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Medieval Romance

The Middle English Breton Lay of Sir Gowther

14th century, Middle English: British Library, Advocates Library of Scotland.

He raced swiftly through the crowd up to the high table and sat beneath it. The steward came towards him with a stick.

Wherser thu travellye, be northe or soth, thu eyt no meyt [food] bot that thu revus of howndus [dog's] mothe [mouth] – wherever you go from now on,' said the Pope, 'you will take no food but that which has been in the mouth of a dog, and you shall not speak a word until such time as God gives you a sign that your penance is over and your sins are forgiven.'

Gowther knelt before the Pope’s chair and received his absolution. And outside, in Rome, he would consume no food except from the mouth of a dog; and he travelled to a far country, as witnesses have said, and lay down under a hill; and then a greyhound brought him food each day, as though he were her pup.

For three days he lived like this, and each day the greyhound brought him a loaf of bread. But on the fourth day the greyhound did not appear, and he got up and went towards a castle that lay nearby. In the castle lived an emperor and Gowther sat down by the gates, for he could not enter. Then trumpets blew and knights gathered as the emperor made his way to his hall. Gowther saw his chance, for there was no porter at the gate nor usher at the hall door who could stop him. He raced swiftly through the crowd up to the high table and sat beneath it. The steward came towards him with a stick – tho styward come with yarde in honde – and threatened to beat him if he did not go away.

'What's going on?' asked the emperor.

Story fragment recounted from: Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury (Eds), 1995. The Middle English Breton Lays. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University for TEAMS. The Middle English text of SIR GOWTHER from National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.3.1.

broomstick

The Medieval tale of Sir Gowther, translated into Modern English.

Weird Tales—discussion.

references

Sir Gowther – TEAMS Middle English text

Breton Lays – Wikipedia

Sir Gowther – Wikipedia

Medieval Institute Publications – ShopWMU – Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury (Eds), 1995. The Middle English Breton Lays. TEAMS Middle English texts

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