,
A jerefawken as white as swane
He schalle have to his mede.
Yef sho be nought so feire in sight,
With Greffroun he must fight.
And yef he may nought spede,
His hedde schalle him be reft,
And ysette apon a sheft,
To seyn longe and brode.

“The sothe thowe may se welle.
Ther stont on every cornelle
An hede or two up right.”
Quod Libeous also snelle:
“Bi God and bi Seint Mighelle,
With Geffroun Y mote fight
And chalange the jerefawcoune
And sey I have in towne
A lemman two so bright,
And yef he will hur se,
Forsothe, Y bringe thee,
Be it day othir nyght.”

The dwarf seide: “Bi Jhesus,
Gentil Libeous Disconious,
Thou puttist thee in grete perile.
Geffron le Frediens
In his fighting he hath defens
Knyghtis to bigile!”
Libeous answerid thare:
“Therfore have thou no care.
Bi God and bi Seint Gile,
Y schalle se his face,
Or Y hens pace
Fro this stede a myle.”

Withouten more resoune,
Thei dwellid stille in the toune
Alle that nyght in pees.
On the morowe Libeous was boune
To wynne him renoune,
Certis, withouten les.
He armyd him fulle sure
In that ilke armour
That the erle of Auntouris was.
A stede gan he bistride;
The dworfe rode bi his side
To that prowde place.

Geffron le Frediens
Rose as it was his use
In the morowe tide
For to honour swete Jhesus.
Ther come Libeous Disconious,
Come prikyng as prins in pride.
Without more abode,
Ayens Libeous he rode,
And lowde to him he cried,
With vois scharp and schrille:
“Comyst thowe for good othir ille?
Tel me and nought ne hide.”

Quod Libeous also tide:
“Y have grete delyte
With thee for to fight!
Thowe seiest in dispite
That woman is none so white
And as thyne is bi day and nyghte,
And Y have in towne
Fairer of faciowne,
In clothis and scho were dight.
Therfore the jerfawcoune
To Arthour, kyng of crowne,
Brynge Y wolle with right!”

Quod Geffrron: “Gentil knyght,
Where schulle we preve aplight?

Ther nowe men mowe se.
In the myddille of the market
Ther thei schulle be set,
To loke on, bonde and fre,
And my lemman be broun.
To wynne the jerfaucoun,
Justi Y wolle with thee.”

Quod Geffron also snelle:
“Alle thus graunt Y welle,
This day bi undirtide,
Bi God and bi Seint Michel.
Out of this castelle
To Karlylle wolle Y ride!”
Hare glovys up thay yolde
That foreward for to holde,
As prins prout in pride.
Sir Libeous er he wolde blynne,
He rode in to his inne,
And wolde no lengir abide,

And seide to maide Elyne,
That bright was and schene:
“Loke that thou make thee bowne.”
And seide: “Bi Heven Queen,
Gefferonis lemmon, Y wene,
Today schalle come to towne.
In the myddis of the cité
Ther men schulle you se,
Faire of facioune,
And yef thowe be nought so bright,
With Geffron Y wol fight
To wynne the jerfaucoune!”

The dwarfe answerid and seide:
“Nowe is this a wondir dede,
For eny manne ybore!
Thou doste bi no manis rede,
But first in thi childehede,
As man that wolde be ylore.
Therfore Y thee pray,
Wandir we furthe in our way
That we ne come him bifore.”
Libeous seide: “That were schame!
Y had lever, bi Seint Jame,
With wilde hors be ytore!”

That maide feire and fre
Hied hur, certeyne, to be
Fast to hur atyre,
For to do his profite:
In kerchevys feire and white,
Araied with golde wire;
Of felwet a mantel ful gay,
Yfurrid with grys ful gray,
Scho cast abowte hur swire.
Stonys abowte hur molde
Were precious endentid with golde,
The best of that empire.

Sir Libeous sette that may
Uppon a good palfray.
Thei rode furthe, alle thre.
Ilke a man to othir gan say:
“Here comyth a lady gay
And semely on to se!”
In to the market thei rode,
And boldely ther abode,
In myddis of that ilke cité.
Than thei say Gefferon come ride,
Two squyars bi his side,
And no more maigne.

He bare a schilde of grene,
That dight was wel, Y wene,
Of golde was the border, ryngid with floris,
And of the same colour,
Ydighte with othir flowris,
Was gayer than any cromponis.
Two squyars with him rede,
Thre speris bare bi his side,
That good were and sure.
That othir bare redy boune
The gentil jerfaucoune,
That leide was the wagure.

That aftur gan ride
A lady ful of pride,
Yclothid in purpul palle.
The folke were come ful wide
To se hur, bakke and side;
Sho was so gent and smale.
Hur mantelle was ruffyne,
Yfurrid wel with ermyne
Ryche and rially,
And a bende about hur molde,
Of precious stones of golde,
With many a riche amayle.

As rose hur rode was rede;
Hur here schyned on hur hede
As golde wire schyning bright;
Hur browys as silken threde
Ybent in lengthe and brede;
Sho was ful feire in sight.
Hur ien were grey so glas;
Mylke white were hur face;
Hur nose was straight and right;
Hur swire was long and smale.
Hur beauté, to telle alle,
No man with mowthe ne myght.

Than sho made to brynge
Tway cheiris in to cheping,
Hur beauté to discryve.
Than seide olde and yonge,
Forsothe, withoute lesynge:
“Bitwene ham was grete part.
Geffronis lemman is clere
As rose in one erbere,
Forsothe, and nought to lye;
Elyne the mesynger
Nas but a lavender
In hur lavendrye.”

Quod Geffron le Fredus:
“By the love of swete Jhesus,
That hawke thow hast forlore!”
Quod Libeous Disconious:
“That was never myne use!
Justy Y wolle therfore,
And yef ye falle me doune,
Take my hedde and that foukone
As covenaunt was bifore;
And yef iche fille downe thee,
The fawkon schalle wynde with me,
Though thow be wrothe therfore.”

No more talis thei tolde.
Thei went into the fielde
With welle gret partye,
With strokis stife in schilde;
Every ayens othir hilde
With wel grete envye.
Here schaftis brake in sondir,
Hare dyntis fyrde as dondir
That comyth out of the sky.
Mynstrals and trompours,
Harpours and gestours,
Hare strokis gan discry.

Than gan Geffron speke:
“Bryng me a scheft that wol not breke,
A schefte good with alle!
So this yonge freke
Sittith in sadulle ysteke
As stone in castelle walle.
I schalle make him stoupe,
And over his hors croupe
And yeve him an eville falle,
Though he were as wight werrour
As Alexaundre or Kyng Arthour,
Launselake or Persevale!”

The knyghtis bothe two
Reden togadir tho
With fulle grete renoune.
Sir Libeous smote Geffron tho
That his schilde fille him fro
Into the filde a doune.
Than loughe alle that ther was,
And seide bothe more and las,
Duke, erle, and baroun,
That never thei ne sy
A man that myght dury
A stroke of Sir Geffroun.

Geffron rode to him swithe,
Forsothe, fele sithe,
And yit myght not spede.
He rode ayen ful tite,
And Libeous on the helme he hite,
As a man that wolde of wede.
But Libeous smote so fast
That Gefferon doune he cast
Bothe him and his stede,
That Geffronis rigge tobrake.
Men myght hire the crake
Fer of lengthe and brede.

Alle seide, that ther were,
That Geffron had forlore
The gentille joly faukon;
To Libeous was he ybore.
Al wend, las and more,
With him in to the toun.
Geffron in his schilde
Was ybore out of the filde,
With many bolde baroune.
The gentil faukon ybore was,
Bi a knyght that hight Clewdas,
To Arthour, kynge of crowne.

The knyght him furthe yede.
With him he gan lede
The faukon that Libeous wan.
To Arthour he him bare,
That the kynge sware
That Libeous welle warre can:
He hath sende me with honour
Of faire bataile foure,
Sithe he furst bigan.
I wolle him sende tresour
For to spende with honour,
As fallith for suche a man.”

An hundrid pound honest,
Of floreynes of the best,
He sent to Karlille toune.
Sir Libeous made a fest:
That furtenyght it lest
With grete renowne.
At the sixt wokes ende,
He toke leve to wynde
Of duke, erle, and baroun.
Sir Libeous and that may
Rode on hare way
Toward Synadowne.

