Guy, the son of the steward of Earl Rohaud of Warwick, falls helplessly in love with the Earl's daughter Felice. Felice will grant him her love once he has proved himself as a knight. Guy travels to France with his companions, including Herhaud of Ardern. He distinguishes himself in a tournament at Rouen and as a prize is offered the love of Blancheflour, the daughter of the German Emperor Reiner. Guy returns to England to claim the love of Felice [E 209–1054; Auchinleck 235–1130; CUL 177–792].
On his return, Felice tells Guy that she will grant him her love only when he has proved himself the best of all knights. Guy travels abroad again and distinguishes himself in a series of tournaments. His adventures include: the ambush at the orders of Duke Otes (whom he had earlier wounded at Rouen) and the battle for the Duke of Louvain against the Emperor Reiner. The Emperor Reiner's champion is Tirri. Otes is also fighting on his side and violently opposes the reconciliation that Guy finally effects between the two former enemies. Guy next travels to Constantinople. He frees the land of the Emperor Hernis from the forces of the Sultan and is offered his daughter in return. However, Guy is hated by the Emperor's jealous steward Morgadour, who slanders him and kills his pet lion. At this, Guy kills Morgadour, refuses to marry the daughter, and leaves. In Lorraine Guy rescues Tirri (who has become his sworn brother) and his mistress Oisel and then helps Albri (Tirri's father) against Loher (Oisel's father) and Otes (now Oisel's intended husband). After rescuing Tirri from prison Guy kills Otes. Then, whilst hunting Guy kills a young knight and has to fight with the vassals of Florentin, the knight's father. Guy returns to England and kills a dragon that is devastating Northumberland. He returns to Warwick, marries Felice, and conceives a child [E 1055–7562; Auchinleck 1131–7306, stanzas 3–19; CUL 793–7116].
A fortnight after the marriage, Guy repents that he has so long neglected God through his excessive devotion to Felice and sets out on a pilgrimage of atonement. After visiting Jerusalem and Bethlehem, he successfully fights for King Triamour against the Sultan's gigantic champion, Amoraunt.
Guy of Warwick is England's other Arthur, his legend England's most successful medieval romance and so this book considers the Guy tradition as the quintessential popular romance of England, and one that demonstrates the reception of romance working in and beyond medieval culture to a unique degree. The medieval, as a space for fantasy, imagination, or nostalgia, is everywhere – reflected in images and poetry and, in our own time, in film, novels, heritage, music, on the internet, in advertising, and in street names. It is our belief that scholarship has a particular responsibility to take seriously the investigation of sources, purposes, effects, and exploitation.
The Guy tradition is peculiar for its expansiveness, complexity, and for the diversity of its materials, which span different languages, media, chronological periods, and social categorizations. In order to deal with such range and variety of the materials many of the contributors to this volume, although they largely belong to English departments, draw on techniques from other disciplines – from history, art history, French, linguistics, or manuscript studies. Only by allocating aspects of the tradition to scholars with these kinds of specialist interests and areas of knowledge and expertise has it been possible to maintain the sharp scholarly focus throughout. Such explorations developing different responses to shared questions are important aspects of the interdisciplinary nature of this volume. But there is more to it than this: the interdisciplinary conception and ambition behind this book has enriched and added value to the whole project. The original idea for the volume came during a post-LOMERS dinner one wet February evening in 2004. The dimly lit basement of Pizza Paradiso on Store Street has become something of a hotspot for London medievalists, bleary eyed from a day in the library or the lecture theatre and eager to meet, engage in discussion, exchange ideas, and entertain visiting speakers. True to the spirit of this LOMERS rendezvous, we set out to foster more conversations about Guy of Warwick, to bring more ideas to the table.
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