Thursday, July 28, 2011

On August break

As is customary in Spain, this blog will take an August vacation.

Last August, I attended a Renaissance fair in Navalcarnero, a small town near Madrid. The annual fair recreates the wedding of King Felipe IV and Marian de Austria held there in 1649. Photo by Jerry Finn.

As usual, I'll take a break in August, giving both you and me time to rest and prepare for the fall.

The story will resume on September 6, and we will soon learn the answers to thrilling questions: Can Gandalin talk sense into Amadis? What will Durin tell Oriana, and what will she do? Will you be able to put Amadis's sad song in Chapter 51 to music?

Meanwhile, if you're in Los Angeles before August 14, you may wish to visit the J. Paul Getty Center's exhibition on Fashion in the Middle Ages. If you can't go, it's worth your while to visit the web page and listen to the explanations of the glamorous, costly outfits:

Remember that this blog is licensed under Creative Commons 3.0, so feel free to use your spare time to copy, distribute, display, share, or perform all or any part of it, or to create derivative works — for non-commercial use. Just say where you got it. If you want to do something commercial, I can be very reasonable.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chapter 47

Which recounts who the knight was who had been defeated by Amadis and the things that had happened to him before he was defeated by Amadis.

[Marginalia from the Macclesfield Psalter, produced around 1330.] 

[Translator's note: Patin may mean "petrel," or "small patio," but in any case it is an odd name for a great knight, if he is great.]

That injured knight whom we have just told you about was named Patin, and he was the brother of Sir Sidon, who at that time was Emperor of Rome. He was the best knight at arms of all those lands, so he was very feared by all those who lived in the empire. Because the Emperor was very old and had no heir, everyone thought that Patin would succeed him.

He loved a Queen of Cerdena named Sardamira, who was a woman with a fine figure and a beautiful damsel. Being the niece of the Empress, she had been raised in the imperial house, and he had served her so well that she had to promise that if she were to marry, she would sooner marry him than anyone else. When Patin heard this, he felt the greater pride than usual, which was no small amount, and he told her:

"My beloved, I have heard tell that King Lisuarte has a daughter who is praised by everyone for her great beauty, and I wish to go to his court and will say that she is not as beautiful as you. I shall fight the two best knights who say the contrary, for they tell me that the knights there are very esteemed at arms. And if I do not defeat them in one day, I will tell the King to order my head cut off."

"Do not do this," the Queen said, "for if that damsel is very beautiful, it takes nothing away from what God gave me, if He gave me anything. Ye may more reasonably and less arrogantly demonstrate your skill by some other means. In addition, since putting yourself in this cause is unreasonable and arrogant, it is not proper for a man of such high estate as yours, and it can come to no good end."

"Whatever happens," he said, "I tell you this to place myself in your service. I have great love for you, and this shows that since ye are the most beautiful woman in the world, ye are loved by the best knight that ye could ever find."

And this he departed from her, and with his fine arms and ten squires, he traveled to Great Britain and immediately went to where he knew King Lisuarte was. The King, when he saw him with such accompaniment, thought he was a man of means and received him well. When he had disarmed, everyone saw how he was well built and for that reason ought to be very valiant.

The King asked him who he was. He told him:

"King, I shall tell you, for I did not come to your court to hide myself but to make myself known. Know that I am Patin, brother of the Emperor of Rome, and as soon as I see the Queen and her daughter Oriana, ye shall know why I have come.

When the King heard he was a man of such high estate, he embraced him and told him:

"My good friend, I am very pleased by your arrival, and ye shall see the queen and her daughter and all the other ladies in my court when you please."

Then he sat with him at a table, where they ate as was fit at the table of such a man. Patin looked everywhere, and when he saw so many knights, he was amazed and thought the court of his brother the Emperor was nothing in comparison, nor any other court that he had seen. Sir Grumedan took him to his lodging at the orders of the King and did him many honors.

