A Modern English Translation and Commentary
by Dinah Hazell
MANUSCRIPTS AND EDITIONS
Sir Tryamour is a tail rhyme romance1 dated to the late fourteenth century, written in the Northeast Midlands dialect. The poem runs 1,719 lines and contains a number of textual obscurities, ambiguities and stanzaic irregularities that suggest corruption2 or "loose transmission"3 by reciters and scribes.
Sir Tryamour is preserved in Cambridge University Library Ff. 2.38, which is dated to the mid-fifteenth century and is generally used for editions; Percy Folio MS British Library Add. 27879, c. 1642-50; and Bodleian MS (Rawlinson), sixteenth-century fragment. There were at least two early printed editions of Sir Tryamour, both by Willyam Copland in the mid-sixteenth century. The earliest is preserved in the British Museum, and the later in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.4 The Percy MS appears to derive from Copland's editions,5 as may the Rawlinson fragment.6 Fragments have also been found in two sixteenth-century printed editions.
There are four modern editions: The Romance of Syr Tryamoure, ed. James Orchard Halliwell (London: Percy Society, 1846); Syr Tryamowre: A Metrical Romance, ed. Anna Johanna Erdman Schmidt (Utrecht: Broekhoff, 1937); Syr Tryamowre, Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance, ed. Jennifer Fellows (London: J. M. Dent, 1993); Sir Tryamour, Four Middle English Romances, ed. Harriet Hudson, TEAMS Middle English Texts Series (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1996). All citations in this commentary are from the Hudson edition unless otherwise noted.
Heven blys that all schall wynne,
Schylde us fro dedly synne
And graunte us the blys of hevyn! (1-3)7
Heaven's bliss that all shall win,
Shield us from deadly sin
And grant us the joy of heaven!8
If you will pause a while, I will begin a story that is helpful to tell, of a king and queen. I will tell you of the misery and happiness that passed between them. You may learn a good lesson if you will hear this story and listen to my voice.
He was the king of Aragon,9 a nobleman of great renown; Sir Ardus was his name. He had a queen called Margaret, true as steel, I promise you. She was falsely accused and defamed by the king's fickle steward, Marrok,10 who loved that gentle lady very much, but because she would not submit to him, he shamed her greatly.
The king loved the queen well, for she was pleasing to look at and true as steel on wood.11 They lamented and sighed together often, for they had no child. Therefore, as I understand it,12 the king vowed to go to the Holy Land to fight and not to flee,13 so that God Almighty should help them have a child to be their heir. That night after the king made his vow and took the cross from the pope, he and his wife went to bed, and as God would have it, he begat a child though neither of them knew it.
In the morning as soon as it was day, the king prepared to go forth on his way to the Holy Land. The queen began to mourn because he would not stay, and she was silently distressed. The king ordered that his forces of knights, squires and horses be ready to go. He took leave of the queen, earls and barons, and commanded Sir Marrok, on his life, to guard the queen well in good times and bad. The king and queen parted from each other with great sorrow and mourning.
The king crossed the sea to fight his enemies and warred there for a time. But Sir Marrok was trying hard to bring the lady to evil. Fearing no peril, he wooed the queen day and night, for he had vowed to lie with her. He spoke fair words to her hoping to persuade her, but she remained steadfast. She quietly listened to all he said, then asked him: "Traitor, what are you thinking? All your speech is for naught. Out, thief! When my lord went to sea, he entrusted me to you for protection, and now you would gladly be the first to do me treason! How dare you be so bold?"
He replied, "My gracious lady, now my lord has gone to fight his foes, and it will be a wonder if you ever see him again. Therefore I advise you rightly to take me in his stead. Am I not a knight? And we shall be together secretly so that no one will know, whether he lives or dies."
Then the queen was terribly angry and swore many great oaths, as she was a faithful woman. "If you are so foolhardy to plot villainy against me, you will rue it. I swear I shall never eat until you are dead to worldly pleasure. For having tempted me to do wrong, I shall brew you such misery that no entertainment shall amuse you."
Marrok said, "Madam, have mercy. I did not say it for evil, but as a trial to know whether your will is good or ill and for no other reason. And now, Madam, I can see that you are true to my lord the king, and that greatly pleases me. So take it as no offense or wicked request." He excused himself then, and the lady believed what he had said. He left and held his peace but thought more than he said, feeling extremely dissatisfied.
Through the grace of the Trinity, the queen was great with child, and here we leave her and speak of King Ardus, far away in heathen lands warring on God's behalf. With great prowess he fiercely slew his enemies, and arose in fame there and in Spain, Gascony and Germany. When, true to his word, he had carried out his mission14 to the River Jordan, Bethlehem and the town of Jerusalem, where God died and came alive, he longed to be at home and to speak with his queen, who was always in his thought.
He obtained ships and determined to embark at once. After a long voyage they finally came home to his own land. When the king and queen were together again, they made much joy and merriment, and then told him her tidings.15 When the king saw she was with child, he smiled and kissed her twenty times and took her by the hand. But soon Marrok asked his lord the king, "Sir, in God's name, why are you so happy about this? You believe the child is yours, but it is not so, as I hope to thrive.16 The queen has betrayed you! Another knight seduced her and begat the child after you left!"
"Alas," said the king. "How can this be? Didn't I entrust her to your care? She was under your keeping. Why did you let her do this wicked thing? Alas! Why did she do it?" "Sir," said Sir Marrok, "don't blame me, since she moaned greatly for you as though she loved no other. I saw no falsehood in her until I found them together in the deed.17 In the first fortnight you were gone, I found them together before their lust was satisfied. I ran to him angrily and slew the knight where he stood, according to my own judgement! Then she believed she would be killed and promised me lands and their rents, and bid me to fulfill my desire. But I would not, for you were ever in my thought aloud and silently."
"Alas," said the astonished king, "my heart is breaking. Why has she done amiss? I don't know to whom I may lament, for I have lost my comely queen whom I used to kiss. Marrok, what is your advice? Should she who was my bliss be put to death? Since she has forsaken me, I will see her no more nor live with her."
"Sir," said Marrok, "you shall neither burn nor slay her, for fear of committing a sin. It would be better to banish her from your land and immediately command her to depart. But give her an old steed18 and have her led out of your realm by an old knight, and give them some spending money to take out of your land. I can advise no better, for it would not be proper for a bastard to be your heir unless he were of your kin."
Then the king said, "It shall be as you have said, and I will not cease until it is done," and without delay he exiled the queen. She wondered why and what made him begin to treat her so, for he would give her no reprieve or speak with her, and that was a great sin. He had her dressed in simple clothing and set upon an old steed that was shaggy and blind. He brought her an old knight named Sir Roger, who was courteous and kind, and gave them twenty days to pass out of the realm. If men might find her past that time, she should be taken and burned, and the knight, by agreement, should wend with the wind.19 He gave them thirty florins and commanded them to go. The sorrowful queen wished to die, for she didn't know why she had been banished. She was greatly afraid and swooned on her horse; it was no wonder that she was woeful. Sir Roger comforted her and said, "It must be God's way. How would it help if you killed yourself?"
Noble knights, squires and ladies mourned the queen's departure. The king had no cause, and the queen had great grief that she should depart from her husband without any reason. But the queen and Sir Roger left that place and went far from every town into a great wilderness that was full of wild beasts by dale and by down.
To fulfill his lust by harming the queen, Marrok organized a company of his own men who would obey him. They hastened to a wood where the queen would pass by and stood there quietly. Marrok expected to readily injure the queen; he would gladly kill her. She and Sir Roger came into the wood and anticipated passing through safely. Then they became aware of the steward riding toward them with a great company. "This is treason," said the queen. "Alas," said Sir Roger, "we are surrounded! Since we shall die, no matter how strong they are, they will pay for our deaths."
The steward challenged Roger and said, "Yield, for you have no strength against us and shall die!" Sir Roger answered, "Traitor, you will pay dearly for my death if we fight." They came together rapidly, and Sir Roger fiercely proved he was a knight. There was none in the company so bold or strong. They hewed on him vigorously, and Sir Roger smote them on the head so that his sword went down to the girdle. In requital, they struck as though they were mad, and they smote him so sorely that his blood sprang on every side. His good hound, True-Love, stood by his master's side, bitterly biting his enemies.
While they were under attack the queen fled on foot, leaving her steed behind. She ran without stopping to a hawthorn bush20 and hid under it. She watched Sir Roger bravely slashing their bodies and his hound helping him. As it is told in the story, Sir Roger threw down forty, so paying them their reward. Had he been outfitted for battle, he surely would have had the victory. Alas! Why did he lack his armor? As Sir Roger was giving a blow, Sir Marrok came up behind him--may evil come to him. He smote Sir Roger through his body with a spear, who quickly bled from that evil wound. The blow felled him to the ground onto the green.
When the attackers were certain Sir Roger was dead, they rode with great malice to seek the queen but they didn't know what they might report, as they found her horse but she was gone, which angered the traitor. When they didn't find the lady, they thought their journey was ill cast and didn't know what to do. They sought her throughout the wood but, as God would have it, they didn't find her, and they were greatly anxious.
When he couldn't find the lady, Sir Marrok, against knightly honor, went back to where Sir Roger lay and stuck through his body three times to be sure he was dead. Curse that day! When he was done, he returned the way he had come and was dispirited, for his company was all gone. He had exchanged forty lives for one; only two of his company escaped.
