Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chapter 42 [third part]

[How Amadis and Agrajes bring justice to Abiseos and restore Briolanja's kingdom to her.] 

[Detail from an illustration in Jacob van Maerlant's Spieghel Historiae (1325-1345).] 

When morning came, Amadis and Agrajes left with Grovesna and Briolanja and the rest of their company, and at dawn they went to the Hermitage of the Three Fountains where they heard Mass from its priest. The knights, with great devotion to God, prayed for His mercy and help, for He knew they would be on the side of right and justice in the battle.

Then they put on all their armor, only leaving their faces and their hands uncovered. They mounted their horses and the women their palfreys, and they continued on the road until they reached the city of Sobradisa. King Abiseos and his sons, who had known they were coming, met them at its entrance with a great company of men. The townspeople had come to see Briolanja's arrival, for they loved her with all their hearts and considered her their rightful and natural queen.

Amadis led her horse by the reins, and when he had brought her into the center of the crowd, he took off her veil so that they could see her beautiful face. When they saw her, tears falling from her eyes as she looked at them, they blessed her with hearts full of love and prayed to God that she would soon recover what had been taken from her.

When Abiseos saw his niece before him, his greed and malice could not overcome his great shame, remembering the treachery that he had done to her father the King. But over time, he had become hardened, and he thought that Fortune had still not grown angry over the heights that he had reached. Sensing what the townspeople felt when they saw Briolanja, he said:

"Wretched, pathetic people, I easily see the pleasure that the sight of this damsel gives you, and it makes you lose your senses, and if you had any brains, you would know that you owe your contentment and honor to me, for I am a knight and give you peace and protection. She is a mere weak woman. What is more, behold what strength and favor she has, for after all this time she could only bring these knights to fight for her. They will receive only death and dishonor, and they are such fools that I am moved to pity them."

When Amadis heard this, he grew so angry that blood seemed to come from his eyes, and he rose up in his stirrups so that all could hear him and said:

"Abiseos, I can see how thou feelest great worry over the arrival of Briolanja because of the great treachery thou didst when thou killedst her father, who was thy older brother and natural lord. If thou wert to have enough virtue and wisdom in thee to abandon thy great evil and return what is hers, I would release thee from the battle so that thou couldst ask mercy from God for thy sin and dost such penance as thou ought. In this world thou hast lost thy honor, but in the next one where thou must go, thy soul might thus find its salvation."

Before his father could answer, Darasion furiously came forward and said:

"Truly, mad knight from the court of King Lisuarte, I never believed I would allow someone to say before me what ye just said. But I allow it because if ye dare to do what has been promised, my anger will soon be avenged. And if your courage fails and ye wish to flee, ye shall find no place where I cannot pursue you and punish you in such a way that it will grieve all those who see it done."

Agrajes told him:

"Since thou wishest to support thy father's treachery, arm thyself and come to fight as it was agreed. And if thy fortune is good, our deaths shall revive thy honor, but if not, thou and the others with thee shall have what thy evil deeds deserve."

"Say what thou wilt," Darasion said, "for soon thy skinless tongue shall be sent to the court of King Lisuarte, and when they see it they shall refrain from acts like thine in thy madness."

Then he began to call for his arms, as did his father and his brother, and when they were armed, they entered a place traditionally set for fighting. Amadis and Agrajes laced on their helmets and took up their shields and lances and entered the field. Dramis, the younger brother, who was such a valiant knight that two knights of that land could not equal him on the field, told his father:

"My lord, where ye and my brother were, I never had to speak, but now I do. I believe I should put to use the great strength that God and ye have given me. Leave the knight who spoke ill of you to me, and if I do not kill him with the first lance charge, I never wish to bear arms again. And if I do not seal his fate with that blow, I shall do so with the first blow of my sword."

Many people heard what Dramis had said, and they decided they did not hold it as madness nor doubt that he could carry it out, for they had seen the great feats at arms he could do.

And then, Darasion looked at Amadis and Agrajes and saw that they were only two knights, and he shouted:

"What is this? I know that ye should be three. I think the other's courage has failed him. Call him to come here, for we shall not wait."

"Do not worry about the third," Amadis said, "for we do not need him, and I have faith in God that ye shall soon wish the second one had not come." And he added: "Now be on guard."

Then they had their horses charge as fiercely as they could, and they protected themselves well with their shields. Dramis aimed for Amadis, and their lances struck each others' shields so hard that they passed through and the iron tips reached each others' ribs. Dramis's lance broke, but Amadis had struck him so bravely that although Dramis's chain mail remained intact, his heart burst within his body and left him dead, and he hit the ground in such a great fall that it seemed as if a tower had fallen.

