Thursday, September 3, 2015

Welcome back

It’s time to start Book IV. 

From Horae ad usam romanum, a 15th century prayer book, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, manuscript 1156B.

After a brief summer vacation, we’re all back to start Book IV, the final section of Amadis of Gaul. The greatest knight in the world will face new and old foes and ever greater challenges.

Book IV differs in several ways from the earlier sections of the novel, as I’ll discuss farther on. For now, know that the chapters tend to be shorter, so I’ll be posting a translation every Tuesday instead of every other Tuesday. I’ll continue to offer commentaries about the text and the medieval world on occasional Thursdays.

As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please let me know. I hope you enjoy this landmark work in European literature in every way.

Your translator,

Sue Burke


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Index to Book IV

Here begins the fourth book about the noble and virtuous knight Amadis of Gaul, son of King Perion and Queen Elisena, which deals with the exploits and great feats at arms he and other knights of his lineage performed. 

[Art at the beginning of Book IV from the 1526 edition, printed in Seville, Spain, by Jacobo and Juan Cromberger.]


Chapter LXXXII. Of Queen Sardamira’s great mourning over the death of Prince Salustanquidio.

Chapter LXXXIII. How by the agreement and at orders of Princess Oriana, the knights took her to Firm Island.

Chapter LXXXIV. How Princess Grasinda, when she learned of Amadis’s victory, attired herself and, accompanied by many knights and ladies, went to meet Oriana.

Chapter LXXXV. How Amadis brought together all the lords, what he discussed with them, and what they agreed to.

Chapter LXXXVI. How all the knights were very satisfied with what Sir Cuadragante proposed.

Chapter XXXVII. How all the knights were eager to serve and honor Princess Oriana.

Chapter LXXXVIII. How Amadis spoke with Grasinda, and how she answered.

Chapter LXXXIX. How Amadis sent another messenger to Queen Briolanja.

Chapter XC. How Sir Cuadragante spoke with his nephew Landin and told him to go to Ireland and speak with the Queen, his niece, so she might permit some of her vassals to come and serve them.

Chapter XCI. What Amadis sent to the King of Bohemia.

Chapter XCII. How Gandalin spoke with Mabilia and Oriana, and what they sent him to say to Amadis.

Chapter XCIII. How Amadis and Agrajes, with all the high-born knights, went to see and console Oriana and the ladies with her, and what happened.

Chapter XCIV. How news reached King Lisuarte about the vanquishing of the Romans and the capture of Oriana, and what he did about it.

Chapter XCV. About the letter that Princess Oriana sent to her mother Queen Brisena from Firm Island, where she was.

Chapter XCVI. How King Lisuarte asked for advice from King Arban of North Wales, Sir Grumedan, and Guilan the Pensive, and what they told him.

Chapter XCVII. How Sir Cuadragante and Brian of Monjaste had the misfortune to be lost at sea, and how fate made them find Queen Briolanja, and what happened to them with her.

Chapter XCVIII. About the message that Sir Cuadragante and Brian of Monjaste brought from King Lisuarte, and what all the knights and lords there decided to do about it.

Chapter XCIX. How doctor Elisabad arrived in Grasinda’s lands, and from there went to see the Emperor of Constantinople with a message from Amadis, and what he obtained.

Chapter C. How Gandalin arrived in Gaul and spoke to King Perion about what his lord had sent him to say, and the answer he received.

Chapter CI. How Lasindo, the squire of Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, came with his lord’s message for the Marquis and Branfil, and what they did.

Chapter CII. How Isanjo brought a message from Amadis to the good King of Bohemia, and the fine reply he obtained from him.

Chapter CIII. How Landin, nephew of Sir Cuadragante, arrived in Ireland, and what he obtained from the Queen.

Chapter CIV. How Sir Guilan the Pensive arrived in Rome with the message from his lord King Lisuarte, and what he did on his mission with Emperor Patin.

Chapter CV. How Grasandor, son of the King of Bohemia, met Giontes, and what happened to him.

Chapter CVI. How the Emperor of Rome arrived at Great Britain with his fleet, and what he and King Lisuarte did.

Chapter CVII. How King Perion moved the troops from camp to face their enemies, and how he arranged the columns for battle.

Chapter CVIII. How, when Arcalaus the Sorcerer learned of the preparations for battle, he sent word as fast as possible to summon King Arabigo and his companions.

