Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chapter 62 [part 4 of 4]

[How Amadis sadly announced his departure.] 

[From On the Art of Hunting With Birds, from a manuscript commissioned by King Manfred of Sicily in the 13th century.]

Amadis went to his lodging with more anger and melancholy than his face showed, where he found many good knights who always stayed there with him, and he did not want anything about what had happened with the King to be spoken of until he had talked with his lady Oriana. He took Durin aside and sent him to tell his cousin Mabilia on his behalf that he needed to see Oriana that night, and she should wait for him in the old passageway under the garden, where he had entered on other occasions.

With that, he returned to the knights and ate and enjoyed himself with them as he had on previous days. And he told them:

“My lords, I would very much like all of you to join me here tomorrow because I have to speak about something very important.”

“So it shall be,” they said.

When the day had passed and the night came, after people had supped and gone to bed, Amadis took Gandalin and went to the garden. He entered the underground passage, as he had done before, and arrived in the chamber of his lady Oriana, who was waiting for him with a loyal and true love equal to his own. With many kisses and embraces they were joined without envy for anyone else who truly loves in this world, believing their own to be without equal.

As they lay in bed, Oriana asked him why he had sent word that he need to talk with her. He told her:

“Because something very strange happened to me and my cousin Agrajes and Sir Galvanes with your father.”

Then he told her everything that had happened, and how the King finally told them that the world was exceedingly large and they should seek in it someone who would recognize them better.

“My lady,” Amadis said, “since that pleases him, then we ought to do it, because otherwise all the fame and glory that I have won by keeping your delightful memory in my thoughts would be lost and my honor would be diminished so much that no knight in the world would be as lessened and debilitated as I would be. So I ask you, my lady, not to order me to do anything else, because, since I am more yours than my own, that loss would reach you, and although it would be hidden to all, it would be plain to you, my lady, and it would always put your spirit in great anguish.”

When Oriana heard this, although her heart broke, she became as strong as she could, and she said:

“My true beloved, for little reason ye ought to complain about my father, because ye have served more me than him, and by my order ye came to his court, and from me ye are and shall always be rewarded while I live. And if any blame could be laid on my father, it is only in believing that things were done in his service when they were secretly done on my orders, and these deeds oblige him not to give you such an insolent reply. Although your departure will be as grave for me as if my heart were broken into ever-smaller pieces, it pleases me to do as ye ask, considering more what is right than my will and my excessive love for you. Due to the reign that I have over you, I have in my hand more the remedy than my pleasure, although I know that by losing you, what that remains for my father will give him great loss and loneliness.”

Amadis, hearing this, kissed her hands many times, and said:

“My true lady, if until now I have received many great gifts from you, from which my sad heart was turned from death to life, this must be considered greater because of the transcendent difference that issues of honor have over delights and pleasures.”

In this and other things they spent the night talking, mixing their great pleasure with their many tears, thinking of the deep loneliness that awaited them. But as day approached, Amadis arose, accompanied by his very beloved cousin Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark. He humbly begged them to console Oriana, and they agreed, weeping, and he left them.

When he arrived at his lodging, he spent the rest of the night and some part of the day sleeping. But when the time came, all the knights ye have heard of arose from their beds and came to him, and after they heard Mass, they gathered together on horseback in a field.

Amadis spoke to them thus:

“As ye all know, my good lords and honorable knights, after I left the Kingdom of Gaul and came to Great Britain, and my brothers and friends followed me, things happened that placed King Lisuarte in greater or lesser honor, and so there is no reason to remind you of them. I only believe that it must rightly be said that ye and I should expect to have been justly rewarded, but due to inconstant Fortune who in her usual way changes and reverses events, or due to bad counsel, or perhaps due to the advanced age that has come over the King, we have encountered a situation much to the contrary of our expectations.

