Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chapter 67 [part 1 of 2]

In which is recounted the cruel battle between King Lisuarte and his men, and Sir Galvanes and his companions; and the King’s generosity and grandeur after their defeat, giving the land to Sir Galvanes and Madasima, making them vassals for as long as they lived there.

[View of the Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra, Portugal. Photo by Duca696.] 

As ye have heard, King Lisuarte disembarked in the port of the island of Mongaza, where he found that King Arban of North Wales and his men had retreated to a camp on some rocky peaks. Lisuarte ordered them to descend immediately and join the men he had brought. He learned that Sir Galvanes and his companions, who had been at Burning Lake, had crossed the mountains, and that they were preparing to do battle.

Lisuarte and all his men immediately began to move toward them as fast as possible, and he encouraged them as much as he could, as he who was accompanied by the best knights in the world. They traveled until they were a league away from their opponents on the bank of a river, and there they stopped to spend the night. When daylight broke, they all heard Mass and armed themselves, and the King split his men into three divisions.

The first was of five hundred knights with Sir Galaor, and among them were his companion Norandel, Sir Guilan the Pensive and his cousin Ladasin, Grimeo the Valiant, Cendil of Ganota, and Nocoran of the Fearful Bridge, the very good jouster.

The second division he gave to King Cildadan with seven hundred knights. Among them were Ganides of Gantoa, the King’s nephew Acedis, Gradasonel Fillistre, Brandoivas, Tasian, and Filispinel, all of them well-esteemed knights.

In the middle division went Sir Grumedan of Norway and the knights who had come with King Arban of North Wales, who were charged with protecting the King and no other duties. So they moved through the field, exceptionally splendid and well-armed men, and so many bugles and trumpets sounded that one could hardly hear. They took up positions on a level field, and behind the King rode Baladan and Leonis with thirty knights.

Sir Galvanes and the high noblemen who were with him learned of this and of the state and number of King Lisuarte’s troops, and how there were five of Lisuarte’s men for every one of their own. Their numbers were depleted by the imprisonment of Sir Brian of Monjaste and the departure of Agrajes to bring provisions that they needed. But they were not dismayed by that. Instead, Galvanes inspired his men with great courage, whose numbers were few but they had done great feats at arms, as this story has told.

They agreed to create two divisions, one with one hundred and six knights, and the other with  one hundred and nine. In the first one rode Sir Florestan, Sir Cuadragante, Angriote d’Estravaus, his brother Grovedan, his nephew Sarquiles, and his brother-in-law Gasinan, who carried the pennant of the damsels. Near the pennant rode Branfil and the faithful Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, Olivas, Balais of Carsante, and Enil, the good knight whom Beltenebros brought to the battle with King Cildadan.

In the other division rode Sir Galvanes and with him the two good brothers Palomir and Dragonis, Listoran of the Tower, Dandales of Sadoca, and Tantalis the Proud. Ahead of the divisions came some archers and men with crossbows. With this highly unequal company compared to the King’s great numbers, they rode into the level field where the others were waiting.

Sir Florestan and Sir Cuadragante called Elian the Vigorous, who was one of the best-looking knights and better armed than most of the rest, and told him to go to King Lisuarte with two other knights who were his cousins, and to tell him that if he would order the crossbows and archers to be removed from between the divisions of knights, they would have one of the most beautiful battles ever seen. These three immediately went to fulfill their orders, and when they had ridden ahead of the troops, they seemed so handsome that everyone watched them. And know that Elian the Vigorous was the nephew of Sir Cuadragante, son of his sister and Count Liquedo, first-cousin of King Perion of Gaul.

When they arrived at the first division led by Sir Galaor, they asked for safe conduct, for they were coming with a message for the King. Sir Galaor gave them assurance and sent Cendil of Ganota with them to protect them from the others. When they came before the King, they said:

“My lord, Sir Florestan and Sir Cuadragante and the other knights who are there to defend the lands of Madasima, sent us to you to say that if it pleases you, take away the crossbows and archers between us, and ye shall see a beautiful battle.”

“In the name of God,” the King said, “remove yours, and Cendil of Ganota shall withdraw mine.”

This was done at once, and the three knights returned to their company, and Cendil went to Sir Galaor to tell him why they had come to see the King. Then the divisions moved toward each other so close that there were not three flights of arrows between them. Sir Galaor recognized his brother by the insignia on his armor, as well as Sir Cuadragante and Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, who rode ahead of their men. He said to Norandel:

“My good friend, do ye see there where those three knights are together, the best that a man could find? The one with the scarlet shield with white lions is Sir Florestan, and the one with the indigo shield with golden flowers and purple lions is Angriote d’Estravaus, and the one who has an indigo field with silver flowers is Sir Cuadragante. The one ahead of the others, with the green shield, is Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, the very good knight who killed the dragon, which is how he got his name. Now we shall attack them.”

Then they rode with their lances lowered, covered by their shields, and the three opposing knights prepared for them. Norandel spurred his horse and went straight at Gavarte of the Fearful Valley and struck him so hard that he threw him from his horse onto the ground with the saddle on top of him. This was the first blow that he did, and it was held by all as a very fine beginning.

Sir Galaor met with Sir Cuadragante, and both struck so hard that they and their horses went to the ground. Cendil struck Elian the Vigorous, and although their lances broke and they were injured, they remained on their horses.

At this time all the divisions began to fight each other, and the noise of the shouting and the blows was so great that the bugles and trumpets could not be heard. Many knights were killed or injured, and others knocked from their horses. Great rage and anger grew in the hearts of both sides. But most of the men went to protect Sir Galaor or Sir Cuadragante, who were fighting hard and hand-to-hand, attacking with swords to defeat each other, and they put fear into all who saw them.

By then on one side and the other more than one hundred knights had dismounted to help them and give them their horses, but Sir Galaor and Sir Cuadragante were fighting so closely and so fiercely that they could not be separated. What Norandel and Guilan the Pensive was doing for Sir Galaor could not be told to you, nor what Sir Florestan and Angriote was doing for Sir Cuadragante, and as there were more men on their side, they charged, but the blows were so dangerous that they gave way and did not dare to confront them.

But in the end so many were fighting each other that Sir Galaor and Sir Cuadragante had time to mount their horses. Then they attacked like enraged lions, knocking down and injuring all those before them, and each one helping his side.

At that moment King Cildadan attacked with his division so bravely that many knights went to the ground on both sides, but Sir Galvanes immediately came to the aid of his men and attacked his opponents so fiercely that it was understood that the fight was his and the battle had been called because of him. He feared neither death nor danger, which he held as nothing compared to the chance to do harm to those who had disdained him and had come to take what was his. Those in his division followed him into the fight, and as they were all select and very brave knights, they did great harm to their opponents.

Sir Florestan came with great wrath because he thought the contention was really about his brother Amadis, although he was not present, and if the knights on his side, moved by their great valor, ought to do amazing deeds, he ought to do even more, so he charged like a rabid dog looking to do the most harm it could. He saw King Cildadan, who was fighting bravely and doing great harm to his opponents, so much that at that time his deeds surpassed those of his men. Sir Florestan charged at him through the knights, who for all the blows they gave him could not stop him. He reached the King so violently and so eager to attack that he could do no other thing but grab him in his strong arms, and the King grabbed him.

They were immediately aided by the many knights that protected them, but they both lost their horses and fell onto the ground on their feet, put their hands on their swords, and gave each other mighty and mortal blows. But the good knight Enil and Angriote d’Estravaus, who protected Sir Florestan, were able to get him his horse, and when Sir Florestan mounted, he entered the fray doing wonders at arms, thinking of what his brother Amadis could do if he were there.

Norandel, whose armor was damaged and who was bleeding in many places, thrust his sword as deep as the hilt in many of the blows he gave with it. When he saw King Cildadan on foot, he called to Sir Galaor:

“My lord Sir Galaor, look to how your friend King Cildadan is. Let us help him. If not, he is dead.”

“Now, my good friend,” Sir Galaor said, “your excellence is shown. Let us give him a horse and stay with him.”

Then they entered the fight, attacking and knocking down whomever they could reach, and with great effort they got him on a horse, for he was badly injured by the blow of a sword that Dragonis had given him to the head, and blood ran freely into his eyes. And at that moment King Lisuarte’s men could do no more against the great strength of their opponents and would have been driven from the field unable to return the blows of the swords, if Sir Galaor and other distinguished knights had not come to help and regather them until they had reached King Lisuarte. When he saw them arriving defeated, he shouted:

“Now, my good friends, with your great skill, we shall defend the honor of the Kingdom of London!”

He spurred his horse, shouting, “Clarence, Clarence!” which was his surname, and charged his enemies at their strongest point. When he saw how bravely Sir Galvanes was fighting, the King struck him so hard that his lance flew in pieces and he lost his stirrups and grabbed the neck of his horse. He put his hand on his sword and began to attack on all sides. Thus he displayed the better part of his strength and courage, and his men shared his spirit and fought bravely with him.