"In the name of God!" said Ardian the dwarf, "now my lord is free, and it seems to me that his deed has been more true than the other knight's threat."

Agrajes charged the other two and met Darasion, and their lances were broken, and Darasion lost a stirrup, but neither of them fell. Abiseos failed in his blow, and when he turned his horse, he saw his son Dramis motionless and dead. He felt great sorrow but did not yet believe he had died. He charged angrily at Amadis, as one who wished to avenge his son, holding the lance tightly with his arm, and struck so hard that Amadis's shield failed and the iron tip entered his arm. The lance broke in such a way that it seemed to all who watched that Amadis could no longer fight.

Without question, this distressed Briolanja, whose heart failed and whose eyesight grew dim, and she would have fallen from her palfrey if she had not been helped. But Amadis, who was not frightened by such blows, held tight to the hilt of the sword that he had recently recovered from Arcalaus, and he went to strike Abiseos with a great blow on the top of his helmet that cut his head down to the bone, then descended to his shoulder. Abiseos was so stunned and overcome by the blow that he could not maintain himself in his saddle, fell to the ground, and could barely arise.

Many of those who watched were astonished by how Amadis, with only two blows, had overcome two strong knights, for they had well believed that no one in the world was better than those two.

Amadis charged at Darasion, who was fighting with Agrajes so bravely that it would be hard to find to others who fought better. He said:

"Truly, Darasion, I believe that now ye would prefer to see the second knight gone than a third attacking you."

Darasion did not respond and instead protected himself well with his shield. Amadis, who had come to attack him, was stopped by Agrajes, who said:

"My lord cousin, ye have done extraordinarily well. Now leave this one to me, for he has arrogantly threatened to cut out my tongue."

But Amadis, who had come with great ire, did not hear what Agrajes had told him, passed him by, and gave Darasion a great blow in the shield, and everything that his sword met fell to the ground. The sword struck the pommel of the saddle and cut as deep as the horse's neck. But as Amadis passed Darasion, he went slowly enough for the other knight to thrust his sword into the belly of his horse. When the animal felt itself wounded, it began to flee, and Amadis could not stop it. He pulled on the reins so hard that they broke in his hand, and when he saw that he had no other choice because the horse was going to carry him outside the field, he struck such a blow with his sword between its ears that its head was split in two and it fell to the earth dead, and Amadis was thrown down hard.

But he arose quickly, although with difficulty, and with his sword in his hand he ran at Abiseos, who had now gotten up and was going to help his son. At this moment Agrajes struck such a blow with his sword to the top of Darasion's helmet that he could not pull it out, and with that sword in his helmet, Darasion prepared to give him great blows with his own sword.

When Agrajes realized that he had lost his sword, his resolve did not weaken. He moved in close so quickly that the other knight had no chance to attack with his sword, and he embraced him as if he were very affectionate. Darasion dropped his sword and struggled to free his arms. They pulled and tugged each other out of their saddles and fell to the earth, holding each other, and would not let go.

Abiseos came and delivered great blows to Agrajes, and if he had had more time, he would have killed him. But Amadis, who saw what was happening, came as fast as he could and lifted up the skirt of Abiseos's chain mail to stab him with his sword. Abiseos, sensing his attack, turned from Agrajes and covered himself with his shield, and Amadis struck it so hard that it flew against his helmet and left him stunned and about to fall.

When Agrajes saw his cousin next to him, he strove harder to stand up, as did Darasion, so that both broke free of the other and rose to their feet. Agrajes saw Darasion's sword on the ground and took it, and Darasion grabbed the one in his helmet, pulled it free, and went to help his father.

But Agrajes was bleeding from a wound in his throat and all his armor was covered with blood. When Amadis saw this, he felt deeply anguished for he feared that it was a mortal wound, and he said:

"Good cousin, rest and leave these traitors to me."

"My lord, no," he said. "There is no injury that would make me fail to help you, as ye shall now see."

"Then let us at them," Amadis said.

Then they attacked them with great blows. But because Amadis thought that Agrajes was in mortal danger due to his wound, his worry made his ire grow, and with that his strength also grew, so the father and the son were soon in such a state that their armor had been cut to pieces and their flesh as well. Thus they could no longer withstand Amadis's many fierce blows and fled from one side to another, trembling with the fear of death.