The next day, after having heard Mass, the King took Patin and Sir Grumedan with him and went to the Queen, who already knew who he was from the King. She received him and had him sit before her and next to her daughter, who had lost much of her usual beauty due to the ire that ye have already heard of.

When Patin saw Oriana he was astonished and said to himself that everyone who had praised her had not described half of her beauty, and his heart was changed by what he had seen and set itself on having her by any means. He thought that since he was of such great estate and so outstanding and would have an empire, if he were to ask to wed her he would not be denied, so he took the King and Queen aside and said:

"I have come to your court to marry your daughter, and this is due to your esteem and her beauty, and if I ever wished any other lady of such great means, I would find her because of who I am and what I expect to have."

The King said:

"I am very grateful for what ye have said, but the Queen and I have promised our daughter not to marry her against her will, so we must speak to her before responding to you."

The King said this so he would not alienate Patin, but he did not have the heart to give her to him nor to anyone else who would take her from the land where he was lord. Patin was very happy with this answer and waited there five days thinking he would get what he wanted so badly, but neither the King nor the Queen said anything to their daughter, thinking him delirious.

But Patin asked the King one day how it went with his wedding, and he told him:

"I am doing what I can, but you must speak with my daughter and ask her to do as I order."

Patin went to Oriana and told her:

"My lady Oriana, I wish to ask something of you that would be much to your honor and advantage."

"What thing is it?" she said.

"That you do as your father orders," he said.

She did not know why he had said that to her, and told him:

"I shall willingly do this, for I am very sure that I will get these two things that ye say, honor and advantage."

Patin was very happy with her reply for he felt sure he had won her, and he said:

"I wish to travel through these lands to seek adventures, and soon ye shall hear many things said about me which will give you more reason to grant that which I desire."

He also said that to the King, and that he wished to depart immediately to see the wonders of his land. The King told him:

"That is yours to do, but if ye listen to me, ye would not do so, for ye shall find great adventures and dangers, and very strong and sturdy knights accomplished at arms."

"All of that," he said, "would please me greatly, and if they are so strong and spirited, they shall not find me poor and weak, as my deeds shall tell you."

And he said goodbye and went on his way very happy about Oriana's response, and that is why he went singing as ye have heard when his misfortune guided him to the place where Amadis was mourning. This is the reason why the knight had come to such a far-off land.

Now, returning to the matter at hand, the day was already bright when Durin left Amadis, and he passed by where Patin lay injured. He had removed what remained of his helmet from his head, and his face and neck were covered with blood. When he saw Durin, he said:

"Good page, may God make you a good man, tell me if you know someplace near here where I can get this wound treated."

"Yes, I know," he said, "but the people there are so afflicted with sorrow that they will not pay attention to anything else."

"Why is that?" the knight said.

"Because of a knight," Durin said, "who had won lordship of the land and seen the images and secrets of Apolidon and his beloved, which no one has been able to see until now, but he left there with such great sorrow that he is not expected to live."

"It seems to me," the knight said, "that ye are speaking of the Firm Island."

"That is true," Durin said.

"What?" the knight said. "It already has a lord? God have mercy on me! I was going there to test myself and win the lordship."

Durin smiled and said:

"Truly, knight, unless ye are hiding some of your skill and have not shown it here, it would do ye little good, and in fact I think it would be to your dishonor."

The knight stood up as best he could and tried to grab the reins of Durin's horse, who backed away, and since the knight could not reach them, he said:

"Page, tell me who the knight was who won the Firm Island."

"First tell me who ye are," Durin said.

"Ye shall have that without delay," he said. "Know that I am Patin, brother of the Emperor of Rome."

"Merciful God!" Durin said. "Ye have better lineage than skill at arms or good sense. Now know that the knight about whom ye ask was the one who left you, and from what ye have seen of him, ye may well believe that he was deserving and worthy of winning what he won."

And Durin left him and went on his way. He took the fastest road to London, very anxious to tell Oriana all that he had seen of Amadis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chapter 46

How Gandalin and Durin trailed Amadis to bring him the arms he had left behind, and how they found him, and how he fought with a knight and defeated him.

