Werwolf was he

William of Palerne
England, mid-fourteenth century

King’s College, MS 13, f. 5v
England, second half of the fourteenth century
Vellum, 289 x 195 mm (242 x 132 mm), IV + 86 + 48 + I ff.

This is the only known surviving copy of the Middle English adaptation of a thirteenth-century French romance: the adventures of William of Palerne (Palermo), son of the King of Sicily. Throughout his childhood, William was helped and rescued by Alphouns, son of the King of Spain, who had been transformed into a werewolf by his stepmother. Along with the poet’s sophisticated treatment of the topic, the story shows marked folkloric features and represents a remarkable example of the importance in both French and English literature of grafting folkloric characters onto a literary framework. This manuscript entered the King’s College collection before 1775.

By kind permission of the Provost and Fellows of King’s College, Cambridge.

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