Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chapter 61 [part 2 of 5]

[How Amadis lost his sword, and what the knight Ardan Canileo was like.] 

[Entrance to the home of the Marquis of Quintana in Segovia, Spain, 15th century. Carvings of fifteen helmets surround the doorway, and above it is the shield of the Heredia-Peralta family, held by two wild men. The building is currently the Segovia Conservatory of Music. Photo by Sue Burke.] 

When this was done, Amadis brought the damsel to his lodging, which he should not have done even in exchange for the best castle his father had. To do her more honor, he placed her and her two squires in a room where Gandalin kept all his arms and armor and finery. The damsel, looking around, saw Amadis’s sword, which seemed very unusual, and she told her squires and the others who were there to leave and let her be alone for a moment.

Thinking that she wished to do some necessity of nature that could not be avoided, they left her. She closed the door, took the sword, and left the sheath and belt arranged so that it would not seem like it was missing, then put it beneath a thick fur that she had brought that was unusually long. She opened the door, and the squires entered, and she put the sword beneath one of their cloaks and ordered him to take it by stealth to their launch, and told him:

“Bring me my drinking cup, and they will think that ye are going for that.”

The squire did so. Then Amadis and Branfil entered the room and had her sit on an estrado, and Amadis told her:

“My lady, tell us when Madasima will arrive tomorrow, if ye please.”

“She shall come before dinner,” she said, “but why do ye ask?”

“Good lady,” he said, “because we will to go meet her and provide her every possible pleasure and service, for if she has received some affront from me, I shall try to make amends by doing what she may wish.”

“If ye do not go back on what ye have promised,” she said, “and Ardan Canileo is the same as he has always been since he took up arms, ye can make amends by giving her your head, since anything else would not be worth much.”

“I will avoid this if I can, but if I can please her any other way, I shall gladly do that to achieve her pardon, but someone else would need to arrange it who wishes it more than ye do.”

With that they left and let Enil and others serve her. But she was so eager to leave that all the many delicacies they brought only annoyed her, and as soon as the tablecloths were raised, she rose and said to Enil:

“Knight, tell Amadis that I am leaving, and he should know that everything he did for me was wasted.”

“May God help me,” Enil said, “the way ye are, I think that anything done to please you would be wasted.”

“Be that as it may,” she said, “I am little taken by you and less by him.”

“Ye may be sure,” Enil said, “that being such a discourteous damsel as ye are, neither he nor I nor anyone else could make you content.”

With these words the damsel left, and she went to the ship feeling very happy because she had the sword. There, she told Ardan Canileo and Madasima that their message had been delivered, the time of the battle had been set, and she brought guarantees from the King so they could land without any concern.

Ardan Canileo thanked her sincerely for what she had done, and said to Madasima:

“My lady, do not consider me a knight if ye do not leave here with honor and with your land free. If I do not give you Amadis’s head before a man, no matter how fast, could walk half a league, do not give me your love.”

She was quiet and said nothing, for however much she wished to get avenge her father’s and brother’s deaths on he who had killed them, by no way in the world could she see herself united with Ardan Canileo, for she was beautiful and noble, and he was more ugly and disfigured and repugnant than anyone she had ever seen. It was her mother’s wish and not her own to have Ardan Canileo defend their land, and it was her mother’s wish that if he avenged the death of her husband and son, she would have him marry Madasima and would leave him all her land.

Since this Ardan Canileo was a noteworthy knight of great worldly fame for his deeds at arms, this story should tell you where he was from, and of the appearance of his body and face, and other things about him. Know that he was born in a province called Canileo and was of giants’ blood, for there were more giants there than in other places, and while his body was not unusually large, he was taller than any other man who was not a giant.

He had heavy limbs, broad shoulders, and a thick neck, and his hands and legs were in proportion. His face was large with a flat, canine-like nose, and for that resemblance he was called Canileo. His nose was flat, wide, reddish, and covered with thick black freckles, which were also sown on his face, hands, and neck, and he had a rough appearance somewhat like a lion. His lips were thick and turned, and his hair and beard so curly they could hardly be combed.

He was thirty-five years old and since he was twenty-five, he had never found a knight or giant, no matter how strong they were, who could defeat him hand-to-hand or in any other test of courage. But he was so big-boned and so heavy that hardly any horse could be found that could carry him. This is what that knight looked like.

And when, as ye have heard, he promised the head of Amadis to the beautiful Madasima, the giant damsel told him:

“My lord, we should rightly place our hope on you in this battle, since fortune shows itself to be on your side and not on your enemy’s. Ye see here that I bring you his precious sword, and it is no mystery that nothing could be a greater advantage to you and greater disadvantage to him.”

Then she put it in his hand and told him how she got it. Ardan took it and said:

“I thank you deeply for the gift that ye bring me, more for the good means by which ye have gotten it than out of any fear that I have in fighting one lone knight.”

Then he ordered tents to be taken from the ship and had them erected in a field alongside the town, where they all went with their horses and palfreys, bringing the arms of Ardan Canileo and expecting that the next day they would be before King Lisuarte and Queen Brisena, his wife. There Ardan felt very happy to have the battle arranged for two reasons: first, because without any doubt he expected to take the head of Amadis, who was so renowned in the world, and all his glory would become Canileo’s; second, because with Amadis’s death he would win the beautiful Madasima, whom he loved so much, and that made him proud and lofty and fearless. And thus they waited in their tents for word from the King.

Amadis, in turn, was in his lodging with many knights of high means that were always with him, and all them greatly dreaded the battle, which they considered so dangerous that they feared he might lose. At this time Agrajes, Sir Florestan, Galvanes the Landless, and Sir Guilan the Pensive arrived, who knew nothing about this because they had been out hunting in the forest. When they learned the battle had been set, they complained because more knights would not be involved so that they could enter it. The one most passionate about it was Sir Guilan, who had heard it said many times that this Ardan Canileo was stronger and mightier than anyone else in the world. Sir Guilan was sorry because he believed that in no way could Amadis survive in a one-on-one fight, and he deeply wished he could be in that battle with Amadis if it were possible and have the same fate as him.

Sir Florestan, who burned with anger, said:

“May God save me, my lord brother, ye must hold me as nothing, nor as a knight, nor love me, for ye did not think of me, and ye show that ye do not think I can protect you, for ye have left me out of this danger.”

Agrajes and Sir Galvanes also complained bitterly.

“My lords,” Amadis said, “do not complain nor feel hurt and blame me over this, because only I was called for in this battle and because of me it was sought, and so I could not respond in any other fashion without showing weakness other than accepting it. If there were some other way, who would I have to help me and aid me except you? Your great courage always encourages me when I am put in danger.”

And so as ye hear those knights forgave Amadis, and he told them:

“It would be good if we mounted before the King leaves and receive Madasima, who is much esteemed by all who know her.”

And so they passed that night speaking about what they enjoyed most.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chapter 61 (part 1 of 5)

How King Lisuarte was speaking with his knights about his wish to fight at the Island of the Boiling Lake to free King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus from prison, when a giant damsel arrived from the sea and asked the King, in front of the Queen and his court, to have Amadis fight with Ardan Canileo. If Arden Canileo were defeated, the island would be subject to the King and he could free all the prisoners he wished, but if Amadis were defeated, they would want nothing other than to take Amadis’s head to Madasima. 

[Isabella of Coimbra (1432-1455), first wife of King Alfonso V of Portugal, a richly dressed lady of her time. Painting by Nuno Gonçalves.]

After Urganda had left, as ye have heard, several days passed. King Lisuarte was traveling through the countryside speaking with his knights about how he wished to take the Island of Mongaza, where the Boiling Lake was, to free King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus, when they saw a ship coming by sea toward the port of the town to disembark. They went to see who traveled in it.

When the King arrived, a damsel and two squires were coming to shore in a launch. When they arrived, the damsel rose and asked if King Lisuarte was there. They said yes, and they were all amazed at her height, for in all the court there was no knight who was within a large palm of her. All her facial features and limbs were in keeping with her height, and she was quite beautiful and richly dressed.

She said to the King:

“My lord, I bring you a message, and if it please you, I shall deliver it before the Queen.”

“So it shall be done,” the King said.

He went to his palace and the damsel followed him. When they were before the Queen and all the knights and women of the court, the damsel asked if Amadis of Gaul was there, the one who had previously called himself Beltenebros. He answered:

“Good damsel, I am he.”

She looked at him angrily and said:

“It could well be that ye are him, but now we shall see if ye are as good as your praise.”

Then she took two letters with golden seals that she brought, which were her credentials, and gave one to the King and the other to the Queen. The King said:

“Damsel, say what ye wish, and we shall listen.”

The damsel said:

“My lord, Gromadaza, the giantess of the Boiling Lake, and the very beautiful Madasina, and Ardan Canileo the Feared, who shall defend them, have learned that ye wish to come to their land and take it. And because this cannot be accomplished without great loss of life, they say that there should be a trial by combat in this way: that Ardan Canileo shall fight Amadis of Gaul, and if Ardan defeats or kills him, the land shall remain free and ye shall let him take Amadis’s head to the Boiling Lake. If Ardan is defeated, they shall give all their land to you, my lord, and their prisoners, King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus, shall immediately be brought here. If Amadis loves them as much as they think and wishes to make their hope in him come true, he shall grant the battle to free those two friends, but if he is defeated or killed, Ardan Canileo shall take them. And if Amadis does not grant the battle, he shall soon see their heads cut off in front of him.”

