Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chapter 11 [first half]

How the giant brought Galaor to be armed by the hand of King Lisuarte, and how Amadis knighted him very honorably.

[Inner defensive wall of the Moorish castle of Gilbralfaro, built between the 7th and 11th centuries near the port of Málaga, Spain. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]


Sir Galaor was with the giant, as we have told you, learning to ride horses and fight with swords and all else necessary to be a knight. He was now very skilled, since the year had passed that the giant had set for him to learn it, so he said:

"Father, I ask you to make me a knight now, since I have done all that ye ordered."

The giant, who saw that it was time, said to him:

"Son, it would please me. Tell me whom ye wish to do it."

"King Lisuarte," he said, "whose fame has spread so wide."

"I shall take you there," said the giant.

Three days later, when everything had been prepared, they began traveling, and on the fifth day found themselves near a very stout castle surrounded by a salt-water moat. The castle was named Bradoid and was the most beautiful in all that land, and it sat on a tall rock. Water flowed on one side, and on the other side there was a large marsh. The only way to enter on the water side was by boat, and on the marsh side there was a causeway wide enough that carts could go both ways, but at the entrance to the marsh, there was a narrow drawbridge, and when it was raised, the water beneath it was very deep.

At the entrance to the bridge there were two tall elm trees. The giant and Galaor saw two damsels and a squire beneath them, and an armed knight on a white horse who carried a shield that bore an insignia of lions. He had ridden up to the bridge, which raised so he could not pass over it, and he was shouting at those in the castle.

Galaor said to the giant:

"If it please you, let us see what that knight will do."

Soon they saw two knights and ten unarmed foot soldiers come from the castle at the end of the bridge, and they asked the knight what he wanted.

"I would like to enter," he said.

"That cannot be," they said, "if ye do not fight with us first."

"If it cannot be otherwise," he said, "drop the bridge and come out to joust."

The knights had the foot soldiers lower the bridge, and one of the knights began to charge, with his horse running as fast as it could. The knight with the lion insignia, who carried his lance low, came at him, and they collided bravely. The knight from the castle broke his lance, and the other knight's lance hit him so hard that he was knocked to the ground with his horse on top of him. Then the knight with the lions went for the other knight, who had just begun to cross the bridge. The horses struck each other because both lances missed their targets. The lion knight hit the other knight with such force that both he and his horse fell into the water, and the knight died immediately.

The lion knight passed over the bridge and continued toward the castle. The villeins raised the bridge. The damsels on the far end alerted the knight. When he looked toward the soldiers, he saw three well-armed knights coming at him, who said:

"Ye crossed the bridge at a bad time, for death shall come to you in the water just as it did to him, who was more worthy than you."

All three charged at him and struck him so hard that his horse was knocked to its knees and he almost fell. They broke their lances and he was injured by two of them, but he struck one of them such that his armor did not withstand the blow, and the lance entered his ribs and came out the other side, both the iron and a portion of the shaft.

The lion knight bravely took his sword in hand and charged at the two remaining knights, and they at him, and a fierce battle commenced among them. But the knight with the lion insignia, fearing death, fought to be free of them, and struck one with such a blow of his sword on his right arm that he fell to the earth along with his sword. He began to run toward the castle, shouting:

"Come help, friends, for your lord is being killed!"

When the knight with the lion insignia heard him say that the other one was the lord of the castle, he wished more than ever to defeat him. He gave him such a blow on the top of his helmet that the sword reached the flesh. The other knight was so stunned that he was knocked from his stirrups and would have fallen if he had not caught the neck of his horse. The knight with the lions grabbed his helmet and pulled it off his head. The knight from the castle wanted to flee, but he saw that his opponent was between him and his castle.

"Ye are dead," said the knight with the lion insignia, "if ye do not yield and become my prisoner."

He greatly feared his sword, which he had already felt on his head, and said:

"Oh, good knight, mercy, do not kill me. Take my sword and take me prisoner."

But the knight with the lion insignia saw knights and armed foot soldiers leaving the castle. He grabbed the rim of the other knight's shield, put the point of his sword in his face, and said:

"Order them to turn back. If not, I will kill you."

The other shouted at them to turn back if they loved their lives. They saw the danger that he was in and did so. The knight with the lions said:

"Have the foot soldiers to drop the bridge."

He ordered it done immediately. Then the other knight took him and crossed the bridge, and when the knight from the castle saw the damsels and knew one of them, who was Urganda the Unrecognized, he said:

"My lord knight, if ye do not protect me from that damsel, I am dead."

"God help me, but I will not," he said. "Instead, I will do with you what she tells me." Then he said to Urganda: "Ye see here the knight who is lord of the castle. What do ye wish done with him?"

"Cut off his head if he does not return my lover, whom he holds prisoner in his castle, and if he does not deliver the damsel who took him from me."

"So be it." He raised his sword to frighten the other knight, who said:

"Oh, good lord, do not kill me. I will do whatever she says."

"Then do so without delay," he said.

The knight from the castle called one of his foot soldiers and told him:

"See my brother and tell him, if he wishes to see me alive, to bring out the knight right away and the damsel who brought him."

This was done. And the knight with the lion insignia came up to the freed prisoner and told him:

"Knight, ye see here your friend. Love her, for she went through great effort to free you from prison."

"Yes," he said, "I love her more than ever." Urganda went to embrace him, and he embraced her.

"What shall ye do with the damsel?" said the knight with the lions.

"Kill her," said Urganda. "I have suffered too much from her." Then she cast a spell that made her about to jump, trembling, into the water.

But the lion knight said:

"My lady, by God, do not kill this damsel, for I captured her."

"I shall leave her go this time for you, but if she fails me, she shall pay for everything."

The lord of the castle said:

"My lord, I have done all that ye ordered. Get me away from Urganda."

She told him:

"I set ye free in honor of he who defeated you."

The lion knight asked the damsel why she had almost jumped willingly into the water.

"My lord," she said, "there seemed to be torches burning on every part of me, and I wanted to protect myself in the water."

He began to laugh, and said:

"By God, damsel, it is madness to anger she who can avenge herself so well."

Galaor, who had seen it all, said to the giant:

"I would like this man to make me a knight. If King Lisuarte is so renowned, it is probably due to his grandeur, but this knight deserves fame for his valor."

"Then go to him," said the giant, "and if he does not do it, it will be to his harm."

Galaor went to where the knight with the lion insignia was, beneath some elms and accompanied by four squires and two damsels, and when he arrived, they greeted each other. Galaor said:

"My lord knight, I ask a boon of you."

That knight saw before him the most handsome man he had ever seen. He took him by the hand, and said:

"If it be right, I shall grant it."

"Then I beg you the courtesy to make me a knight without delay, so I shall not have to go to King Lisuarte, which is where I was going."

"My friend," he said, "it would be madness to fail to seek such honor from the greatest king in the world and to take it from a poor knight like me."

"My lord," said Galaor, "the grandeur of King Lisuarte would not give me as much courage as your great valor would, which I just saw you demonstrate. Do as ye promised me."

"Good squire," he said, "anything else that ye ask of me I would be happy to do, but this would not be an honor for me nor for you."


  1. Urganda seems like a pretty vile person. Why are Perion and Amadis so blase about it?

  2. The way I read this, Urganda is often bluffing, threatening people and then relenting when they agree to her terms or when Amadis intercedes -- sort of a good cop bad cop routine.

    Perion and Amadis know she's on their side, and she is tough, but those were different times. Every now and then in this book, the right and proper thing to do in medieval terms seems very strange by our standards.