“The Challenge of an Ancestor of the Earl of Warwick”: The Guînes pas d'armes of 1413

Yin Liu


On January 6-8, 1413, in a field outside Guînes, near Calais, an English knight fought in an elaborately staged tournament against three French knights on three successive days, revealing his identity only on the last day. This exploit is enthusiastically described in two sources: the Beauchamp Pageant, British Library MS Cotton Julius E.iv, art. 6, fols. 13v-16r; and the text presented here, from British Library MS Lansdowne 285, the “Grete Boke” of Sir John Paston. Although the narrative does not name its protagonist, referring to him throughout as “the seide lorde,” “my lorde,” or “my seide lorde,” he was clearly Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (1401-39), as the independent account of this event in the Beauchamp Pageant attests. According to Enguerrand de Monstrelet, the Earl of Warwick was campaigning in the Calais area at the end of 1412; he must therefore have spent Christmas in Calais before staging this event.

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