“Good damsel,” Amadis said, “if I grant this battle, how can the King be certain that your words will be complied with?”

“I shall tell you,” she said. “The beautiful Madasima, along with twelve damsels of high estate, shall enter into the custody of the Queen to guarantee compliance or their heads shall be cut off. And of you, Madasima wishes no other guarantee than if ye die, that she shall take your head and shall be given safe passage. And they shall do more. For this cause King Andanguel, the old giant, shall enter into custody with his two sons and nine knights, who control the prisons and towns and castles of the island.

Amadis said:

“If these people place themselves in the custody of the King and Queen as ye say, those are very fine guarantees. But I tell you that ye shall not have my response if ye and the squires with you do not agree to dine with me.”

“Why do ye invite me?” she said. “This is not wise, and all your effort shall be lost because I despise you mortally.”

“Good damsel,” Amadis said, “this hurts me because I love you and would do you all the honor I could. And if ye wish my response, grant what I have asked.”

The damsel said:

“I grant it, but more to make you respond as ye ought to than by my own free will.”

Amadis said:

“Good damsel, it is a just cause for me to risk myself for those two friends and because by it the reign of the King can be increased, and for that I accept the battle in the name of God. May those of whom you spoke come here to be hostages.”

“Truly,” the damsel said, “ye have replied as I wished. The King must promise that if ye go back on your word, he shall not help you against the family of Famongomadan.”

“This promise is not necessary,” Amadis said, “for the King would not have anyone in his company whose word is not true. And let us go eat, for it is time.”

“I shall go,” she said, “happier than I thought, and since the virtue of the King is as ye say, I am satisfied.”

And she said to the King and Queen:

“Tomorrow Madasima and her damsels and the knights shall be here as your prisoners. Ardan Canileo will want to have the battle immediately, but it is necessary that ye grant him safety against everyone except Amadis, whose head he shall carry away from here.”

Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, who was present, said:

“My lady damsel, often those who think they will take another’s head in fact lose their own, and soon this may happen to Ardan Canileo.”

“Who are ye who speaks for Amadis?”

“I am a knight,” he said, “who would gladly enter into the battle if Ardan Canileo wished to have a companion fight me.”

She told him:

“Ye are excused from this battle, but if ye wish to fight so much, the day after the battle I shall have my brother answer you. He is as mortal an enemy of Amadis as ye show yourself to be his friend, and I think, given how my brother is, that he shall remove your ability to speak for him ever again.”

“My good damsel,” Sir Bruneo said, “if your brother is as ye say, it would be good to go forward with that which ye promised in anger and rage. And ye see here my gage, for I wish to fight him.”

And he held his cloak out to the King, and the damsel took a silver net from her head and said to the King:

“My lord, see here my token that I shall fulfill what I have said.”

The King took the gages, but not to his pleasure. He was deeply troubled by what would happen between Amadis and Ardan Canileo, who was as valiant and feared a knight as any in the world. For four years the King had found no knight who would knowingly dare to fight him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chapter 60 [part 3 of 3]

[In which Urganda speaks of things to come, and then departs.] 

[The shield of the town of Ereño, in Basque Country, northern Spain. It features two wolves at a laurel tree, a castle, and St. Michael the Archangel killing a dragon (serpent). Dragons feature prominently in Basque mythology.] 

After a few days, Urganda asked the King to call together all his knights, and she asked the Queen to call together all her damsels and ladies, because she wished to speak to them before she left.

This was done immediately in a grand and beautiful hall, richly decorated, and Urganda placed herself where everyone could hear her. Then she said to the King:

“My lord, since ye have kept the letters that I sent you and Sir Galaor when Beltenebros left you, who had won the sword and his damsel had won the garland of flowers, I ask you to bring them here, for ye shall see clearly that I had known things before they happened.”

The King had them brought and read to aloud, and they saw how everything in them was completely fulfilled, which amazed everyone, and they were even more amazed at the daring of the King to go into battle despite those frightening words. They saw how by Beltenebros’s three blows the battle was won, the first when he brought down King Cildadan at the feet of Sir Galaor, the second when he killed the very valiant Sarmadan the Lion, and the third when he saved the King, whom Madanfabul, the brave giant of the Vermilion Tower, was taking under his arm to put in the ships. Amadis cut the giant’s arm off above the elbow, which saved the King, and the giant was killed.

They also that saw that what had been said to Sir Galaor had been fulfilled: that his head would be put in the power of he who delivered those three blows. This happened when Amadis held Galaor’s head in his lap, dying, and the damsels came to ask him to give Galaor to them.

“But now,” Urganda said, “I wish to say some things that are to come, and in time one shall follow the other.”

And she said:

“A dispute shall be raised between the great serpent and the powerful lion, in which many animals shall take part. Anger and fury shall overcome them, and many of them shall suffer cruel death. The great Roman fox shall be injured by the claw of the powerful lion and his skin cruelly torn apart, for which the supporters of the great serpent shall be greatly troubled. At that time a gentle ewe covered with black wool shall be put among them, and with its great humility and loving deeds she shall tame the rough bravery of the mighty hearts and separate one from another.

“But soon hungry wolves shall descend from the rugged mountains against the great serpent, and all his animals shall be defeated by them, and he shall be made prisoner in one of their caves. And the tender unicorn shall put its mouth at the ear of the mighty lion, and with its brays shall wake it from its deep sleep, make it gather some of its brave animals and go quickly to help the great serpent. They will find him bitten and torn by the hungry wolves, so that much blood shall be shed between its mighty scales. The lion shall take him from their ravenous mouths, and all the wolves shall be torn to pieces and destroyed.

“With life restored to the great serpent, he shall expel all of his poison. A white doe, braying pitifully to heaven in the fearsome forest, shall be brought out and shall consent to be put in the cruel claws of the lion.

“Now, good King, have all that which shall come to pass be written down.”

The King said he would do so, but at that moment he understood nothing of it.

“The time will come,” she said, “when it shall all become clear.”

And Urganda looked at Amadis and saw him thinking, and said to him:

“Amadis, why art thou thinking about something that will do thee no good? Leave that and think of an affair which thou must do now. Thou shalt be brought to the point of death for the life of another, and for the other’s blood thou shalt give thine. And in that affair, thou shalt be the martyr and the other shall take the gain, and the prize thou shalt win will be rage and the delay of thy desire. Thy sharp and handsome sword shall trouble thy bones and flesh in such a way that thou shalt be poor of blood. And thou shalt be in such a state that if half the world were thine, thou wouldst trade it to have the sword broken or thrown into some lake where none could recover it. And now watch what thou doest, for it shall all come to pass as I have said.”

Amadis, seeing the eyes of all on him, said with a happy face, as he usually had:

“My lady, because of the things that ye have said about the past, we may believe that these things are true, and as I am mortal and cannot achieve more in life than that which pleases God, I say that I care more to justly accomplish great and grave things in which honor and fame are won than to remain alive, and so, if I were to fear frightful things, I would fear them more in what happens now to me every day than to fear those hidden things which are to come.”

Urganda said:

“It would be as big a task to take the great courage from your heart as to take all the water from the sea.”

Then she said to the King:

“My lord, I wish to go. Remember what I said before you as from someone who wishes your honor and service. Close your ears to all, especially those who you sense wish to bring you to evil deeds.”

With that she bid farewell to all, and with her four companions and without wishing further accompaniment, she went to her ship. It entered the high sea and was soon covered by great darkness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chapter 60 [part 2 of 3]

[In which Urganda says that none can escape their fate, even if they were to know it.] 

[The Crystal Ball, by John William Waterhouse, 1902, a Pre-Raphaelite painter.] 

Urganda went to see the Queen accompanied by the four knights. The Queen, along with Oriana and Queen Briolanja and all the other ladies and damsels of great estate, received her with deep affection. Urganda gazed long at the beauty of Briolanja but saw well that she did not at all equal that of Oriana, yet she greatly enjoyed looking at them both.

She said to the Queen:

“My lady, I have come to this court to see your Highnesses, both you and the King, and to see the greatest height of arms and the flower of beauty in the world, which I truly believe could not be found in the company of any other emperor or prince. To prove this, we have as testimony the winning of Firm Island with greater courage than that of the valiant Apolidon, and we have the death of the brave giants and the painful and cruel battle in which was shown the extent of the bravery of your husband the King and all his men. Who would be so daring and ill informed as to affirm that the equal in beauty to these two ladies could be found anywhere in the world? None, truly. And thus, seeing these things, my heart is put at full ease and rest. And I say further, that faithful love is kept here more than in any other age, which has been shown by the test of the burning sword and the wreath of flowers, which for sixty years had been taken all over the world but had never found the ones who could win them. She who won the flowers knows well that she outshines everyone else in the world in being loyal to her lover.”

