Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The third book of Amadis of Gaul begins [part 1 of 3]

In which are told the great discords and troubles that the house and court of King Lisuarte suffered due to the bad counsel that Gandandel gave the King to harm Amadis and his family and friends; at the start of which the King ordered Angriote and his nephew to leave his court and all his lands, and sent them a challenge, which they took up, as shall be told here.

[Opening text to Book III from the 1539 edition of Amadis of Gaul, printed in Seville by Juan Cromberger.] 

The story tells how, after the sons of Gandandel and Brocadan were killed at the hands of Angriote de Estravaus and his nephew Sarquiles, as ye have heard, the twelve knights and Madasima brought the victors to their tents with great joy. But King Lisuarte had left the window so he would not see his advisors’ sons die, not because he cared for them, since he already held their fathers in low esteem, instead because of the honor that any discredit to his court would bring to Amadis.

After several days, when he learned that Angriote and his nephew had begun to recover from their wounds and could mount a horse, he sent them a message telling them to leave his kingdom and not to travel in it anymore; if they did, he would respond. They complained bitterly to Sir Grumedan and the other knights in the court who had done them the honor of coming to see them, especially Sir Brian of Mojaste and Gavarte of the Fearful Valley. They said that since the King had forgotten the great services they had done for him, and had treated them ill and denied them his vassalage, it would be no surprise if they turned against him more for what was to come than for what had happened in the past.

They took down their tents and collected their people and got on the road for Firm Island. On the third day they found Gandeza, Brocadan’s niece and Sarquiles’ beloved, in a hermitage, where she had hidden. When she had learned of the all the evil that her uncle Gandandel was inciting against Amadis, as has been told, she had fled in fear. They were very pleased to find her, especially Sarquiles, who loved her dearly, and they brought her with them as they continued on their way.

King Lisuarte, who had left the window to avoid seeing the good fortune of Angriote and his nephew, entered his palace angrily because things had gone in favor of the honor and esteem of Amadis and his friends. And there he found Sir Grumedan and the other knights who had come from seeing them off to Firm Island, and they told him everything that Angriote and Sarquiles had said and their complaints about the King, which made him much more angry and upset. And he said:

“Although tolerance is highly appreciated and mostly useful, at times it gives occasion to greater errors, as in the answer that these knights have given me. If I had forsworn them the way they forswore me, I would not have shown them any good will or kind gestures and they would not have dared to say what they did to you or to come to my court or even to enter my lands. But as I did what reason obliged me, may God find it good and in the end give me the honor and make them pay for their madness. And I hope to have knights challenge them along with Amadis, who commands them all, so it may be shown what arrogance is worth.”

Arban, King of North Wales, who valued his service to the King, told him:

“My lord, ye ought to consider carefully what ye have said lest it be done. Ye should do so out of consideration of the great worth of those knights, and because God so clearly showed justice to be on their side. If it were not so, although Angriote is a fine knight, he could not have overcome the two sons of Gandandel as he did, who were considered brave and courageous. Nor could Sarquiles have overcome Adamas. So it seems that the righteousness of their cause granted them victory.

“Because of this, my lord, I would hold it well to have them in your service, for it does no king good to wage war against his own people when it can be avoided, and all the harm that it does to one side or the other, and all the men and property that are lost, the king himself loses without winning any honor because he has merely defeated or overcome his own vassals. And often such discords cause greater harm, because they give rise to new plans by the kings and great lords in neighboring lands, who had been subject to the king but now might think to free themselves and to take back much more than they had lost.

“And what should be most feared is to give vassals the opportunity to lose their dread and respect for their lords, who govern them with careful discretion, subjugating them with more love than fear, and treating and managing them the way a good pastor does his flock. But if they are put under more pressure than they can stand, it often happens that they will all jump at the first opportunity, and when these unfortunate events become known, they are difficult to remedy. And so, my lord, now is the time to remedy the situation before more anger is incited, for Amadis is so humble in all things regarding you that with a little effort you could bring him back, as well all those who left with him.”