But it all came to naught, for Sir Florestan, Sir Cuadragante, Angriote, and Gavarte, who found themselves together, did such deeds at arms that by their great strength it seemed is if their enemy would be defeated, and everyone thought that King Lisuarte’s men were going to be pushed from the field. The King, who saw his men retreating and in poor condition, felt great shame at losing. He called Sir Guilan the Pensive, who was badly injured and who came to him, along with King Arban of North Wales and Grumedan of Norway, and he told them:

“I see our people suffering, and I fear that God, Whom I have never served as I should, shall not give me honor in this battle. Let us do what we can, so that I could be said to be a king defeated and killed honorably, but never defeated alive with dishonor.”


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chapter 66 [part 2 of 2]

[How the King arrived at Mongaza and how Oriana gave birth, and the astonishing fate of her son.] 

[Detail from a scene in the Smithfield Decretals, early 1300s, illustrating a popular legend about a human child suckling from a lion. From the British Library Medieval Manuscripts Blog.] 

They enjoyed that day there, and the next day, having heard Mass, they all mounted to return to town. The King told Sir Galaor and Grumedan to go with the Queen, and he took Sir Galaor aside and give him permission to tell Oriana the secret that Norandel was her brother, and that she should also keep it secret. Then he left to ride with his hunters and went to the Queen, who had already mounted.

Sir Galaor came to Oriana and took her horse by the reins and spoke with her. She was very pleased by this both because of the great love her father the King had for him and because, being her beloved Amadis’s brother, he resembled him, so his presence was a great relief.

As they were speaking of many things, they came to speak of Norandel, and Oriana said:

“Do ye know something of the circumstances of this knight? I saw him traveling in your company, and now ye have taken him as a companion. Given your great worth, this would not happen unless ye knew something about him, since everyone who knows you cannot think of an equal to you besides your brother Amadis.”

“My lady,” Sir Galaor said, “there is as much distance between my courage and that of Amadis as there is between the earth and sky, and so it would be great madness for anyone to think I am his equal, because God placed him so much higher than all others in the world in strength and everything else good that a knight should have.”

Oriana, when she heard this, began to think, and she said to herself:

“Oh, Oriana, what if such a day were to come in which thou findest thyself without the love of someone like Amadis, who for thee is so famous both for his skill at arms as for his handsomeness!”

And because this would never happen, she felt very happy and satisfied to have such a beloved that no one else could resemble.

“And regarding what ye said, my lady, about taking Norandel as a companion, I fully believe that he is a nobleman, given his disposition and the honorable way he has behaved. But I knew something else about him, and if it were known, it would surprise everyone, and it was the reason for what I did.”

“So I thought,” Oriana said. “Being as ye are, ye would not have been moved to take him as your companion without a good reason, and if ye can tell it without damaging your honor in any way, I would be pleased to know it.”

“It would be very dear to me, my lady, if ye were to have the pleasure to know what I have kept quiet,” he said. “I know it and shall tell you, but it is essential that no one else may know by any means.”

“Since ye are certain and sure,” she said, “so it shall be done.”

“Then know, my lady,” Galaor said, “that Norandel is the son of your father.”

And he told her how he had seen the letter from Princess Celinda and the ring, and everything that her father the King had said.

“Galaor,” she said, “ye have made me happy to tell me this, and I thank you for it, because I could not have known otherwise, and I am happy for the great honor ye have done to this knight with whom I have such a great debt. Surely he ought to be good, and by a great degree that shall be due to you, otherwise, your great goodness shall make him so.”

“I consider the honor ye give me a great favor, my lady,” he said, “although it may be to the contrary, but in any case, my honor shall always be at your service, and of your father the King and your mother.”

“I believe so, too, Sir Galaor,” she said, “and may God’s favor be pleased that they and I may reward you.”

And so they arrived at the town, where Oriana stayed with her mother the Queen and Galaor went to his lodging, bringing his companion Norandel with him.

The next day, immediately after the King heard Mass, he ordered food be taken to the ships, for all the people who would be traveling with him were already on board with their arms and horses. He brought King Cildadan and Galaor and Norandel with him, said farewell to the Queen and his daughter and the ladies and damsels, leaving them all weeping, and went to the port of Jafoque, where his armada was.

Once he was on board, it departed for the Island of Mongaza, where at times with good weather and at times with bad, it arrived after five days at the port of the town from which the island got its name. He found a fortified camp there with King Arban of North Wales and the men ye have already heard about, and he learned how there had been a great battle with the knights in the town and how his men had been driven from the field and all would have been lost if King Arban of North Wales had not taken advantage of some tall, steep peaks where they were protected from their enemies.

He learned how the very courageous Gasquilan, King of Suesa, was badly injured by Sir Florestan, and Gasquilan’s men had taken him away by sea to recover. He also heard how Brian of Monjaste had been taken prisoner when he tried to attack King Arban of North Wales among the enemy troops. And after this fight they had not dared to leave the peaks where King Lisuarte found them, because no matter how many times the knights of the Island of Mongaza had tried to attack, they could never do any harm because the site was so well protected.

After the King had learned this, he felt great anger toward the island’s knights, and he ordered all his men, tents, and other necessities be unloaded from the ships, and settled into the camp to learn more about the enemy.

Oriana was very pleased when her father the King left because the time was coming when she would give birth. She called Mabilia and told her that her fainting and other things she felt had to mean that she was about to give birth, and she ordered all the other damsels to leave her, and went to her chamber with Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark, who had earlier gotten everything ready for childbirth.

Oriana suffered some pains until nightfall, which left her tired, but then they became more frequent, and so she suffered great worry and anxiety, since this was something she had never needed to know about. But her great fear in being discovered in the trouble she was in gave her such strength that she endured without complaint.

At midnight it pleased the Lord on High, who remedies all things, that a son was born, a very fine child, leaving her free. He was wrapped in rich clothes, and Oriana asked that he be brought to her bed, and taking him in her arms, she kissed him many times.

The Damsel of Denmark said to Mabilia:

“Did ye see what this boy has on his body?”

“No,” she said. “I have been busy with so much to do to help him and his mother to give birth that I have not looked at anything else.”

“Well, indeed,” the Damsel said, “he has something on his chest that other children do not have.”

Then they lit a candle, unwrapped him, and saw beneath his right nipple some letters white as snow, and under the left nipple seven letters so red they were like living coals. But they could not read either one or know what they said because the white ones were in a very obscure Latin and the red ones in difficult Greek. After they had seen this, they wrapped him up again and laid him next to his mother, and agreed that he would be immediately taken to where he would be raised, as they had planned.

To do that, the Damsel of Denmark secretly left the palace and, on horseback with her brother Durin, circled outside to the window of the chamber she had left. Meanwhile Mabilia had put the boy in a basket and tied a cloth over it, hung it from a cord and lowered it into the hands of the Damsel. She took it and left on the way to Miraflores, where she would have the boy raised secretly, claiming he was her own child.

But soon, they left the road and took a path that Durin knew about and guided her through a very thick forest where they could travel more secretly. Durin rode in front and she followed, and soon they arrived at a spring in an open field. But beyond that was a valley with thick trees and so frightening that hardly anyone would enter because of the wild and forested mountains on either side where lions and other fierce animals raised their young.

At the head of this valley there was a small old hermitage where the hermit Nasciano dwelled, considered by all to be a very holy and devote man, and because of this the people of the area believed that he was sometimes provided with manna from Heaven. When he needed food, he would go to search for it in those lands, and no lion or other animal would do him harm, although as he rode on his donkey, he continuously encountered them. Instead, they would bow before him.

Near this hermitage was a cave among the rocks where a lioness was raising her little cubs, and often the good man would visit them. If he had food, he would feed them without fear of the lioness. Instead, when she saw him coming, she would go away until he left. After having said his hours of prayers, he would pass his time with those lion cubs and enjoy watching them play in the cave.

When the Damsel of Denmark and her brother arrived at the spring, she was very thirsty from her night spent working and traveling, and she said to her brother:

“Let us dismount, and take this child, for I wish to drink.”

He dismounted, took the boy wrapped in its rich clothes, put him on the trunk of a tree that was there, and was about to help his sister dismount when they heard the great roar of a lion in that valley. Their palfreys were so frightened that they began to flee too fast for the Damsel to stop her horse. She thought she might be killed amid the trees and called out to God for help, and Durin raced behind her to try to grab the reins and stop the palfrey. He ran so fast that he pulled ahead and stopped it, and found his sister so shaken and beside herself that she could hardly speak.

He helped her dismount and said:

“Sister, wait here, and I will go on this palfrey to get mine.”

“Get the child,” she said, “and bring him to me, so nothing happens to him.”

“I shall do that,” he said, “and hold this palfrey by the reins, for I am afraid that if I were to ride it, I could not make it go to the spring.”