When Oriana heard this, she lost her color and felt very faint, thinking that if Urganda had learned anything about herself and her beloved, they would be in great danger and shame, as did all the ladies there who had lovers. Above all Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark were afraid, believing that the greatest danger would befall them. Oriana looked at Amadis, who was nearby, and when he saw her fear, he came to her and said:

“My lady, do not be afraid, for she will not speak as ye think.”

Then he said to the Queen:

“My lady, ask Urganda who the woman was who took the wreath of flowers from here.”

And the Queen said to her:

“My friend, tell us, if ye would, what Amadis wishes to know.”

Urganda laughed and said:

“He would know better than I, for he traveled in her company and had the great task of freeing her from the hands of Arcalaus the Sorcerer and Lindoraque.”

“I, my lady?” Amadis said. “It cannot be that I know her nor myself, as ye know, and although she had wished to cover her face from me, in vain would she try to keep you from finding out who she was.”

“Since that is so,” she said, “I wish to say what I know.”

Then she spoke loudly so all could hear her, and she said:

“Although Amadis brought her to the test as a damsel, I am certain that she is a lady, and she came to be one by deeply loving he for whom she would win the wreath of flowers. And know that she is from the reign of this King, and your subject, but on her mother’s side she is not from these lands. She has made her dwelling in this land and is well endowed in it. If she is lacking anything, it is not having at her will as much as she wishes he whom she loves so much. And I shall not tell you more of her estate, for may God forbid that things be revealed by me that ought to be hidden. And whoever wishes to find her may look for her in the reign of this King, where their effort will be lost.”

Oriana’s heart relaxed, as did those of the others. The Queen told her:

“I believe what ye say, but I know as much as I knew before, except that ye say she is a lady instead of a damsel.”

“This will be enough for ye to know,” Urganda said, “since by showing her faithfulness she honored your court.”

With this Oriana was relieved of her concern as were all the other women. And with this, they went to eat, which was well prepared, as is to be expected in a house where this is customary. Urganda asked the Queen if she could be lodged with Oriana and Queen Briolanja.

“So it shall be,” the Queen said, “but understand that their foolishness may upset you.”

“Their beauty,” Urganda said, “will cause more upset among knights who do not protect themselves from it, for not courage nor valor nor discretion can save them from its danger, which is more serious than death.”

The Queen said, laughing:

“I understand that they will easily release the knights who until now have been tormented and killed.”

Urganda took great pleasure in what the Queen said, and taking her leave, went with Oriana to her chamber, which was a room with four beds: one for Queen Briolanja, and the others for Oriana, Mabilia, and Urganda. There they relaxed and spoke of many things that gave them pleasure until they went to bed. But after they were all asleep, Urganda saw that Oriana was awake, and told her:

“My friend and lady, if ye do not sleep, it is because ye are awakened by he who never sleeps or rests without the sight of you, and so he is avenged upon you.”

Oriana was embarrassed by what she said, but Urganda, who understood that, told her:

“My lady, do not fear me because I know your secrets. I shall keep them as you do, and if I say anything, it shall be so hidden that, when it is known, danger cannot harm you.”

Oriana said:

“My lady, speak quietly, so these ladies do not hear.”

Urganda said:

“I shall relieve you of that worry.”

Then she took a book so small that she had kept it hidden in her hand, had Oriana hold it in her hand, and began to read from it. Then she said:

“Now know that no matter what, they shall not awaken, and if someone were to enter this room, they would fall to the floor asleep.”

Oriana went to Queen Briolanja and tried to wake her, but she could not, and began to laugh. She shook her head and arms and pulled her from the bed, and did the same to Mabilia, but they did not awaken. And she called the Damsel of Denmark, who was at the door of the room, and when she came inside, she fell asleep. Then she happily lay with Urganda in her bed and told her:

“My lady, I beg you that, since your great discretion and wisdom reaches to things are yet to happen, tell me something about what will happen to me before it comes to pass.”

Urganda looked at her, laughing as if with disdain, and said:

“My dear child, do you think that by knowing what ye ask, if it were to your harm, ye could avoid it? Do not believe it, for of what is permitted and ordained by the Lord on high, none of us is powerful enough to stop, be it good or bad, if He does not interfere. But since ye are so eager to know something I can tell you, I shall do so, and ye shall see if knowing it is to your benefit.”

Then she said,

“In that time when great sorrow shall be thine, and for thee many people shall be tormented with great sadness, a mighty lion shall appear with his beasts and with his great roars thy protectors shall be frightened, and thou shalt be left in his powerful claws. And this renowned lion shall throw from thy head the high crown that shall never be thine again. And the hungry lion shall take your flesh and hide it in his caves, and with it his ravenous hunger shall be eased. Now, my good child, watch what thou doest, for this shall come to pass.”

“My lady,” Oriana said, “I would have been very happy not to have asked you anything, for now ye have terrified me with this strange and cruel turn of events.”

“My lady and lovely child,” she said, “do not seek to now that which neither thy discretion nor thy strength is enough to prevent. But many times people fear hidden things that ought to make them happy, and so be very happy to know that God has made ye the daughter of the best king and queen in the world, and with such beauty that it is spoken of in all parts as a marvel. And He made ye love a man who, above all others, shines with honor and esteem like the sun over the shadows. And by the things ye have seen of him in the past and shall in the future, without a doubt ye may be sure to be she whom he loves more than his own life. For this, my lady, ye deserve to receive the glory of reigning over him, and he deserves to be the lord of the entire world. And now it is time to awaken these ladies.”

Then, she took the book out of the room, and everyone became conscious again. And so as ye hear, Urganda rested in that house, being well attended in all that she needed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chapter 60 [part 1 of 3]

How the King saw strange fires approaching by the sea, which was a small galley in which the sorceress Urganda was arriving, and what happened to him with her. 

[A 13th-century war galley depicted in a Byzantine-style fresco.]

It was almost time to sleep, and after having supped, the King was in a gallery looking at the sea when he saw two fires coming toward the town. Everyone was frightened, for it seemed wrong to have the sea and fire joined. But when the flames came closer, they saw that they were in a galley that bore strange, enormous candles on its mast, so it seemed that the whole ship was on fire.

The noise was so great that all the townspeople climbed up on the city walls to see the wonder, believing that if water were not enough to put out the fire, then nothing else could, and the town would be burned. The people were terrified because the galley and the fires had drawn near, and the Queen and all her ladies and damsels went to the chapel in terror.

The King mounted a horse with the fifty knights that always guarded him, and when he arrived at the shore, he saw that the rest of his knights were there. In front of all of them were Amadis and Guilan the Pensive and Enil, so close to the flames that he was surprised they could stand it. The King spurred his horse, which was frightened by the great noise, and joined them.

But soon they saw beneath the sail a lady dressed in white with a small golden box in her hand, which she opened in front of them all and took out a lighted taper. When she threw it in the sea to extinguish it, the great fires immediately went dead and no sign of them remained. All the people were happy at that and lost their fear, and only one large candle burned at the top of the mast, which lit the entire shore.

The curtain that covered the galley was pulled back, and they saw that it was all wreathed with roses and flowers, and they heard musical instruments inside playing so sweetly that it was marvel. The music stopped, and ten richly dressed damsels with garlands on their heads and golden wands in their hands came out, and in front of them was the lady who had extinguished the taper in the sea. They came directly to bow of the galley toward the King. They all knelt, and the King looked at them and said:

“My lady, ye put a great terror in us with your fires, and if it please you, tell us who ye are, although I think that we can guess without much effort.”

“My lord,” she said, “in vain would anyone try to put terror or fear in your great heart and those of the many knights who are here, but the fire that ye saw I brought to protect myself and my damsels. And if ye think that I am Urganda the Unrecognized, ye think rightly. I come to you as the greatest king in the world, and to see the Queen, who in virtue and goodness has no equal in the world.”

Then she said to Amadis:

“My lord, come forward, and I must say to you and your friends that I am here to relieve you of the labor that ye wish to employ to look for your brother Sir Galaor. It would be a lost effort, even if everyone in the world were to look for him. I tell you that he has recovered from his wounds and now has a better life and more pleasure than he has ever had in this world.”

“My lady,” Amadis said, “it was always my thought that after God, your aid would bring health to Sir Galaor and rest to me, and by the way he was sought and taken before my eyes, if I had not suspected this, I would have sooner let him die than be separated from me. And as thanks for this I can give you nothing else but, as ye know better than all, to put my person without any fear in all things to your honor and service, although it were my death.”

“Ye may rest,” she said, “and soon ye shall see him in such pleasure that ye, too, shall be pleased.”

The King said to her:

“My lady, when ye leave your galley, come to my palace.”

“Many thanks,” she said, “but tonight I shall remain here and tomorrow I shall do as ye ask. And may Amadis, Agrajes, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and Sir Guilan the Pensive come to get me, for they are in love and have lively hearts, as I do.”

“So it shall be in this,” the King said, “and in all that ye wish.”

And he ordered all the people to return to the town, said goodbye to her, and returned to his palace, ordering twenty men with crossbows to be placed at the shore to make sure that no one approached.

