“The giant Galligantua and the wicked old magician transform the duke’s daughter into a white hind,” illustration by Arthur Rackham for “Jack the Giant‐Killer,” English Fairy Tales, 1922.

Real Name

Galigantus, Galligantus, Gallingantua

First Appearance

"The History of Jack and the Giants" (1711)

Original Publisher

J. White of Newcastle

Created by



Galigantus is a giant that keeps many knights and ladies captive in his enchanted castle. Among them is the Duke's daughter who has been transformed into a white doe through the power of a sorcerer. Jack the Giant Killer beheads the giant, the sorcerer flees, the Duke's daughter is restored to her true shape, while the other captives are freed.

In The Pleasant History of Jack Horner, Galligantus lives in a cave, is “ten yards or more” tall, and his size and power are described as follows:

This very Giant could with eaſe / Step fifteen feet in length, / Up by the roots he pluck’d oak trees, / So mighty was his ſtrength. // His lips they open’d like two gates, / His beard hung down like Wire, / His Eyes were like two pewter plates, / He breathed ſmoke and fire. // ’Tis ſaid that he deſtroy’d as much / As threeſcore men could eat, / So that the people they did grutch, / For every bit he eat. // His meſs it was continually / Two bullocks in one diſh, / Then would he drink whole rivers dry / By which he ſtarv’d the fiſh. // He went to drink it ſeems one day / [B]y a deep river ſide, / Where as a lighter full of ſtraw, / Did at an anchor ride; // Beſides another full of hay, / A third with block and billet, / He ſuck’d them all into his maw, / And yet they did not fill it.

In the book, it is Jack Horner rather than Jack the Giant‐Killer who slays Galligantus, doing so by climbing down the sleeping giant’s throat and cutting him from within with a mere five‐inch sword. Jack then plays his magic bagpipes, forcing Galligantus to dance until he dies of internal bleeding.

Public domain literary appearances

  • The History of Jack and the Giants, 1711.
  • The Pleaſant Hiſtory of Jack Horner: Containing the Witty Tricks and Pleaſant Pranks He Play’d from His Youth to His Riper Years; Pleaſant and Delightful Both for Winter and Summer Recreation, [ca. 1790]. (Internet Archive)
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