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Item 19, The Erle of Tolous


Abbreviations: C: Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.2.38; MED: Middle English Dictionary; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences and Proverbial Phrases.

Title No title or incipit; the text begins near the bottom of fol. 27v. Though the title is occasionally modernized as The Earl of Toulouse, the long-standing practice of retaining the Middle English spelling (based on the title in C) has been followed here.

3 Gyff us wele to spede. “Permit us to prosper (speed well),” though the parallel syntax with line 4 (“Gyff us wele. . . gyff us grace”) might suggest: “Give us means (wele) to prosper, / And give us grace to do so.” But “wele to spede” is so common an idiom that the first reading is probably the more likely.

15 Sir Dioclysian. Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, Roman emperor in the late third and early fourth centuries, is remembered primarily as a successful military leader who restored order after a period of anarchy. The Diocletian persecutions in the later years of his reign were among the last major persecutions of Christians in the Empire. It is this nefarious association that may be loosely evoked here. Though the Holy Roman Empire of the later Middle Ages was centered in Germany (Almane), the Diocletian of antiquity did not reside there.

19 He desyret many man. In feudal legal systems, a lord was entitled to revoke the lands and privileges of a vassal in extraordinary circumstances such as treason. But to do so for any other reason would be viewed as an egregious crime that endangered the rights of other vassals. In 1399 Richard II’s seizure of lands inherited by the exiled Henry Bolingbroke precipitated his deposition and subsequent assassination, as English nobles felt threatened by Richard’s attempt to centralize power.

33 And other men also. Three lines present in C are omitted here, describing the Earl’s war on the Emperor: “He ordeyned hym for batayle / Into the Emperours londe, saun fayle; / And there he began to brenne and sloo” (burn and kill).

45 Delyver the Erle his ryght. Medieval literature frequently depicts queens as tempering the ferocity of kings, asking for mercy or for reasoned judgment (see the introduction to item 15, note 1).

96 luburryng. The MED cites this as the sole instance of this word, putatively a variant of “loperen,” “to curdle, to harden.”

134 Mete ne drynk schall do hym gode. Swearing to refrain from food or drink until a deed is performed is a common trope in medieval romance.

148 lady Beulybon. Not named until now, the Empress’s name suggests a fusion of belle (beautiful) and bonne (good) and marks her as the ideal heroine.

171 raunson. The possibility for acquiring large sums in the ransoming of high-born magnates was one of the principal attractions of warfare for those who participated in the Hundred Years’ War between England and France. King John of France, captured in the battle of Poitiers in 1356, was ransomed for an enormous sum of four million écus. He then returned to France to raise the money to pay his ransom, leaving other hostages behind in England as a guarantee of his payment. When the hostages escaped and returned to France, John chivalrously turned himself over to the English, and died a prisoner in 1364. His behavior illustrates the mix of chivalric honor and crass economic interest involved in ransoms. Noble captives were generally treated as honored guests and lived lives of comfort, while their families were often devastated by the demands of raising money to ransom them. John’s honoring the terms of his release also suggests how shocking Tralabas’s later behavior would seem to medieval readers.

176 The Emperour eme. In other manuscripts, Tralabas is not the Emperor’s uncle but a cherished friend. The suggestion that he is a Turk would immediately make him suspect to medieval readers; his name may be meant to recall the French trahir (“to betray”) and bas (“low, contemptible”).

187 I suere by boke and by belle. Swearing by the Mass book and the church bell was a common oath, made by innumerable romance heroes.

307 By the oryell syde. The oriel, in this case, seems to be a recessed side chapel, perhaps with stained glass bay windows. Small side chapels were used for holding private Masses.

323 The montans of halfe a myle. The expression conflates spatial and temporal measurement: “The time it takes to ride half a mile.”

430 The one hyght Kankerus, that other Kayne. Other manuscripts offer slightly differing versions of the first name (Kaunters, Camtres, etc.), but Rate’s version alludes to the Middle English word “canker” (cancer, tumor). In all manuscripts, the second name bears a clear resemblance to the biblical villain Cain.

447 Feyn he was to fle. Rate has mistakenly anticipated line 450. Compare the reading in C: “An hundred there men myght see.”

501 Rhyme defective here, in anticipation of line 504. Other manuscripts read “I plyght to thee.”

572 Worthi to be hangyd and draw. Drawing (with horses) and hanging was the traditional punishment for treason.

605 to touche syche a tale. A sexual double entendre seems at work here, based on the double senses of touche (“mention” or “touch”) and tale/taivl (“matter” or “rear end, genitals”).

678 Eten were all oure brede. Proverbial; see Whiting, B520.

707 That kervyd befor that lady bryght. Carving meat for a lord or lady was considered both courteous and a sign of prestige (see the introduction to item 7).

745 This chyld had gret wounder. Dieter Mehl cites the following lines, describing the fearful confusion of the young knight, as an example of the skillful realism of the Erle of Tolous (Middle English Romances, p. 91). This kind of psychological and dramatic tension is unusual in Middle English romance.

806 a swevyn he mette. Boars often signify lust and/or sexual violence; compare Troilus’s dream in Chaucer’s TC, book 5, lines 1233–42.

811 a myghty man. C’s reading, “a wytty [intelligent] man,” makes better sense, since the Emperor’s power is not in question here.

853 Syr Antore. The name may suggest Antenor, one of the legendary traitors of Troy (see, for example, Guido delle Colonne, Historia destructionis Troiae, lines 226–29). But here, Antore is entirely innocent. He also shares his name with the father of the young women abducted by giants in Lybeaus Desconus (item 20, line 716).

866 My joy for to kele. The line has been emended on the basis of C; Rate’s reading, “My sorow for to kele,” may be the result of a misunderstanding of the verb, kelen, “to cool, to slacken.”

869 That traytorys have unsell. Lines 867–69 appear to have been badly corrupted, and other manuscripts offer readings only slightly preferable to Rate’s. Compare the reading in C: “He hente a knyfe wyth all hys mayn; / Had not a knyght ben, he had hym slayn / And that traytour have broght owt of heele.”

879 an old knyght. The wisdom of old counselors is a commonplace of medieval literature; see, for one influential source of this motif, Job 12:12–13.

896 Durste fyght agen them two. Judicial combat was extremely rare by the fifteenth century, but it remained a feature of chivalric romances, where questions of honor can only be arbitrated by violence.

924 If he may wyte that sche be trewv. Somewhat unexpectedly, the Earl does not assume without doubt the Emperess’s integrity. But unlike her husband, he actively attempts to ascertain her innocence and to defend her.

957 The merchant ansuered. The trusty merchant, like the abbot in lines 987–1061, stands as a clear contrast to the treacherous Tralabas; the merchant is indeed the Earl’s “trew gyde” (line 981).

991 wandryng. The original reading was wandreme, a somewhat rare word meaning “anxiety” or “mental distress”; either Rate or his exemplar chose a more familiar term that disrupts the rhyme.

1025 Save a ryng so fre. Strictly speaking, the mention of the ring violates the confidentiality of confession. Perhaps, like the ring itself — potentially a sign of adulterous love — the breach of confidentiality here suggests that laws may be broken in the name of a larger justice. The Emperor has lost moral authority, and thus other laws may lose their force as well.

