Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chapter 53 [final part]

[How Oriana came to Miraflores Castle and received help from Gandalin and Mabilia.] 

[Garden in the Alcazaba of Málaga, Spain. The Alcazaba was built in the 11th century as a fortress-palace for the governors of the city. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]


Sir Grumedan arranged everything that the King had ordered, and before day broke, he took Oriana and the other women and they arrived early in the morning at Miraflores. When Oriana saw the place so delightful and fresh with flowers and roses, and with channels and fountains of water, her troubled and tormented spirit felt great rest, trusting the mercy of God to bring there he who would save her life, for without him she could not escape cruel death.

When she arrived, she sent word to Adalasta, the abbess of the convent, to deliver the keys to the castle and to the doorways that led to a beautiful garden within it. Oriana gave them to the guards that her father had sent and ordered them to lock the gates and doors every night and give them to the abbess to keep.

When Oriana found herself in such a delectable place, she raised her hands to Heaven and said to herself:

"Oh, Amadis, my beloved, this is the place where I want to have you with me always, and I shall not leave here until I see you. And if this for some reason cannot be, here my loneliness for you shall kill me. Therefore, my beloved, save me with your discretion and help me, for I am dying. And if in times past ye came to me when I needed you and ye never failed me, now more than ever I need you and I beg and order you to help me and free me from death. My good friend, do not delay, and I order you by the lordship that I have over you."

And so she spent a while faint and speaking to Amadis, as if she had him in front of her. But Mabilia took her by the hands and had her sit on an estrado she had ordered placed next to a beautiful fountain. And from there she went to her apartments, which had very richly decorated rooms and a small patio in front of the door to her room shaded by three trees, so that the sun could not shine on it.

Oriana said to Mabilia:

"Know that I ordered the keys to be brought to us by day, because I want Gandalin to make us copies, for if by my good fortune Amadis were to come, we can bring him here into the garden through the doors."

"Ye have thought this through well," Mabilia said.

So they relaxed and rested that day and night, although they awaited the Damsel of Denmark anxiously. The next day Gandalin arrived, and the gatekeeper told Mabilia that the squire wished to speak with Oriana.

Oriana said:

"Open the gate for Gandalin, who is a very good squire and who was brought up with us, and in addition he is the milk brother of Amadis, may God keep him from harm."

"May God do so," said the gatekeeper, "for it would be a great loss and harm to the world if such a good and virtuous knight and master at arms were to be lost."

"Thou speakest the truth," Oriana said, "and now go and let Gandalin enter."

And turning to Mabilia she said:

"My friend, do ye not see how Amadis is loved and esteemed by everyone, even by simple men who know little?"

"I see it well," Mabilia said.

"Then what shall I do," she said, "except to die for he who is so loved and appreciated by all, and who loved me and esteemed me more than himself, for I was the cause of his death? Cursed be the hour in which I was born, for by my madness and vile suspicion I did such injustice!"

"Let that be," Mabilia said, "and have hope, for what ye are doing will not solve the situation."

And at this Gandalin entered, and he was well received by them. Oriana had him sit next to her and told him how she had sent the Damsel of Denmark with a letter for Amadis, and what was in it, and she said to him:

"Does it seem to thee, Gandalin, that he might wish to forgive me?"

"My lady, ye have a good cause," he said. "It seems to me that ye do not know his heart well, for, by God, at the least word that comes in a letter, he would have himself buried alive if ye ordered it. He would be even more willing to come at your command, especially if it were brought by the Damsel of Denmark. And my lady, I am very happy about what ye have told me, for if everyone were to look for him, they would not be as successful as the Damsel of Denmark alone, for although he had wished to hide from me, I do not think that he would wish to show himself to anyone else. And my lady, with hope that she will bring you good news, do not fail to lead a better life, so that if he comes, he will not see you so far removed from your beauty, or he might flee you."

Oriana was very pleased by what Gandalin had told her, and she said, laughing:

"What? Do I look so ugly to thee?"

And he said:

"If ye seemed as ugly to yourself, ye would hide where no one could see you."

"Well, because of that," she said, "I came here to stay in my castle, so if Amadis were to come and then wished to take flight, he could not."

"I wish I could see him in this prison," Gandalin said, "and freed from the other one where you love holds him."