So he left on foot. But before he arrived, an amazing thing happened. The lioness who was raising her cubs as ye heard and who had roared, was accustomed to going to the spring every day to search for tracks of deer that came there to drink. When she arrived there, she walked around the spring looking for tracks from one side to the other, and as she was walking, she heard the boy cry in the trunk of the tree. She went for him and took his clothes in her mouth using those very sharp teeth without touching his body, for such was God’s will. Thinking he was food for her cubs, she left with him.

It was sunrise, and the Lord of the world, merciful toward those who asked for His pity and with the innocents too young or unaware to ask for it, helped him this way: the blessed Nasciano had sung Mass at sunrise and went to the spring to rest there, for the night had been very warm, and saw how the lion carried the child in her mouth. The child was crying weakly, since he had been born that night. The hermit realized it was a baby, and he was very frightened about how she had gotten it. He immediately raised his hand and blessed it, and said to the lioness:

“Go, vile beast, and leave behind the child of God, who was not made for you to reign over.”

The lioness twitched her ears as if she were happy, came to him very tamely, put the boy at his feet, and then she left. Nasciano made the sign of the true cross over him, then took him in his arms and brought him to the hermitage. As he passed the cave where the lioness was raising her cubs, he saw that she was letting them suckle, and he told her:

“I order you in the name of God, in Whose power all things are, to take those teats from your cubs and give them to this child, and like them, protect him from all harm.”

The lioness lay down at his feet, and the good man placed the child at the teats and put milk in his mouth and had him take the teat, and he suckled. And from then on she came very tamely to suckle him as often as was necessary.

But the hermit immediately sent the boy who helped him with Mass, who was his nephew, to hurry and call on his mother and father, and have them come right away alone with him, because they were urgently needed. The boy hurried to the place where they dwelled, which was at the edge of the forest, but the father was not there, so they did not return until ten days later, during which time the child was well fed with milk from the lioness and a goat and a sheep who had just given birth to a lamb. These animals fed him when the lioness went to hunt for her cubs.

When Durin left his sister, as ye have heard, he went on foot as fast as he could to the spring where the child had been left. When he did not find him, he was very frightened, and he found the trail of the lioness, so he truly believed she had eaten him, so with great sorrow and sadness he returned to his sister.

When he told her, she struck her face with her palms and wailed, cursing her fate and the hour of her birth, and having lost everything, she did not know how she could come before her lady. Duran consoled her, weeping, but she would not be consoled because her emotions and sadness were too great, and for more than two hours she was as if senseless.

Durin told her:

“My good lady and sister, what you are doing is of no use, and it could result in great harm to your lady and her beloved if others were to know something of what happened.”

She saw that he was telling the truth and said:

“Then what shall we do? I am not able to know.”

“It seems to me,” he said, “that since my palfrey is lost, we should go to Miraflores and spend three or four days there to make it understood that some reason had brought us there, and when we go back to Oriana, to say only that the child is in a safe place until she is well. And then ye can ask Mabilia’s advice about what to do.”

She said she thought that was wise, and they rode together on their palfrey to Miraflores, and three days later they returned to Oriana. The Damsel wore a happy face and told her everything had been done as planned.

At the hermitage where the child was being raised, know that after ten days the hermit’s sister and her husband came, and the hermit told them how by fate he had found the child, and God loved the boy so much that He protected him. He begged them to raise him in their home until he could speak, and then bring him to him to be taught. They said they would do as he asked.

“Then I wish to baptize him,” the good man said.

And so he did, but when the lady unwrapped him next to the fount, she saw the white and red letters on his chest, and showed them to the good man, and he was very amazed. He read the white ones in Latin, which said “Esplandian,” and thought that should be his name, but although he tried hard, he could not read the red ones or understand what they said.

And then the baby was baptized with the name of Esplandian, by which he would be known in many faraway lands for the great deeds he would do there, as shall be told farther on.

When this was done, the stepmother happily took him to her home with the hope that not only her home but all her family would be protected, and with diligence she raised him, having great expectations for him. And when the time came, as the hermit had asked, they brought him back, very handsome and well raised, and everyone who saw him enjoyed looking at him.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

“The Middle Ages are Europe’s common heritage”

Switzerland recreations strive for accuracy. 

“Everyone has probably pretended to be a knight when they were little,” the article says. Some people never grew up. 


Historical recreations began in Switzerland in the 1980s as a way to bring in tourists, but soon associations were formed by people interested in learning about the Middle Ages in depth. It turned into a passion.

This article by the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation describes how things started. And this 4-minute clip, with English dubbing, shows what’s happening now – serious fun.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Chapter 66 [part 1 of 2]

On their way to the court of King Lisuarte, how King Cildadan and Sir Galaor met a lady who brought a handsome young nobleman accompanied by twelve knights, and she begged them to ask the King to make him a knight, which was done; then the King learned he was his son. 

[Madonna holding the Christ-child in a rosebush, from a Book of Hours made in South Holland in 1489. Now at the National Library of the Netherlands.] 

While King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were traveling to where King Lisuarte was, they were told that he was preparing to sail to the Island of Mongaza, so they hurried to arrive in time to go with him. And it happened that when they were sleeping in a forest, they heard a church bell ring for Mass at dawn, and they went there to hear it.

When they entered the hermitage, around the altar they saw a dozen handsome shields, each beautifully painted with a cardinal-red field figured with golden castles, and in the middle of these red shields was a white shield trimmed with gold and precious stones. After they had prayed, they asked some squires there who the shields belonged to, and they said they could in no way say, but if they went to the court of King Lisuarte, they would find out soon.

At that moment, the knights who owned the shields entered, each leading a damsel by the hand, and behind them came a novice knight speaking with a lady who was not very young. He was so well built, handsome and well dressed, that it would be hard to find anyone of equal appearance. King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were amazed to see such an unusual man, and they thought he must have come from some distant land, since they could not remember ever seeing him.

They all went to the altar where they heard Mass. After it had been said, the lady asked them if they were from the court of King Lisuarte.

“Why do ye ask?” they said.

“Because we would wish your company, if it pleases you, because the King is in the forest near here with the Queen and many of his retinue in tents, hunting and relaxing.”

“Then, what would be your pleasure of us?” they said.

“We wish,” the lady said, “that ye would do the courtesy of asking the King and Queen and their daughter Oriana to come here and make this squire a knight for us, for he is such that he deserves all the honor that could be done to him.”

“Lady,” they said, “we would be glad to do what you say, and we think the King would do it just as he is proper and well measured in all things.”

Then they and the lady and damsels mounted, and they rode together to a hilltop near the road on which the King would be coming. Soon they saw him, along with the Queen and their company. The King rode ahead and saw the damsels and the two armed knights, and thought they wanted to joust. He sent Sir Grumedan, who accompanied him along with thirty knights to guard him, to tell them not to seek to joust but to come to see him. Sir Grumedan went to them, and the King waited. When King Cildadan and Sir Galaor saw that Lisuarte had stopped, they came down the hill with the damsels and rode toward him. After they had ridden a little way, Sir Galaor recognized Grumedan and told King Cildadan:

“My lord, look, here comes one of the best men in the world.”

“Who is he?” the King said.

“Sir Grumedan,” Galaor said, “the one who carried the flag of King Lisuarte in the battle against you.”

“You can say this with truth,” the King said, “because I was the one who tried to take the flag,  and I could never get it from his hands until the staff broke. Then I saw him doing such feats at arms against me and my men that I wished I had not broken it.”

After they took off their helmets so they could be recognized, Sir Grumedan, who was now even closer, recognized Sir Galaor, and shouted, as he often did:

“Oh, my friend Sir Galaor, ye are as welcome as the angels of Paradise!”

He rode as fast as he could toward him, and when he arrived, Sir Galaor said:

“My lord Sir Grumedan, approach King Cildadan.”

He went to kiss his hands, and he was well received. He turned immediately to Sir Galaor and embraced him many times as those who love each other from the heart, and he told them:

“My lords, continue on slowly, and I shall tell the King ye are arriving.”

He left them, went to the King, and told him:

“My lord, I bring news that will make you happy, for your vassal and friend Sir Galaor is coming here, who never fails you in times of need, and the other man is King Cildadan.”

“I am very happy they are coming,” the King said, “and I thought rightly that since he was well and free, he would not fail to come to me just as I would do whatever was for his honor.”

At that moment the knights arrived, and the King received them with great love. Sir Galaor wanted to kiss his hands, but he would not let him. Instead, he embraced him in such a way that all those who saw them understood that he loved him with all his heart. Then they told him what the lady and the damsels wanted, and how they had learned that the novice wished to be a knight, and how he was very handsome and well built. The King thought a bit, since he was not accustomed to making a man a knight who was not worthy, and he asked whose son he was.

