Daily (Captain) Cox–“Olyver of the Castl(e)”

Pedigree:    Furnivall supplies a quote from James O. Halliwell (“A Spanish Romance…very popular throughout Europe, and translated into most European languages.”), after the colophon (printer’s production note) from an English translation / printing:  “Ye (keyboard doesn’t do thorns) Historye of Olyuer of Castylle and the Fayre Helayne.   Here endeth ye historye of Olyuer of Castylle, and of the fayre Helayne doughter vnto the kynge of Englande.   Inprynted at London in flete strete at the sygne of the Sonne by Wynkyn de Worde.   The yere of our lorde M. CCCCC and xviij (1518)”.

Summary (condensed from Furnivall;   1518 printing also has chapter titles which describe much of the plot):

Oliver loses his mother as a young child, and when his father remarries, he gains a stepbrother who greatly resembles him (Artus).     When he grows up, he leaves Castille for England to escape his stepmother’s amorous advances.     In England, he enters a tourney (promising half of any prize to the knight who lends him armor).    After winning the tourney, he tries to hide, but is brought to Court.    Oliver then leads the English army successfully against an invading Irish king,   in chasing them back to Ireland takes 7 more Irish kings prisoner, and returns to claim the hand of the English princess Helayne.     The son of one prisoner captures Oliver, which prompts Artus to come to his rescue.   Unfortunately, Helayne mistakes Artus for her new husband and takes him to her bed, where Artus makes sure NOTHING HAPPENS.   Artus rescues Oliver, but Oliver has been told Artus “knew” his wife, so he fights Artus, wounding him.     Artus then becomes ill, and Oliver (who has learned the truth), kills his two children and gives their blood to Artus.    Artus is healed, and God restores Oliver’s children to life.

The knight who armed Oliver for the original London tourney then appears and demands Oliver’s son for his share of the prize he was promised.    Seeing Oliver and Helayne’s grief at this, he relents and disappears into Heaven.

Oliver gives Artus his daughter in marriage, before Oliver and Helayne die.   The son dies in the Saracens’ land, and Artus rules Castille and England.

Online copy of a 19th century transcription of the 1518 printing here:



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