Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chapter 63 [part 2 of 3]

[How Queen Briolanja arrived at Firm Island, and the wonders she saw there, and how she tested the forbidden chamber.] 

[Alexander the Great fighting a dragon from Le Livre et la vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre, on display at Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination at the British Library.]

At this time one of Queen Briolanja’s damsels arrived with orders to tell Oriana what had happened at Firm Island, which pleased everyone because the Queen was well loved by all. She said to Oriana:

“My lady, I have come to you on behalf of Briolanja to tell you about the wonders she found at Firm Island, for I saw it all and ye can know it from me.”

“May God give her a long life,” Oriana said, “and good fortune to you for the effort ye have undertaken.”

Then everyone came to listen to her story, and the damsel said:

“My lady, know that after Briolanja left here, she arrived with all her company at the Island, where she spent five days. She was immediately asked if she wished to try the test of the chamber or the arch of love, and she said that she wished to leave those two tests for the end. Instead they took her to some beautiful houses a league from the castle, which were abundantly provisioned and which had been some of the famous principal residences of Apolidon.

“When it came time to eat, they brought us to a beautiful great hall, marvelously decorated, and at one end of it was a very deep, large, dark cave, so frightening to look into that none of us dared to go near. At the other end of the grand hall was a splendid tower, and from the windows one could see everything that happened in the hall. They had all us women go up into it, where we found tables and estrados placed next to the windows. There the Queen and ourselves were very well served with many kinds of delicacies by very attentive ladies and damsels.

“Below in the hall, as ye have heard, the knights and our other people ate, and they were served by knights of that land, and after they had put the second course in front of them, they heard loud hissing from the cave and hot smoke came out. Soon a great serpent emerged and stood in the middle of the hall, brave and terrifying, and no one dared look at it. Smoke came from its nostrils and it whipped its tail so hard that the entire hall shook.

“And then behind it two enormous lions came out of the cavern, and they all began to fight so bravely and so fiercely that no man’s heart was not terrified. The knights and other people abandoned their tables and left the hall as fast as they could. Although the windows from which we watched with Briolanja were very high, even still we could not help but be very afraid and terrified.

“The battle lasted a half-hour, and at its end the lions were so tired that they lay on the ground as if they were dead, and the serpent so tired and weary it hardly breathe. But after it had rested a while, it took one of the lions in its mouth and put it in the cave, returned for the other one, threw it inside, and then leapt in after them.

“They did not reappear for the rest of the day, and the men of the island laughed heartily at our terror. When we were sure they would not come back that day, we returned to the tables and finished our meal.

“And so we passed the day, and that night in a good lodging, and the next day they took us to an even more wonderful site, where we passed the day in great pleasure and were provided with all the things we needed. When it was time to sleep, they took us to a fine and beautiful chamber that was amazing to behold, where there was a bed of rich, costly fabric for Briolanja and other beds exceedingly fine for us.

“We were tired and sleepy, but after we had lain down and midnight had passed, the doors opened so loudly that we were all awakened and frightened. We saw a stag enter with lit candles on its horns, and the entire chamber was illuminated as if it were day. Half of it was white as snow, and the neck and head as black as tar, and one horn seemed gilt and the other vermillion.

“Behind it came four dogs of similar appearance, and all of them were harassing it, so it was sorely afflicted. And behind it came a gold and ivory horn that was playing itself and floating in the air as if someone were holding it in their hand. It sounded a hunting call that drove on the dogs.

“They would not let the stag rest, and it ran from one side of the chamber to the other, jumping over our beds, which made them shake, and at times it tripped on the beds and fell. We got up in our nightshirts and with our hair loose, fleeing from the stag, and some of us hid under our beds. But the dogs did not stop pursuing it as hard as they could, and when the stag saw that it had no place to hide in the chamber, it jumped out of the window as fast as it could and the dogs leapt out after it, and so we were very relieved.

“We picked up the bedding, which had been made disorderly, and covered ourselves, and we gave Briolanja, who was very worried, a robe to wear. When we ceased to be afraid, we laughed a lot at the disarray in which we found ourselves. As we were remaking the beds, a lady and two damsels came through the door, with a little girl carrying candles ahead of them, and the lady said to Briolanja:

“ ‘My lady, what happened to you that ye are awake?’

“She told her:

“ ‘My friend, such a commotion that it would be hard to recount.’

The lady laughed a lot, and said:

“ ‘Well, my lady, lay down and sleep, for tonight nothing more will happen for you to fear.’