The lady told him:

“This ye shall not know, but I swear to you by the faith I owe God that he comes from legitimate kings on both sides.”

The King said to Sir Galaor:

“How does all this seem to you?”

“It seems to me, my lord, that ye should do it and not find any excuse to avoid it, for the novice is exceedingly graceful and handsome, and he could not fail to be a good knight.”

“If it seems so to you,” the King said, “it shall be done.”

He ordered Sir Grumedan to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor to the Queen and tell her to come to the hermitage where he was going. They immediately left, and it does not need to be told how they were received by the Queen and Oriana and all the other damsels, for none were welcomed better or with more love.

The Queen learned what the King had ordered, so she and Oriana followed him to the hermitage. When they saw the shields and the white one so beautiful and richly decorated among them, they looked at it with wonder, and even more at the exceeding handsomeness of the novice, but they could not imagine who he was because up until then they had never heard him spoken of.

The novice kissed the hands of the King with great humility, and neither the Queen nor Oriana wished to give him theirs because he was a highborn man. The King made him a knight, and told him:

“Take the sword from whomever ye choose.”

“If it pleases your mercy,” he said, “I would take it from Oriana, and with that my wish will be satisfied and my heart’s desire will be fulfilled.”

“Make what ye say be so,” the King said, “as it pleases you.”

He called Oriana and told her:

“My beloved daughter, if it pleases you, give the sword to this knight, for he wishes to take it from your hand instead of any other.”

Oriana felt great shyness, for she did not know him at all, but she took the sword and gave it to him, and so he was fully made a knight.

When this was done, as ye have just heard, the lady told the King:

“My lord, my damsels and I must leave immediately, for those are my orders, and I can do nothing else, although I would prefer to spend several days here. If ye order it, Norandel, who is the man ye have just knighted, will remain in your service, and the twelve knights who came with him.”

When the King heard this, he felt great pleasure, for he was very taken by this novice knight, and told her:

“My lady, go with God.”

She said goodbye to the Queen and the very beautiful Oriana, her daughter. And when she came to say goodbye to the King, she put a letter in his hand that no one saw, and told him privately as quietly as she could:

“Read this letter without letting anyone see it, and then do what ye most please.”

With that, she went to her ship. The King thought about what she had said, and told the Queen to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor with her and go to the tents, and if he came back late from hunting, to relax and dine. The Queen did so. When the King was alone, he opened the letter.

Letter from Princess Celinda to King Lisuarte:

“Most high Lisuarte, King of Great Britain: I, Princess Celinda, daughter of King Hegido, kiss your hands in greeting. Ye may well remember, my lord, the times ye rode as a knight errant in search of adventures, achieving many to your great honor. Fate and good fortune brought you to help the kingdom of my father, who at that time had left this world, and ye found me under siege in my castle named the Great Rosebush. Antifon the Brave, whom I had disdained for marriage because his lineage was not equal to mine, wished to take all my land from me. A battle was set between him and yourself, and while he was confident in his great victory because I was a weak damsel, ye put yourself in great danger and fought him, and in the end he was defeated and killed. Thus ye won glory in that vicious battle, and ye gave me freedom and great blessings.

“Then as ye entered the castle, my lord, either because of my beauty or because Fortune wished it so, I was very taken by you beneath that rosebush. While many roses and flowers bloomed above us, I lost my flower, which I had held until then, and this young nobleman was engendered. Given his exceeding handsomeness, the lovely fruit which that sin gave rise to, by the most powerful Lord he shall be forgiven. And this ring, which ye gave me with so much love and which I kept, I send with him as witness of all that this letter recounts. Honor him and love him, my good lord, make him a knight, for he is royal on both sides of his family. From your side he takes your burning heart and from my side the burning love that I had for you, so it should be dearly hoped that all that he has inherited shall be put to good use.”

After the King had read the letter, he immediately remembered the time when he rode as a knight errant in the Kingdom of Denmark, and due to his great deeds at arms he came to be loved by the very beautiful Brisena, princess and daughter of the King, whom he took as his wife, as has been already told. He remembered how he had found Princess Celinda under siege and how everything had happened as was recounted in the letter. Seeing the ring, he was more certain that it was true. And although the great handsomeness of the novice promised that he would be a good knight, he decided to keep the secret until his works gave testimony to his virtue.

So he went hunting with success and returned to the tents very happily, where the Queen was. He went to the tent where they told him King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were to do them honor, and came accompanied by the most honorable knights, all richly dressed. Before them all, he began to praise the great deeds of Galaor and Cildadan, which they deserved, and for the great help he expected to get from them in the war he would face against the best knights in the world. With great pleasure he recounted what he did in the hunt, and how he would not let them eat any of it, laughing and joking with them. He ordered it given to his daughter Oriana and the other princesses and sent word for them to say that they would share their food with King Cildadan and Sir Galaor. He ate there with them happily.

When the tablecloths were lifted, he took Sir Galaor and went beneath some trees, put his arm over his shoulder, and told him:

“My good friend Sir Galaor, as God knows how much I love and appreciate you because your great efforts and counsel have always served me well, and I have great faith in your trustworthiness to the point that what I would not disclose to you I would not tell to my own heart. And leaving aside the most grave things that will always be made known by me to you, I wish you to know something that is happening now.”

Then he gave him the letter for him to read, and when Sir Galaor saw that Norandel was the King’s son, he was delighted, and he said:

“My lord, the effort and danger that ye suffered to save that damsel was well repaid by such a handsome son. And may God save me, I think he will be so good that your concern to keep him a secret now will eventually become a much greater concern to make him known. And if it pleases you, my lord, I would like to have him as a companion all this year so that some of the desire I have to serve you may be employed in something that is so close to your blood.”

“I truly thank you for doing this,” the King said, “because when this is no longer a secret, all the honor that he shall do will be mine. But how shall I give a mere apprentice to you as a companion when we do not know how he will fight, although I would be very happy and honored to have him with you? But if it pleases you, so it shall be done.”

Then they returned to the tent where King Cildadan and Norandel and many other fine knights were. And when they were all quiet, Galaor stood up and told the King:

“My lord, ye know well that the custom in your house and the entire Kingdom of London is that the first boon that any knight or damsel asks of a new knight must rightly be awarded.”

“That is true,” the King said. “But why are you saying that?”

“Because I am a knight,” Galaor said, “and I ask Norandel to grant me the boon that I ask of him, which is that we shall be in each others’ company for a full year, in which time we shall be loyal to each other and not part except for death or imprisonment.”

When Norandel heard this, he was surprised by what Galaor had said and very happy because he already knew of his great fame and had seen the extreme honor that the King gave him among so many other fine and esteemed knights; and because except for his brother Amadis, no one else in the world surpassed him at skill of arms. He said:

“My lord Sir Galaor, considering your great skills and achievements and my small ones, it well seems that ye ask for this boon more from your own great virtue than from my worth. But be that as it may, I grant it and thank you as the thing in this world, except for the service to my lord the King, that could befall me and make me most happy.”

King Cildadan, who had observed what had happened, said:

“Given your age and the handsomeness of you both, for good reason this boon could be asked and given. May God make it good, as it is with things that are asked for with deep thought rather than passing desire.”

Once the companionship between Sir Galaor and Norandel was granted, just as ye have heard, King Lisuarte told them that he had decided to set sail in three days because, according to the news that had come to him from the Island of Mongaza, it was very necessary to go.

“In the name of God it shall be,” King Cildadan said, “and we shall serve you in everything that is to your honor.”

And Sir Galaor said:

“My lord, since ye have the whole hearts of your men, ye need fear only God.”

“So I believe,” the King said, “and although your strength is great, your love and affection make me feel much more secure.”


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chapter 65 [part 2 of 2]

[How Queen Elisena met Galaor, and his concerns about the enmity between his brother Amadis and King Lisuarte.] 

[Illustration for Chapter LXV from the 1531 edition printed by Juan Cromberger in Seville.]  


They continued to travel, as ye hear, until they left that strait and entered the high sea, speaking of many things as those who love each other without reserve. Amadis told them how he had fallen into discord with King Lisuarte, and how all his friends and family who were in the court had joined his side, and why. He told them about the marriage between Sir Galvanes and the very beautiful Madasima, and how the couple had left with a great fleet to go to the island of Mongaza to take it, since it was her inheritance; and he told them about all the knights who had gone with them, and their great desire to help them.

When Sir Galaor heard this, he was very sad over the news and felt grief in his heart, for he understood that those troubles could only grow. He suffered great sorrow because although his brother Amadis, whom he loved so much and owed so much, was on one side, his heart could not join him and instead was given to serve King Lisuarte, with whom he would lodge, as shall be told further on.

Thinking about this and how Amadis had left the King for Firm Island, he took him to one end of the ship and said:

“My lord brother, what grave and great thing could have happened between you two that was larger than the debt and love between us? You seem to have hidden something from me.”

