Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chapter 133 [part 1 of 3]

How, after King Lisuarte returned to his lands from Firm Island, he was taken prisoner by enchantment, and what happened regarding that. 

[King John hunting a deer with hounds. A miniature from the Law Codes of Henry I from 1321, held as part of the Cotton Manuscripts at the British Library.]

The story tells that after King Lisuarte departed from Firm Island with his wife, Queen Brisena, leaving behind their newlywed daughters and the other ladies who were married at the same time, as ye have heard, he went directly to his town of Fenusa because it was a seaport and surrounded by forests that held a great deal of wild game, a very healthy and happy place where he often went to relax. And when he was there, in order to give some rest and repose to his spirit for its recent labors, he soon began to give himself over to hunting and other sports that provided him with the greatest pleasure, and so he passed a long period of time.

But when this began to tire him, as with all things of the world when a man follows them for too long, he turned his thoughts to the past and how great knights had once filled his court, and the great adventures these knights had, and how they brought him such great honor and fame that he was renowned and praised to the heavens throughout the world. And although at his age he should have sought repose and relaxation, his will had been infused and habituated to a different kind of life for so very long that it could not be content.

Due to the thoughts of the sweetness of past glory and the bitterness of not having nor being able to acquire it in the present, his mind was so grieved that at times he seemed to have lost his good judgement and could not take joy or consolation in anything that came to him. And what most aggravated his spirit was remembering how his honor had been so much diminished due to past battles and events with Amadis, so that now everyone said that more out of necessity than virtue he had ended that conflict.

So with these thoughts, melancholy fell over him in such a way that this man, who had been so powerful, graced, humane, and feared by all, became sad, pensive, and withdrawn without wishing to see anyone at all, as happens to most of those who pass their time in good fortune without suffering setbacks or obstacles to trouble them. Their strength weakens, and they cannot withstand nor know how to resist the hard and cruel blows of adverse fortune.

The King customarily heard Mass each morning, and with only his good and valued sword on his belt, would traverse the forest on horseback with a crossbowman for a long time, brooding, and at times shooting with the crossbow, and that seemed to give him rest. Then one day it happened that when he was some distance from the town in the thick forest, he saw a damsel coming toward him on a palfrey as fast as it could gallop through the brush, shouting for God to help her. Seeing her, he rode toward her and said:

“Damsel, what has happened to you?”

“Oh, my lord,” she said, “by God and by mercy help my sister, whom I left behind with an evil man who wishes to rape her!”

The King felt sorry for her and said:

“Damsel, guide me, and I shall follow you.”

Then they turned down the same road she had come from, as fast as she could spur her palfrey. They rode until, through the thick brush, the King saw an unarmed man holding a damsel by her hair and pulling on it to drag her down, and she was screaming. The King arrived on horseback shouting for him to release the damsel. When the man saw him coming near, he let her go and fled into the thick brush. The King followed on horseback, but he could not go far because of the branches. When he realized that, he dismounted as fast as he could with the desire to capture him and give him the punishment such an insult deserved, for he thought the man could be from his realm.

He ran behind him, shouting at him, and when they had passed through the underbrush, he found a wide clearing where he saw that a tent had been pitched, which the man he was chasing had entered. The King came to the tent door and saw a lady, and the man who had fled behind her, as if he thought she would protect him. The King said:

“Lady, is this man in your company?”

“Why do ye ask?” she said.

“Because I wish you to give him to me so I may do justice, because if not for me, there where I found him he would have raped a damsel.”

The lady said:

“Knight, enter and I shall hear what ye say. And if it is as ye say, I shall give him to you, for ever since I was a damsel I have held my honor in great esteem, and I would not allow any other damsel to be dishonored.”

The King quickly went to where the lady was, and at the first step he took inside the tent, he fell to the ground as insensible as if he were dead. Then the damsels arrived whom he had followed, and with the lady and the man who was there, they picked up the King, who was unconscious. Two other men came from the trees and took down the tent. They all went to the seashore, which was close by and where they had a ship so well hidden beneath tree branches that it could hardly be seen. They put him on board and set sail. This was done quickly and secretively in a place where no one could see them or know what was happening.

The King’s crossbowman, who was on foot, had not been able to follow the King because he had left too fast to rescue the damsel, and when he reached the horse, he was amazed to find it alone. He entered the brush as fast as he could searching everywhere, but he found nothing. Soon he found the clearing where the tent had been, and from there he returned to the horse, mounted it, and rode for a long time from one end of the forest to the other and along the seashore.

And because he had found nothing, he decided to return to the town, and when he neared it and people there saw him, they thought the King had sent him for something, but he said nothing and rode until he had arrived where the Queen was. He dismounted and hurried into the palace. When he saw her, he told her everything he had seen regarding the King and how he had searched diligently without finding him.

When the Queen heard this, she was very upset and said:

“Oh, Holy Mary! What will become of my lord the King if I have lost him to some misfortune!”

Then she had her nephew King Arban and Cendil of Ganota called and told them the news. They remained cheerful, giving her hope that there was nothing to fear, for there was no danger to the King because he could have quickly become lost in the forest in his haste to avenge the damsel. And since he knew that area, where he had often gone to hunt, he would not take long to return. If he had left the horse, it was only because the trees were so thick that it was not useful.

But fearing the truth more than they showed, they quickly went to arm themselves and mount their horses, and they had all the townspeople come with them, and as fast as they could they entered the forest bringing the crossbowman to guide them, and the townspeople, who were many, spread out everywhere. But neither they nor those knights, despite all their efforts in their search, learned anything about what had happened to the King.

The Queen spent the entire day waiting with great disturbance and alteration to her spirit for some news, but no one dared to return with the little results they had found. Instead, everyone in that town and all those in the region, when they learned what was happening, never ceased to search with great diligence.

When night came, the Queen decided to send messengers and letters as fast as she could to as many places as she could. She spent the night sleepless. At dawn, Sir Grumedan and Giontes arrived, and when the Queen saw them, she asked them if they knew anything about their lord the King. Sir Grumedan said:

“We know nothing more than what they told Giontes and me in the lodge where we were hunting, that many people were searching for him. Thinking we could learn some news here, we decided not to go anywhere else. But since we have learned nothing here, we must immediately join the search.”

“Sir Grumedan,” the Queen said, “I cannot find rest nor repose nor aid, nor can I think of what this may mean. And if I were to stay here, I would die of anguish, and so I have decided to go with you, because if good news were to come there, I will learn it faster there than here, and if it does not, I shall not cease to undertake the labor that I rightly must until I die.”

Then she ordered them to bring her a palfrey. With Sir Grumedan, Sir Giontes, and a lady who was the wife of Brandoivas, they went to the forest as fast as they could and rode in it for three days, always lodging in a town, where, if it were not for Sir Grumedan, she would not have eaten at all, but with his great effort he made her eat a little. Every night she sleep dressed beneath trees, for although they found some homes, she did not wish to enter them, saying that her great anguish would not let her.

At the end of that time, it happened that among the many people they met in the forest they found King Arban of North Wales, very sad and fatigued, and his horse so weak and tired it could not carry him. When the Queen saw him, she said:

“Good nephew, what news do you bring of my lord the King?”

Tears came to his eyes and he said:

“My lady, nothing more than what I knew when I left your presence. And believe, my lady, that so many of us are searching and we have looked with so much urgency and labor that it would be impossible not to find him if he were on this side of the sea. But I think that if he has suffered some trickery, he would not have been kept in his kingdom. And truly, my lady, I was always worried by his strange behavior, so withdrawn into himself and so careless about his safety, because princes and great lords who govern and control many people cannot use their position so justly and clemently that they will not be feared, and where there is fear but not love, then hatred soon arrives.

“For this reason, they must be very careful about their safety, so that smaller men do not dare to do anything against their grandeur, for otherwise, often they would not have thought about such things. May God be pleased in His mercy to put me where I may see him and say this and many other things, and I have hope that God will do so. And ye, my lady, should have that hope, too.”

When the Queen heard this, she lost her senses and fainted dead away, falling from her palfrey. Sir Grumedan jumped off his horse as fast as he could and took her in his arms. He held her for a long time, for she seemed more dead than alive to him. When she regained consciousness, she said with great pain and an abundance of tears:

“Treacherous and terrifying fortune, hope of the miserable, cruel enemy of the prosperous, perturbation of worldly things, what could I praise of thee? If in the past thou madest me lady of many realms, obeyed and attended by many people, and above all joined by marriage to such a powerful and virtuous King, in a single moment by taking him thou hast carried off and robbed me of everything, and if in losing him thou leavest me worldly goods, that gives me no hope to recover rest nor pleasure, but instead to cause me much greater pain and bitterness, because if I valued them and gave them consideration, it was only because of he who ruled and protected them.

“Truly, with much greater cause I could thank thee if thou wert to leave me as one of these simple women without fame or pomp because I would forget my petty and minor troubles and shed my tears for the harsh cruelty done to others. But why shall I complain about thee? Thy trickery and mighty reversals, bringing down those who thou hadst raised up, are so plain to all that they should complain not about thee but about themselves for having trusted thee.”