As he rode bi a lowe,
Hornes he hurd blowe
And houndis make rebound.
The dwarfe seide in a throwe:
This hornys right wel Y knowe,
Fer yere ferly falle!
Sir Otis hit blewe, de la Ile,
That servith my ladi sum while,
So semely in hur sale.
Whan scho was taken with gile,
He flyghe, for drede of perile,
West into Wirale.

As thei rode on hare talkyng,
Ther come a rache rennyng
Overthwart the way.
Thei seide, without lesyng,
Sith hare first bigynnynge,
None say thei never so gay,
For he was of alle colours gay

Bitwene Midsomer and May.
That may seide ful sone:
“Y say never none
So welle likynge to my pay!

Wolde Crist that ich it aught.
Sir Libeous hit caught
And gave it maide Elyne.
Thei reden furthe, alle soft,
And tolde howe knyghtis fought
For birdis brighte and schene.
Thei rode but a while,
The space of a myle,
In that forest grene.
Thei sawe an hynde come rennyng,
And two greyhoundis hir folowyng;
The racche bigan to mene.

Thei hovyd undir a lynde
And sawe the cours of the hynde,
Sir Libeous and sho in fere.
Than came ther aftir bihynde
A knyght yclothid in ynde,
Apon a bay destrere.
His bugille gan he blowe
That his men schulde him knowe
In whate stede that he were,
And seid: “By Seint Martyne,
The racche was onys myne,
Nought fully gone a yere!

Good frende, lete it go.”
Sir Libeous answerid tho:
“That schalle it never betide!
For with my hondis two
Y yave it the damesel me fro,
That hovys here biside.”
Quod Sir Otis de la Ile:
“Thowe puttist thee in perile,
Petur!, and thowe abide!”
Sir Libeous answerid: “Bi Seint Gile,
Y yeve nought of thi wile,
Chourle, though thou chide.”

Quod Sir Otis de la Ile:
“Sir, thi wordis bith right file!
Churle nas Y never none!
An erle my fadir was sum while;
The Cuntas of Karlyle,
Certis, scho was my dame.
Yef Y were armyd nowe,
Redy as art thowe,
Forsothe, we schulde fight in same!
But thow that racche bileve,
Thow pleiest, ar it be eve,
A wondir wilde game!”

Quod Libeous: “Do thi best!
Here Y am alle prest!
This racche schall with us wynde, than.”
Thei toke the wey west,
Into the wilde forest,
As the dwarfe hem kende.
Sir Otus, with grete errour,
Rode home in that schoure,
And aftir his frendis gan sende,
And tolde ham, anone rightis,
One of Arthouris knyghtis
Shameliche gan him schende,

And his racche had nome.
Than seide alle asomme:
“That traitour shal be ytake!”
Thei seid he schulde be honge,
Though he were also stronge
As Launcelet de Lake.
Thei dighte ham wele,
Bothe in iren and in stele,
As werre shulde ther wake.
Bothe knyghtis and squyars
Lepe on hare palfrais,
For hare lordis sake.

Fer on an hille fulle hye
Sir Libeous sone thei sye,
Ridinge pace for pace.
To him gan thei ride:
“Traitour! Thow schalt abide,
Today, for this trespace!”
Libeous stode and bihilde
Howe fulfillid was the filde,
So moche folke ther was.
He seide to maide Elyne:
“For thi racche, Y wyne,
Me is come a carefulle cas!

Y rede yow withdrawe
Undir the wode schawe,
Your hede for to hide.
Forsothe, for to sayne,
Though Y schulde be slayne,
Ham alle Y schalle abide.”
Into the forest he rode
And boldely ther abode,
Sir Libeous rode in pride.
With bowis and with areblast
To him thei schote fast
And made him woundis wide.

Sir Libeous’ stede so ranne
He bare downe hors and man;
For no thing wolde he spare!
Al the folke seide than:
“Here comyth the devil Satan,
That makith wilde fire fare!”
Whoso Libeous raught,
He clevith with his draught,
And slowe for evermore.
And sone he was bisette,
As fischis in a nette,
With grevely woundis sore.

Twelve knyghtis prest
Ther come out of the forest,
In armour cler and bright.
Al that day thei had yrest
And abode in the forest,
To sle Libeous that knyght.
In armour ther were twelve,
That one was Otys himsilve,
In ryme to rede aright,
That smote to him at onys.
Thei thoughten to breken his bonys
And sle him in that fight.

Then men myght se aright
Strokis sadly plight
Amonge alle ham in fere.
Forsothe, without lesyng,
The sparklis out gan spryng
Throwe helme and basnet there

And four awey gan fle;
Thei durst come him no nere.
The lord faught in that stoure,
And his sonnys fowre,
To sille hare lyvys dere.

Thei leide on stroks ryve,
He alone ayenst fyve;
He fought as he were wode.
Togadir gan thei dryve,
As bene abowte an hyve.
Of ham ranne the blode.
Whan Sir Libeous was nere spillid,
His swarde brake bi the hilt;
Than was he mad of mode.
The lord a stroke him sette
Throwe helme and basnet,
That at the skulle withstode.

In sownynge he fille downe
Over his hors cropoune,
As man that was mate.
His fomen were bowne
To perische his actowne,
Throwe helme and basnet plate.
Whan he gan sore smert,
He plukkid up his hart,
And coverid his state;
And hent an ax that was him nye
That hynge downe bi his thye:
Almost, he thought, to late!

He sterith him as a knyghte.
Hare stedis downe right
He slowe at dyntis thre.
The lord say that sight,
And off his hors alight,
And aweyward gan he fle.
Sir Libeous no lengir abode,
But aftir him rode.
Undir a chesteyne tre
Ther he had him yquelde,
But as the lord him yilde
At his wille to be.

And bi a certeyne stent,
Tresoure, londe, and rent,
Castelle, halle, and bowre
Ther to Libeous assent,
In forward that he went
On to Kynge Arthour,
And sey: “Lord of renoune,
As overcome presoune
Y am to thyne honour.”
The lord graunt it at his wille,
Bothe lowde and stille,
And lad him home to his towre.

The dworfe and maide Elyne
Went with Sir Libeous, Y wene,
To Sir Otys’ castelle.
Sho and the dworfe bidene
Tolde of the dedis kene
Of Libeous, howe hit bifelle,
And of the presentis fowre
That he sende to Kynge Arthoure
That he wanne so welle.

That suche a doughti knyght
His ladi schulde wyn in fight,
His ladi feire and hynde.
To covery mayne and myght,
Furti daies with the knyght
Ther than gan he lende,
And did him hele his wound,
That he was hole and sound.
Bi that day six wokis ende,
Than Libeous and the may
Toke the right way
To Synadowne to wynde.

That lord, without lettyng,
Went to Arthour the kynge,
And for prisoner him yelde,
And tolde to the kyng
Howe aventours knyght yonge
Wanne him in filde.
Kyng Arthour had good game,
And the knyghtis in same,
That hurd that tale ytolde,
And thei chose for profitable
The knyght of the Rounde Table,
To fight with spere and schilde.

Rest we nowe a while
Of Sir Otis de la Ile,
And telle we of othir talis.
Sir Libeous rode many a myle,
In aventuris and in perile,
In Cornewaile and in Walis.
Hit bifille in the monethe of June,
Whan levys and buskis ben grene
And flowris in semely sale.
The someris day is longe;
Mery is thanne the songe
Of the nyghtingale.

Than that tyme gan Libeous ride
Bi a ryveris side,
He sie a feire cité
With a palice proude in pride,
A castelle hie and wide,
And gatis grete plenté.
He askid whate hit hight.
The maide seide, anone right:
“Y wol tel to thee.
Men clepith hit Il d’Ore.
Ther hathe ybe fighting more
Than ever was in eny contré.

“For a ladi ful of pris —
Hir rode is rede as rose on rice —
This contrey is al in dowt:
A giaunt that hat Maugus,
His pere nought yfounde is,
He hath bisette hur abowt.
He is blakke so eny picche;
In al this worlde is him none liche
Of dedis so sterne and stout.
Whate knyght that passith this brig,
His armys must he leg
And to him alowty.

