Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/395
Vitæ' (c. 1350), and Chaucer mentions the romance about him in his 'Rime of Sir Thopas' (c. 1380). In 1430 reference was made to Guy in the Spanish romance 'Tirante el blanco.'
It was in the fourteenth century that the story was first adopted as authentic history by the chroniclers. Peter Langtoft, in his rhyming chronicle (1308?), which Robert Mannyng or de Brunne translated about 1338, describes Guy of Warwick as slaying 'Colbrant' the Dane. Walter of Exeter [see Exeter, Walter of,fl. 1301] is said to have written a life of Guy while living at St. Caroc in Cornwall, and some fifty years later Girardus Cornubiensis [see Girardus] produced his 'DeGestis Regum West-Saxonum,' which contained in serious prose a very full account of Guy's heroic exploits. Walter of Exeter's biography is known only through a mention of it by Bale. The suggestion that this work was the original Norman-French poem has nothing to support it. Girardus's work only survives in quotations imbedded in the 'Liber de Hyda,' or Rudborne's 'Chronicle,' both completed in the fifteenth century. The 'Liber de Hyda' preserves Girardus's version of the fight between Guy and the giant Colbrand, which is stated to be cap. xi. of the original chronicle. This is quoted again at the end of a manuscript of Higden's 'Polychronicon' (Magdalen College, Oxford, 147), and was printed by Hearne in an appendix to the 'Annals of Dunstable,' ii. 825-30. It has been suggested that Walter of Exeter and Girardus Cornubiensis are one and the same person. At any rate it seems probable that the lives of Guy which went under their two names were at most points identical. Girardus identifies the scene of Guy's duel with Colbrand as 'The Hyde's Mede,' afterwards the site of Hyde Abbey, near Winchester. Henry Knighton (fl. 1366), another chronicler who treats Guy as historical, locates his battles in the vale of Chilcombe, which belonged to the cathedral priory of St. Swithun's, or Old Minster, a monastic establishment in Winchester, in perpetual rivalry with Hyde Abbey. That the story, as Girard and Knighton prove, was well known in Winchester in the fourteenth century is further shown by the fact that the bishop, Adam de Orleton, on visiting the priory of St. Swithun's about 1338, was entertained by a 'canticum Colbrandi.' Lydgate versified Girard's story about 1450. There are manuscripts of Lydgate's version in the Bodleian Library (Laud Misc. 683) and the British Museum (Harl. MS. 7333, f. 35b). Revised by John Lane, it was licensed for the press in 1617 (cf. Harl. MS. 5243), but it was never printed.
Whatever place Guy held in Winchester tradition, it was at Warwick that his traditional history received its final development. In 1268 William de Beauchamp succeeded his uncle William Mauduit as Earl of Warwick, and was the first of the many powerful earls of Warwick of the Beauchamp line. William named his son Guy because (it has been suggested) he claimed descent from the legendary Guy. This Guy de Beauchamp [q. v.] died in 1315. It was doubtless in his honour rather than in that of the Guy of the legend that a descendant, Thomas, earl of Warwick [see Beauchamp, Thomas de], built Guy's Tower at Warwick Castle at the end of the fourteenth century. Thomas's son, Earl Richard [see Beauchamp, Richard de, 1382-1439], a chivalric warrior, who was the hero of almost as many adventures as the legendary Guy, asserted unmistakably his descent from that hero. Two miles from Warwick is a rock overlooking the Avon, which was until the fifteenth century known as 'Kibbecliue' or 'Gibbeclyve.' This spot Earl Richard seems to have identified, in accord with some vague local tradition, with the hermitage where Guy in the legend died, although the romance describes the cell as in the woods of Arden. The place, 'Kibbecliue,' has long been known as Guy's Cliffe. There Earl Richard erected a chantry or chapel for the repose of the souls of the legendary Guy and others of his ancestors, and provided endowment for the maintenance of two priests (1422-3). In the chapel was placed a stone statue said to represent the legendary Guy. One of the first priests of the chantry was John Rous, who adopted all the legends of the hero Guy of Warwick. He assumed without hesitation that the Beauchamp earls of Warwick were Guy's lineal descendants, and asserted that when Earl Richard was travelling in Palestine in 1410 the Soldan's lieutenant, having read the story of his ancestor in books of his own language, invited the earl to his palace and feasted him royally. Rous's manuscript account of Guy's life is among the Ashmolean MSS. at Oxford, and was literally followed by Dugdale in his 'History of Warwickshire.' Since Leland's time visitors to Warwick and its neighbourhood have been shown reputed relics of the hero in Warwick Castle and elsewhere. John Caius in 1552 describes at length the rib of a gigantic cow said to have been slain by Guy, and exhibited at Warwick Castle (see De Canibus, &c.) This is still on view there, together with a large vessel made of bell-metal (said to contain 120 gallons, and called Guy's Porridge Pot), and several enormous pieces of armour said to have been worn by Guy. The pot is
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