So the noble Queen sat on the ground and mourned, and her foster father, Sir Grumedan, on his knees, holding her hands, consoled her with very sweet words, as he in whom all virtue and discretion dwelled, with the pity and love he had shown when she was in a crib. But consolation was not needed since she fainted so many times that she was without sense and almost dead, which caused great pain to those who saw her.
And when after a time her spirit had recovered some strength, she said to Sir Grumedan:

“Oh my faithful and true friend, I beg thee that just as in my first days thy hands gave reason for my growth, now in my final days may thy same hands receive my death.”

Sir Grumedan, seeing that a reply would not be needed due to her condition, was quiet and said nothing. Instead, he decided it would be good to take her to a town where she might get some help. So he did, and he and the knights who where there put her on her palfrey, and Sir Grumedan rode behind the saddle holding her in his arms, and they took her to the houses of some huntsmen who guarded the forest for the King. They immediately sent for beds and other comforts so she might rest. But she never wished to be anywhere other than in the poorest bed that they found there. She spent several days without knowing where to go nor what to do with herself.

When Sir Grumedan saw her more reposed, he said:

“Noble and powerful Queen, where has your great discretion fled at the time when ye need it the most, when so unadvisedly ye seek and ask for death, forgetting that with it all worldly things shall perish? What aid would it be for your so beloved husband if your spirit left your flesh? By chance with that would ye buy his health and remedy for his ailments? Instead, truly, it is entirely contrary to what wise people ought to do, for valor and discretion was established and provided for such challenges by the most high Lord, and more with great courage and diligence than with excessive tears ought the fates of friends to be aided. If I were to offer you a way to help him, I would have ye know how I have considered the matter.

“Ye well know, my lady, that besides the knights and many vassals that live in your realms who with great affection and love, follow, and comply with your orders, from the blood of your royal house hangs almost all Christendom today, both in its strength and in its great empires and domains rising above all else like the heavens over the earth. Then, who would doubt that these people, knowing of this great troubling venture, would not like yourself wish to bring remedy to it? And if your husband the King is in these lands, we who are his people will supply that remedy, and if by chance he is across the sea, what land is so desert nor what people so brave that they could refuse to offer aid for him?

“And so, my good lady, setting aside the things that bring more harm than good, taking consolation and counsel again, let us continue in what can benefit and bring health and aid to this affair.”

When the Queen heard what Sir Grumedan said, she turned from death to life. And knowing that he spoke in complete truth, she set aside her tears and great complaints and decided to send a messenger to Amadis, who was nearest at hand, confident that his good fortune would as at other times bring remedy to this matter. She immediately sent Brandoivas to look for Amadis as fast as he could and to give him her letter, which read:

Letter from Queen Brisena to Amadis

“If in times past, fortunate knight, this royal house was protected and defended by your great courage, in this present time, with greater obligation than ever, with great affection and affliction, ye are called. If the great benefits received from you were not rewarded as your great virtue deserved, be content, because the just Judge, powerful in all things, in our defect has wished to pay you by raising up your affairs to the heavens and bringing ours down below the earth. Know ye, my very beloved son and true friend, that just as lightning in the dark night redoubles the vision of the eyes in which it blazes, if it suddenly departs, it leaves them in greater shadows and darkness than before; and so having before my eyes the royal personage of King Lisuarte, my husband and lord, who was light and flame for them and all my senses, being snatched from me in a moment, has left them with bitterness and abundant tears, and they soon may expect death. And because the matter is so painful that neither my strength nor my judgment can write of them, I leave that to the discretion of my messenger. I bring this letter to an end, as well as my sad life if the remedy for it is not seen soon.”

When the letter was finished, she ordered Brandoivas to tell Amadis more extensively the unfortunate news, and he immediately departed with the will that a very faithful servant like him ought to have.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Summary, Chapters 115 to 132

Wars are won, weddings are celebrated, and the story continues. 

A carrack, a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th and 15th centuries in Europe. Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santa María was a carrack.

Summary to Chapter 115

Amadis has provoked a war with King Lisuarte. The King sent his daughter, Oriana, off in a fleet of ships to marry the Emperor of Rome, and Amadis and his friends attack the fleet, defeated it, and take Oriana to safety at Firm Island, which belongs to Amadis. Few people know that Oriana and Amadis are secretly in love. In fact, they even have a son named Esplandian, who has been raised since infancy by a holy hermit named Nasciano.

For the war, King Lisuarte has received aid and troops from the Emperor of Rome, among other allies. Amadis is supported by his old friends and by new friends he made during his years of travel as a knight errant. They have sent troops and supplies, and his army is led by his father, King Perion.

Meanwhile, Arcalaus the Sorcerer, who is a sworn enemy of Amadis, has raised his own army, allying with King Arabigo of Arabia. They plan to wait until the other two armies have exhausted themselves fighting, and then will swoop down and conquer them both.

After some hard battles, in which Amadis kills the Emperor of Rome, both sides have suffered great losses, but Lisuarte’s side is so weakened that he knows he will be defeated if another battle is held. At this time, the hermit Nasciano comes to make peace. With permission from Oriana, he tells Lisuarte that she and Amadis are married and that the boy Esplandian is his grandson. Nasciano then speaks to Amadis and Perion, and they all agree to peace.

Chapter 115

The armies of King Perion and King Lisuarte withdraw. Lisuarte has known for some time that Arcalaus and King Arabigo are present with an army, but he does not know where. As Arcalaus is about to attack Lisuarte’s troop, Esplandian and a friend are riding to Lisuarte to deliver a message. They see Arcalaus’s troops charging down a mountainside toward the remains of Lisuarte’s army, which is retreating as fast as possible to take refuge in a town.

Esplandian rides to the other camp and informs Perion and Amadis, and Amadis gathers up some troops and gallops off to rescue King Lisuarte, followed by Perion and the rest of the army.

Chapter 116

King Lisuarte and his men fight bravely, suffer bad casualties, and barely make it inside the walled town. They hold off their besiegers for the rest of the day. But they are few, and the town’s wall is in poor shape. They cannot resist for long.

Chapter 117

Amadis and his men ride all night, arrive at dawn, and attack. By then the troops of Arabigo and Arcalaus have entered the city. Lisuarte and his men are fighting to the death, when Amadis’s troops, cheering “Gaul! Gaul!” sweep in and are victorious. Arcalaus and King Arabigo are captured. King Lisuarte and Amadis greet each other with an embrace. King Perion arrives, and with Nasciano’s help, a lasting and joyful peace is negotiated.

Chapter 118

Everyone is told that Amadis and Oriana were secretly wed, and Amadis pledges to be a loyal and loving son-in-law to King Lisuarte. Esplandian is surprised and pleased to learn that Lisuarte and Perion are his grandfathers and Amadis is his father.

Chapter 119

King Lisuarte goes back to Great Britain to bring his wife and younger daughter to Firm Island for the wedding between Amadis and Oriana. The younger daughter will marry the new Emperor of Rome.

Chapter 120

King Perion and his troops return to Firm Island, where formal weddings are planned between Amadis and Oriana, and between other fine ladies and brave knights and royalty.

Chapter 121

Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Angriote d’Estravaus, and Branfil sail to Gaul. There they pick up Amadis’ mother and brother to return with them to Firm Island for the wedding. While at sea, they encounter a ship carrying the Queen of Dacia, whose son-in-law has taken her kingdom by treachery. The three knights go off to right that wrong while the others continue to Firm Island.

Chapter 122

Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Angriote d’Estravaus, and Branfil, with the Queen of Dacia, travel to her kingdom, and by their courage and superior military tactics, manage to retake it for the Queen and her two sons.

Chapter 123

King Lisuarte and his family arrive at Firm Island, to great joy and festivities. Then to everyone’s surprise, Urganda the Unrecognized, a sorceress who has helped Amadis often in the past, arrives in a huge smoking dragon as a ship.

Chapter 124

Amadis arranges weddings between worthy knights and fine ladies.

Chapter 125

On the morning before the wedding day, Oriana and some other ladies take the tests of the Enchanted Arch of Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber, which no one can enter. Only Oriana passes them both, breaking the spell, and the wedding feast is held in the beautiful Forbidden Chamber.

Chapter 126

Urganda the Unrecognized delivers a prophecy that Esplandian will be outstanding when he becomes a knight, then she sails off, but she leaves the dragon to serve Esplandian when the time comes. Kings, Queens, knights, ladies, and other nobles return home. Others make plans to take the kingdoms of Arabiga and Sansuena, whose leaders have been killed or captured in the most recent war.

Chapter 128

Now at peace at Firm Island, Amadis is out hunting one day when he is approached by Darioleta, a lady who serves his father and who has arrived in a boat. An evil giant has killed her son and taken her family prisoner. Amadis rushes off with her to rescue them. The giant is named Balan, and because Amadis had killed his father some time ago in a war, Balan wants to kill Amadis. Without revealing who he is, Amadis challenges the giant, and in a difficult fight, Amadis defeats Balan but does not kill him. The giant’s troops attack, and Amadis takes shelter among some rocks.

Chapter 129

When the giant recovers consciousness in his castle, he reminds everyone that he had promised that the knight would be safe, regardless of the outcome of the fight. He has Amadis brought to the castle, surrenders, and promises to make amends to Darioleta. He is shocked to learn that his opponent is Amadis, and to keep his word, Balan offers him his friendship.

Meanwhile, back at Firm Island, a friend of Amadis, a knight named Grasandor, goes in search of Amadis. He has a complicated adventure during his travels, and finally finds Amadis.