The King told him:

“Ye speak well in all things, but I shall not give away that which I gave to my daughter Leonoreta, which is what they seek. And their power, although it is great, is nothing compared to mine. Do not speak about this to me again, but instead prepare your arms and horses to serve me. And tomorrow morning Cendil of Ganota shall depart to challenge the knights of Firm Island.”

“In the name of God,” they said. “May He do what He sees as right, and we shall serve you.”

Then they went to their lodgings, and the King remained in his palace.

Know ye that Gandandel and Brocadan had seen their sons die losing both this world and the next, and had suffered in a way that these days many people like them do not. They hoped that God or His mercy would let them amend themselves or His justice would make them pay for everything, for if they did not atone they would have no redemption. They decided to go to a small island that Gandandel owned that had few residents. They took their dead sons and their wives and their servants, and they filled two ships that would have gone to the island of Mongaza, had Gromadaza the giant not given up her castles. With their many tears and with the curses of those who saw them leave, they went to the port and departed to where this story shall make no more mention of them.

But it may be rightly believed that those whose evil deeds accompany them to old age will bear those sins to the end of their days unless the grace of the Lord on high, more by His holy mercy than by their merits, permits them the time to repent.

The King called all the great lords of his courts and the best knights to his palace, and complained about the insolent way that Amadis and his friends had spoken about him. He asked them to feel as anguished about it as he would feel if it had been said about them. They all said that they would serve him as their lord in anything he ordered. Then he called Cendil of Ganota forward and said:

“Mount your horse and ride with the credentials to Firm Island and present my challenge to Amadis and all those who wish to uphold Sir Galvanes. Tell them to beware of me, for if I can, I shall destroy them in body and possessions wherever I find them, as shall all my lords.”

Sir Cendil took the letter of credentials, armed himself, mounted his horse, and immediately took to the road, as one who sought only to comply with his lord’s orders. The King remained there for several days before going to another of his towns called Gracedonia because it well supplied in all things, which greatly pleased Oriana and Mabilia because it was near Miraflores. The time for Oriana’s childbirth was growing near, and they though that it could be done at Miraflores better than anywhere.

The twelve knights who accompanied Madasima traveled each day without pause until they were two leagues from Firm Island. There at a riverbank they found Amadis, who awaited them with fully two thousand three hundred knights, all well armed and on horseback. He received them with pleasure and showed great love and humility to Madasima. Amadis embraced Angriote many times, for he had already learned by a messenger sent by his brother, Sir Florestan, about the outcome of the battle.

And as they were happily together, they saw Sir Cendil of Ganota, the knight of King Lisuarte who was bringing the King’s challenge, coming down a road from a tall mountain. When he saw so many well-armed men, tears came to his eyes, thinking about how all those knights had left the service of the King, his lord, to whom he was a loyal friend and servant, knights by whom he had been honored and his estate increased.

But he wiped his eyes and put on the best face he could, and he was a handsome knight, well built and strong. He arrived and asked for Amadis, and they showed him where he was with Madasima and the knights who had accompanied her on the road. He rode toward them, and when they recognized him, they received him well, and he greeted them with great courtesy and told them:

“My lords, I have come to see Amadis and all of you with a message from the King, and since ye are all together, it would be well for you to hear it now.”

Then everyone came close to hear what he would say, and Cendil told Amadis:

“My lord, have this letter read.”

And when it was read, Amadis told him:

“Those were the credentials, now tell us the message.”

“My lord Amadis, my lord the King sends a challenge to you and all those in your family, and all those here, and those who plan to go to the Island of Mongaza. He tells you that from here on ye should protect your lands and estates and bodies, for he intends to destroy all he can; and he tells you to refrain from traveling in his lands, for anyone he captures he shall kill.”

Sir Cuadragante said:

“Sir Cendil, ye have said what ye were ordered to say to us, and ye have done so rightly. Since your lord threatens our bodies and estates, these knights may say what they wish, but tell him from me that although he is a king and the lord of great lands, I love my poor body as much as he loves his rich one, and I am no less noble than he, for he has no more royalty on both sides of his lineage than I, and if I must protect myself, he should protect himself and his lands from me.”

