Welcome to Here be Dragons Day 16.
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My post today is one of the dragon tales that was originally told in Middle English.
The Tale of Sir Eglamour of Artois.
Here is part of the introduction to this knight’s tale.
I woll you tell of a knyght
That was both hardy and wyght,
And stronge in ylke a stowre;
Of dedys of armys that he myght here
He wan degré with jurnay clere,
And in felde the floure
I was going to translate but I reckon it is fairly clear. The worthy knight has won renown and is the flower of the field amongst his peers.
Sir Eglamour falls in love with Christabel, an Earl’s daughter, and though she knows she shouldn’t she falls in love right back. Emboldened by love Sir Eglamour, a poor but worthy knight approaches his beloved Christabel’s father.
The Earl is furious and sets the knight two nigh impossible tasks to complete to win the fair maiden’s hand.
The first two trials take him far from home but he achieves his goals and after many adventures returns with the proof of his victories.
Angered that Sir Eglamour still lives the wicked Earl insists on a third task. This is the most deadly of all, for Eglamour must defeat a dragon.
The brave knight agrees but asks for time to recover his strength before he makes this new journey. The Earl’s noblemen and household support the Knight’s request and he is granted twelve weeks to recuperate from the first two tasks.
During this time, Eglamour and the Earl’s daughter meet secretly and sweetly.
Before he leaves the Earl’s castle, Christabel informs Eglamour she is with child. On his knees Eglamour offers her a magic ring, gained in the earlier adventures. He swears to her he will return triumphant and as soon as he can, for she is his woman and his love, and all he does is for her.
Sir Eglamour makes the journey to find the dragon and soon, due to his skill at arms the beast lays dead at his feet. But the knight is wounded and worn down by the conflict. He will take months to recover.
Back in England Christabel bears a child she cannot hide. Her father is so enraged he sets her and the infant adrift in a small boat. No water, no food, and at the mercy of the current Christabel prays for her knight. The tiny craft carries her safe to a distant shore. Below is the passage from the story and my translation of the Middle English.
The lady syked with herte sare,
The wynd rose and to a roche here bare
And thereon gon sche lende.
Sche was full fayn, I undurstonde,
Sche wend hyt had be byggyd londe
And there up gan sche wende.
Nothyng ellys sygh sche dere
Butt see fowles that wylde were
That fast flew here hende.
A grype come in all hyr care,
The yong chyld away he bare
To a countré unkende.
The lady sighed with heart sore
The wind rose and on a rock her bore
And there on she landed
She was full glad, I understood
She wondered at such a big land
And then up she got to look about
Nothing else she saw there
But fowls that lived wild
That fast flew from her hand
A Griffin came in all her dispair
The child away he bare
To a country unkind
So poor Christabel stands alone and grieving for her infant that the wicked Griffin stole.
Now at this point if I had been critiquing for the author I would have said, slow down, as the story goes into over drive. The child is saved by a King and brought up as a royal prince. Christabel, who heads out in the boat again finds her way to a kingdom where the King recognises her as his niece and she is given a beautiful home.
Sir Eglamour returns to England once he recovers from his wounds after his battle with the dragon, and is told the cruel fate of Christabel and son. He usurps the Earl with the help of the household and goes in search of his love.
Fifteen years pass before Sir Eglamour is reunited with his beloved Christabel and his son.
The family travel back to England where the wicked Earl falls from his tower room at the sight of them approaching the castle. Thus, Sir Egramour takes the lands of his wife’s father.
If you want to read the whole of Sir Egramour’s story you can find it here.
Thanks for reading.