What happened to Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Angriote d’Estravaus, and Branfil as they went on a mission of rescue with the Queen of Dacia.
[The postern gate at Denbigh Castle in northeast Wales. Photo from the glossary of castle terminology at the Castles of Wales website.]
The story says that Angriote d’Estravaus, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and his brother Branfil, after they left Queen Elisena, continued by sea, where they were guided by those who knew the way. The Queen, due to her distress and the pleasure of having found help for her danger, never even asked them where they were from nor who they were.
And as they sailed, one day she said:
“My good lords and friends, although I have you in my company, I know nothing more about you than I did before I found you and saw you the first time. I ask you, if ye please, to tell me so I will know how to treat you according to your honor and my own.”
“My good lady,” Angriote said, “learning our names, given what little ye know about us, would not increase nor decrease your relief nor aid, but since it would please you, we ought to tell you. Know that these two knights are brothers, and one is called Sir Bruneo of Bonamar and the other Branfil. Sir Bruneo is a brother-in-law of Amadis of Gaul, whom ye went seeking. And I am named Angriote d’Estravaus.”
When the Queen heard him say who they were, she said:
“Oh, my good lords! I give many thanks to God for finding you at such a time, and to you for the relief and pleasure ye have given my afflicted spirit in letting me know who ye are. Although I do not know you and had never seen you, news about you is heard everywhere, for those knights from Greece whom I spoke of to Queen Elisena and who were passing through my land had told and recounted to my husband the King the great battles that occurred between King Lisuarte and Amadis.
“As they spoke of things they had seen, they told him the names of all the most principal knights in the battles and many of the great deeds of chivalry they had done. And I recall that ye were recounted among the best, for which I thank our Lord, for truly I had been very concerned coming with you because ye were so few and I did not know if ye would suffice for the great purpose I have. But now I shall continue with more hope that my sons will be rescued and defended from that traitor.”
“My lady, since this is now our responsibility, no more could be put into it than all our efforts and our lives.”
“May God thank you,” she said, “and may I be granted a time when my sons and I shall repay you with the enlargement of your estates.”
So they sailed through the sea with no obstruction until they reached the Kingdom of Dacia. When they arrived, they agreed that the Queen should remain in her ship at sea until she saw how things were faring for them. They had their horses brought from the ship and armed themselves, and with their squires and the two unarmed knights who had been with the Queen when they went out to sea, who guided them, they took the road directly to the city where the Princes were, for it was equal to a long day’s ride to get there. And they ordered their squires to carry something to eat and barley for their horses because they would not be entering any towns.
And as I say to you, these three knights rode all day until it was late. They rested at the edge of a forest with thick brush, and there they and their horses ate. Immediately they remounted and rode so fast through the night that they arrived an hour before dawn at the camp, which they approached as hidden as they could to see where most of the men were so they could avoid them and go to the weakest area to enter the town. And so they did, and ordered their squires and the two knights traveling with them to stand guard while they tried to make their way.
All three attacked some ten knights they found before them, and at the first meeting each one knocked down his man, and their lances broke. Then they put their hands on their swords and struck so bravely that not only because of the great blows but because their opponents thought more men were attacking, they began to flee, shouting for help.
“It would be good to let them go and for us to reinforce those under siege.”
And so they did, and with their companions they reached the walls, where some of those inside had come because of the noise of their skirmish. The two knights coming with them called out and were immediately recognized, and those inside opened the postern gate from which they sometimes came out to attack their enemies, and through which Angriote and his companions entered. The Princes came there, because they had been awoken by the shouting, and they learned that those knights were coming to their aid and that their mother the Queen, whom they did not know if she were a prisoner or dead, was safe and sound, which gave them great pleasure.
Everyone there was especially encouraged by their arrival when they learned who they were, and they had them lodge with the Princes in their palace, where they were disarmed and they rested for a long time.
The Duke’s camp had been in an uproar from the shouts made by the knights who were fleeing, and with haste all the men both on foot and horseback came, but they did not know what the concern was, and before they were calmed, the day came. The Duke learned from his knights what had happened, and how they had seen no more than eight or ten men on horseback, although they had thought there were more, and that they had entered the town.
