Daily (Captain) Cox–“The Squire of Low Degree”

“Pedigree”–According to Furnivall, and the TEAMS website below, the one  complete (ETA: surviving) copy (all 1132 lines) dates to 1560, printed by Wyllyam Copland.

This romance is in Middle English, and…it has a lot of sevens.    The lowly Squire loves and serves the Princess of Hungary for seven years before confessing his love.    She proposes to send him on a quest to “gain fame, and see the Holy Land” (Furnivall)  for seven more years.    Before he can leave, he is attacked by the King’s Steward and a band of men.    The Squire survives (and kills seven men and the Steward), but the King imprisons him and dresses the dead Steward in his clothes.    The Steward’s face is unrecognizeable, and the Princess mourns her lost love (while said lost love languishes in prison) for seven years.    At the end of that time, the King frees the Squire without disabusing his daughter.     The King then sends the Squire on the original quest suggested by the Princess, for a further seven years.   (For those of you keeping score at home, this makes a grand total of twenty.   one.  years. )  While the Squire is away, the King tries to persuade his daughter to leave off her mourning, tempting her with various pleasures to no avail.    When the Squire at length returns, the King reunites the lovers and makes the Squire his heir, happy ending.

TEAMS has put Copland’s version online here:

http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/eksldintro.htm

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