1034 I trow that may do gode. Three lines are missing after this line, containing the abbot’s response to the Earl’s request for secrecy. C, for example, follows the equivalent of line 1034 with “The Abbot seyde be bokes fele / And be his professyon that he wolde hele, / And ellys he were wode” after which the Earl acknowledges that he is the recipient of the ring.

1163 Lord, and thi wyll be. Three lines are missing after this line, containing the Emperor’s agreement. C, for example, adds: “Yys,” seyd the Emperour full fayne, / “All my kynne thogh he had slayne, / He ys welcome to mee.”

1188 Louely togyder gan thei kys. A traditional form of reconciliation; see The Knight Who Forgave His Father’s Slayer (item 18).

1191 stewerd. Though stewards in some romances (especially Arthurian romances) are evil characters, it was an office of considerable privilege and monetary value. See, for example, Sir Orfeo (item 39), line 207 and note.

1195 Be eleccyon. Though Holy Roman Emperors were nominally elected by a group of magnates, this election seems to take place because the Emperor has left no heir.

1206 In Rome this geste crownakyld is. The sense of this line is not entirely clear. Lüdtke suggested that Rome ought to be emended or at least read as romance, i.e., a text written in the vernacular. This is entirely possible; the word is not capitalized in the manuscript. Laskaya and Salisbury suggest other possibilities, that Rome may refer to the Gesta Romanorum or the Seven Sages of Rome, story collections that include other stories involving “Diocletian” (Middle English Breton Lays, p. 365).

1207 A ley of Bryten callyd is. See introduction to this text.

1211a AMEN QUOD RATE. A drawing of a five-petaled flower on its stem separates this colophon from the following text.


Abbreviations: see Explanatory Notes

1 MS: Initial J is decorated with pen work and six lines tall.

8 Of. MS: O.

12 I pray yow understond. MS: understond take gode he.

20 falsly he ther. MS: falsly ther he ther.

23 MS: divides this line in two: A were wakenede / As I you sey.

29 hundreth. MS: hudreth.

32 Emperour. MS: Empour.

35 ever. MS: feyrest (marked for deletion).

41 ever. MS: every.

42 most. MS: most most.

51 As. MS: Os.

56 hem. MS: vhe.

62 arblast. MS: arow blast.

74 Bete. MS: Gothe.

145 erlys. MS: elys.

165 sent. MS: sentt.

192 MS: beginning of word deleted before telle.

205 here. MS: the top of this leaf is damaged; here is a reading based on those of other MSS.

207 plyght. MS: plygh.

226 hende. MS: hene.

230 for to. MS: foto.

283 knyght. MS: kynght.

297 were. MS: w.

307 oryell. MS: oryll.

309 MS: the erle is written in the margin following this line as a catchphrase.

322 standen. MS: stand.

355 steven. MS: steve.

366 myght. MS: mygh.

431 myght. MS: mygh.

434 was. MS: was was (first was marked for deletion).

478 MS: Initial T is three lines tall.

484 on. MS: of.

496 other seyd, “I. MS: other I.

501 therto I. MS: to inserted above the rest of the line.

504 MS: This entire line is added in the right margin.

511 bothe owre. MS: owre bothe.

576 takyth. MS: takyght.

580 treuth. MS: treutht.

585 Lett me be draw. MS: Lett draw me.

612 knyght hym bethought. MS: nyght hym bethough.

618 lyffe. MS: hyffe.

621 browght. MS: browoht.

644 hym that sytys. MS: Hym sytys.

677 Sertys. MS: Systys.

705 To fowle. MS: T fowle.

712 as. MS: a.

739 chamberys. MS: chambys.

740 Child. MS: Thild.

743 treson. MS: treso.

762 Arme you. MS: And arme you.

779 When sche. MS: When se.

781 seyd. MS: sey.

783 sche cryed. MS: sche gon cryed.

802 MS: initial L is two lines tall.

827 Tyll to that cyté. MS: To the cyté that.

830 wo in herte. MS: wo in here in herte.

847 wroth. MS: wrotht.

851 That deth. MS: The deth.

866 joy. MS: sorow.

873 the. MS: the the.

879 knyght. MS: knygh.

880 myght. MS: mygh.

903 Loke ye cry. MS: Loke cry.

908 He schall. MS: Schall.

922 hymselfe. MS: sefe.

935 whens. MS: when.

956 That. MS: Tha.

958 wynd. MS: wynev.

988 foragyn. MS: forgyn.

1008 seyd, and syghed. MS: seyd syghted.

1047 When I have. MS: When have.

1056 Whan. MS: That.

1071 He. MS: The.

1073 Lordyngys. MS: Lordyng.

1079 thou not cees. MS: thou sers. Reading supplied from Laskaya and Salisbury (Middle English Breton Lays) and French and Hale (Middle English Metrical Romances).

1190 tellyth. MS: tellygh.

1206 geste. MS: reste.



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Jhesus Cryst in Trinité,
O God and persons thre,
   Gyff us wele to spede.
And gyff us grace so to do
That we may come thi blysse unto,
   On rode as thou dydest blede.
Leve lordys, I schall yow tell
Of a case that some tyme fell
   Fer in a unkuth land:
How a lady had gret myscheffe,
And how sche keverde of her greve,
   I pray yow understond.

Som tyme ther was in Almane
An emperoure of mekyll mane;
   Sir Dioclysian he hyght.
He was a bold man and a stoute:
All Crysten men of hym dyde doute,
   He was so strong in syght.
He desyret many man,
And falsly he ther londys wane
   With maystres and with myght.
Tyll it befell upon a dey,
A werre wakenede, as I you sey
   Betwyxx hym and a knyght.

The Erle of Tolas, Syr Barrard,
The Emperour with hym was hard
   And gretly was his fo.
He had raught oute of his hond
Thre hundreth pond worth of lond;
   Therfor he was fulle wo.
He was a hardy man and stronge,
And the Emperour dyd hym wronge
   And other men also.

This Emperour had a wyfe,
The fayrest lady that ever had lyve,
   Save Mary full of myght,
And therto gode in all thinge,
Of almus dede and of god bering,
   Bothe by dey and nyght.
Of hyr body sche was trew
As ever lady that man knew,
   And therto most bryght.
To the Emperour sche gan sey,
“Leve lord, I yow pray,
   Delyver the Erle his ryght.”

“Dame,” he seyd, “late it be.
That dey schall thou never se,
   If I may ryde aryght,
That he schall have his lond ageyn.
Fyrst I schall brek hym, bake and breyn,
   As I ame trew knyght.
He werres fast on my lond;
I schall be redy at his hond,
   Within this fourtnyght.”
He sent a bone everywher
That all men schuld make hem yare
   Agene the erle to fyght.

He lete cry in every syde,
Thorow his lond ferre and wyd,
   Bothe in feld and towne;
All that myght wepyn bere,
Suerd, arblast, scheld and spere,
   That they schuld be redy boune.
The Erle on his syde also,
With fourty men and mo,
   With sperys and suerdys broune,
One dey therof was sette.
When thei togeder mette,
   Was crakyd many a crowne.

The Emperour had batels sene.
To them he spake with wordys kene,
   And seyd, “So mote I thryve,
Be now redy for to fyght;
Bete and smyte them downe ryght,
   And leve non one lyve.
Loke that non raunsond be,
Nether for gold ne for fe,
   Bot sley with suerd and knyve.”
For all his boyste, he feyled yete.
The Erle manly hym dyde mete
   With strokys gode and ryfe.