“Good brother,” Amadis said, “since its cause held sufficient force to break the strong ties of debt and love as ye said, ye may well believe that it is more dangerous than death itself, and I beg you not to try to find out what it was.”

Galaor’s face had been somewhat angry, but he made it look happier since Amadis still wished to keep secrets, let the matter drop, and spoke to him of other things.

And so they sailed for four days, then they docked in a town in Gaul named Mostrol, where at that time their father King Perion and their mother the Queen were because it was the closest port to Great Britain and where they could best learn news about their sons. When they saw the galley approaching, they send to learn who was coming. When the messenger arrived, Amadis ordered him be told that King Cildadan and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar were coming, but to say nothing about himself or his brother because he did not want anyone to know.

When King Perion was informed, he was very happy because King Cildadan would give him news about Sir Galaor, for Amadis had let him know that both had been in the house of Urganda. He ordered all his company to mount and went to receive them, for he loved Sir Bruneo deeply because he had been in his court several times and he knew that he had spent time with his sons.

Amadis and Sir Galaor mounted their horses, splendidly dressed, and went by another way to the palace of the Queen, and when they arrived, they told the gatekeeper:

“Tell the Queen that two knights from her family are here who wish to speak with her.”

The Queen ordered them to enter, and when she saw them, she recognized Amadis and Sir Galaor because of Amadis, since they resembled each other so much, although she had not seen Galaor since the giant had taken him, and she called out:

“Oh, my lady Virgin Mary! What is this? Do I see my two sons before me?”

As she said the final word, she fell onto the estrado as if senseless. They knelt to kiss her hands very humbly, and the Queen descended from the estrado and took them in her arms and held them tight, and kissed one and the other so many times they could not speak until their sister Melicia entered. The Queen let them go so they could talk to her, of whose great beauty they were very amazed.

Who could recount the pleasure of this noble Queen in seeing before her those knights, such handsome sons, after all the anguish and pain that had always tormented her spirit knowing the dangers that stalked Amadis, waiting for news of life or death to arrive at any time, and having lost Sir Galaor to fate when the giant took him – and now they had returned with such honor and fame? Truly, no one could say enough who was not she or someone in a similar state.

Amadis told the Queen:

“My lady, we are bringing Sir Bruneo of Bonamar here badly injured. Order that he be done honor as one of the best knights in the world.”

“My son,” she said, “so it shall be done because you wish it and because he has served you so well, and when I cannot attend him, your sister Melicia shall.”

“Do so, my lady and sister,” Sir Galaor said, “since you are a damsel, for you and all damsels owe him honor as one who serves and honors you more than any other. And whomever he loves is fortunate because he easily passed beneath the enchanted arch of loyal lovers, which is a sure sign that he has never strayed.”

When Melicia heard this, her heart trembled, because she knew well that he had done so because of her. Responding as one who was very discrete, she said:

“My lord, I shall do the best I can for him, and may God do His will. I shall do this because ye order it, and because they tell me that he is a good knight who loves you dearly.”

And while the Queen was with her children as ye hear, King Perion and King Cildadan arrived. When Amadis and Galaor saw their father, they came to him and knelt. Each kissed one of his hands, and he kissed them, tears filling his eyes from the pleasure that he felt.

King Cildadan told them:

“My good friends, remember Sir Bruneo.”

Then, after King Cildadan had spoken with the Queen and her daughter, they all went to see Sir Bruneo, whom knights were carrying from the galley in their arms as ordered by King Perion. They put him into an exceedingly rich bed in a room in the Queen’s chambers with a window overlooking a garden with many roses and other flowers. The Queen and her daughter went to see him, and the Queen showed great compassion for his injury, which he accepted with many thanks.

After they were there a while, she told him:

“Sir Bruneo, I shall see you as often as I can, and when something keeps me from you, Melicia shall be with you as your friend and shall care for your wound.”

He kissed her hands for that, and the Queen left, and Melicia and the damsels who attended her remained there. She sat in front of the bed where he could see her beautiful face easily, which made him so happy that if he could, he would not wish to be well, because that sight cured him of a different form of suffering even more cruel and dangerous to his life.

She uncovered the wound and saw that it was large but clean on both sides, so she hoped it would heal quickly and she said:

“Sir Bruneo, I shall take care of this wound for you, but it is necessary for you to follow my orders without fail, because otherwise ye may be in great danger again.”

“My lady,” Sir Bruneo said, “I hope by God to never disobey you, for I am certain that if I were to do so, no one else could help me.”

She understood the intent of these words better than any of the damsels that were there. Then she put an unguent on his leg and in the wound that relieved all its pain and swelling, fed him with her beautiful hands, and told him:

“Rest now, and when it is time, I shall see you.”

As she left the room she met Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, who knew his circumstances and how he loved her. Melicia told him:

“Lasindo, ye know him best, and ask for whatever your lord may need.”

“My lady,” he said, “may it please God for a time to come when he may repay you for your kindness.”

Coming closer to her, so no one else could hear, he said:

“My lady, whoever wishes to cure someone must help him with the most dangerous wound that could befall him, from which he suffers great distress. By God, my lady, have mercy on him, which he needs so much, not for what he suffers from the injury but for what he suffers and bears so cruelly for you.”

When Melicia heard this, she said:

“My friend, I shall remedy what I can see if I can, but as for the other, I know nothing.”

“My lady,” he said, “ye already know of the mortal danger and pain he suffered so deeply for you that he faced the statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa.”

“Lasindo,” she said, “many times it comes to pass that people are cured of such suffering as this which thou sayest that thy lord has with the passage of time and without need for any other remedy, and this may happen to thy lord. For that reason it is not necessary to ask for a remedy for him from someone who cannot give it.”

She left him and went to her mother. And although Lasindo gave this answer to Sir Bruneo, he was not upset, for he believed she meant the opposite. Instead, he often blessed the giantess Andandona for injuring him because due to the injury he enjoyed the pleasure that in its lack the world was nothing but sorrow and loneliness.

And so, as ye hear, King Cildadan and Amadis and Galaor were in Gaul with King Perion, all of them enjoying great pleasure and delight, and Sir Bruneo was being waited on by the lady that he loved so much. And it happened one day that Sir Galaor took aside his father the King and King Cildadan and his brother Amadis, and told them:

“I believe, my lords, that although I were to try, I could not find three others who loved me so much and wished me honor like you. And for that reason, I wish you to advise me about something of which only the soul is more important. It is that ye, my lord and brother Amadis, brought me to King Lisuarte and ordered me with great affection to be his knight. And now, seeing how ye and he have severed your relationship but I have not been dismissed from his house, I find myself truly tormented. If I were to help you, my honor would be greatly lessened, and if I were to help him, it would be as ruinous for me as death to think of opposing you. And so, my good lords, give the solution to me that ye yourselves would do, and think more about my honor than the satisfaction of your wills.”

King Perion told him:

“My son, ye could not err in following your brother against a King so ungrateful and unreasonable. If ye were to stay with him, it would be without regard to the wishes of Amadis, and with just cause ye may leave him, since he has declared himself our enemy and seeks the destruction of your family, which has served him so well.”

Sir Galaor said:

“My lord, I place my hopes in God and your mercy, but where I place my honor, not for anything in this world would I, in a time of such troubles when the King needs my service, depart from him without having been dismissed.”

“My good brother,” Amadis said, “although we are obliged to obey the orders of our father and lord, knowing his wisdom is much greater than our ability to understand whatever he may order, I appeal to his mercy to say that ye should not be separated or dismissed from the King now except for a reason for which no one could blame him. In what happened between him and me there can be no knights on his side so strong, no matter how strong they may be, equal to the Lord on High Who knows the great services I did for King Lisuarte and the bad reward he gave that I did not deserve. And since God is the judge, I fully believe that He shall give each one what he deserves.”

Note the explanation with two meanings: one refers to God in Whom all power is. The other recognizes the importance of his brother’s desire to be in King Lisuarte’s service.

After they had all agreed that Galaor should go to King Lisuarte, King Cildadan immediately  told Amadis and Sir Galaor:

“My good friends, ye know well the outcome of my battle with King Lisuarte in which I was defeated by your skill, taking from me the glory that I and my people might have achieved. And ye also know, my lords, about the agreements and loyalty I have promised, which were that the defeated party would serve the other in specified ways. Since my sad fate was to be defeated by you, I must fulfill my promises, although to my sorrow throughout all the days of my life. The ache and pain in my heart shall make it forever broken. But as we do all things for honor, and honor means denying one’s own will to do that which a man must, I am forced to help that king with as many knights as I promised as long as God wishes. I want to depart with Sir Galaor, for today, as I left Mass, the King’s letter arrived calling on me to help him as I must.”