Then they showed him the keys and told him to have copies made so that if his lord came, as he hoped, Oriana could immediately comply with what her letter said and let him in there with her. Gandalin took them and went to London and brought back a second set just like them, with no difference among them except that the first set was old and the second set new.

Mabilia showed the keys to Oriana and told her:

"My lady, these are the means by which he can be with you, he who could not live without you. And now that we have supped and all the people of the castle are resting, let us go try them."

"Let us go," Oriana said, "and may it please God by His mercy that these keys shall correct the damage that my thoughtlessness has done."

Holding hands, they went alone in the dark to the doors that ye have heard of in the castle that led to the garden, and when they were near the first one, Oriana said:

"By God, my friend, I am dead with fear, and I cannot go on with you."

Mabilia took her by the hand and said, laughing:

"Fear nothing. Where I go I shall protect you, for I am the cousin of the best knight in the world and I am at his service. Follow me without fear."

Oriana could not help laughing, and she said:

"Then I shall go under your protection, and I shall not be afraid, for I have confidence in your great skill at arms."

"Now that ye know what I am," Mabilia said, "let us go forward and ye shall see how this adventure ends, and if I fail you, I swear that for the coming year I shall not put a shield around my neck nor a sword on my belt."

Laughing and holding hands, they arrived at the first doorway, and without a problem it opened, and so did the next, and thus they saw the garden before them.

Oriana said:

"Well, now what? This garden wall is tall and Amadis cannot climb it."

"Do not believe that," Mabilia said, "for I have examined it, and there where the garden wall is next to the castle wall, there is a little corner, and if a beam is put outside and if we give him our hands, he can climb it with little difficulty. Your courage will bring you your reward."

Oriana grabbed her by the veil and knocked her to the ground and they laughed happily for a while, then they turned back and locked the doors and went to sleep. As Oriana was getting into her bed, Mabilia said:

"My lady, may God wish that here ye shall be joined with that poor wretch that is without hope, for he needs it greatly."

Oriana said:

"May it please Him, by His mercy, to take pity on us and him."

"For what is in God's hands," Mabilia said, "have no worries, for He shall put the remedy at your service. Eat and sleep so that your beauty can recover what it has lost, as Gandalin told you."

With that they slept that night more restfully than in previous nights, and when morning came, after hearing Mass, they went to the courtyard with its beautiful fountains, and they found that Gandalin had already arrived, since they had ordered him to come every day from London to see them. They took him with them and went to the patio with the three beautiful trees, and there they told him that the keys were very good, and what Mabilia had said when they tried them, and they all laughed a lot.

He told them what had happened to Amadis when, to comfort him, Gandalin had spoken ill of Oriana, and the rage that it had caused and how Amadis had almost killed him, and how because of that, when Gandalin was sleeping, he had hidden Gandalin's saddle and reins and left him alone on the mountain, and Gandalin had been unable to learn anything more about Amadis.

"And, my lady," he said, "since I had told him such a great lie about you, I received the punishment I deserved, for when I woke up and found that he had left without me, if he had left me any weapons, without a doubt I would have killed myself."

Oriana told him:

"Oh, by God, Gandalin! Say no more, for I am sure he loves me. Ye are breaking my heart without meaning to, and if life or death comes to me with good or bad news, and I want it whole, without more of the anguish and pain that has overcome me in the past."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chapter 53 [middle part]

[Of the doubt and anguish between Gandalin and Oriana, and their reconciliation.] 

 [The fortified medieval tower of the church of Miraflores de la Sierra, a town in a valley of the Guadarrama Mountains north of Madrid. Miraflores means "look at the flowers." Photo by the Municipality of Miraflores.] 

Miraflores Castle was two leagues from London, and it was small, but the most delightful lodging in that land. It lay in a forest at the foot of a mountain and was surrounded by orchards full of fruit and other large groves of trees, and among them were plants and flowers of all types. The castle was wonderfully made and, inside, it had richly decorated halls and rooms, and in its patios, many water fountains and delightful shady trees that bore fruit and flowers all year.

One day the King had been there hunting and brought the Queen and his daughter with him, and because he saw that his daughter loved the castle for its beauty, he had told her it was hers. In front of the gate, at the distance of an arrow shot from a crossbow, there was a convent of nuns, which Oriana had ordered built after the castle had become hers, and it held women who had taken holy vows.