Chapter 130

Amadis and Grasandor set sail for Firm Island and on the way visit an island called the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel. The damsel is long gone, but she left behind an enchanted treasure, and Amadis wants to see if he can break the enchantment. On the island’s mountaintop, they realize the treasure is meant for Esplandian, but as they are leaving, they encounter Gandalin, Amadis’s former squire, now a knight. He is pursuing a knight who stole a damsel and who might be hiding on the island. They find him and the damsel, and Amadis manages to reconcile everyone.

When they return to Firm Island, Amadis is met by a lady who gets him to pledge to help her release her husband, who is imprisoned. Then he learns that her husband is Arcalaus. Against his will, he lets Arcalaus go, who promises to be his mortal enemy again, although eventually the sorcerer’s virtuous wife convinces him to live in peace.

Balan, meanwhile, now that he is a friend to Amadis and his family and friends, goes to help Sir (now King) Galaor and other kings and knights in their fight to conquer the kingdom of Arabigo.

Chapter 131

Balan is welcomed by Galaor and all the others, and Balan pledges his help.

Chapter 132

Balan persuades his old friend, King Arabigo, to surrender his kingdom. Then Balan and other knights go on to conquer the Kingdom of Sansuena, and the story returns to what has been happening to King Lisuarte.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chapter 132

Which tells of Agrajes’ reply to the giant Balan. 

[The city walls of Ávila, Spain. Photo by Elena F D.]

Agrajes answered him and said:

“My good lord Balan, I wish to respond to what ye said about your enmity with my lord and cousin Amadis, now that these lords and I have rendered thanks for what ye have promised, and if my answer does not conform to your will, accept it as a knight, for although I may not be your equal in matters of arms, perhaps by being older and having used them longer, I know more than you about how to use them.

“And I say that knights who with just cause enter into confrontations and in them do their duty without failing in anything that reason requires of them, thereby fulfilling what they swore to do, are to be much praised because they lack nothing in their will and deed. But those who seek to go beyond the limits of reason and into fantasy will be judged as more arrogant and delusional than strong and courageous by those who have achieved honor.

“It is well-known to all, and, my lord, it cannot be unknown to you, the manner of death of your father, for had fate consented to his daring to take King Lisuarte as he did, he would have been famous and praised to the heavens, and the dishonor and disdain for those who served and aided that King would have been placed in the abysm. And so ye should not have been surprised that Amadis, envious of the glory that your father hoped to reach, wished it for himself, as all good men should and ought to do.

“Thus a death such as this, considering that each man sought to do what he ought and with it to achieve great praise, should not be the cause for vengeance by anyone, for a great deal of honor is put forth to pardon deeds done faithfully.

“So, my lord, regarding your father, and regarding what happened with you and Amadis, no just cause for complaint can be found, since ye and he fully complied with everything knights ought to do. And if any blame can be made, it is to fate, which was pleased to favor him with more help and preference than to you.

“Finally, my dear friend, consider it good that while your honor has remained complete and faultless, ye have won the friendship of that noble knight and all these lords and brave knights that ye see here and many others that ye could see if ye found yourself to be in need of them.”

When the giant Balan heard this, he said:

“My lord Agrajes, although no admonishment was necessary for the satisfaction of my will, I thank you deeply for what ye have said to me because, although in this case it could have been excused, that is no reason for future cases to be given such an excuse. And ceasing to speak more of this as a forgotten thing of the past, it would be good if we were to reach agreement in how to bring an end to this confrontation with the courage and care that men must have who leave the safety of their homes to conquer distant lands.”

Sir Galvanes said:

“My good lord, these knights should go to their lodgings, for it is time to sup, and ye should rest tonight. Tomorrow, when your tents have been put up and your men settled, then with your advice the order shall be given for what should be done.”

And so all those lords went to their camps, and Sir Galvanes and King Galaor remained with the giant, and that night he supped pleasantly with them in the great and fine tent ye have heard of. And when supper was over, the King went to his tents and they remained and slept in fine beds.

When morning came, the giant told Sir Galvanes that he wished to mount and circle the city to see how it was laid out and where it would be best to fight. Sir Galvanes made this known to King Galaor, and the both went with him. Because of the city’s large population, it had many great towers and fortified walls. It was the capital of all that great realm including the Islands of Landas, and the main residence of the kings as they ruled in succession and strove to make it grow in population and to fortify it as much as they could. Thus it was exceptionally grand and strong.

When they had examined it, Balan said to them:

“My lords, how do ye think we can undertake such a great thing as this?”

Sir Galaor said:

“There is nothing greater nor stronger in the world than a man’s heart, and if those inside are courageous, I greatly doubt that we could take the city by force. But since whenever there are many men there always comes great discord, especially when fortune goes against them, and weakness comes quickly to those in discord, I have no doubt that just as other impregnable places are lost for this reason, this city shall be lost.”

As they were speaking of these and other things, all three went together to the encampments of Sir Cuadragante and Sir Bruneo and their other companions, where they were considering where they could best launch an attack. When they had neared Agrajes’ tents, the good and courageous Enil came to them and said:

“My lord Balan, Agrajes asks you to see King Arabigo, whom I hold prisoner in my tent and who wishes to speak with you, for when he was told about your arrival, he sent with great affection and love to ask Agrajes to give him permission and to beg you to see him.”

The giant told him:

“Good knight, I am very happy to do so, and it may be that this visit will obtain better results than great confrontations from which more is expected.”

So they all went to Enil’s tent. King Galaor and Sir Galvanes left to join Sir Bruneo, and the giant dismounted and entered the room where King Arabigo was, which was decorated with fine carpets and drapery, and he was dressed nobly, for Agrajes had ordered him to be served as a king. But he wore such strong and heavy shackles that he could not take a single step. When the giant saw him, he knelt before him and wished to kiss his hands, but the King pulled him close and embraced him, weeping, and said:

“My friend Balan, how do I seem to thee? Am I that great king whom thy father and thou often visited, finding me in court accompanied by high princes and knights and my other royal friends, as thou often didst, expecting to conquer and reign over a large part of the world? Truly, I rather think thou wouldst consider me a lowly man, a prisoner, captive, dishonored, placed under the power of my enemies, as thou well seest. And what brings the greatest pain to my sad heart is that those from whom I hoped for the greatest aid, such as thee and other mighty giants whom I considered friends, instead I see coming to put an end and finish to my total destruction.”

Having said that, he could no longer speak due to the many tears that overcame him. Balan told him:

“Manifest it is to me, for my eyes had seen it so, that it was true what thou, good King Arabigo, have said about seeing thee well accompanied and honored with much preparation and expectation to conquer great realms. And if now I see thee so changed and altered, do not doubt that my spirit has also felt a great alteration, because although my estate is much different in greatness compared to thine, I do not fail to feel the cruel and heavy blows of fortune, for thou already knowest, good King, how the very courageous Amadis of Gaul killed my father Madanfabul.

“And when I most hoped vengeance to come for that death, my adverse and contrary fortune wished that by this same Amadis I was defeated and subjugated by force of arms, he having the liberty to give me death or life. And because the great degree of anguish and sadness that subjugates thee does not put thee in a situation to listen to such a long account about it as I could tell thee, be it enough to know that by being defeated by he whom I so much wished to defeat and kill with my own hands if I could have, I have come here where with such legitimate cause that I could match or exceed thy tears with those my presence could cause thee to spill, for no less than thou would I need consolation.

“But knowing the great and varied turns the world takes, and how discretion is given to follow reason, I undertook to befriend the man who was my greatest mortal enemy, for I could not do otherwise since I had just cause and left no obligations undone by weakness. And if thou, noble King, takest my counsel, thou shalt do so because I know very well it would be good for thee, and I, as he whom in rigor and discord must be thine enemy, could be in concord thy loyal friend.”

He, when he heard this, said:

“What concord could I make over losing my kingdom?”

“To content thyself,” the giant said, “with the best thou couldst obtain.”

“Would it not be better,” he said, “to die than to see myself diminished and dishonored?”

“Because death takes away all hope,” Balan said, “and often with life and the passage of time desires are satisfied and great losses are remedied, it is a much greater advantage to procure life than to desire death among those who can make from their losses greater advantage than dishonor.”

“Balan, my friend,” the King said, “I wish to be guided by thy counsel, and I place everything that thou seest to do about it in thy hands. And I ask thee that although outside thou provest to be my enemy in my absence, when thou comest to my presence in this prison thou seest and advisest me as a friend.”

“So I shall do,” the giant said, “without fail.”

Then he bid him farewell, took Enil, and went to Sir Bruneo of Bonamar’s tent, where he found King Galaor, Agrajes, Sir Galvanes, and many other knights of great estate, who received him and welcomed him with much pleasure. He told them that because he had talked with King Arabigo about things they ought to know of, they should decide if it was necessary to have some other men there. Agrajes told him it would be good to call for Sir Cuadragante, Sir Brian of Monjaste, and Angriote d’Estrauvas, and so they came with other knights of great renown.

Then, the giant told them everything that had happened with King Arabigo, leaving nothing out. Although Balan pledged to remain and help those men through life and death, he thought that if King Arabigo would be content with one of the most distant of the Islands of Landas and would deliver the rest without any more loss of men, such an agreement and ceasing of hostilities would be good, especially since the Kingdom of Sansuena was still to be won, where its troops and fortresses would prove difficult.