Amadis would have preferred a more conciliatory response, and told him:

“My lord Sir Cuadragante, let this knight get the responses of you and all those who are here, and since ye have heard the message, let the response be from all of us as our honor demands. And ye, Sir Cendil of Ganota, may tell the King that it will be very hard to do what he has said. Now come with us to Firm Island and test the arch of the loyal lovers, because if ye pass the test, ye shall be better loved and appreciated by your beloved and ye shall find her more disposed toward you.”

“If it pleases you,” Sir Cendil said, “I shall do so, but when it comes to love, I do not wish share what my heart knows.”

Then they all went to Firm Island, and when Cendil saw its high peak and large fort, he was astounded, even more when he came inside and saw the land so abundant. He realized that the whole world working together could not take that island. Amadis took him to his lodgings and did him great honors because he was high born.

The next day all those lords met and agreed to send a challenge to King Lisuarte, and to have it be delivered by a knight who had come with Dragonis and Palomir who was named Sadamon. The two brothers were the sons of Grasugis, King of Lower Germany, who was married to Saduva, sister of King Perion of Gaul, for these two, like all the rest, were of high lineage, sons of kings and dukes and counts, and had brought their father’s men and many ships to travel with Sir Galvanes to the Island of Mongaza.

They gave Sadamon a letter of credentials they had all signed, and they told him:

“Tell King Lisuarte that since he has challenged and threatened us, he should protect himself from us and all the harm we can do, and when the weather is favorable, we shall go to the Island of Mongaza. Although he is a great lord, we shall be there, where he will come to know how his strength compares to ours. And if he says anything to you, respond like a knight and say that we shall hold firm in what we say if it pleases God, so there shall be no path to peace because peace shall not be granted until Sir Galvanes is given the Island of Mongaza.”

Sadamon said he would do everything he as he had been ordered.

Amadis spoke with his foster-father, Sir Gandales, and told him:

“It would serve me if ye went to King Lisuarte and told him, without any fear, that I consider his challenge and threats to be minor, even less than he thinks. And if I had known how little he would appreciate the many services I did for him, I would not have put myself in such danger for him, and the arrogance and high rank with which he threatens me and my friends and family he holds by the blood of my body. I trust in God, Who knows all things, that his ingratitude will be remedied more by my efforts than by his affection. And tell him that although I won the Island of Mongaza for him, it shall not be lost because of me, nor shall I cause affront anywhere the Queen may be out of the respect she deserves. If he wishes my gratitude, he shall have it as long as I live in the same way that he has forgotten the past.”

Agrajes told him:

“Sir Gandales, try hard to see the Queen, and kiss her hands for me, and tell her that I order my sister Mabilia to return to me, for it is no longer necessary for her to be in the King’s house given the situation in which we find ourselves with him.”

These words by Agrajes weighed heavily on Amadis, because he knew Princess Mabilia would do all she could for his lady, and he did not want to see them separated any more than he would have separated his heart from his body. But he did not dare to say so because his secret love might have been discovered.

When this was done, the messengers left in the company of Sir Cendil of Ganota, and lodged pleasantly in towns along the way.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Summary of Book Two

Amadis becomes lord of Firm Island, loses Oriana’s love, goes off to hide, and nearly dies of grief. Oriana begs forgiveness, and Amadis returns to achieve greater triumphs and fame until schemers convince King Lisuarte to expel him from his court.
Charlemagne killing Moorish Prince Feurre. From Speigel Historiael by Jacob Van Maerlant, copied in West Flanders in 1325 to 1335. 

Book I

The first of the four books of the novel Amadis of Gaul tells the story of Amadis’s birth and his rise to fame and glory. He was engendered out of formal wedlock by King Perion of Gaul and Princess Elisena of Little Brittany, cast into the sea, and recovered by a Scottish knight, who raises him as a son. As a boy of 12, known as Childe of the Sea, he meets ten-year-old Oriana, daughter of King Lisuarte of Great Britain, and they fall instantly in love.

