Daily (Captain) Cox–“Bevis of Hampton”

“Pedegree”–Licenses to print granted to at least six different print houses before 1569.    Of these six, the only surviving print known (when “Captain Cox: His Ballads and Books” was written) was one by William Coplande.

A popular adventure according to Furnivall and his sources, “Bevis of Hampton” tells a violent story almost from the get-go:   Bevis’…unfulfilled…mother orders the deaths of Bevis’ father and her seven-year-old son.     When Bevis’ tutor protects him, she orders Bevis sold “right into heathenness”, which turns out to be a Saracen court.   Bevis is knighted by age fifteen (after having killed many men (and one boar) in battle), and goes to war at the head of the…Emir?   Caliph? …etc.?’s armies.   For the remainder of the tale, Bevis is fighting and killing men, beasts, and the occasional monster (including a dragon), taking time here and there to fall in love, be tragically parted from his love, and be joyfully reunited with his faithful love.

The two online versions of “Bevis” I was able to find are both in Middle English.    I cannot yet determine if the sixteenth century printings were in Middle English or Elizabethan (Tudor?) English.




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