And thus Sir Galaor and King Cildadan ended their discussion with farewells, and the next day, having said goodbye to the Queen and her daughter Melicia, they got on a ship to go to Great Britain, where they arrived without delay. After landing, they went directly to where they knew King Lisuarte was, who was very angry about what had happened to his men on the island of Mongaza and the great losses inflicted on them. He decided not to wait for the many men he had sent for and instead to go with the knights he could find most quickly.

Three days before he boarded the ships, he told the Queen to bring their daughter Oriana and ladies and damsels because he wished to go hunting in the forest and relax with them. She did so, and the next day, bringing tents and everything necessary, they left with great pleasure and went to stay in a wide field shaded by trees in the forest.

There the King rested that day and took a great many deer and other kinds of game, with which everyone made a great feast. In fact, although he was there, his heart and thoughts were centered on the harm that his men were suffering on the island. When the hunting and feasting was over, he had all the necessary things prepared for his trip.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The second season of “Isabel” has begun

The life of Isabel I of Castile, from 1479 to 1492. 

This scene recreates the Capitulation of Grandada, as painted by Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz in 1882.


Spain’s big hit television show is back on the air (and the internet). The last season of Isabel followed her from her early teen years to her ascent to the throne of Castile in 1474 at age 23. The second season will cover her fight to keep the throne, reconquer Spain from the Moors, reign as an equal with her husband, expel the Jews, and send Columbus to find a western route to the Indies. To the delight of fans, some scenes have been filmed inside the Alhambra.

A third season is planned. It’s also available in the UK with English subtitles, according to Medievalists.net: http://www.medievalists.net/2013/09/28/new-tv-series-isabel/

Isabel and Fernando were reigning when Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo prepared his version of Amadis of Gaul, and his prologue praises their leadership. He fought in the initial campaigns to capture Granada, and they made him a knight for his service. According to the show, which is well researched, Isabel enjoyed chivalry novels.

In a wink to history, the show has recreated a famous painting depicting King Boabdil’s surrender of the city of Granada to Isabel and Fernando. You can learn more about the surrender and see the painting here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitulation_of_Granada

This 51-second scene from the show recreating the painting may give you an idea of why the series has won such a large following. You can watch with the following link, and if you don’t speak Spanish, here’s a translation:  

King Boabdil prepares dismount and bow to King Fernando and Queen Isabel.
Fernando: “You are the sovereign of Granada. You should not bow to us.”
Boabdil rides forward and hands Fernando a key: “Take the key to my city, and take those of us who are in it. We are yours.”
Fernando takes the key and hands it to Isabel: “My lady.” 
Isabel: “Glory is more pleasing when one has suffered so much to achieve it.”



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chapter 65 [part 1 of 2]

How Amadis asked his foster-father Gandales about news from the court. And how he and his companions left for Gaul, and their adventures on an island where they docked and saved Amadis’s brother Galaor and King Cildadan from death at the hands of the giant Madarque. 

[These two statues of wild men, known as Gog and Magog, guard the western entrance to the Cathedral in Ávila, Spain, and intimidate visitors to behave with proper devotion. Photo by Zarateman.] 

After the fleet left Firm Island for the Island of Mongaza, as ye have heard, Amadis stayed behind with Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and in the hurry of the departure he had not had the chance to ask his foster-father Sir Gandales about what had happened to him in King Lisuarte’s court. He called him aside, and as they strolled through a garden where he was staying, he asked what had happened. Sir Gandales told him how he had found the Queen, and the affection with which his message was received and how much she esteemed Amadis, and how he had been asked to try to seek peace between Amadis and the King.

He also told him what had happened with Oriana and Mabilia and how they had responded. He gave him the letter that he had brought from Mabilia, by which Amadis learned that his family had increased, which made him understand that Oriana was pregnant.

Amadis heard all this with great pleasure, although he was very lonely for his lady and his heart found no rest or peace in anything. When he was alone in the garden tower lost in thought, tears fell from his eyes and down his cheeks as a man who had lost all sense.

But he recovered and went to where Sir Bruneo was and ordered Gandalin to put his arms in a ship along with those of Sir Bruneo and everything else they would need because he wished to leave the next day for Gaul, come what may. This was immediately done, and the next morning, they set out to sea, sometimes with good weather and sometimes with bad. In five days, they found themselves at an island covered with trees whose land seemed rich.

Sir Bruneo said:

“My lord, do ye see how lovely that island is?”

“It seems lovely to me,” Amadis said.

“Then let us stop there for a couple of days,” Sir Bruneo said, “and we may find some special adventures there.”

“Let us do so,” Amadis said.

They ordered the captain to bring the ship close to the shore because they wanted to get out and see the island, which seemed beautiful, and to seek adventure there.

“May God keep you away from that island,” the captain said.

“Why?” Amadis said.

“To protect you from death or cruel imprisonment,” he said. “Know that this is Sad Island, where the lord is the brave giant Madarque, the most cruel and untrustworthy there is. And I assure you that for the past fifteen years, no knight, lady, or damsel has gone there who has not been killed or taken prisoner.”

When they heard this, they were astonished and felt no small fear to undertake that adventure. But as they had strong hearts and their true calling was to free the world of evil without fear for their lives, instead they feared the shame that would befall them if they let evil continue, and they told the captain to bring the ship near the shore nonetheless, although this was hard to do and he almost failed.

They took up their arms and mounted their horses, and brought only Gandalin and Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, with them. As they rode inland, they told their squires that if they were attacked by men who were not knights, they should help as best they could. The squires said they would do so.

They rode a while until they were on top of a mountain, and nearby they saw a castle that seemed well built and beautiful. They rode toward it to see if they could learn anything about the giant. When they were close, they heard a horn being blown from the tallest tower so loudly that the valleys echoed.

“My lord,” Sir Bruneo said, “according to the ship’s captain, the horn is blown when the giant leaves for battle, and he only does this if his men cannot defeat or kill the knights they are fighting, and when the giant leaves the castle, he is so enraged that he kills everyone he finds, even sometimes his own men.”

“Then let us go forward,” Amadis said.

Soon they heard an uproar made by many men, and the sound of blows by lances and sharp swords. They raised their weapons and rode toward it. They saw a group of men surrounding two knights and two squires who were all on foot, since their horses were dead, and the men were trying to kill them, but they defended themselves with swords so well it was amazing to see.

Amadis saw his dwarf Ardian coming toward them, and when he saw Amadis’s shield, he immediately recognized it and shouted:

“Oh, my lord Amadis! Rescue your brother Sir Galaor, or they will kill him and his friend King Cildadan!”

When they heard this, Amadis and Sir Bruneo had their horses gallop onward, one beside the other, for Sir Bruneo with all his strength would not be second to Amadis or anyone else in such a moment. As they rode, they saw Madarque approach, the brave giant who was lord of the island, riding a large horse and armed with steel plate armor and heavy mail, and in place of a helmet he wore a thick sallet so polished that it shone like a mirror. In one hand he carried such a heavy lance that any other knight or man could have hardly lifted it, and in the other hand he held a large and heavy shield.

As he came, he shouted to his men:

“Pull back! Ye are so wretched and hapless that ye cannot kill two knights. Ye are weak and tired! Pull back and let my lance savor their blood!”

Oh, how God avenges the unjust and is unhappy with those who persist in arrogance! How quickly this pride is defeated! And thou, reader, look at what happened to Nimrod when he built the tower of Babel, and other examples I could give from Scripture, but which I shall not to avoid verbosity.

And so it happened to Madarque in this battle. Amadis, who had heard this, felt terror at the sight of his horrific size, commended himself to God, and said:

“Now is the time to be helped by you, my good lady Oriana.”

He asked Sir Bruneo to attack the other knights because he wanted to test himself on the giant. He held his lance tightly under his arm and spurred his horse to run as fast at Madarque as it could, and struck him so hard on the chest that the force pushed him doubled-over onto the haunches of the horse. The giant, who gripped the reins in his hand, pulled them so hard that he made the horse buck. It fell on him and broke his leg, and the horse dislocated its shoulder. Neither man nor beast could rise again.

When Amadis saw this, he put his hand on his sword and shouted:

“Fight on, my brother Galaor, for I am Amadis, and I shall rescue you!”

He rushed to them and saw that Sir Bruneo had killed the nephew of the giant with a lance to his throat, and was doing amazing feats with his sword. He struck another knight on top of his helmet, and the sword penetrated to the inner cap, and knocked him to the ground.

Galaor jumped on that knight’s horse and did not leave the side of King Cildadan. When Gandalin arrived, he dismounted, give his horse to the King, and joined the two squires. When all four knights were on horseback, there you could have seen how marvelously they brought down and killed all those who came before them, while the squires inflicted great harm to the men on foot.