The lords thanked the giant sincerely for what he had said, and they considered him very sensible, for they would not have thought nor believed a man of his lineage would have such discretion. And that was reasonable to think, because previously giants’ great and oversized arrogance had left no place where discretion and reason could find a home. But the difference between Balan and other giants was that his mother Madasima was so very noble, as this story has told, and having only this one son from her husband Madanfabul, she worked very hard, although against the will of her husband, who was vile and arrogant, to raise him under the discipline of a great and wise man she brought from Greece. With that upbringing and with the one provided by his mother, who was very noble in all things, he became so gentle and discreet that few men could have been more reasonable than him, nor have had such veracity.

Those lords reached an agreement among themselves, and they decided that if what that giant had said could be put into effect, it would be an advantage and much relief to them, although King Arabigo would retain a portion of that kingdom. They told Balan that knowing the love and goodwill he had come there with and discussing their situation, rather by him than by anyone else they would conform their wills to make a treaty with the King.

Here it should be noted that if in great divisions there are no people of goodwill who seek to find a remedy, the result is a recrudescence of deaths, prisoners, theft, and other things of infinite evil.

When the giant heard this, he spoke with King Arabigo, and while the recounting of the agreements and discussions must be omitted both for their length and to avoid straying from the purpose of the story, it was agreed that King Arabigo would relinquish that great city and the surrounding territory within his realm, and of the three Landas Islands, he would take for himself the most distant and northerly, which was called Liconia, and he would be its King. The other islands would be relinquished with the rest, and Sir Bruneo would become the King of Arabia.

This was carried out and approved by King Arabigo’s nephew, who was defending the kingdom, as ye have heard, and by all the city’s other leaders, relinquishing everything as had been agreed. King Arabigo was freed, who, with great fatigue and anguish in his heart, left by sea to the island of Liconia, and Sir Bruneo was proclaimed King of Arabigo with great pleasure and rejoicing, both by his own supporters and by his opponents, who when they came to know of his excellence and great courage, expected to receive many honors and protection from him.

When this was done, as the story has recounted, for a brief time they remained there to rest and relax with King Bruneo, organize their battalions, and do all the other things that would be necessary for their journey. Then they left on their way to the town of Califan, which was the closest to their camp.

But the people of Sansuena, when they learned the city of Arabia had been taken and King Arabigo had reached an agreement with those troops, feared what it meant, and they united a great many troops, both knights and footmen, because that kingdom was great and the forces in it numerous and well-armed and experienced at war, which arrogant and scandalous kings always have for their use in frequent confrontations. When they saw so many men united, their hearts grew with great arrogance and daring. They organized their battalions led by captains who were the leading men of the kingdom, and they left to meet their enemies before they could reach the town of Califan.

The two sides met each other and there was a very brave and cruel battle, and many men on both sides were harmed. During it occurred amazing feats of arms, and many knights and other men were killed. But what those outstanding knights and the brave and valiant giant did there could not in any way be fully recounted, and both by their great deeds and by the courage of their brave hearts the men of Sansuena were defeated and destroyed in such a way that most of them were killed or wounded in the field, and the others so beaten that even in places like fortresses they did not dare to defend themselves. And so Sir Cuadragante and all the other lords and men, although many were dead or injured, remained and controlled the battlefield without encountering any defenders or resistance.

If this story does not tell you more extensively the great acts of knighthood and the brave and mighty deeds that occurred in all those conquests and battles, the reason for it is because this story is about Amadis, and if the great deeds are not by him, there is no cause to tell about those of others except almost in summary. By any other means not only would the writing, being long and prolix, make its readers angry and annoyed, but the readers could not rightly follow what happened to both sides. So with greater reason it must fulfill its main purpose, which is the courageous and valiant knight Amadis, rather than dwelling on others who regarding the story should only be mentioned.

For this reason, nothing more will be said, except that when this great and dangerous battle had been won, soon the great realm of Sansuena was subjugated, so the places where the weakest wills had no hope for any aid, and the strongest were obtained by great combat, and all were required to take Sir Cuadragante as their lord.

But now we shall leave them very content and satisfied by their victories, and we must tell you the story about King Lisuarte, who has not been mentioned for a long while.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chapter 131

How Agrajes, Sir Cuadragante, and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, with many other knights, came to see the giant Balan, and what happened. 

[From the Roman du Roy Meliadus de Leonnoys, produced in Naples, Italy, in about 1352. King Meliadus was the father of Tristan in the Arthurian legend. At the British Library.]

When they learned the giant had arrived, Agrajes, Sir Cuadragante, and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar took Angriote d’Estravaus, Sir Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, Palomir, Sir Brian of Monjaste, and many other knights of high esteem who were there to help win those realms, as ye have heard, and they all went to the encampment of King Galaor and Sir Galvanes, where the giant was lodging. They found him in Sir Galvanes’ tent, which was as fine and well-worked as any emperor or king could have had, and which he had acquired from his wife Madasima, who had inherited it from her father Famongomadan.

Each year, Famongomadan had ordered the tent be erected in a field in front of the Castle of the Boiling Lake, and he had his son Basagante sit on a fine platform with all his relatives, who were numerous and who obeyed Famongomadan like a lord for his great might and wealth. His vassals and many other people whom he had subjugated by force of arms kissed his hand as King of Great Britain. With that thought he had sent word to King Lisuarte to ask for Oriana to wed his son Basagante, and because he would not give her, Famongomadan had initiated a very cruel war at the time that Amadis killed them both when he rescued Leonoreta, Oriana’s sister, and the ten knights who were being held prisoner with her, as the second book of this story has recounted at length.

When these knights arrived, the giant was disarmed and wearing a cape of yellow silk finely decorated with golden roses. And as he was large and handsome and in the flower of maturity, he seemed attractive to everyone, and even more so after they had spoken, because they knew the coarse character of giants, who by nature were very disagreeable and arrogant and not given to obey reason, and they had not expected that any giant could be as completely different as Balan was. They appreciated him much more for this than for his great valor, although many of them knew the great feats at arms he had done, because great courage without good manners and discretion is often abhorrent.

As they were all together in that great tent, the giant looked at them and they seemed so outstanding that he could not believe that anywhere else there could have been so many and such fine knights. And when he saw that they had become quiet, he said:

“If ye are surprised that I have come here to your aid unexpectedly, since ye had very little hope or prospect for it, so am I. Truly, I would not by any means have believed that I would find a reason to cease to be your mortal enemy and opponent until my death. But as the execution of plans is in the hand of God rather than in the hand of those who wish to carry them out with rigor, among the many mighty and difficult battles that happened to my honor I was overcome during one that constrained my intentions at the start and in the end changed my own will to hold in honor what for all the days of my life I had considered dishonor to the point of requiring vengeance.

“When the thing I had most desired in this world was fulfilled, then my time of great ire and rigor and severity was ended and satisfied not by the way I had expected but by the way my most contrary fate was pleased to take. As ye know, I am the son of the valiant and courageous knight Madanfabul, lord of the Island of the Vermilion Tower, whom Amadis of Gaul, when he was called Beltenebros, killed in the battle fought between King Lisuarte and King Cildadan.

“And as I am the son of such an honorable father and was utterly obligated to avenge his death, never could I forget the deep desire of the way to carry this out: to take the life of the man who took it from my father. And when I had the least hope of that, fortune, along with the bravery of that knight, brought him to my grasp, arriving alone in my realm with no one to aid him, and by him and his great fortitude I was defeated and treated with the greatest courtesy by the man in whom fortitude and courtesy are fulfilled more than anyone alive.

“As a result, the great and mortal enmity I had felt became even greater friendship and true love, which has given me cause to come, as ye see, knowing that there might be a need for troops in this army, and believing that the honor and advantage for you will in its greater part come to him.”

Then he told them from the beginning everything that had happened to him with Amadis, and the battle they fought, and all the rest that occurred, leaving nothing out, as this story has recounted to you. And finally he told them that until that war was over, he would not leave their company, and when it was ended, he wished to go immediately to Firm Island, as he had promised Amadis.

All those lords took great pleasure in hearing what he said because, although Gandalin had told them how Amadis had fought with the giant and defeated him, they did not know the reason for it until he had recounted it. And they were very pleased by his arrival, both for the worth of his personage and for the numerous and very good men of war he had brought with him, which they needed, given those they had lost in previous confrontations. They gave him great thanks for the good will with which they had been offered out of love for Amadis.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chapter 130 [part 5 of 5]

[What Balan did as soon as he could leave his bed.] 

[Knights with a lance and a crossbow, page 361r from the Codex Manesse, made in Germany in 1304. At the Universitätisbliothek Heidelberger.]

But now the story shall cease to speak of Amadis and Grasandor and shall recount what was done by the giant Balan of the Island of the Vermilion Tower. The story says that two weeks after Amadis and Grasandor left the Island of the Vermilion Tower, where they had left the giant Balan injured, he arose from his bed and ordered many precious jewels be given to Darioleta and her husband and daughter, and a very fine ship in which they could leave. And he sent with them his son Bravor as he had promised Amadis.

Immediately after they had left, he had a great fleet prepared with his ships, of which he had many, and other ships he had taken from those who had traveled there, and he had them loaded with weapons and men and all the provisions they would hold, and he went out to sea with very favorable weather.

