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Stepney festivals

Festivals
Locality Stepney
Vicinity Now in London borough of Tower Hamlets, East End
Coordinates 51.516111111111, -0.047777777777778
Adm. div. Middlesex
Began 28 May 1309
Ended 28 May 1309
Events Giles Argentine announced as King of the Greenwood at tournament
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Stepney.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-08-11. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-19.

At a tournament at Stepney on 29 May 1309, Giles Argentine (c.1280-1314) was announced as King of the Greenwood. He was an illustrious knight who got himself illustriously killed at the battle of Bannockburn. In his time he was – at least in Britain – considered one of the greatest knights in Europe, but he was also a reckless youth who frequently got himself into trouble, now with the law, now with the king, now with the fishermen of London, etc.

Kathryn Warner, who has written an excellent biographical blog post about Giles Argentine, renders the Latin "dicebatur" in the chronicle entries cited below as "was crowned 'King of the Greenwood'". While this seems right at first sight, I do not believe it is exactly what the chroniclers meant. Ian Lancashire catalogued the event as a "[t]ournament in which Giles Argentine entered as King of the Greenwood".[1] This is an excellent summary, though of course not a translation, of the chronicle entries. Participants in tournaments were announced as so-and-so when they made their entry. This must be what the chroniclers were thinking of when they wrote "dicebatur", which I have accordingly translated as "was announced as". It is less clear what Sir Giles was thinking of when he chose to enter as King of the Greenwood. Since the event took place in late May and in view of the connection between May games and greenery, May trees, bringing in the May etc., it is possible that King of the Greenwood meant much the same as king of May. However, on balance it seems more likely to have meant an outlaw chief.

Allusions

1309 - Anonymous - Annales Londonienses

Eodem anno [1309], quinto kalendas Junii [May 28], fuit magnum hastiludium apud Stebenhethe, de quo dominus Egidius Argentein dicebatur rex de Vertbois: et ipse, cum suis complicibus, fuit contra omnes venientes.

[IRHB translation:]

The same year, on the fifth kalend of June, there was a large tournament at Stepney at which Sir Giles Argentine was announced as King of the Greenwood; and he with his fellows was against all comers.[2]

1309 - Anonymous - Annales Paulini

Eodem anno [1309], vto kalendas Junii [May 28], fuit magnum hastiludium apud Stebbenhethe, domino Egidio de Argentein, qui dicebatur rex de viridi bosco, cum suis sociis veniente ex parte una contra omnes venientes.

[IRHB translation:]

The same year, on the fifth kalend of June, there was a large tournament at Stepney, Sir Giles Argentine, who was announced as King of the Greenwood, with his fellows coming from one side against all other comers.[3]

Lists and gazetteers

Sources

Studies and criticism

Background

Also see

Notes