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Collbrande F [weap:sword] [Arthurian]

Collbrande [Middle Eng.]
[cole "charcoal"(?) + brand "brand, firebrand, sword, torch". brand not only has cognates in Germanic languages (Icel., Dan.) but in Old French: branc]
The variant spelling for the name of Arthur's famous sword (Caliburn, Excalibur) the first two time it is mentioned in the The alliterative Morte Arthure (end of 14th cent.) when the king of Britain takes on a giant named Golapas.

§ Allit. Morte Arthure (end of 14th c.)

" He clekys owtte Collbrande, full clenlyche burneschte,
Graythes hym to Golapas, þat greuyde moste,
Kuttes hym euen by the knees clenly in sondyre.
"Come down," quod the Kyng, "and karpe to thy ferys;
Thowe arte to hye by þe halfe, I hete þe in trouthe:*1
"
(line 2123, Allit. Morte Arthure, Thornton Manuscript, 14th century).

Though the spelling recurs once more*2, subsequently it is called by its more familiar name Caliburn*3. That is to say, Arthur's sword is called by quite different names in the Thornton Manuscript, which is the only copy in which this alliterative work survives.
    But in order to avoid confusion, many editions have *4 emended Collbrande → Caliburn, that is to say, consistently call the sword "Caliburn" throughout. Same goes for modern translations.


*1 He draws out Collbrande full cleanly burnished / Charges up to Golapas who grieved him most / Cuts him even by the knees cleanly in sunder /.. "Talk to thy comrades, / Thou art too tall by a half, "

*2 line 2201. Note the close similarity between this line and a nearby line (compared below):
    Cleues hym with Collbrande clenlyche in sondyre;(line 2201).
    Cleues hym wyth his clere brande clenliche in sondire.(line 2182).
*3 "Today Clarente and Caliburne sall kythe them togedirs/Whilke es kenere of kerfe or hardare of eghge"" (4193-4).
"ʒitt with Calyburn his swerde full knyghttly he strykes (line 4242).
⇒Clarent is yet another sword owned by Arthur.

*4 Thus in Univ. Rochester's Project Camelot editon, Allit. Morte Arthure Part III on the corresponding line becomes "He clekes out Caliburn, full clenlich burnisht, ". Valerie Krishna also uses "Caliburn" (Garland ed.) while Brian Stone uses "Excalibur".

§ Of giants and Collbrande

A foe with a name similar to Arthur's foe Golapas is the giant named Gologras faced by Sir Gawain in The Knightly Tale of Gologras and Gawain. If we look to the Romance of Sir Guy of Warwick, we find that Sir Guy's famous opponent is the Danish giant Colbrond (or Colbrand), a name quite similar to our sword. Grundtvig (see Danish ballad, below) has also noted on the similarity, and he further explores a possible connection with the giant named Kuperan, who leads Seyfreid (Siegfried) to the whereabouts of the sword (presumably ⇒Balmung) in Das Lied von dem hürnen Seyfrid.

§ Danish ballad

A sword called ⇒Kolebrand appears in a ballad called Herr Ribolts Kamp med Dragen (collected by Vedel)*1.
*1 Sven Grundtvig in his ballad compendium DgF catalogues this example as #27 B,b and in its introduction he makes a number observations. It seems Kalebrant is the Old Norse name of one of Arthur's knights, pointed out by JW Liffman and George Stephens in their preface, p. XLVI, to their translation of Herr Ivan Lejon-riddaren [= Iwein (Le chevalier au lion)] (1849).

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