The next morning the Queen sent twelve richly attired palfreys so Urganda and her damsels could come, and Amadis and the three knights she had named went to escort her, dressed in very noble and valuable clothing. When they arrived they found that Urganda and her damsels had left the ship and were in a tent that had been put up during the night. The knights dismounted and went to her and were very well received, all with great humility. Then they put the women on the palfreys, and the four knights rode surrounding Urganda.

And when she found herself thus, she said:

“Now my heart is relaxed and in complete rest, for those whose hearts are like it are close by.”

She said this because in the same way that they were in love, she was enamored with the handsome knight who was her beloved.

When they arrived at the palace, they entered and went to the King, who received her very well, and she kissed his hands. Looking from one end to the other, she saw many knights in the palace, and she looked at the King and said:

“My lord, ye are well accompanied, and I do not say this for the courage of these knights but for the great love they have for you, for when princes are loved by their men, they are secure in their estates. For that reason, be sure to keep them so that it will not seem that your discretion may yet lack all the blessings it could hold. Beware of bad advisers, for that is the true poison that destroys princes. And if it pleases you, I shall see the Queen, and I will speak with you about some things before I leave, my lord.”

The King said:

“My friend, I thank you deeply for the advice ye have given me and I shall do all in my power to follow it. Go and see the Queen, who loves you dearly, and know that she shall gladly do all that she can for your pleasure.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chapter 59 [part 3 of 3]

[How Cuadragante’s enmity with Amadis became friendship, and the consequences that had.] 

[Head of a king from about 1230-1235, probably a decoration from a Paris church. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.] 

Briolanja and Oriana, who were together, called for Amadis. When he arrived, they asked him to tell them the truth about a question they had for him, and he promised to do so. Oriana told him:

“Then tell us who the damsel was who took the wreath of flowers when ye won the sword.”

That question weighed on him, for he had to tell the truth, but he turned to Oriana and told her:

“May God not save me, my lady, if I know her name or who she is more than ye do, although I traveled with her for seven days. But I tell you that she had beautiful hair and what I saw of her was extremely beautiful, but of her estate I know as much as you, my lady, whom I believe ye have never beheld.”

Oriana said:

“Although she gained great glory in completing that adventure, it almost cost her dearly, for according to what they tell me, Arcalaus the Sorcerer and Lindoraque, his nephew, wanted to take the wreath and would have hung her by the hair if ye had not protected her.”

“It does not seem to me,” Briolanja said, “that he defended her if he is Amadis, but instead the valiant man at arms was Beltenebros, who should not be held at the same level as Amadis. And although I have received great benefit from him, I shall not cease to speak the truth without prejudice because of that. I say that if Amadis achieved great glory in winning Firm Island by far surpassing the courage of the mighty Apolidon, then Beltenebros, defeating in the space of one day ten of the best knights of your father’s court and killing in battle the brave giant Famongomadan and his son Basagante, he achieved no less.

“Then, if we say that Amadis, by passing beneath the arch of the faithful lovers, caused the statue with the trumpet to do more for him than for any other knight and made it clear the loyalty of his love, then it seems to me that Beltenebros should not be held as less for pulling out that burning sword, which for more than sixty years no other knight could do. And so, my dear lady, it is not right that the honor of Beltenebros should be given to Amadis, for each should be judged to be as good as the other. That is how I see it.”

And so as ye hear these two ladies were joking and laughing, in whom all the beauty and grace of the world was brought together, and they felt great pleasure to be with that knight who was so well loved by them. And his spirit felt such a great happiness, even more when he remembered the tremendous misadventure and cruel sadness he had felt when he was without any hope of deliverance at Poor Rock, having come so close to death.

As that was happening, as ye have heard, a damsel came to call for Amadis on behalf of the King and told him that Sir Cuadragante and his nephew Landin wanted to be freed from their promises. So he left the pleasure he had been having and went to where they were, and with him came Sir Bruneo of Bonamar and Branfil. When they arrived to where the King was with many good knights, Sir Cuadragante rose and said:

“My lord, I have been waiting here for Amadis of Gaul, as ye know, and now that he is present, I wish him to release me from the promise I made to him in front of you.”

Then he recounted everything that had happened to him in the battle and how, being defeated by Amadis, very much against his will he had come to the court, put himself under the his power, and forgiven him for the death of his brother King Abies. Yet having lost the passion that had clouded his thinking and kept him from determining the truth, he had found that it was more arrogance than justice to have desired and sought to avenge that death, for he now knew that nothing could be found improper about the battle had happened between two knights. And that being the case, he wished to pardon Amadis and be taken as a friend in whatever way it might please him.

The King told him:

“Sir Cuadragante, until now your great deeds at arms have gained ye much praise and honor and fame, and this should not be held as less, because bravery and courage that is not subject to reason and wisdom should not be held in high esteem.”

Then he had them embrace and Amadis thanked Cuadragante for what he had done and the friendship he had asked for, and although at the time it may have seemed trivial, this friendship was maintained for a long time between them, as this story shall tell. And since the battle between Forestan and Landin had been set for the same reason, it seemed right that since the main cause involving Cuadragante had been forgiven, Landin could justly do the same. That was done and the battle was cancelled, which gave Landin no small pleasure, having seen Forestan’s courage in the previous battle between the Kings.

When this was done, as ye have heard, and the King had spent some days at rest after the great endeavor of the battle with King Cildadan, he thought of the cruel imprisonment of Arban, King of North Wales, and Angriote de Estravaus, and he decided to go to the Island of Mongaza where they were. He told that to Amadis and his knights, but Amadis told him:

“My lord, ye know what a loss to your service is the lack of Sir Galaor, and if ye think it good, I shall look for him in the company of my brother and cousins, and may it please God to bring him back in time for this trip that ye wish to make.”

The King told him:

“God knows, my friend, if I did not have so many duties, I would gladly go myself to look for him, but since I cannot, I think it good to do what ye propose.”

Then more than one hundred knights arose, all well esteemed and with great deeds at arms, and said that they also wished to go on that search, for if they were obliged to great ventures, none could be more important than the loss of that knight. The King was pleased by this and asked Amadis not to leave, for he wished to speak with him.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chapter 59 [part 2 of 3]

[How Amadis spoke with Oriana and Briolanja, and how his words to one were misunderstood by the other.] 

[Reliquary bust of Saint Mabilla, made in Sienna, circa 1370-1380. In the Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris, France.] 

King Lisuarte, when he and Amadis and all the other knights had largely recovered from their wounds, left for Fernisa, where his wife, Queen Brisena, was with Briolanja, Oriana, and all the other ladies and damsels of great estate. He was received better and with more happiness than any other man at any time. And after him, Amadis, for by then the Queen and all the ladies knew that he had not only saved their lord the King from death but that the battle had been won by his great courage. And in the same way they greeted all the other knights who were still alive.

But what Queen Briolanja did with Amadis cannot be in any way written. She took him by the hand and had him sit between herself and Oriana, and told him:

“My lord, the pain and sadness I felt when they said ye were lost I cannot tell you, and I immediately took one hundred of my knights and came to this court, where I knew that your brothers were, so that your brothers could split them up in search of you. But because the battle which just happened intervened, I decided to wait here until it was over. And how that, by God’s mercy, I have what I desired, tell me what ye wish me to do and I shall begin its labors it at once.”

“My good lady,” he said, “if ye think badly of me, ye have very good reason, and ye may truly believe that no man in all the world would more willingly fulfill your orders than I. And since ye have put your estate at my will, I think it good that ye remain here for ten days and finish your business with the King, and in that time we may learn some news about my brother Sir Galaor, as well as the battle Sir Florestan has set with Landin. Then I shall take you to your kingdom, and from there I must go to Firm Island, where I have much to do.”

“So it shall be,” Queen Briolanja said, “but I beg you, my lord, to tell us about the great marvels that ye found at that island.”

He wished to avoid that, but Oriana took him by the hand and said:

“Ye shall not leave us without telling us something.”

Then Amadis said:

“Know ye, good ladies, that although I might work hard to recount it, it would be impossible to do. But I tell you that the forbidden room is more rich and beautiful than could be found anywhere else in the world, and if it is not won by one of you, I think no other lady in the world could do so.”

Briolanja, who had grown somewhat quiet, said:

“I do not believe I could succeed in that venture, but however that may be, if ye do not think me mad, I shall try it.”

“My lady,” Amadis said, “I do not hold it as madness to test that in which so many others have failed for reasons of beauty, especially since God wished to give you so much. Instead, I think it would be honorable to want to win fame that will last long without being tarnished in any way.”

What Amadis said weighed on Oriana and she looked angry, which Amadis, whose eyes had never left her, immediately understood, and he was sorry for having said it, for his intention was to give her greater honor and praise, for he knew from the visit by Grimanesa that the beauty of Briolanja would not be enough to succeed in the test, but he had no doubts about that of his lady.

But Oriana became impassioned, fearing that something in the world that could be won by beauty would be obtained by Briolanja and not by her. She remained there a while and asked Briolanja that, if she entered the defended room, to tell her how it was, and then she went to find Mabilia, took her aside, and told her everything that had happened in her presence between Briolanja and Amadis, and said:

“This always happens to me with your cousin, of whom my poor heart never thinks except to please and do his will, without regard to God or the anger of my father, and he, knowing that he has full lordship over me, holds me as so little.”

