Home  »  The Cambridge History of English and American Literature  »  § 8. The Tale of Gamelyn

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

XVII. Later Transition English

§ 8. The Tale of Gamelyn

The middle of the fourteenth century gave us The Tale of Gamelyn which is dealt with elsewhere as a metrical romance and in connection with the works of Chaucer. It forms an admirable link between the courtly romance and the poetry of the outlaws of the greenwood. A younger brother, despoiled of his share in the inheritance, is ill-clothed and given poor food by his eldest brother, handed over to understrappers to be thrashed and otherwise maltreated. But, after the fashion of Havelok, Gamelyn proves himself adept at the staff and strong in the arm; and, after a fair supply of adventures, with much success and after further tribulation, he becomes head of a forest band of young outlaws; furthermore, after justice has been done to his unnatural brother, be becomes king’s officer in the woodland. It is a “loveless” tale of the earlier Stevenson kind; no courtly dame has part or parcel therein; nevertheless, in the form in which we now have it, The Tale of Gamelyn is quite excellent, is, in fact, typically English in its sense of free life and open air.