He traveled so fast without any difficulty that ten days later he arrived at the port of a small village called Licrea in the realm of King Arabigo. There he learned about the lords who had the great city of Arabia very well besieged, especially after Sir Galaor, King of Sobradisa, arrived with Sir Galvanes. He immediately had all his men disembark with their horses and arms, and the crossbowmen and archers, and all the other equipment for an encampment. He left the fleet with enough guards to keep it safe and went directly to the place where he knew that King Sir Galaor and Sir Galvanes were.

When they learned he was coming from the giant’s messengers, they and a great many companions mounted and went out to receive him. The giant arrived with his very good company of men and himself, wearing fine armor riding a handsome large horse, and few could have looked as good and handsome as he appeared in his grandeur.

They already knew what had happened between him and Amadis, for Gandalin had told them. Sir Galaor placed Sir Galvanes ahead, although he was not equal in rank, because he was much older and because of the great lineage from which he came and for his fine personality: Amadis and his brothers and Agrajes had always treated him with great courtesy for those things. The giant did not know him for he had never seen him, although he knew a great deal about everything he had done because Madasima, Galvanes’ wife, was a niece of Balan’s mother, who was also named Madasima, as ye have been told.

And when he arrived, the giant said:

“My good lord, are ye Sir Galaor?”

“No,” he said, “I am Sir Galvanes, who greatly esteems you.”

Then the giant embraced him and said:

“My lord Sir Galvanes, given how we are of the same family, we should not have let so much time pass without meeting, but I had an enemy with whom ye had a great friendship, which gave cause to that delay. But now this has been ended by the hand of he who in discretion and courage has no equal.”

King Galaor arrived laughing and with good will embraced him and said:

“My good friend and lord, I am he for whom ye ask.”

Balan looked at him and said:

“Truly your appearance is a good witness to that, for ye resemble he who has given me cause to wish to know you.”

The giant said that because Amadis and Galaor greatly resembled each other in so many ways that they were often mistaken for each other, except that Sir Galaor was a little taller and Amadis a bit broader.

This done, they rode with King Galaor between them and went to their encampment, and Sir Galvanes brought Balan to his tent while his lodging was being prepared, where both of them were served as they should and ought to be.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chapter 130 [part 4 of 5]

[How Amadis was deceived by a lady, and what he sorrowfully had to do.] 

[Door in the prison at Yedikule Fortress, built in 1458 in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Sue Burke.]

The story says that after Amadis and Grasandor left Gandalin at the foot of the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel, they sailed through the sea without trouble or delay. They arrived at the great port of Firm Island one morning, and they mounted their horses armed as they had come.  Before they rode up to the castle, they entered to pray in the monastery at the foot of the hill, which Amadis had ordered built when he left for Poor Peak, as he had promised before the image of the Virgin Mary that had been in the hermitage at that time.

When they reached its gate, they found there a lady dressed in black, with two squires and their palfreys nearby. They greeted her, and she greeted them. And while Amadis and Grasandor were kneeling before the altar, the lady learned from people in the monastery that he was Amadis, and she waited for him at the door of the church. When she saw him coming, she came to him weeping, knelt on the ground, and said:

“My lord Amadis, are ye not the knight who aids those who have tribulations and misfortune, especially ladies and damsels? Truly, if it were not so, ye would not have fame in all parts of the world and be spoken of with such praise. For I, as one of the saddest and most unfortunate of women, ask mercy and pity from you.”

Then she grasped the hem of his coat of mail with both hands so firmly that he could not take a single step. Amadis tried to make her stand, but he could not, and he said:

“My dear lady, tell me who ye are and what ye wish my help for, and given your great sorrow, although I were to fail all other ladies, for you alone I would place my person in all danger and peril that might come my way.”

The lady told him:

“Who I am ye shall not know until I am certain that ye shall answer my plea, but what I seek is that being married to a knight whom I dearly love, his great misfortune and mine have brought him to be imprisoned by the greatest enemy he has in the world, and he cannot leave it nor be returned to me except by yourself. And believe that my knees shall not be raised from this ground nor my hands taken from this mail, unless ye were to make me do so with great disrespect and discourtesy, until ye grant me that which I seek.”

When Amadis saw her thus and heard what she said, he did not know how to respond, for he was afraid of giving his word for something that later would cause him great shame, but seeing her weep so fiercely and hold so tightly to his chain mail with her knees on the ground, he was moved to such great pity that he forgot to get assurance that his aid would be for a just cause, and he said:

“Lady, tell me who ye are, and I promise to take your husband from where he is being held prisoner and give him to you if I can carry it out.”

Then the lady grabbed his hands and by force kissed them, and she said to Grasandor:

“My lord knight, see what Amadis has promised me.” And then she said, “Know, my lord Amadis, that I am the wife of Arcalaus the Sorcerer, whom ye hold prisoner. I ask you to give him to me and to put him someplace where I need not fear to lose him again, for ye are the greatest enemy he has, and if I can, I shall change him from your mortal enemy into your friend.”

When Amadis heard this, he was very upset to see himself deceived by that lady with such trickery, and if he could have found an honorable means to refuse to comply, he would have taken it gladly, fearing more the danger and harm that this evil knight could bring to many people who did not deserve it, than what Arcalaus could bring to him. But seeing the great cause the lady had and by no means could she be blamed, being obliged to save her husband, and above all wishing that his word and truth in no way be considered doubtful, he decided to do what she asked and told her:

“Lady, ye have asked me for a lot, and ye may be certain that it is a greater challenge for me to bend my will to consent to what ye ask, than to embolden my heart to take your husband by force of arms from wherever he might have been and whatever risk it involved. And I can well say that from the moment in which I became a knight, I have never offered service and aid to a lady or damsel as much against my will as this.”

Then he and Grasandor mounted their horses, and Amadis told the lady to follow them, and they rode up to the castle.

When Oriana and Mabilia knew they had arrived, the great pleasure and joy they felt could not be told. And immediately they and all the ladies who were there came out to receive them at the entrance to the garden where they dwelled. The acts and courtesies with which Amadis and his lady received each other will be excused from recounting because, although until now as lovers they were worth mentioning, being married, they should be forgotten, although they continued to occur with true love.

Olinda the Prudent and Grasinda embraced Amadis and Grasandor, and together they all went to their chambers, which they had in the great tower that ye have heard of, for in that garden they had enjoyed great pleasure as those who loved each other with their whole hearts.

Amadis ordered that the lady be given lodging and everything she needed. And the next morning they all heard Mass with Grasinda in her chambers, and when it had been said, Arcalaus’s wife asked Amadis to fulfill his promise. He told her he considered that good. Then they all went together to the fortress where Arcalaus was held in an iron cage. After Amadis had spoken with him in the town of Lubaina when they captured him, he had never wished to see him again, nor had those ladies seen him, for they had never left their garden except for when they came out to receive King Lisuarte and to attend their own weddings.

And when they arrived, they found him dressed in a short tunic lined in fine fur from animals hunted on the island, which Sir Gandales, Amadis’ foster father, had him given for winter. He was reading a book that Gandales had sent that offered very good examples and teachings of how to handle adversities of fortune. He had a very long gray beard, and he was of large build with an ugly face that always looked enraged, and when he saw them coming, it became even more so. The ladies were very frightened to see him, especially Oriana, who remembered when he had taken her by force and Amadis had released her from the hands of Arcalaus and four other knights, as the first book of this story has told.

When they arrived, he ceased reading and stood up, and he saw his wife but said nothing. Amadis told him:

“Arcalaus, dost thou know this lady?”

“Yes, I know her,” he said.

“Art thou pleased she has come?”

“If it is for my good,” he said, “thou mayest judge. But if it bears no more fruit than it seems, it is to the contrary. I have made myself determined to suffer all ill that may come to me, and I have subjugated my heart, so unless what I see may give me hope for some rest, it will cause me greater pain.”

Amadis told him:

“If with her arrival thou art freed from this prison, ought thou to thank me for it and acknowledge it from now on?”

“If by thine own will thou sent for her to do what thou sayest,” he said, “I shall always appreciate it greatly. But if she has come without thy pleasure or knowledge and if thou hast promised her something, I cannot give thee thanks because good works that owe more to necessity than charity are not worthy of much merit. And for that I urge thee to tell me, if thou wilt, what moved her and thee to come see me with these ladies.”

Amadis told him:

“I shall tell thee the truth about everything that has happened, and I ask thee to speak in the same manner in response.”

Then he told him how his wife had by trickery asked him for a boon, and how she had asked him to release him, and all the rest of how he responded, and he did not leave anything out.

Arcalaus told him:

“However it may affect my situation, I shall tell thee the complete truth of how I feel, since thou wishest to know. In Lubaina I asked for pity and mercy from thee, and if thou wouldst have restored me to my free will, thou mayest truly believe that for my entire life I would have been obliged to thee and thou wouldst have always found in my deeds true friendship. But thou art now doing what thou does not desire but cannot avoid, and with enmity thou doest me this good deed, so I accept it and hold it in the degree it deserves, for thou wouldst consider me unworthy and of a weak heart if I gave thee thanks for what I must wish thee ill.”

“I have taken great pleasure in what thou hast said,” Amadis said, “and thou speakest the truth, for by taking thee from here thou owest me nothing, because, truly, I was determined to hold thee here for a long time, thinking this was the most appropriate way to give thee the punishment thou deservest rather than for you to do harm to many who did not deserve it. But by the promise that I gave to thy lady, I shall order thee released from this prison and set free.