Tears came to her eyes and fell down her beautiful cheeks.

Mabilia told her:

“I am amazed by you, my lady. What heart have ye? Ye have just left one vexation and now ye wish to enter into a new one? What great error is this that ye say my cousin has done to make ye so  upset, when ye know that he has never strayed from you in deed or thought, having seen with your own eyes the proof of the tests that he passed for you? Now I tell you, my lady, that ye lead me to understand that ye are not pleased to let him live, for despite what he has done for you, the least anger that he senses in you is death to him.

“And I do not know why ye are angry with him, for if Apolidon left that test there for every man and woman in general, how could Amadis be wrong, thinking that what Briolanja could do would make you less, if she could? Certainly, although ye will not be pleased by it, I think that neither her beauty nor yours will be enough to pass that test after one hundred years in which no woman, however beautiful, has succeeded. But ye wish to cruelly take his grave fate from him, which is nothing less than to be your abject servant and to abandon and disdain his estate and family for you, my lady, treating them like strangers and going wherever ye order.

“Oh, how badly employed is all he has done and his lineage and brothers, when the prize for all that is to arrive unjustly at death! And I, my lady, for all that I have waited on you and served you, in exchange I get as a prize to see the flower of my lineage die before my eyes, he who loves me so. But may it please God, this death and this trouble I shall not see, for my brother Agrajes and my uncle Galvanes shall take me to my land, for it would be a great error to serve someone who so poorly recognizes and thanks such service.”

Then she began to weep and said:

“May it please God that this cruelty to him and his lineage be repaid, although I am certain that his loss, however great it be, will not equal yours, because he has forgotten his family and only loves you above all things that are loved.”

When Mabilia said this, Oriana was so frightened that heart closed up, and she could not speak for a while. When she had become more calm, she said, weeping from her heart:

“Oh, I am the most unfortunate wretch of all the women who have ever been born! What can become of me if you think of me thus? I come for help for my great concern, having no other who can counsel me, and ye make my heart worse, suspecting what I never thought. And my misfortune is such that ye took what I told you wrongly, for I tell you that, may God not save me or help me, if my heart ever thought any of what ye said. Do no doubt that what your cousin means to me is only the complete satisfaction of my desires. But what I greatly fear is that, having won lordship of the island, if another woman passes that test before I do, the pain for me would be like death, and I feel badly for what he may have said with good intention. But whatever may have happened, I ask forgiveness from you for what I never deserved from you, and I beg for the great love that ye have for your cousin to be pardoned, and that ye counsel me on what would be best for him and for me.”

Then, laughing beautifully, she embraced her and told her:

“My true friend above all others in the world, I promise that I shall never speak of this to your cousin nor let him know that I saw this in him. But speak with him how ye see fit and I shall hold it good.”

Mabilia told her:

“My lady, I pardon you if ye agree with me that, although ye may be angry with him, ye do not show it to him unless I intervene first so that ye do not commit an error like the one that ye did in the past.”

And with that they were agreed, as those between whom there could never be any disfavor. But Mabilia, who did not forget what Amadis had said, confronted him with bitter anger and told him how wrong and hurtful it was to have said what he did to Briolanja in front of his lady, and reminded him of the danger that his life had been placed in because of her, and advised him to always have great care when he spoke with her, and to think of what trouble it was to place jealousy in the heart of a woman, and told him of the passion that his lady had felt and how she had calmed her.

Amadis, after thanking her with great courtesy, understanding what he had done, promised, if he lived, to make her a queen, and told her:

“My lady and good cousin, my thoughts were very different from what my lady suspected, because it was one of the best services that I could do for her. That was not only to advise Briolanja to try that test, but for me to go with her to wherever it would be, and it is because of this: everyone says Briolanja is one of the most beautiful women of the world, so much that without a doubt they think her beauty is enough to enter that room without a problem. I think the opposite, because I have seen Grimanesa, and Briolanja does not come close to her equal in beauty, so I am sure Briolanja would win the same honor all the rest have, yet I do not doubt that Oriana would succeed the moment she attempted it. But if she did this before Briolanja tried it, everyone would say that if Briolanja had gone first, she would have succeeded. And if Briolanja were the first, since I am sure she would fail, all the glory would then remain for my lady. This is why I dared to say what I did.”

Mabilia was very content with what Amadis said, and Oriana even more when she knew it, and was very regretful for the angry passion she had felt, remembering how at another time, for a similar accident, she had placed herself and her beloved in great danger. And to make amends for that error, they agreed that by using an old tunnel from a garden to the rooms of Oriana and Queen Briolanja, Amadis could enter to relax and speak with her. With that agreement, Amadis left Mabilia.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome back

Book II continues. 

“Knights” by xkcd.


It’s good to be back after summer vacation.

Amadis of Gaul consists of four books, and between now and July 2013, the translation for Book II will be competed.

As you may recall, Book II began as Amadis won Firm Island with all its beauty and enchantments — then he received a letter from his beloved Oriana. In it, she called him a faithless liar and ordered him never to appear before her again.

Amadis retired to a solitary island and almost died of sorrow before Oriana realized her error and sent the Damsel of Denmark to rescue him. (Yes, a damsel rescued a knight in distress.) Using the name Beltenebros, he returned to Great Britain and secretly stayed with Oriana in her castle. Together, they won the magic sword and wreath of loyal lovers. As Beltenebros, he quickly earned great fame, most of all by being decisive in the battle between King Cildadan and Oriana’s father, King Lisuarte. At the height of the battle, Amadis revealed his true identity, to the terror of his opponents and the joy of Lisuarte’s other knights. After the victory, his injured brother Sir Galaor and King Cildadan were taken away by mysterious maidens.

Over the coming chapters, sorcerers will perform amazing magic. Amadis will face dire perils and win even greater honor. Then things will go horribly wrong.

If you’re new to this blog, you can find links to summaries of previous chapters in the left-hand column, along with other items of interest.

Without further ado, we shall return to the Middle Ages and this centuries-old novel full of admirable deeds outside the order of nature.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chapter 59 [part 1 of 3]

How King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were taken away to be healed, and one was put in a strong tower surrounded by the sea, and the other in a garden with high walls adorned by iron fences, where each one became conscious and thought he was in prison, but they did not know by whom they had been brought there or what else had happened to them. 

[Tower of Juan II at Segovia Castle. Photo by Katheline Vrenati-Finn.] 

Now we shall tell you what became of King Cildadan and Galaor. Know that the damsels who took them away also cared for their wounds, and on the third day they were fully conscious.

Sir Galaor found himself in a garden in a beautifully made building with four marble pillars, enclosed from one pillar to the next by strong wrought iron screens, so he could view the garden from the bed in which he was lying. From what he could manage to see, it was surrounded by a tall wall in which there was a small door covered by iron plates. He was frightened to find himself there, believing himself imprisoned, and he was in great pain from his wounds, so he expected nothing but death. Then he remembered how he had been in a battle, but he did not know who had taken him from it nor how he had been brought there.

When King Cildadan returned to full consciousness, he found himself inside a vaulted room in a large tower lying on a rich bed next to a window. He looked from one end to another, but he saw no one else, and he heard someone speaking above the ceiling, but he could see no door or entrance to the chamber where he was. He put his head out of the window to look, and he saw the sea and that he was in a tall tower built on a sharp peak, and there seemed to be sea on all three sides.

He remembered how he had been in a battle, although he did not know how he had been taken from it. But he well believed that since he was in such bad condition and was a prisoner, his men would not be free. As he saw there was nothing more he could do, he lay down in his bed, groaning and in great pain from his wounds, waiting to see what would befall him.

Sir Galaor, in the house in the garden as ye have heard, saw the small door open and raised his head with great effort. He saw a beautiful, well-dressed damsel enter, and with her a man who was so weak and old it was amazing he could walk. They came to the iron screen at the bed and they said:

“Sir Galaor, think of your soul, or we cannot save or protect you.”

Then the damsel took out two boxes, one iron and the other silver, showed them to Sir Galaor, and said:

“The man who brought you here does not wish ye to die before he learns if ye shall do his will, so he wants your wounds to be healed and ye be given food.”

“Good damsel,” he said, “if the will of whom ye speak wishes me to do what I ought not, then it would be harder for me than death, but otherwise, I ought to save my life.”

“Ye may do the best that ye can,” she said, “for what ye speak of we cannot help you. To live or die is in your hands.”

Then the old man opened the door in the screen and they entered. She took the iron box and told the old man to leave, which he did. She said to Sir Galaor:

“My lord, I am so sad for you that, to save your life, I wish to risk death. I shall tell you what my orders were. I was to fill this box with poison and the other with an unguent that will make you sleep, because the poison works best during sleep, so that when the poison would be put in your wounds and then the other for sleep, ye would die soon. But it hurt me to have such a good knight die, so I did the contrary, and here I put such medicine that if ye take it every day, in seven days ye shall be so well that ye can easily ride a horse.”

Then she put that unguent in his wounds, and it was so effective that the swelling and the pain were immediately soothed. He found himself very relieved, and he told her:

“Good damsel, I am very grateful for what ye have done for me, and if I leave here by your hand, never has the life of a knight been so well rewarded as yours shall be. But if by chance your effort is not enough and ye wish to do something for me, find a way to let Urganda the Unrecognized know that I am in this dangerous prison, for I have great hope in her.”

