[How the Greek Knight defeated two more Romans but was persuaded by Esplandian to let them live.]
[A picota, a column used in Spanish civil law since medieval times. This one is located in the town of Presencio near Burgos. Photo by Sanbec.]
The Greek Knight spurred his horse and found it strong and rested, since it had done little labor that day. He hung his shield from his neck and selected a lance with a very handsome pennant. He called the damsel who had brought Grasinda’s message and told her:
“My friend, go to the King and tell him that he knows the agreement: if after the first battle I was in a condition to fight, I would hold the field against two knights who came together against me. And now it falls upon me to comply with that madness, and I ask him the favor of not ordering any of his knights to fight with me, because they are such that they would gain no honor in defeating me. Let me fight the Romans, who began this, and it shall be seen if I, being Greek, fear them.”
The damsel went to the King and told him in French what the Greek Knight had ordered her to say.
“Damsel,” the King said, “I would not be pleased if anyone from my court or reign were to fight him. He has earned his honor today and I esteem him greatly, and if he were to be pleased to remain with me, I would make it worthwhile for him. And I forbid those of my domain and lands to trouble him. Now I must leave, for I have things to do, but the Romans, who are on their own, may do what they please.”
He said this because he had a lot to prepare for his daughter Oriana’s departure and because at that time he had none of his most esteemed knights in the court, for they had left to avoid seeing the cruelty and madness of forcing his daughter to leave. He only had Guilan the Pensive in his court, who was ill, and Cendil of Ganota, whose legs had been pierced by an arrow released by Brondajel de Roca, one of the Romans, when the King had been pursuing a deer during a hunt in the mountains.
After the damsel heard this, she told him:
“My lord, many thanks for your kindness ye have done for the Greek Knight, but know for certain that if he had wished to remain in Greece with the Emperor, he would have fulfilled what was asked of him there, but his will is only to travel freely through the world rescuing ladies and damsels from the injuries they receive, and many others who ask him for justice. Of these things and more he has done so much that ye shall soon hear of them, and then ye, my lord, and others who do not know him now will come to hold and esteem him.”
“So help you God, damsel, tell me whose orders he follows.”
“Truly, my lord, I do not know, but if his mighty heart is subjected by something, I think it can only be some lady whom he loves to extreme and who is in your realm. May ye be commended to God, and I shall return to him with this response. Whoever wishes to meet him in that field shall find him there until midday.”
After hearing the response, the Greek Knight rode slowly toward Grasinda, and he gave one of the majordomo’s sons his shield and another one his lance, but he did not take off his helmet so he would not be recognized. He told the one who took his shield to put it on the column and to say that the Greek Knight ordered it put there as a challenge to the knights of Rome in order to fulfill what he had promised. He took Grasinda’s horse by the reins to converse with her.
Among the Romans was a knight who was held in great esteem at arms, second only to Salustanquidio, named Maganil, and it was truly believed that two knights from Greece would not hold the field against him. He brought two brothers with him, both good knights. When the shield had been placed on the column, the Romans looked to this Maganil as the one from whom they expected honor and vengeance, but he told them:
“My friends, do not look at me with expectation, because I can do nothing in this matter. I have promised Prince Salustanquidio that if he left this fight in a such a way that he could not fight, I would take upon myself his battle with Sir Grumedan with my brothers. And if he and his companions do not dare fight with us because I will be doing it for Salustanquidio, then I shall avenge him.”
As they were speaking, they saw two Roman knights of their company bearing fine arms and riding beautiful horses. One was named Gradamor and the other Lasanor, and they were brothers, Brondajel de Roca’s nephews, sons of his sister, who was as brave and arrogant as her husband and her sons. They were greatly feared by other Romans because of that and because they were Brondajel’s nephews, who was the Emperor’s majordomo.
When they arrived at the field, as ye hear, without speaking or bowing to the King they went to the column. One of them took the Greek Knight’s shield and gave it such a blow against the column that it was smashed to pieces, and he shouted:
“May he be damned who consents to have a Greek’s shield be placed as a challenge to Romans!”
The Greek Knight, when he saw his shield broken, was so angered that his heart burned with rage, and he left Grasinda, took his lance from the squire holding it, and did not bother with a shield, although Angriote told him he could take his. He charged at the Romans, and they at him. He struck his lance against the one who had broken his shield and hit him so hard that the Roman was thrown from his saddle, and when he fell, his helmet flew from his head. He he was so stunned he could not get up, and everyone thought he was dead.
Having lost his lance, the Greek Knight put his hand on his sword and turned to Lasanor, who was attacking him with great blows. The Greek struck him on his shoulder and cut his armor and flesh down to the bones and made him drop his lance. He gave him another blow on the top of his helmet and made him lose his stirrups and grasp the neck of his horse. Seeing him thus, he quickly switched the sword to his left hand, grabbed the other knight’s shield and pulled it from his neck, and the knight fell to the ground, but he got up quickly in fear of death.