The Duke said:
“They could only be some locals who dared to go inside. I shall give orders to find out who they are, and if I learn it, they will lose all they have out here.”
Then he ordered everyone to disarm and go to their lodgings, as he did himself.
Angriote and his companions, after they had slept and rested, got up and heard Mass with the young Princes, who were waiting for them. And immediately they told them to order all their most important men to come there, and they did. The knights wished to learn how many men they had, to see if they were enough to go forth from the town and fight their enemies, and they urged those men to have everyone be armed and brought together in a large plaza so they could review them, and so they did.
When all had come, and when they knew for certain how many men the Duke had, they saw well that they were in no way disposed to take on the Duke’s men unless they were to employ some maneuver often used in war. All three took counsel and decided that in the coming night they would go out to attack their enemies with great caution, and that Sir Bruneo with the younger Prince, who was almost twelve years old, would leave in another part of town, attempt to get past their opponents, and go to some towns that were nearby. Because their inhabitants knew that the King was dead and their lords besieged and the Queen fled, they had not dared to come earlier to help. Instead, much against their will, they were sending food to the Duke’s encampment.
With their arrival, when the inhabitants saw the Prince and were encouraged by Sir Bruneo, some men might come to aid those who were besieged. And if that plan succeeded, they would make certain signals by night. Those in the city would come out to attack the camp, and Sir Bruneo would come with the men at another side of the town where they had no fear of attack, and in that way they could do great harm to their enemies.
This seemed like a good plan to them, and they consulted with some of the knights who seemed most worthy and in whom they could place the most confidence that they would serve the Princes in that attack despite the great danger that they were in. They all considered the plan worthy to carry out.
When night fell and most of it had passed, Angriote and Branfil, with all the men of the town, sallied forth to attack their enemies, and Sir Bruneo left in another place with the Prince, as we have told you. Angriote and Branfil, who rode ahead of the rest, passed down a walled road they had seen between some orchards during the day that led to the main encampment. It had been unprotected during the day, but at night it was guarded by fully twenty men. Angriote and Branfil attacked so bravely that the guards were immediately reduced to confusion, and the two knights chased the guards down as they fled. Some were killed and others injured, and as they were men of low degree and the knights were so skilled, they were quickly overcome and destroyed.
The shouts and noise from the injured were great, but Angriote and Branfil did nothing but continue on and attack more men who came from the camp and from other guard posts, and they left many of them in the power of their own men, for they did nothing but attack and kill until they reached the field containing the main encampment.
By then the Duke was on horseback, and when he saw his men being overcome by so few of his enemies, he was irate. He spurred his horse and went to attack them with all the troops that were with him, so fiercely that it seemed the entire camp was in battle. The men from the city were terrified and took shelter in the road by which they had come, so the only ones out fighting were those two knights, Angriote and Branfil. The entire fury of the Duke awaited them. So many men attacked them that although they gave extraordinary blows to those in the lead and they knocked the Duke from his horse, they were forced to retreat to the road where their men had taken shelter, and there, since the road was narrow, they stopped.
The Duke was not injured, although he had fallen, and immediately he was helped by his men and put back on his horse. He saw his opponents in that narrow road, and when he came to them, he felt anguish that only two knights could defend themselves against all the men he had brought and hold them at bay.
He shouted so that all could hear:
“Oh, what vile knights-errant to whom I give all I have! What shame is this that ye have not the strength to defeat two lone knights, for ye do not fight against more than two!”
Then he attacked and many others came with him, so many so fast that Angriote and Branfil and all their men unwillingly had to retreat a ways up the road. The Duke thought that they were already defeated and that in the press of men many could be killed, and he could take the town. As if he were already the victor he rode ahead of his men and came with his sword in his hand to Angriote, whom he found before him, and gave him a great blow on top of his helmet. But it did not take long for him to be repaid, because Angriote had been looking out for him after he heard him speak ill to his own men. He raised his sword and with all his strength struck him on the helmet with such a blow that he left him helpless and knocked him down to lay at the feet of his horse.
