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.