The queen was afraid of being killed until she saw them leave. Then she rose up and returned to Sir Roger and found him slain, which brought her great sorrow. "Alas," she said, "now I am lost. Why did this false thief slay you who was without guilt? Sir Roger, you have done this for me. Alas that I should ever see it!" and she fell in a swoon. When she could rise, she took her horse, for she could not stay for fear of being found there. She said, "Sir Roger, I see you bleeding. Who may counsel and guide me? Certainly you can no longer."
True-Love would not leave his master, but lay licking Sir Roger's wounds. He did all he could to heal him—great kindness is in hounds. The dog licked until he stank, and then thought to make a pit of stone to bury Sir Roger. He scraped both bark and moss on him and would never leave him, and there they ever remained.
The queen quickly left, fearful of her foes. She mourned greatly in her heart for she didn't know the best way to go. Nevertheless she woefully rode forth to the land of Hungary. When she came to a woodside she could no longer continue, her pains were so strong. She dismounted and gave birth to a child by herself, alone. She went forth in sorrow and tied the horse to a bough until the pains stopped. She had borne a fair son, and when she heard him cry she was relieved. As soon as she was able to move, she took up her child and tenderly embraced him.
What with weakness, weariness and woe, she fell asleep as did her son, with the horse standing behind. A knight called Sir Barnard,21 who was hunting deer, came upon them and found the lovely lady and her son sleeping together under a linden tree.22 She was extremely afraid when she saw him approaching. He said, "What are you doing here, madam? From where do you come? What is your name? Why are you lying here now?"
"Sir," she said, "if you will know, at home my name is Margaret, I swear by God. I am in great trouble here. Help me now by taking me to some town." The knight beheld the lady's manner and thought she was of noble birth who had been beset in the forest. He took her and her son up with great courtesy and led them to his home. He let her have women as she wished to tend her, as was proper, and brought her to bed. She speedily was given whatever she desired. They christened the child with great honor and named it Tryamour,23 and were very happy. They gave the boy a nurse and did as the lady bid so that she was satisfied. They were never annoyed by her; she was courteous and kind, and everyone was her friend.
The lady lived there long, and there was much mirth among them, although their amusements gave her no pleasure. She taught her son to work and educated him continually.24 He was of great stature, well-built and handsome. Everyone loved him according to their estate,25 and all who knew him said there was no reason to hate him.
We will leave the queen and speak about the greyhound of whom we told before. He lay on his master's grave for seven years, until he grew old. No one could get him away no matter how they tried. But once a day he went to get his prey and then returned. So he lived for seven years until the first day of Yule when he ran quickly to the king's palace. As the king was at dinner, the hound ran into the hall among the gay knights. He looked all around and when he didn't see what he sought, he quickly returned to his master's grave.
The king wondered where the hound came from and who had brought him there. He thought he had seen him but didn't know when or where, so he said nothing. But he thought he should know him, so he sat pondering. The next day as the king arose from the table the dog came again and looked all around the hall. But he didn't find the one he sought and quickly left. At that very moment the king said, "I think that was Sir Roger's hound that went with him when the queen was exiled out of my land," and the company said "Truly, that is so!"
The king said, "What may this mean? I believe Sir Roger and the queen have come to this land, for I have never seen Sir Roger's hound since they went away. That is marvelous news! Pursue him wherever he goes, for he will run forever until he comes to his master."
The next day as they all sat in the hall at dinner, Sir Marrok was far within. The hound raced about eagerly and would not stop until he met the steward. He leapt up, seized him by the throat and avenged his master's death. The steward's life was lost, and few regretted it or wept for him. The greyhound left when he had taken revenge for his master on the one who had wrought him treachery. They all followed him, some on horses and some on foot, knights, squires and swain. The hound would never rest until he returned to his master's grave, and they could not get him to leave. He stood defense against them; otherwise they would have slain him.
When they saw that there was nothing better they could do, they returned and told the king what had happened. "Alas," cried King Ardus, "what is the meaning of this? I swear that Sir Marrok killed Sir Roger by some treachery and falsely banished my queen. The hound would not have slain Sir Marrok if there had not been some treason, by God!"
Both knight and knave returned and found Sir Roger in his grave, as whole as when he had been buried. They brought the corpse to the king, which made his heart sore, and the hound would not leave his master. "Alas," said the king, "now I have care, for this traitor betrayed me, slayed an adventurous knight, and exiled my queen without right through the false tales he told me." The king immediately had his steward drawn by a horse through town in great humiliation, and hanged him on the gallows tree for all to see that he had committed treason. The next day Sir Roger's body was buried with noble array, attended by many bold barons. His hound would not leave him but lay on his grave until death brought him down.
The king sent a messenger from town to town far and near to look for the queen, but nothing could be heard of her. The king said, "Now I know of no remedy and will die from sorrow! Alas that she ever left me. Our false steward has ruined us with his treachery." He lived thus many years in sorrow; no happiness could relieve his grief until he would die. When he thought of how Sir Roger was slain, and the help of his hound, and how his gentle queen went from him great with child, it gave him great pain and he swooned away.
With Sir Roger's death we will turn to the queen and her child, Tryamour. He was a large, tall man, powerfully built and attractive. He dwelt among men and women, yet he never angered anyone with wrongdoing; he was naturally honorable.
In that time the king of Hungary died and was buried. He had no heir to his lands except a seven-year old daughter named Helen. She was as white as a flower blossom, merry and pretty, and seemly to kiss. When her father was dead, great war began to spread throughout her land. She was advised to take a lord to rule and lead her land with his company, a noble knight who could rule with justice and whom men might fear and respect.26
Her council willed her to do so since she was in great need, and she answered them proudly that they should bind her with no mate unless he were a prince or prince's peer, or else of supreme prowess. On that condition, the fair and gracious lady would assent to calling a jousting tournament and that whoever won the prize would wed her with splendor.
A day was set for the joust, and half a year was allowed, no longer, for knights to come from diverse places to be there on that day and have a space. When knights of many lands heard these tidings, they dressed themselves gaily, and the best from every land rode hither without rest, well arrayed and outfitted. Some went to test themselves, and some to win the fair maiden. Great was the chivalry that came to Hungary to joust with their might.
When Tryamour heard that the joust would begin soon, he thought that if it would avail, he would gladly prepare himself to win that lady. He had neither horse nor spear or weapons with which to fight, which broke his heart. He thought day and night where he might best borrow them; until then he would not rest. He lamented to his lord and asked him to lend him weapons, armor and a steed and told him, "I wish to prove myself at the joust with bold knights and to shed my blood in battle."27
Sir Barnard said, "What are you thinking? You know nothing of jousting for you are not of age." Tryamour answered, "Sir, how do you know what strength I have until I am proven in the field with the experienced?" Barnard said courteously, "Tryamour, since you will go, you shall lack nothing, for I shall lend you all my gear, horse and harness, shield and spear, and help you at your need."
Tryamour was very happy and thanked Barnard many times for his fair offer. Before the jousting, the youth went to his gracious mother and asked for her blessing. She would rather have him stay at home, but there was nothing she could say to stop him As soon as it was day, Tryamour was gaily dressed, readily armed and prepared. On a steed, he was a man of great stature and strength. Tryamour rode to the field, and Barnard would not stay behind but rode with him. There was no prince on the field that day who was so handsome under shield or seemed better fitted for knighthood than Tryamour.
Helen sat high up in a tower to watch the sport. There were many noble knights and princes who had come to test themselves in the fight. They were so gaily arrayed with bright shields and armor that the field shone as candle light. When each man began to ride, there was a throng of greatly renowned knights. It befell Tryamour to be on the side of his father, the king of Aragon. The first to ride forth was the king of Lombardy, a man of great fame, and Tryamour rode against him. Though he was a man of great strength, the young man brought him down. The king of Armenia's son rode on his steed toward Tryamour with great hostility, and Tryamour jousted with him boldly and bore him down. Then Barnard said with great honor, "Ah, Tryamour! Ah, Tryamour!" so that men might know him. The mild maiden watched that youth more than all other men.
Then there was a young knight, a proud prince without equal named Sir James, the emperor of Germany's son. He rode against Tryamour and parried his blows. Each broke his spear on the other but neither was cast to the ground; they were both men of might. But Sir James received such a blow that, by my head, he didn't know if it was day or night.
Thus they jousted until it was night and then departed by agreement; they needed to rest.28 As soon as it was morning, the knights arrayed themselves gaily and showed themselves eagerly. Then without more delay, every knight rode confidently at each other, striking and thrusting. Tryamour rode forth in haste and galloped among the host on the other side. The first to ride towards him was the king of Aragon. Tryamour gave his father such a blow that horse and man fell down, humiliated.
Sir Asseryn, son of the king of Navarre, came against Tryamour, who hit him such a stroke on the helm that all men saw it. The blood burst out of his ears and his steed was thrust to the ground. Then Sir Barnard was pleased! The lady of great honor, white as a lily flower, fixed her love on Tryamour.
The knights didn't cease until night, and they departed to their lodging. The night passed and day came, and every knight took his horse, some of which were far away running free. The duke of Sicily, Sir Sywere, was first to enter the field in that battle. Tryamour took a spear, and when they met he hit the duke's shield so fiercely that it bowed and bent. And I tell you that many gentle ladies watched them.
