The story of Sir Guy, once as familiar as the tales of King Arthur, is now largely forgotten.
Originally composed about 1240 A.D., this heroic romance early circulated in countless manuscripts, first in poetic, then in expanded prose form. Later, in 1525, the extended version was printed in French, and later still, in 1821, it was rendered into English. That last essential act unfortunately served little purpose, since the translation was thereafter available only to successive descendants of the family that prepared it. In 1959, however, The University of Texas acquired this unique translation, followed by a copy of the rare 1525 issue in 1963, and with both texts rejoined now offers, through William B. Todd, one final service: an edition for present readers.
So rescued from oblivion, Guy of Warwick emerges as a grand exemplum of chivalric conduct. Perhaps even more than Arthur, or Launcelot, or Galahad, the hero is a very proper knight, displaying at once all the mundane attributes of nobility: unswerving loyalty to kin, kith, and king; the ready rescue of damsels in distress; the prompt dispatch of dragons, giants, or other enemies of the realm—and in aftertime exhibiting also all the spiritual qualities of true gentility: defense of the faith against every infidel, mortification of the flesh, and final withdrawal to a hermitage. Thus Guy may rightly deserve not only his early accolade as the "Hercules of England" but also some measure of the tribute usually reserved for a patron saint. However regarded, this knight's exploits must necessarily rank as one of the great "matters of Britain" and again become an essential part of Western cultural heritage.
Here begins the Table to the Present Book.And first: The Editor’s Introduction The Author’s Prologue 1. How Earl Roalt had a fair daughter named Felicia, surpassing in beauty all other dames and damsels, and sent for Guyonet the son of his seneschal to live at his court 2. How Earl Roalt conducted Guyonet to his daughter Felicia and gave him to her for a page, recommending him above all other lords 3. How Guyonet began to love his mistress Felicia, and returned to his chamber after having served her at table, making complaints and lamentations 4. How Guyonet, looking towards the tower where the fair Felicia was, began to weep afresh inasmuch that he fainted and fell upon his bed like one who is dead; and how Herolt Dardenne, his head governor, blamed him for not having been in waiting upon his mistress 5. How Guy was constrained to tell his governor the sorrow which pressed upon his heart 6. How Herolt informed the fair Felicia that Guy was so transported with love of her that he was in danger of death, at which she was much displeased 7. How Felicia desired Guyonet’s governor to cause him to speak to her when he should be recovered from his illness 8. How Guyonet went to Felicia upon the recital of his governor and discovered his love to her 9. How Guy was more grieved than before, on account of the refusal of the fair Felicia, and went to the garden where the said Felicia saw him faint and sent him her cousin to console him 10. How Felicia placed Guy in her lap to make him recover from his fainting, consoling him and telling him that he must be a knight to acquire fame and renown 11. How Guy was made a knight and returned to the fair Felicia, who told him that, since he had received the order of knighthood, he must follow after merit and feats of arms to possess and acquire praise 12. How Guy begged leave of the Earl, the father of Felicia, and of his own father, Sequart, to go beyond sea in order to acquire fame and honour 13. How Guy as he was at the window, and saw lances and arms pass through the streets, asked his host of Rouen what these things meant; by which means he was told of the tournament which was to be held without the city 14. How Guy looked on at the tilting matches and afterwards fought against Gaher, the son of the Emperor, and beat him to the ground twice, and at last mounted his horse in spite of all his enemies 15. How Herolt overthrew the Duke of Moraine and the Count Valdemar; and how also Guy obtained the highest praise from the Emperor’s daughter, and moreover wounded Duke Othes through the body, and overthrew Duke Reiner of Cessoigne 16. How Blanchefleur, daughter of the Emperor, decided among her ladies that the knight with the shield paled or and azure tilted better and did more than all the others 17. How the messenger of Blanchefleur brought the falcon to Guy which she sent him, with the other presents, telling him that she greatly desired to see him 18. How Guy sent two servants into England to take the presents which Blanchefleur had made him, that is to say, the falcon to his lady Felicia, and to Earl Roalt the palfrey and the two greyhounds 19. How Guy, after he had been in Normandy, returned into England and was joyfully received by Earl Roalt and by his daughter Felicia 20. How Guy, by the desire of Felicia, took leave of the Earl to go upon his adventures, and how she gave him an enchanted ring 21. How Guy came into little Brittany, where he gained honour in various adventures and cut off the head of a wicked and cruel tyrant who was of small stature, and then went into Spain as a knight errant to acquire fame and renown 22. How Guy, although much wounded, killed a fierce and cruel Lombard, and another Lombard killed Athosry, the companion of Guy 23. How Guy fought marvellously well against the Lombards, slew and made them fly, and then regretted his companions, who had died in the battle 24. How Guy left the hermit and came to the good Duke Reiner and there found his master Herolt Dardenne 25. How Guy deliberated whether he should go to the assistance of the Duke of Lorraine, and took the seneschal of the Emperor prisoner, and finally discomfited the Germans 26. How the Duke came to see Sir Guy in his house and offered him all his possessions, and afterwards how Duke Othes still conspired against the noble Guyonet 27. How