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.

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