How the Kings met to organize the weddings of the great lords and ladies, and what they decided.
[Marriage of Philip III and Marie of Brabant, Queen of France, a miniature in the manuscript Chroniques de France ou de St. Denis, British Library.]
The Kings met again as they had before, and they set the date of the weddings to be four days hence and the festivities to last for two weeks. At their conclusion, when everything had been settled, the kings would leave to return to their lands.
When the appointed day came, all the grooms met in Amadis’ lodgings, and they dressed in the fine and precious clothing that their great estate and the event required. And the brides did the same. The Kings and great lords took the grooms with them, mounted on richly adorned palfreys, and went to the garden, where they found the Queens and brides also on their palfreys.
They all rode together to the church, where the holy man Nasciano was ready to celebrate Mass. The marriage rites and weddings took place with the solemnities that the Holy Church requires, then Amadis came to King Lisuarte and told him:
“My lord, we wish to ask you for a favor that will not be troublesome to give.”
“I grant it,” the King said.
“Then, my lord, order Oriana to take the test of the Enchanted arch of the Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber before dinner, which she has not been able to do until now due to her great sadness, no matter how much we have begged and asked her to. I have such faith in her loyalty and her great beauty that there, where for a hundred years no woman has been able to enter no matter how much she excelled over all others, she shall enter without any difficulty. I saw the statue of Grimanesa there in such perfection that she seemed alive, made by the surpassing magic arts of her husband Apolidon, and her great beauty does not equal that of Oriana. And in that Forbidden Chamber, we shall hold the festivities of our weddings.”
The King told him:
“Good son, my lord, it is easy for me to comply with what ye ask, but I am concerned that with it we may cause some disturbance in these festivities, because often times, in fact always, great affections can fool the eyes and judge things to be opposite from what they are. This may be happening to you with my daughter Oriana.”
“Do not worry about that,” Amadis said, “for my heart tells me what I say shall be fulfilled.”
“Then if it pleases you, so be it,” the King said.
Then he went to his daughter, who was with the Queens and other brides, and he told her:
“My daughter, your husband has asked me for a favor, and it can only be fulfilled by you. I want you to make my word true.”
She knelt before him, kissed his hands, and said:
“My lord, may it please God that some way might come for me to serve you. Order whatever ye please, for it shall be done if I can accomplish it.”
The King raised her up, kissed her face, and said:
“My daughter, before eating ye should take the test of the Arch of the Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber, which is what your husband asked of me.”
When everyone heard that, many were pleased to see the test attempted, and others were upset because such a challenging thing had ended for so many women in failure, and so they thought that just as glory would be acquired by achieving it, if she failed she would risk dishonor and shame. But since they saw that the King had ordered it and Amadis had asked for it, they did not wish to say anything except that it should be done.
And so they left the church, and on horseback, rode to the line a the Arch that marked the limits beyond which no man or woman would be free to enter if they were not worthy of it. When they had arrived, Melicia and Olinda told their husbands that they also wished to take that test, which gave great joy to their hearts to see the how they were emboldened with true loyalty. But fearing that some reversal could occur, they said they were very content and satisfied by their wishes, and as far as they were concerned, they should not undertake that effort. But the wives said they ought to take the test, and if they had been elsewhere, they could be excused, but since they were there, they did not wish others to think that they had failed to try because of what they knew they truly felt.
“Then, if it is so,” the husbands said, “we cannot deny that we would receive greater favor from it than from any other thing.”
They immediately told this to the King and the other lords.
“In the name of God,” they said, “and may He be pleased by it, for it would add greater pleasure to our festivities.”
They all dismounted and agreed that first Melicia and Olinda would enter, and so they did, and one after the other they passed the line and without any difficulty walked beneath the Arch and entered the room where the statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa were. The trumpet held by the image above them played very sweetly, and they were all cheered by that tune, which no one had witnessed except those who had already seen or attempted the test.
Oriana came to the line, looked at Amadis and blushed, then turned to enter, and when she came halfway to the site, the image began to play a sweet song. And when she arrived beneath the Arch, so many flowers and roses emerged from the mouth of the trumpet that the entire field was covered with them, and the song was so sweet and so different from the others it had played that everyone there felt such great delight within themselves that as long as the song lasted they did not wish to depart from there.
But when she passed through the Arch, the song immediately ceased. Oriana found Olinda and Melicia, who were looking at the statues and their names, which they found written in the jasper, and when they saw her, they came to her very pleased and took her between themselves by the hand and returned to the statues. Oriana looked very closely at Grimanesa, and she saw clearly that neither of the two nor any of the women outside were as beautiful as she was. She had great doubts about the test of the Chamber, for to enter she would have to exceed Grimanesa in beauty, and if it had been left to her will, she would not have tried, although she never had any doubts about the test of the Arch since she knew in her most hidden heart that it had never been given to anyone other than her beloved Amadis.
And so they remained there a while and would have stayed longer if the day were not such that the others were awaiting them. They decided to leave there, all three together, so content and joyful that those who were waiting looked at them, and it seemed as if their beauty had increased quite a bit, and they believed that any of the three was sufficient to pass the test of the Chamber. And this was caused, as I say, by their great happiness, for all beauty is increased by joy just as to the contrary it is distressed and diminished by sadness.
Their three husbands, Amadis and Agrajes and Sir Bruneo, who had already passed the test, as the second book of this story has already told you, came to them, which none of the others who were there could have done. When they arrived, the trumpet began to play a song again and emit flowers, which fell over their heads. They embraced their wives and kissed them, and so all six left the Arch.
