Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chapter 12 [first half]

How Galaor fought the great giant, lord of the Rock of Galtares, defeated him, and killed him.

[Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire in Béziers, France. In the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, the town of Béziers was sacked and destroyed on July 22, 1209, and its inhabitants slaughtered: "Kill them all, God will know His own." The invaders set fire to the cathedral, which collapsed on those who had taken refuge inside. A few parts remained of the Romanesque cathedral, and repairs started in 1215 in Mediterranean gothic style. Photo by Gwyneth Box.]


The news reached the giant, and soon he came out on a horse. He seemed so enormous on it that no man in the world would have dared to look at him. He wore armor of iron scales so long that it covered him from his throat to his saddle, and a helmet both large and bright, and he carried a huge, heavy iron mace with which to attack. The squires and damsels were terrified to see him, and Galaor himself was not so brave that he did not feel great fear at that moment. But the closer the giant came, the more he lost his fear.

The giant said to him:

"Miserable knight, how dost thou dare to meet thy death? He who sent thee here shall never see thee again. Wait and thou shalt see how I know to use this mace."

Galaor grew angry and said:

"Devil, thou shalt be defeated and killed by what I bring in my aid, which is God and righteousness."

The giant came toward him, and he seemed just like a tower. Galaor went at him with his lance lowered and his horse running as fast as it could. He hit him on the chest with such force that he lost a stirrup and broke his lance. The giant raised his mace to strike him on the head, but Galaor passed by so quickly that it only hit the rim of his shield and broke the straps that held it around his arm and neck. It fell to the earth, and Galaor almost fell with it.

The blow had been given with such force that the giant's arm could not control it. The mace struck the head of his own horse and knocked it down dead. He fell beneath it, and as he tried to get up with great difficulty, Galaor came and struck him with the chest of his horse and trampled him twice before he could get up, but then Galaor's horse tripped over the giant's horse and fell over it.

Galaor got off it immediately, seeing himself in danger of death, and he put his hand on the sword that Urganda had given him. He charged at the giant, who was picking up his mace from the ground, and struck it on its staff and cut it in two. Only a piece of it remained in the giant's hand, but with it the giant gave such a blow on the top of Galaor's helmet that he fell, putting a hand on the ground. The mace was so strong and heavy and the giant had struck with such force that his helmet was twisted on his head.

But since the knight was very fast and lively of heart, he got up immediately and turned toward the giant, who tried to hit him again. Galaor, who was skilled and agile, protected himself from the attack and gave him such a blow with his sword on the arm that he cut it off at the shoulder, then the sword swung down to the giant's leg and nearly cut it in half.

The giant shouted:

"Oh, the ill fortune! I am derided and defeated by a lone man!"

In his fury, he tried to grab Galaor, but he could not move forward due to the great wound in his leg, and he sat on the ground. Galaor turned to attack again, and when the giant reached out a hand to catch him, he gave him a blow that made his fingers fall to earth along with half his hand. The giant, who had leaned far out to catch him, fell.

Galaor came over him, killed him with his sword, and cut off his head.

Then the squires and the damsels came to him, and Galaor ordered the squires to take the head to his lord. They were happy and said:

"By God, my lord, he raised you well. Ye have won the honor, and he the revenge and profit!"

Galaor rode on the horse of one of the squires, and he saw ten knights leave the castle bound a chain, who told him:

"Come and take this castle, for ye have killed the giant, and we are those who were held by him."

Galaor said to the damsels:

"Ladies, let us remain here tonight."

They said it would please them. Then he had the chain removed from the knights, and they all went into the castle, where there were beautiful rooms. In one of them he disarmed, and they served him dinner, which he ate with the damsels. And thus they rested with great pleasure as they gazed at stout towers and walls that seemed marvelous to them.

The next day all the people of the surrounding lands assembled there. Galaor came out, and they received him with great joy and told him that since he had won the castle by killing the giant who had ruled them by force and with great oppression, they wanted him as their lord. He thanked them very much, but said that they already knew how this land belonged by right to Gandalaz, and that he, as his servant, had come to win it for him. They were obliged to obey Gandalaz as their lord, who would treat them gently and honorably.