Oriana spoke with the King and Queen that night and asked them for permission go there for a while, which they willingly granted.

While the King was at the dinner table, with Sir Galaor and Agrajes and Sir Florestan next to him, he told them:

"I have faith in God, my good friends, that soon we shall have news about Amadis, because I have sent thirty of the best knights of my court to look for him. And if they do not bring him back, ye may take as many of my knights as ye wish and go to look where ye believe it would be best. But I ask that ye do this after a long-delayed battle I will have with King Cildadan of Ireland, who is a king well-esteemed at arms and who is married to a daughter of King Abies, whom Amadis killed. The battle shall be one hundred against one hundred."

The battle's cause was the tribute that the King of Ireland was obliged to give to the kings of Great Britain, and they had agreed that if the King of Great Britain won, the tribute would be doubled and King Cildadan would be his vassal. But if Cildadan won, he would be free of the tribute forever. From what King Lisuarte had learned about the men who would be his opponents, he was going to need all the members of his court and his friends.

Because of what the King had said, the three companions remained at the court though they did not wish to, for they would rather have returned immediately to look for Amadis, and quite rightly. But they would have suffered great shame not to serve and help the King in a situation so important and with such great danger.

After the tablecloths were lifted, Sir Florestan ordered Gandalin to go to visit Mabilia. He did, and when they saw each other, they could not help but weep. Gandalin told her:

"Oh, my lady, what a great wrong Oriana has done to you and your family, for she took from you the best knight in the world. Oh, how badly used ye were when ye served her, what great injustice ye have received from her, and even more he who has never done nor said any error.  Given her treachery, God has misused such beauty and all her other qualities. But from this wrong that she did I well know none shall lose as much as she will."

"Oh, Gandalin," she said, "I beg thee not to say that nor to think it now, for thou art wrong. She did it with great anguish and sorrow because of what she had been told that reasonably made her suspicious. She believed she had been forgotten by thy lord, and that he now dearly loved another. Despite the great anger with which the letter was written and sent, she did not think that it would cause so much harm. And of the error in all this, thou mayst believe that its cause was the excessive and undue love that she has for him."

"Oh, God," Gandalin said, "how could Oriana and ye and the Damsel of Denmark lack good judgement to think that my lord could have committed such an error against she whom he is so terrified to anger that he would rather be buried alive? And what words could these have been that your great judgement and virtue was so disturbed that ye could make the best knight ever born die?"

"Ardian the dwarf," Mabilia said, "thinking to increase the honor of his lord, has caused it."

Then she told him everything that had happened about the sword broken into three pieces, which the first book has recounted.

"And do not think," she said, "that I or the Damsel of Denmark could have done more to try to calm Oriana's anger, who thought that the man whom she loved so much had left her for another. Her heart would never have been at ease until she had sent that letter, which we did not know about, and which has brought us all to the point of death. But thou mayst believe that after she learned from Durin what Amadis did, she has been in such great anguish and pain that this gives us consolation for the sorrow that we have over Amadis."

And while Mabilia was saying all this to Gandalin, Oriana was listening from inside her room and heard all that they said. And when they ceased to speak of it, she came out as if she had heard nothing. When she saw Gandalin, her heart shook and she could not help herself from falling on an estrado, and she said, weeping so hard that she could barely speak:

"Oh Gandalin, may God keep thee and give thee good fortune! Do now what thou must and fulfill what thou art obliged to do."

"My lady," he said weeping, "what do ye order me to do?"

"Kill me," she said, "for I have killed thy lord and thou must avenge his death, as he would avenge yours if someone were to have killed thee."

And at that she was as faint as if her soul wished to leave her. Gandalin felt very sorry and wished he had not come there at all. Mabilia took some water and threw it in her face, and so she came to, sighing and wringing her hands, and she said:

"Oh, Gandalin, why dost thou tarry in doing what thou must? By God, thy father would not hesitate to do what he ought to."

"My lady," Gandalin said, "may God keep me from doing anything disloyal, for if I intended to do so, it would be the greatest treachery in the world. And not just one but two, because ye are my lady and Amadis is my lord, and I know with certainty that after your death, he would not live one hour. I never thought that ye, my lady, would give me such bad counsel, even more because my lord Amadis is not dead. Because despite all the sadness and anguish that your rage caused, by his own hand he may endure that, but his death is in the hand of God, when He believes it is the right time, and if He wished that, He would not have given him such good fortune from the first. And ye, my lady, must believe that a man so distinguished in this world as he is will not be killed unjustly by God."

