Ywain and Gawain

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Ywain and Gawain is an early-fourteenth century Middle English Arthurian verse romance based quite closely upon the late-twelfth century Old French romance The Knight of the Lion by Chrétien de Troyes.[1]


Ywain, one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, while at Arthur's court hears from Sir Colgrevance about an encounter he had with a knight, who defeated him in a fight. Ywain sets out, kills the knight and marries the knight's widow Alundyne with the aid of her serving-lady Lunet (or Lunette), moving into the castle of Alundyne's late husband. However, when Arthur and his men visit them, Gawain encourages Ywain to go off adventuring, leaving his wife behind. During their adventures the two are separated, then find themselves fighting each other but recognise each other and are reunited. Ywain returns to his wife Alundyne and with Lunet's help they are reconciled.[2][3]


The story of Ywain and Gawain is found in a single manuscript dating to the fifteenth century.[4] There are no known printed versions prior to nineteenth and twentieth century transcriptions of this unique manuscript text. The poem is 4032 lines, in rhyming couplets, condensing Chrétien's 6818 lines by concentrating upon the action of the story at the expense of descriptive detail, psychology, and wordplay.[5][2]

This unique survival is found in British Library MS Cotton Galba E ix., a manuscript without any illustrations and which dates to the early-fifteenth century.[6]


  1. ^ Brewer, Derek. 1983. English Gothic Literature. Schocken Books, New York. p 86.
  2. ^ a b "Ywain and Gawain", The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Edited by Dinah Birch. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 31 August 2012
  3. ^ "Introduction to Ywain and Gawain", Mary Flowers Braswell, Rochester University website
  4. ^ Braswell, Mary Flowers. 1995. Sir Perceval of Galles and Ywain and Gawain. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University for TEAMS.
  5. ^ Brewer, Derek. 1983.
  6. ^ Evans, Murray J. 1995. Rereading Middle English Romance: Manuscript Layout, Decoration, and the Rhetoric of Composite Structure. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

External links[edit]

  • Ywain and Gawain, from Sir Perceval of Galles and Ywain and Gawain, edited by Mary Flowers Braswell, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995.