They made batell on every syde;
Men together gane ther ryde
   With scheld and many a spere.
They leyd on as thei wer wode
Both with suerd and axes gode;
   Full hedosly it was to here.
Ther were schaftys crakyde
And scheldys all to-schakyd;
   Hambracys thei all to-tere.
The Erle hymselve a suerd drewe:
Two hundred men therwith he slewe;
   He was so wyght in were.
Many a stede styked was,
And many a bold baron in that place
   Ley luburryng in his blod.
So myche blod ther was spylte
That the feld was overhylled,
   As it hade ben a flode.
Many a body and many a hede,
Many a doughty knyght was dede,
   That were some tyme wyld and wode.
Many a wyfe may sytte and wepe,
That was wonte softe to slepe
   And now gamys them no gode.

The Erle of Tolas wane the feld.
The Emperoure stod and hym byheld.
   Full fast gane thei fle
To a castell them bysyde;
Feyn he was his hede to hyde,
   And with hym erles thre.
No mo, for soth, scapyd awey,
Bot thei were slayne or teynte that dey;
   It myght non other be.
The Erle tyll nyght folowyd the chas,
And seth he thankyd God of grace
   That syttys in Trinyté.

Ther were sleyn in that batayll
Sixty thousand, withouten feyll,
   On the Emperoure syde.
Ther were take thre hundred and fyfty
Of gret lordys, sykerly,
   With woundys wonder wyde.
On the Erlys syde ther was sleyn
Bot twenti score, soth to seyn;
   So boldly thei gan abyde.
Sych grace God can send
That evyll quarell com to evyll end,
   For ought that may betyde.

Now the Emperour was full wo:
He had lost men and lond also
   Sore than syghed he.
He swere by hym that dyghed on rode
Mete ne drynk schall do hym gode,
   Or he avenged be.
The Emperas seyd, “Gode lorde,
Ye were better to be acorde,
   Be ought that I can se.
It is grete foly, sothly to telle,
To be ageyn the trew quarelle;
   Be God, thus thinkys me.”

“Madame,” seyd the Emperour,
“I have a grete dishonour;
   Therfor my hert it is wo.
My erlys are sleyn and brought to ded;
Therfor carefull is my rede.
   Sorow wyll me slo.”
Than seyd the lady Beulybon,
“Syr, I rede you, be Seynt John,
   Of were that ye ho.
Ye do the wrong and not the ryght:
That may ye se right wele in syght,
   By that and other mo.”

Than the Emperour was evyll apayd;
It was sothe the lady seyd;
   Therfor hym lykyd ille.
He went awey and syghed sore;
No word to hyr he spake more,
   Bot held hym wounder styll.
Leve we now the Emperour in thought;
Gle ne game lykes hym nought,
   So gretly he gan grylle.
And to the Erle turne we ageyn,
That thanked God with all his mayn
   His grace he sent hym tyll.

The Erle Barard of Tolas
Had fell men of chevalrys
   Taken to hys prison.
Mykell gode of them he hade;
I can not tell, so God me glad,
   So gret was ther raunson.
Among them all he had one
Was gretyst of them everychon,
   Lord of many a toune,
Syr Tralabas of Turkey,
The Emperour eme, sykerly,
   A lord of grete renowne.

So it befell onne a dey,
The Erle went for to pley
   By a ryver syde.
The Erle seyd, “Tralabas,
Tell me, Syr, for Godys grace,
   A thyng that spryngys wyde,
That your Emperour hath a wyfe,
One of the feyrest on lyfe
   Of hew and eke of hyde.
I suere by boke and by belle,
Be sche als feyr as I here telle,
   Mekyll may be hys pride.”

Than ansuerd that lord anon ryght,
“Be the order that I bere of knyght,
   The soth I schall telle thee:
To seke the werld, more or lesse,
Cristendom or hethenes,
   Is non so bryght of ble.
Whyte as snow is hyr colour,
Her rudde rede as ros floure.
   In syght who may her se,
All men that ever werke wroght,
Myght not thinke in thought
   A feyrer for to be.”

The Erle suere, “By Godys grace,
This word in mournyng me mase,
   Thou seys sche is so bryght.
Thy ranson here I thee forgyfe,
My helpe, my love, whyll that I lyve.
   Therto my trouth I plyght,
If it so be thou wyll bryng me
In safe werd forth with thee
   Of her to have a syght,
A hundred pownd with grete honour,
To byghe thee hors and armour,
   As I ame trew knyght.”

Than ansuerd Syr Tralabas,
“In that comandment, in this place,
   My trewthe I plyght to thee:
I schall hold thi forwerd gode,
To bryng thee with myld mode
   In syght hyr to se.
And therto I wyll hyll counsell,
And never more, withouten feyle,
   Ageyn yow to be.
I schall be trew, by Godys ore,
To les myn owne lyffe therfore;
   Herdely treste to me.”

Than seyd the Erle wordys hende:
“I truste to thee as for my frende,
   Withouten any stryffe.
Anon that we be buskyd yere
On owre jorney for to fare,
   Forth to se that wyffe.
I suere by God and by Seynt Andrew,
If I fynd thee gode and trew,
   Riches schall be thee ryve.”
They lete nother for wynd ne weder,
Bot forth thei gone bothe togeder,
   Withouten any stryffe.

Thes knyghtys ne stynte ne blan
To the cyté that thei rane
   That the Quen was inne.
The Erle hymselve — more he drede —
Clothed hym in hermytys wede,
   Thoff he were of ryche kynne,
For he wold not knowen be.
He duellyd ther deys thre
   And restyd hym with wyne.
He bethought hym on a dey,
That gode Erle to betrey;
   Falsly than he began.

Anon he went on hys wyse
To chamber to the Emperys
   And set downe on hys kne.
He seyd, “He that heryd hell
Kepe yow fro all perell
   If that his wyll it be.
Madam,” he seyd, “be Jhesus
I have the Erle of Tollous —
   Owre most fo is he.”
“In what maner,” the lady gan sey,
“Is he come, I thee praye?
   Anon tell thou me.”

“Madame, I was in prisone;
He hath forgyff me my ranson,
   By God full of myght.
And all it is for the love of thee,
So sore he langys thee to se,
   Madam, ons in syght.
A hundred pownd I have to mede,
Armour and a nobull stede.
   For sothe, I have hym hyght
That he schall se yow his fyll,
Ryght at his awne wyll;
   Therto my treuth I plyght.

“Lady, he is to us a fo;
I rede, therfor, that we hym slo.
   He hath don us grete grylle.”
The lady seyd, “So mote I go,
Thy soule is lorn if thou do so;
   Thi trewthe thou schall fullfylle.
Sen he forgaff thee thy rawnson
And lowys thee oute of prison,
   Do wey that wekyd wyll.
Late thou never that jentyll knyght,
Also ferre forth as thou myght,
   So fere no maner of ill.

“Tomorow when thou herys Messe bell,
Brynge hym to my chapell,
   And thinke on no slowthe.
Ther schall he se me at hys wyll,
Thi comandment to fullfyll.
   I rede thou hald thi treuthe.
Sertys, and thou hym begyle,
Thi saule is in gret perell,
   Sythe thou arte at his othe.
Sertys it were a traytorry
For to weyt hym with vylony;
   Sothly it were grete reuthe.”