“With that assurance we straightened our beds and slept the rest of the night. The next day, early in the morning, we left and went to a forest where there were many tall pine trees and beautiful gardens, and we rested in tents alongside a river. There we found a round house of twelve marble pillars and a strangely constructed roof. Between the pillars were glass panels locked in place and made in such a subtle way that everyone outside could see what was inside. It had two doors worked with sheets of gold and silver that were amazingly valuable.

“On top of each post inside the house was a copper statue made to resemble a giant that held a powerful bow whose arrows had red-hot iron tips as bright as if they had just come out of a fire. They said that nothing can enter there without being immediately turned into ashes by the fire on those arrows, because the statues instantly shoot their bows and never miss their target.

“As we watched with Briolanja, they put two fallow deer and a buck inside, and immediately arrows were shot into them, then the arrows flew back to the archers and the animals were reduced to ashes. On the doors of the palace, an inscription said:

“ ‘Let no man or woman dare to enter this house if they do not love each other as much and as loyally as Grimanesa and Apolidon, who made this enchantment, and they must enter together the first time, for if each one were to do it alone, they would suffer the most cruel death ever seen. This enchantment will last until a man and woman come who due to their great loyalty in love and the great skill at arms of the knight, shall enter in the beautiful enchanted chamber and lie together as one. And when they are wed, then all the enchantments of Firm Island shall be undone.’

“We stayed there that day, and Briolanja sent for Isanjo and Enil and told them that we no longer wished to see anything more besides the arch of love and the forbidden chamber. She asked Isanjo about the serpent and lions, and the stag and dogs.

“ ‘My lady,’ he said, ‘we know only that the serpent and lions come out each day at the time that ye saw them and fight that way, and of the buck and dogs I tell you they come to that chamber every night at the hour in which ye saw them, and they turn to leave by the window, with the dogs behind the buck, and they all enter a lake nearby that we think leads to the sea. I do not know what more to tell you, my lady, except that it would take you more than a year to see all the great marvels that are on this island.’

“The next morning, we mounted our palfreys and returned to the castle. Immediately Briolanja went to the arch of the loyal lovers and entered through its forbidden pillars as she who had never erred in her love for even a moment. The statue played a very sweet song with its trumpet, so sweet that it made us faint. And when Briolanja entered inside, where the images of Apolidon and Grimanesa were, the song stopped with sweet final notes that were wonderful to hear. There she saw the statues as beautiful and new as if they were alive, so that although she was alone, she felt as if they were with her. Immediately she saw freshly carved letters in the jasper that said:

“ ‘This is the name of Briolanja, daughter of Tagadan, King of Sobradisa. This is the third damsel who has entered here.’

“Immediately she thought to leave, for she was very afraid to be alone, since no one in her company could enter. She left and went to her lodging. On the fifth day she went to test the forbidden chamber, and she was dressed so richly it was astonishing. She wore nothing on her hair besides a beautiful golden headband set with precious gems, and all those who saw her said that if she did not enter the chamber, then no one in the world could, and that when she did, all the enchantments would end.

“She commended herself to God and entered the forbidden site and passed the copper pillar and reached the marble one, and read the words that were written on it. When she was three steps away from the door of the chamber, three hands grabbed her by her beautiful, precious hair and tossed her away without pity. And like the rest, they threw her outside of the protected site, and she was left so battered that we could not revive her.”

Oriana, whose heart had felt faint and sad as she listened, became very happy. She looked at Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark, and they at her, and they were all pleased.

The damsel said:

“We spent the rest of the day there, and the next day Briolanja left for her kingdom.”

After the news had been told, the damsel left to go to her lady, and she carried messages from Queen Brisena and Oriana and the other ladies and damsels for her.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chapter 63 [part 1 of 3]

How Amadis departed from King Lisuarte with ten other knights, who were his friends and family and were the best and most striving of the court. They left for Firm Island, where Briolanja was attempting the tests of the true lovers and the forbidden chamber. And how they decided to free Madasima and her damsels from the control of the King. 

[Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.] 

When Amadis saw the disdain that the King held for him, he brought all the knights he had with him to say farewell. He entered the palace hall, where everyone was because the tables had been set to eat, and when they saw the look on his face, they came to hear what he would say.

Amadis came before the King and said:

“My lord, if ye have wronged me in any way, God and ye know it, and I shall say no more now. Although my services were great, ever greater was my will to repay the honors that I had received from you. Yesterday ye told me to travel around the world and look for someone who would recognize me better than you, giving me to understand that it would be more agreeable for you if I were to leave your court. Since this is what pleases you, I ought to do so. I cannot ask to leave your vassalage, for I was never yours, nor of anyone else but God. But I bid farewell to your great desire to do me honor and mercies when it pleased you to have such a desire, and farewell to the great love I had to serve and repay you.”

