Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chapter 8 [final half]

[The Battle of Hastings, from the Bayeux Tapestry.]


When morning came, King Perion and his wife went to see what the Childe of the Sea was doing. When they found him, he had risen and washed his hands. They saw that his eyes were red and his cheeks wet with tears, and he seemed to have slept very little during the night. In fact, that was so, for he had remembered his beloved and had thought of the distress that had come to him due to her, and that nothing besides death awaited him.

The Queen called Gandalin and said to him:

"My friend, what happened to your lord? It seems to me, looking at his face, that he is very sad. Is it for something here that has made him discontent?"

"My lady," he said, "he has been received here with great honor and favors, but he has the custom of weeping in his sleep, and that is what ye see now in his appearance."

And while they were speaking, people in the town saw many well-armed enemies nearby, and they shouted:

"To arms! To arms!"

The Childe of the Sea, who noticed the alarm, was very happy, and the King said:

"Good friend, our enemies are here."

The Childe said:

"Let us arm ourselves and go see them."

The King asked for his armor and the Childe his, and when they were armed and mounted, they went to the gate of the town. There they found Agrajes greatly vexed because no one would open it, since he was one of the world's most heart-strong knights and most eager to attack in every battle. If his strength had served him as well as his spirit, no other knight would have surpassed him in feats of arms.

As they had arrived, the Childe of the Sea said:

"My lord, order them to open the gate for us."

The King, who was no less pleased to fight, ordered it opened, and all the knights left. When they saw how many their enemies were, there were some who said that it would be madness to attack them.

Agrajes spurred his horse, saying:

"Now let there be bad fortune for whoever holds back!"

As he charged, he saw the Childe of the Sea go forward, and all followed him as one. Daganel and Galain, who saw them coming, prepared to receive them and do them harm.

The Childe of the Sea attacked Galain, who was coming toward him, and hit him so bravely that Galain and his horse were knocked to the ground and his leg was broken. The Childe had broken his lance, so he immediately put his hand on his sword and charged the opposition like an enraged lion, giving wondrous blows in all directions. Everyone who came before his sword was knocked to the ground, some killed and others injured. But so many attacked him that his horse could not move forward, and he was in grave danger.

Agrajes saw it and arrived with some of his men, and they caused great injury to their opponents. King Perion arrived with all his knights, brave and eager to take the offensive. Daganel and his forces received him with spirit. And so both sides joined together.

There ye would have seen the Childe of the Sea do amazing things, defeating and killing all those who he found before him, and no man dared to attack him. He came at the enemy, making them run, for he seemed like a brave lion. When Agrajes saw this, he became even more filled with ardor, and shouted to encourage his men:

"Knights, see the best and bravest knight that ever was born!"

When Daganel saw how he was destroying his men, like a good knight he went at the Childe of the Sea and tried to injure his horse so that the Childe would fall among Daganel's men, but he failed. The Childe gave him such a blow on the top of his helmet that its straps were snapped and it flew from his head. King Perion, who arrived to help the Childe of the Sea, struck Daganel with his sword and caused such a wound that it cleaved his head down to his teeth.

Thus they defeated the troops of Daganel and of Normandy, who fled to where King Abies waited, and many said:

"Alas, King Abies, why have you waited so long while they killed us?"

And so as King Perion and his troops continued their attack against their enemy, very soon King Abies of Ireland appeared with all his troops, who came saying:

"Have at them! Let no man live, and let us fight to enter into the town with them."

When King Perion and his men to their surprise saw those troops, who they had not known were there, many were frightened, for they were already tired, they had no lances, and they knew that King Abies was one of the best knights of the world and the one they most feared. But the Childe of the Sea began to shout:

"Now, my lords, we must keep our honor. Now we shall see who will disgrace himself!"

They had been spread out, but he made them regroup. The Irishmen came at them so bravely it was wonder to behold, because they came well-rested and with their hearts ready to do harm. King Abies left no knight in his saddle for as long as his lance lasted, and when he lost it, he put his hand on his sword and began to attack with it so fiercely that his enemies took fear. His men were at his side, and they injured and brought down so many of their opponents that King Perion's men could suffer no more losses, and they retreated toward the town.