The duke of Lithuania, Sir Tyrre, rode forth boldly to assail Tryamour, who turned quickly and rushed towards the duke, loath to fail. He gave him such a stroke that both duke and horse turned top over tail. Then Tryamour rode to the duke of Aymere and served him in the same manner; nothing could avail.
King Ardus rode forth and the emperor's son, Sir James, wielded a spear and rode at the king forcefully, knocked him from his horse and injured him sorely. Then Tryamour was not pleased and rode at James of Germany as fiercely as any boar. He rushed at him so hard that James' shield and spear were burst apart and he could fight no more.
Tryamour would never rest but bore himself boldly to the best and most honored. He was ready for each prince and cast down horse and man in that battle. There was none as good as he; therefore he was granted the victory. With common consent, the lady chose him to be her lord.
Then the jousting began to cease and Tryamour expected to have peace and quickly unarmed himself. Sir James greatly envied Tryamour and pursued him with great arrogance. He cried to Tryamour, "Yield, thief, or you shall die. You will not go unpunished." Tryamour said with great spite, "Since I am doomed to die, I will strike." Without delay Sir James and his men set on Tryamour from every side and gave him many wounds, but whoever came near him was never sound afterward. Sir Barnard was strong and bestirred himself to help Tryamour fight in that battle.
King Argus of Aragon came riding to the town and saw them fighting together. He was greatly grieved when he saw the youth who was dear to him in trouble, so he gave Tryamour good assistance. Men of might then began a fierce battle; there were no longer retinues but every man met his peer.29
Sir James was proud and eager and thrust among the knights, angry with Tryamour. He struck and gave Tryamour a wicked wound throughout the flanks, and Tryamour was out of his wit. He hit Sir James on the head until he was cast to the ground. His men were afraid and fled fast, mourning for dread. Tryamour was sorely hurt and bled so heavily that he could fight no more. Without delay he took his leave of the king, thanked him for his fair deed, and wouldn't stop until he came to Sir Barnard's town and went to his mother.
The lady was sorrowful when she saw her son bleeding, and her complexion was pale. Tryamour quickly kissed her and said, "Mother, stop crying; nothing ails me." A doctor was sent after to examine the young man's wound and staunch the bleeding. Upon his own life, he immediately undertook saving Tryamour, which mended his mother's mood.
The other knights, as the book says, rode to the palace to hear Helen and presented themselves eagerly so that she might choose from the best which one she desired. The noble lady beheld the knights but didn't see Tryamour, and her expression changed. She said, "Lords, where is he who won the victory yesterday? I choose him to be my mate." All who stood there sought Tryamour but when they didn't find him, the lady was woeful. Her barons were brought before her and she asked them to grant a two-year respite. She said, "Lords, by God, he who won me shall have me. You know well your proclamation was so." The lords assented, for she spoke nothing but reason, and that was all.
When this was properly granted, of all the folk the gentle lady wanted no one but Tryamour. Every prince went home for dinner, with little celebration. Sir James' men were unhappy that their lord, so strong in battle, was slain. They laid him in a wagon and led him home to Germany and his father. The emperor fell down in a swoon when they brought his son before him, and he asked, "Who has killed him?" They answered, "We don't know about him, but he is called Tryamour and there was no one there so great of strength. The king of Aragon and all his company helped him slay your son!" "Alas," said the emperor, "I shall never cease until I am avenged upon Tryamour! He and King Ardus shall pay sorely for the death of Sir James!" and sent for princes proven in battle to help.
The king was then greatly afraid since the emperor had so much power and would bid him to battle. He saw his land overspread and fled to a castle, which he provisioned out of dread. The emperor besieged the castle all about and spread his banner hastily in assault. King Ardus was strong and bold and defended his dwelling. They could cast wondrously great stones, which broke both back and bone.
The siege lasted six days, which the king thought quite harsh and didn't know what to do. He sent two barons as messengers to the emperor, and they requested a respite from the assault and told him, "Sir, you accuse our king wrongly, for he never slew Sir James in any way, not through his presence, will or assent, and he will gladly acquit himself between the two of you, if you will agree.30 Or else we will each choose a knight to fight by a certain day. And if our knight happens to be discomfited or slain, as well may be, he will put himself in your power to make peace, as it is reasonable, without more delay. And if it so happens that the knight of our side may slay yours by chance, he will ask you to let our lands be in peace without any strife."
The emperor set the day of battle, for he had a champion, the most renowned in every land, in whom he had trust. When peace was cried and the day for battle set, King Ardus was joyful. He placed his trust in Tryamour and sent a messenger to find him without fail against the day of battle for his assistance. The messenger came and went but heard no news of Tryamour. The king began to frown and said, "If he is dead, who shall fight Moradas, who is so strong in battle?"
When Tryamour was healthy and sound, recovered from his grievous wounds, he prepared to leave and said to his mother in a gracious manner, "If I knew who my father was, it would lessen my care." She replied, "Son, you will know when you have fulfilled your promise, by God who died for us!"31 He said, "Mother, if you so wish, have a good day for I will go and speak with my beloved."
Tryamour rode over dale and down into the land of Aragon to seek and see adventures. As he rode into a forest he saw many wild beasts. With his three hounds he chased a hart and was challenged by twelve foresters who kept that estate.32 They surrounded him and there was no remedy but to stand firm, and he was unwilling to flee.
Nevertheless, he requested a pledge so that he might pass, if he had committed any offense. All twelve foresters swore they would accept no pledge but himself; "Such is the law of this land that you must lose your right hand. It cannot be otherwise!" Then Tryamour said with fearless heart, "I am loath to surrender that pledge unless it is dearly bought." There was nothing else to say, and all the foresters set upon him with harsh threats and wrath, but they soon prayed for peace. Only one went away alive.
When the foresters were beaten to the ground, Tryamour went in search of his hounds. He came to a riverside and saw the wild beast. It had slain two hounds and was attacking the third with his antlers, and Tryamour was full of woe. He spurred his horse into the river, rescued his hound and slew the deer. Then he began to blow his bugle.33
The king was staying at a nearby manor and heard a bugle blow. All the men in the hall, both great and small,34 were puzzled, for no one recognized it. With that a forester with a grim expression came into the hall, and the king questioned him. "Sir," the forester said, "your men are slain, all nine in a row!"35 Then he told of the man who had blown the horn and wrought this wonder: "Twenty men would be too few to take that knight, he is such a rogue, and victory would be dearly bought!"
King Ardus said, "I have need of such a man; I believe God has sent me one who shall defeat Moradas." He called five knights to go immediately and find the knight at his sport. He told them, "Say no rude words but speak to him with a gentle voice, and he will not gainsay you."
The knights took their horses and went to the wood to seek the young man. They found him at the waterside where he sat feeding his hound with the meat of the wild beast. They said, "God be with you at your sport," and he replied "Welcome to you all." He let himself be coaxed as they said, "Sir, are you willing to come and speak to our king with words meek and mild?" Tryamour asked them politely, "Sirs, what is the name of your king and this land?" They said, "This land is called Aragon and the king is Ardus, whose palace is nearby."
When Tryamour came into the hall, he first greeted the king, whom he recognized on sight, and then everyone. The king took him by the hand and with a pleased look asked him his name. Tryamour said, "Sir, I am called Tryamour. You helped me once in a battle with the emperor of Germany's son. You didn't shirk from fighting and had you not been there, I would have been slain."
The king knew him well and kissed him three times with tears falling. He said, "You are welcome! I have suffered great blame on your account," and told him all: "I have set a day with the emperor to defend myself if I am able. As I never slew Sir James, I would call upon Jesus to deliver me out of woe, and I believe He shall."
Tryamour said, "I am full of woe that you are so harassed on account of me, and will amend it if I might. On the day of battle I shall fight and take the grace that God will send." Then the king was glad and said, "I am not afraid that Moradas shall come to battle. Often I made men ask after you but could hear nothing of you. Now you shall defend my right."
Then they remained together with much joy and sport and wanted for nothing. They went hawking on the river and hunted deer when it pleased them, until the appointed day of battle. Then the emperor came bringing king and knight, and Moradas who was so brave. Both sides were bold and went to the field, which was barred and prepared.36 The king comforted Tryamour and made him a knight before going to battle. He kissed him and said, "Tryamour, I make you my heir and you shall fight for me!" Tryamour said, "Sir, have no fear. I trust that God shall protect me, as he stands with the right."
Then both the emperor and King Ardus swore to hold the covenant they had made earlier, and called to Jesus. Sir Tryamour and Moradas were armed on their steeds. Tryamour was greatly feared, as there were none so noble in the hall, and Moradas was so strong in battle that no man could endure his blows but were felled. The two rode at each other immediately with sharp spears and bright swords and exchanged great blows. They spent their spears and broke their shields, and the pieces flew into the fields from the mighty strokes they dealt.
Tryamour intended to repay the blows he had received but missed, and his spear hit Moradas' horse in the heart.37 Moradas said, "It is greatly shameful to avenge your anger on a horse!" Tryamour said immediately, "I would rather have hit you. Have my horse and let me remain. I am loath to flee." Moradas replied, "I don't want him until you have paid for that stroke and I win him rightly."
Then Tryamour dismounted and went to Moradas. They fought on foot and Tryamour didn't spare him, but ever in his heart he thought, "Today I was made a knight! Either he shall slay me soon or I him and win my spurs,38 through the grace of God almighty."