“I ask one thing of thee, that although in thy heart and deeds thou dost not forgive me and shalt always treat me as the enemy that in the past thou hast always considered me, that thou forgivest all the others that never did thy harm. And do this for the Lord who, when thou wert with the least hope for liberation and I to give it to thee, thought it good to remedy thy ills, which he does with His boundless mercy for those wicked men after he has tested them, because with such lashes and fatigues He puts and end to the works that are contrary to His service.

“When they understand that, He does them good for what remains of their lives in this world and blessings and pleasure in the world to come. And if they do the contrary, He does the contrary and executes justice with the punishment they deserve and gives them no hope nor remedy to their souls after they leave their unfortunate bodies.”

Arcalaus told him:

“In what regards thee, it is clear that in no way could I wish thee well nor cease to do what ill I could to thee. Regarding the others thou speakest of, I do not know what I shall do because my habits are so established, and with all the wrong I have done, I have little hope that the Lord of whom thou speakest will give me any of His grace without merit on my part. Yet without His grace my disposition could not withstand nor weigh such a thing so hard and foreign to its desires.

“And if that were not so, I would not do it by thy counsel so that thou wouldst not win the glory that thou hast won from all others. If I have received any mercy from God, it is none other than to give thee no mercy nor a place in my heart, for when I with such humility asked thee to release me, He instead wished that it would come at thy sorrow and much against thy will, so there is nothing left that I might bear for thee.”

The ladies were very frightened to hear what Arcalaus had said to him, and they begged Amadis not to release him, because he would do greater wrong before God by causing that vile man to go free so he could freely execute his evil desires than by keeping him prisoner and going against his promise.

Amadis told them:

“My ladies, often it happens that people are corrected and reformed by great adversities, holding in their souls the mighty and firm hope and mercy of God, but others who lack that hope and mercy cause their own desperation, whereby they are condemned without remedy. And this could happen to Arcalaus if I held him here any longer, knowing that there is no way within him to be corrected and reformed by this means. I shall keep my word and promise, and I shall leave this to the Lord, Who in a moment may bring him to His holy service as He has done for many worse sinners.”

With that they ended their discussion, and on Amadis’ orders the lady was placed in the iron cage with her husband so that she could keep him company that night, and he and the ladies returned to the garden tower. The next morning he ordered Isanjo, the island’s governor, be called, and asked him to take Arcalaus and his wife from prison and give them a horse and arms, and to order Insajo’s sons with ten knights to escort him safely to wherever he would be content and his wife satisfied that what she had asked had been done. It was carried out and Isanjo’s sons went with him to his castle called Valderin, and left him there.

And as they were about to leave, he told them:

“Knights, tell Amadis that wild beasts and brute animals may be put in jails, but not knights such as myself. He should protect himself well from me, for I soon hope to avenge myself on him, even though he may have the help of that vile whore Urganda the Unrecognized.”

They told him.

“May ye soon return down this road to where ye came from.”

And with that they returned home.

Ye may believe here that this lady, Arcalaus’s wife, was very pious and fearful of God, and all her husband’s deaths and cruelties caused great sorrow and pain to her heart, and she sought forgiveness for them as best she could, and by her merits she achieved the grace to take her husband from a place where no one else in the world could have done. So a good lady and devoted wife must be highly appreciated and esteemed for often by her our Lord permits that her estate, husband, and children are protected from great danger.

As ye hear, Amadis and Grasandor were at Firm Island with great pleasure in their hearts, where soon Darioleta arrived with her husband, daughter, and her husband Bravor, which greatly increased their joy.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chapter 130 [part 3 of 5]

[Of Gandalin’s quest, and how Amadis resolved it to everyone’s contentment.] 

[The ruins of the thermal baths of Cluny, at the National Museum of the Middle Ages, in Paris, France. Photo by Eviatar Bach.]

Then Amadis and Grasandor went out into the part of that plain that seemed to them to have been the most densely populated, and they found some very large wells next to fountains, some baths in ruins, some small and very well made shrines with images of metal or stone, along with many other ancient things.

And as they were doing that, as ye hear, they saw a knight approaching in all-white armor, with his sword in hand, who must have come up the same way as they had, since there was only one way. As he approached them, he greeted them and they greeted him, and the knight told them:

“Knights, are ye from Firm Island?”

“Yes,” they said. “Why do ye ask?”

“Because down at the foot of this peak I found some men in a ship who told me that up here were two knights from Firm Island, but I could not learn their names. And because I am also from Firm Island, I do not wish to have an encounter with anyone from there except in peace. I come in search of a vile knight and have been told that he is taking shelter here with a damsel he has abducted.”

Amadis, when he heard this, said:

“Knight, as a courtesy, I ask you to say your name or to take off your helmet.”

“If ye,” he said, “give me assurance by your faith that ye are from Firm Island, I shall tell you, but otherwise there is no need to ask me.”

“I tell you,” Grasandor said, “on our faith that we are from where they say we are.”

Then the knight took the helmet from his head and said:

“Now ye can see if what I have said is true.”

Seeing him thus, they recognized him as Gandalin. Amadis came to him with his arms open and said:

“Oh, my good friend and brother! What great good fate it is for me to find you!”

Gandalin was very surprised because he still had not recognized him, and Grasandor said:

“Gandalin, Amadis is embracing you.”

When he heard that, he knelt and took his hands and kissed them again and again, but Amadis raised him up and embraced him again as someone he loved with all his heart. Then Amadis and Grasandor took off their helmets and asked him what adventure had brought him there. He told them:

“My good lords, I could ask you the same thing, given where I saw you last and the distant and disagreeable place where I find you now, but I wish to answer what you asked. Know that when I was with Agrajes and the other knights with him in the conquests ye know of, after winning a great battle in which many men perished that we had with a nephew of King Arabigo, when we drove them into a the great city of Arabia, one day a lady dressed all in black from the Kingdom of Norway entered Agrajes’ tent. She threw herself at his feet imploring him to try to help her in her great tribulation.

“Agrajes had her rise and sit next to him, and asked her to tell him about her plight, and if he could justly remedy it, he would do so. The lady said:

“ ‘My lord Agrajes, I am from the Kingdom of Norway, where your wife Olinda is from. Being born there and a vassal of her father the King, I come to you for the familial love ye have for those lords to ask you for the help of a good knight who can return to me a damsel, my daughter, who by force was taken from me by an evil knight, the lord of the great Seaside Tower, because she would not become his wife. He is not of the same level of lineage or blood as my daughter, and instead is of little rank and has only managed to become lord of that tower, with which he subjugates many of the people who live there. My husband was first cousin of Sir Grumedan, Queen Brisena’s foster father. Not for anything I have done has that knight been willing to return my daughter to me. And he says that except by force of arms, in no other way can I expect to see her in my company.’

“Agrajes told her:

“ ‘My lady, why does your lord the King not do you justice?’

“ ‘My lord,’ she said, ‘the King is now very old and ill, so he cannot govern himself nor anyone else.’

“ ‘Then,’ Agrajes said, ‘is that knight very far from here?’

“ ‘No,’ she said, ‘for he can be reached in a day and night with good weather by sea.’

“When I heard this, I urged Agrajes to give me permission to go with the lady, and if God gave me victory, I would return immediately with that knight. Agrajes gave me permission and ordered me not to become involved in any other adventure but this one. I promised to do so. Then I took my arms and horse and with the lady boarded the ship that had brought her there, and we traveled for all that remained of that day, and the night. The next day at noon we went ashore and the lady came with me to guide me to the place of the knight’s tower.

“When we arrived, I called at the gate, and a man responded from a window, asking what I wanted. I told him to tell the knight of that tower to immediately return a damsel he had taken from the lady I brought with me, or to say why he could and should keep her. If he did not do so, it would be certain that no one could leave the tower who would not be killed or captured. The man answered me:

“ ‘We here would give little regard for what thou couldst do, but wait and thou shalt soon have what thou askest for.’

“Then I backed up a ways from the tower and an enormous knight came out in bright yellow arms on a large horse, and he said:

“ ‘Threatening knight, with what few brains thou hast, what is it that thou seekest?’

“I told him:

“ ‘I shall not threaten nor challenge thee until I know thy reason for taking by force a damsel, daughter of this lady, who tells me that thou hast abducted her.’

“ ‘Even if the lady is telling the truth,’ he said, ‘what can thou doest about it?’

“ ‘Take satisfaction for it from thee,’ I said, ‘if it is the will of God.’

“The knight said:

“ ‘Then I wish to give thee her by the point of this lance.’

“And he immediately came at me without hesitation, and I at him. Our battle lasted for a large part of the day, but in the end, since I sought truth and he defended the opposite, God wished to give me victory, so I had him lying at my feet so I could cut off his head. And he asked for the mercy of not killing him, and he would do everything I wished. I ordered him to give the damsel to her mother and to swear he would never again take any woman against her will, and he agreed.

“That being done, I let him go, and he asked permission to enter the tower, for he himself would bring out the damsel. I trusted him and let him go, and shortly after he entered the tower he left by another door that faced the sea, and, still armed, he got into a boat with the damsel and told me:

“ ‘Knight, do not be surprised that I did not keep my word. The great power of love makes me do so, for without this damsel I could not live another hour. And since I cannot subjugate nor control myself, I beg thee not to blame me for what thou seest in me. And so that thou shalt lose hope of ever seeing her again, as shall her mother, ye can see that I am going out to sea to someplace where for a long time no one shall hear about me or her.’