Chapter CIX. How the Emperor of Rome and King Lisuarte went with all their men to Firm Island to seek their enemies.

Chapter CX. How Gasquilan, the King of Suesa, sent his squire with the request ye have heard about to Amadis.

Chapter CXI. What happened to each side in the second battle, and why the battle ended.

Chapter CXII. How King Lisuarte brought the Emperor of Rome’s body to a monastery, and what he said to the Romans about the day’s date, and how they answered.

Chapter CXIII. How, when the holy hermit Nasciano, who had raised the handsome young nobleman Esplandian, learned about the rupture between the kings, he decided to seek peace, and what he did.

Chapter CXIV. How the holy man Nasciano brought King Perion’s reply to King Lisuarte, and what he agreed to.

Chapter CXV. How when King Arabigo learned of the agreement between these men, he decided to fight King Lisuarte.

Chapter CXVI. About the battle King Lisuarte had with King Arabigo and his men, and how King Lisuarte was defeated, and how Amadis of Gaul, who never failed to rescue those in need, came his aid.

Chapter CXVII. How Amadis went to rescue King Lisuarte, and what happened to him on the road before he arrived.

Chapter CXVIII. How King Lisuarte brought together Kings and great lords and many other knights at Lubaina Monastery, and when they were with him, how he told them about the great service and honors that he had received from Amadis of Gaul, and the reward he gave him.

Chapter CXIX. How King Lisuarte arrived at the town of Windsor, where his wife Queen Brisena was, and how, with her and their daughter, he agreed to return to Firm Island.

Chapter CXX. How King Perion and his men returned to Firm Island, and what they did before King Lisuarte arrived.

Chapter CXXI. How Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Angriote d’Estravaus, and Branfil went to Gaul to get Queen Elisena and Sir Galaor, and the adventure they had as they returned.

Chapter CXXII. What happened to Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Angriote d’Estravaus, and Branfil during the rescue they and the Queen of Dacia carried out.

Chapter CXXIII. How King Lisuarte and his wife Queen Brisena and his daughter Leonoreta came to Firm Island, and how its lords and ladies received them.

Chapter CXXIV. How Amadis had his cousin Dragonis marry Princess Estrelleta and go to win Deep Island, where he would be king.

Chapter CXXV. How the Kings came together to arrange the weddings of those great lords and ladies, and what was done during them.

Chapter CXXVI. How Urganda the Unrecognized joined all the kings and knights who were at Firm Island and spoke to them about the great events of the past, present and future , and how she then left.

Chapter CXXVII. How Amadis left with the lady who came by sea to avenge the death of the dead knight brought in the ship, and what happened to him on that quest.

Chapter CXXVIII. How Amadis went with the lady to the island of a giant named Balan, accompanied by the knight who governed Prince Island.

Chapter CXXIX. How Darioleta grieved over the great danger Amadis was in.

Chapter CXXX. How Amadis was at the Island of the Vermilion Tower sitting on some rocks above the sea speaking with Grasandor about his lady Oriana, when he saw a ship arrive, from which he learned that the fleet had gone to Sansuena and Landas islands.

Chapter CXXXI. How Agrajes, Sir Cuadragante, and Bruno of Bonamar, with many other knights, came to see the giant Balan, and what happened to them with him.

Chapter CXXXII. Which speaks of the answer that Agrajes gave the giant Balan about what he had said.

Chapter CXXXIII. How after King Lisuarte returned to his kingdom from Firm Island, he was imprisoned by enchantment, and what befell him.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chapter 81 [part 2 of 2]

[What the knights decided to do to keep Oriana safe.] 

[A detail of a depiction of Ulysses arriving at Crete, from the Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César, made in Naples in 1330-1340. From the British Library.]

Amadis left the chamber where Oriana was and went to see Landin of Fajarque, who had been fighting the Romans on the forecastle. They had surrendered, and Amadis ordered that since they had given themselves up as prisoners, none should be killed.

Then he boarded a very beautiful galley, joining Enil and Gandalin and forty knights from Firm Island, and ordered the galley be brought to where he could hear the battle cry of Agrajes, who had gone to Salustanquidio’s large ship. When he arrived, he saw that Agrajes had already attacked, and Amadis had his galley alongside so he could also board it, helped by Sir Cuadragante.