“Agrajes and Sir Galvanes and I had asked the King to give Madasima her land so that when she and Sir Galvanes were married, it would remain in his reign and vassalage. But not considering the great worth and high lineage of this knight, and the other services he had received from him, the King not only did not wish to grant us that, but we were denied by him with an answer so insolent and false from a mouth previously so truthful and with such discreet wisdom that it would be difficult for you to believe me.

“But it cannot be hidden because of how it ended, and so, my lords, know ye that at the end of our conversation, when we said how poorly we were recognized for our services, he told us that the world is large and we should travel through it and look for someone who would recognize us better. And so, because we have been obedient while in agreement and friendship, we should be obedient in discord and enmity, and we should comply with what he thought we should do. It seems to me to be right that ye know, because it involves not only ourselves in particular but everyone in general.”

When those knights heard what Amadis said, many were amazed, and they said to each other that their small services would be would receive a very poor reward if the great ones by Amadis and his brother had been forgotten. Immediately their hearts were moved to serve the King no more and to do him disservice when they could.

Angriote de Estravaus, who wanted to share in whatever good or ill befell Amadis, said:

“My lords, I have known the King for a long time, and I have always seen him as very calm in all his business. He has never become angry except with great cause and just reason, so I cannot believe that what has happened to Amadis and these knights was an act of his own nature or volition. Instead I truly think that deceitful people have overcome all his wisdom and good judgement. For that reason, I cannot blame the goodness and great virtue of the King, and what I truly think has happened is I have seen him speak in recent days with Gandandel and Brocadan more than usual. They are false and dishonest and have forgotten God and the world and think to seek gain to themselves and their sons for what their evil works do not deserve. I think this has caused the change in the King.

“And so that ye may see how the justice of God is executed, I wish to arm myself at once and tell them that they are vile and envious and have done great treason and dishonesty to the King and Amadis, and I will fight both of them. And if their age excuses them, they should send their sons to fight me alone and bear the evil deeds of their fathers.”

He was about to leave, but Amadis stopped him and said:

“My good friend Angriote, may it not please God that your good and loyal body be placed in danger for what is not known to be true for certain.”

He replied:

“I am certain that it is thus, because I have known them for a long time. And if the will of the King were to say the truth, I know that he would say that I have told the truth.”

Amadis said:

“If ye love me, do not try to solve this, so that the King does not receive an affront. And if they are as ye say, presenting themselves as my friends when they have been my enemies, they will get what those lies deserve. When it is discovered and known, ye may more justly and with greater cause proceed against them. And know that then I shall not let ye avoid it.”

Angriote said:

“Although it is against my will, I shall let it go this time, since it pleases you, but it shall remain for the future.”

Then Amadis, turning to the knights, told them:

“My lords, I wish to bid farewell to the King and Queen if they will see me. Then I will go to Firm Island. Those of us who wish to live there together shall receive honor in addition to pleasures because that land is very agreeable, abounding in all good things and good hunting and beautiful women, who are the reason, wherever they may be, that knights are praised and proud. I have many precious jewels there of great worth so that our needs may be fulfilled.

“Many people will come there who know us, as well as strangers, both men and women, who will need our help. There we shall return whenever we please to seek shelter and rest from our labors. And along with Firm Island, during the life of my father, King Perion, and afterward, the Kingdom of Gaul will also be there for us in Little Brittany, for I have letters giving it to me now and after his days. Ye can count on all this without a doubt. But I also remind you that the Kingdom of Scotland is there for my cousin Agrajes, and that the Kingdom of Queen Briolanja neither for good nor ill will be closed to us.”

“My lord Amadis, you may say this with great truth,” said a knight named Tantiles, majordomo and governor of the Kingdom of Sobradisa. “The beautiful Queen whose kingdom ye returned to her shall always be at your command.”

Sir Cuadragante said:

“Now, my lord, bid farewell to the King, as shall those who love you and your company.”

“So it shall be,” Amadis said, “and I hold in esteem those who at this time wish to honor me, but I say that those who stay with the King to their advantage do me no dishonor. Truly, I believe that an equally good lord could not be found anywhere at this time.”

