Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Gawain-Poet

c.1400

England

Manuscript

This is the unique manuscript of four outstanding poems by the same anonymous author from the North West Midlands, writing towards the end of the fourteenth century: Pearl; Cleanness; Patience; and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The last of these—one of the greatest narrative poems in English—brilliantly mingles religious and chivalric debates with a romance story. Fol. 90v (fol. 94v in the more recent pencil foliation) depicts the point in the poem when Gawain has struck off the Green Knight's head, but he walks across the hall and picks it up, before reminding Gawain of his obligation to face a return blow in a year's time. At the end of the poem (fol. 124v (pencil foliation 128v)), a later hand has written the motto of the Order of the Garter, ‘Hony soyt qui mal pence’ (shame to him that thinks ill of it). On fol. 125r (pencil foliation 129r) is an illustration showing Gawain’s encounter with his host's wife, Lady Bertilak, who tests his virtue to the limit, finally persuading him to take and conceal a girdle. This breaks Gawain’s agreement with Bertilak to exchange everything each man ‘wins’ during the day, and puts both Gawain’s reputation and his life in peril.

Comments

27/11/2012

Alison Prince

Thank you for your message. The manuscript has two different sets of folio numbers, one in ink and another in pencil. We've now added both to our descriptions to make sure there is no confusion.

12/11/2012

Chris Rawlings

The reference for the image you have for Sir Gawain and the Green knight (holding an axe)

should be 94v and not 90v. Please can you amend this. Thank you

<em>Sir Gawain and the Green Knight</em>
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