Folk Play Distribution Map: George's Introductory Line

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Folk Play Distribution Map: George's Introductory Line
Versions of this map: Interactive Google Map Static Google Map Outline Map
blue i am prince george a champion brave and bold 1746-1769 30
red oh here comes i saint george a man of courage bold 1737-1770 25
silver i am saint george that valiant knight 1788 28
lime hear comes i son george from england have i sprung 1785-1789 21


This map is an improved version of one that appeared in my PhD thesis (Millington, 2002, pp.273-274, Map 18). In this version, generated by the Scripts Explorer, the markers coloured, whereas the original map was in monochrome. The scripts database has also grown slightly since 2002 (Millington, 1994-2006).

George uses one of three different introductory speeches (shown in Map 18), each of which is associated with a particular adversary.
Firstly, Saint George "from England have I sprung" or "who from old England sprung" is found in chapbooks and their derivatives - the Christmas Rhime in Ireland, and The Peace Egg in northern England respectively. In Ireland, this George fights the Turkey Champion, whereas in The Peace Egg he is coupled with Slasher. However, in The Peace Egg chapbooks, Saint George introduces himself a second time - in Act 2 - where he is "that noble champion bold". In this act he fights both the Prince of Paradine and Hector. Normally, a given Peace Egg George speech should remain coupled with the relevant combatant, but it is possible that they could become exchanged. This second speech is derived from the earlier Alexander and the King of Egypt chapbook, where Prince George fights Alexander and Sambo (who has Hector's lines).
The "Bold" speech in fact forms the second of George's alternative introductory speeches. There are two sub-variants that are found in fairly distinct northern and southern regions, separated by the Cotswolds.
"The champion bold" sub-variant is almost totally confined to northern England and it seems likely that the distribution of this variant has been highly influenced by the Alexander and Peace Egg chapbooks. Even so, this does not necessarily mean that the chapbooks were the ultimate source for this sub-variant, although, the Alexander chapbook is the oldest recorded full text with a date of 1746-1769 (M.J.Preston et al, 1977).
"The man of courage bold" sub-variant primarily occurs in southern England with a few outliers in the north. He is a King in 63% of cases, so it is possible that this is the original status associated with this line.
Georges with the "bold" line may win one of two prizes in the next line - "three crowns of gold", or "ten thousand pounds in gold". There is not a clear-cut association of particular prizes with particular variants of "bold". However, there seems to be a tendency for "the man of courage bold" to have won the three crowns, while "the champion bold" tends to win the money. Either way, outside the chapbooks, bold George's adversary is primarily the Turkish Knight/Turkish Champion. To illustrate the point, in the database, he appears with the Turk 17 times, 3 times with Slasher, and 8 times with both. In all the cases where the Turk and Slasher appear in the same play (e.g. Romsey, Hants.), the Turk is George's main opponent, and Slasher tends to be an extra. (In a couple of cases - Ovingdean, Sussex and Huxley, Cheshire - a single character has both names.)
The third introductory speech is "George that valiant knight / Who shed his blood for England's rights". This occurs throughout mainland Britain, but appears to be concentrated (or at least less diluted) in the Cotswolds (Grid square SP). Here, he tends to be King George, whereas north and south of this region he is more likely to be Saint George (see Map 19). George the valiant knight is primarily associated with Slasher, appearing with him 11 times in the database, whereas he only appears with the Turk 3 times, and with both 3 times (one of which is J.H.Ewing's composite text).

Peter Millington


Peter Millington (1994-2006) Historical Database of Folk Play Scripts
Internet URL:, 1999-2006, accessed 27th Jun.2009

Peter Millington (2002) The Origins and Development of English Folk Plays
PhD Thesis, University of Sheffield, May 2002     [Full Text PDF - 2.7MB]

M.J.Preston, M.G.Smith & P.S.Smith (1977) Chapbooks and Traditional Drama: An Examination of Chapbooks containing Traditional Play Texts: Part I: Alexander and the King of Egypt Chapbooks
CECTAL Bibliographical and Special Series, 1977, No.2
Sheffield: University of Sheffield, 1977, ISSN 0309-9229

This map was generated from the Folk Play Scripts Explorer.
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