This done, they agreed to go to the test of the Chamber, although some were very concerned that it could not be successfully completed. When they arrived at the site in the castle hall, Grasinda came to Amadis and told him:
“My lord, although my beauty may not help me as much as the desire in my heart wishes were so, I cannot contain my madness. I desire to test myself in that doorway, for, certainly, I would never cease to feel sorrow if I did not attempt the test. Regardless of what may happen, I still wish to try.”
Amadis thought that all the women should attempt the test before his lady did so that she would achieve glory over all the others, for he never doubted that she would pass although he did doubt the others would. He answered Grasinda by saying:
“My good lady, I do not consider what ye say to be anything other than grandeur in your heart to wish to attempt what so many other beautiful women failed to do. So may it be done.”
Then he took her by the hand, went forward, and said:
“My lords, this very beautiful lady wishes to take this test, as ye, my ladies Olinda and Melicia, should also do, for it would require great cowardice, God having distributed among you such extreme beauty, to fail to attempt such an exemplary thing out of fear. It may be that one of you may pass the test, and ye would free Oriana from her great dread.”
That was what he said publicly, but it was all dissembled because he knew well, as has been said, that none of them could pass except his lady, for neither Grimanesa in her time nor later any other lady in any way could approach her beauty.
Everyone said they should to it, and immediately Grasinda commended herself to God, entered the Forbidden area, and with little difficulty reached the copper pillar. She went forward and near the marble pillar she was detained, but with difficulty and great spirit she showed she was a much stronger woman than expected and reached the pillar, but from there she was pulled without mercy by her beautiful hair and thrown from the area so stunned that she was senseless.
Sir Cuadragante took her away and although he knew for certain she was in no danger, he could not avoid feeling very sorry and having great pity for her, for although this knight now was no longer a young man and his heart had never been captivated in love by any woman any more than he himself could have been, what he had earlier forgotten along with what he saw before him came over him like a blow in such a way that he would not have allowed any man to say he desired and loved his lady more.
Immediately Olinda the Moderate came forward, bringing Agrajes by the hand, who gave her great courage, but he did not hold much hope, for neither his great love nor affection for her kept him from realizing that she did not equal Grimanesa’s beauty, although he believed she was among the more beautiful of women. When they came to the area, he let go of her hand; she entered and went straight to the copper pillar, and from there she continued to the marble one, and she felt nothing. But when she wished to go farther, the resistence was so great that no matter how she tried, she could take only one step beyond, and then she was thrown out like the other lady.
Melicia entered with a gentle mein and healthy heart, for she was the most hale and very beautiful. She passed both columns and they all believed she would enter the chamber, and Oriana, who thought she would, was beyond herself with anguish. But she took one more step than Olinda had and then was stunned and thrown out with no more mercy than the others, as senseless as if she were dead, for the farther forward each one went, the greater was the penalty that each received given her achievement, as had happened to the knights before Amadis passed the test. Sir Bruneo’s rants for her moved many to pity, but those who knew how little danger she was in laughed a lot to see it.
This being done, Amadis took Oriana, in whom all the beauty of the world was united, and led her to the area with very relaxed steps and a very modest face. She crossed herself and commended herself to God and entered, and without feeling a thing she passed the pillars. When she had come one step away from the chamber, she felt many hands pushing her and turning her away, and so she was turned around three times until she was near the marble pillar. But she only pushed them aside one after another with her beautiful hands, and it seemed to her that she was touching other arms and hands.
And so with a great deal of effort and spirit, and above all with great beauty, extremely more than Grimanesa’s, as has been said, she reached the door of the chamber exhausted and held onto one of the lintels. Then it seemed that the same arm and hand that had taken hold of Amadis reached out and took her by the hand, and she heard more than twenty voices singing sweetly that said:
“Welcome noble lady whose great loveliness has surpassed the beauty of Grimanesa. Ye shall be the companion for the knight more valiant and courageous in arms that Apolidon, who in his time had no par, that has won the right to be lord of this island. His descendants shall reign over it for a long time and from it shall win other realms.”
Then the arm and hand pulled, and Oriana entered the chamber, where she felt as happy as if the world were her realm, not merely for her beauty but because her beloved Amadis was lord of the island. Without any difficulty he would be her companion in that beautiful chamber, and she had removed all hope forever for any woman to come to test herself, no matter how beautiful she might be.
Isanjo, the knight and governor of the island, then said:
“My lords, enchantments of this island have now been fully undone and none remains, as was established by he who left them here. He did not wish them to endure after a lord and lady were found who could complete these tests, as these have. Without any impediment all ladies can enter here as all men could after Amadis completed the test.”
Then the Kings and Queens entered, and all the other knights, and ladies and damsels: everyone who was there. They saw the finest and most delightful dwelling as was ever seen, and they all embraced Oriana as if they had not seen her for a long time. Such was their pleasure and joy that no one thought about eating or any other thing but about gazing upon that extraordinary chamber.
Amadis ordered that tables be brought to that grand chamber right away, and so it was done. Finally the brides and grooms, and Kings, and those who could fit, rested and ate in the chamber, where a great variety of delicacies and fruit of all kinds and wines were properly served.
When night came, after eating, in that very beautiful portion of the chamber, which we have told you in the second book was much finer than all the rest and was set apart by a glass wall, they made the bed for Amadis and Oriana to lodge there, and for the Emperor and the other knights with their wives in other chambers, for there were many of them and very fine. There they fulfilled their great and mortal desires, because of which they had suffered many dangers and great troubles. They made women of those who were not yet, and those who were took no less pleasure than them in their very beloved husbands.