King Arthur and King Cornwall (partially found fragment of English ballad; 17th century)

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Status: Partially Found

King Arthur and King Cornwall is a pair of surviving English ballad from the 17th century. The fragment is apart of the bigger Percy Folio which is a book that was compiled in the 17th century. What sets King Arthur and King Cornwall apart from other English ballads is that King Arthur and King Cornwall are not based on Folklore, making them it one of the few ballads to not be based on folktales. It is thought that most of the manuscript for King Arthur and King Cornwall was burnt for fire.


A ballad is a short narrative-driven song mostly based around folklore. This medium became popular around the late middle ages and was popular in Russia, Spain, Greece, England, Scotland, and Germany. The narrative of a ballad is compact and starts right the climax of the story. There is not a lot of character building in a ballad and many characters and transition scenes are rather abrupt.[1]


King Arthur and King Cornwall starts as Arthurian knights are victorious by gaining a magical horse, sword, and horn. The Arthurian knights soon find themselves against a seven-headed beast that is royal to King Cornwall. To affirm victory, Sir Gawain vows to carry King Cornwall's daughter back to Little Britainna. Sir Gawain challenges King Cornwall's position at the Roundtable while King Arthur's troops find a way into King Cornwall's palace. It later revealed that King Cornwall is a false person. The ballad ends on with King Arthur and King Cornwall fighting. Many have drawn parallels between King Arthur and King Cornwall to other poems like The Squire's Tale and Sir Launfal[2]


It has been heavily theorized that most of the poem was destroyed to start a fire. Due to this, only 300 lines remain.