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<I>The Taill of Rauf Coilyear</I>, Hardback Book

<I>The Taill of Rauf Coilyear</I> Hardback

Edited by Ralph, III Hanna

Part of the Scottish Text Society Fifth Series series


The author of the fifteenth-century Older Scots romance of Rauf Coilyear may be unknown, but the popularity of this comic king-in-disguise tale is undisputed; it is cited by William Dunbar and Gavin Douglas at the turn of the century, and again in the mid-sixteenth century Complaynt of Scotland.

The disguised king in this case is Charlemagne, and the hero a bluff collier called Ralph, who unwittingly plays host to him for one stormy night and teaches his bemused guest some rough lessons in his own version of courtesy.

When Ralph is lured to court, the mistaken identities continue as he encounters the great Sir Roland and battles Saracens.

Throughout, the scrappy hero maintains his dignity, as indeed does his king: both parties finish the tale immensely pleased with each other and with the bond they have forged. The text survives only in a 1572 print by Robert Lekpreuik (whose own career seems to have been only marginally less exciting than Rauf's: he printed it in St Andrews while attempting to evade imprisonment in Edinburgh, ultimately without success).

It is edited here with an introduction and notes. RALPH HANNA is Emeritus Professor of Palaeography, University of Oxford.




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