He is furti fote longe,
And also swithe stronge
As othir knyghtis fifté.
Sir Libeous, bithinke thee
With suche one to melle.
He is wondir grisly;
Eche here of his browyn
Is liche the here of a swyn.
For it is sothe, wittirly,
His armys bith wondir long,
And him silve also strong,
He sleith al that comyth him by.

“And so is he grymly,
As Y telle thee, wittirly.
He is also grete
As is an ox or a kowe,
For sothe, as Y sey nowe,
Or as grete as eny nete.
A carte stife and good,
Unnethe, bi the rode,
May hir gere lede.
He is ful stife and stronge,
Ther may no man his dynt dure,
For sothe, so bith thei grete.”

Quod Libeous: “Maide hynde,
My wey wolle Y wynde,
For alle his strokis ille.
Yif God wol grace sende,
Er this day come to ende
With fighte Y schalle him spille.
Y have ysey grete okys
Falle with wynde strokis,
In litille stounde fulle stille;
Though Y be yonge and lite,
To him schalle Y smyte.
Lete God do his wille!”

Thei rode furthe al thre
To that feire cité
That men clepith Il d’Ore.
Maugus gan thei se,
Uppon a brigge of tre,
Lokid as a wilde bore,
His schilde was blak as picche —
Libeous say never none suche —
Four mawmetts therin was.
For no while he stode,
But to Libeous yode
And seid to him with wowe:

“Turne agayne as tite,
For thin owne profite,
Yif thowe love thi prowe!”
Whan he say Libeous with fight,
He seide anone right:
“Telle me whate art thowe!”
Sir Libeous seid aplight:
“Kynge Arthour made me knyght.
To him Y made myne avowe
That Y ne schulde turne my bak.
Therfor, thowe devil so blak,
Make thee redy nowe!”

Maugus on fote yode,
And Libeous rode to him with his stede,
For sothe, than, ful right.
Lordis and ladies bright,
Lay in hare korvelle
To biholde that fight.
Thei praid to God of His wille,
Bothe lowde and stille,
To save that Cristen knyght
That schulde yeve grace that geaunt,
That levyth on Termagaunt,
That day schulde dey in fight.

Ther hare scheftis brake on sondir,
Everi stroke ferde as doundir;
The pecis gan out springe.
Thei drowe swerdis bothe,
As men that weren wrothe,
And gan togadir dynge.
Everi man had wondur
That Libeous nad go undur
At the first bigynnyng.
Sir Libeous smote Maugus tho
That his swerde fille him fro,
Without eny lesyng.

Maugus cowthe moche quede,
And hit Libeous’ stede on the hede,
And smote out the brayne.
Libeous nothing saide,
But stert up on a braide
Right ful sone againe.
An ax he hent ful sone
And hewe bi his nekke bone,
And smote to him with mayne,
That happid to his schilde.
Hit flye fro him into the fielde
And fille right into the playne.

On fote bothe thei fought.
No man bitwene ham myght
The strokis bitwene ham two.
Depe woundis thei raught,
For thei were unsaught,
And ever of ham othiris fo.
From the owre of the prime
Til it was evesonge tyme
Of fighting were thei there.
Sir Libeous was athursti sore,
And seid, “Maugus, thyne ore
To drinke thowe leve me go.”

“Y schalle graunti thee
Whate bone so ever thou axi me,
Suche grace may betide.
Grete schame it were for thee
A knyght for thurst to sle
And no more profite.”
Maugus graunte it welle
For to drink his fille
With more delite.
Whan Libeous lay on the wateris bank,
And throwe his helme he drank,
Maugus gan him smyte.

Into the ryvere he fille,
Armour and everi dele
Ywette and evil ydight.
Up he stert also snelle
And swore bi Seint Michel:
“Nowe am Y two so light.
Wyndist thow, fyndis fere,
Uncristened that Y were?
To thee my trewthe Y plight.
Y schalle for thi baptise
Wel quite thi service
Throwe the grace of God Almyght.”

Thanne a newe fight bigan,
And everi to othir ran,
And gave ther dyntis stronge.
Many a gentil man
And ladies as white as swan
For him hare hondis wronge.
For Maugus in the filde
Clave atwo his schilde,
Throwe dyntis of armys longe.
Than Libeous ran away
Ther Maugus’ schilde lay,
And up he gan hit fynge.

Than Libeous ran to him agayne
And smote to him with mayne.
Everi of ham othir gan asaile
Unto the day was done;
After passid evensonge,
The knyghtis hilde bataile.
Sir Libeous was werrour wight
And gave a stroke of myght
Throwe splete, plate, and maile,
And throwe his schuldir bone
That his right arme, anone,
Fille into the filde, sans faile.

The giaunt gan to se
That he schulde yslayne be.
He stode defens agayne.
Sir Libeous so to him smote
That at the secunde stroke
He brake hys bak atwayne.
The giaunt ther bilevyd.
Libeous smote off his hevyd,
Therof he was ful fayne.
He bore his hede to towne,
With a feire procescioune;
The folke come him agayne.

[A lady whyt as flowr],
That men clepith Diamour,
Resceyvyd him fulle welle.
The ladi thonkid him with honour
That he was her socour
Agenst the giaunt felle.
Til a chambur scho gan him lede
And chaungid ther his wede.
In palle sho clothid him welle;
Sho proferid him with worde
Ever to be hur lord
Of cité and castelle.

Sir Libeous graunt it in hast
And love to hur cast,
For sho was bright and schene.
Alas, that sho nad be ychastid!
For ever, at the latist,
Sho dud him trayne and tene.
Thre wokis and more
Sho made him dwelle thore,
And also maide Elyne,
That he ne myght out breke
To helpe and awreke
Of Synadowne the quene.

For that feire ladi
Cowthe more of sorsery
Than othir wicchis fyve.
Sho made him melody,
With al maner of mynstralsy
That eny man cowthe discry.
Whan he sawe hur face,
He thought that he wace
In Paradis alyve.
With fantasy and feiry
Ever scho blerid his iee,
Therfore, evil mote scho thryve!

Tille it bifille apon a day
He mette Elyne, that feire may,
Bi the castelle towre.
Til him gan scho say:
“Knyght, fals is in thi lay
Ayens Kyng Arthour!
For love of a woman
That moche of sorcery can,
Thou dost thee dishonour!
My lady of Synadoune
May longe ligge in prisoune,
That is ful grete dolour!”

Whan Libeous hurd hur speke,
Him thought his hart wolde breke
For that gentil dame.
He toke with him his stede,
His schilde and his othir wede,
And riden furthe in same.
That ladiis steward hynde
He made with him to wynde:
Sir Jeffelot was his name.
Thei rode furthe talkyng,
And also fast syngyng,
Laughe and made good game.

Sir Libeous and that may
Rode furthe on hare jornay
On stedis bay and broune.
Til on the thrid day
Thei say a cité gay,
Men clepith Cinadowne,
With a castelle hie and wide,
And palys proude in pride,
And worke of feire facion.
Sir Libeous axkid that feire may
Whos was that cité gay,
That stode ther in that towne.

And scho him tolde anon:
“Sir,” sho seid, “bi Seint John,
That is my ladyis fre.
And in one castelle
Woneth a giaunt felle,
Forsothe, witturly.
His name is clepid Lambert,
Of alle this lond is stewart,
Sothe, as Y telle thee,
And who so comyth to the gate
For to axi herborowe therate,
Justi with him wol he.”

Quod Libeous: “Bi my lewté,
That wolde Y blitheli se,
For ought that may betide!
And be he never so stout,
Y schal make him lowte!
So schalle Y to him ride;
Forthi, maide Elyne,
Thowe and the dworf bidene,
In the towne ye me abide.”
Furthe than the maide rode.
The dwarf than nought abode;
He rode hur side bi side.

Quod Libeous to Jeffelot tite:
“To me it were a spite
To lete for man on lyve
To do Arthuris profite
And wynne that lady white.
Thedir wolle Y dryve.
Sir Jeffelot, make thee yare
With me for to fare,
Hastely and blithe!”
Thei rode furthe algate
Right into the castel gate
With feire scheftis fyve,

And axid ther ostelle
Of that feire castelle
For two of Arthouris knyghtis.
The porter feire and welle
Lete ham into the castelle,
And axid ham anone right:
“Who is your governour?”
And thei seid: “Kyng Arthour,
Man most of myght.
He is kyng of curtesy,
chief of chyvalry,
Hys foo to fille in fight.”