And then the other knights bid him farewell: Sir Galvanes, Agrajes, Forestan, Dragonis and Palomir, cousins of Amadis; Sir Bruneo of Bonamar and his brother Branfil; Angriote de Estravaus, his brother Grindonan, and his nephew Pinores.

Sir Cuadragante came before the King and told him:

“My lord, I only stayed with you at Amadis’s request, wishing and desiring his love, since reason found a way around the feeling I had for him that had kept my honor distant. His cause was yours, so I shall not remain here any longer, for my small services would have little hope for reward when his great ones fail.

“Poorly have ye recalled that he took you from the hands of Madanfabul when no one else could save you; and that he gave you a victory in the battle of King Cildadan; and how much blood he and his brothers and family members lost there; and that he removed me from your way, as well as Famongomadan and his son Basagante, the strongest giants that there were in the world; and Lindoraque, son of the giant of the Forbidden Mountain, who was one of the best knights that I knew of; and Arcalaus the Sorcerer.

“All this has been erased from your memory and won a poor prize. If all these whom I named were to be placed in battle against you, and Amadis were not at your side, think about what could become of you.”

The King responded:

“Sir Cuadragante, I understand well from your words that ye do not love me, nor do ye speak to my benefit, nor do ye have such a debt with Amadis that ye ought to wish him good or benefit, but perhaps what ye said is not as certain in your mind as it was in your words.”

Sir Cuadragante said:

“Ye may speak as ye please, as is fitting for the great lord that ye are, but it is certain that ye have not been moved against Amadis with false words, as others may be moved only later to recognize their error. And if I am a good or bad friend of Amadis, I shall soon show it.”

And he withdrew. Then Landin stepped forward and said:

“My lord, I did not find help nor aid in your house but in that of Amadis, and so, I take my leave of you, and I wish to leave with him and my uncle, Sir Cuadragante.”

And the King replied:

“Truly, I think that ye would not be a good friend of ours.”

“My lord,” he said, “I am what they were for you, thus I have no need to leave their command.”

In the palace at that time were Sir Brian of Monjaste, a very esteemed knight, son of King Ladasan of Spain and a sister of King Perion of Gaul; Grandiel; Orlandin, son of the Count of Urlanda; Grandores; Madancil of the Silver Bridge; Listoran of the White Tower; Ledadin of Fajarque; Transiles the Proud; and Sir Gavarte of Valtemoroso. When they saw those knights leaving the King for the love of Amadis, they all came before him and said:

“My lord, we came to your court to see Amadis and his brothers and to win his love, and since this was our main purpose, there is no reason to stay.”

When all these knights had made their farewells, as ye have heard, and no one else remained, Amadis wished to say goodbye to the Queen, but the King did not want that because she had always been opposed to him in this dispute. Instead she sent Sir Grumedan to say goodbye.

Amadis left the palace and went to his lodging, and all those knights went with him, where they found the tables set and were served many fine delicacies. Then they armed themselves and mounted their horses, and they numbered fully five hundred knights, among them the sons of kings and counts and others of high rank, as equal in lineage as in great prowess and skill at arms, and who were known throughout the world for their great deeds. They took the road leading directly to Firm Island and dwelled that night on the seashore three leagues away, where Amadis had ordered tents to be set up.

Mabilia, who watched them from a window in the Queen’s palace, and saw how they left so handsomely, and how their armor was new and fine, and how the bright sun struck it and made it shine. No one who saw them did not marvel and consider the King unfortunate to have lost such knights as Amadis and those who followed him.

She went to Oriana and told her:

“My lady, stop feeling sad and look at your vassals, and let your heart be content to love such a man. Although he has been serving your father, he always lived as a knight-errant. Now that he is not in your father’s service, he will prove himself to be a great and powerful prince, which will only increase your greatness, my lady.”

Oriana, very consoled by these words, looked at them, and with her great courage and discretion remedied the passion and affliction that tormented her will and desire.

To do Amadis honor, others accompanied him as he left: King Arban of North Wales; Grumedan, the tutor of the Queen; Brandoivas; Quinorante; the King’s nephew Giontes, and Listoran, the good jouster. They went with him apart from the rest, very sad because he was departing from the King. Amadis asked them to remain his friends as much as they could without damaging their honor, for he would always hold them in the same esteem as he had until then. And although the King had disdained him unjustly, they should not disdain the King nor cease to serve and honor him with the loyalty to which they were obligated, nor cease to love him with all their hearts.

