Daily (Captain) Cox–“Syr Gawyn”

Pedigree:   “It’s complicated”.

There are, as many readers of this page already know, many medieval stories about  Sir Gawain, including “…and the Green Knight” and “The Marriage of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle”.     Furnivall (and his fellow scholars / sources) believed the tale referenced by Langham to be “A Jeste (Geste) of Syr Gawayne”.   This piece was printed several times in the sixteenth century, but no copies survive of  John Kynge’s 1550’s printing;  of two printings, by Thomas Petyt and Johan Butler, only fragments remain.    Furnivall’s source for the version to which he refers is  a transcription “from a small quarto MS, written in 1564…apparently transcribed from early black-letter editions”.    The quarto is missing the beginning of the tale, but the surviving fragments (Petyt’s  “last leaf”, and Butler’s four-page fragment)  match it according to Furnivall.   The “Jeste” is translated from the French “Roman de Perceval”, the MS for which Madden stated contains two different versions of the beginning of the tale.

Sir Gawain has left King Arthur in Branlant.   As he travelled, he came upon a pavilion in which a lovely girl is sleeping.      Gawain kisses her (awake), and she (Guinalorete, according to the original French) tells him her father (“Syr Gylberte, a ryche earl”) and brothers (Gyamoure, Tyrry, and Brandels) will take vengeance on Gawain for his use of her.    Gawain persists despite these threats, and one by one, the father and brothers interrupt Gawain and challenge him.   Gawain defeats Gylberte, Gyamoure and Tyrry in turn, each time returning to the maid in the pavilion.     Only when Brandels arrives does Gawain find an opponent he cannot defeat, but neither can Brandels beat Gawain.    When they are both so injured that they agree to part, they swear to finish the fight “utterly” whenever they meet again.

Furnivall then reprints the contents of Petyt’s fragment, in which Gawain removes and leaves his armor so that he can return to Arthur’s court on foot.

Brandels then curses his sister for still being alive and beats her, finds their father and helps him to return home.     The sister then “gate her awaye; They saw her neuer after that day”  (Gee, I wonder why…–Ed.)     Gawain returns to Arthur and “all this aduenture he shewed the kyng”, and “After that tyme they never met more; Ful glad were those partyes Therefore; So was there made the ende.

TEAMS has an online transcription, with an annotated introduction.

Intro / Sources:  http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/jeastint.htm

Transcription of the “Jeste”, with notes:   http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/jeastfrm.htm

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