It was amazing to see the strokes between the two, they hewed so hard on each other's helms. Moradas was weak from fighting and loss of blood; he had never been so afraid, and nothing gave him pleasure. Then Tryamour was fierce and gave him a new wound through his armor into his flesh and through his heart. The emperor was distressed and asked King Ardus for a truce. He kissed the king and was his friend, and took his leave, for he would remain no longer.
King Ardus and Tryamour were led home with honor, I tell you truly. Everyone in the city, lesser and great, thronged to see them. There they were happy and without care; it could have been no better. Tryamour had great honor and renown in Aragon for his splendid deed, and the king presented a fully fair offer: "Tryamour, I make you heir to my lands and people." Tryamour said, "Thank you Sir, but no. We may speak of it at a later time; now I ask you for only a steed. I will go to other lands to hear of more adventures and who does the best deeds."
Tryamour remained there as long as he wished, and the king gave him rich gifts of silver and gold. Tryamour had no lack of good horses, taking or leaving them as he pleased, and all his other gear. He took his leave of the king and kissed him in parting. The king's heart was sore and he said, "Tryamour, all that is mine, lands great and small, shall be yours when you wish."
Tryamour left in good humor, for every man was his friend. He went to every land, far and near, where he might hear of adventures. He won the prize in every land; of all the valiant knights, there were none as good as he. Everywhere he went, he earned a great name.
He left off jousting and tournaments and wished to go to Hungary; he would stop for no man. His way lay between two mountains, and as he followed the road he met a palmer39 who asked him for charity, which Tryamour gave him with a free heart. The palmer cried out to him and said, "Sir, turn around, for before you pass the mountain you will be slain or overcome!" Tryamour asked him, "How so?" to which the palmer replied, "Sir, on account of two brothers who dwell on this mountain. Therefore I pray you with an anxious heart to turn back, for it is dreadful to fight with them!" Then Tryamour said, "If there were more, I would not go out of my way, even if they were devils of hell!" He told the palmer to "Have a good day" and went on his way as fast as he could ride.
He had gone a short way, less than a mile, when he saw two knights halt and wait. One rode at him and the other remained on a nearby hill and watched with amazement the strokes the two gave each other. He rode between them and prayed them to stop, and they quickly did. He said to Tryamour, "I have never seen such a strong knight. Tell me your name at once." Tryamour said, "I shall tell you when I know why you two guard this road."
The other brother said, "We shall tell you the reason we stay here and have brought about all this woe. We had a brother they called Moradas, a stalwart man who was with the emperor, for whom he was fighting in Aragon, where a knight called Tryamour slew him in battle! Therefore we guard this road in the hope of meeting him." Then Tryamour laughed.
"And also, I tell you another reason. Our other brother, Burlond, a man of greatest might, pursues a lady, the king of Hungary's daughter, and has sworn to wed her. He has advanced so well that truly he shall marry her unless she can find a brightly armed man to defend her. Therefore she has set a day and issued a challenge. And that same Tryamour loves that lady passionately, I am told, and she has sent for him. We have awaited him and slain her bold barons; if he will go to Hungary, he shall pass this way and we will gladly slay him. He has promised her aid but if we may we shall stop him, and his promise will not hold. If she fails on her day, nothing will avail her and she shall be wed to Burlond. We know nothing of Tryamour, wherefore no men pass here unless they are recognized. Now that we have told you the reason, we would gladly know your true name, if you are not afraid. You shall remain here with us two and if you will not, you have fared ill."
Tryamour said, "Fare as I may, since I have promised I shall not conceal my name. You may consider your day's work well spent; you have met with the man who has slain your brother. And if you will give me leave to go, I will fight with Burlond for her love of whom you speak." They said, "Welcome, Tryamour. You shall pay sorely for her love, nothing can help you!"
They smote together with fierce hearts, Tryamour alone against the two, and he was quite ready to fight. Their armor gave no protection as Tryamour made their blood burst throughout back and bone. They gave each other mighty strokes, and that lasted amazingly long without any rest. The brothers went about so fast that they gave Tryamour much grief, I tell you by God's grace!
Tryamour's horse was trustworthy, and they came at the knight so hard that his shield flew all to pieces. In that time there were no such three, and they were so doughty that it was a wonder to see. But at the last, Tryamour cast down the one brother. Then the other was afraid and would no longer stay, but rode forth a way and hovered on his steed. As soon as Tryamour had slain the other, his brother was sorrowful and would gladly be avenged: "Take the grace that God will send me, I would rather die than flee." With that he turned around and went at Tryamour with his sword and slew Tryamour's steed, his strength was so strong. Tryamour fought on foot, and what more of him shall we tell? The other brother was slain.
Tryamour took the knight's steed, as he was afraid for the lady who was under siege. She was so worried that Tryamour didn't come, she knew not what to say. The appointed day came, and lords arrived as they had promised, many stout and gay. Burlond was there prepared and bade her to bring forth her knight, and she said curtly, "No." She had promised to defend herself in the castle with all her might as her counselors had advised, and thought "Surely if Tryamour is alive, with God's grace he shall come quickly; I am beset by enemies! For I believe he loves me well and is as true as any steel. Wherever he is in the world, if he knows of this situation he will make his way here. I dare to pledge my life on it!"
And right with that came Tryamour into the thickest part of the battle, which gave him no pleasure. He asked a man what it might mean, who told him all about the battle. Tryamour saw Burlond mounted on his horse, rode to him and challenged him for the lady.40 He said, "To defend my right I am ready to slay whoever will fight against me, or be slain."
The lady stood on a tower and thought that he was mad, for she didn't know of his might. She asked Sir Barnard, "Sir, do you recognize the knight who is armed for battle? He bears a blue crest." Sir Barnard knew him then and said, "Madam, God has sent you aid, for yonder is Sir Tryamour who will fight with Burlond."
Then that lady was very glad. They both prayed to Jesus to give Tryamour grace to succeed. Tryamour bore down on Burlond; they shattered their spears, and both fell down to the ground. They leapt up in an instant and as they fought on foot, their steeds lay quite still. Their meeting was fierce with violent blows; there was no one in the field who could choose the better of the two, they bore themselves so boldly. The battle lasted amazingly long, and they said, "However strong Burlond may be, he has found his peer."
They fought vigorously with sharp swords. Sparks flew with every stroke, and they drew wondrously close to each other. Tryamour aimed a blow, and his sword fell to the ground. Burlond was very glad, but the lady was sore afraid and knights quite distressed. Tryamour asked for his sword, but Burlond quickly questioned him: "Tell me truly what you are called and why you challenge for that bright lady. Then you can take your sword."
Sir Tryamour said, "Upon that agreement I shall not hold back my right name, were you the devil of hell! Men call me Sir Tryamour, and I tell you truly that I won that lady in combat." Then Burlond said, "It was you who slew my brother Moradas; a fortunate chance befell you there." Tryamour said with fearless heart, "I did the same to your two brothers that dwelt upon the yonder hill."
Then Burlond was most eager; "Tryamour, have no rest. Now I am well resolved that you will never get your sword again until I am avenged or slain. You have sought sorrow!" Tryamour said, "Hold your peace. You shall rue it before we cease. Go forth! I don't fear you!"
Burlond was ready to fight, but his foot slipped and he fell down, and Tryamour acted cunningly. He seized his sword and went against Burlond, serving him in a new way.41 He smote Burlond off at the knees and hacked the legs to pieces just as Burlond was about to rise. Tryamour said, "A little lower, Sir, and let us make you smaller; now we are both of one size!"42 The lady laughed loudly and Sir Barnard was quite proud and thanked God many times.
Burlond stood on his stumps; don't blame him if he was enraged. Then he fought vigorously! He hit Tryamour on the head and gave him an evil blow, but his sword broke. Tryamour said to him immediately, "Your good days are nearly done, your power is almost past." Tryamour struck at him so that his head and feet lay alike and he was cast to the ground.
Now Burlond was slain, and mighty Tryamour went to the castle. The lady who was of such power met him at the gate and took him in her arms. She said, "Welcome, Sir Tryamour, you have won my love most painfully, and I grant it to you." Then all the bold barons said, "We will hold our lands of him by common assent."43
There was nothing else to say, and they set a day when he should wed her. Tryamour sent for his mother; Barnard went after her and brought her to the court. Then Tryamour said to his mother, "Now I would know my father, for we have succeeded well. Tell me, gracious mother, who is my father and what is he called? Don't be afraid about anything."
His mother folded her fingers together and told him everything: "King Ardus of Aragon is your father; you are his son, and I was his wedded queen. Afterward I was wrongfully judged and banished out of that land. I never knew what it might mean, why it was, or understood it at all, and I was brought to grief!"
When Tryamour heard this tale of how he and his mother had fared, he wrote letters to the king and sent them, praying that if it was his wish, he would not fail to come to Hungary to honor the wedding feast. The king was wonderfully glad and gave good gifts to the messenger that brought the tidings. The appointed day arrived and the king came as he had promised, with a great and splendid retinue. The lords would wait no longer, and the maiden was brought forth with an earl on each side. They led her to the church, where she and Tryamour were wed by a bishop. Immediately after the wedding they crowned Tryamour king; they would wait no longer.