This and many other things he told her to comfort her, which they did somewhat. And she said:

"My good friend Gandalin, I am going tomorrow to Miraflores, where I wish to wait for life or death, depending on the news I get. And come to see us, for Mabilia shall send for thee, and thou canst relieve my heart from its sadness."

"My lady," Gandalin said, "I shall do that and anything else that ye order."

With that, he left them, and as he passed where the Queen was, she had him called and had him come before her and spoke with him for a long time about Amadis's estate and the great sorrow that she had for him, and tears came to her eyes.

Gandalin said:

"My lady, if ye ache over him, it is rightly so, for he is your fine servant."

"He is a good friend as well," the Queen said, "and a good protector. May God be pleased to bring us good news about him that will give us some consolation."

And as they were speaking, Gandalin saw that elsewhere in the hall Sir Galaor and Florestan and Corisanda were all very happy together, and she seemed the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. He did not know who she was and asked the Queen who such a beautiful lady it was to whom those two brothers spoke with such pleasure. The Queen told him who she was and why she had come to the court and how she loved Sir Florestan, and for his love, she had stayed at the court, waiting for some time.

When Gandalin heard this, he said:

"If she loves him, she may well be praised, for he has within him such virtue and discretion that if she searched the world over, she could find few that equal him at arms. And, my lady, if ye were to know Sir Florestan well, ye would not esteem any knight more than him, for he is well accomplished in the proper use of arms and all other good skills."

"And so it seems," the Queen said, "that of a man whose family has such noble knights of such deeds at arms, it would be a great injustice if he did not resemble them, and even more importantly shared their abilities."

And while the Queen was speaking with Gandalin, Sir Florestan was speaking very lovingly with his beloved. Besides being very beautiful and rich, she loved him so much that she would never give her love to another, and she came from the most noble and high counts of all of Great Britain. He spoke with her and Sir Galaor about how she might return to her land, and how he and Sir Galaor and Agrajes would accompany her for two days, and after he had heard any news about Amadis, and after the battle that King Lisuarte had set, if he were still alive, he would go to her and would live in her lands for a long time.

"May God be pleased to show His mercy," she said, "and protect you and bring you good news about Amadis so that ye may fulfill all that ye have promised, for I am very consoled by it."

Then they went to the King, and Gandalin with them. Since Oriana had asked permission that night from the King and Queen to go the next day to Miraflores, and they had granted it, they ordered Sir Grumedan to leave with her and Mabilia and other ladies and damsels at dawn, take them to the castle, and then to return, leaving the servants that she needed and guards for the gates of the castle.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Links to the Middle Ages

Beauty, danger, inspiration, original texts, and a green palace. 

 Illustration from Vidal Mayor, a legal code written and illuminated in Huesca, Spain, between 1290 and 1310 for King James I of Aragon and Catalonia. Now at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. 

Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination, 1200–1350

The J. Paul Getty Museum is hosting an exhibit of rare texts to explain the role of illustrations in medieval books. If you can't get to Los Angeles before May 13, visit the website for stunning pictures and mini-lectures.

Violent knights feared post-traumatic stress
A researcher of medieval violence at the University of Copenhagen has come upon a book by a 14th century knight who wrote about the psychological stress of being a knight. But King Languines told the boy Amadis in Chapter 4, when he asked to be made a knight, "Whoever wants to become one and uphold the honor of the title of knight must do many grave things that will often trouble his heart."

Visit the Winchester Cathedral
For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have come to Winchester Cathedral. The cathedral's website invites you to be transformed and overwhelmed by beauty — a virtual visit with video, music, and photos.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Part of Fordham University's Internet History Sourcebooks Project, the sourcebook offers a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use. A must for the serious researcher.

The Queen goes green
Windsor Castle, the site of many events in Amadis of Gaul, is now powered by a hydroelectric plant. Two 40-ton Archimedes screws in the River Thames began generating electricity on January 1, which Queen Elizabeth buys for the castle — a move that will both save money in these times of austerity and be more environmentally friendly.
Photos of the castle and the turbines: