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Sir Degaré

The child grew to have no idea of his true origins.

They bore down upon one another, lances levelled, and Sir Degaré left the tip of his spear in the other's shield; the wooden shaft splintering into pieces. They both chose heavier lances and ran against each other again. Both came to grief as they clashed together and they were cast to the ground. They ran at each other brandishing their swords. And the one knight noticed that the weapon of his adversary had a broken tip.

'Stop!' he cried. 'Where were you born? In which land?'

In Brittany,' cried Sir Degaré. 'My mother is the daughter of a king, although I have no idea who my father is.'

'What is your name?'


'Oh, my son!' and the knight took out of his saddle-pouch a piece of steel which exactly matched the end missing from Sir Degaré's sword. They both fainted, and when they had picked themselves up off the ground again, Sir Degaré cried mercy for attacking his own father.

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The maiden tok the child here mide
Stille awai in aven tide
Alle the winteres longe night.
The weder was cler, the mone light...

The tale of Sir Degaré survives in a number of manuscripts, including two in the British Library, one at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and in the famous Auchinleck MS of about 1330–1340, now lying in the National Library of Scotland; a book believed once to have been owned by Geoffrey Chaucer. Some have suggested that this tale of Sir Degaré may be based upon a lost Breton lay, the Lai d'Esgaré. Others see parallels in Irish mythology.
(read the full story in Modern English)


Sir Degaré – TEAMS Middle English text with an introduction

Medieval Romance – Wikipedia

Sir Degaré – 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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