He saw his brother, now on foot, sword in hand, and ran to join him. The Greek Knight, fearing they would kill his horse, dismounted and held up the shield he had taken, and with his sword he headed toward them and attacked so fiercely that the brothers could not hold their positions in the field. Those who watched were startled to see him so valiant, esteeming them so little.
Thus he made the Romans know how skilled he was and how weak they were. He gave Lasanor a blow on the left leg so it could no longer sustain him, and he begged for mercy, but the Greek Knight acted as if he did not understand him and kicked him in the chest and threw him flat onto the field.
Then he turned to the other knight, the one who had smashed his shield, but that Roman did not dare to face him, fearing that death was coming for him, and ran toward the King, begging for mercy and shouting to not let him be killed. But the Greek Knight followed him and stopped in front of him and made him turn back toward the column, and when he reached it, Gradamor ran behind it to protect himself from the blows. The Greek Knight, who was irate, tried to attack him, and at times his sword struck the column, which was of very hard stone, and when he did, sparks of flame flew from his sword.
And when he saw the other knight too tired to move, he took him in his arms and squeezed so tightly that all his strength left him, then he let the knight fall onto the field.
Then he took the shield and struck him such a blow on his head that the shield was smashed to pieces and the Roman lay as if dead. He put his sword point in his face and pushed a bit, and Gradamor shuddered and hid his face in great fear and put his arms around his head, terrified by the sword, and shouted:
“Oh, good Greek, my lord! Do not kill me. Order me to do anything!”
But the Greek Knight acted as if he did not understand him, and when he saw that he was conscious, he grabbed him by the hand, struck him on the head with the flat of his sword to force him to stand up, and motioned for him to climb onto the column. But Gradamor was so weak he could not, so the Greek helped him, and when he was standing still on it, the Greek pushed him so hard that he fell. And as he was large and heavy and fell from a great height, he landed and lay so still that he did not move, and the Greek put the pieces of the shield on his chest, went to Lasanor, grabbed his leg, and dragged him to lie next to his brother.
Everyone realized that he meant to behead them, and Sir Grumedan, who was watching with pleasure, said:
“It seems to me that the Greek has made a fine vengeance for his shield.”
The childe Esplandian, who was watching the battle, realized that the Greek Knight meant to kill the two knights whom he had defeated, and, feeling sorry for them, spurred his palfrey, called to his companion Ambor, and rode toward the knights. When the Greek Knight saw them coming, he waited to see what they wanted, and when they neared, Esplandian seemed to be the most handsome noble childe of all those he had seen in his life.
Esplandian came to him and said:
“My lord, since these knights are in such a state that they cannot defend themselves, and since your skill is now well known, free them for me, and all honor shall remain with you.”
He gestured that he did not understand. Esplandian began to shout to Count Argamon to come there because the Greek Knight did not understand his language. The Count came immediately, and the Greek asked what the childe had said, and he told him:
“He asks you to give these knights to him.”
“I would savor killing them,” he said, “but I shall grant them to him.” And he told the Count, “My lord, who is this handsome childe, and whose son is he?”
The Count told him:
“Truly, knight, this I cannot tell you for I do not know, and no one in this land knows.” And he told him how the childe had been raised.
“I had heard speak of this childe in Romania, and I think they called him Esplandian. They told me he had some letters on his chest.”
“That is true,” the Count said, “and ye can see them if ye wish.”
“I would appreciate that, and would thank him for showing me them, for it is one thing to hear an amazing thing and another to see it.”
The Count asked Esplandian to show him the letters. He came closer, and he wore a doublet, a French hood embroidered with gold lions, and a narrow gold belt, and his tunic and hood were fastened with gold buttons. He loosened some buttons and showed the letters to the Greek Knight, who was amazed and considered them the most amazing thing he had ever heard. The white letters said Esplandian, but the red letters he could not read, although they were well defined and formed. He said:
“Handsome childe, may God bless you.”
Then he bid farewell to the Count and mounted his horse, which his squire had brought him, rode to Grasinda, and told her:
“My lady, ye must be annoyed by having to wait over my mad behavior, but blame the arrogance of the Romans, who caused it.”
“May God help me,” she said, “in fact, your good fortune makes me joyful.”
Then they rode toward the ships, Grasinda with great glory and happiness in her soul, and no less so the Greek Knight for having stopped the Romans that way, and he gave many thanks to God. When they arrived at the ships, they had the tents put on board, and they sailed off toward Firm Island.
But I tell you that Angriote d’Estravaus and Sir Bruneo remained at the orders of the Greek Knight in a galley so that they could secretly help Sir Grumedan in the battle he had pledged to fight with the Romans, and he asked them that when that confrontation was concluded, however God willed it, they should try to learn some news about Oriana and immediately go to Firm Island.
And the good childe Esplandian was sincerely thanked by the Roman knights for what he did, saving them from death, to which they had come so close.