About Queen Sardamira’s anguished mourning over the death of Prince Salustanquidio.
[Detail from The Mourning of Christ, painted between 1304 and 1306 by Giotto in Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy.]
The third part of this great story has told you how, finally, King Lisuarte, against the will of everyone great and small in his kingdom and of many others who wished to place themselves at his service, delivered his daughter Oriana to the Romans to marry Patin, the Emperor of Rome; and how she was taken at sea by Amadis and his companions who had met at Firm Island; and how Prince Salustanquidio was killed; and how Brondajel de Roca, who was chief majordomo of the Emperor, and the Duke of Ancona and the Archbishop of Talancia were taken prisoner; and how many of their men were killed or taken prisoner and the fleet that carried them was destroyed. Now we shall tell you what happened after that.
Know that when this battle had been won, Amadis with other knights who had fought with him left Oriana, Queen Sardamira, and all the other ladies and damsels with her in a ship, with some knights to guard them. Then he and the others went to another ship to secure the Roman fleet and its spoils, which were many, and the prisoners, which were also many, and most of them of great worth, as were proper to send on such a mission.
When they arrived at the ship where Prince Salustanquidio was dead, they heard loud voices and wailing. And they learned the cause of that, which was that his men, both knights and commoners, had surrounded him and were raising the greatest mourning in the world, recounting his good qualities and grandeur. Agraje’s men, who occupied the ship, could not make them stop or step aside. Amadis ordered them sent to another ship so they would cease their mourning, and he ordered that Salustanquidio’s body be placed in a coffin so it could be given the interment befitting such a lord, for although he had been an enemy, he had died properly in the service of his lord. And that was why they had compassion for him and for the others who had survived and ordered that all of them be kept alive, which is what virtuous knights ought to do once rage and anger has been set aside and reason is free to acknowledge justice and let it follow virtue.
The noise of this wailing was so great that the news reached Oriana’s ship about how the prince’s men were mourning him, which is how Queen Sardamira learned about it. Although she already knew and had seen with her own eyes how the entire Roman fleet had been destroyed and many men killed or taken prisoner, she had not heard the news of the death of that knight. And when she heard it, great sorrow filled all her senses, and she forgot the fear and great dread that she had felt until then, and wishing death rather than life, with great passion and alteration, wringing her hands, weeping mightily, she fell to the floor and said:
“Oh, generous prince of very high lineage, light and example for the entire Roman Empire, what pain and sorrow will thy death be to the many men and women who love and serve thee and await thy great benefits and gifts! Oh, what painful news it will be for them when they learn of thy ill-fated and disastrous end! Oh, great Emperor of Rome, what anguish and pain thou shalt feel to learn of the death of this prince, thy cousin, whom thou lovest so much and whom thou hadst as a mighty pillar and shield for thy Empire; and to learn of the destruction of thy fleet and thy noble knights, and above all thy loss at force of arms in great dishonor the thing that thou most loved and desired in the world!
“It may well be said that if fate had decided that a knight-errant such as thee who sought adventure, from such a minor status would be raised up and placed on such a tall peak as the imperial throne with its scepter and crown; then, with a mighty lash of a whip, fate humbled thy honor until it was placed in the abyss at the center of the earth.
“From such a blow only one of two extremes can come to thee: either to conceal what has made thee the most dishonored prince in the world, or to seek vengeance, placing thy person and grand estate in great anguish and fatigued spirits. And in the end thou shalt have no certainty of success, for truly from what I have seen during my disastrous venture in Great Britain, there is not in all the world such a high emperor or king that these knights and those of their lineage, who are many and powerful, would not wage war and battle against. I believe, although from them so much evil and pain has come to me, that they are the finest of all the knighthood in the world. And now my aching heart weeps more for the living, and for the troubles that await them in this misadventure, than for the dead, who have paid their debt.”
Oriana, who saw her in that state, had pity for her because she considered her very wise and of goodwill, except for the first time when she had spoken to her about the deeds of the Emperor, which had caused her great anger and made her ask her to speak of him no more. She had always found her to be a very thoughtful person with great discretion and who never caused her anger again, and instead said things to give her pleasure.
She called for Mabilia and told her:
“My friend, give aid to the Queen in her grieving and console her, as ye know how to do, and pay no attention to what she may say or do, because as ye see, she is almost beyond her senses and has good reason to complain. But what I am obliged to do is what the victorious must do to the vanquished, having them in their power.”
Mabilia, who had great undestanding, approached the Queen and knelt, took her by the hands, and told her:
“Noble Queen and lady, it is not proper for a person of such high estate as ye to be defeated and subjugated by fate, for although all us women are naturally weak of body and heart, much good can be seen in the ancient examples of those women who, with their strength of spirit, wished to pay their debt to their ancestors by showing in adversity the source of the nobility of their lineage and blood.
“Although now ye may ache at this great blow contrary to your fortune, recall that fortune herself placed you in great honor and height, but ye could not enjoy it for longer than her changeable will granted you. It is more due to her actions and fault than yours that ye have lost it, because she has always been pleased and takes delight in causing reversals and playing these games. And at that, ye must note that ye are in the power of this noble princess who has great love and goodwill for you and compassion for your sorrow, and will thoughtfully offer you the company and courtesy that your virtue and royal estate command.”
The Queen told her:
“Most noble and gracious princess, although the discretion of your words is of such virtue that it could console anyone’s sorrow, however great it might be, my disastrous fate is such that my impassioned and weak spirit can take no more. And if I can think of any hope in my great desperation, it is only to find myself as ye say in the power of this high and noble lady, who through her great virtue will not permit that my honor and fame be discredited, because this is the greatest treasure that any woman must protect and fear losing.”
Then Princess Mabilia offered promises to assure her that whatever she wished, Oriana would order to come true. And she raised her up by the hands and had her sit on the estrado, where many of the ladies there came to keep her company.