The porter, prestabelle,
To his lord the constabille
This tale sone he tolde.
He seid, without fabulle:
“Thei bene of the Rounde Table,
Two knyghtis faire and bolde.
That one is armyd sure
In ful riche armoure,
With thre lions of golde.”
The lord was glad and blithe,
And seide also swithe,
With ham justi he wolde.

He bade ham make ham yare
Into the fielde for to fare
Without the castelle gate.
The porter wolde nought spare,
So as the greyhound aftir the hare,
Agen he toke the gate,
And seid anone right:
“One is come to thee, aventours knyght!
For nothing ye ne lete:
Loke your schildis be strong
And your scheftis longe,
Othir els your detheis gete.

“And ridith into the fielde;
My lord, with spere and schilde.
With you he wol play.”
Sir Libeous spake wordis bolde:
“This wordis bith wel ytolde
And likyng to my pay!”
Into the fielde thei redyn,
And ther boldely abedyn,
And went thei nought away.
Lambert send aftir his stede,
His schilde and othir wede
His tyre was ful gay.

A schilde he bare, fyne,
Thre boris hedis ydentid therinne,
Blakke as bround bronde;
The bordour was of ermyne.
He say never no suche a gyne
In londis where he went.
Two squyars rode bi his side;
Thre scheftis thei bare that tide
To dele doughti dynt.
He was wondir gay,
And also large of pay,
In warre and in turnement.

Tho that stoute stewart,
That hight Sir Lambert,
Was yarmyd at al right.
He rode to the fieldeward,
Prowte as eny Lombard,
To abide the fightis.
He sie Libeous that tide,
And first to him gan ride
Whan he him sey with iee.
He than to him bare
A schefte that was square,
As man of moche myght.

Everi of ham smote othir in the schild;
The pecis fille into the fielde
With hare strokis bidene.
Everiche man to othir tolde,
Bothe yonge and olde:
“This yonge knyght is kene!”
Lambert his cours out rode,
As man that were wode,
For ire and ful of tene,
And seid: “Bringe me a schefte,
And yef he can his crafte,
Sone hit schalle be ysene!”

Than toke thei scheftis rounde,
With hedis sharpe ygrounde,
And rode with grete renoune.
Thei prekid in that stounde
To geven dethis wounde,
As egir as eny lyon.
Sir Libeous smote Lambert tho
That his schilde fille him fro
Into the filde adoune.
So harde he him hit
That he myght nought sitte,
Of this was he yboune.

His schilde brake with power.
And Libeous smote Lambert
On his helme so bright,
The pesyn, ventaile, and gorgare
Fly with the helme in fere.
And Lambert, upright,
That he sate rokkyng in his sadill
As a childe dothe in cradille,
Without mayne and myght.
Every man toke othir bi the lap,
And fast gan with hondis clap,
Barons, burgeis, and knyght.

Sir Lambert fond to fight bette;
A newe helme ther was yfette
And scheftis unmete.

Every to othir sette
Strokis grym and grete.
Than the constable, Sir Lambert,
Fille over his stede bakwarde,
Withouten more bigete.
Sir Lambart sware ful sone:
“Bi Him that schope sonne and mone,
He schalle my lady gete!”

Ther Lambard was aschamyd.
Quod Libeous: “Be nought agrevyd.”
And he answerid: “Nay!
For sith that Y was borne,
Y say never knyght biforne
So strong, bi this day.
Bi the thought that my hert is yn,
Thou art of Sir Gaweynis kyn,
That is so stoute and gay.
Thou art ful stoute in fight,
And also stronge a knyght,
Ful sikir, bi my fay!”

“Whate art thou,” seid Libeous tho,
“That dothe so mochil wo
To the quene of Synadowne?
Telle me er thou hens gone
Or Y thee telle, bi Seint John,
Y schal pare off thi crowne!”
The steward answerid and seide:
“Sir, be thow nought evil apaide!
For scho is my lady:
Sho is quene of this lond,
And Y hur steward, Y undirstond,
Forsothe, sicurly.”

Sir Libeous answerid in hast:
“Fight Y schalle for that lady chast
As Y hight Kyng Arthour!
No man schal make me agast,
The while the life on me may last,
To wynne hur with honour!
But Y ne wote wherefore ne whye,
Ne who hur dothe vilonie
And bringith hur in dolour.”
Lambart seid in that stounde:
“Welcome knyght of the Tabul Rounde,
Bi God, oure Saviour!”

Anone, maide Elyne
Was ysend bi knyghtis kene
Bifore Sir Lambert.
Sho and the dwarfe bidene
Tolde of the dedis kene
That thei had thedirward,
And tolde howe Sir Libeous
Fought with many aventours
And him gevid nothinge.
And then were thei al blithe,
And thonkid fele sithe
Jhesus, Hevyn kynge.

Anon with milde chere
Thei setten hem to soupere,
With mochil gle and game.
Libeous and Lambert in fere
Of aventouris that thei in were
Talkid bothe in same.
Sir Libeous seid, withouten fable,
To Sir Lambart the constable:
“Whate is the knyghtis name
That holdith in prison
The ladi of Synadon,
That is so gentil a dame?”

Sir Lambart seid: “Bi Seint John,
Knyght, sur, is he none
That durste hur awey lede!
Two clerkis ben hur fone,
Fals of blode and bone,
That have ydo that dede.
Hit bene men of maistry,
Clerkis of nigromansy,
Sertis, right to rede.
Iran is, than, one brothir,
And Mabon is that othir:
For ham we bene in drede.

“Iran and Mabon
Maden an hous of grete name,
A place queynte of gynne.
Ther nys erle ne baron
That had an hart as a lyon
That durst come therin.
Hit is made bi negromansy,
Ywrought it was with feyry,
That wondir is to wynne.
Therin lieth in prison
The ladi of Synadon,
Comyn of kyngis kynne.

Oft we hire hur crien,
But to se hur with ien,
Therto have we no myght.
Thei dothe hur turmentry
And al maner vilony,
Bothe bi day and nyght.
Thus Mabon and Iran
Have swore hare othe serteyne
To dethe thei wol hur dight,
But scho graunti ham tille
To do Mabonis wille,
And graunti him alle hur right,

“Of alle this lond feire,
That my ladi of is eire,
To wynne alle with wille.
And scho is meke and stille,
Forthei we bene in dispeire
Lest that thei bring hur in synne!”
Quod Libeous Disconious:
“Bi the love of swete Jhesus
That lady wolle Y wynne!
Bothe Mabon and Iran
Y schalle hewe in the playne,
Hare hedis off bi the chynne!”

Ther was no more tale.
In the castelle, grete ne smale,
But singith and makith ham blithe.
Barons and burgeis fale
Come to that semely sale
For that to listen and lithe
Howe that proude steward,
That men clepith Sir Lambert,
With Libeous his craft gan kithe.
Thei fedde ham at sopere
And bade ham be blithe of chere,
Knyghtis bothe stoute and stithe.

Ther than gan thei dwelle
In that same castelle
Alle that longe night.
On morowe Libeous was prest
In armour of the best;
Ful fresche he was to fight.
Sir Lambart lad him to the gate
And to the castelle gate,
That stode up ful right.
Further durste thei nought him bring,
Forsothe, withoute lesing,
Baron, burgeis, ne knyght,

But turnid ham agayne.
Sir Geffelot, Libeousis swayne,
With him fayne wolde ride.
Sir Libeous sware his othe, serteyne,
That he schulde Jeffelot slayne,
Yef he ther wolde abide.
Unto the castel ageyne he rode,
And with Sir Lambart ther he bode.
To Jhesus fast he cried
That he schulde send tithing glad
Of him that longe had
Thedir ysought fulle wide.

Sir Libeous reyght his corcis
And rode in to the palys
And at the halle alight.
Trumpis, pipis, and schalmys
He hurde bifore the highe deys
And sawe ham with sight.
In myddis the halle flore
He sawe a fire starke and store,
Was light and brenden bryght,
And furthe in he yede
And ladde with him his stede,
That helpith him in fight.