Soon most of them were killed or injured, and the rest fled to the castle frightened by the fierce blows they had received. The four knights chased them trying to kill them until they reached the gate of the castle, which was closed and would not be opened until the giant came, in accordance with his orders. When the men who fled saw themselves without protection, those on horseback dismounted, threw their swords away, and ran to Amadis, who had ridden ahead. They knelt at the feet of his horse and asked for his mercy and for their lives, and clung to the hem of his mail to shelter themselves from the other knights who were coming. Amadis protected them from King Cildadan and Sir Galaor, who did not want to leave anyone alive after the great harm they had suffered from them. Amadis made the vanquished knights promise to do what he ordered.

Then they went to the giant, who had lost all his strength, and the horse lay on his broken leg, which was so swollen that the giant was about to lose his soul. King Cildadan dismounted and ordered the squires to help him, and they turned over the horse to free the giant and let him rest. And although the King and Sir Galaor had been brought to the point of death by him, as ye have heard, Galaor did not want to kill the giant, not on the giant’s account, for he was evil and arrogant, but because of Galaor’s affection for his son Gasquilan, King of Suesa, who was a very good knight and who esteemed Galaor. He asked Amadis to do him no harm.

Amadis agreed and told the giant, who had regained consciousness:

“Madarque, ye see what your situation is now, and if ye obey my orders, ye shall live, and if not, death is thine.”

The giant said:

“Good knight, since thou leavest the choice of life or death to me, I shall do thy will to live, I give my word.”

Amadis told him:

“Then all I want from thee is that thou be a Christian and that thou and all your people keep the faith and build churches and monasteries in this realm, and that thou release all the prisoners thou hast, and that from now on thou dost not continue the bad behavior that thou hast practiced until now.”

The giant, fearing death, agreed, although his heart was not true:

“I shall do all that ye order, for I see that by comparing my strength and my men’s to yours, I could not have been defeated for any other reason than my sins, especially by a single blow as I was. And if it pleases you, have me taken to the castle where I shall rest and what ye order shall be done.”

“May it be so,” Amadis said.

Then he ordered the men who had promised to obey him be called, and they picked up the giant and carried him to the castle, where he and Amadis and his companions entered. When they had disarmed, Amadis and Sir Galaor embraced each other many times, weeping with pleasure to see each other again. And so all four were very happy until the giant’s servants told them that they had prepared food, for it was dinner time. Amadis said they would not eat until all the prisoners were brought there so that they would eat together.

“This shall be done,” the giant’s men said, “for he has already ordered them to be freed.”

Then they had them brought in, all hundred of them, including thirty knights and more than forty ladies and damsels. They all approached humbly to kiss Amadis’s hands and asked him to give them his command. He told them:

“My friends, what would please me is if ye went to the kingdom of Queen Brisena and told her that ye were sent there by her knight from Firm Island, and that I have found my brother Sir Galaor. Kiss her hands for me.”

They said they would do everything he had ordered and anything else they could do for him. Then they sat to eat, and they were well served with many delicious dishes. Amadis ordered that their ships be returned, which was done immediately. The former prisoners set sail together to see Queen Brisena to fulfill his orders.

After eating, Amadis and his companions went to the giant’s bedroom to see him, and they found him being cared for by his sister Andandona, also a giant, the most brave and disdainful in the world. She had been born fifteen years earlier than Madarque and had helped raise him. Her white hair was so curly it could not be combed, and her face was so ugly that she looked like the devil. She was exceptionally large and agile, and there was no horse, no matter how wild, nor any other beast that could be mounted, which she could not tame. She could shoot a bow and arrow with such strength and accuracy that she had killed many bears, lions, and boars, and clothed herself with their skins. She spent all the time she could in the mountains hunting wild beasts.

She was a sworn enemy of Christians and did them great harm, and would do much more in the future after she made her brother Madarque their greatest enemy, until in the battle where King Lisuarte fought with King Aravigo and six other kings, King Perion killed the giant, as shall be told further on.

After the knights spent a while with the giant and he promised to become a Christian, they left for their rooms, where they spent the night. The next day they boarded their ships and set sail for Gaul via a branch of the sea with forests on both sides. There the diabolic giant Andandona was waiting to do them harm. When she saw them in the water, she climbed down a hill until she was above them on top of a boulder without letting them see her. She chose the best arrow she had and as they were so close, she aimed and shot with all her strength. She hit Sir Bruneo in the leg, and the arrow passed through it to hit the galley, where it broke.

But with the great force she had used in her eagerness to hurt them, her feet slipped on the boulder and she fell into the water, dropping so hard that it seemed as if a tower had fallen. Those who saw her and her great size, dressed in black bear pelts, thought she was some devil and began to cross themselves and commend themselves to God. Then they saw her swimming so well it was amazing, and they shot at her with bows and arrows, but she dove under the water until she reached the shore. As she climbed out, Amadis and King Cildadan hit her on each shoulder with arrows, but she kept climbing and began to flee through thick brush. King Cildadan, who saw her running with the arrows in her, could not keep himself from laughing.

They went to help Sir Bruneo, stopping the bleeding and carrying him to his bed. Soon the giantess appeared on top of another hill and began to shout:

“If ye think I am the devil, ye should not, for I am Andandona, and I shall do you all the harm I can, and I shall not cease for any reason nor for all the labor it may require.”

She ran across the cliffs so fast that there was no way to hit her, and everyone was surprised, for they had thought she would die from her wounds. Then they learned all about her from two men who were among the prisoners that Gandalin had brought to the galley to take to Gaul, where they were from, and they were astonished. If it had not been for Sir Bruneo, who insisted that they take him as fast as they could to somewhere where his injury could be treated, they would have returned to the island and searched every part of it to find the diabolic giantess and have her burned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The third book of Amadis of Gaul begins [part 3 of 3]

[How Sir Galvanes’ fleet left for the castle of the Burning Lake, and what happened there.] 

[The tribes of Judah and Simeon fighting enemies, from the Queen Mary Psalter, made in England between 1310 and 1320.] 

Sir Gandales and Sadamon traveled hard each day until they reached Firm Island, where those awaiting them were pleased to see them. When they had disarmed, they entered a beautiful garden where Amadis and all the other lords were relaxing. They told them everything that had happened with the King and how it had happened, and the men they had seen that were about to go to the Island of Mongaza, and how they were led by King Arban of North Wales and Gasquilan, King of Suesa, and why Gasquilan had come from such a far land, principally to do battle with Amadis and all the others, and how he was brave, fast, and highly considered by all who knew him.

Gavarte of the Fearful Valley said:

“To cure the painful yearning that has brought him here, he will find some excellent and wise teachers in Sir Florestan and Sir Cuadragante, and if they are busy, I am here to present myself to him because it would not be right for him to have traveled so far in vain.”

“Sir Gavarte,” Amadis said, “I tell you that if I were in pain, I would abandon all medicine and put my hope in God rather than take your cure and purgative.”

Brian of Monjaste said:

“My lord, I think ye are not being as careful about this as is required, and he ought to be helped so he could tell the doctors in his land what he found here for such illnesses.”

And after they had spent a while talking and laughing with great pleasure, Amadis asked if anyone there knew him, and Listoran of the White Tower said:

“I know him very well, and quite a lot about his family.”

“Tell us about him,” Amadis said.

Then Listoran told them who his father and mother were, and how he became king through his great courage, and how he fought very bravely during eight years as a knight, doing such deeds that in all his lands and the surrounding territories, no equal could be found.

“But I think he had not fought against knights like the ones he now comes to challenge. I fought against him in a tourney we held in Valtierra, and in our first encounter, we both fell with our horses to the ground, but the melee was so large that we were not able to attack each other further. The tourney was lost by my side due to knights who did not do what they ought to, and due to Gasquilan’s great courage, who was our mortal enemy. So he won two kinds of honor, and he did not fall from his horse that day except that time when we met each other.”

“Truly,” Amadis said, “ye speak of a great man who comes as a very honorable king to make his skills known.”

“That is true,” Sir Cuadragante said, “but he has erred because he ought to join our side, since we are fewer, and he could show more effort that way without losing honor.”

“He did the right thing,” Sir Galvanes said, “because he came to aid the side that is of greater number but weaker, and he could not display his strength if he did not fight against the best and strongest.”

As they spoke, the ship captains arrived and said:

“My lords, arm yourselves, gather what ye need, and get on the ships because the wind has arisen for the trip ye wish to make.”

Then they all left the garden happily, and the hurry and noise was so great among the men and the equipment of the fleet that one could hardly hear. They quickly armed themselves and put their horses on the ships, since everything else they would need had already been loaded, and with great pleasure they went out to sea.

Amadis and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, who were on a barque among the ships that were being prepared, found themselves next to a ship that carried Sir Florestan, Brian of Monjaste, Sir Cuadragante and Angriote de Estravaus, and they got on board. Amadis embraced them as if he had not seen them for a long time, and the great love he had for them and the solitude that he would face brought tears to his eyes, and he told them:

“My good lords, I am very happy to see you together.”

Sir Cuadragante told him:

“My lord, we shall be together by sea and land, unless fate separates us, and we have agreed to protect each other during this venture.”