This knyght to the Erle wente;
In his herte he held hym schent,
   For his wyked thought.
He seyd, “Syr, so mote I thé,
Tomorow thou schall my lady se;
   Therfor desmay thee nought.
When we here the messe belle,
I schall bryng thee to hyr chapelle;
   Theder sche schall be brought.
By the oryell syde stond thou styll:
Than schall thou se her at thi wyll,
   That is so worthely wroght.”

The Erle seyd, “I hold thee trewe.
And that schall thee never rewe,
   As forth as I may.”
In hys herte he wax glad.
“Fyll the wyne,” the Erle bad,
    “This goyht to my pay!”
Ther he restyd that nyght.
On the morn he gan hym dyght
   In armytys aray.
When thei range unto the messe,
To the chapell gan thei passe
   To se that lady geye.

They had standen bot a whyle,
The montans of halfe a myle;
   Than came the lady fre.
Two erlys her lede;
Wonder rychely sche was clede,
   In gold and ryche perré.
When he se hyr in syght,
Hym thoght sche was als bryght
   As blossom on the tre.
Of all the syghtys that ever he seyghe,
Ne rysed never hys herte so heyghe,
   Sche was so bryght of ble.

Sche stode styll in that place;
All displeyd was here face
   For love of that knyght.
He beheld wele here face,
And swore by Godys grace,
   He se never syche a syght.
Hyr eene were gray as glas;
Mouth and nose schapyn was
   At all maner of ryght.
Fro the forhed to the too,
Better schapyn myght non goo,
   Ne non semblyer in syght.

Thrys sche turned hyre abowte
Betwen the erles that were stoute,
   For that lord schuld here se.
Hyr sydes were long, hyre medyll small,
Schulder and armys ther withall;
   Feyrer myght non be.
Hyr hondys white as whalys bone
With long fyngeres that feyre schone,
   Hyr nayles bryght of ble.
When sche spake with myld steven,
Sche semyd an angyll of heven,
   So sembly sche was to se.

When he had seyn hyr wonder wele,
The lady went to hyr oryell
   Messe for to here.
The Erle stode on that other syde;
His eyn fro hyr he myght not hyde,
   So lovely sche was of chere.
He seyd, “Lord God full of myght,
Leve that I were so worthy a knyght
   That I myght be her fere,
And that sche non husbond hade.
Alle the gode that ever God made
   To me were not so dere.”

When messe was don to the ende,
The lady was feyr and hende;
   To the chambyr gan sche fare.
The Erle syghed and was full wo;
Oute of syght when sche was go,
   His mowrnyng was the more.
The Erle seyd, “So God me save,
Of hyr allmus I wyll crave,
   If that hir wyll were.”
If he myght gete of that lady fre
Every dey ons hyr to se,
   That wold kever hym of care.

The Erle knelyd doune full ryght
And askyd gode, for God almyght
   That dyghed on the tre.
The Emperas sone callyd a knyght:
“Fourty florens of gold bryght,”
   Sche seyd, “bryng thou to me.”
To the ermyte sche it payd.
Of hyr fynger a ryng sche leyd
   Among that gold so fre.
He thankyd hyr, as I you sey.
To the chamber went that lady gey,
   Ther hyr was levyst to be.

The Erle went to his innes;
A gret joy he begynes
   When he fond that ryng.
In hys herte he wax blythe
And kyssed it many a sythe.
   He seyd, “My dere derlyng,
On thi fynger this was;
Wele is me I have that grace,
   Of thee to have this ryng.
If I ever gete grace of that Quen,
That any love be us betwen,
   This may be owre tokenyng.”

Then, erly as it was dey,
He toke his leve and went his wey
   Into his awne countré.
Syr Tralabas he thankyd fast:
“Of this dede that thou don hast,
   Well yeldyd it schall be.”
They kyssed togeder as gode frend.
Syr Tralabas gane home wend;
   That evyll mote he thé.
A tratery he thought to do,
If he myght come therto;
   So schrewyd in herte was he.

Anon he callyd two knyghtys,
Herdy men at all ryghtys;
   Bothe were of ryche kynd.
He seyd, “Syrres, withouten feyll,
If that ye wyll hold counseylle,
   Gret worschip schall ye wyne.
Know ye the Erle of Tolous?
Mykell schame he hath don us;
   His bost I rede we blyne.
Wyll ye don after my rede,
This dey he schall be ded,
   So God save me fro synne.”

The one hyght Kankerus, that other Kayne;
Falser men myght none reyn,
   Sertys, than were tho.
Syr Tralabas was the thyrd.
It was no masterry hym to byde
   After hym to go.
At the bryge thei hym mette:
With herd stokys thei hym bette,
   As men that were his foo.
Fast he faught them ageyn:
The Erle was man of mekyll meyn;
   Thus sone he slew the two.

The third fled and blew oute fast.
He overtoke hym at the laste;
   His hed he cleft in thre.
The countré gederyd sone in haste
And after hym thei ranne faste;
   Feyn he was to fle.
The Erle of them he was agast;
At the last fro them he past —
   Feyne he was to fle.
Fro them he went into the west
To rest hym ther as he caste best;
   A ware man was he.

All the nyght in that forest
The gentyll Erle he toke his rest;
   He had non other wone.
When the dey dawyd he aros uppe son
And thankyd God that sytte in throne
   That he had scapyd hys fone.
That dey he travellyd many a myle,
And oft he was in gret perylle
   Be wey as he gan gon.
To he come to a feyre castell
Ther he was levyst to duell,
   Was made of lyme and stone.

Of his comyng his men were glad
“Be mery, my men,” he seyd,
    “For nothing that ye spare.
The Emperoure, withouten les,
I trow wyll late us be in pes
   And werre on us no more.”
Thus duellyd the Erle in that place
With myrthe, game and solas,
   Ryght as hym levyst were.
Late we now the Erle alone,
And speke we now of Dame Beulybone,
   How sche was cast in care.

The Emperoure lovyd his wife
Als mych as his awne lyffe,
   And more, if he myght.
He chese two knyghtys that were hym dere,
Whereso he were, ferre or nere,
   To kepe hyr dey and nyght.
The one on hyre his love he caste;
So dyde the other, at the laste;
   Sche was so feyre and bryght.
Nother of other wyst ryght nought;
So hertly love of them was sought,
   To dethe thei were nyghe dyght.

So it befell upon a dey,
The one knyght to the other gan sey,
    “Syr, als mote I thé,
Me thinke thou fallyst all awey
As a man that were clongon in cley,
   So pale wexys thi ble.”
Than that other seyd, “I make a vow,
Right so faryst thow,
   Wherfor so ever it be.
Tell me thi cause whi it is,
And I wyll tell thee myn, so have I blys;
   My trewthe therto I plyght.”

“I grante,” he seyd, “withouten feyll,
Bot loke that it be conseyll.”
   Therto his trouth he plight.
He seyd, “My lady the Emperas,
For hyr I ame in gret duras:
   To deth it wyll me dyght.”
Than seyd that other “Serteynly,
Withowten doute, so fare I
   For that lady bryght.
Sen bothe owre loves is on hire sette,
How myght owre bale be best bette?
   Canst thou owght rede us ryght?”