You may be sure that there was a great feast for all. Queen Margaret sat at the head of the dais and King Ardus sat by her side.44 He thought he must have seen her before and greeted her cheerfully: "If it is your wish, Madam, tell me your name without delay." "Sir," she replied, "there was a time you could recognize me, if you give it thought." The king didn't speak a word until the men had eaten and the tables removed but sat quietly in thought. Then he took the noble lady quickly to a chamber, and they called for Sir Tryamour. She said, "Here is your son, acknowledge him if you can."
Then she told him all, how Marrok wooed her after her lord left and would not stop for anything. "I said he should be drawn for his evil speech, and he said he would not continue. After that, he met me when I was with child in a wild wood and thought to murder me there. But Sir Roger slew fifteen of his men, and I escaped cleanly, they knew not where. Soon after in a wood so wild I gave birth to a child with much sorrow and care. Then Sir Barnard came, chasing a deer, and saw me.
"He said, 'Madam, what are you doing here?' and I told him my story. He sighed sadly, took up my son and me, and with generous heart led us home, and we have been there ever since."
Then there was joy and bliss to see them kiss so often before they could cease. King Ardus was never so happy. He kissed Tryamour twenty times and recognized him as his son. Then the queen was glad that she had such a lord, I tell you truly. She said, "I am fortunate that a lord who wins the prize in combat has married me."45 They remained there together, with all manner of costly dainties and pleasure on every side. King Ardus took his leave with his noble lady, and they rode home in splendor. All his land was extremely pleased that the queen was home again, and the word spread wide. King Ardus and his wife led their lives with joy and bliss.
There was much joy between King Tryamour and his queen, and they had two sons. After his father died, he didn't know what to do, he was so full of woe. He then ordained his youngest son to be king after his father. May God grant him joy!
Here ends the tale of Sir Tryamour, who was doughty in every battle and always won the victory, as the book says.
God bring us to that bliss that shall last forever without fail. Amen, amen for charity!
All writing has a meaning, even if this meaning is remote
from that which the author had dreamt of putting there.46
Little critical attention has been given to Sir Tryamour, despite its popularity from the fourteenth into the sixteenth century. Reasons may include the lack of editions, textual ambiguities and corruption, the use of stock themes, literary quality, and/or an absence of resonance for the modern reader. Whatever the reason, neglect has prevented in-depth analysis of the poem's meaning and relevance.
Such a project is beyond the scope of this necessarily brief commentary, as is the application of the multiplicity of critical theories with which to analyze the text. The discussion therefore concentrates on a basic approach of combined thematic, intertextual and cultural studies that may provide a starting point for further exploration. The belief that literature both reacts to and reflects the cultural milieu in which it was created and the impulses with which it is embedded broadens interpretive possibilities.
Sir Tryamour features a number of themes common to Middle English romance, such as the falsely accused queen, traitorous steward, the need for an heir, a young man unaware of his father's identity, separation and reunion, and chivalric adventure. Some of these themes are discussed extensively elsewhere in critical works, anthologies and editions of Middle English romances, so a few, lesser analyzed aspects are included in this commentary. Many of those themes reflect social and moral concerns that appear in literature of the period, a turbulent and transitional time with wars, internal conflicts, deposed kings, plague, and socioeconomic dynamism. As literacy rose and the vernacular became ascendant, poets and moralists, lay and clerical, voiced their responses in many forms of literature, including romances.
In Sir Tryamour, the civil war in Hungary is representative of historical internal power struggles that occurred from a variety of circumstances. The void left by the death of Helen's father allows opportunity for the seizure of power and lands and, as evidenced later by Burlond, attempts to gain the lordship through military action. Historically, situations were often complex, such as competing factions over dissatisfaction with the monarchy like the tyrannical rule of Edward II and his favoritism towards the Despensers which, along with other factors, led to armed invasion led by the queen and her lover, Roger Mortimer, and Edward's deposition and murder.47
In Helen's case, a young girl is left heir to the kingdom with no ruler to take her father's place. Realistically, transitions between reigns when the successor was young were often bridged by regents and/or councils. Edward II was crowned at age fourteen and a council was appointed, although there was strain with Mortimer, who gained wealth and power, and when civil conflict again threatened, he was sentenced to death by parliament for various crimes.48 The last years of Edward III's reign were marked with instability, discontent and distrust. After his death, a council was formed during the minority of Richard II, designed so that no one person or faction could take power, with members holding office for one year, and overseen by royal uncles to prevent bribery.49 Once Richard II had taken the throne, continued control was required to curb his tyrannical misrule, but attempts were generally unsuccessful.
Territorial disputes were another cause of conflict. Some were caused by the king's seizure of lands,50 which eventually cost Richard II the throne. Henry of Bolingbroke's return from inexplicable exile to regain his ancestral lands that Richard seized, and Henry's usurpation of the throne was the culmination of a complex and long battle between the king and political factions during his disastrous rule.
Inheritance also led to conflicts, often due to increasingly complicated land laws that could cause underlying tensions to "spill over into actual disorder"51 during times of political disturbance. Coss cites cases of landowners hiring thugs to quell resistance to their lordship.52 On a smaller scale, the literary example of the Blackthorn Sisters in Ywain and Gawain who fight over lands left by their father shows conflict at the family level. In the poem, it is submitted to judicial combat but finally settled by the king according to inheritance law.53
Many romances reflect contemporary political conditions, as well as concern over moral and ethical issues that impact both social and personal interaction. There is no direct source known for Sir Tryamour, though the anonymous poet was familiar with folkloric, legendary and romance conventions judging by his compendium of themes and values. One motif was well known in the Middle Ages from the legend of Sibella, Charlemagne's queen:54 the faithful dog. True-Love, Sir Roger's hound, represents unswerving loyalty, one of the main moral themes that runs throughout the poem.
True-Love recalls another devoted animal in Middle English romance, the lion in Ywain and Gawain. Ywain saves the beast from a dragon, and the lion would never be parted from the knight. Like True-Love, the lion helps his master in combat, and becomes the symbol of Ywain's altruistic use of his prowess to help those in need, and teaches the knight the meaning of "true love" and loyalty.
Loyalty is an aspect of the all-important concept of trouthe, which also included allegiance and fidelity, the breaking of which is seen in Marrok's treachery. Anyone familiar with medieval romance (or Tolkien) will recognize the stock figure of the steward. Almost always one-dimensional, stewards are either bad or good. Historically, stewards were very powerful.55 Thomas of Lancaster, Edward II's first cousin and steward of the land, joined the baronial opposition to the king and raised a failed rebellion against Edward, for which he was executed. Lancaster had attempted to defend and extend his power as steward,56 and the desire of stewards to protect and increase their strength is reflected in the literature. Like most bad stewards, Marrok is duplicitous and treacherous, with the added element of lasciviousness. And, like bad stewards, his punishment is death, though his accuser and executioner, True-Love, is remarkable, and his manner of death more memorable than routine methods despite their often gory depictions.
Another "bad" steward is seen in Ywain and Gawain. Jealous of the maiden Lunet's influence on their lady, he falsely accuses her of treason, and Ywain saves her through judicial combat from being burned at the stake.57 But there are trustworthy stewards. One is seen in Sir Amadace, who advises his impoverished lord and maintains the estates while Amadace leaves in order to escape humiliation over his poverty, which the steward keeps secret.58 Similarly, when Sir Orfeo leaves his kingdom, grief-stricken over the abduction of his wife, Heurodis, he leaves his lands in the care of his steward for more than ten years. Upon the recovery of Heurodis and their return home, Orfeo names the steward as his successor in reward for his faithfulness.59
The importance of succession is demonstrated in its frequent appearance in Middle English romances. The need for an heir was a pragmatic reality to ensure rightful succession, inheritance rights and lineage. It was especially important at aristocratic and royal levels for dynastic continuity. In the fourteenth century, succession became a problematic issue, with Edward II and his great-grandson Richard II being deposed, and the possibility of their successors being chosen by parliament.60 So King Ardus' desire for an heir reflects reality, as does his fear of an illegitimate child, although technically such a child could be recognized as heir, 61 which Marrok ironically condemns as "not feyre" (223) unless it is "of yowre kynne" (225).
The romances offer varying solutions. In Sir Gowther, the duke and duchess are childless and, like Ardus, she prays for an heir. But her prayer is careless and is answered by a demon who, in the guise of her husband, impregnates her with a demon child, Gowther.62 As already seen, Orfeo names his own successor, as does Ardus. Believing himself to be without an heir, he ironically chooses Sir Tryamour unaware of his identity.63 In situations where the heir is female, the father finds her a husband, usually through jousting as in Sir Amadace, and the couple produces heirs. Helen and Tryamour also have heirs, two sons, each of which can succeed to one of Tryamour's kingdoms: Aragon through his father and Hungary through his wife. In the end, they live happily together despite the near invisibility of their relationship throughout the poem.
Critics note the "lack of attention to romantic love"64 in Sir Tryamour but overlook the initially and ultimately devoted relationship between Ardus and Margaret, which is seriously fractured by Marrok. He breaks trouthe in his lack of allegiance to his lord and in falsely accusing the queen of adultery. King Ardus is somewhat complicit through his rash acceptance of Marrok's tale without having faith in his wife or fidelity to their marriage commitment.