The King rode past with Gandandel at his side and many other knights. He had gone hunting with falcons, and although he rode close by, he did not speak to them nor look at them, and returned to his palace.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chapter 62 [part 3 of 4]

[How Amadis angrily decided to leave King Lisuarte’s company.] 

[Detail of a Church in Urnieta, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]

Several days later, Amadis, Angriote de Estravaus, and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar could arise from their beds because their injuries had greatly improved. One morning, in fine clothing, they mounted their horses, and after hearing Mass, they went to the King’s palace, where they were very well received by everyone except the King, who did not look at them or welcome them as he used to, which many people wondered about.

Yet Amadis was not concerned because he did not think that it could have been due to ill will. But the lying Gandandel, who was there, laughed and embraced Amadis and said:

“At times men say the truth and no one wants to believe it.”

Amadis did not reply. Gandandel left him, seeing that Angriote and Sir Bruneo were very annoyed because they had been received so badly. He went to the King and said quietly, so that no one could hear:

“Do ye not see, my lord, the attitude of those knights toward you?”

The King was quiet and did not wish to respond in any way. Amadis, with good will and not suspecting any scheme so falsely woven, came to the King with great humility, bringing Galvanes and Agrajes with him, and said:

“My lord, we wish to speak with you, if you please, in the presence of anyone ye may wish.”

The King said that Gandandel and Brocadan should be there. This pleased Amadis very much because in his heart he considered them good friends. Then they all went to a garden, where the King sat down beneath some trees and they sat near him.

Amadis said:

“My lord, it has not been my fate to abide with you as well as my heart wishes, and although I do not deserve it from you, I have confidence in your virtue and nobility, so I wish to dare to ask a boon from you that will serve you well, and with it ye would do what is wise and right.”

“Certainly,” said Gandandel, “if it is thus, ye ask for a beautiful boon, and it is good for the King to know what it is.”

“My lord,” Amadis said, “what I and Agrajes wish to ask with Sir Galvanes, who has served you well, is that ye give the island of Mongaza, and yet keep it in your reign and vassalage, to Madasima and Sir Galvanes at their wedding. In this, my lord, ye give a great gift to Sir Galvanes, who is of high nobility and has no land of his own, and who has served you well, and ye shall show mercy to Madasima, who by us is disinherited.”

When Brocadan and Gandandel heard this, they looked at the King with expressions on their face to not grant it. But the King spent some time in silence, thinking of the great worth of Galvanes and how he had served him, and how Amadis had won that land with so much danger to his life, and he recognized that Amadis had asked for a reasonable, just, and honest thing.

But as his will was injured, he did not make use of virtue, as he was obligated, and he answered as if it were not within his ability to do it:

“It is not advisable to ask for what cannot be done. I say this to you because ye ask for something that I gave to the Queen for her daughter Leonoreta fully five days ago.”

He meant this answer more as an excuse than as the truth. Gandandel and Brocadan were very pleased with it, and made expressions on their faces to show he had responded well. But Agrajes, who had a stormy heart, when he heard such an unsavory response, had little moderation with which to hide it. He could not be quiet and with great ire said:

“Ye have given us well to understand, my lord, that we are worth little, and our services, given these thanks, have hardly done us any good. In fact I think we could have spent our lives otherwise.”

“Nephew,” Sir Galvanes said, “services are worth very little when they are done for those who do not know how to appreciate them, so men ought to look for places where they can be well employed.”

“My lords,” Amadis said, “do not complain if the King has not done what we ask, for he has already given it. But I must ask that he give you Madasima and keep the land, and I shall give you Firm Island, where ye may be with her until the King has something else to give you.”

The King said:

“I shall keep Madasima in my prison in exchange for her land, and if it is not given, I shall order her head cut off.”

Amadis said:

“Surely, my lord, ye ought to respond with more moderation, if ye please, and do no injury if ye wish to show greater appreciation.”

“If I do not appreciate you,” the King said, “the world is exceedingly large. Travel through it and seek someone who might appreciate you.”