Than seyd that other, “Be Seynt John,
Better councell knaw I none,
   Methinke, than is thys:
I rede that one of us two
Prively unto hyr go
   And pray hyr of blys.
I myselve wyll go hyre tylle,
And case be that I gett hyr wylle,
   Of myrth schall we not mysse.
Thow schall take us with the dede,
And than of thee sche wyll have dred
   And grante thee thi wyll, iwys.”

Thus thei were at one asente.
This fals theff forth he went
   To wyte the ladys wylle.
In chambyr he found hyr so fre;
He sett hym doune on his kne,
   His pourpos to fullfylle.
The lady seyd, “Stond uppe, my knyght.
Who has wrethyd thee, dey or nyght,
   It schall lyke hym full yll.
On thee seknes I may se,
Tell me now thi privyté:
   Why thou mournyst so styll?”

“Lady,” he seyd, “that dare I nought,
For all the gowd that ever God wroght,
   Be grete God invysebyll,
Bot on a boke ye wyll swere
That ye schull me never diskere;
   Than were it possybyll.”
Than seyd the lady, “How may this be,
That thou deryst not tryst me?
   Is it so orrybyll?
Here my trouthe to thee I plyght:
I schall it hyll, dey and nyght,
   Als trew as boke or bybull.”

“Lady, in you is all my tryst.
Inwerdly I wold ye wyste
   What peyn I sofer yow fore:
I droupe, I dayr, nyght and dey,
My wytte, my welthe is all awey,
   Bot ye leve on my lore.
I have you lovyd, par me fey,
Bot to yow I dorste not sey;
   My mournyng is the more.
Bot ye do after my red,
Sertenly I ame bot ded;
   Of my lyffe I make no store.”

Than ansuerd that lady blyth,
“Syr, wele thou wotyst I ame a wyfe!
   My lord is the Emperowre:
He chesyd thee for trew knyght
To kepe me bothe dey and nyght
   Under thi sokowre.
To do that if I asente,
I were worthy to be brente
   And brought in grete dolowre.
Thow arte a traytore in thi saw,
Worthi to be hangyd and draw,
   Be Mary whyte as floure!”

“A Madam,” seyd the knyght,
“For the love of God almyght,
   Hereon takyth gode hede:
In me ye may full wele trayst.
I dyd nothing bot yow tayst,
   Al so God me spede.
Thinke, madam: your treuth ye plight
To hyll consell dey and nyght,
   Ryghtfully for to rede.
I aske mersy, for Godys ore;
Hereof yff I carpe any more,
   Lett me be draw with a stede.”

Than seyd the lady, “I thee forgyffe;
Al so longe as I here lyffe,
   Consyll schall it be.
Luke thou be a trew man
In all thing that thow can
   To my lord so fre.”
“Yis, madam, els dyde I wrong,
For I have servyd hym ryght long
   And wele he quiteht me.”
Therof carpyd thei no more,
Bot to his felew he is fare,
   That evyll mote thei thé.

Thus to his felew he is gon,
And he hym freyned sone anon,
    “Sey how hast thou sped.”
“Ryght nought,” seyd the other,
“Seth I was borne, lefe brother,
   Was I never so sore adred.
Sertys it is a boteles bayle
To hyr to touche syche a tale,
   At bord or at bede.”
Than seyd that other, “Thi wytt is thinne.
I myselfe schall hyr wynne,
   I ley my hede to wedde.”

This passyd overal, I you sey,
Tyll afterwerd, on the thyrd dey,
   This knyght hym bethought:
“Sertys, spede how I may,
My ladys wyll, that is so gey,
   It schall be throught sought.”
When he sey hyr in best mode,
Sore syghand to hyr he yode,
   Of lyffe as he ne rowght.
“Lady,” he seyd, “withouten feyle,
Bot ye helpe me with your conceylle,
   In bale I ame browght.”

She ansuerd wele curtasly,
“My consyll is all redy:
   Tell me how it is.
When I wote word and end,
If my consell may it amend,
   It schall, so have I blys.”
“Lady,” he seyd, “I understand;
Ye must hold uppe your hond
   To hylle consyll iwys.”
“Yis,” seyd that lady fre,
“Here my trewthe I plyght to thee,
   And els I dyde amys.”

“Now lady,” he seyd, “I dare tryst
All my lyff if that ye wyst
   Ye wyll me never dyskever.
For yow I ame in so grete thought;
In myche bale I ame brought —
   Withowten othe I swere.
And that ye mey full wele se,
How pale and wanne I ame of ble,
   I dyghe nyghe for the dere.
Dere lady, grante me thi love,
For love of hym that sytys abofe
   That stong was with a spere.”

“Syr,” sche seyd, “is that thi wyll?
If it were myn, than dyd I ille;
   What woman holdys thou me?
In thi kepyng I have bene;
What hast thou herd by me or sene
   That towchys to vylany,
That thou in hert arte so bold,
As I were hore or scold?
   Ney, that schall thou never se.
Ne had I thee hyght to hyll consell,
Than schuld hong, withouten feyll,
   On the galew tre.”

This knyght was never so sore aferd
Sethe he was borne in mydell erde,
   Sertys, as he was tho.
“Mercy,” he seyd, “gode madame,
Wele I wote I ame to blame;
   Therfor my herte is wo.
Lady, late me not be spyld.
I aske mersy for my gylte:
   On lyfe ye late me go.”
Than seyd the lady, “I grante wele
I schall hille consyll every dele,
   Bot do thou no more so.”

Now this knyght forthe yede
And seyd, “Felow, I ame not sped.
   What is thi best rede?
Yiffe sche tell my lord of this,
We ben take, so have I blys;
   For hym I ame adrede.
Womans tunge is evyll to tryste;
Sertys, if my lord it wyste,
   Eten were all oure brede.
Felew, so mote I ryde or go,
Or sche weyt us with that wo,
   Hyrselve schall be dede.”

“How myght that be?” the other seyde.
“In hert I wold be well apeyd
   Myght we don that dede.”
“Yis syr,” he seyd, “or I have wo,
I schall bryng hyr wele therto,
   Therof have thou no drede.
Or it pas deys thre,
In myche sorow schall sche be;
   Thus I schall quyte hyr mede.”
Now are thei bothe at asente
In sorow to bryng this lady gente —
   The devyll mote them spede!

Sone it drew towerd the nyght.
To the soper thei were dyght,
   The Emperas and they all.
Thos two knyghtys grete japes made
For to make this lady glade,
   That was so jente and smalle.
When that the soper tyme was don,
To the chamer thei went sone,
   Knyghtys clade in paule.
Thei dansyd and revyld all bedene,
To bryng to deth that lady schene —
   To fowle mot them befalle!

That o theff callyd a knyght
That kervyd befor that lady bryght,
   An erle sone was he.
He was a feyr chyld and bold,
Twenti wynter he was old,
   In lond was non so fre.
“Syr, wyll thou do as I schall sey,
And we schall ordeyn us a pley
   That my lady may se.
Thow schall make hyr laughe so,
Thofe sche were gretly thi fo,
   Thi frend than schall sche be.”