Closely related to these values is another facet of trouthe: the keeping of one's word, oaths and promises. One of the most well-known and studied discussions over oathkeeping is found in Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, which reflects contemporary debate over the conditions under which oaths and promises must be kept, such as intent and the situation in which they are made.65 But in the romances oaths and promises must be honored. Several are made in Sir Tryamour, some kept and others broken. The testing of trouthe in Sir Tryamour and other late Middle English romances reflects the insecurity resulting from political, economic and social instability. In such a cultural climate, clinging to ideals that cement bonds offers a sense of safety, however illusory.
The administration of justice was one of the main factors that affected that safety, and it was greatly distrusted as expressed by moralists and authors. In protest literature, judges, lawyers and officials are accused of corruption: "Many of these assisours that serveth shire and hundred66 / Hangeth men for selver" (Simonie C 421-22).67 Men unfairly accused are either imprisoned and left to rot or hanged after a "fals enquest" (Simonie C 419-20). In "Trailbaston," the accused speaker would rather become an outlaw in the woods where "there is no deceit nor any bad law" than be held in a deep dungeon unless he pays the sheriff a ransom of forty shillings (13-15).68
The poor are victimized by lawyers who "take half a mark" (Simonie C 399) and speak words that do "lytl god" for the poor man (C 400), who leaves moaning (C 402). The poor Kentish husbandman in "London Lickpenny" who goes to every court at Westminster to plead his case finds that "For lacke of money, I may not spede" (8 and refrain).69
While protest poets attribute the corruption to greed, the romancers look at personal motivation, like partiality towards favorites, jealousy, revenge and ambition, and justice is seen in action. In Sir Tryamour, under the ideal justice system had Marrok been discovered, he would have been executed for treason, as would Margaret if the steward had not advised against it for fear of committing a sin (perhaps thinking of himself rather than Ardus). She would likely have been burned at the stake, as would the empress in The Erle of Tolous who is also falsely accused of adultery but saved through judicial combat.70
After True-Love avenges Sir Roger's death and exposes Marrok's treachery, the steward's corpse being drawn by a horse through town, hung and unceremoniously buried is conventional. But having his throat torn out by a dog is merciful compared to the fate of the two traitorous guardians in Havelok.71 One, who has murdered the hero's young sisters years earlier and seized the throne, is also dragged through town by a scabby mare, then hanged. The other, who had imprisoned Goldeboru as a child and usurped the English throne, is flayed alive, placed on the back of an ass with his nose facing the tail, led through town and burned at the stake.
In Havelok both traitors are judged and sentenced according to due process. It is questionable whether Ardus would have done the same, considering his rash exile of Margaret without evidence or investigation. Ardus' weakness as judge is reinforced by his failure to pursue the poacher (Tryamour) who kills his foresters and hold him for judgment; instead he opts to ignore justice in order to serve his own needs.
Due process does not always guarantee equitable justice. In Sir Launfal, the hero is falsely accused by Guenevere of trying to seduce her (she had been the seducer) and insulting her beauty. Like Ardus, Arthur believes the accusation without question, and "be God he swor hys oth" (722) that Launfal would be hanged and drawn, and has him taken prisoner.72 Unlike Margaret, Launfal is interrogated by the king. The knight tells his side and says he is "aredy for-to do / All that the court wyll loke" ("ordain"; 782-83).
Jurors are selected, a time set within which Launfal is to provide proof of his innocence, and two knights act as his pledges.73 On the day of sentencing as the court awaits Launfal's presentation of evidence, Guenevere pushes Arthur to condemn Launfal before it is produced. Some jurors refuse but others agree, "har lord the Kyng to queme" ("please"; 879). Launfal's fairy mistress arrives, proves him innocent, and administers the sentence legally due to Guenevere, which would not have been done by the court. Launfal leaves Arthur's unredeemable world to live in the land of Faërie.
In the romances, the burden of justice is usually placed on the king. Though the justice system was extremely complex with royal, ecclesiastical and manorial jurisdictions that sometimes overlapped, the king is seen as the head justiciar. While the Simonie-poet attacks every level of administration, the author of "Treuth, Reste and Pes" counsels kings to consider both sides of a case, at which Ardus fails, and "punysche the fals for defame" (20), for "ffalshed endes ay in shame" (23).
It does not take long to recognize the irony in that advice, since the poem is aimed at governing the people fairly to avoid another Rising. The "ffalshed" in that event was committed by the king himself, when Richard II agreed to the rebels' demands and promised pardons for all.74 Then when the revolt was suppressed, he revoked the pardons, trials were held, and many of the rebels executed.75
The shadow of the most well-known civil disturbance, the Rising of 1381,76 lingered long and contributed to the current of social unease. The author of "Treuth, Reste and Pes," which dates to the early fifteenth century, expresses fear of another rebellion and the ways by which it could be avoided. Stable government, wise counsel and fair judgment are primary but trouthe, the "messager to ryght" (9), is the source of these and other principles that maintain a peaceful society.
Trouthe encompasses a multitude of interrelated aspects that permeated the culture.77 Many were perceived as being in peril and therefore were espoused in the literature, including Sir Tryamour, in which they define the characters as manifested in their actions.
Marrok breaches trouthe in several ways: his broken allegiance to his lord, which has been noted earlier; his dishonesty; his failure to maintain knightly honor; his insincerity in love; and his lack of integrity in performing his stewardship. He violates another precept of trouthe by creating a false reality and presenting it as fact, which is philosophically deeper than the duplicity employed to achieve the misconception. Ironically, a closely related facet of trouthe is fidelity to a person's own nature which Marrok fulfills with his treachery.
The appearance of being true to one's nature is fairly uncomplicated with one-dimensional characters. Sir Roger is courteous, kind, and above all loyal, to both his lord and lady, dutifully performing a task that defied understanding or compassion, and upholds his knightly honor defending the queen. Sir Barnard is also true to knightly chivalric code by protecting a woman and child through his generous nature, and remains loyal to both for years. Without blood ties, he is nevertheless faithful to them as kin and offers the most genuine friendship. Margaret is remarkably loyal to Ardus (considering his treatment of her) and to their marriage, and is devoted to her son. Even the four brothers conform to trouthe in their fidelity to family.
Despite their loyalty to kin, the four brothers define themselves as villains not only through violence but by breaking trouthe. All four are knights and clearly defile knightly honor. Chivalric ideals came from romances and church, and in the feudal world knightly virtues included courage, loyalty, prowess, courtesy and moderation,78 as well as the protection of orphans, maidens, widows, and "those seeking aid in just quarrels."79 They functioned as "a cement, binding the social order"80 through their activities in their communities.
However, that ideal applied to the elite knights of high social rank like Ardus and Barnard. Moradas, Burlond and their brothers do not conform to this profile and all four lack the moral soundness and knightly honor demanded by trouthe. They possess prowess but do not use it in the service of others in need or for justice. When Sir James is killed attacking Tryamour, the emperor avenges his son's death by besieging Ardus rather than seeking satisfaction through judicial combat, which is suggested by Ardus' emissary. Moradas acts as the emperor's champion, though it is unclear whether he does so out of loyalty or for the love of combat. The latter may be suspected from his refusal to accept Tryamour's steed in place of his own which Tryamour accidentally kills. He prefers to repay Tryamour's stroke and win the horse "wyth ryght" (1230). Tryamour complies with chivalric courtesy, as does Sir Galeron in The Awntyrs off Arthure, who offers Gawain a steed after striking off the head of Gawain's horse, though that is mitigated by the fact that he apparently killed it deliberately. But Gawain, grief-stricken over his horse's death and set on revenge, refuses the offer and they fight on foot.
The brothers who guard the pass so that Tryamour cannot reach Hungary and Helen abet Burlond in preventing Tryamour from keeping the promise they believe he has made to aid Helen and break his betrothal commitment, both facets of trouthe. Burlond adds to these offenses by making his own promise to wed Helen, thus perverting the sanctity of oathkeeping and sincerity in love. Burlond's refusal to keep his promise to return Tryamour's sword compounds his transgression against the keeping of promises and knightly honor, which he violates by assaulting Helen, her land and people, while Tryamour fulfills the chivalric ideal by protecting her. But does that justify Tryamour's savagery in combat against Burlond?
Tryamour is a fairly flat character whose actions raise questions about knightly honor and conduct. His virtues are briefly sketched: he is well liked and respectful in his youth, loyal to kin and friends, and charitable. Some aspects of trouthe and attributes appropriate to a romance hero are either not displayed or are present but blemished by his behavior, such as integrity, humility, altruism, courtesy and largesse. Whether he is constant in romantic love is ambiguous, since his relationship with Helen is defined by her love for him based on his martial strength, and he makes no declarations of love. His keeping of promises is similarly equivocal. He never meets Helen during the tournament and thus presumably makes no promises to her; they must be assumed by his acceptance of the prize, lordship of her lands. The promises he makes and keeps during combat to reveal his name have the ring of pride and challenge rather than trouthe.
Tryamour's dominant attribute is prowess, which is displayed in what critics consider an extraordinary number of combat scenes.81 Prowess is one of the knightly virtues, but the romances insist that it be used properly and honorably in action and intent. The same is true of renown, which can be sought for either social and chivalric reputation, or for the self-aggrandizement which meets with disapprobation by poets. Tryamour teeters on the brink of both, gaining in arrogance as his fame and victories grow.