Libeous furthe gan pas,
Furthe into the plas
Ther the fire was in the halle.
Somme, of more and las,
He ne sye in the plas,
But mynstrell clothid in palle,
With setoll and with sawtry,
And every maner mynstralci.
Grete gle thei made alle;
Harpe, pipe, and rote,
Organs mery of note,
Was wrete in that walle.

Bi every mynstralle stode
A torche, feire and good;
Thei were ylightid and brende bright.
Sir Libeous in yode,
To wite with egir mode,
Who schulde with him fyght.
He yede abowte into the hall
To biholde the pelouris all,
That were so feire in sight.
Of jasper and of fyne cristall
Were thei ywrought alle,
That was so moche of myght.

The doris was of bras,
The wyndowis were of glas,
Ywrought with ymagrye.
The halle ypeyntid was;
In the worlde a feirer nas
That ever man sawe with ie.
He sette him on the des.
The mynstrals were in pece,
That weren so stourdy.
Torchis that weren so bright,
Thei went out anone right —
The mynstrals weren away!

The dors and the wyndowis al
Beten in the halle,
As were dyntis of dondur.
The stonys in the walle
On his hede gan falle;
Therof had he wondur!
The erthe bigan to quake;
The doris bigan to shake,
As he sate therundur.
The halle rofe also,
Him thought it clave a-two
As it schulde asoundur!

Sir Libeous therof had mervaile
And seide, withouten faile:
“This is a wondur!
Y trowe the devill of helle
Be in this castelle
And hath here his resting!
Though the devil and his dame
Come with his brothir in same,
To dethe Y schalle him dynge.
Y schalle never onis fle,
Er that Y se what he be,
Aboute this biggyng.”

As he sate thus and saide,
Him thought he was betraide!
Stedis hurde he neye.
Than was he betir apaide
And to himsilve saide:
“Yit Y hopy to play!”
As he lokid into the fielde,
He sawe with scheft and schilde
Men yarmyd twey
In right good armour,
Was coverid with colour,
With golde garlondis gay.

Thei come ride into the halle
And lowde bigan to calle:
“Sir knyght of aventours,
Suche a cas ther is bifalle,
Yef thow be prowde in palle,
Fight ye must with us!
Y holde the man of kyn
Yef thow that lady wyn
That is so precious!”
Quod Libeous anone right:
“Redy Y am to fight,
Bi the love of Jhesus!”

Sir Libeous, with good hert,
Into his sadulle he stert.
A spere on hond he hent.
Smertly he rode ham tille,
His fomen for to fille;
Therto was his talent.
Whan thei togadur smote,
Everi on othir schildis hit
With speris doughti of dynt.
Mabon his spere tobarst;
Ther of was he sore agast
And hilde him schamely schent.

And with his sterk fauchon
Libeous bare Mabon doun
Undir his hors taile,
That hors he bare to ground,
And Mabon fille that stound
Into the filde, sans faile.
Nerehond he had be slayne,
But than come Iraine,
With helme, hauberk, and maile.
Ful fresche he was to fight.
Sir Libeous, anone right,
Thought him for to asaile.

Sir Libeous was of him yware,
And his spere to him bare,
And left his brothir stille.
Suche dyntis thei gave thore
That hare hauberkis totore,
And that likid him ille!
Hare speris brake on two;
Her swerdis drowe thei tho
With hertis grym and grille.
Togadir gan thei fight,
Every of othir provid har myght
Othir for to kille.

As thei togadir gan hewe,
Mabon, the more schrewe,
In the fielde aros.
He hurde, and wel knewe,
That Iran gave strokis fewe;
Therof his hart aros.
To him he went ful right
To help to falle him in fight,
Libeous of gentil los.
But Libeous fought with hem bothe
As he were wode and wrothe,
And kepid him in clos.

Whan Iran sawe Mabon,
He smote a stroke of male felon
To Sir Libeous with ire,
That evyn he clave doune,
With his swerde broune,
Sir Libeousis stedeis swire.
Sir Libeous was wondir slighe,
And smote a-two his thighe

Ther helpid him none armour,
His acton ne his charmour.
He quitid wel his hire.

Libeous of hert was light
With Mabon for to fight,
In fielde, bothe in fere.
Suche strokis gan thei dight,
That the fuyre sprang out right
Of schilde and helme clere.
As thei togadir smette,
Hare strokis togadir mette,
As ye may lysten and lere.
Mabon smote to Libeous blythe
And brake Libeous swerde ful swithe
A-two quyte and clene.

Than was Libeous ful wo
For he had lorne so,
Forsothe, his good swerde there,
And his stede was lame.
He had wende to have come with schame
To Kyng Arthour, his lorde.
To Iran fast he ranne
And hent his swerde thanne —
Of love ther was no worde!
He ranne to Mabon right.
Ful fast than gan he fight,
As jestours tellith in borde.

And ever faught Mabon,
As it were a lyon,
Sir Libeous for to slo.
But Sir Libeous clave adoune
His schilde with his fawchoune,
That he toke his brothir fro.
In right tale it is tolde,
His right arme with the schilde
Awey he smote also.
Than seid Mabon him tille:
“Thy strokis bene fulle ille,
Gentille knyght, nowe ho!

“Y wol me yilde to thee,
With bodi and catelle fre,
And take alle thee tille.
And that lady fre,
That is in my posté,
Schalle be atte thi wille.
For throwe thi swerdis dynt,
Myne honde is schent;
That wounde wolle me spille.
Therfore, thowe savy my life
And ever, withouten strife,
Y schal be at thi wille.”

“Nay,” quod Libeous, “Bi my thrifte,
Y wolle right nought of thi gifte,
For alle the worlde to wilde
Turne thee, yef thowe myght,
For Y schalle, as I hight,
Hewe thi hed off bi the chynne!”
Than Mabon and Sir Libeous
Fast togadre hewe.
Thei left it for no synne.
Sir Libeous was more of myght
And clave his helme adoune right,
And his hede off bi the chynne.

Than Mabon was yslayn,
He ranne towarde Iran,
With his swerde in fist
For to se his brayne,
I telle yowe, for certeyne.
For to fight more him lust,
And whan he come thore,
Awey he was ybore,
To whiche stede he ne wist.
He sought him, for the nonys,
Fulle wide in that wonys.
On trewthe ful wel he trust.

And whan he myght not fynde Iran,
He went agen, ful serteyne,
And sought ful sore,
And seide in dede and thought:
“This wolle be dere ybought,
That he is fro me yfare,
For he wol with sorsery
Do me grete turmentry,
And that is my most care!”
He sate and ful fast he thought
Whate he best do mought.
Of blys than was he bare!

As he sate in the halle,
Out of the stone walle
A wyndowe feire unfolde.
Grete wondir, withalle,
In his hert gan falle.
He sate and gan biholde
A worme ther out gan pas
With a womanis face,
Yonge and nothing olde.
Hur bodi and hur whyngis
Shone in alle thingis,
As it were betyn golde.

Hur taile was unmete;
Hur pennys were grym and grete,
As ye may lysten and lere.
Sir Libeous swat for hete
Ther he sate in his sete,
As he had be in werre.
So sore he was agast,
Him thought his hert tobarst
As scho nyghid him nere,
And ar Sir Libeous it wist,
The worme with mouthe him kist
And hynge abowte his swire.

And aftir that kissing,
Of the worme bothe taile and wyng
Sone thei fille hur fro.
So feire in alle thing
Woman, without lesyng,
Sawe he never er tho.
But scho was al nakid
As the clerkis hur makid;
Therfore Libeous was wo.
Sho seid: “Gentille knyght,
God yilde thee thi fight
My fomen that thow wolt slo.

“Thou hast ysley for sothe
Two clerkis that cowthe
And wrought bi the fende.
Bi northe and bi sowthe,
Bi maistry of hare mowthe.
Many men thei schende

Ever in wo to wynde,
Til Y had ykissid Gaweyn,
That is ful doughti, serteyne,
Othir sum of his kynne.

And thowe savedist my lyve,
Castels sixty and five
Take Y wol thee tille,
And mysilve to wife,
Stilly, withouten strife
Yif it be thi wille.”
Libeous was glad and blithe
And lepe to hors also swithe
And left that lady stille,
And sore draddid Iran
That he nad nought him slayn;
With spere he thought him spille

Sir Libeous, that knyght good,
Into the sadil he yood
To loke aftir Iran.
He lokid into a chambir,
That was in an hie tour

And ther he sawe Iran.
He drowe his swerde with myght
And smote of his hed aright,
For sothe, of Iran than.