The chyld ansuerd anon ryght,
“Be the ordour that I bere of knyght,
   I wyll be wele feyn,
Thoff it schuld me dysses,
And it wold my lady ples,
   To go in wynd and reyn.”
“Syr, make you nakyd save your breke.
Byhind the curtayn that ye crepe,
   And do as I yow seyn,
Sone schall ye se a joly pley.”
“I graunte,” this yong knyght gan sey,
    “Be God and Seynt Germayn.”

Thys yong knyght thought of non yll;
Of he cast hys clothes styll,
   Behynd the curteyn he wente.
They seyd to hym, “What so befalle,
Com not owte or we calle.”
   He seyd, “Seres, I grante.”
They rewellyd forth a gret whyll;
No man wyst of ther gyle
   Save thei two, verament.
They avoyded chamberys anon;
Child ther they left alone,
   And that lady gente.

The lady ley in bed and slepe;
Of treson toke sche no kepe,
   For theroff wyst sche nought.
This chyld had gret wounder among
That the knyghtys taryed so long;
   He was in many a thought.
“Lord mersy, how may this be?
I trow thei have forgotyn me
   That me hether brought.
If I them call, sche wyll be adred,
My lady that lygheth in hyr bed,
   Be hym that hath all wrought.”

Thus he sate, styll as stone;
He durste not styre, ne make no mon
   To make the lady afryght.
Thys fals men, thei wrought hym wo:
To ther chamber gan thei go
   And armyd them full ryght.
Lordys of beddys gan thei calle,
Bothe the grete and the smale:
    “Arme you anon, that ye were dyght
And helpe to take a fals traytour
That with my lady is in bowre,
   Hathe pleyd hym all this nyght!”

Sone thei were armyd everychon;
With the traytorys gane thei gon,
   Lordys that ther were.
To the Emperas chamber thei com ryght,
With suerd and with tourchys bryght
   Brynnand them before.
Behynd the curteyn thei went:
Thys yong knyght, verament,
   Naked founde thei there.
That o knyght with a suerd of werre
Throughe the body gan hym bere,
   That werd spake he no more.

The lady awoke and was afryght
When sche se the grete light
   Befor the bede syde.
Sche seyd, “Benedicité!
Leve serys, what men be ye?”
   And wounder loude sche cryed.
Hyre enmys ansuerd ther,
“We ben here, thou fals hore.
   Thy dedys we have askryed.
For thou hast ben a hore to my lord,
Thow schall have wondryng in this werld;
   Thi name schall spryng full wyde.”

The lady swore, “Be Seynt John,
Howre was I never none,
   Ne never non thought to be!”
“Thow lyghest,” thei seyd, “thi worschipe is lorn.”
The corse thei leyd hyr beforne:
    “Lo, here is thi leman fre:
Thus for thee we have hym hytte.
Thi hordom schall be full wele quyte;
   Fro us schall thou no wey fle.”
They bound the lady wonder fast
And in a depe doungyon hir cast;
   Grete dole it was to se.

Leve we now this lady in kare,
And to hyr lorde wyll I fare,
   That ferre was hyr fro.
On a nyght, withouten lette,
In his slepe a swevyn he mette;
   The story tellys us so.
Hym thowght ther were two wyld bore
That his wyfe had all to-tore
   And rofe hyr body in two.
Hymselfe was a myghty man,
And by that dreme he trowyd than
   His lady was in wo.

Erly when the dey was clere,
He bad his men all in fere
   To buske and make them yere.
Cartys he lete go before,
And charyetys stuffyd with store
   Were twelve score myle and more.
He trowyd wele in his herte
That his wyff was not in quarte;
   His hert was in care.
He never stynt tyll he was dyght,
With erlys, barons, and many a knyght,
   And home gane he fare.

Nyght ne dey never he blanne,
Tyll to that cyté he came
   Thar the lady was in.
Wythouten the cyté thei hym kepte
For wo in herte mani one wepte;
   Ther terys myght not blyn.
They trowyd wele, if he it wyste
That his wyffe had syche bryste,
   His joy wold be full thyne.
They lede stedys to stalle,
And sone the lord to the halle
   To wyrschype hym with wynne.

Anon he went to his chamber fre;
Hym longyd his feyre lady to se
   That was so suete and white.
He callyd them that schuld hyr kepe:
“Wher is my wyfe? Is sche onn slepe?
   How farys that byrd bryght?”
Thys traytors ansuerd anon,
“If ye wyst how sche hath don,
   To deth sche schall be dyght.
And therfor syre, be not wroth:
Sche schall never were of your cloth,
   Be dey nother by nyght.”

“What, devyll?” he seyd “How is this,
That deth is sche worthy to?
   Tell me in what maner?”
“The yong knyght, Syr Antore,
That befor hyr dyd schere,
By that lady hathe leyn.
In this maner we have hym slayn;
   We fonde them in fere.
Sche is in prison, verament;
The law wyll that sche be schent,
   By God that bought us dere.”

“Alas,” seyd the Emperour,
“Hath sche don me this dyshonor,
   And I lovyd hyr so wele?
I wend for all this werldys gode
Sche wold not have turnyd hyr mode
   My joy for to kele.”
He hente a knyfe with all his mayn,
Ne knyghtys had ben, he hade be slayn:
   That traytorys have unsell.
For bale abrod his armes he spred
And felle in swone uppon his bed;
   Ther men myght se grete dole.

On the morew, be one asente,
On hyr thei sett a parlement
   Thorow all the comon rede.
They myght not fynd in ther consell
With no law, withouten feyll,
   To save hyr fro the dede.
Than ther spake an old knyght:
“I have wonder, be Godys myght,
   Offe Syr Antore that is dede.
In chamer thoff he nakyd were,
They lete hym gyff non answer,
   Bot slew hym in that stede.

“Ther was never, sykerly,
That found hyr with vylony,
   Save thei, I der wele sey.
Be som hatryd it may be;
Therfor, lord, do after me,
   For my love I you praye:
No mo wyll preffe it bot thei two.
We may not save hyr fro wo,
   For soth, as I yow sey,
In hyr quarell, bot we fynd
A man that is so gode and hend
   Durst fyght agen them two.”

All thei assentyd to his saw;
They thought he spake reson and law.
   Than spake the kyng with crowne,
“Feyr falle thee for thyne avyse.”
He callyd knyghtys of nobull price
   And bade them be redy boune:
“Loke ye cry thorow all this lond,
Both be se and by sond.
   If ye fynd anon
A man that is so mych of myght
That for this lady dere take fyght,
   He schall wynne his waryson.”

Messengerys, I understond,
Cryed thorow all the lond
   In many a rych cyté.
If any man durste prove his myght
In trew quarell for to fyght,
   Avansyd schuld he be.
The Erle of Tolous herd this telle,
What angour that lady befelle,
   And thought it gret petie.
If he wyst sche had do ryght,
He wold aventour his lyff and hyght
   To fyght for that lady so fre.

For hyr he mournyd nyght and dey;
Unto hymselfe he gane sey
   He wold aventer hys lyfe.
If he may wyte that sche be trew,
Tho that hyr acusyd sore schuld them rew,
   Bot thei stynt of ther stryffe.
The Erle seyd, “Be Seynt John,
Into Almayn wyll I gon,
   Ther I have fo men ryve.
I praye God full of myght
That I have trew quaryll to fyght,
   Fro blame to bryng that wyfe.”

