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[Court of King Arthur] The History of Tarquin and Lancelot du Lake.
[Court of King Arthur] The History of Tarquin and Lancelot du Lake.

[Court of King Arthur] The History of Tarquin and Lancelot du Lake.

An unrecorded 18th century broadside commemorating Sir Lancelot du Lake and Sir Tarquin’s hand-to-hand combat battle.

The sheet was sold to tourists at Tamworth Castle in Tamworth, Staffordshire where a 16th century mural on the castle’s Great Wall depicted the fight. The mural was whitewashed over in 1783. (Friends of Tamworth Castle and Museum)

The broadside states: “If Travellers who pass that way [Tamworth Castle], On Serjeant Willcox call, He to this Day can shew these Knights Fighting against a Wall.”  Prefatory text wraps around a woodcut of Sir Tarquin falling to the ground, mortally wounded by Lancelot.

Based on Thomas Deloney’s The Noble Acts newly found, Of Arthur of the Table Round, the verse has has 144 lines consisting of 36 hymnal stanza quatrains.

A lesser-known character in Arthurian lore, Tarquin had imprisoned 44 knights of King Arthur’s court. When Lancelot confronts him, Tarquin at first does not recognize him as the slayer of his brother:

“If thou be of the Table Round, Quoth Tarquin furiously, Both thee and all thy Fellowship, I utterly defy.  /  Tarquin, that’s over bold reply’d Du Lake courageously; Then clapping Spurs unto their Steeds They at each other fly.  /  ... Both wounded were and bled full sore, For breath they both did stand. Leaning upon their Swords awhile, Quoth Tarquin, Hold thy hand,  /  ... Why that’s well said, quoth Lancelot then, Thy motion likes me well; But who’s this Knight thou so do’st hate. His name I pray thee tell?  /  His name, quoth Tarquin is Du Lake, He slew my Brother dear…  /  Strait at each other, like two Boars, They both enraged fly; And two long Hours by Tamworth They fought most furiously.  /  The Ground besprinkled was with gore Long Time was hard to say, Which of these knights the bravest was Or which would win the day;  /  Till Lancelot with one mighty Stroke, His foe did so assail, That Tarquin stagger’d, and his strength, Therewith began to fail;  /  With loss of blood he then grew faint, Which when Sir Lancelot found, With all his Force a blow he gave, Which brought him to the Ground.  /  Then forthwith taking off his Helm, Smiting his Neck in twain, His Body and his Bason threw, Into the River Tame.  /  ... God bless our King and may his Knights When put upon the Trial, Approve themselves as Lancelot did, As Valiant and as Loyal.”

We find no 18th century items with this imprint in OCLC or ESTC.

Description: [Court of King Arthur] The History of Tarquin and Lancelot du Lake.

Tamworth, [England]: Cotton, Printer, [n.d., ca. 1780s; pre-1783]. 12½ x 7½ inches. Woodcut, two ornamental chain lines. Printed in four columns. Three old manuscript corrections in last column; two lines of text are mostly worn off at the top, one partly legible. Archival mat window, mylar sheet.


Not in ESTC or OCLC and no entries in either of any items having this imprint. Not to be mistaken for ESTC N8306, i.e., A famous battle fought between Sir Lancelot du Lake, and the famous giant Tarquin,which begins: “Within this ancient British land…”

Price: $2,000.00

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