As a teenager, Childe of the Sea becomes a knight and volunteers to help King Perion in his war with the King of Ireland, not knowing he is his father. Gandalin becomes Amadis’s devoted squire. Childe of the Sea wins the war fighting one-on-one with the King of Ireland, and soon afterwards, everyone learns the Perion’s champion is his long-lost son, Amadis.

Meanwhile, Perion and Elisena have another son, Galaor, as fine a knight as Amadis although not quite as bright. The sorceress Urganda the Unrecognized helps them both.

Oriana returns to King Lisuarte’s court in Windsor, and Amadis travels to join her, on the way having a series of adventures that enhance his fame, and enters into the service of Oriana’s mother, Queen Brisena. He has more adventures; acquires a dwarf named Ardian as a servant; encounters Arcalaus the Sorcerer, who becomes a sworn enemy; and meets Galaor.

Arcalaus has plotted to take over the Kingdom of Great Britain, and captures both King Lisuarte and Princess Oriana. Galaor rescues the King, and Amadis rescues Oriana. The two consummate their love before he rides off to London and defeats Arcalaus’s allies.

During his adventures, Amadis has promised a beautiful young princess, Briolanja, to regain the kingdom that had been stolen from her. With his cousin Sir Agrajes, he wins back her realm in brave battle, and she falls in love with him, although he is unwavering in his devotion to Oriana. Soon his is joined by Galaor and another of King Perion’s sons, Sir Florestan.

Amadis has established himself as the world’s greatest knight. He is also one of the handsomest young men in the world. And his fame is about to increase even more.

Book II

Decades earlier, a knight who had been the lord of Firm Island, Apolidon, had created a series of enchantments to test knights’ skill at arms, ladies’ beauty, and the strength of their love. Those who pass the tests will rule over the island. It is called Firm Island because a small isthmus connects it to the mainland of Britain, making it terra firma.

Amadis, Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes leave Queen Briolanja for King Lisuarte's court, but on the way they go to Firm Island to test its enchantments. Amadis passes the tests and becomes lord of the island.

But Oriana has learned that Briolanja loves Amadis and believes it is mutual, so, heartbroken, she sends him a letter withdrawing her love and ordering him never to see her again. When he reads it, he loses his will to live and eventually hides from the world, living with a hermit on an island named Poor Rock. He changes his name to Beltenebros and wastes away with grief.

Everyone searches for Amadis for more than a year. Oriana learns what her letter did, and sends their loyal friend, the Damsel of Denmark, to try to find him and deliver a letter begging his forgiveness. A storm blows the ship carrying the Damsel to Poor Rock, where she delivers the letter to Beltenebros, now near death. He leaves with her and begins to recover his health.

Meanwhile, in London, King Lisuarte has been challenged to a battle by King Cildadan of Ireland, and he begins to recruit one hundred knights to fight with him, including Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes.

Oriana has retired to her castle in Miraflores, and the Damsel of Denmark arrives with a letter from Beltenebros. He soon joins Oriana there, en route having several adventures that bring “Beltenebros” esteem in the court of King Lisuarte. He sneaks into Miraflores Castle and spends a joyous week with his beloved.

Back in London, an elderly squire arrives at King Lisuarte’s court with a magic sword and a half-withered wreath of flowers. Only a knight whose love is true can withdraw the sword from its scabbard of dragon bones, and only a lady whose love is true can make the flowers of the wreath become fresh again. Beltenebros, wearing a helmet, and Oriana, heavily veiled, arrive at the court and win the sword and wreath, but no one knows who they are.

On the way back to Miraflores, they meet Arcalaus, and Beltenebros defeats him in battle, although the sorcerer escapes.

Urganda the Unrecognized sends letters of dark prophesy to King Lisuarte and Galaor.

Beltenebros joins the King’s knights in the battle with King Cildadan of Ireland. Toward the end of a long, cruel fight, Beltenebros rescues Lisuarte and rallies his men by declaring: “Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!”