He rode on huntyng on a dey;
A merchant he mett by the wey,
   And askyd hym whens he was.
“Lord,” he seyd, “of Almayn.”
Anon the Erle gan hym freyn
   Of that ilke cas:
“Wherfor is your emperas
Pute to so gret dystres?
   Tell me, for Godys grace,
Is sche gylty, so mote thou thé?”
“Nay syr, by hym that dyghed on tre,
   And schape man after his face.”

The Erle seyd withouten lett,
“Qwhen is the dey therof sett
   Brynte that sche schall be?”
The merchant seyd, “Sykerlyke,
Evyn this dey thre weyke;
   Therfor full wo is me.”
Than seyd the Erle, “I schall thee telle
What gode hors I have to selle
   And stedys two or thre.
Sertys, myght I them sell ther,
Thether with thee wold I fare
   That syght for to se.”

The merchant ansuered with wordys hend:
“Into that lond yf ye wynd,
   It wyll be for your prow:
Ther ye may sell them at your wyll.”
Anon the Erle seyd hym tyll,
    “Syr, herkyns to me nowe:
Wylte thou this jorney with me duell?
Twenti pownd I schall thee tell
   To mede, I make a vow.”
The merchant grauntyd anon.
The Erle seyd, “Be Seynt John,
   For thi wyll I thee alow.”

The Erle told hym in that tyde
Wher he schuld hym abyde,
   And homewerd wente he.
He buskyd hym that no man wyst —
Bot on that he muste tryst —
   And seyd, “Syr, go with me.”
With them thei toke stedys sevyn;
Ther were non feyrer under hevyn
   That never no man myght se.
Into Almayn gan thei ryde
On coursers of mykell pride;
   Theye semyd well to be.

The merchant was his trew gyde;
The Erle and he together gan ryde
   Tyll thei com to that plas.
A myle besyde the castell
Ther the Emperour gan duell,
   A rych abay ther was.
Of the abot he leve gate
To foragyn and make ther hors fate —
   That was a nobull kace!
The abote was the Ladys eme:
For hyr he was in grete wandryng,
   And mekyll mournyng he mas.

Tyll it befell upon a dey,
To chirche the Erle toke the wey
   Messe for to here.
He was a feyre man and hey;
Als sone as the abot hym sey,
   He seyd, “Syr, com me nere.
Syr, I yow praye when messe is don
For to ete with me at non,
   Syr, and your wyll it were.”
The Erle grante hym all with gam.
After messe thei wesche in same
   And dyned both in fere.

And after mete, as I you sey,
Into an horsched thei toke the wey,
   The abot and the knyght.
The abot seyd, and syghed sore,
“Sertys, Syr, I lyve in care
   For a lady bryght.
Sche is acusyd; myn herte is wo.
Wherfor sche muste to dethe go
   All agen the ryght?
Bot sche have helpe, verament,
In a fyre sche schall be brent
   And to hyr deth be dyght.”

The Erle seyd, “So have I blys,
Me thinke of hyr dole it is,
   Trew if that sche be.”
The abot seyd, “Be Seynt Paule,
For hyr I durste ley my saule
   That never gylty was sche.
Syche werkys sche never wroght,
Nother in dede ne in thought,
   Save a ryng so fre
To the Erle of Tolous sche gafe with wyn,
In es of hym and for no syn;
   In schryft thus told sche.”

Than seyd the Erle, “Seth it is so,
God wreke hyr on hyr fo,
   That bought hyr with his blod.
Syr, and ye wyll kep counsell,
Of a ryng I wyll yow tell;
   I trow that may do gode.
Syr,” he seyd, “withowte lesyng,
I ame he sche gafe the ryng;
   Hold consell, for the rode.

“I ame com hether, lefe syr,
For to take the batell for hyr —
   God stond with the ryght!
Bot fyrst myselve I wyll here schryfe,
And if I fynd her clen of lyffe,
   Than wyll my herte be lyght.
Late do me in a monkys wede
What tyme sche is in moste drede,
   Unto hyr deth to be dyght.
When I have schryve hyr, withowtyn feyle
For hyr I wyll take the bateyle,
   As I ame trew knyght.”

Than the abot was never so glad;
Well nyghe for joy he wex ryght mad.
   The Erle gan he kys.
All that seven nyght he duellyd ther,
And made myrth withouten care
   And joy withoutyn mys.
Whan the lady schuld be brynte
The Erle with the abot went
    In monkys wede, iwys.
To the Emperour he knelyd belyve,
That he myght the lady schryve;
   Anon resavyd he was.

He freyned of hir full wytterly,
Bot as it seyt in the story,
   Sche was withouten gylte.
Sche seyd, “Be hym that dyghed on tre,
Trespas was never in me
   Wherfor I schuld be spylte,
Safe ons, withoutyn lesyng,
To the Erle of Tolous I toke a ryng;
   Asoyle me if yow wylte.”

He solyd the lady with his hand,
And sone up pertly gan he stond
   And seyd, “Lordyngys, pes.
Ye that have acusyd this lady gente,
Ye were worthy to be brynt.”
   That one theff made a rehers:
“Thow, chorle, with all thi gynne,
Thofe your abot be of hyr kynne,
   Hyr sorow schall thou not cees.
Ryght the same wey wold thou seyn,
And all your covent had by hir leyn,
   So be ye fykell and fals.”

The Erle ansuerd with wordys fre,
“Syr, the one I trow thou be
   This lady acusyd has.
Thofe we be men of relygyon,
Thow schall do us bot reson,
   For all the fayr thou mas.
I prove on hyr thou seys not ryght.
Lo, here my glove: with thee to fyght
   I undertake hyr case.
As fals men I schall you kene;
In rede fyre ther schall ye bryne,
   Therto God grante me grace.”

All that ever were in that place
Thankyd God of his grace,
   Withouten any feyle.
The two traytowrys were full wroth:
“He schuld be ded!” thei made ther othe,
   Bot it myght not aveyll.
The Erle went a lytell besyde
And armyd hym with nobull pride,
   His enmys to aseyll.
Manfully, when thei were mette,
They smote thorow helm and basenet
   And martyrd many a male.

Thus togeder gan thei ryde,
The Erle bare the one asyde,
   The tother feyled tho.
The Erle smote hym with his spere,
That throwe the body he gan hym bere;
   To the grownd than gan he go.
That saw the tother and fast gan fle;
The Erle overtoke hym under a tre
   And wrowght hym mykell wo.
Ther the traytour hym yeld,
As overcom in the feld;
   He myght not fare hym fro.

Befor the Erle thei wente,
And ther he made hym, verament,
   To tell for the nons
Werefor thought he this lady to spylle.
“Lord, for sche wold not grante owre wyll,
   That worthi was in wonus.”
The Erle ansuerd them then:
“Falls traytores, therfor schall ye bren
   In fyre both at ons.”
The Erle a fyre dyd make, verament;
Therin the two traytorys were brynt,
   Both body and bones.

When thei were brynt bothe two,
The Erle prively awey gan go
   To the rych abbay.
The lady was fette into the towne
With gret joy and processyon,
   With myrthe, as I telle may.
Than the Emperour was never so glad.
“Feche me that monke,” anon he bad.
    “Why wente he so away?
A bysschoperike I schall hym geve,
My helpe, my love, whyll that I lyve,
   Be hym that dyed on tre.”

