Daily (Captain) Cox–“Sir Tryamour” and “Sir Lamwell”


–The earliest surviving edition of “Sir Tryamour” is a fifteenth-century manuscript held currently by the University of Cambridge (Cambridge MS Ff. 2.38).    There were two sixteenth-century printings known, both by William Coplande.    There is also a copy of the story in the seventeenth-century Percy Folio.

In “Captain Cox: His Books and Ballads”,  Mr. Furnivall reprints, with attribution, a summary of “Sir Tryamour” by a “Mr. Hale”:”…the story tells how a good lord (Arradas) and his gentle lady (Margaret) were estranged by the treachery of their steward (Marrocke);  how their son (Tryamore), conceived in honour, was born in exile and shame; how, after many a weary year, the execrable fraud was discovered; and how, at last, the son (who has, in the meantime won himself a wife, the beautiful Helen of Hungary, by many doughty deeds of arms) and his mother, are happily united to the grieving husband.”     Furnivall also touches briefly on the tale’s focus on a very loyal hound (one “True-Love”), who belongs to the lady Margaret’s faithful guardian knight.

A copy of the fifteenth-century MS is here:



–“Sir Lamwell” was originally based upon a Lai of Marie de France (“Sir Lanval”), and appears in English courtesy of one Thomas Chestre (“Sir Launfale”, in fourteenth-century Middle English).   Furnivall list four or five partial manuscript versions of the tale which appeared subsequent to that, and two printed fragments without printer’s markings.    He suggests that the first of these may be an edition which appears in the Stationers’ Register, licensed to John Kynge, 1557-58.

Furnivall examined the printed fragments and found them to more closely match the version which appears in the Percy folio than Chestre’s Middle English, and uses the later version for his summary.

Sir Lambewell is one of King Arthur’s knights, one so generous / prodigal that he beggars himself.     On his departure from the court, two maidens rouse him from sleep and take him to their mistress.     This lady pledges herself to Lambewell, refills his coffers, and sends him back to court with the warning never to mention her name to another, for doing so would cause him to lose her.      He resumes giving away all he has in generosity at court, and becomes involved in a dispute with Queen Guinevere, whose advances he had spurned. He claims that his mistress’ lowliest maid is fairer than the Queen, which prompts Arthur to demand the Lambewell prove his boast or be put to death. Several ladies of his mistress’ court appear, followed by the lady herself, who clears her love but turns away to leave, since he had spoken of her and named her.   Lambewell, declaring that he would rather go with her than remain at court, leaps on her horse as she rides by, and they depart together for Amilion / Avalon.


The first link below is for the Middle English version, the second one for the Percy folio.




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