After the battle, some maidens carry away the badly injured Galaor and Cildadan. Their wounds are treated and eventually they learn they are in the custody of Urganda, whose prophesies have become true.

Meanwhile, Queen Briolanja comes to Miraflores Castle to meet Oriana, and Amadis joins them and urges Briolanja to test herself at Firm Island, knowing she will fail, so that when Oriana tries, her triumph will be even greater. Urganda arrives with more disturbing prophesies for Amadis, Oriana, and the Kingdom of Great Britain.

A damsel arrives with a challenge for Amadis: he must fight a knight named Ardan Canileo to free his friends, King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus. He agrees, and as she leaves with his reply, she steals his magic sword and gives it to Canileo. In a long, hard fight, Amadis uses his father’s sword and is encouraged by the sight of Oriana. He kills Canileo and recovers his magic sword.

Two old men, counselors of King Lisuarte, are jealous of Amadis and scheme against him. They tell the King that Amadis is planning a revolt. The King unwisely believes them.

Amadis’s friend, Sir Galvanes, has fallen in love with Madasima, who had been promised against her will to marry Canileo and is now a prisoner of King Lisuarte. Amadis asks the King to free Madasima and give her land to Galvanes as a wedding gift. The King not only refuses, he tells Amadis and his friends to depart from his court. So Amadis, leaving the heartbroken Oriana behind, heads for Firm Island, and hundreds of other knights leave with him. It is a sad and bitter scene.

One of Queen Briolanja’s damsels arrives to tell Oriana about the many wonders they saw at Firm Island. Briolanja had successfully passed through the arch of the loyal lovers but could not enter the forbidden chamber – to Oriana’s secret joy.

Amadis arrives at Firm Island. He and his knights learn that King Lisuarte had ordered that if Gromadaza, Madasima’s mother, did not deliver her castles to him within a month, Madasima and her damsels would be beheaded. Amadis sends Sir Galvanes and twelve other knights to King Lisuarte’s court to rescue them.

Oriana learns she is pregnant. She and the Damsel of Denmark decide that the Damsel will pretend the child is hers and deliver it to a convent to be raised there.

The counselors of King Lisuarte who had schemed against Amadis have a quarrel, and their words are overheard by a young knight who had sneaked into one of their houses to meet his beloved, a niece of one of the men. He warns the King.

He also rides to Firm Island and tells what he had learned to his uncle Angriote de Estravaus. They leave for Lisuarte’s court to challenge the counselors.

Galvanes and the twelve knights arrive at the court of King Lisuarte. The counselors try to convince the King to kill Madasima immediately, but the he wants to give her a chance to respond. But that night he learns that Gromadaza has died so he has acquired the castles, and he frees Madasima and her damsels.

Angriote and his nephew, Sarquiles, arrive and challenge the King’s disloyal advisors, Gandandel and Brocadan. Since they are elderly men, their three sons accept the challenge on their behalf. Angriote and Sarquiles fight them and kill them.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Index to Book III

[The original version of Amadis of Gaul had only three books, but Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo changed the ending and added a fourth book, as shall be told further on.] 

[Door to Lujanes Tower, the only Arabic horseshoe arch in Madrid. The tower was built in the heart of the city in the early 1400s and is its oldest privately built structure. It served as a prison for King Frances the I of France in 1525, and it is currently occupied by a nonprofit economic development organization. Photo by Sue Burke.]  

The third book of Amadis of Gaul begins. [Which is a chapter in itself.]

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

Chapter LXVI. How King Cildadan and Sir Galaor, on their way to the court of King Lisuarte, met a lady who was accompanied by a handsome youth and a dozen knights, and the lady begged them to ask the King to make the young man a knight, which was done; and then the King learned that the youth was his son.

Chapter LXVII. Which tells of the cruel battle between King Lisuarte and his men with Sir Galvanes and his companions, and the generosity and grandeur of the King after their defeat, giving the land to Sir Galvanes and Madasima, who would be his vassals for as long as they lived there.