The press and noise were great because Agrajes and his companions were fighting and killing cruelly. But when the Romans saw Amadis, they jumped into skiffs or the water, where some died and others reached ships that had not yet been defeated. Amadis hurried forward asking for his cousin Agrajes, found him, and saw that he had Salustanquidio at his feet and had given him a large wound on his arm. The Roman was pleading for mercy, but Agrajes, who knew how he loved Olinda, would not stop attacking and trying to kill him, for he despised him.

Sir Cuadragante told him not to kill him because they would get a good ransom for him, but Amadis said, laughing:

“My lord Sir Cuadragante, let Agrajes carry out his will, for if we stop him, all of us he finds will be dead, for he will not leave any man alive.”

And as he spoke, Salustanquidio’s head was cut off. The ship was taken, and the flags of Agrajes and Sir Cuadragante were placed in the forecastle and quarterdeck, both well protected by the many good and brave knights on board. This done, Agrajes quickly went to the chamber where they said his lady Olinda was, who was asking for him.

Amadis and Sir Cuadragante, together with Landin and Listoran of the White Tower, went to see how Sir Florestan and those with him were faring. They boarded the galley Amadis had brought, then they met one of Sir Florestan’s galleys, where there was a knight, a relative on his mother’s side named Isanes, who told them:

“My lords, Sir Florestan and Gavarte of the Fearful Valley want you to know that they have killed or taken prisoner everyone in those ships, and they are holding the Duke of Ancona and the Archbishop of Talancia.”

Amadis, who took great pleasure in hearing that, sent him to say that they should bring all their galleys alongside the one he had taken, where Oriana was, and they would hold a council to decide what to do. First they searched everywhere and saw that the Roman fleet had been destroyed. No one on it had escaped, even though they had tried to in some skiffs, but they had been overtaken and captured, so no one could carry the news about the battle to land.

They went directly to Oriana’s ship, where Brondajel de Roca was prisoner. They came on board and took off their helmets and gloves, and washed off the blood and sweat. Amadis asked about Florestan, whom he did not see there. Landin of Fajarque told him:

“He went to Queen Sardamira in her chamber, who was calling for him to be summoned to help her, and now she is at Oriana’s feet begging for mercy and asking not to be killed or dishonored.”

Amadis went there and asked for Queen Sardamira, and Mabilia pointed her out, for she was embracing her, and Sir Florestan was holding her hand. Amadis came before her very humbly and wished to kiss her hands, but she pulled them back. He told her:

“My good lady, fear nothing, for you have at your service and command Sir Florestan, whom we all respect and obey, and everything shall be done as ye wish, to say nothing of our desire, which is to serve and honor all women, each as she deserves. And as you, good lady, among all others are noteworthy and esteemed, so your contentment should rightly be our chief concern.”

The Queen said to Sir Florestan:

“Tell me, my good lord, who is this knight who is so respectful and is your dear friend?”

“My lady,” he said, “this is Amadis, my lord and my brother, with whom we all came here to rescue Oriana.”

When she heard this, she stood up before him with great pleasure and said:

“My good lord Amadis, if I did not receive you as I should, do not blame me, for it was because I did not know who you were. And I thank God that in such tribulation He has placed me in your courtesy and in the protection and aid of Sir Florestan.”

Amadis took her by the other hand and brought her to the estrado where Oriana was and had her sit there. And he sat beside his cousin Mabilia, for he deeply wished to talk with her. But in all the while, Queen Sardamira, although she knew the Roman fleet had been defeated and destroyed, and many of its men dead and the rest prisoners, had still not learned about the death of Prince Salustanquidio, for whom she had good and faithful love and who she considered the greatest and foremost of all the men in the Kingdom of Rome, nor did she learn of this for some time.

And sitting there as ye hear, Oriana said to Queen Sardamira:

“My lady and Queen, although I was angered by the words that you said to me at first because they concerned a matter that I abhorred, I saw how you ceased to speak of that. Due to the kindness and courtesy in everything that has happened between us, I tell you that I shall always love you and honor you with all my heart, for ye could do nothing about what gave me sorrow, and what came to me from your noble and proper virtue gave me contentment.”

“My lady,” she said, “as such is your understanding, I shall not try to excuse myself.”

As they were speaking, Agrajes arrived with Olinda and the damsels that had been made to accompany her. When Oriana saw her, she stood up and embraced her as if she had not seen her for a long time, and she kissed her hands. She turned to Agrajes and embraced him with great love, and she also received in the same way all the knights with him, and she said to Gavarte of the Fearful Valley:

“My beloved Gavarte, ye have fulfilled the promise you gave me, and the Lord of the world knows of the thanks and the desire I have to reward you.”