Amadis told them:

“I ask you, my lords, to tell the King that what Urganda told me in front of him seems clear now: that the reign won for another would have no other reward than anger and separation against my will, since just when I won the Island of Mongaza for his kingdom, his will was turned against me for no reason, as ye have seen. And often these things are amended by the just Judge, Who puts all things right.”

Sir Grumedan said that he would tell the King everything as he had been instructed, and may Urganda be damned, for she had been so truthful. With that they returned to the town, and immediately Sir Guilan the Pensive came to Amadis and said, weeping:

“My lord, ye know well my situation, and I cannot follow my own will or heart but that of the woman for whom I am put in mortal anguish and pain, and who has forbidden me from going with you. I am very ashamed for that because I wish I could repay the great honors that I have always received from you and your brothers, but I cannot.”

Amadis, who knew of the great and excessive love of this knight, and how he himself loved Oriana and feared her, embraced him and said, laughing:

“Sir Guilan, my great friend, it would not please God that such a good and understanding man as yourself were to do wrong to your lady or disobey her orders, nor shall I advise you to do so, for then I would not be your friend. Instead, serve and fulfill her will and that of your lord the King. I am certain that your loyalty shall remain firm wherever ye may be, and I shall have you as a friend the same as I have always had you.”

“Now, my lord,” Sir Guilan said, “go where ye will, and I trust in God that ye shall always have my service.”

Then he departed from him, and Amadis and his company spent that night on the sea shore, where they lodged. They were all happy, and they gave strength to one another, saying that God had given His Mercy to leave the King, who held their services as so little, and it was better to know about that disappointment sooner rather than to have wasted more time there.

But Amadis’s heart, although it was strong in many other ways, was very weakened by departing from his lady, not knowing or imagining when he could see her again. And so they passed the night very pleasantly with everything they needed. The next day they mounted and got on the road to Firm Island.

The day after Amadis and his companions left, the King, having heard Mass, sat in his palace hall as was his custom. He looked from one end to the other and saw very few of the knights that used to be there. He remembered how in a fit of anger he had turned against Amadis, and he became so lost in thought that he noticed nothing else.

When Gandandel and Brocadan, who had learned what Angriote had said about them, saw the King that way, they were very frightened, thinking that the King would not consider good the counsel that they had given against Amadis. But since it could no longer be taken back, they decided to continue with their evil plan, for great mistakes compound themselves. They schemed to be sure those knights would not return to the King, or else they themselves would be killed. So they came before him at once together, and Gandandel said:

“My lord, starting today ye may relax and rest, for those men who could do you harm have left  your service, for which ye should give God many thanks. We shall take charge of your lands and court with greater care than we would for our own. And, my lord, when ye think of the gifts ye would have given them, from which ye are now free, your spirit will feel much more relaxed.”

The King looked at them angrily and said:

“I am amazed that ye tell me to put my lands and court in your hands as if all the care that I give them is not enough, and ye, in whom I do not see such discretion, think that ye can do better. And even if ye were, it would not make my vassals nor those of my court content to be governed by you. And about this that ye tell me of being able to keep what I would have given those knights, I would wish to know how I could better employ it to my honor and service. Because nothing is well employed except in the power and worth of men, and if anything left my hand and purse for them, my honor was defended by it and my kingdom was increased, and in the end it all returned to my hand. So anything that is employed as it should be remains as a fine treasure that is never lost. I do not wish ye to speak to me about this because I shall never take your advice.”

He arose and left them, and ordered the hunters be called and went to the countryside. The two schemers remained behind, very frightened by that reply, for they had seen that the King now understood the bad counsel they had given him.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Summary, Chapters 58 to 62

“When the king has a sound mind, receives good counsel, and is wise without malice, he does well for his people — and the contrary is also true.” Medieval saying collected by Sir Juan Manuel in El Conde Lucanor. 

Duratón River Gorges Natural Park near Sepúlveda, Spain. It includes the 12th century hermitage and monastery of St. Fructus. Photo by Txo.


Chapter 58

King Lisuarte had been challenged months earlier to battle by King Cildadan of Ireland, and the battle is finally about to begin. Amadis, still known as Beltenebros, goes to the site of the battle with his squire, Enil, and volunteers to join the hundred knights who will fight alongside King Lisuarte. Enil begs Beltenebros to knight him so he can join the King’s company.

Among King Cildadan’s men are many treacherous giants, including Madanfabul, who has been ordered to wait on a small hill with ten other knights and attack after the battle is underway to try to kill or capture Lisuarte.

The battle is cruel, and after several hours, more than half the knights on both sides have died. At that point, Madanfabul attacks and drags King Lisuarte from his horse, holding him under his arm, to carry him off as a prisoner. Beltenebros comes to his rescue and cuts off the giant’s arm — and he shouts: “Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!”