Chapter LXVIII. Which tells how, while Amadis and Sir Bruneo were in Gaul, Sir Bruneo was very happy and Amadis was sad, and how Sir Bruneo decided to leave Amadis to search for adventure. And how Amadis, Florestan, and their father, King Perion, decided to go help King Lisuarte.

Chapter LXIX. How the knights whose armor bore the image of serpents left for the Kingdom of Gaul, and fate sent them to a place where by trickery their lives were put in danger by Arcalaus the Sorcerer; and how, once freed, they returned to their ships to continue their journey, and how Sir Galaor and Norandel happened to arrive on the same road in search of adventures, and what happened to them.

Chapter LXX. Which recounts how Esplandian was cared for by Nasciano the hermit; and how Amadis, his father, went in search of adventure, changing his name to the Knight of the Green Sword, and the great adventures and victories he had.

Chapter LXXI. How King Lisuarte went hunting with the Queen and his daughters, accompanied by many knights, and went to the mountain where the holy man Nasciano had his hermitage, and there the King found a very fine childe* with a strange past, who was the son of Oriana and Amadis and who was very well treated by the King without knowing who he was.

Chapter LXXII. How the Knight of the Green Sword, after departing from King Tafinor of Bohemia for the islands of Romania, saw a large company of people approaching that included Grasinda and her knight Bradansidel, who wished to bring the Knight of the Green Sword before her by force, and how Amadis fought and defeated him.

Chapter LXXIII. How the noble Knight of the Green Sword, departing from Grasinda for Constantinople, was overcome at sea by Fortune, which caused him to dock at Devil’s Island, where he found a fierce beast named the Endriago, and finally defeated it.

Chapter LXXIV. How the Knight of the Green Sword wrote to the Emperor of Constantinople, whose island it was, recounting how he had killed that fierce beast and how he lacked provisions, which the Emperor promptly sent, showing his nobility and admiration, to repay the honor and service that Amadis had done him by liberating the island, which had been lost to him for a long time.

Chapter LXXV. How the Knight of the Green Sword departed from Constantinople to fulfill the promise he had made to the very beautiful Grasinda, and how, after he had decided to go with this lady to Great Britain at her command, it happened that he went hunting and found Sir Bruneo of Bonamar badly injured; and of the adventure in which Angriote de Estravaus encountered them by chance, and how together they came to the house of the beautiful Grasinda.

Chapter LXXVI. How Queen Sardamira and the other ambassadors whom the Emperor of Rome had sent to bring him Oriana, the daughter of King Lisuarte, arrived in Great Britain and what happened to them in a forest, where they had gone to rest, with a knight errant whom the ambassadors had insulted, and the recompense he gave them for the insolent things they had said to him.

Chapter LXXVII. How Queen Sardamira send a message to Sir Florestan, asking him, since he had defeated the knights and left them in poor condition, to guard her until she reached the castle of Miraflores, where she was going to speak with Oriana; and what happened there.

Chapter LXXVIII. How the Knight of the Green Sword, who at that time was called the Greek Knight, with Sir Bruneo of Bonamar and Angriote de Estravaus, set sail together with the very beautiful Grasinda and arrived at the court of King Lisuarte; and how the King had decided to send his daughter Oriana to the Emperor of Rome as a wife; and what happened when the Greek Knight declared his challenge.

Chapter LXXIX. How the Greek Knight and his companions brought Grasinda from the sea and took her with her retinue to the battlefield, where her knight would defend her cause and fulfill her orders.

Chapter LXXX. How King Lisuarte sent for Oriana to give her to the Romans, and what happened to him with a Knight of Firm Island, and how Sir Grumedan and the companions of the Greek Knight fought three Roman challengers; and how, after defeating the Romans, the companions of the Greek Knight left for Firm Island, and what they did there.

Chapter LXXXI. How King Lisuarte delivered his daughter very unwillingly, and how Amadis and all the other knights of Firm Island rescued the very beautiful Oriana and took her to Firm Island.

*Childe: a child of noble birth.