[A suit of jousting armor on display at Segovia Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.] 

Gandalin remained in the hermitage with the others as ye heard, and when he saw Amadis leave, he said as he wept fiercely:

"I shall not remain here, instead I shall follow him even though he prohibited it, for I must bring him his arms."

And Durin told him:

"I wish to accompany you this night, and it would give me much pleasure if we found him returned to better judgement."

Then, mounting their horses, they said goodbye to Ysandro and took the road Amadis had taken. Ysandro went to his castle and fell on his bed, full of sorrow. Gandalin and Durin entered the forest and rode everywhere, and luck guided them to where Amadis was. His horse neighed when it heard the other horses, so they knew he was there. They went slowly through the brush so he would not hear them, for they did not dare to be seen by him, and when they were close, they dismounted.

Gandalin went stealthily on and came to the spring and saw that Amadis was sleeping on the grass. He took Amadis's horse and returned with it to where Durin was waiting, and they took the bridles off all the horses and let them graze and eat green shoots. They remained quiet, and soon Amadis awoke. His sleep had not been restful and his heart shook. He stood and saw that the moon was setting and a good part of the night remained, and the forest was still.

He sat again and said:

"Oh, fickle and rootless fate! Why didst thou place me at such height among all knights if so easily thou wouldst make me fall? Now I see well that thou canst cause more harm in one hour than the all good thou couldst do in a thousand years, for if thou gavest me delights and pleasures in the past, thou hast cruelly stolen them. Thou hast left me in greater bitterness than death. And since thou wert pleased to do so, thou shouldst have balanced one with the other, for thou well knowest that if in the past thou didst give me some ease and rest, it was mixed with great anguish and concern. Yet with the cruelty that thou dost now torment me, thou hast not even given me any hope where my troubled life might find refuge in some little corner.

"But thou hast fulfilled the job thou wert given, which runs contrary to mankind's mortal expectations, for we believe true and durable those fleeting honors, pomp, and vain glories that thou givest us. We hold them tight and forget that in addition to the torments our bodies endure to obtain them, at the end of our lives our souls are put in great danger and their salvation in doubt. But if, with the clear vision that our Lord on high gave us, though obscured by our passions and affections, we tried to see thy changes, and we would realize it is better to have adversity than prosperity, because prosperity is agreeable to our characters and appetites, and by sustaining ourselves with those sweet delights and expecting them in our future, in the end we fall into bitterness and depths without repair. Adversary is the opposite, not to reason but to desire, and if we cast aside greedy desires, we will be raised from the depths to the heights in perpetual glory.

"What shall I do? Neither my judgement nor my weak strength are enough to resist such grave temptation, for if the world were mine and thou wert to take it from me, leaving only the will of my lady, that would be enough to maintain me in high good fortune. But without her, I cannot maintain my own life.

"I declare that thy cruelty to me is beyond compare. For every moment and hour that death does not take me, I beg thee to repay me, for I have been such a loyal servant of thine. If it is granted to thee to take my life and end these torments, take it, having pity for what thou knowest that I suffer by living."

And having said that, he fell quiet and spent a time prostate and weeping, unaware of himself, then he said:

"Oh, my lady Oriana! Ye have brought me death by the refusal ye have done me, and I may not refuse your orders, and by keeping them I do not keep my life. Instead I receive this senseless death, which I ache to receive, for with it your will shall be satisfied, and while I have life, whatever be your pleasure, I would exchange it a thousand times for death.

"If your anger had had a worthy cause, I would bear the punishment, and ye, my lady, might rest easy and live lightly because your ire had been justly executed, and wherever my soul might go, it would find great rest in your pleasure. But as I am without blame and ye know the cruelty ye do to me is more through passion than reason, from now during what remains of my life and then in the next life, I shall weep and wail the sorrow and great pain that will befall you because of me and even more for having no remedy, when my life is over."