To the castelle than he rode
Ther the folke him abode;
To Ihesus gan thei cry.
For Libeous to Lambert tolde,
And othir knyghtis bolde,
This tale ther ful pertly,
How Mabon was slayn,
And woundid was Iran,
Throwe the myght of Marie;
That the lady bright
Til a dragon was dight
Throwe myght of sorserye;

And with a cosse of a knyght,
Womman scho was aplight,
A commely creature.
But scho him stode byfore
As nakid as scho was bore,
And seid: “Nowe am Y sure
My fomen thu hast slayn,
Mabon and Iran.
Therfore God joy thee send!”
And whan Sir Libeous in that forward
Had ytolde it to Sir Lambard
Bothe worde and ende,

A robe of purpure pris,
Yfurrid wel with grise,
He sende hur to bigynnyng.
Suche riches and garlondis riche
He sende hur preveiliche;
A maide ham gan hur bringe.
And whan scho was redy dight,
Sho went with mayn and myght
Til hur owne wonnyng.
Than alle the folke of Synadoune
With a feire processioune
That ladi gan home brynge.

Whan scho come to towne,
Of golde a precious crowne
On hur hed was set.
Ther thei were glad and blithe
And thonkid God fele sithe
That hur balis were bete.
Than alle the knyghtis thrytté
Send hur homage and fewté,
As hit was lawe in lond.
And whan thei had this ydone,
Thei toke hare leve and went sone,
Alle men bowid to hur honde.

Seven daies thei made hare sojour
With Sur Lambert in the tour
And alle the folke in same.
Than went thei with honour
Unto Kynge Arthour
With moche gle and game.
Thei thonkid God of his myght,
Kynge Arthour and his knyght,
That scho had no schame.
Arthour, he gave blyve
Libeous that may to wyve,
That was so gentil a dame.

The myrthe of that bridale
May no man tel in tale,
Ne sey in no gest.
In that semely halle
Were lordis gret and smalle
And ladies ful honest.
Ther was wel sertayne
Servise fulle good wone,
Bothe most and lest.
Forsothe, the mynstrals alle
That were in the halle
Had giftis at that fest.

Sir Libeous’ modir so fre
Yede to that maungeré.
Hur rode was rede so rys.
Sho knewe Libeous wel bi sight
And wist welle, anone right,
That he was of moche pris.
Sho went to Sir Gaweyne
And seid, withouten delaye:
“This is our childe so fre!”
That was he glad and blithe
And kissid hur fele sithe,
And seid: “That likith me!”

Sir Gaweyne, knyght of renoune,
Seid to the Lady of Synadoune:
“Madam, trewliche,
He that wanne thee with pride
I wanne him bi a forestis side
And gate him of a giantis lady.”
That ladi was blithe
And thonkid him many a sithe
And kissid him, sicurly.
Than Libeous to him ranne
And ever kissid that manne,
Forsothe, trewly.

He fille on kneis that stound
And sate knelyng on the ground,
And seid: “For God alle weldond,
That made this worlde round,
Feire fadir, wel be ye found!
Ye blis me with your hond!”
The hyndy knyght, Gaweyne,
Blessid his sonne with mayne,
And made him up to stond.
And comaundid knyghtis and swayn
To calle Libeous “Gyngelayn,”
That was lord of that lond.

Forty daies they dwellid there
And hare fest thei hilde yfere
With Arthour the kyng,
As in romaunce it is tolde.
Arthour with knyghtis bolde
Home he gan ham bryng.
Ten yere thei levid in same
With moche gle and game,
He and that swete thinge.
Jhesu Crist our Saviour
And His modir, that swete flour,
To blys He us alle bryng. Amen.

Qui scripcit carmen sit benedictis. Amen.1

Hic explicit Libeus Disconyus.

He that lovyth welle to fare
Ever to spend and never spare quod More
But he have the more good
His here wol grow throw his hood2

Hic pennam fixi penitet me si male scripsi.3
(see note); (t-note)

Who; (see note)
wise; discerning; valiant

called; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
No one has heard tell of yet

kept him protected

Armed in any way
he was so uncivilized; (see note)
without hesitation
fear of his bad reputation
[her] strong and beloved child

fair of face (i.e., handsome)
Beautiful Son; (see note)

himself was innocent (naive)
asked; truly
was named by

went to play (went hunting)

In armor; sturdy and splendid
rendered harmless

took off; (see note)
himself dressed

when he had done that
Immediately; went; (see note)

(see note)

(see note)

youth unknown; (see note)

now; (see note)


lying (truthfully)
since I was born
I have never before seen
so handsome a man

youth; (see note)
I know not
I am all the more naive [for it]
Beautiful Son; (see note)

Saint Denis; (see note)
wishes to become a knight
Yet knows not what he is named
fair of face

all together
fair and noble
Whatever woman she might be

Fair Unknown; (see note)

know in an orderly fashion
fair one that I acknowledge
Certainly, that is what he is to be called

right away

that very day
gave; (see note)
(see note)
(see note)
in the plain
Techniques; i.e., jousting

griffons overlaid with gold

request; (see note)

If I might have the first combat

your request
Whatever the request
(see note)

further debate

washed; dinner; (see note); (t-note)
noblemen greatly esteemed
Enough they had to eat
They had not been seated for long
time it takes to ride a mile
(see note)
(see note)
All covered in sweat from the heat

was called; (see note)
fair; (t-note)
countess nor queen
beautiful to look upon
 (see note)
Of ample abundance, and in no way skimpy
ermine trim
inlaid with gold
completely covered
destrier (riding horse); (see note)

indigo; (see note); (t-note)

fashionably dressed; (see note)

Such [a] one
a sleeveless surcoat; (see note)
(see note)
hair; (see note); (t-note)

His shoes were decorated with gold
in a knightly mantle (cope)
He did not seem impoverished

(see note)

He was skilled in courtly entertainments
Citole, psaltery; (see note); (t-note)
harp, fiddle; stringed instrument
gentle maid
declare your message to me; (t-note)
Now the time has come


The worst imaginable
I do not know of a more grievous case

Who; (see note)

protection; wise and courageous (see note)
(see note)

(see note)
eager and courageous


(see note)

scold; (see note)

story will spread

your reputation damaged; (see note)

To deliver powerful sword strokes
powerful knights
worthy in every tournament

in great anger; (t-note)

To accomplish a worthy task
a quarter of a penny (i.e., worthless)
Five or three battles; (see note)
He must do

fear of [any] man’s words

drawn and quartered


maiden; immediately
Your words certainly inspire confidence
[To] whoever beholds you
You dare not
Endure even the wind of a sword [stroke]

at that time
May be afraid of you

nurse at your mother’s breast
earn your status there; (t-note)

i.e., Christ
capable (fit for the task)

annoyance and anger; (see note)

full of care
removed; (see note)

(see note)
arm him
(see note)
youth; fittingly

the river Jordan; baptized; (see note)

eager; (see note)
(see note)
majestic hall
(see note); (t-note)

(see note)
tunic; (t-note)

shining coat of mail
richly constructed
both large and small rings

Hung about his neck
with one griffon; (see note)
richly wrought
not iron
(see note)

To protect him in war; (t-note)
falchion (deadly sword); (see note)


(see note)


to depart
raised; (see note)


fortune and opportunity
liberate that maiden from her bondage

proud and noble
leapt into [the saddle of] her palfrey; (t-note)

(see note)
You wretch, you lowborn slave
sturdily built


(see note)
heart; lower ribcage

Is that his customary practice

Let befall what shall befall

how secure he sits in his saddle


bright of hue (shining)

(see note)
bright gold
Nobly and artfully wrought
horse’s harness and trappings; (see note)

i.e., fair knight; (see note)
Whatsoever man rides forth here; (t-note)

far to travel
far from our friends
This maiden and I together


[As much as] one-eighth of a mile west from here

There can be no better resolution
Do your best quickly
Prepare your lance
If you have any skill
here; all ready; (t-note)

at that moment

deadly spear
so securely
the raised back of his saddle

So that




ever more vigorously
vigorously did they deliver
lying (truly)
Burst (sparked) from their helmets