“My lady,” he said, “I have done what I ought as your vassal, which I am. My lady, as my rightful ruler, when you are far from me, remember me, for I shall always be at your service.”

By then all the most honorable knights had arrived, and they went to one end of the ship to take counsel. Oriana called Amadis to come next to the estrado and very quietly told him:

“My truly beloved, I ask and order you for the true love that you have for me, now more than ever to keep our love secret. Do not speak to me privately but in front of everyone, and if you wish to tell me something in secret, do so through Mabilia. And try to take us from here to Firm Island, because when I am in a safe place, God will help me because He knows I am in the right.”

“My lady,” Amadis said, “I live only with the hope to serve you, and if I did not have that, I would not have life. As you order, so it shall be. And as for going to the island, it would be good if you were to send Mabilia to say that to these knights, so it would seem more like it came from your desire and will than from mine.”

“So I shall,” she said, “and it seems wise. Now go join those knights.”

Amadis left, and the knights spoke about what they ought to do next, but as they were many, their ideas were varied. Some thought they ought to take Oriana to Firm Island, others to Gaul, others to Scotland, which was Agrajes’ home, so they did not agree. At that time Princess Mabilia came with four damsels. They all received her well and had her stand in front of them. She said:

“My lords, Oriana asks you, for the kindness and love that ye have shown by rescuing her, to take her to Firm Island, for she wishes to remain there until she is on more loving terms with her father and mother. And she asks you, my lords, to bring to a fine end that which ye have begun so well, considering her extraordinary fate and the effort made for her, and to do for her what ye have always done for other damsels who are not of such high estate.”

“My good lady,” Sir Cuadragante said, “the fine and courageous Amadis and all the knights who have participated in her rescue are willing to serve her unto death, both ourselves and our families and friends, who can and will be many. We are all united to protect her from her father and the Emperor of Rome, if they do not come to reason and do justice for her. And tell her that if God wills, it shall be done just as I have said. She should hold that firmly in her thoughts, for with God’s help, we shall not fail her. This service has been rendered to her with deliberation and effort, and she shall be aided with even greater effort and agreement until her safety and our honor are satisfied.”

All the knights agreed with what Sir Cuadragante had said, and with great commitment they pledged that they would never abandon that quest until Oriana was free and her reigns were restored, which she was certain to have if she outlived her mother and father.

Princess Mabilia bid them farewell and went to Oriana, who felt consoled when she learned the answer to her message, and she believed that with the permission of the just Judge, she would be guided to the end she desired.

With that agreement, all the knights went to their ships to order the distribution of the prisoners and spoils, which were many. They left Oriana and Queen Sardamira with their damsels and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Landin of Fajarque, Sir Gordan, brother of Angriote de Estravaus, his nephew Sarquiles, Orlandin, son of the Count of Urlanda, and Enil, who had suffered three wounds, which he had kept hidden as one who was courageous and able to suffer great travail. These knights were charged with guarding Oriana and the other high-born ladies with her, accompanying them until they were brought to Firm Island, where they had agreed to go.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer vacation starts soon

Next week, we will finish Book III, then take a break. 

Your translator, Sue Burke, at the Port Notre-Dame in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a medieval town in southeastern France. The French route of the Way of St. James pilgrimage road starts there and passes through the gate and over the bridge – in fact, there’s a pilgrim right behind me. Photo by Mary Drzycimski-Finn.


As usual, after the next post, this blog will take August off. Actually, I’ll be working on Book IV throughout August, since we’re about to finish Book III.

I began this translation blog in January 2009, and at the current rate, I should finish the novel in July of 2017. Over the years, this translation has gathered more and more loyal readers – and I thank each and every one of you. I’m having fun and learning a lot, and I hope you are, too. If I can do anything to make this blog better for you, let me know.

Come back in September for more adventures of the greatest knight in the world. Will Amadis make peace with King Lisuarte? Will he marry Oriana? Will he learn that Esplandian is his son? And what about the evil sorcerer Arcalaus?

Remember that this blog is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0, so feel free to copy, distribute, display, share, or perform all or any part of it, or to create derivative works – for non-commercial use. Just say that you got it here. Thank you!