Then he said this:

"Oh, King Perion of Gaul, my father and my lord, not knowing the cause of my death, with what little reason shall ye mourn! Instead, in keeping with your great worth and esteemed sons, ye must take consolation, because as I was obligated to emulate your great deeds, now abhorred and desperate, as a miserable knight who cannot resist the hard blows of fortune, I shall take death as my consolation and remedy. If ye knew why, I am sure ye would not blame me, but may it please God that ye do not know, for your sorrow cannot remedy mine and instead, I would regret it and my sorrow would grow ever larger."

Having said this, he was quiet for a little while, but then, with great weeping and groaning, he said:

"Oh, good and loyal knight, my foster father Gandales! I bear great sorrow for you because my misfortunes have not let me reward you with anything as great as what I received from you, because you, my good foster father, took me from the sea when I was as small, born that very night. Ye gave me life and raised me, and if during my earliest days I grew with you and in my final days I should die with you, my spirit would depart this world with comfort. But since I cannot do that, I shall always love you dearly."

And he also spoke thusly of his loyal friend Angriote d'Estravaus, King Arban of North Wales, Guilan the Pensive, and his other great friends, and finally he said:

"Oh, Mabilia, my cousin and lady, and ye, good Damsel of Denmark! Where has your help and aide tarried so long that ye have let me be killed? Truly, my good friends, I would not tarry to help you if ye needed my aid. Now I clearly see, since ye have deserted me, that the whole world is against me and everyone has a stake in my death."

And he was quiet and said no more, groaning deeply, and Gandalin and Durin, who heard him, felt great sorrow but did not dare to come before him.

While this was happening, a knight passed along a nearby road singing, and when he had come near Amadis, he began to say:

"Love, love, I have much to thank you for, for the good that ye have brought me and the great height ye have raised me to above all other knights, always taking me from good to better. Ye have made me love the very beautiful Queen Sardamira, and I believe that, surprisingly, I have won her heart with the honor I shall carry from this land. And now, ye have given me greater good fortune and made me love the daughter of the best king in the world. She is the beautiful Oriana, who has no equal in this world. Love, ye have made me love her and ye have given me the strength to serve her."

After he said this, he went beneath a large tree that was next to the road, where he wished to wait until morning. But something else happened to him, because Gandalin said to Durin:

"Stay here. I want to go and see what Amadis intends to do."

He went to Amadis and found that he had already gotten up and was looking for his horse, which he could not find. When he saw Gandalin, he said:

"What man art thou, and why art thou here? Please tell me."

"My lord," he said, "I am Gandalin, and I wish to bring you your horse."

Amadis said:

"Who told thee to come here against my prohibition? Know that thou hast done me a great wrong. Go, give me my horse and go on thy way, and do not remain here any longer. If not, thou shalt make me kill thee and me."

"My lord," Gandalin said, "by God, stop that and tell me if ye heard the madness that a knight over there just said."

He said this to raise some anger in him and make him forget his grief. Amadis told him:

"I did hear what he said, which is why I want my horse, so I can leave here, for I have been here too long."

"What?" Gandalin said. "You will not do anything to that knight?"

"And what ought I to do?" Amadis said.

"You should fight him," Gandalin said, "and make him pay for his madness."

Amadis said:

"Thou art mad to say this. Thou knowest that I have no mind nor heart or strength, that all was lost when I lost the favor of my lady, because everything came from her and not from me. And since she has taken all this, thou knowest that I am no better for fighting than a dead knight, and in all Great Britain, there is no knight so miserable and weak that he could not easily kill me. So if he were to fight me, I tell thee that I am the most defeated and hopeless knight in the world."

Gandalin told him:

"My lord, it greatly troubles me that your heart and skill has failed at this time, and by God, speak softly, for Durin is over there, and he heard your laments and everything the knight said."

"What?" Amadis said. "Durin is here?"

"Yes," he said, "we came here together, and I think he came here to see what ye would do because he wants to find out and tell whoever sent him."

