Amadis becomes lord of Firm Island, loses Oriana’s love, goes off to hide, and nearly dies of grief. Oriana begs forgiveness, and Amadis returns to achieve greater triumphs and fame until schemers convince King Lisuarte to expel him from his court.
Speigel Historiael by Jacob Van Maerlant, copied in West Flanders in 1325 to 1335.
The first of the four books of the novel Amadis of Gaul tells the story of Amadis’s birth and his rise to fame and glory. He was engendered out of formal wedlock by King Perion of Gaul and Princess Elisena of Little Brittany, cast into the sea, and recovered by a Scottish knight, who raises him as a son. As a boy of 12, known as Childe of the Sea, he meets ten-year-old Oriana, daughter of King Lisuarte of Great Britain, and they fall instantly in love.
As a teenager, Childe of the Sea becomes a knight and volunteers to help King Perion in his war with the King of Ireland, not knowing he is his father. Gandalin becomes Amadis’s devoted squire. Childe of the Sea wins the war fighting one-on-one with the King of Ireland, and soon afterwards, everyone learns the Perion’s champion is his long-lost son, Amadis.
Meanwhile, Perion and Elisena have another son, Galaor, as fine a knight as Amadis although not quite as bright. The sorceress Urganda the Unrecognized helps them both.
Oriana returns to King Lisuarte’s court in Windsor, and Amadis travels to join her, on the way having a series of adventures that enhance his fame, and enters into the service of Oriana’s mother, Queen Brisena. He has more adventures; acquires a dwarf named Ardian as a servant; encounters Arcalaus the Sorcerer, who becomes a sworn enemy; and meets Galaor.
Arcalaus has plotted to take over the Kingdom of Great Britain, and captures both King Lisuarte and Princess Oriana. Galaor rescues the King, and Amadis rescues Oriana. The two consummate their love before he rides off to London and defeats Arcalaus’s allies.
During his adventures, Amadis has promised a beautiful young princess, Briolanja, to regain the kingdom that had been stolen from her. With his cousin Sir Agrajes, he wins back her realm in brave battle, and she falls in love with him, although he is unwavering in his devotion to Oriana. Soon his is joined by Galaor and another of King Perion’s sons, Sir Florestan.
Amadis has established himself as the world’s greatest knight. He is also one of the handsomest young men in the world. And his fame is about to increase even more.
Decades earlier, a knight who had been the lord of Firm Island, Apolidon, had created a series of enchantments to test knights’ skill at arms, ladies’ beauty, and the strength of their love. Those who pass the tests will rule over the island. It is called Firm Island because a small isthmus connects it to the mainland of Britain, making it terra firma.
Amadis, Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes leave Queen Briolanja for King Lisuarte's court, but on the way they go to Firm Island to test its enchantments. Amadis passes the tests and becomes lord of the island.
But Oriana has learned that Briolanja loves Amadis and believes it is mutual, so, heartbroken, she sends him a letter withdrawing her love and ordering him never to see her again. When he reads it, he loses his will to live and eventually hides from the world, living with a hermit on an island named Poor Rock. He changes his name to Beltenebros and wastes away with grief.
Everyone searches for Amadis for more than a year. Oriana learns what her letter did, and sends their loyal friend, the Damsel of Denmark, to try to find him and deliver a letter begging his forgiveness. A storm blows the ship carrying the Damsel to Poor Rock, where she delivers the letter to Beltenebros, now near death. He leaves with her and begins to recover his health.
Meanwhile, in London, King Lisuarte has been challenged to a battle by King Cildadan of Ireland, and he begins to recruit one hundred knights to fight with him, including Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes.
Oriana has retired to her castle in Miraflores, and the Damsel of Denmark arrives with a letter from Beltenebros. He soon joins Oriana there, en route having several adventures that bring “Beltenebros” esteem in the court of King Lisuarte. He sneaks into Miraflores Castle and spends a joyous week with his beloved.
Back in London, an elderly squire arrives at King Lisuarte’s court with a magic sword and a half-withered wreath of flowers. Only a knight whose love is true can withdraw the sword from its scabbard of dragon bones, and only a lady whose love is true can make the flowers of the wreath become fresh again. Beltenebros, wearing a helmet, and Oriana, heavily veiled, arrive at the court and win the sword and wreath, but no one knows who they are.
On the way back to Miraflores, they meet Arcalaus, and Beltenebros defeats him in battle, although the sorcerer escapes.
Urganda the Unrecognized sends letters of dark prophesy to King Lisuarte and Galaor.
Beltenebros joins the King’s knights in the battle with King Cildadan of Ireland. Toward the end of a long, cruel fight, Beltenebros rescues Lisuarte and rallies his men by declaring: “Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!”
After the battle, some maidens carry away the badly injured Galaor and Cildadan. Their wounds are treated and eventually they learn they are in the custody of Urganda, whose prophesies have become true.
Meanwhile, Queen Briolanja comes to Miraflores Castle to meet Oriana, and Amadis joins them and urges Briolanja to test herself at Firm Island, knowing she will fail, so that when Oriana tries, her triumph will be even greater. Urganda arrives with more disturbing prophesies for Amadis, Oriana, and the Kingdom of Great Britain.
A damsel arrives with a challenge for Amadis: he must fight a knight named Ardan Canileo to free his friends, King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus. He agrees, and as she leaves with his reply, she steals his magic sword and gives it to Canileo. In a long, hard fight, Amadis uses his father’s sword and is encouraged by the sight of Oriana. He kills Canileo and recovers his magic sword.
Two old men, counselors of King Lisuarte, are jealous of Amadis and scheme against him. They tell the King that Amadis is planning a revolt. The King unwisely believes them.
Amadis’s friend, Sir Galvanes, has fallen in love with Madasima, who had been promised against her will to marry Canileo and is now a prisoner of King Lisuarte. Amadis asks the King to free Madasima and give her land to Galvanes as a wedding gift. The King not only refuses, he tells Amadis and his friends to depart from his court. So Amadis, leaving the heartbroken Oriana behind, heads for Firm Island, and hundreds of other knights leave with him. It is a sad and bitter scene.
One of Queen Briolanja’s damsels arrives to tell Oriana about the many wonders they saw at Firm Island. Briolanja had successfully passed through the arch of the loyal lovers but could not enter the forbidden chamber – to Oriana’s secret joy.
Amadis arrives at Firm Island. He and his knights learn that King Lisuarte had ordered that if Gromadaza, Madasima’s mother, did not deliver her castles to him within a month, Madasima and her damsels would be beheaded. Amadis sends Sir Galvanes and twelve other knights to King Lisuarte’s court to rescue them.
Oriana learns she is pregnant. She and the Damsel of Denmark decide that the Damsel will pretend the child is hers and deliver it to a convent to be raised there.
The counselors of King Lisuarte who had schemed against Amadis have a quarrel, and their words are overheard by a young knight who had sneaked into one of their houses to meet his beloved, a niece of one of the men. He warns the King.
He also rides to Firm Island and tells what he had learned to his uncle Angriote de Estravaus. They leave for Lisuarte’s court to challenge the counselors.
Galvanes and the twelve knights arrive at the court of King Lisuarte. The counselors try to convince the King to kill Madasima immediately, but the he wants to give her a chance to respond. But that night he learns that Gromadaza has died so he has acquired the castles, and he frees Madasima and her damsels.
Angriote and his nephew, Sarquiles, arrive and challenge the King’s disloyal advisors, Gandandel and Brocadan. Since they are elderly men, their three sons accept the challenge on their behalf. Angriote and Sarquiles fight them and kill them.