“And as he said this, with an oar he held in his hands, he pushed off from the shore as fast as he could and went out into the sea, with the damsel weeping painfully. When I saw this, I felt great pain and sorrow and wished more for death than life, because before me the lady was tearing her veils and dress in the greatest mourning in the world, which was very painful to see. She said she had received more harm from me than from any other knight because when her daughter was in that tower, she always had hope of recovering her, but now she had none because she had watched her go off to someplace where her eyes would never see her, which was my fault.

Although I knew how to defeat that knight, I did not have sufficient discretion to give her the justice she had hoped for. Not only would she not thank me for what I had done, she would denounce me to everyone. I consoled her as best I could and I told her:

“ ‘Lady, I feel very guilty since I did not know how to carry out the purpose ye brought me here for. I should have realized that a knight so treacherous as to take your daughter by force would have little virtue in all other things. But since that is what happened, I promise you that I will never rest nor take repose until by sea or by land I find him and bring ye the damsel or die in the quest. I only ask, since ye shall stay in your land, to help me by giving me the ship in which we came and one of your men to come with me.’

“The lady, somewhat consoled by this, said I should take the ship and ordered one of her men to come with me and to note carefully what I had promised and what I would be doing about it. With that I bid her farewell and returned down the road on which I had come. When I reached the ship, night had fallen, so I had to wait until morning, and when it came, I went in the direction I had seen the knight take the damsel.

“I traveled all day without learning any news about him, and so I have traveled another five days to everywhere that fate took me. This morning I found some men who were fishing, and they told me they had seen an armed knight come in a boat, and they were headed toward the island that was called the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel. When I learned that news, I ordered the man who guided me to take me here, and when I came to the foot of the peak, I found your company and an empty ship a distance away, and I asked for news about the knight and the damsel. They told me they had not seen them, only that empty boat that was there.

“For that reason I climbed up here, and I am sure that the treacherous knight has taken shelter here. And I also want to test an adventure that the fishermen told me about concerning an enchanted chamber on this peak, to see if I can pass it. And if not, I could tell about it to those who do not know about it.”

Grasandor told him, laughing:

“My good friend Gandalin, try to make right the matter involving the knight and the damsel, and let what ye say about the adventure be for another time, for it is not so easy to accomplish.”

Then they told him everything that had happened to them, with which Gandalin was very amazed. Amadis told him:

“We have walked through a great portion of this plain and these buildings, but we have not seen anyone. But he may be here, and we shall search through everything to satisfy thy will.”

Then the three began to search through all the ruined buildings, and in a short while in a bath they found the knight with the damsel, and when he saw them, he immediately came out holding her by the hand, and said:

“My lord knights, whom are ye seeking?”

“My deceitful lord,” Gandalin said, “thy treachery and lies can no longer offer thee a means to avoid paying for the trick thou didst to me and the labor I undertook to find you.”

The knight immediately recognized by his white armor that he was the knight who had defeated him, and he said:

“Knight, I have already told thee that the great love I feel for this damsel does not let me control what I do. And if thou or any of these knights know what true love is, ye shall not blame me for what I do. Thou mayst do what thou wilt, but except by death I shall not be separated from this damsel.”

When Amadis heard him say this, he understood in his heart due to the great love he always had for his lady that this knight was without guilt for he did not have the power to control himself no matter how he tried, and he said:

“Knight, although what ye say excuses somewhat your weighty blame, it does not mean this other knight can cease to seek what rightly is due to this damsel’s mother, and if he does not act, he would be justly blamed by honorable men.”

The knight told him:

“My good lord, I understand that, and if it pleases him, I will place myself in his power so that he may take me to the lady ye speak of at whose challenge he fought with me, so that she may do her will. And he should help me because the daughter is content with me, so her mother ought to also be content to give me her as my wife.”

Amadis asked the damsel if the knight spoke the truth. She answered that he did, that although until then she had been taken from him against all her will, when she saw the great love he had for her and what he had done to have her, she had given her heart to him to love and hold, and to take him for her husband.

Amadis said to Gandalin:

“Take them both and put them in the hands of the lady, and as much as ye are able, make her agree to let him marry her, since it pleases the damsel.”

With that, they all descended the peak, sleeping that night in the hermitage with the metal statue, and there they dined on what the knight and damsel had brought for themselves. The next day they climbed down to where the ships were, and Gandalin said farewell and left with the knight and the damsel. But first Amadis and Grasandor spoke with him and told him to bring his greetings to Agrajes and his friends, and if they needed men, to make it known at Firm Island and they would go themselves or send them immediately.

So they parted, and when Gandalin arrived at the lady’s home, he put the knight and her daughter in her hands, and since the damsel had, with the knight’s love, changed her intentions as women are accustomed to do, the mother, fortunately being of the same nature as her daughter, changed her own intentions given what Gandalin and some others said who wished to persuade her, so that to the pleasure and contentment of all, they were wed.

This done, Gandalin returned to Agrajes, who was very pleased by the news of what Amadis had said. Gandalin found that they were all very happy with the good fortune that had come to them with the siege. After their enemies had been surrounded in that city, as ye have heard, there were some great battles in which most of the best knights among those inside were wounded or killed. They were also happy with the arrival of Sir Galaor and Sir Galvanes, who after they left Dragonis as King of Deep Island, without delay they promptly boarded their fleet and came to help them.

So it happens that those who have been ill, when they arise after great ailments and begin to recover their health, only think about the things they most wish and are eager to do, with it hoping to leave behind all that remains of their ailments, thus Sir Galaor, King of Sobradisa, finding himself free of that great illness in which he often came close to death, thought not in contenting his will nor in mending his health but doing those things that his brave and mighty heart sought. In it was all his delight and great pleasure, as a man who from the day his brother Amadis made him a knight before the Castle of the Causeway in the presence of Urganda the Unrecognized could never remember not wishing to learn everything about the order of knighthood and put it to work, as this story recounts in every part that mentions him.

He put no consideration into now being a powerful King with the very beautiful Queen Briolanja, and given the feats he had achieved in the past, with good and just cause he could have spent a great deal of time giving rest and repose to his spirit. Instead considering that honor has no end and is so delicate that with very little neglect it can begin to lose its luster, especially for those who fortune has placed at their height, setting all aside, this courageous King wished to take up the labor of helping his cousin Dragonis, as ye have heard, and not being content with carrying out those difficulties and labors, he immediately went as fast as he could to help those other knights, his great friends.

Oh, how those who were born into this world to follow the deeds of chivalry ought to ponder this, and how they should consider that although they have given good account of their honor for some time, if they were to forget the great obligation they have, not only would their armor become tarnished, so would their fame, and it could not be burnished again for a great deal of time! Just as those who work in any sort of craft with diligence are according to their status placed in honor and are without want, but when they forsake their work with negligence and carelessness, they lose what they had gained and come to misery and poverty, so knights can suffer the same, and by failing to do what they ought, their honor, fame, and virtues are battered and brought down to discredit and misery.

And this noble King, Sir Galaor, to avoid falling into this error, always following the examples of his father King Perion and his brother, as soon as the matter of Deep Island was finished, as ye have been told, with Sir Galvanes to help him, left to bring about victory elsewhere. And their arrival gave such courage to those on his side and such fear in his opponents that from the day that they came the enemy never again dared to venture outside of the walls, so that in a short space of time Agrajes and his friends hoped to win the entire kingdom.

But now we shall leave them in their encampments deciding how to attack their enemies, who did not dare to come forth, because we ought to tell you the story of Amadis and Grasandor, who after they left the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel, headed to Firm Island.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chapter 130 [part 2 of 5]

[How Amadis and Grasandor reached the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel, and what happened to them there.] 

[The ruins of Larisa Castle in Argos, Greece. Photo by Ronny Siegel.]

Now the story says that Amadis and Grasandor left on a Monday morning from the great Island of the Vermilion Tower, where the mighty giant named Balan was lord. And Amadis asked Nalfon, Madasima’s majordomo, to give him one of his men to guide him to the Peak of the Enchanting Damsel. Nalfon said he would be pleased to do so, and if he wished to climb the peak, it was a good time to do so because it was the coldest part of winter. And he said if Amadis were to order Nalfon to come with him, he would gladly do so.

Amadis thanked him and told him it would not be necessary, and he would let him do as he had already been ordered, for a single guide would suffice.

“In the name of God,” the majordomo said, “and may He guide you and help you in this and everything else ye undertake, just as He has done until now.”

Then they bid each other goodbye, and the majordomo went on his way to Anteina, and Amadis and Grasandor sailed out to sea with their guide. They traveled fully five days at sea and did not spot the peak, although the weather was very favorable. On the sixth day in the morning they saw it rising so high that it seemed to touch the clouds. They sailed until they were at its foot, and they found there a ship at the shore with no one in it, which surprised them, but they believed that someone who had climbed the peak had left it there.

Amadis said to Grasandor:

“My good lord, I wish to climb up that peak and see what the majordomo told us about, if it is as he said, and I ask you, although ye may be anxious, to wait for me here until tomorrow night when I should be able to come here or make some signal from up there about how I am doing. And if at this time or on the third day I do not return, ye may believe that my situation is not going well, and ye may decide to do what ye most please.”