The most crucial quality of Tryamour's character is his motivation for glory-seeking. He may be proving himself worthy of respect by the chivalric community, his family, and his unknown father, although his interest in finding him seems subsumed by his desire to claim his lordship of Hungary. He may also be trying to meet the criteria set by Helen, though presumably he is unaware of her initial requirements of military strength and nobility set before the tournament with her council. His chivalric courtesy slowly erodes, first in his haughty laughter at the brothers and their vengeful quest, then culminating in his taunting of Burlond as he hacks him to pieces. His seemingly uncharacteristic savagery may have been sparked by moral offense at his opponent's broken promise to return his sword or, more likely, wrath at having his winnings threatened. His defense of Helen is also protection of his rights, another questionable exercise of knightly obligation. So a seemingly one-dimensional character presents multi-dimensional issues.
Ardus is the most complex character in Sir Tryamour and perhaps the most human. Trouthe is an ideal intended as a guide towards moral behavior. As seen so far in Sir Tryamour, the exemplary figures honor trouthe and the villains do not. But in many Middle English romances, characterization is more complex and human frailty often causes breaches of trouthe; characters falter and must regain their balance. In Ywain and Gawain the hero succeeds, but in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain's inability to accept his misstep raises the question whether perfect trouthe can, or should, be achieved.
In Sir Tryamour, Ardus is obviously a flawed character who both honors and breaks trouthe. Ramsey extols his virtues as "faithfulness, humility, a certain amount of intelligence and a sense of justice," which outweigh his weaknesses: "gullibility" in believing Marrok's accusation of the queen's adultery, defeat by Tryamour in the joust, and inability to fight off the emperor's attack.82 However, Ramsey's assessment is questionable. Ardus starts out well enough going on crusade, even though with the hope of reward, and displaying constancy in love towards his wife. That constancy is soon shattered by his lack of faith, but after that serious stumble he displays knightly honor by coming to Tryamour's aid when attacked by Sir James. But when besieged by the emperor, as a defense he breaks trouthe with the lie that he was not involved in killing Sir James. Then, desperate to find a champion, Ardus fails to administer justice for the death of the foresters Tryamour kills, and instructs his emissaries to use guile to draw the unknown poacher to court on account of his prowess. He generously offers to make Tryamour his heir for acting as his champion, but his motives may be suspect as he works on his dual agenda of needing a strong knight to meet the emperor's champion, and of finding an heir.
Ardus is at once courageous and honorable, and duplicitous and manipulative. Ironically, this is seen by the audience but not Tryamour, who experiences only the fair side of his father. Having been fostered by Sir Barnard, Tryamour had a role model unlike his biological father who, like Gawain, is subject to human weakness. Unlike Gawain, Ardus is apparently not conscience-stricken over his breaches of trouthe. He places the blame for Margaret's exile on Marrok's advice, not his own faithlessness, and is facile with his lack of truthfulness.
This commentary ends not with the title character but with Ardus who, along with Margaret, is introduced at the beginning of the poem as the subject of the tale and the "bale and blys" (80) of their marital relationship from which an "ensaumpull" (10) would be learned. Certainly much is taught about loyalty, but as has been seen that is not the only "ensaumpull" presented by the poet. Perhaps one lesson is that like Ardus, humans are innately imperfect, or that unlike Ardus one should recognize and correct one's flaws and strive for (impossible) perfection. That is for the audience to decide.
Manuscripts & Editions
1 Tail rhyme poetry is most often comprised of twelve lines per stanza, rhyming aab ccb ddb eeb, with the "tail rhyme" line usually shorter than the others. In Sir Tryamour, the stanzas are irregular, ranging from three to eighteen lines.
2 Fellows xvii.
3 Hudson 176.
4 Schmidt 2.
5 Fellows xviii.
6 Schmidt 3, Halliwell 61. The 75-line Rawlinson fragment is printed in Halliwell's edition, pp. 61-63.
7 Sir Tryamour, Four Middle English Romances, ed. Harriet Hudson (TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1996).
8 Holy invocations are a common introduction and ending to Middle English romances.
9 The medieval Kingdom of Aragon, located on the Iberian Peninsula, was one of the separate kingdoms/states that were eventually united into the country of Spain.
10 There is a Sir Marrok mentioned twice in Malory's Le Morte Darthur. Once as King Arthur's bodyguard during the war with Emperor Lucius (Book V, Ch. 8), and again during the healing of Sir Urre: "Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his wife, for she made him seven year a werewolf" (Book XIX, Ch. 11). Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (New York: J. M. Dent, 1972). Malory's werewolf source is unknown, but it has similarities with Marie de France's twelfth-century lai Bisclavret, the tale of a wife who traps her nobleman husband in his werewolf state and remarries. He takes vengeance by biting off her nose, which exposes her infidelity to the court. In Sir Tryamour Sir Marrok is the antithesis of Malory's faithful king's man or Marie's loyal knight. Ironically, the knight turned beast recalls Sir Roger's devoted dog, True-Love: helping Sir Roger in battle, attempting to heal his wounded master, guarding his grave, and attacking his betrayer whose treachery is thus revealed to the king.
11 Hudson interprets this as a proverbial expression meaning "as true the steel spear is to the wooden shaft" (228n).
12 This type of authorial intrusion gives the sense of oral recitation as announced in the opening stanza.
13 Crusaders called by Urban II in 1095 were to vow not to turn back before reaching Jerusalem, and wore a red cross on their shoulders as a token of their vow. Richard Barber, The Knight and Chivalry (Rev. ed. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1990) 255.
14 The text reads "pylgrymage," but he initiallly set off on crusade to defend the Holy Lands. Hudson states that "crusading and pilgrimage to the Holy Land were spiritually and geographically analogous, not to mention historically linked" (229n). Crusades were militarily motivated (at least nominally) by spiritual fervor though they could also be financially rewarding. Pilgrimages were (also sometimes nominally) a spiritual journey. It therefore seems likely that the poet's use of "pilgrimage" infers a mission.
15 Due to the ambiguous pronoun antecedent "they," it is unclear whether the courtiers or queen tell the king of her pregnancy, though the next line suggests it was the former.
16 The original text reads "so mote Y the," a stock tag to fill a line and/or supply end rhyme, equivalent to "I swear" or "on my life." These and other similar phrases have frequently been eliminated in this translation when disruptive to the narrative unless it is a meaningful affirmation as here.
17 In addition to the definition of deed or action, the word "dede" that is used in the original text means "an act of copulation, sexual intercourse" (MED 7c). As sometimes occurs, the medieval audience would be aware of this, but there is no modern equivalent that captures the prosody. Phrases such as "in the act," "having sex," or "making love" cast an inappropriate modernity into the text.
18 Generally, a distinction is made between a stede (steed), which was used in combat, and a riding horse, palfrey, but the terms are used interchangeably in this poem.
19The phrase "wayne wyth the wynd" (l. 246) is problematic. Hudson glosses it as "leave with the swiftness of the wind" (229n), and Schmidt, unable to trace it elsewhere, takes it to mean "clear out with the swiftness of the wind" (89n). In Fellows' edition alone it is "wayve wyth the wynde," which she interprets as "hang from the gallows." Her gloss may be supported by the appearance of the phrase in the fifteenth-century "Nut Brown Maid" cited by Jusserand in which a robber tells his betrothed of the perils of outlawry. If caught, he will be hanged "and waver with the wynde" (142). In one interpretation Sir Roger is simply the queen's guide and blameless if they do not leave the land within the specified time, and the other holds him responsible. Anna Johanna Schmidt, ed., Syr Tryamowre: A Metrical Romance (Utrecht: Broekhoff, 1937); Jennifer Fellows, ed., Syr Tryamowre, Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance (London: J. M. Dent, 1993); J. J. Jusserand, English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages, trans. Lucy Toulmin Smith (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 4th ed., 1950).
20 Common hawthorn grows in dense, thorny thickets under which shelter can be found and are used as hedges to contain livestock. Hawthorn was believed to possess powers to protect against evil and was a symbol of hope.
21 Sir Barnard is identified as a "messengere," though clearly he is more than one who carries messages as a courier. Hudson suggests that he is an emissary or herald, perhaps for the king, and that his hunting a hart indicates chivalric status (230), although he has already been identified as a knight. Hunting deer was restricted to royal or manorial preserves. According to MED definition 1b, a "messengere" might be in the service of the king or a lord, a professional messenger or courier, or an envoy or ambassador. His high social status is reflected in his household.
22 In Celtic symbolism, the linden (lime) tree represented altruism and selflessness, which is seen in Sir Barnard's rescue and harboring of mother and baby. In medieval times the tree was believed to influence truthfulness, as when Margaret tells Barnard her name to which she swears "be God a vowe" (435). Ironically, it was also seen as a symbol of conjugal love, which King Ardus breaks with his lack of faith.
23 Tryamour is the name of the fairy mistress in Sir Launfal. The meaning of "Tryamour" is unclear. The obvious are "Try-amour," which Laskaya and Salisbury relate to "test or try love," and perhaps "Tri," "three," for which they offer various scholars' conjectures. They favor "choice love" (247-48). The name has linguistic echoes of Sir Roger's dog, True-Love, which may be related to the dog, the knight and Launfal's fairy mistress, all of whom show devoted love. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury, eds., Sir Launfal, The Middle English Breton Lays, ed. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995).