When the Childe of the Sea saw that things were going badly, he began to attack with more rage than ever, so that the troops on his side would not retreat in disorder. He entered the fray between the two forces, injuring and killing the Irish to give his own side space so they would not turn around and expose their backs. Agrajes and King Perion, who saw him in such danger and fighting so well, remained always at his side. Thus those three offered protection to their men and kept the enemy engaged. King Abies ordered his men to advance, for he had spotted victory. If they could enter the town, he believed the war would be concluded.

So with haste, as ye now hear, they arrived at the gates of the town, where if it had not been for those three knights, the Irish troops would have entered with Perion's force. And these three had suffered so many blows and had given so many that it was a wonder they had been able to endure.

King Abies thought his men were among Perion's, but as he moved ahead he saw they were not, and he felt great grief at that and even more to learn that Daganel and Galain were dead. One of his knights drew near and said:

"My lord, do ye see that knight on the white horse? He does nothing but amazing feats, and he has killed your captains and many others."

He was referring to the Childe of the Sea, who rode on Galpano's white horse. King Abies approached him and said:

"Knight, by your doing, the man I loved most in the world is dead, and I will make you pay dearly if ye are willing to keep fighting."

"Now is not the time for me to fight with you," said the Childe of the Sea, "for ye have many well-rested men, and we few and very tired. It would be a miracle if we could defend ourselves. But if ye wish as ye say to avenge yourself as a knight and to show the great courage for which ye are praised, chose from your men those whom ye prefer and I shall do it among mine. Being equal, ye can win more honor than ye could by overcoming us by numbers and by the arrogance of coming for no reason to take that which is not yours."

"Then," King Abies said, "tell me how many ye wish to be in the battle."

"Since ye leave it to me," the Childe said, "I propose another deal that ye may find more agreeable. Ye hold great ire against me for what I have done, and I against you for what ye have done in this land. There is no reason for anyone else to suffer on our account. Let it be a battle between me and you, right now, if ye wish, provided your men and ours give assurance to do nothing until it is finished."

"So be it," King Abies said.

He called forward ten knights, the best he had, and with ten that the Childe of the Sea called, they guaranteed that no matter what happened in the field, no one would interfere. King Perion and Agrajes proposed that the battle not occur until the next morning, for they saw that the Childe was injured. But they could not dissuade him, for he desired the battle more than any other thing. This was for two reasons: one, to test himself against the man praised as the best knight in the world; and the other, because if he defeated him, the war would be over, and he could go to see his lady Oriana, for in her was all his heart and desire.


  1. I confess myself curious as to the naming protocols of these stories. You'd expect this story, being Spanish, to lean toward a Spanish phonology for naming, but these names mostly strike me as being indistiguishable from the ones I've seen in French and English romances. Is there some generalized Chivalric Romance Phonology shared across the European cultures writing such stories?

  2. Yes. "Amadis of Gaul" is part of the Arthurian cycle, and those stories were brought by bards from Wales and Brittany to the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the late 12th century. From there they spread all over Europe. With a very few exceptions (like the name Amadis), "Amadis of Gaul" uses the same names, many of the same locations, the same plot structure, and even some of the same jokes.

    At that time, Western Europe had a generally shared culture, and the Arthurian romances are one aspect of it. Curiously, although we call them "Arthurian" now, King Arthur was not always central. Instead, stories about Tristan, Lancelot, Merlin, and Percival across were more popular in the 13th century. In the 16th century, books about Amadis flew off the shelves.

  3. Ah -- I didn't know names were being directly reused, since my knowledge of the genre doesn't extend much past the better-known personnel of Camelot.

    I wonder if the names reflect the phonology of 12th-century Breton? Some of them look vaguely Welsh, but not more than vaguely. Or maybe they're just the product of a couple of centuries of international usage.

  4. According to the footnotes in the Spanish edition of "Amadís" by Juan Manuel Cacho Blecua (it's in the Amazon recommendations at left), almost all the names are from the Arthuric world via French -- medieval Arthurian, French and Spanish, of course. The few that come directly from Britain are rendered in medieval Spanish, too: Walter of Rothwell (Chapter VIII) is "Galdar de Rascuil" and Windsor is "Vindilisora."

    It takes a linguistic detective, sometimes.