The damsel began to laugh out loud, and she said:

“What? Ye have such faith in Urganda, who does so little for your good or harm?”

“Yes,” he said, “for she knows the will of others, and so she knows mine is to serve her.”

“Do not be concerned about this Urganda but about me,” she said, “because, Sir Galaor, as ye made such an effort to place your health in danger, ye ought equally to try to make it well, and your great and brave heart ought to show itself in this fight as in others. I want ye to grant me a boon for the danger that I am putting myself in to heal you and to get you out of here, and it shall not be to your loss or harm.”

“I will grant it,” he said, “if I can do it rightly.”

“Then I shall leave until it is time to see each other again. Lie down and look like you are sound asleep.”

He did so, and the damsel called the old man and said:

“Look at how this knight sleeps. Soon the poison shall work in him.”

“This is necessary,” the old man said, “so that he who brought him here can be avenged. And since ye have complied with your duty, from here on ye may come without a guard. Keep him thus for two weeks, not dead and not alive except in great pain, and in that time people will come to give him his due for the offense he has done to them.”

Galaor heard all this, and it truly seemed to him that the old man was his mortal enemy. But he took hope in what the damsel had said, that he would be healed in seven days, and if fate would catch him healthy, he could free himself from danger. So he found great courage, as the damsel had counseled him.

With that, she and the old man left, but soon he saw her return with two very beautiful and well-dressed young damsels, and they brought Sir Galaor food. They opened the door and entered, and the damsel fed him and left the two little damsels with him so they could keep him company and to read him books of stories and so he would not sleep during the day. Galor was greatly consoled by that, for he observed that the damsel had kept her promise, and he thanked her sincerely. Then she left, closing the doors, and the girls remained to accompany him.

At the same time, as ye have heard, King Cildadan found himself enclosed in a tall tower surrounded by the sea, and soon, while he was deep in thought, he saw a stone door open that was inserted in the tower so closely that it seemed to be the wall itself, and he saw a middle-aged lady and two armed knights enter. They came to the bed where he was. They did not offer him a greeting, but he did, speaking to them in a friendly way, but they did not respond at all. The lady removed his blanket and studied his wounds, put medicine in them, and fed him. And then they returned to where they had come from without having said a word, and closed the door as it had been before.

Having seen this, the King thought that he was truly in prison in the power of someone who did not hold his life in safety, but he tried to be as brave as he could, for he could do nothing else.

The damsel who was caring for Galaor returned to him when it was time and asked him how he was. He said he was well, and that he thought he would be in a good state of health within the time limit she had set.

“I am pleased by that,” she said, “and do not doubt that which I told you, for it shall be fulfilled. But I want you to give me a boon as a faithful knight: do not try to leave here except by my hand, because it will be to your mortal harm and a danger to your life, and in the end you would not manage to leave.”

Galaor granted it, and begged her to tell him her name. She said:

“Why, Sir Galaor, do you not know my name? Now I tell you that I am disappointed in you, because there was a time when I did you a service, which it seems ye do not remember. And if I must remind you of my name, know that they call me Sapience over Sapience.”

She immediately left, and he thought about it. He remembered the beautiful sword that Urganda had given him when his brother Amadis made him a knight. He suspected she might be her, but he doubted that because on that occasion he had seen her quite old and now she was young, so he did not recognize her.

He looked for the two little damsels and did not see them, but in their place he saw his squire Gasaval and Amadis’s dwarf Ardian, and he was surprised and happy. They were sleeping, so he called them until they woke. When they saw him, they came weeping with pleasure to kiss his hands and tell him:

“Oh, our good lord, blessed be God who brought us here where we might serve you!”

He asked them how they had come there. They told him that they only knew that “Amadis and Agrajes and Florestan sent us with you.” Then they told him the state of his life at the end of the battle and how, when Amadis held his head in his lap, the damsels had come to ask for Galaor, and how, by agreement between the damsels and his friends, he had been given to the damsels, since he was at the point of death, and how they had put him in a ship with King Cildadan.

Sir Galaor asked them:

“How was Amadis found at such a time?”

“My lord,” they said, “know that the knight who was called Beltenebros is your brother Amadis, and by his great effort the battle was won for King Lisuarte.”

And they told him how Beltenebros had rescued the King, who was being carried off beneath the arm of a giant, and how he had then declared himself Amadis.

“Ye have told me great things,” Galaor said, “and I take pleasure in the news about my brother, although if he did not have a legitimate cause for hiding himself from me for so long, I shall be very angry with him.”

And this, as ye hear, was the state of King Cildadan and Sir Galaor, one in the tall tower and the other in the house in the garden, where their wounds were healed until they could go where they wished without danger. Then Urganda made herself known to them, in whose power they were, on her island called Unfound. She told them she had made them afraid so that they would recover their health more quickly, which was necessary because of the great peril their lives were in.

She ordered two nieces of hers to serve them and finish their care. They were very beautiful damsels, daughters of King Falangris, the late brother of King Lisuarte, by Urganda’s own sister, Grimota, when he was a young man. One of them was named Julianda, the other Solisa, and as a result of their visits they became pregnant with two sons: the one by Sir Galaor was called Tanlanque; and the one by King Cildadan called Maneli the Discrete. Both became very valiant and brave knights, as shall be told later. Galaor and Cildadan had great pleasure with these damsels while they were there until Urganda chose to release them, as ye shall hear farther on.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chapter 58 [final part]

[How, after the battle was over, they went to search for Sir Galaor.] 

[St. Joan of Arc Chapel, originally built in the Middle Ages in Casse, near Lyon, France, and now located at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.] 

They went to the place where Amadis had seen him on foot, where he had brought down King Cildadan, and there were so many dead that they could not find him. But turning them all over, Florestan found Galaor, whom they recognized by the sleeve of his tunic, which was blue with silver flowers. They began to lament deeply over him.

When Amadis saw this, he fell from his horse, and his wounds, which had stopped bleeding, were reopened by the force of the fall, and his blood flowed in abundance. He took off his helmet and shield, which were broken, and came to Galaor weeping, took off his helmet, and put his head on his lap. Galaor, with the fresh air, began to move and tremble.

Then all the rest arrived, weeping from the pain of seeing him thus. And shortly, twelve well-dressed damsels arrived with squires who carried a litter covered with fine cloth. They knelt in front of Amadis and said:

"My lord, we have come for Sir Galaor. If ye wish him to live, give him to us. If not, all the doctors in Great Britain cannot save him."

Amadis, who did not know the damsels, considered the great danger Galaor was in. He did not know what to do, but the knights advised him that it would be better to give him to fate than to watch him die in front of his eyes, unable to help him. Amadis said:

"Good damsels, could we know where ye shall take him?"

"No," they said. "For now, if ye wish him to live, give him to us immediately. If not, we must go."

Amadis begged them to take him with his brother, but they refused, and at his request they took his dwarf Ardian and his squire. Then they put Galaor still in his armor, except for his head and his hands, half-dead onto the litter. Amadis and the knights accompanied him to the sea, mourning, where they saw a ship, into which the damsels put the litter.

Then they asked King Lisuarte if he would give them King Cildadan, who lay among the dead, reminding him that he had been a good king, and, by doing what he must, fortune had brought him to great tribulation. They asked him to have mercy because if fortune could turn on Cildadan, it could happen to others. The King ordered him be given to them, more dead than alive. At once they took him in the litter and put him onto the ship. The sails were raised and it quickly left the shore.

At this point the King, having made sure that none of his enemies could escape with their fleet and ordering all those who had not died in the battle to be taken prisoner, found Amadis, Sir Florestan, Agrajes. Everyone who was with them was weeping. He knew they wept because they had lost Sir Galaor, and that put great sadness and pain in his heart, as one who loved him with his heart and soul. And that was just, for since the day Galaor had become his vassal, he had never thought of anything except to serve him.

He dismounted and, although he had many wounds and his armor was stained with blood, he embraced Amadis with the great love he had for him, and consoled him, saying that if Galaor could be cured by great affection, his would be enough to do so with the great pain he felt in his heart, but by putting their hope in the all-powerful Lord, Who would not wish such a man to be without protection, they could be comforted. And so he renewed their spirits.

He brought them to the tent of King Cildadan, which was unusually beautiful, asked for something to eat, and then ordered that the knights on their side who had died be diligently buried at a monastery at the foot of the mountain. And he ordered prayers for their souls and gave funds for building a beautiful chapel so they could be put into finely made tombs with their names inscribed on them. And he sent messengers to Queen Brisena so she would know the good fortune that God had given him. Then he and the knights, who were badly injured, went to a town four leagues away named Ganota, and there they remained until their wounds had healed.

And at the same time that the battle was fought, the beautiful Queen Briolanja, who was staying with Queen Brisena, thought to go to Miraflores to see Oriana, since both of them wished to see each other because of the fame of their beauty. When Oriana learned this, she ordered her rooms be decorated with rich fabrics.