24 Fellows notes that it is unclear what work Margaret teaches Tryamour and cites a similar situation in Emaré, in which the heroine "taughte her sone nortowre" ("taught her son courtesy"; 731) (Fellows 306). In Lay le Freine, the foundling child is raised by the abbess, who "hir gan teche and beld" ("began to teach and raise her"; 237) so that the girl was "fre" ("generous"; 257), "hende of mouth" ("gracious in her speech"; 265), and admired for her "gentrise" ("gentility"; 268). Lay le Freine, The Middle English Breton Lays, ed. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salibury (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995).
25 "Estate" refers to social rank. Ostensibly based on the three-estate model, which was an ideal never fully operational, society had become increasingly complex by the fourteenth century with the rising bourgeoisie and shifting class relationships, especially after the onset of the Plague in 1348-49. Nevertheless, the ideal persisted and the implication in the poem is that Tryamour was loved by all, from aristocrat to servant, in a manner appropriate to their station.
26 In the mid fourteenth century, Geoffroi de Charny, warrior and writer of books on chivalry, asserts that the threat of knightly power maintains law and order and supports a ruler's authority (Barber 137).
27 "He is not fit for battle who has not seen his own blood flow, who has not heard his teeth crunch under the blow of an opponent, or felt the weight of his adversary upon him," which was experienced in jousting in preparation for war. Hovedon's Chronica, qtd. in Maurice Keen, England in the Later Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 1973) 88.
28 In Ywain and Gawain, the combat between the two knights lasts so long (until dark) that "therefore to rest thai both tham yelde" (3615). Ywain and Gawain, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
29 These passages contain some obscurities. First, Sir James is apparently accompanied by a host unmentioned until "they" surround and attack Tryamour. Fellows suggests the fighting between Sir James' and King Ardus' hosts then become a series of single combats, rather than a mêlée (307n).
30 The king had come to Tryamour's aid against Sir James, and joined the fray. The only benefit of doubt that can be given to King Ardus' claim of innocence is that he considered the battle between Tryamour and Sir James to have been fought personally between the two despite the presence of other combatants.
31 Fellows notes that no promise is known and refers to the aid Tryamour promised Helen of Hungary (307n), although that is not articulated in the poem. Tryamour leaves immediately after the joust and there is no textual evidence of their meeting or speaking with each other. Therefore it must be implicit that by accepting the victory of the joust in Hungary, for which Helen was the prize, Tryamour plights his troth to her and accepts lordship of her lands, which is the promise to which his mother refers. This is supported by Tryamour's obedience to her direction and his setting off to speak to his love, although he gets diverted by the desire for adventure.
32 Kings kept private preserves that were maintained by foresters. Unauthorized hunting was forbidden and carried heavy penalties.
33 Hunters blew their horn after slaying a deer.
34 Again, a reference to social rank of inhabitants of the manor, from aristocrats to servants and workers.
35 As elsewhere, the math is faulty; there were originally twelve foresters. Earlier, Sir Roger is reported to have killed forty of Marrok's men, but in recounting the incident to Ardus upon their reunion, Margaret recalls fifteen slain.
36 As tournaments became more organized and spectators were more a part of the proceedings, fields were enclosed, "barred," inside fences for protection. Richard Barber and Juliet Barker, Tournaments: Jousts, Chivalry and Pageants in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1989) 193.
37 Fellows notes that the killing of a horse by a blow intended for its rider is usually done accidentally by the hero (308). However, Tryamour's horse is deliberately killed in combat by Moradas's brother. Compare also to The Awntyrs off Arthure in which Gawain's opponent strikes off the head of Grissell, Gawain's beloved steed, in combat over a territorial dispute (540-41). The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
38 The expression "winning one's spurs" means proving oneself as a knight.
39 A palmer was a pilgrim who wore a palm-shaped badge that indicated return from the Holy Land, and those who visited many pilgrimage sites. The badges were sold at all sites. Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams, A Dictionary of Medieval Terms & Phrases (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004) 210.
40 The text reads "waged his glove" (1472), the gesture of challenge.
41 Perhaps following MED definition 3a of "gyse," Fellows proposes glossing the line "and servyd hym on the newe gyse" (1551) as "and tricked him out in the latest fashion," and suggests it is a "grim joke" (308n). Extravagant dress was criticized as part of the deterioration of knighthood.
42 Burlond is apparently a giant but no mention of his size is made in the text until Tryamour cuts off his legs to make the two men of equal height.
43 The barons agree to acknowledge Tryamour as their liege lord.
44 The dais was the high table, and the head was the seat of honor.
45 This passage is ambiguous, since there are two queens, Margaret and Helen. From the comments regarding winning of prizes, it may be inferred that Helen is the speaker referring to Tryamour.
46 Jean-Paul Sartré, Presentation des Temps Modernes, qtd. Pierre Machery, A Theory of Literary Production, trans. Geoffrey Wall (London: Routledge, 1978) 78.
47 May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959) 94.
48 Ibid. 101.
49 Ibid. 412.
50 Though not always followed, there were a number of ways in which the king could reclaim lands from tenants-in-chief who held land directly from the king, the nominal owner of all England. See James Bothwell, "Edward III and the 'New Nobility,' Largesse and Limitation in Fourteenth-Century England," English Historical Review (1997): 1111-40.
51 Peter Coss, The Knight in Medieval England 1000-1400 (Conshohocken, PA: Combined Books, 1993) 112.
53 Ywain and Gawain, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
54 Fellows xvii; Hudson 229n.
55 See Dinah Hazell,"'Trewe Man' or 'Wicke Traitour': The Steward in Late Middle English Literature," Medieval Forum 6 (2007).
56 J. R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 1307-1322: A Study in the Reign of Edward II (London: Oxford UP, 1970) 242-43, 289-90.
57 By the reign of Edward I (1272-1307), the judicial duel had become uncommon, and although still practiced in the fourteenth century, it had become rare. George Neilson, Trial by Combat from before the Middle Ages to 1819 A.D. (Boston: G. A. Jackson Law Publisher, 1909) 147.
58 Sir Amadace, Six Middle English Romances, ed. and introd. Maldwyn Mills (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1973).
59 Sir Orfeo, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
60 Oren Falk, "The Son of Orfeo: Kingship and Compromise in a Middle English Romance," Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30.2 (2000): 269.
61 Fellows 305.
62 Sir Gowther, Six Middle English Romances, ed. and introd. Maldwyn Mills (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1973).
63 In Chaucer's Clerk's Tale, the people beg their lord, Walter, to marry so that they will not suffer under a strange successor should he have no heir. He marries the poverty-stricken "patient" Griselda and children are produced, but their marriage, as is well known, is the painful tale of Walter's obsessive testing of his wife's obedience and loyalty.
64 Hudson 175; Lee C. Ramsey, Chivalric Romances: Popular Literature in Medieval England (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983) 164.
65 See Richard Firth Green, A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1999).
66 The shire (county) was divided into Hundreds, which comprised one hundred homesteads, for administrative and judicial purposes. The sheriff presided over the shire court, and the bailiff over the Hundred court (Embree and Urquhart 133).
67 The Simonie: A Parallel-text Edition, ed. Dan Embree and Elizabeth Urquhart (Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitaetsverlag, 1991).
68 "Trailbaston," Anglo-Norman Political Songs, ed. and trans. Isabel S. T. Aspin (Oxford: Basil Blackwell for the Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1953). The poem, dated 1305, was written in response to the Articles of Trailbaston, ordinances to control outlaws and their supporters. The first commissions were instituted in 1304 (Coredon and Williams 278). According to the author and documentation, the system was abused (Aspin 67-68).
69 "London Lickpenny," Medieval English Political Writings, ed. James M. Dean (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1996).
70 The Erle of Tolous, Of Love and Chivalry: An Anthology of Middle English Romance, ed. Jennifer Fellows (London: J. M. Dent, 1993).
71 Havelok, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
72 Thomas Chestre, Sir Launfal, Middle English Romances, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).
73 Sir Launfal, late fourteenth century, is based directly on Sir Landevale (early fourteenth century) and derives from Marie de France's Lanval (twelfth century), in which the legal proceedings are believed to be based on an actual trial for felony. A. J. Bliss, ed., Sir Launfal (New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1960) 22. All three poems retain the concentration on legal process.
74 McKisack 411.
75 Ibid., 419.
76 Traditionally known as the Peasants' Revolt, the event is also called the Rising due to recent historical discussion that participants were from lower to middling and upper middling classes, both rural and urban, including officials, tradesmen, craftsmen, and artisans in addition to the poor. See Christopher Dyer, "The Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381," and A. F. Butcher, "English Urban Society and the Revolt of 1381," The English Rising of 1381, ed. R. H. Hilton and T. H. Aston (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984).
77 Among the definitions included in the MED for trouthe are: fidelity to one's country, kin, friends, etc.; loyalty; genuine friendship; faithfulness; fidelity in love; devotion; marital fidelity; a promise, oath, pledge of loyalty; betrothal; honor, integrity; adherence to one's plighted word; nobility of character, knightly honor; goodness or rectitude of character, moral soundness; reality, absolute truth; a factual statement.
78 Peter Coss, The Knight in Medieval England 1000-1400 (Conshohocken, PA: Combined Books, 1993) 110.
79 Ibid. 121.
80 Ibid. 113.
81 Hudson 175.
82 Ramsey 164.
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