In this trouble and misfortune, as ye hear, Abiseos and Darasion lasted until mid-morning, and when Abiseos saw that their death had arrived, he took his sword in both hands and charged with great fury at Amadis and struck him on the top of his helmet with such a blow that he did not seem to be a man so badly injured. He cut off the rim of Amadis's helmet, and the sword swung down and cut his chain mail and his flesh. Amadis suffered from this blow but did not take long to repay it. He gave Abiseos a mortal blow with all his strength on the fateful arm with which he had killed his brother, who had been his King and natural lord, cutting it at the shoulder, and his entire arm fell to the ground.

When Amadis saw this, he said:

"Abiseos, thou seest the result of thy treachery, which had given thee pleasure and power, but now it shall give thee death and the depths of Hell."

Abiseos fell knowing he would die, and Amadis looked for Darasion and saw that Agrajes had him on the ground and had cut off his head.

Then all the people of the land joyfully went to kiss the hands of Briolanja, their lady.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chapter 42 [second part]

[How the battle was arranged in which Amadis and Agrajes would fight King Abiseos and his sons Darasion and Dramis.]

[John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. In 1386, he invaded Spain and tried unsuccessfully to take the throne of the Kingdom of Castilla y León.] 

[Translator's note: The characters in this novel are almost exclusively nobles, and so they address each other with the formal "ye." Occasionally, however, they use the familiar "thou." This is usually a deliberate insult, a way to call someone lowly.]


Amadis spent five days in Grovenesa's castle with Agrajes, and when all things necessary for travel had been assembled, they left with Grovenesa, Briolanja, two damsels, and five men on horseback to serve them, and three palfreys led by the reins bearing their fine apparel. But Briolanja would only wear black clothing until her father had been avenged.

When they had gone a league, Briolanja asked for a promise from Amadis, and Grovenesa from Agrajes, which they granted, though they did not know or imagine what it would be. The women asked that they would not leave the road because of anything they saw without permission so that they not become involved in any conflict other than the one they were headed toward. It grieved the knights to agree because in some places their help was needed, which they might have rightly employed, but they could not, and so they felt ashamed.

After twelve days of traveling, as ye hear, they arrived at the lands of Sobradisa on a dark night. Then they left the main road and took a side road for three leagues. When a good part of the night had passed, they arrived at a small castle which belonged to a lady named Gabalumba who had served Grovenesa's father and who was very old and wise. They called at the gate and the residents of the castle came out, and the lady and all her household were very happy to see them. They opened the gate and took them in, where they gave them dinner and beds in which to rest and sleep.

The next morning, Gabalumba asked Grovenesa why they were traveling. She told her how Amadis had promised Briolanja to avenge the death of her father, and that she should believe without a doubt that he was the best knight in the world. She told how he had met them on a road on which she and Briolanja were traveling, and he had defeated eight very good knights that she had brought as guards in order to see who was in the carriage, and she had also seen him fight in the castle against her men, when he was rescued by lions. [Chapter 21.]

The lady was amazed by the skill of the knight and said:

"Since he is so skilled, his companion should also be worthy, and they may well accomplish the deed that they so rightly undertake. But I fear that traitor may kill them by some trick."

"This is why I have come to you," Grovenesa said, "so that ye could give me some counsel."

"Then," she said, "leave this to me."

She took some ink and parchment and wrote a letter, sealed it with Briolanja's seal, spoke privately for a while with a damsel, gave her the letter, and told her what to do. The damsel left the castle on her palfrey, and rode hard until she arrived at the great city named Sobradisa, from which the kingdom took its name, where Abiseos was with his two sons, Darasion and Dramis. These were the ones against whom Amadis would fight, for Abiseos had greedily killed Briolanja's father, who was his older brother, in order to take his kingdom, and then reigned mightily, more by force than by the assent of the people of that land.

When the very richly attired damsel arrived, she immediately went to the palace of the King and entered the gate on horseback. The knights came to help her from her horse, but she told them she would not dismount until the King saw her and ordered her to do so, if it pleased him. Then they took her by the reins and led her to a hall where the King was with his sons and many other knights. He ordered her to dismount the palfrey if she wished to say something.

The damsel said:

"I shall do so on the condition that ye take me under your protection so I shall not be harmed for anything I say to you or to anyone else here."

He said that he would give her his protection by his royal honor and that she could speak without worry. Then she dismounted the palfrey and said:

"My lord, I bring you a such a message that it should be told in the presence of all the leading nobles of the kingdom. Order them to come and ye shall hear it then."

