Two Medieval Outlaws: Eustace the Monk and Fouke Fitz Waryn
Edited by Glyn S. Burgess
Eustace the Monk and Fouke Fitz Waryn belong in the great tradition of medieval outlaws, and aspects of their lives, part-fact, part-fiction, find a reflection in the life of that most famous of all outlaws, Robin Hood. Glyn Burgess puts into modern English the two romances of the thirteenth century which relate their deeds, Li Romans de Witasse le Moine and Fouke le Fitz Waryn. He presents the historical reality of their respective `heroes’, important but neglected figures: both were born around 1170; both broke with their overlords, the Count of Boulogne and King John, at around the same time; and both spent a period as outlaws, during which they toyed with their lords and exacted revenge for the injustice they suffered. Eustace was not only an outlaw and a sea captain, but a pirate and magician; he was one of the most feared men of his day. Fouke’s life was dominated by his attempt to take possession of Whittington Castle in Shropshire, to which his family laid claim. Alongside the historical discussion of the lives of the protagonists of the two romances, Glyn Burgess reveals the multiple layers of the romances themselves: historically verifiable facts, information which cannot be proved but rings true, and a wide range of material which is manifestly imaginary, containing stock motifs also found in other romances of the period. His bringing to life of two forgotten outlaws is a fascinating context for his spirited translation of the romances.