How the Emperor of Rome and King Lisuarte marched with all their soldiers toward Firm Island to seek their enemies.
[The English army marching under the banner of St. George in the Hundred Years' War, late 14th century, from Chroniques de France ou de St. Denis, at the British Library.]
This story tells how the Emperor of Rome and King Lisuarte left the encampment at Windsor in the columns we have told you about, and they agreed to travel very slowly so the men and horses would stay fresh. That day they only went three leagues and set up the camp near a forest in a great field and rested there that night. The next day at dawn they left in their columns, as we have told you, and they continued on their way until they learned from some people in those lands that King Perion and his army were coming toward them, and they were two days’ travel from where they were.
Immediately King Lisuarte ordered that Lasadin the Fencer, as he was called, first cousin of Sir Guilan, be provided with fifty knights to go scouting the land and to remain three leagues ahead of the army. On the third day they encountered King Perion’s guard, who had provided Enil with forty nights. Both groups of scouts stopped there, and each one notified its side, and they did not dare to fight because they had been ordered not to.
The armies came close to each other in a large and very flat field, so close that there was no more space between them than half a league. Those armies included many knights with great knowledge of war, so neither side could gain very much advantage. And it seemed almost by mutual agreement by the men on both sides that they fortified their encampments with many trenches and other defenses where they could take refuge if things went badly.
And as the armies were configured, as ye hear, Gandalin arrived, Amadis’s squire, who had brought Melicia from Gaul to Firm Island. He was very anxious to arrive before the battle began, and the reason is this:
Ye already know that Gandalin was the son of the noble knight Sir Gandales, who had raised Amadis, and was his milk brother. From the day that Amadis became a knight, calling himself Childe of the Sea, he knew that he was not his brother, for up until then they had thought they were. And from that hour Gandalin had always attended him as his squire, and although he had often urged Amadis to make him a knight, Amadis had not dared to do so, because Gandalin had been his best confidant in his love affair. Gandalin had often saved him from death, for given the anguish and mortal desires he suffered for his lady Oriana and the continued torment and affliction of his heart, if in Gandalin he had not found the consolation he always did, he would have died a thousand times. Because this was a secret from everyone and he could talk to no one else about it, if by some means Gandalin were to have been separated from him, it would have been like nothing else but being separated from life.
He knew that if he made him a knight they could not be together because Gandalin would immediately need to go to seek adventure and win honor, which he was rightly obliged to do, as this great story has told, both for his father, who had raised him and taken Amadis from the sea, and for Amadis himself, who had been better served by him than any knight had ever been served by a squire, so he did not dare let him depart.
And as Gandalin knew this, for he was very sensible, and with the excessive love he had for him, although he very much desired to be a knight to show that the noble Sir Gandales had such a son and had raised such a man, he did not dare insist very much for he saw how necessary he was. But now that he knew Amadis had his lady Oriana in his power and neither by his will nor by force would he let her be taken from him without losing his life, Gandalin decided that very rightly he could asked to be made a knight, especially for such a grand and outstanding thing as that battle would be.
With this thought, after he had delivered the greetings from Amadis’ mother the Queen and told him about the arrival of his sister Melicia and the pleasure that Oriana and Mabilia and all the other ladies had taken with her, and how it was the most beautiful thing in the world to see Oriana and Queen Briolanja and Melicia together, and also how his brother Sir Galaor was somewhat better and the greetings he had sent, one day he took him where no one could hear him in that field, and told him:
“My lord, ye know the reason for which I have ceased to ask you with the urgency and will that I ought for you to make me a knight so I could honorably fulfill the great debt that I owe to my father and my lineage. I have always had the desire to serve you, and I know the need ye have always had of my service, and that has given rise to the fact that although until now my honor has been diminished, I have always hoped to aid your honor instead of my own as I ought. Now this can be set aside because I see in your power she who so much anguish gave you, and not by myself and even less by others any honorable excuse can be found for my failing to follow the order of knighthood. For that reason I beg you, my lord, to be pleased to grant me that favor because ye know how much dishonor I would receive for not being a knight from here on. In any matter and any place I may be, I will be yours to serve you with the love and goodwill that ye have always known from me.”
When Amadis heard this, he was so upset that for a while he could not speak, and he told him:
“Oh my true friend and brother, how hard it is for me to comply with what thou askest. Certainly, I would not feel it less if my heart were torn from my flesh, and if in some proper manner I could avoid this, with all my strength I would. But I see thy petition is so just that in no way can it be denied, and following more my obligation to thee than what my will desires, I agree that what thou askest shall be done. I only regret I had not known it earlier, so thy honor could be fulfilled with the arms and horse suitable to thy wishes.”
Gandalin knelt to kiss his hands, but Amadis lifted him up and embraced him, and tears came to his eyes because of the great love he had for him, and because he could already imagine his great loneliness and sorrow not to have him with him. Gandalin told him:
“My lord, do not worry about this, for Sir Galaor, in his kindness and discretion, when I told him that I wished to be a knight, ordered me given his horse and all his armor, since they did him little good in his illness. I took it as a boon and I told him I would take the horse because it was very good, and the chain mail and the helmet, but the other armor should be white, has would befit a new knight. He wanted to give me his sword, but, my lord, I told him that ye would give me one of the swords that Queen Menoresa had given you in Greece. And while I was there I had all the other armor I needed made with their surcoat, and I have it all here.”