Amadis said:

"What thou hast told me gives me sorrow."

But knowing that Durin was there, his heart and strength rose, and he said:

"Now give me the horse and take me to the knight."

Gandalin brought him the horse and his arms, and he mounted and took up his weapons. Gandalin went to show him the knight, and soon they saw him beneath a tree, where he held his horse's reins. Amadis came closer and told him:

"Knight, ye who is resting, it is time ye got up so we can see if ye know how to keep that love in you that ye have praised."

The knight got up and said:

"Who art thou to challenge me thus? Now thou shalt see how I keep my love, if thou wishest to fight, for I shall put fear into thee and all those who are bereft of love."

"Now we shall see," Amadis said, "for I am among those bereft by it, and I alone shall never trust it because for all the great service I did it, it gave me a poor reward that I did not deserve. I shall say more to you, sir knight in love: I found seven times more lies than truth in love. Now come and prove yourself, and we shall see if it wins more with you than it lost with me."

And as Amadis said this, he became irate, as one whom his lady had abandoned without the slightest reason. The knight mounted and took up his arms, and he said:

"Ye, knight, desperado of love and despising everything worthwhile that ye can speak ill of, if love has deserted you, it did so wisely, for someone like yourself does not deserve to accompany and serve it, and when it saw that ye were not worthy, it fled from you. Go away now, and do not stay here any longer, for merely seeing you makes me very angry, and any weapon I would use against you I would disdain because of that."

And he tried to leave. Amadis told him:

"Knight, either ye do not wish to defend love with more than words, or ye are a coward."

"Why knight," he said, "I was leaving because I thought thee unworthy and thou thinkest that it was out of fear. Thou hast sought thy own injury. Now be on guard, if thou canst."

Then they charged their horses as fast and as hard as they could, and their lances struck each others' shields, which yielded, and the lances were stopped by their coats of mail, which were very strong. The knight in love fell directly to the ground, but while he fell he kept the reins in his hand and immediately remounted as one who was brave and quick.

Amadis told him:

"If ye cannot defend love better with a sword than a lance, the reward ye have won is poorly used."

The knight made no reply at all, but drew his sword angrily and attacked. Amadis, who had his sword in his hand, came toward him and they both fought. The knight struck him in the boss of his shield, so the blow was deflected and his sword sunk a palm deep into the shield. When he tried to pull it out, he could not.

Amadis grasped his sword tight, rose up in his stirrups, and gave him a great blow on the top of his helmet, which cut everything it met including the hood of his chain mail down to the inner helmet, and the sword continued down and hit the neck of the horse and cut halfway through. Both man and beast fell to the ground, and the horse died immediately, and the knight was so stunned that he did not know where he was.

Amadis, who saw him lying still, waited a while to see if he would come to, for he thought he might be dead, and when he saw him move, he said:

"Knight, whatever love has won with you and you with it, ye can have it, for I wish to leave."

And he left, and called Gandalin, and saw that Durin was with him and had seen everything, and told him:

"My friend Durin, there is no equal to my abandonment, and my sorrow and solitude is beyond bearing, and I wish to die. May it please God that it comes soon. Death shall be a comfort from the cruel and living pain that torments me. Now go with good fortune and give my regards to Mabilia, my good cousin, and to the good Damsel of Denmark, thy sister, and tell them to mourn me, for I am going to die of the greatest injustice that ever killed any knight in the world. Tell them of the great sorrow I have in my heart for them, for they loved me so much and did so much for me but I gave them nothing in return."

He said this weeping so hard it was amazing. And Durin stood before him weeping, thus he could not respond. Amadis embraced him and commended him to God, and Durin kissed the hem of his chain mail and said goodbye.

Then it seemed that dawn was approaching, and Amadis said to Gandalin:

"If thou wishest to come with me, do not stop me in anything I wish to say or do. If not, go at once."

Gandalin answered that he agreed to do so. Amadis gave him his arms and told him to take the sword from the shield and give it back to the knight, and to leave following him.