When the Queen arrived and they saw each other, they were astounded. For Oriana, neither the Arch of the Loyal Lovers nor the test of the sword had as much power nor gave her such security as the great shock of seeing Briolanja. Any heart in the world could be captured and subjugated by her beauty, and by breaking those bonds, Oriana had won Amadis's.

And Briolanja, having sometimes seen Amadis's anguish and tears, along with the great tests of love mentioned here, had soon suspected that his worthy heart did not deserve to suffer except for she from whom all other women prized for their beauty ought to flee for the glow of hers would put theirs to pale, and excused him of any guilt for having discarded her proposals.

And so they were both pleased to be together, speaking about the things that they enjoyed the most. Among other things, Briolanja recounted the most important deeds that Amadis had done for her and how she loved him from her heart.

Oriana, to learn more, said:

"My lady and Queen, since he is so good and of such a high estate, for from what I have heard he is descended from the greatest emperors in the world and expects to be King of Gaul, why do ye not take him as yours, and make him lord of the kingdom that he won for you, since he is your peer?"

Briolanja told her:

"My friend and lady, I must believe that although ye have seen him many times, ye do not know him. Do ye not think that I would hold myself the most blessed woman in the world if I could do as ye say? But I want ye to know what happened to me about this, and to keep it a secret, as a lady such as yourself ought to. I tried to do what ye said and have him take me in marriage, which always gives me shame when I remember it. He had me understand that he cared little for me or for any other woman. And I believe this, for all the while he was with me, I never heard him speak of any woman the way all other knights do. But I tell you that he is the man most in this world to whom I would give my kingdom and would submit myself."

Oriana was very happy to hear this and more sure of her beloved than by any other test, seeing with what great affection Briolanja spoke of him. She said:

"I am surprised by what ye tell me, for if Amadis loved no woman, he could not have passed through the Arch of the Loyal Lovers, where they say he caused greater signs of loyalty and love than any other who had been there."

"He may well love," the Queen said, "but he is more secretive than any knight has ever been."

About this and many other things they spoke, and they were there for ten days, and after that they went together with their companions to the town of Fernisa, where the Queen was awaiting her husband the King. She was very pleased to see her daughter healthy and returned to her beauty. And there they learned the good news of the victory in the battle, and because of the great pleasure that it gave them, Queen Brisena made many donations to churches and monasteries and to people in need.

But when Queen Briolanja heard it said that Amadis was the one who had been called Beltenebros, who could describe the joy her spirit felt? And so Queen Briolanja was happy, as were all the ladies and damsels who loved him greatly, and with them, Oriana and Mabilia, who pretended that this was news to them the same as to the others.

Briolanja said to Oriana:

"How does it seem to you, my friend, that he is the good knight who until now was praised, leaving the fame of Amadis so forgotten that almost no one remembered him? Although I greatly loved him and knew about his deeds at arms, I had begun to wonder, in light of the great deeds of Beltenebros, in which of the two should I put my affection now."

"My lady and Queen," Oriana said, "I understand that we are all in that situation, and if he comes with my father the King, let us ask him why he changed his name and who the woman is who won the wreath of flowers."

"So be it," said Briolanja.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

See you in September

August is a time to rest and relax. 

At the Alhambra in December 2011. Photo by Jerry Finn.


As usual, after one more post to finish Chapter 58, this blog will take a European-style August vacation. It will resume on September 11 with more amazing adventures.

Galaor will awaken in prison. King Lisuarte will face new dangers. And despite Amadis's brave deeds, things will go badly for him, for his friends, and for Oriana.

During the break, as well as resting, I will attend Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention.

— Sue Burke

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chapter 58 [middle part]

[The hundred knights of King Lisuarte and of King Cildadan lined up at dawn with the best knights at the head of each side.] 

[Thirteenth-century illustration of Vita Karoli Magni.] 

So, as ye hear, they came at each other very well-ordered and very slowly. But when they met, those who rode ahead attacked each other so bravely that many of them went to the ground. Then both battalions joined in battle with such great fury and cruelty that their fierce valor caused many of the horses to flee from the field without their masters, leaving some men dead and others badly injured.

For those who found themselves there, with good cause it could be called a day of rage and pain, for a third of the day passed as they injured and killed each other without a moment of rest, every man with the utmost rigor and labor. It was during the height of summer with its blazing heat, and both they and their horses became so tired and exhausted that it was amazing they could continue. The wounded lost so much blood that some of them could not sustain their lives, and they lay in the field foully killed, especially those who had been attacked by the giants.

At that time Beltenebros did amazing feats of arms with his excellent sword in his hand, bringing down and killing those whom he found before him, although he was hindered by the need to protect the King in the combats he found himself in. If Lisuarte were defeated, the dishonor would be all the King’s, as would the glory in being the victor, which caused the him to put his guards in the gravest confrontations.

But as Sir Galaor and Florestan and Agrajes saw the astounding things Beltenebros did, they fought with him, giving and suffering such blows that their envy of him became a great advantage for all on their side. Sir Bruneo joined them to protect Sir Galaor, who like an enraged lion, to be equal in skill to Beltenebros, did not fear the fierce blows of the giants nor the death that others suffered before his eyes. With sword in hand, he entered in combat with the enemy, attacking and killing them.

As he moved forward with his heart so irate and furious, as ye have heard, he saw before him the giant Cartadaque of the Forbidden Mountain, who with a heavy axe was giving great blows to all he could reach and had more than six knights on the ground at his feet. But he had a wound on his shoulder that Sir Florestan had given him that was bleeding badly. Sir Galaor gripped his sword in his hand, came at him, and gave him such a great blow on top of his helmet on an angle that everything that his sword met fell, including an ear, and his sword did not stop until it had cut the shaft of the axe just above his hands.

When the giant saw Galaor so close, having nothing with which to attack, he grabbed him by the arms so hard that the saddle girths broke and the saddle was pulled from the horse. Sir Galaor fell to the ground, and the giant held him so tight he could not escape from his strong arms. In fact it seemed that all his bones were being broken. But before he lost consciousness, Sir Galaor grabbed his sword, which was hanging from his hip, and thrust it into the eye slit of the giant's visor, making him lose the strength in his arms, and soon he was dead. Galaor got up exhausted from the great effort that it had taken and from the loss of blood that flowed from his wounds, and he could in no way pull the sword from the head of the giant.

Many knights from both sides had joined to help Galaor or the giant, and they commenced the most harsh and cruel battle of the day. Among them, King Cildadan arrived on his side and Beltenebros on the other. He gave King Cildadan two blows with his sword on his head so great that the King lost his strength and fell from his horse at the feet of Sir Galaor, who took the King's sword and began to strike in every direction until he lost strength and consciousness, unable to remain standing, and fell on top of the King as if dead.

At this time the giants Gandalaz and Albadanzor met and attacked each other with such great blows of their maces that they and their horses fell to the ground. Albadanzor's arm was broken, as was Gandalaz's leg, but he and his sons killed Albadanzor.

By then, among both sides, more than one hundred twenty knights were dead, and it was past noon. Madanfabul, the giant of the island of the Vermilion Tower, and the others who were with him, as ye have heard, were watching the battle, and he saw that many were dead and others were tired and their armor broken in many places, and their horses injured, and he thought that with his companions, he could easily defeat the rest. He left the hill so fierce and furious that it was amazing, and he shouted to his companions:

"No man shall remain alive, and I shall take or kill King Lisuarte!"

Beltenebros saw them coming, and because he had already taken a rested horse from one of the nephews of his host Abradan, he put himself before the King, calling Florestan and Agrajes, whom he saw nearby, and they were joined by Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Branfil, Guilan the Pensive, and Enil, who had done so much in that battle that he would always be held in great fame. All these, although they and their horses were badly injured, put themselves in front of the King.

Ahead of Madanfabul came a knight named Sarmadan the Lion, who was the most valiant and strong of the family of King Cildadan, and his uncle. Beltenebros charged at him. Sarmadan struck him with a lance on his shield, and although it broke, it passed through the shield and injured him, but not badly. Beltenebros raised his sword, and as he passed, he struck Sarmadan through the eye slit of his helmet with such a blow that both his eyes were destroyed, and he fell to the earth senseless.

But Madanfabul and those with him attacked so bravely that most of those with King Lisuarte were knocked down. Madanfabul went straight for the King with such bravery that those with him were not strong enough to defend him after the wounds he gave them. He reached out, put an arm around the back of the King's neck, and held him so tightly that he overcame him, pulled him from his saddle, and rode off with him toward the ships.

Beltenebros, who saw him captured, said:

"Oh, my lord God, let not such trouble befall Oriana!"

He spurred his horse and held his sword tight, and when he reached the giant, he struck with all his might on his right arm, with which he held the King, and cut it at the elbow, and cut the King through his chain mail and gave him an injury that bled freely. The giant fled as a man disabled, leaving the King on the ground.

When Beltenebros saw that with his blow he had killed the brave giant and freed the King from danger, he began to shout:

"Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!"

He said this as he attacked the enemy, bringing down and killing many of them, which at that time was much needed, for the knights on his side were ruined, some injured, others on foot, and others dead. Yet the enemies had arrived rested, with great strength and will to kill all those they could, and because of this, Amadis fought as fast as he could.