"He will be welcome," they said. "Since he is our natural ruler and since we are properly his, he will take care to do us well, but the one that ye killed treated us as aliens and strangers."

Galaor accepted the fealty of the two knights who seemed most honorable, so they would give the castle to Gandalaz when he arrived. With his arms, the damsels, and one of the two squires that he had brought, he took to the road that led to the house of the hermit. When he arrived, the good man was very happy with him, and told him:

"Fortunate son, ye owe much love to God, Who loves you, for He wished through you to bring about such a beautiful vengeance."

Galaor received his blessing and begged him to remember him in his prayers, then returned to the road. One of the damsels asked him to give her his company. The other said:

"I only came here to see the results of this battle, and I saw so much that I will recount it again and again wherever I go. Now I wish to go to the court of King Lisuarte to see my brother, a knight, who is there."

"My dear," said Galaor, "if ye see there a young knight who carries arms with an insignia of lions, tell him that the young nobleman whom he made a knight commends himself to him, and that I will try to be an honorable man, and if I see him, I can tell him more about my estate and his than he knows."

The damsel went on her way, and Galaor said to the other one that, since he had been the knight she had come to see fight, she should tell him who the lady was who had sent her.

If ye wish to know," she said, "follow me, and I shall show you her five days from now."

"Nothing could keep me from knowing that," he said, "so I shall follow you."

And thus they rode until they came to a fork in the road. Galaor went ahead on one road, thinking that the damsel was behind him, but she took the other one. This occurred at the entrance to a forest called Brananda, which is between County Clare and County Gresca. Soon Galaor heard shouts:

"Oh, good knight, help me!"

He turned to look and said:

"Who is shouting?"

The squire said:

"I think it is the damsel who left us."

"What?" said Galaor. "She left us?"

"Yes, my lord," he said. "She went on that other road."

"By God, I paid no attention to her."

He strapped on his helmet and took up his shield and lance, and as fast as he could, he rode toward the shouts, where he saw an ugly dwarf on a horse and five foot soldiers armed like him with round helmets and battle axes. The dwarf held a rod and was hitting the damsel.

Galaor approached him, saying:

"Get away, foul and ugly thing! May God grant thee misfortune!"

He moved his lance to his left hand, rode up to the dwarf, took the stick, and gave him such a blow that he fell to the earth, stunned. The foot soldiers came at him and attacked on all sides, and he hit one in the face with the rod and knocked him to the earth, and hit another, who had sunk his ax into Galaor's shield, in the chest with the lance, but then he could not pull the lance out, for it had run him through. The soldier fell with the lance in him. Galaor took the ax from the shield and charged at the others, but they did not dare wait for him and ran off through some thickets so dense that he could not go after them. When he turned around, he saw that the dwarf was back on his horse. The dwarf said:

"Knight, in a bad moment ye attacked me and killed my men."

And he whipped his nag and left as fast as he could down a road. Galaor took his lance from the villein and saw that it was still in good shape, which pleased him. He gave his arms to his squire and said:

"Damsel, ride ahead of me and I shall guard you better."


  1. A French edition of "Amadis de Gaule" printed in Antwerp, 1560-61 by Plantin contains several woodcuts of a ship manned by monkeys.
    Could anyone tell me its meaning?

  2. Monkeys crewing a ship may be something invented by a French translator. The Spanish versions of Amadis, books I to IV, do contain some enchanted ships, but none with money sailors -- or monkey cargo, for that matter.

    The French translations enjoyed great success in spite of (or perhaps because of) the somewhat free translations by Nicolas Herberay des Essarts. There was more eroticism, among other changes. Translations by Jacques Ghoroy between 1551 and 1574 were even more free with the text and added a lot of occult speculative elements and allegories.

    I suspect the woodcuts represent a episode in the French version of Amadis.

    The translations into other languages were also often free or even careless. In addition, sometimes entirely new books were written as extentions of the story of Amadis and his descendants. Such was the price of popularity.