(see note)
at that moment

with all his strength
defended himself valiantly
skillful; cunning; (t-note)
[William’s] visor; lowered
He struck; forcefully
At the top of William’s helmet
So that
too close [for comfort]


(see note)
Let me pass alive (keep on living)
Weaponless in some locale; (t-note)

Before we separate and depart

kneel down at once
bright sword
travel; (see note)
as your prisoner
according to your custom
(see note)
Whose lineage is unknown; (t-note)
on his knees; (t-note)
Then he departed

Something happened then
splendidly arrayed

sister’s sons
proud and noble
a raging wolf
cried out in dismay; (t-note)


[Because] of one who is faultless
fierce and formidable
is called; (see note)
has little to learn

a very beautiful bright [lady]; (see note)

(see note)
On his bright sword

cease [my journey]



well avenged
a straw

crush; (see note)

None [of Lybeaus’s party] knew about this
(see note)
pace by pace

(see note)

speak villainy of him

far and near (i.e., continuously)


(see note)

yield your reputation

We will lead [her] back to town

Against all of you together
in splendid array
at that moment; (t-note)

backbone; (see note)
left him lying crippled


laughed; (see note)

lost both his strength and might


Fierce as a vicious lion

(see note)
a deadly and powerful
died on the cross (i.e., Christ)

in furor
deadly sword

outer helmet and basinet (inner helmet)
struck Lybeaus’s skull

fierce hostility
Everything he struck he cut through
enraged and furious
Then said

stood against them courageously

at that time
fell from him
witnessed that sight
strength or courage

secure me your faith (i.e., make an oath)




Long before it is night

fealty; pledged

i.e., to Synadoun
as they had [originally] vowed

beautiful maiden

groves; (t-note)
lodge of leaves; (see note); (t-note)
bright; polished; (t-note)

fair of face [and form]

kept awake; (see note)

Get you to horse; prepared

scent; roast
(see note)

(see note)


giants; (see note)

(see note)
red; loathsome
Very ugly; expression
The black [giant]; in his arms; (see note)

As beautiful as a rose on the briar; (see note)

So that someone might hear; (see note)
experienced this day

i.e., Christ
not be forgotten

worthy undertaking
prepared his lance for combat
skilled in his craft [the art of war]
in the right manner [toward his foes]
them together
(see note)
grim; terrible
sharply (aggressively)
liver, lungs; heart



seized her by the hand

(see note); (t-note)


vigorously; (see note)

an enraged wolf; (see note)

fell to the ground

As a spark flies from the coal

bright sword
reward; (see note); (t-note)

with the wild boar on it

(see note)


giant [continuously attacked]

(see note)

in three pieces
became distressed
Before [the giant] could raise the tree up

(see note); (t-note)
Immediately; (see note); (t-note)
in the same way
(see note); (t-note)

many times; (t-note)


spoken of far and wide
(see note)

many times in the past

to amuse myself

(see note)
his companion
would have been ruined
Had not God sent help
[He] who made the entire world
May He reward you
[He] who bled for us (i.e., Christ)
redeemed us with his blood

rode; all together

as a present; (see note)

i.e., was made known publicly
noble reputation

as a reward; (see note)

as they had promised
(see note)
formidable and imposing
wondrously well constructed

(see note)
solid; powerful
fair dwelling place
Should anyone have any doubts
belongs to

defeats and humiliates him

beautiful woman
cry; proclaim; (see note)
fairer one; (t-note)
gerfalcon as white as a swan; (see note)

as his reward

if he is unsuccessful
cut off

far and wide

There stands; every angle [of the building]; (see note)

Michael; (see note)


twice as beautiful; (see note)

Truly, I will bring you

(see note); (t-note)
a special defense

Before I pass hence
From this place

ado (further discussion)

prepared himself

Truly, without lies

(see note)


(see note); (t-note)
any more delay


just as quickly

beautiful; (see note)

clothes as if she were properly dressed

(see note)

where shall our contest take place

[both] bond (serfs) and free (i.e., everybody)
If my beloved is the less beautiful



They lifted up their gloves
To ratify their agreement
cease (i.e., rest)

(see note)
beautiful; fair
i.e., the Virgin Mary

Beautiful in every way
Yet even if you were not so radiant

(see note)

You will not act according; counsel
But instead you act as a child
someone who would be destroyed; (see note)

Let us depart on our way
do not confront him; (see note)

Be torn apart by wild horses

(see note)
Hastened herself

gray fur
the crown of her head
mounted in gold
in the realm


Each man [in the crowd] said to the other
an elegant lady
So beautiful to look upon

waited there

they saw


(see note)
sumptuously ornate, I imagine
The gold border was ringed with flowers; (t-note)

setting for jewelry; (t-note)

at hand

Upon which was laid the wager

(see note)
in purple attire

from the back and side (i.e., get a good look at her)

reddish; (t-note)
Decorated with ermine fur
Rich; royally
band; head


red as the rose; complexion
hair shone; (t-note)
shining bright; (t-note)
brows as silk thread; (see note)
curved in length; width

eyes were gray as glass

true; (t-note)

might [describe fully]

Two chairs; the marketplace
On which to display their beauty

Truly, without lying
There was a great difference between them
lady (beloved); beautiful
a rose in a garden

(see note)
No more than a washerwoman
In her laundry


You have lost the hawk (the wager)

my custom [to lose]
I will joust
unhorse me
head; that falcon
According to our agreement

Although you may be angry; (see note)

There was no further discussion

ready in opposition

Each fought with the other
great hostility
(see note)
clash of arms fared as thunder

their; proclaimed

warrior; (see note)

bow (stoop)
over the back of his horse

hardy a warrior
Alexander [the Great]; (see note)
Lancelot du Lac

powerful determination (valor)

both of high rank and low

did they see
might endure

Truly, many times
might not succeed against him

was out of his mind; (see note)

i.e., far and wide


went [with him], lesser [of rank]; greater

(see note)

(see note)


can battle well
(see note)

Carlisle; (see note)

sixth week’s


by a hill

answer in reply
within a short space
I recognize
For many years [occurring] often; (see note)
served my lady [of Synadoun] for a period
beautiful in her hall

fled, for fear of danger
an area in northwest England; (see note)

hunting dog; (see note)
Across their path

saw; colorful
(see note)

(see note)

I never saw [a dog]
So appealing to my pleasure

By Christ, I wish that I owned it


maidens bright and beautiful

hound began to moan

waited; linden tree

[as well as] she together


whatever location

That shall never happen

Who sits beside me
(see note)
You are placing yourself in great danger
[By Saint] Peter, if you persist

care nothing for your cunning [words (or desire)]; (t-note)
churl; complain; (see note)

are very vile

countess; Carlisle

Unless you give up that hound
You [are about to] play before evening
unpredictable (i.e., threatening to yourself)

ready for whatever happens
go, then

guided them
in great anger
quickly; (see note)

told them at once

Shamelessly insulted him

his hunting dog had seized
all together (i.e., in one voice)

[Even] though he were as strong; (see note)

armed themselves well

arise; (t-note)

their lord’s

They soon spied Lybeaus
at a slow pace

pay (do battle)


I understand
[To] me; a serious situation

I advise you to withdraw
Under cover of the forest

I shall face them all

crossbows; (see note)

charged so forcefully

(see note)
makes a destructive conflagration
Whomever; struck
clove with his blow

grave wounds

knights suddenly; (see note)


In rhyme to read
at once

Strokes seriously applied
all together

fled away; (see note)

(see note)
sell their lives dearly

(see note)
as though he were mad
Together they began to assault [him]
bees about a hive
From them blood ran down

furiously angry

stopped just before the skull

swooning he fell down
the back of his horse
vanquished (checkmated)
pierce his armor; (t-note)
(see note)
When he felt the pain

recovered his strength
seized; (t-note)
by his thigh
too late

stirs himself as a knight
Their horses
With three strokes he killed

longer delayed

Under a chestnut tree; (see note)
he would have killed him
Except the lord yielded himself
to be entirely within his power

according to an agreed-upon assessment
Treasure, land, and rent [from land]
Castle, hall, and mansion

pledge that he go


aloud; silently

I think; (t-note)