And so it would well be said that his great spirit was the remedy and support for everyone on his side, and the one who had most encouraged him was his brother Sir Galaor, whom he had last seen on foot, very tired, and after that he had not been able to see him although he had looked for him. He believed Galaor was dead, and because of that, he did not meet a knight whom he did not kill.

When those on King Cildadan's side saw the damage and great deeds that Amadis was doing to them, they chose as their leader a very valiant knight from a family of giants named Gadancuriel, who had caused such destruction to the other side that they had all noticed, and with whom they believed they could defeat their enemies.

But at this time Amadis, with his great ire and desire to kill all those he could, had entered so deeply into battle with his opponents that he might have been lost. King Lisuarte had by then gotten a horse, and with him were Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Sir Florestan, Guilan the Pensive, Ladasin, Galvanes the Landless, Olivas, and Grumedan, from whose hands the King's insignia had been cut down. Lisuarte saw that Amadis was in great danger and came to his aid as a good king, although he had suffered many wounds, for he shared in the great pleasure of all to know that Beltenebros was Amadis.

Together they attacked their enemies, injuring and killing them, and none dared but to flee. They let Amadis go where he would, and fate guided him to where his cousin Agrajes was with Palomir, Branfil, and Dragonis, all on foot because their horses were dead, and together were defending themselves bravely from the many knights who had set upon them to kill them. When Amadis saw them, he shouted to his brother Sir Florestan and to Guilan the Pensive, and together they rescued them.

A renowned knight named Vadamigar, whose helmet had been knocked off, charged at Amadis with a lance over the neck of his horse, but the iron tip of the lance missed, and Amadis struck him with his sword and split his head down to the ears. And as he fell, Amadis said:

"Cousin Agrajes, mount this horse!"

Sir Florestan knocked down another good knight named Danel, and gave the horse to Palomir, and Sir Guilan gave another horse to Branfil, having knocked down Landin, leaving him badly injured, and Palomir brought another horse to Dragonis, and so they were all mounted.

They followed Amadis, doing great feats at arms and calling out his name so that all would know him and so that his enemies would be even more terrified. He and Agrajes and Sir Florestan with the other good knights who found themselves together and with the great skill of their lord the King, on that day showed their great spirit, for they won the battle, leaving almost all of their enemies dead or injured on the field. But Amadis, with his great rage thinking that his brother Sir Galaor was dead, went at them attacking and killing until they reached the sea, where they had their fleet.

Yet the valiant and brave Gadancuriel, leader of his opponents, when he saw that his men were defeated and could not get on their ships, united as many as he could with him and turned with his sword in his hand to attack the King, who was nearby, but Sir Florestan, who had seen him give great and vile blows that day, feared the King was in danger, and put himself in front to receive those blows himself, although he had only the hilt of his sword.

Gadancuriel struck him so hard on the top of his helmet that it cut down to his flesh. Florestan struck him with what remained of his sword and gave him such a blow that he knocked his helmet from his head. The King arrived, swung his sword, and cut his head in two.

When Gadancuriel was dead, no one remained on the battlefield. Those who had tried to escape on the ships died in the water, and the others on the land, and none was left standing. Then Amadis called to Sir Florestan, Agrajes, Dragonis, and Palomir, and told them, weeping:

"Oh, good cousins, I am afraid we have lost Sir Galaor. Let us go look for him."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chapter 58 [first part]

How Beltenebros stayed in Miraflores with his lady Oriana after the victory of the sword and the wreath, then left there for the battle set with King Cildadan; and what happened in it and the victory they won. 

[Illustration made in Paris in approximately 1410 for Jean Froissart's Chroniques, a history of the Hundred Years' War.] 

Beltenebros was with his lady in Miraflores for three days after winning the sword and the wreath of flowers, and on the fourth day he left at midnight alone with only his arms and horse. He had sent his squire Enil to a castle that was at the foot of a mountain near the site of the battle that belonged to an old knight named Abradan, from whom all knights errant received good service. That night Beltenebros passed close to King Lisuarte's army.

He traveled so fast that on the fifth day he arrived at the castle and found that Enil was already there, which greatly pleased him, and he was very well received by the knight. While he was there, two squires arrived, nephews of their host, who came from where the battle was going to be held, and they said that Cildadan and his knights had already disembarked. They were staying in tents at the seashore and unloading their arms and horses from the ships. The squires had seen Sir Grumedan and King Lisuarte's nephew Giontes arrive and arrange for a truce until the day of the battle, in which neither of the Kings could have more than one hundred knights, as had been agreed.

The host said:

"Nephews, how do these men seem, whom God has cursed?"

"Good uncle," they said, "do not speak thus, for they are strong and fearsome. We tell you that unless God miraculously favors the side of our lord the King, no one can outdo their power."

Tears came to the eyes of the host, who said:

"Oh all-powerful Lord, do not leave unaided the best and most just King in the world!"

"Good host," Beltenebros said, "do not be dismayed by fierce people, for often goodness and modesty defeat arrogant courage. And I beg you to go to the King and tell him that a knight named Beltenebros is in your house. If he tells me the day of the battle, I shall be there promptly."

When Abradan heard this, he felt joyful and said:

"Why, my lord, are ye the one who sent Sir Cuadragante to the court of my lord the King, and the one who killed the brave giant Famongomadan and his son when they held Leonoreta and her knights prisoner? Now I tell you that if I have done any service to knights errant, with this single prize I am satisfied by all of it, and I shall gladly do what ye order."

Then, taking his nephews with him, he went where they guided him and found that King Lisuarte and all his company had arrived a half league from their enemies, and that the battle would be the next day. He told the King the message that he carried, which made Lisuarte and all his men happy, and he said:

"Now we only need one more knight to fulfill the one hundred."

Sir Grumedan said:

"I would think, my lord, that ye are over the limit, for Beltenebros is worth five."

This weighed heavily on Sir Galaor and Florestan and Agrajes, who were not pleased by any honor given to Beltenebros, more for envy than for any other enmity, but they remained silent. Abradan, having learned what he had come for, said goodbye to the King, and returned to his guest and told him the pleasure and great joy with which the King and all his men had received his message, and how only one knight remained to fulfill the one hundred.

When Enil heard this, he took Beltenebros off to a doorway and, kneeling before him, said:

"Although I have not served you long, my lord, I dare to appeal to your great virtue and wish to ask a mercy of you, and I pray to God that ye grant it."

Beltenebros raised him up and said:

"Ask what thou wilt, and if I can do it, I shall."

Enil wished to kiss his hands, but Beltenebros would not let him, and Enil said:

"My lord, I ask that ye make me a knight and that ye beg the King to include me in the hundred knights, since he needs one more."

Beltenebros said:

"My friend Enil, do not let it enter thy heart to wish to attempt such a great act as this will be, with such danger. And I do not say this not to make thee a knight, only because it would be best to begin with other, smaller deeds."

"My good lord," Enil said, "I cannot refuse to face such danger, although death may overcome me, for to be in this battle would be the greatest honor that could happen to me, and if I leave it alive, I shall always have the honor and esteem of having been among those hundred knights, and to have been one of them. And if I were to die, may that death be welcome, for my memory shall be among those other esteemed knights who must die there."

A loving mercy came to Beltenebros's heart, and he said to himself, "Thou well belongst to the lineage of the esteemed and loyal Sir Gandales, my foster father." He answered:

"Then, if that pleases thee, so it shall be."

Then he went to their host and asked him to give arms and armor to his squire, for he wished to make him a knight. The host gave them gladly. Enil stood vigil over them that night in the chapel, and after Mass was said at dawn, Beltenebros made him a knight.

He immediately left for the battle, and his host and his nephews came with him and carried his weapons. When they arrived, they found the good King Lisuarte preparing his men to move at their enemy, who awaited them in a flat field. When he saw Beltenebros, both he and his men felt great courage, and Beltenebros told him:

"My lord, I come to fulfill my promise, and I bring a knight with me to fill the place of the one whom ye still lack."

The King received him with great joy and the knight, with whom he fulfilled the hundred. Then he had a line of his men march at the enemy, for there were not enough for a larger formation, but in front of the King, in the middle of the line, he put Beltenebros and his companion, and Sir Galaor and Florestan and Agrajes, and Gandalaz, foster-father of Sir Galaor, and his sons Bramandil and Gavus, whom Sir Galaor had already made a knight, and Nicoran of the Wrong Bridge, and Dragonis and Palomir, and Vinorante and Giontes, the King's nephew, and the esteemed Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and his brother Branfil, and Sir Guildan the Pensive.

These rode in front of the rest, together as ye hear, and in front of all of them rode the honorable and esteemed old Sir Grumedan, foster father of Queen Brisena, carrying the insignia of the King.

King Cildadan had his men very well arranged and in front of himself he had placed the giants, who were a very despicable people, and with them twenty knights of their lineage, who were very brave. And he ordered Madanfabul, the giant of the island of the Vermilion Tower, to wait on a small hill with the ten most esteemed knights that he had. And he ordered them not to move until the battle was underway and everyone was tired, and then, attacking bravely, to try to kill King Lisuarte or capture him and take him to their ships.