Grasandor told him:

“I am very sorry, my lord, that ye do not consider me someone whose courage is sufficient to withstand whatever confrontation it may face, even death, especially finding myself in your company, for your excess courage could very well supply whatever I lack. Whether this expedition may go well or badly, I wish to be a part of it.”

Amadis embraced him, laughing, and said:

“My lord, do not take what I said that way, for ye know very well that I am a witness to the fact that your courage is sufficient. If ye please, then, it shall be done as ye say.”

Then they ordered that they be given something to eat, and it was done. And when they had eaten enough for such a great climb on foot, for it was impossible by horse, they took all their arms except their lances and they began hiking up the path, which was carved into the rock all the way to the top, but which was very difficult to climb. And so they went for a great portion of the day, at times walking and often resting, for it was very laborious due to the weight of their weapons and armor.

Halfway up the peak they found a house like a hermitage made of stone, and in it an image like an metal idol with a great crown on its head of the same metal, and it held a great gilt square of that metal at its chest, which it grasped in both hands as if it was embracing it. On it were inscribed some very large and well-made letters in Greek that could easily be read, although they were from the time when the Enchanting Damsel was there, which was more than two hundred years earlier.

The damsel was from the city of Argos in Greece and the daughter of a man named Finetor, who was wise in all the arts, especially in the ones regarding good and black magic. She turned out to be of such a subtle ingenuity that she embarked on learning those arts and succeeded in such a way that she mastered them much better than her father or anyone else had in those days. And she came to dwell on that peak as has been told. The way she did that, this story shall not recount because it would be too prolix and would stray too far from our purpose.

When Amadis and Grasandor entered the hermitage, they sat to rest on a stone bench in it, and after a while they stood to look at the image, which seemed very beautiful. They studied it for a long time and saw the words, and Amadis began to read them, for while he was traveling in Greece he learned how both to speak and read Greek, and he was mostly taught by the doctor Elisabad when they were traveling by sea, who also taught him the language of Germany and other lands, which he knew well, for he was wise in all the arts and had traveled to many provinces.

And the letters said:

“In the time when the great island shall flourish and shall be ruled by a powerful King, and the island shall rule over many other kings and famous  knights throughout the world, there shall be united as one the height of arms and the flower of beauty who in their time shall have no peer. And from them shall come he who will pull the sword with which his order of knighthood shall be fulfilled, and the mighty stone doors shall be opened that enclose within them the great treasure.”

When Amadis had read them, he said to Grasandor:

“My lord, did you read those words?”

“No,” he said, “because I do not know the language in which they are written.”

Amadis told him everything they said, and they seemed to be an ancient prophesy, and he did not think it would be fulfilled by either of them in that adventure, although he believed that he and his lady Oriana might be the two who would engender the knight who would accomplish it, but he said nothing about that.

And Grasandor told him:

“If ye cannot do it, for ye are the son of the best knight in the world who in all his time has held and maintained the greatest height of arms, and of the Queen who from what I have heard was one of the most beautiful in her time, a long while will pass before it is fulfilled. So let us climb the peak and see and test everything there. If it is a strange thing for others to accomplish such a great adventure, it would be much stranger if ye were not to do so. And if that were to happen, I would see what no one has been able to see in your time.”

Amadis laughed deeply and did not respond, but he realized that what he had said meant little, because neither the skill of his father at arms nor the beauty of his mother came close to equaling that of himself and Oriana. And he said:

“Let us climb, and if it is possible, we may reach the top before nightfall.”

Then they left the hermitage and began the laborious climb, for the peak was very tall and steep. It took them so long that before they reached the top, night overtook them, so they had to remain beneath an overhang, where they spent the entire night speaking about past events and mostly about their beloved wives, whom they held in their hearts, and the other ladies who were with them. And Amadis said that if he were not afraid of the anger and rage of his lady, when they climbed down the peak they should go to help Sir Cuadragante, Sir Bruneo, Agrajes, and their other friends.

Grasandor told him:

“I would also wish to do so, but not at this time because since ye left Firm Island so precipitously and I in such a hurry came to find you, if we were to spend time there, we would cause great sadness and suffering to your lady, especially since she would not know that I found you. So I would prefer to go to see her before going anywhere that was not necessary. And meanwhile we will hear more news about the knights ye speak of, and we will be able to make a better decision. If they need our help, we can do so going with a greater company of men.”

“So it shall be done,” Amadis said, “and we should go by Prince Island, and there we should get a ship for one of your squires to take my letter to the giant Balan in which I shall ask him to send a message from his island to where Sir Cuadragante and the others are, so that at Firm Island, where we will be waiting, we will promptly be advised of what they are doing.”

“That would be very good,” Grasandor said.

So they remained below the overhang, at times talking and at times sleeping, until day came, when they began to climb up what little remained. When they reached the top, they looked all around and saw a very wide plain with many ruined houses, and in the middle of the plain some very large palaces, most of them collapsed. They immediately went to look at them and came to a very beautiful stone arch with a perfectly made stone statue over it of a damsel. In her right hand she held a quill made of the same stone as if she were about to write, and in her left hand, a placard with Greek letters that said:

“True wisdom is that which is of more use with the gods than with men, and other wisdom is vanity.”

Amadis read those letters and told Grasandor what they said, and he added:

“If wise men knew about the gift they receive from God in granting them so much of His grace that many other men might be ruled, advised, and governed by them, and if they wished to use their wisdom to take care to keep their souls away from that which could hinder their clarity and purity, as the Lord most high shall do in the world to come, how blessed would they be and how fruitful and useful would be their wisdom! But as our wicked inclination and condition generally makes us be to the contrary, we use the wisdom that was given to us for our salvation on things that promise us perishable honors, delights, and worldly advantage, which causes us to lose the other, endless, eternal world, just as this unfortunate damsel did who exhibited in these few words such great adages and doctrines. Although her judgement was gifted and endowed with all the most subtle arts, she knew how to benefit from and understand little of her great wisdom. But let us cease to speak more of this now, for wandering as they did in the past, we would go where they went. Let us instead continue on to see what happens to us.”

So they passed beneath that arch and entered a great courtyard where there were some fountains for water, and next to them there seemed to be what were once great buildings that were now in ruins, and the houses that were once around them no longer seemed to be homes, instead merely stone walls that storms had not been able to wear away. And between those buildings they found many caves sheltering dragons, and they thought they would not be able to find what they were seeking without some great confrontation. But it was not so, for none of the dragons nor any other thing stopped them.

So they entered the houses in front of them, holding up their shields with their helmets on their heads and their bare swords in their hands. Having passed through the courtyard, they entered a great hall with an arched roof, and the strength of the mortar and stone had protected it for so many years that they were able to observe much of its fine workmanship. At the end of that hall they saw some stone doors closed so tightly that nothing within could be seen, and where they were joined, a sword was thrust up to its hilt.

They immediately realized it was the enchanted chamber where the treasure was. They studied the hilt’s decorations carefully, but they could not determine what it was made of, so oddly was it fashioned, especially the pommel and the cross-guard, for what was the hand grip seemed to be of bone as transparent as crystal, and as bright and red as a fine ruby. They also saw on the right hand door seven letters deeply carved as red as fresh blood, and on the other side were other letters much whiter than the stone, and were in Latin, and which said:

“In vain will labor the knight who tries to draw the sword from here by his own courage or strength if he is not the one who on his chest bears the letters shown on the face of the other door, and which matches those seven letters bright as fire. For that man the sword has been protected by she who through her great wisdom came to know that neither in her time nor for a long time afterwards would come anyone equal.”

When Amadis saw this, he gazed at the red letters and immediately remembered the ones his son Esplandian had on the left side of his chest, and thought that because he would become the finest knight of all including himself, that adventure awaited him alone. He said to Grasandor:

“What do you make of those letters?”

“It seems to me,” he said, “that I fully understand what the white ones say, but I cannot read the red ones.”

“I also cannot,” Amadis said, “although I believe that I have already seen others like them, and I think ye have seen them, too.”

Then Grasandor looked at them more closely than before and said:

“Holy Mary help me! These are the same as the ones your son has, so he is granted this adventure. Now I tell you that ye shall leave here without accomplishing it, and blaming yourself for having created someone who is more worthy than ye are.”

Amadis told him:

“My good friend, when we read the letters on the tablet that the image held in the hermitage we visited, I thought about what ye have just said. And because I do not believe myself to be as good as what it says about he who will engender that knight, I did not dare to say that. Now these letters make be believe what you just said.”

Grasandor said, laughing and with good will:

“Let us descend from here and return to our companions, for it seems to me that in a certain way we are taking honor and victory from this voyage. Let that young man begin to ascend to where ye shall descend.”

And so they both left, enjoying each other’s company. When they had left the great palaces, Amadis said:

“Let us see if that enchanted chamber has some other place where by some artifice it could be entered.”

Then they walked around the part of the palace where the chamber was, and they found that it was all of one stone without any joint at all.

“This has been made to protect it very well,” Grasandor said. “We ought to leave it to its owner, so that in place of this sword that ye came to win ye do not leave yours that ye won with so many sighs and so much care and great affliction to your spirit.”

Grasandor said this because Amadis had won his sword as the best and most loyal lover in his time, which he could not have achieved without having placed his spirit in much fierce anguish, as the second book of this story relates.