And when Angriote saw that, he shouted to his men to take him, for he was the Duke. He and Branfil rode ahead against the rest and attacked with great and weighty blows. The other men did not dare wait for them, but as the place was narrow, they could only attack to the front. In the meantime the Duke was taken prisoner by the men from the town, but he was so stunned and senseless that he did not know if he was being taken by his own men or by his opponents.
When his men saw him thus, they thought he was dead, and they retreated from that narrow road. Angriote and Branfil, when they saw that, because they knew the Duke was dead or prisoner and because their opponents were numerous and it would not be wise to attack them in a wide place, decided to return and consider it sufficient that their first assay had achieved so much. And so they did, and very slowly they returned to their men, very content at how the incident had gone, even though they had suffered some injuries, none of them great, and their arms were damaged.
But soon their horses died from their wounds, and they collected their men and returned to the town. They found the Prince, named Garinto, at the gate, and when he saw them coming safe and with his enemy the Duke as a prisoner, ye may imagine the pleasure he felt. Then they all took refuge in the town with great joy because they had captured their mortal enemy, who, as has been said, was still not conscious, nor was he in what remained of the night nor the next day until noon.
Sir Bruneo, who had departed from another gate of the town, knew nothing of this except for the shouting and great noise he heard. And because all the men outside had rushed to help, no one was there except for a few men on foot who were spread out and lacked leadership, he killed some, but he left others behind and passed them without hindrance so he would not lose the Prince, for whom he was responsible.
They rode during what remained of the night behind a man who guided them and rode a nag. When morning came, they saw in the distance the town where the guide was taking them, which was extremely fine and was called Alimenta.
Coming from it were the two armed knights the Duke had sent to find out who the knights were who had entered the town. They had also gone to other towns, but they had found no trace or clue about them. They were returning to tell that to the Duke, and, as he had ordered, they had told the people of the town to send all the supplies they could to the camp at the threat of great penalties.
Sir Bruneo, when he saw them, asked the guide if he knew who those two knights were and where they came from.
“My lord,” the man said, “they come on behalf of the Duke, for I have seen that armor many times riding outside the town along with many companions.”
Then Sir Bruneo said:
“Then watch over this young man and do not leave him alone, for I wish to see what kind of knights serve such a bad lord.”
Then he rode ahead a bit to meet them, who were not worried about him because they thought he was from the camp. When he drew closer, he said:
“Vile knights who dwell with that treacherous Duke and are his friends, protect yourselves from me, for I challenge you unto death.”
“Thy great arrogance shall be the payment for thy madness, for thinking that thou wert one of our own, we wished to leave thee pass. But now thou shalt pay with the death that thou speakest of for what a man of little sense as thou dares to attempt.”
They immediately galloped at each other as fast as their horses could go and struck each other mightily on their shields, and their lances flew into pieces, but one of the knights that Sir Bruneo struck fell to the ground at once with such a great crash on the field, which was hard, that neither his feet nor hands moved, and he lay as if he were dead.
Sir Bruneo put his hand on his sword with a very lively heart, and he attacked the other knight, who also had his hand on his sword and waited for him well covered by his shield, and they gave each other great and hard blows. But as Sir Bruneo was stronger and more experienced, he delivered so many blows that he made him drop the sword and lose both stirrups. The knight grabbed the horse’s neck and shouted:
“Oh, my lord knight, by God do not kill me!”
Sir Bruneo withheld his attack and said:
“Acknowledge your defeat.”
“I acknowledge it,” he said, “so I do not die and lose my soul.”
“Dismount the horse,” Sir Bruneo said, “and remain on foot until I order otherwise.”
He did so, but he was so dazed he could not stand up and fell to the ground. Sir Bruneo made him rise unwillingly and told him:
“Go to your companion and see if he is dead or alive.”
He did so as best he could, went to him and took the helmet from his head. And as the other knight got air, he recovered his breath and became more aware of himself.