Medieval Romance

Sir Isumbras

Early-fourteenth century, Middle English, Cambridge University Library, Lincoln Cathedral Library, British Library.

'I have never before seen a man who works at a blacksmith's forge conduct himself so well in battle,' said the king, incredulously.

Sir Isumbras was once a knight, but after loosing all his wealth and then his family, he lived the life of a blacksmith's apprentice for seven years.

Now he has excelled himself on the battlefield once more, in his home-made armour.

Knyghtes and squyers han hym sought, – Knights and squires were sent out to search for Sir Isumbras and they found him badly wounded; but despite this, they brought him before the king. He was asked his name and, rather than revealing who he really was, he said: 'Sir, I work at a blacksmith's forge. What will you do with me?'

'I have never before seen a man who works at a blacksmith's forge conduct himself so well in battle,' said the king, incredulously.

'Please could I have some food and water, replied Sir Isumbras, modestly. 'Anything else I think of asking you for can wait until I have recovered from these wounds.'

But having recovered from his wounds, Sir Isumbras slips away from the convent where he is convalescing, disguised as a palmer, without once giving away his true identity.

Story fragment recounted from: Hudson, Harriet, 1996, second edition 2006. Four Middle English Romances, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University for TEAMS. Medieval Institute Publications. The Middle English text of SIR ISUMBRAS from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge MS 175, with missing lines supplied from British Library MS Cotton Caligula A.ii.

broomstick

The Medieval tale Sir Isumbras, translated into Modern English

Northern Line, between Tottenham Court Road and Goodge Street

references

Sir Isumbras – TEAMS Middle English text with an introduction

Sir Isumbras – Wikipedia

Medieval Romance – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications ShopWMU – Harriet Hudson, 2006. Four Middle English Romances: Sir Isumbras, Octavian, Sir Eglamour of Artois, Sir Tryamour. Second edition. TEAMS Middle English texts

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