Oh, what infamous words! And even yesterday, we could say, the knight Amadis was so loved and so appreciated by King Lisuarte, who had believed that with Amadis and his brothers and family he could quickly and easily become lord of the world. The King had watched with tears in his eyes the devotion with which Amadis placed his life in danger when he battled Ardan Canileo, as Lisuarte had arranged. He knew at the time that Amadis had lost his exceptional sword, and contrary to the pledge he had made in front of his court to give his own sword to no knight, he had begged and urged Amadis to take it. He thought about the great services he had received from him and how they had saved his life and kingdom.

And now his deep love and his outstanding judgement and discretion were not enough to protect him from a few inconstant words said by a man of ill fate and ill works. He did not see the evidence that would have made him doubt those words and prevent him from becoming upset and darkening his memory to all that which had been done in the past. To me it seems a great and noteworthy thing, for neither the weapons of an enemy nor cold poisons can place kings and great lords in such danger and surround them with such harm as mere ears. Everything good and evil that enters through them moves the heart and guides the will to either greater justice or dishonesty.

And so, great lords, to whom such power is given to satisfy your appetites and wills, protect yourself from evil men who care little for themselves or their souls. Ye must rightly believe that they care much less for yours.

Returning to the issue at hand, when Amadis heard that dishonest and unsavory reply from the King, he told him:

“Truly, my lord, to my thinking up until now I did not think that another king or great lord in the world could come close to you in wisdom, but now, to my sorrow, ye have shown yourself very distant and contrary. It behooves us to look for new lives with this new advice and edict.”

“Do as ye will,” the King said, “and so shall I.”

Then he arose with great anger and went to see the Queen, with Brocadan and Gandandel, who praised him highly for having dispatched and freed himself from those who could have done him great harm. Lisuarte told the Queen what he had said to Amadis and how that had made him happy.

But she said that she received his happiness with sadness because, ever since Amadis and his brother and family members had joined his court, the King’s affairs had always advanced and improved, and none of them had done anything contrary to him. If they had left only at his decision, then his wisdom must have decreased, and if it had been at the counsel of others, they must have acted out of envy of them and their good works. And not only had the present been harmed but also the future, for others would see how the grandeur of these knights was discarded and unrecognized although their great services deserved much honor and many gifts. Soon other knights would have little hope for their own reward, although it would be so much less, and they would rightly decide to leave and look for another lord who would give them better recognition.

But the King told her:

“Speak no more of that, for I know what I am doing. And say what I told you, that ye asked for that land for Leonoreta and I gave it to you.”

“I shall say so, as ye order,” the Queen said, “and may God wish it to be for the best.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Seville’s medieval emblem. 

The coat of arms of Seville includes a king on a throne flanked by two archbishops over the emblem NO8DO.

Three stories explain the origin of the emblem of the city of Seville, Spain, and all three go back to the Middle Ages.

Two of them interpret the emblem as “no-madeja-do.” In Spanish, a madeja is a skein of yarn, and no me ha dejado means “You did not desert me.”

In one story, when King Ferdinand III of Castille conquered the city from the Moors in 1248, he said “No me ha dejado” in reference to the aid of the Virgin Mary.

The other story, the most popular one, is about his son, King Alfonso X, who got into a civil war with his son Sancho over succession in 1282. Seville was one of the few cities that remained loyal to Alfonso, and in gratitude he granted the emblem to the city’s coat of arms as a tribute to its loyalty.

Another explanation of the emblem takes note the use of similar symbols to NO8DO by other medieval cities and locations, including London. The emblem NODO represents Nomen Domine, “In the name of God.” The 8 symbol represents a nodo or knot and repeats the abbreviation.

Like so many details of Spanish history, the centuries have erased the exact origin of the emblem, but without a doubt its goes back to the Middle Ages. These days you can find it in Seville on everything from manhole covers and buses to the city’s flag.
(This is the 200th post on the Amadis of Gaul blog. Thank you for your support!)