Guy, Earl of Warwick

An Anglo-Danish hero of wonderful puissance. He was in love with fair Phelis or Felice, who refused to listen to his suit till he had distinguished himself by knightly deeds. First, he rescued the daughter of the Emperor of Germany “from many a valiant knight;” then he went to Greece to fight against the Saracens, and slew the doughty Coldran, Elmaye King of Tyre, and the soldan himself. Then returned he to England and wedded Phelis; but in forty days he returned to the Holy Land, where he redeemed Earl Jonas out of prison, slew the giant Amarant, and many others. He again returned to England, and slew at Winchester, in single combat, Colbronde or Colbrand, the Danish giant, and thus redeemed England from Danish tribute. At Windsor he slew a boar of “passing might and strength.” On Dunsmore Heath he slew the “Dun-cow of Dunsmore, a monstrous wyld and cruell beast.” In Northumberland he slew a dragon “black as any cole,” with lion's paws, wings, and a hide which no sword could pierce. Having achieved all this, he became a hermit in Warwick, and hewed himself a cave a mile from the town. Daily he went to his own castle, where he was not known, and begged bread of his own wife Phelis. On his death-bed he sent Phelis a ring, by which she recognised her lord, and went to close his dying eyes. (890-958). His combat with Colbrand is very elaborately told by Drayton (1563-1631) in his Polyolbion.

“I am not Sampson, nor Sir Guy, nor Colbrand, to mow them down before me.” —Shakespeare: Henry VIII., v. 3.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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