They showed him an exceptionally beautiful pendant that they carried, which displayed twelve damsels with white flowers in their hands, not because they loved those damsels but in remembrance of the twelve damsels with which the matter had begun and who had been in great danger in King Lisuarte’s prison. They also carried it to give more honor to Sir Galvanes, whom they were helping, so he could see with what love and affection they held him in that conflict, because among friends, things done willfully are appreciated, and if they are done otherwise, they are considered to the contrary. And thus they ought to be considered, for they shall receive the reward from the recipient according to the affection with which those things are offered.

When Amadis saw the pendant, he was pleased by what it showed, and he told them to be careful to act wisely and not give more reign to their strength than to their discretion, because each time things are done without restraint and careful thought, they are lost, and that is how the side that has fewer and weaker men can defeat their opponents and become the victors over the side that is larger and stronger.

He said that each one should be governor and captain of himself because they were not made to be governed by anyone else but to reign and govern. He said there were great differences between private battles, which up until then they had fought, and general battles with a multitude of men because in them knowledge matters: in the first kind of battle one’s judgement need only concern itself with what each one was doing, but in general battles good men ought to govern the rest. In that way and with greater labor they can gain the most honor and glory, or when they are careless, loss and dishonor.

These and other things that he told them made them very happy. Then he bid farewell to them and, with Sir Bruneo of Bonamar and his foster-father Gandales, he returned to the barque and continued traveling among all the fleet, talking with the knights, until the fleet left for the sea behind Sir Galvanes’s ship, and Madasima brought up the rear in the last ship with a great noise of trumpets and horns, which was wonderful to behold.

And as ye hear, this great fleet left the port of Firm Island to travel to the castle of the Burning Lake, where the island of Mongaza was, leaving Amadis and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar on Firm Island en route to Gaul. The fleet sailed with such good weather that in seven days it docked before dawn at the castle of the Burning Lake, which was next to the seaport. They armed themselves and prepared the launches to land, and made bridges of planks and canvas to bring out the horses, all very quietly so that Count Latine and Galdar of Rascuil, who were in the town with three hundred knights, would not hear them.

But soon the night guards noticed and warned the knights that men had arrived, but they did not know how many because of the dark. When the Count and Galdar dressed and went to the castle and heard the noise of the men, there seemed to be a lot of them, and at the dawn of day they saw many ships.

Galdar said:

“Surely this is Sir Galvanes and his companions and friends who come to attack, and may God not help me if they can take the port from me as easily as they think.”

He ordered all his men to arm themselves, as did they, and they left the town to attack. Galdar went to a port next to the town, and Count Latine to another port at the castle, where Sir Galvanes and Agrajes were with their men. In the lead were Gavarte of the Fearsome Valley, Orlandin, Osinan of Burgundy, and Madancil of the Silver Bridge. Count Latine had many men on foot and horseback.

Galdar and another great company of men came to the other port, where Sir Florestan, Cuadragante, Brian of Monjaste, Angriote and their companions were approaching.

Then a cruel and dangerous battle began between both sides with lances and arrows and stones, so there were many injuries and deaths. Those on the land defended the ports until the third hour. But Sir Florestan found himself on a ship with Brian of Monjaste and Sir Cuadragante and Angriote, where they had their horses and two men with each of them. Florestan had Enil, that fine knight of whom ye have heard in the second book, and Morantes of Salvatria, who was his cousin. Brian had Coman and Nicoran; Cuadragante had Landin and Orian the Brave; and Angriote had his brother Gradovoy and his nephew Sarquiles.

Florestan shouted for them to lower the bridge and so they could leave on horseback.

Angriote told him:

“Why would you want to do something so crazy? If we leave on the bridges, the water is so deep that the horses will have to swim to get to land.”

Sir Cuadragante agreed, but Brian of Monjaste backed Florestan. The bridge was lowered and they both crossed, and at the end they had their horses leap into the water, which was so deep that it reached their saddle trees. Many of their opponents hurried there and attacked with great blows. They defended themselves at great danger until they could no more because their enemies were too many.

But soon Sir Cuadragante and Angriote arrived and joined them, as did the rest of their companions. The slope of the port was so great and the numbers of men who defended it were so many that they could not help. Palomir and Dragonis, when they saw them in such danger, had the trumpets and horns sounded to the shouts of their men, and they sent two galleys to beach with the fate that God might give them. In each one of them were thirty well-armed knights. The blow was so hard that the galleys were broken into pieces.

There the noise was so great with such shouting on one side and the other that it seemed the whole world was in tumult. Dragonis and Palomar were in the water up to their necks and the knights who clung to the planks of the broken ships were pushing each other forward and laboring until the water was up to their waists.

Although there were many well-armed men on the shore who resisted with great courage, they could not prevent Sir Florestan and his men from reaching land, and then Dragonis and Palomir and all their men. When Galdar saw that his men were losing ground and could not hold back such powerful opponents, with great valor and as best he could he had his men pull back or they would all be lost. He himself was badly wounded at the hand of Sir Florestan and Brian of Monjaste, who had knocked him from his horse, and he could barely hold himself on another horse that his men gave him.

As he rode toward the town, he saw that Count Latine came with all his men as fast as he could, since Sir Galvanes and Agrajes and their men, for whom the battle was being fought, had taken the port from him.

Know ye here that the Count had put Dandasido, the son of the old giant, and twenty other men of the village with him into a prison in the highest tower of the castle, suspecting their loyalty. Men were guarding them, and as the battle raged on between the knights, the jailors went to the top of the tower to watch it. When Dandasido realized that they were not being guarded and he had the chance to escape, he told those who were with him:

“Help me and we will get out of here.”

“How can we do that?” they said.

“We will brake the lock to this chain that holds us all.”

Then they put a thick hemp rope that was used to tie their hands and feet at night around the lock as fast as they could, and with the great strength of Dandasido and the rest of the prisoners, they broke the hasp, although it was very thick, and they all left. They quickly took the jailors’ swords, who were on top of the tower, as ye heard, and attacked them as they watched the battle in the ports, paying no attention to anything else, and they killed them all.

They shouted:

“To arms, to arms for our lady Madasima!”

When the people of the town saw this, they took the strongest towers of the town walls and killed everyone they could. When Count Latine realized this, he retreated through the gate he had left from and entered a house near it, with Galdar of Rascuil, and did not dare to continue, expecting death rather than life. The people of the town put up barricades in the streets and did all they could to help, and shouted to those outside to bring Madasima there and they would give her the town.

Cuadragante and Angriote came to a gate to see if it was true, and learned what Dandasido had done, and went to speak to Sir Galvanes. Then they all mounted and brought Madasima, with her beautiful face unveiled, on a white palfrey wearing a golden cape. When they neared the town, its people opened the gates and the hundred most honorable men came out and kissed her hands.

She told them:

“Kiss the hands of my lord and husband Sir Galvanes, who with God’s help freed me from death, and who has given me to you, who are my native people, and whom I lost against all that is right. Take him as your lord if ye love me.”

Then they all came to Sir Galvanes and knelt on the ground, and with very humble words they kissed his hands, and he received them with good will and grace, thanking and praising them for their great loyalty and the love they had for Madasima, their good lady. They entered the town quickly. Dandasido arrived and was very honored by Madasima and all the lords.

When this was done, Imosil of Burgundy said:

“We ought to dispatch all the enemies that are still in the town.”

Agrajes, who was bright with fury, said:

“I have ordered all the barricades be taken from the streets, and the orders will be for all to be dispatched and none be left alive.”

“My lord,” Florestan said, “do not let your ire and fury reign over you and cause you to do something that, after it is done, ye would rather be dead.”

“Ye speak well,” Sir Cuadragante said. “It is enough to put them in our uncle Sir Galvanes’s prison, if that can be done, because it is more useful to the winners to have the losers alive, considering the turns of mutable and uncertain fortune, which can turn on them or the winners just as quickly.”

They agreed that Angriote de Estravaus and Gavarte of the Fearsome Valley would carry that out. When they arrived at the house where Count Latine and Galdar of Rascuil were, they found all their men in poor condition and they themselves badly injured, with great pain in their souls because things had gone so badly. After speaking among themselves, they agreed to put themselves at the will and discretion of Sir Galvanes.

When the town and the castle were fully in the power of Madasima and her defenders, to their great pleasure, the next day they learned that King Arban of North Wales and Gasquilan, King of Suesa, had arrived at the harbor of that island with three thousand knights, landed quickly, and sent the fleet to bring them food.

This troubled them, knowing how many their opponents were and that own their men were in bad shape, but as men who feared shame, they remembered what Amadis had told them: to agree on what to do together, and although some thought it best to leave the castle and fight, they would not do so until all had recovered from their injuries and the horses and arms were in better condition.

And leaving both sides thus, the story shall tell about Amadis and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, who remained on Firm Island.