This rallies Lisuarte’s men and they win, led by Amadis. But Galaor has been badly injured. Amadis believes he will die, but twelve maidens arrive and ask to take Galaor away and give him medical care. They also ask King Lisuarte for King Cildadan, who is badly hurt. They take the two men to a ship and sail away.

The King embraces Amadis. The surviving knights rest, eat, and get their injuries treated. The dead knights are buried honorably in a chapel erected for them.

Meanwhile, Queen Briolanja comes to Miraflores Castle to meet Oriana, and they instantly become best friends forever.

Chapter 59

Sir Galaor wakes up jailed in a beautiful room in a garden. A damsel comes to treat him, and soon he realizes that the damsel is Urganda the Unrecognized, a powerful sorceress who has helped him in the past. His squire and the dwarf Ardian are brought to serve him. King Cildadan awakes locked inside a tower. He is treated by people who do not talk to him, and he believes he is a prisoner until Urganda tells him otherwise. Two beautiful damsels care for the injured men; the damsels become pregnant, and the sons will become valiant knights, and Galaor and Cildadan will be released, but all that shall be recounted “farther on.”

Amadis meets with Queen Briolanja and Oriana, and after some joking, he urges Briolanja to test the forbidden room at Firm Island to see if she is the most beautiful woman in the world. This hurts Oriana’s feelings until he explains to her that he knows Briolanja will fail but Oriana, when she tries it, will win, but if Oriana did it first, everyone would wonder if Briolanja could have won, so he had urged Briolanja to try it for Oriana’s greater glory.

Sir Cuadragante and Amadis become fast friends, and the court begins to scheme to free King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus, who are being held prisoner and tortured at the Island of Mongaza.

Chapter 60

A strange ship with a huge fire in its mast docks and turns out to carry Urganda the Unrecognized; the fire was sorcery. She assures Amadis that his brother Galaor is safe. The King and Queen welcome her, she performs feats of magic. She delivers disturbing prophesies to Oriana and Amadis and about the Kingdom in general before she departs.

Chapter 61

An exceptionally tall damsel arrives with a message for the King. Amadis had killed the husband and son of a giantess named Gromadaza, who is holding Arban and Angriote de Estravaus prisoner. She has learned that the King wants to free them. She will send the valiant knight Ardan Canileo to fight Amadis. If Amadis wins, Gromadaza will deliver the prisoners and her lands, but if Ardan wins, he will kill Amadis and the lands and prisoners will remain in her hands. And the lady Madasima, daughter of Gromadaza, will come to serve as a hostage to guarantee the proposal.

Amadis accepts the battle and invites the damsel to dine at his lodging to honor her. She accepts, but impolitely. While she is there, she steals the magic sword Amadis had won in a test of his love. She delivers it to Ardan Canileo, who is a mighty but very ugly knight. Madasima has agreed to marry him because her mother is forcing her, but she finds him repugnant.

Amadis greets Ardan and Madasima as they arrive with the customary exchange of insults between the two knights, but as he prepares that night for the battle, he discovers that his sword is missing. He arranges to have it replaced by his father’s sword, which had been left with him when he was abandoned as a baby.

The battle begins, and it is fierce. Oriana watches from a window, and her presence, especially the sight of her hair – women’s hair was sexy in medieval times – gives Amadis great courage. Madasima hopes Amadis will win so she does not have to marry Ardan. But the battle goes badly for Amadis even before his sword breaks. Inspired by Oriana, he makes a bold move that disarms Ardan, and he kills him and wins the fight.

Chapter 62

Sir Bruneo of Bonamar had challenged the brother of the exceptionally tall damsel to a battle. The battle is held, Bruneo wins, and she commits suicide.

Although King Lisuarte has enjoyed great good fortune for many years, he has two scheming old counselors in his court, and they are jealous of Amadis. They begin to tell the King that Amadis is planning to take the Kingdom from him. Foolishly, the King believes them.

Sir Galvanes falls in love with Madasima. When Amadis has recovered from the injuries suffered in his battle with Ardan Canileo, he and Agrajes and Galvanes meet with the King. Amadis proposes giving Madasima’s land to Galvanes as a wedding gift, thus rewarding his outstanding service and keeping the land in the realm. The King refuses, and when the knights complain, he tells them to leave and seek someone who would appreciate them.

That night, Amadis secretly meets with Oriana, and while in bed, explains that he must leave. She is heartbroken but grants permission. The next morning, Amadis calls together many knights and tells them he is departing for Firm Island, explains why, and invites them to accompany him. Many agree to do so.