(see note)

recover strength and health
Forty days



travel to Synadoun

without delay


Defeated him in the field
was greatly amused; (see note)
all together

they acclaimed [Lybeaus] accomplished

i.e., meanwhile; (see note); (t-note)

we will tell of other adventures

(see note)

bushes; (see note); (t-note)
decorate beautiful halls

(see note)

palace splendidly constructed
castle high
many gates


(see note)
(see note)

nobility (worth)
Her complexion; red as a rose on the stem
in fear
(see note); (t-note)

blocked all passage to her
pitch, tar
none like him

He must surrender his arms
bow down to him

forty feet in length; (see note)

fifty other knights; (t-note)
reconsider what you are doing

hair; eyebrows
hair; swine
true indeed

(see note)


Scarcely, by the cross
carry his equipment


Gracious maiden


seen; oak trees
blasts of wind
In a short time [they] lay low
[relatively] little

the Golden Isle; (see note)

On a wooden bridge
wild boar

pagan idols; (see note)


at once

care for well-being
ready to fight
(see note)


(see note)


towers with ornamental ledges

aloud; silently

believes in [a false god]; (see note)

sounded like thunder

strike blows together

had not been killed

his [i.e., Lybeaus’s] sword; (see note)

knew much about evil
(see note)

in a moment
(see note)
with strength
struck his shield
so that it flew from him

could [count the number of]

furious in combat
each of them the other’s foe
hour of prime (between 6:00 and 9:00 AM); (see note)
evensong (i.e., vespers)
extremely thirsty
[may I have] your permission; (see note)

Whatever request
Such grace [as] may be required [of me]



every bit
Soaked and in bad condition

twice as keen
Did you think, companion of fiends
pledge; vow
for your baptism [of me]; (see note)
Well reward

each to the other ran

With the strokes of his long arms

To where

Each of them began to assail the other; (t-note)
Until it grew dark
past evensong; (t-note)

a strong warrior

metal reinforcements; chain mail

at once
truly; (t-note)

(see note)

off; head
he was happy to do it

came to meet him

(see note)

fierce giant
To a chamber
helped him change his clothes
fine cloth
her lord

in haste; (see note)

fair; beautiful; (see note)
had not been reformed (i.e., chaste)
in the final analysis
treason; wrong
weeks; (see note)

break out

Knew more about
witches; (see note); (t-note)

anyone could describe


fairy magic
blinded him
may she have misfortune

maiden; (see note); (t-note)

To him
your allegiance

knows much sorcery
You dishonor yourself

a great tragedy

other equipment
gracious steward
travel with him
(see note)



palace splendid in structure
beautiful architecture


noble lady’s [castle]

Dwells; (see note)

(see note)

request [safe] harbor
Joust with him he will

On my honor
blithely (willingly) see
Whatever the outcome

wait for me

did not delay

without hesitation
an insult
To hinder any man alive
To increase Arthur’s honor
And [fail to] deliver that beautiful lady


hastily; at once
the gate of the castle
five superb lances [ready]

asked; hostel, accommodation; (see note)


(see note)

defeat his foe in battle

eager to serve; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)

just as quickly
He would joust with them



(see note); (t-note)

adventurous knight
neglect nothing

Or else receive your deaths

These words are well spoken
satisfying to me

attire; very splendid

(see note)
a branch darkened by fire

splendid device

at that time
strong strokes

Then; princely

at all points (completely)

(see note)
await the combat
saw; then



both their strokes

rode his courser out of the field
out of his mind
anger; rage

if he knows his craft [of jousting]

power; (t-note)
they drove their horses hard
in order to deliver a mortal wound; (t-note)


prepared (i.e., he did not fall from his saddle)

collar; neckpiece; (t-note)
Flew with the helmet together

(see note)

Senseless and without strength
by his garment

citizens, burghers

tried; better

extraordinarily large; (see note)

Each to the other set

With no further gain
(see note)

(see note)


(see note)

Most certainly, by my faith

create such suffering

cut off the top of your head


Truly, indeed

at once



sent for


on the way here

he surrendered (yielded)
many times
(see note)

together; (t-note)



of special knowledge
Clerks of black magic (sorcery); (see note)
Certainly, to counsel truly
(see note); (t-note)
(see note)

ingeniously devised
is not

fairy (magic)
marvelously difficult; penetrate

king’s lineage; (see note)

to see her with our eyes

inflict pain on her

sworn their secure oath
To inflict death upon her
Unless; grants to them

grant him all her rights

Of which my lady is heiress
get it all with force of will
meek; quiet
Lest they bring her in sin; (see note); (t-note)


off by the chin

both those of rank and those below
merry; (t-note)
noble dwelling
listen; be attentive

skill at arms made known


i.e., to the city gate

i.e., the gate of the enchanted castle

Would eagerly ride with him

if he continued [with Lybeaus] further

glad tidings

arranged his corselet (breastplate); (see note)

Trumpets, pipes, and shawms
high dais

powerful (blazing) and large
brilliant; burned bright


no one of greater or lesser rank

clothed in fine cloths; (see note)
citole; psaltry
kind of minstrelsy

rote (like a harp)

i.e., proceeded further
To discover eagerly


(see note)
there was no fairer
so loud [before]

claps of thunder

(see note)


split and collapse

(see note)

I believe [that]

his residence

kill him
once (i.e., never ever); (t-note)



Steeds; neigh

hope to

Two armed men

splendid gold garlands


If; splendid in rich clothing

I consider the man to be my kinsman

That was his desire

Each man hit the other’s shield

extremely astonished
shamefully disgraced

mighty sword

at that time, then
truly; (t-note)

their chain mail split open
they did not like that

They drew their swords then
grim; fierce

tested their strength; (t-note)

greater rogue

he swelled in anger

To help [Iran] kill him [Lybeaus]
of noble fame

crazed; furious
kept himself protected

evil treachery

even struck down at
bright sword
The neck of Lybeaus’s steed
very skillful

protective jacket nor his sorcery; (see note)
[Lybeaus] acquitted himself well


both together
They delivered such strokes

listen; learn; (t-note)
at once


disabled; (t-note)

seized then

recite as entertainment (i.e., in romance)

In order to slay
thrust down
i.e., Iran


both my person and noble possessions
take all to yourself
gentle lady
in my power
will be at your will (i.e., in your power)

destroy (kill) me
spare my life

By my good fortune
I do not want any part of
to wield (i.e., rule or possess)


traded blows
They did not cease for any cause

his (Mabon’s)

(see note)

expose his brains

he wanted to continue the fight

he [Iran] had vanished
what place he did not know

Throughout the dwelling
trusted to fulfill his oath

has escaped me

great harm

What he might best do
He was entirely devoid of happiness then


sat; beheld
dragon to emerge; (see note)

(see note)

beaten gold

extremely large

sweated from the heat

in full combat

would burst
approached him
before; knew
dragon; (see note)
embraced him around the neck

(see note)

Immediately fell from her


reward your fight
In which you desired to slay my foes

You have truly slain
who knew [much sorcery]
performed [their magic] through the devil

By the power of their words
destroyed; (see note); (t-note)

To live ever in woe

most excellent
or someone of his kin; (see note)

Because you saved my life
I wish to give them to you
[Along] with myself to wed
Silently, without protest

very much feared Iran

He sought to kill him with a spear

seek; (see note)

in a high tower; (see note)

i.e., Lambert’s castle
awaited his return

publicly; (t-note)

Into the form of a dragon was transformed

She became a woman truly

(see note)

in that message

valuable purple fabric; (t-note)
Edged well with gray fur

headpieces of gold

ready and dressed
with her retinue


many times
misfortunes were overturned
[her] thirty knights
homage; fealty

took their leave; departed soon

days they; their sojourn


[the Lady of Synadoun] had no disgrace
eagerly; (see note)
maiden [the Lady of Synadoun]; marry

Nor describe in any romance

i.e., of all ranks, high and low
most noble ladies

Food; in great abundance
nobility and commoners

mother so noble; (see note)
Went to that feast
Her complexion; as red as a rose


many times
I am very pleased


won you

many a time


at once

all-wielding (i.e., all-ruling)


knights; squires


years; together; (see note)

i.e., the Lady of Synadoun

(see note)

(see note)

Here ends Libeus Disconyus

(see note)
declares More [the scribe]; (t-note)
increasing material wealth

(see note)

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