The abot knelyd on his kne
And seyd, “My lord, went is he
   Into his awne lond.
He dwellys with the pope in Rome;
He wyll be glad when he is come,
   I do yow to understond.”
“Syr abote,” seyd Sir Emperour,
“To me it were a dyshonour.
   Sych wordys I rede thou wonde:
Fast anon that I hym se,
Or thou schall never have gode of me,
   And therto here my hond.”

The abot seyd “Now it is so,
After hym that I schall go.
   Ye muste make me surté,
In case that he have ben your fo,
Werefor ye schall do hym no wo.
   And than, so mote I thé,
After hym wyll I wende,
So that ye wyll be his frende,
   Lord, and thi wyll be.”

The abot seyd “So mote I thé,
Lord, I trust ryght wele in thee
   Ye wyll do as ye sey.
It is Syr Barnard, the Erle of Tolous,
The wych hath thus honouryd us,
   That hath do this jorney.”
“Ye, sertys,” seyd the Emperour,
“Hath he do me this grete honour?
   Anon now I pray thee
After hym that thow wylte wend,
And we wyll kys and be gode frend,
   Be hym that dyed on tre.”

The abot after the Erle wente,
And by the hond he hym hente
   And seyd, “Syr, go with me.
My lord and ye, by Seynt John,
Ye schall be made both at one
   And hole frendys be.”
Than the Erle was never so feyn.
The Emperour com hym agene,
   And seyd, “My frend so fre,
My wreth here I thee forgyve,
My helpe, my love, whyll that I lyve,
   Be hym that dyghed on tre.”

Louely togyder gan thei kys.
All men had joy, withouten mysse —
   The story tellyth so.
He made hym stewerd of hys lond,
And sezsed agene into his hond
   That he had refte hym fro.
The Emperour lyved bot yeres thre;
Be eleccyon of hys lordys fre,
   The Erle toke thei tho,
And chese hym for emperour,
For he was styff in ilke stoure
   To fyght agens his fo.

He wedyd that lady to hys wyffe;
In joy and blys thei led ther lyffe
   Twenti yere and thre.
Betwen them chylder thei had fiftene:
They were doughty knyghtys and kene
   And sembly for to se.
In Rome this geste crownakyld is;
A ley of Bryten callyd is,
   And ever more schall be.
Jhesus that is heven kyng,
Grante us all thi blyssing.
   Amen, for charyté.
(see note); (t-note)
Permit us to prosper; (see note)

unknown (distant)
recovered from her grief

much might
was called; (see note)

disinherited; (see note)
won; (t-note)

arose; (t-note)


taken (stolen)

(see note)


almsgiving; good conduct

beautiful; (t-note)

Return; rightful property; (see note)


his back and skull

themselves ready; (t-note)

Sword, crossbow, shield; (t-note)
readily prepared


may I

none alive

boast; still failed


charged; crazy

hideous; hear

Hauberks (coats of armor); tore apart


wallowing; (see note)



no pleasure amuses them


not be otherwise
chase (retreat)


four hundred


cross; died
(see note)

just cause


(see note)

From war; cease

more [evidence]

badly pleased (angry)


[That] he had sent his grace to him; (t-note)


God help me
ransom; (see note)

each of them

Emperor’s uncle, certainly; (see note)

is widely known

complexion and also of skin
(see note)



complexion (cheeks) red as rose

grieves me


pledge my truth (honor); (t-note)



your promise

keep secret

To lose
Confidently trust in me

noble; (t-note)

quickly prepared

abundant [for] you
stopped neither for wind nor weather

stopped nor tarried
Until they came (ran) to that city

hermit’s clothing
Although; birth

[Tralabas] thought to himself

harrowed hell


as reward


advise; slay


Do away with
Hinder; (t-note)
fare (do)

Mass bell

do not be sluggish

if you beguile him

lie in wait for
pity; (t-note)


may I prosper

bay window (alcove); (see note); (t-note)



goes to my liking

hermit’s clothes

stood; (t-note)
space (see note)



were shaped

more seemly (beautiful)

voice; (t-note)



companion; (t-note)



cure him from sorrow

tree (cross)

florins (coins)

Where; most pleased



as soon as


may he prosper


noble birth

keep a secret

I suggest we put a stop to his pride
[If] you will act according to my advice

(see note)
live (exist); (t-note)

need for them to wait; (t-note)



got winded


(see note)









dear to him
Wherever he was


knew at all
passionately; desired
nearly brought

as I may prosper
stuck in the mud
waxes (becomes) your face

(see note); (t-note)



Since; (t-note)
suffering; bettered
at all advise

to her
If the outcome

catch us in the act









I sink down, I am overcome

Unless; believe; words
by my faith

Unless; according to my advice





drawn; (see note)

As God may help me
keep secret
to tell
drawn by a horse; (t-note)



may they prosper


hopeless case
mention such a matter (see note)

as a wager


thoroughly discovered

Sorely sighing; went
As if he cared not for his life; (t-note)

misery; (t-note)

keep a secret indeed



nearly die; wound

stabbed (on the cross)

comes near

whore or shrew

promised to keep it secret

middle earth



will be imprisoned

knew; (t-note)
(see note)
Before she catches


Before three days pass

pay her reward
may; aid


jokes (pranks)


fine cloth
revelled all together
To evil may they fall; (t-note)

carved; (see note)

devise a game





left; (t-note)


(see note)


[out] of beds

prepared; (t-note)

enjoyed himself


[So] that he spoke not a word again


Bless us; (t-note)


be widely known

honor is lost



without fail (truly)
he had a dream; (see note)

torn apart
(see note)

hurry; ready


ceased; prepared


many a one; (t-note)

soon [lead] the lord

wear your cloth


(see note)

assuredly (in good faith)
demands; condemned

changed her mind
to cool (extinguish) my joy; (see note); (t-note)
seized; might
Had knights not been [there]
May these traitors have unhappiness; (see note)
For sorrow he spread his arms out wide

with all agreed; (t-note)
public agreement

Any law
(see note); (t-note)



never [anyone]; certainly
discovered; in shame

follow my advice


(see note)


Good fortune to you

quickly prepared

reward; (t-note)

Advanced [in rank]
knew; done
risk; delight


(see note)

Unless; stop

many foes

just cause

from where; (t-note)

same event

may you prosper

without hesitation (immediately)

From this day


gracious; (see note)
go; (t-note)

As reward


dressed himself so that; knew
Except to one

large horses

got permission
forage; fat; (t-note)
confusion; (see note)
mourning he makes



washed together

horse shed



I think it is a pity for her

pledge my soul

(see note)
For his comfort


(see note)
lying (in truth)



her confess

Let me be dressed; clothes




questioned; intelligently

Except once, without a lie


absolved; (t-note)

cease; (t-note)

If; convent (monastery)

[Who] has accused

treat us only reasonably
fuss you make


basinet (helmet)
destroyed; chain mail

knocked one aside
The other; then

[So] that

surrendered himself

tell immediately



in secret


[And] with mirth

has returned
would have you understand


you have my hand (my promise)

surety (promise)

may I prosper

(see note)

Who has




Lowly (humbly); (see note)
without exception
(see note)
What he had taken

(see note)

powerful in every battle

chronicled; (see note); (t-note)
Breton lai; (see note)

(see note)
Go To Item 20, Lybeaus Desconus, introduction
Go To Item 20, Lybeaus Desconus, text