Sir Guy with the Duke above mentioned defeated Duke Othes of Pavia and pursued him to the army of the Emperor 28. How the Emperor caused the Duke of Lorraine’s city to be assaulted, and how the son of the Emperor and others were taken prisoner by Sir Guy, and how the Germans lost the battle 29. How the Emperor pardoned Duke Segum when he placed himself at his mercy by means of Guy and other princes 30. How Duke Reiner married the sister of Duke Segum, and Sir Guy in the town of Constantinople assisted the Emperor against the Turks and pagans 31. How Guy killed the Saracen admiral, and Herolt his governor the King of Turkey; and how Sir Guy also slew Esclandart, who was a very good and valiant Saracen 32. How the Seneschal of the Emperor of Constantinople was envious of Sir Guy, and told the said Emperor that Guy was with his daughter Lauretta 33. How the Christians behaved very well against the pagans and so did also Herolt and Sir Guy, who through his subtlety advised rolling carriage wheels from the top of the mountains upon the Saracens 34. How Sir Guy went into the tent of the Sultan and cut off his head, then made his way through the army, in spite of all the Saracens 35. How Guy, being rescued from death by his companions, carried the head of the Sultan to the Emperor of Constantinople, who desired to give him his daughter Lauretta in marriage 36. How Guy was near marrying the Daughter of the Emperor of Constantinople when by chance he looked at the ring which the fair Felicia had given him, at which he was very much grieved and displeased, and how the Seneschal killed his lion 37. How Guy slew the Seneschal of the Emperor because he had slain his lion, and afterwards departed from the court of the said Emperor and met with Thiery, who was in grief and affliction and who related to him all his history 38. How Guy rescued Thiery from the enemies who were carrying him away and gave him to the doctors to dress his wounds, and went in search of the lady whom the said Thiery loved so much and lost 39. How Thiery went to the succour of his father, and Guy with him, both performing deeds of high prowess against the Duke of Lorraine and gained the victory 40. How the Duke of Pavia escaped from Sir Guy and advised the Duke of Lohier to betray Thiery and his father and to give him the body of Guy to do what he pleased with 41. How the Duke of Pavia treacherously desired to kiss Guy and took Thiery and Herolt Dardenne prisoners, and of Sir Guy’s great feats of arms 42. How Guy disguised himself and went to seek for Thiery in the custody of Duke Othes of Pavia and delivered him through his prowess and subtlety 43. How Thiery was received at the castle of the Mountain, and how Sir Guy slew Duke Othes and carried off the maiden whom the false duke was going to marry 44. How Guy and Thiery did five feats of arms in Lorraine, and how Thiery married Oyselle, the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, in the town of Metz 45. How Guy, after killing the son of the Count Florent in the forest, did other fine deeds against the knights of the said Florent 46. How Guy left Thiery and began his journey towards his own country and came into England to the Court of the King who received him honourably. And how he slew a dragon which was wasting every thing and carried its head to the King 47. How Sir Guy took possession of his father’s lands and afterwards related to the fair Felicia all his adventures 48. How Guy married Felicia and left her with great regret to go and do penance, at which she was much grieved 49. How Guy went to Jerusalem and visited all the holy places, as God inspired him, and was sought for by Herolt his governor, and other things worthy of record which he did against the infidels 50. How Guy fought valiantly against the great Saracen Amorant in King Triamor’s quarrel, and gave him leave to drink 51. How Guy drank in spite of Amorant, and at last cut off his head, which he presented to King Triamor 52. How Felicia was brought to bed of a fine child, named Raimbron, who was afterwards stolen by sea merchants and sold to King Argus 53. How Herolt Dardenne gave counsel to King Athelstan of England, and was accused of treason by Mordred, Duke of Cornwall, and how he went in search of the son of Sir Guy 54. How Herolt’s Seneschal transfixed the body of the Duke of Cornwall with his lance, and obliged him to raise the seige before the town he had beseiged; and then how Thiery and Guy met without knowing each other 55. How Sir Guy was much grieved when he heard that his son Raimbron had been stolen, and caused Thiery to sleep on his lap; and the vision of the said Thiery while he slept, and the treasure which they found in the mountain 56. How Guy and Duke Besart jousted together, and concerning the treason of Duke Besart and his four nephews, who by night threw Guy in his bed into the sea, where he was found by a mariner 57. How Guy slew Duke Besart, through his prowess, and conducted Thiery into the presence of the Emperor, who replaced him in higher estate than he had held before 58. How Thiery and Guy knew each other after the said Thiery had found his wife, who had hid herself in an abbey of nuns for fear of Duke Besart 59. How the King of England, fearing the arrival of the infidel kings, mourned the loss of Guy and Herolt, and prayed Sir Guy to fight the fierce African Colle-brand 60. How Guy fought with Collebrand and cut off his head and presented it to the King of England, then made himself known to him 61. How Guy ate and drank in his wife the Countess’s room, without her knowing him, because he was dressed as a poor man 62. How Sir Guy went into the forest and sent by a servant of his to his wife, the Countess, to come and see him 63. How the Countess saw Guy, who was giving up his soul to God the Creator, at which she fainted and afterwards she died and was buried with him The Editor’s Epilogue The Index
William B. Todd (1919–2011) was Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.