“Since this is so,” Amadis said, “so it shall be, and the night before the battle thou shalt hold vigil over your armor in the chapel in my father the King’s tent, and the next day thou shalt ride armed on thy horse. And when the battle is about to break out against our enemies, the King shall make thee a knight, for thou knowest that in all the world no better man could be found, nor from whom thou wouldst receive more honor in this act.”
Gandalin told him:
“My lord, everything ye say is true, and it would be hard to find another knight like the King, but I shall not be made a knight except by your hand.”
“If thou wishest it so,” Amadis said, “so it shall be. And do what I tell thee.”
“Everything shall be done as ye order,” he said, “for Lasindo, the Squire of Sir Bruneo, told me when I arrived that he had already been granted permission from his lord to be made a knight. He and I shall do our vigil over our armor together. And may God in His mercy guide me to fulfill the things in His service and in my honor as the order of knighthood requires, and that the training that I have received from you be made apparent.”
Amadis did not tell him anything more because he felt great anguish at what he had heard and even more to think of how he would feel when it was carried out. And so Amadis went to where his father the King was having the camp fortified and arranging the necessities for battle, as his enemies were also doing. The armies spent two days there, and they never ceased to prepare all the men, each one according to his duty, to be very ready for the battle.
In the afternoon of the second day, King Arabigo’s spies reached the heights of the nearby mountains and tried not to reveal themselves because that was their orders. They saw the encampments as close to each other as we have said, and immediately they made that known to King Arabigo. He and all his knights agreed that the lookouts should return to where they could see everything that was happening, and that the army should remain hidden as much as it could and in a place where if troops were to come seeking them, they need not fear them because they could reach their ships over the mountains if they were in such straits that they had to. And if the two armies fought, they could leave there unsuspected and safely fall upon those whom they wished.
And so they positioned themselves in a place very rugged and strong, and they controlled and fortified the roads and passes of the mountain so they were as safe as if they were in a fortress. And there they awaited the warnings of their lookouts.
But they could not hide themselves so well that before they had arrived there, King Lisuarte had been advised about how they had disembarked in his lands and about the troops who were coming. For that reason he ordered that all supplies of food and cattle be withdrawn along with everything else from that territory, and that the people in the towns and unprotected areas should take refuge in cities and towns and keep watch and protect themselves and not leave until the battle was over. And he placed some of his knights in those cities and towns, which he dearly needed for what was about to take place, but he did not know more about what was happening or where Arcalaus’ men had gone.
King Perion also learned about those troops and distrusted them, but he did not know where they were. Thus both sides were afraid of them.
So, things being as they were, as ye hear, three days after the camps had been set up, Emperor Patin was very impatient for the battle to begin, for whether defeated or victorious he could not wait for the chance to return to his land, as often happens with fickle men who do things hastily and just as hastily are bored, as this man did in his caprice.
Amadis, Agrajes, and Sir Cuadragante and all the other knights also complained frequently to King Perion about their desire to do battle so that God might judge the truth. Although the King did not wish for it less than any of the others, he waited until everything had been prepared. Then he immediately sent orders to everyone that at dawn they should hear Mass and arm themselves, and each man should report to his captain because the battle would then begin. And the same was immediately done by their opponents as soon as they learned of it.
When dawn came, the trumpets were sounded, and they could so clearly hear each other it was as if they were together. The men began to arm themselves and saddle their horses, to go to the tents to hear Mass, and everyone mounted and went to their flags.
Who could be of such strength in memory that if he had seen it and had placed his whole mind to it, he could recount or write about the armor and the horses with their insignia and the knights that were together there? Certainly, the man who believed he could know all that and hold it in his thoughts would be very mad. Because of that, leaving aside generalities, something of the details shall be told here, and we will commence with the Emperor of Rome, who was brave of body and strong, and an exceedingly fine knight if his great arrogance and limited discretion had not diminished him.
He armed himself in black armor, his helmet as well as his shield and surcoat, except that on his shield he bore the figure of a damsel from the waist up resembling Oriana made of finely worked gold and decorated with many precious stones and pearls, attached to the shield with golden rivets, and upon his black visor were some very finely woven chains, which he took as an insignia and swore he would never abandon until he held Amadis prisoner in chains along with all those who had taken Oriana from him. He mounted a large, handsome horse and took his lance in his hand. And so he left the camp and went to where it had been agreed that his troops would assemble.
Immediately behind him came Floyan, Prince Salustanquidio’s brother, wearing black and yellow quartered armor with no other decoration, and yet he seemed very striking and outstanding among his men. Behind him came Arquisil, who wore blue and white armor with silver down the middle, all strewn with golden roses, so he was very noticeable.
King Lisuarte wore black armor with white eagles on it, and an eagle on his shield without any other decoration, which in the end turned out to have great worth, given what its owner did in that battle. King Cildadan wore completely black armor, for after he was defeated in the battle of one hundred against one hundred that he had fought against King Lisuarte, where he became his tributary, he never wore any other. Of Gasquilan, King of Suesa, nothing shall be told of his armor until the proper time, as ye shall hear farther on.
King Arban of North Wales, Sir Guilan the Pensive, and Sir Grumedan wished to wear armor that was more serviceable than showy to demonstrate their sadness at seeing their lord the King in such a serious confrontation with those who had once been in his court and his service, and who had brought him such honor.