"As it happens," the King said, "they are all here as ye wish, for I had them come six days ago to deal with certain matters."

"That greatly pleases me," she said. "Then order them to gather here."

The King ordered them to be called, and when they had come, the damsel said:

"King, this letter is sent to you by Briolanja, whose inheritance thou hast taken. Order it to be read before these people and give me thy answer as to what thou shalt do."

When the King heard his niece Briolanja mentioned, he felt great shame, considering the wrong he had done her, but he ordered the letter read, only saying that all should believe what Briolanja's damsel would say on her behalf. The people native to the kingdom who were there, when they realized that the message was from their lady, felt great pity for her in their hearts because her kingdom had been unjustly taken, and they silently asked God to remedy the situation and not permit such a great treason to last much longer.

The King said to the damsel:

"Tell us what it says, for you shall be believed."

She said:

"Lord King, it is true that ye killed Briolanja's father and confiscated her land, and ye have said many times that ye and your sons would defend by trial at arms that what ye did was just. Briolanja orders ye be told that if ye still hold that, she shall bring here two knights who will fight for her over this question, and they shall make you know the disloyalty and great arrogance that ye did."

When Darasion, the oldest son, heard this, he was very angry, for he was generally irascible. He stood up and, without his father's approval, he said:

"Damsel, if Briolanja has these knights and they wish to fight over that question, I promise to fight myself, and my father, and my brother. And if I do not fulfill this, I promise before these knights that I will order my head to be cut off and delivered to Briolanja to pay for her father's head."

"Truly, Darasion," the damsel said, "ye respond like a knight with great courage, but I do not know if ye do it out of anger, since I see that ye are irate, but if ye and your father agree with what I shall now say, I shall think that ye do it out of goodness and with the burning spirit within you."

"Damsel," he said, "what do ye have to say?"

She said:

"Have your father offer his assurance to our knights on behalf of all those in this land that if anything ill-fated were to happen in the battle, they shall cause them no harm, and only ye three shall fight. And if ye give this assurance, they shall be here within three days."

Darasion knelt before his father and said:

"My lord, ye have heard what the damsel asks and what I have promised, and since my honor is yours, grant what she asks, since if not, they shall be the winners without a fight, and both ye and we would be at fault, for we have always pledged that if anyone were to impugn you over the propriety of what ye have done in the past, we three would avenge it in battle. And even if this had not been promised, we should take up this challenge against us because, as I have heard, these knights are madmen from the court of King Lisuarte who have more arrogance than brains and hold themselves in great esteem, despising others."

The King loved his son more than he loved himself, and although he felt guilty for killing his brother and although he feared the battle, he gave his assurance for the knights, just as the damsel had asked.

The time had come, as permitted by the Lord most high, for his treachery to be punished, as ye shall hear further on.

When the damsel saw that her message had been fulfilled, she said to the King and his sons:

"Prepare yourselves, for tomorrow those whom ye shall fight will be here."

She mounted her horse and rode fast until she arrived at the castle and told the ladies and knights how her message had been fully executed, but when she said that Darasion believed them mad for belonging to the court of King Lisuarte, Amadis was moved to anger, and he said:

"Well, even in that court there are those who would think little of smashing his arrogance and even his head." But then he realized that anger had overcome him and he regretted what he had said.

Briolanja, whose eyes had never left him, said in response:

"My lord, ye could not say nor do anything against those traitors that they do not fully deserve, for as ye know they wrongly killed my father and took my inheritance a long time ago. Have mercy on me, for I place my fortune in God and in you."

Amadis, whose heart was subdued and made gentle by virtue, felt sorrow for that beautiful damsel and told her:

"My good lady, by the hope ye have in God, I promise that tomorrow before nightfall your great sadness shall become great and shining joy."

Briolanja knelt and wanted to kiss his feet, but he stepped back with embarrassment, and Agrajes took her hands and rose her up.

Then it was agreed that they would leave the next morning at dawn, and when they were half a league from Sobradisa, they would go to hear Mass at the Hermitage of the Three Fountains, which was there. So that night they rested very joyfully and with pleasure.

Briolanja, who spoke often with Amadis, frequently felt moved to ask him to marry, but she feared that his heavy thoughts and the tears that she sometimes saw on his cheeks were caused not by any weakness in his mighty courage but because he was tormented, subjected and afflicted by another woman for whom he felt the same passion that she suffered for him. And so her will was detained by her reason, and she refrained from asking. She left him so he could get some restful sleep and arise at the given hour.