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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The coat of arms of Avilés

It depicts a key medieval event. 

The coat of arms of the city of Avilés incorporated into the Water Font in front of the Church of San Francisco, an early source of potable water for the city. Photo by Sue Burke. 

In 1248, a Castilian fleet sent by King Fernando III “the Saint” was attacking the city of Seville, at the time held by the Moors. But the way was blocked by an enormous chain that stretched between towers on either side of the Guadalquivir River; a chain like that was also used to protect the harbor of Constantinople. (One of Seville’s towers, known as the Gold Tower, still stands.)

A ship in the King’s fleet had been built and was crewed by men from Avilés, a city on the Atlantic Coast in northern Spain. A crew member had the idea to put large saw teeth on the prow of the ship, which then sailed up to the chain and, pushed up and down by the waves, slowly cut through it. Seville was taken, a key victory in the Reconquest of Spain.

Out of gratitude, King Fernando gave Avilés the right to recreate the event on its coat of arms: the ship, the saw, the chain, and the towers. That coat of arms is used by the city to this day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The third book of Amadis of Gaul begins [part 2 of 3]

[How the messages were received at the court of King Lisuarte, especially by Oriana and Mabilia.] 

[Map of Great Britain, drawn in the 13th century by Matthew Paris, a monk at St. Alban’s Abbey.] 


Ten days later, Sadamon and Gandales arrived at the town were King Lisuarte was in his palace hall with a good number of knights and other noblemen. He received them with goodwill, although he already knew from a messenger that Cendil of Ganota had sent ahead that they came to challenge him. Sadamon and Gandales gave him their credentials, and the King ordered them to say everything they had been told to say.

Sir Gandales told him:

“My lord, Sadamon shall tell you what the high-born men and knights at Firm Island sent him to say, and then I must tell you what Amadis sent me to say, for I come to you with a mission and with a message from Agrajes for the Queen, if it pleases you to let me see her.”

“It would please me greatly,” he said, “and she would be pleased to see you, for ye served her daughter Oriana very well when she dwelled in your lands, for which I thank you.”

“Ye are welcome,” Gandales said, “and God knows it would please me to be able to serve you and how much it weighs on me not to be able to.”

“So think I,” the King said, “and may it not weigh on you to do what ye ought to do for he whom you brought up, because to do anything else would bring you censure.”

Then Sadamon told the King the message just as it has already been recounted, and at the end he challenged him and all his kingdom and all his men, as was his duty. And when he said that there was no hope for peace if the Island of Mongaza were not returned to Sir Galvanes and Madasima, the King said:

“This shall not happen soon, if that is what they hope for. May God help me, I shall not consider myself king unless I conquer their madness.”

“My lord,” Sadamon said, “I have told you what they ordered me to say, and if I were to say anything more, it goes beyond my mission. Responding to what ye said, I tell you, my lord, he who would pride himself in conquering these knights would need great wealth and power, and it would be harder to do that than ye think.”

“This may be true,” the King said, “but now it shall be seen whose power is enough, mine and my men’s, or theirs.”

Sir Gandales told him on Amadis’s behalf everything that ye have heard, leaving out nothing, as one who was well spoken. And when he said that Amadis would not go to the Island of Mongaza because he was the one who had won it, nor to anywhere where the Queen might be to avoid causing affront, all considered that to be good and very loyal, as they agreed among themselves and so did the King.

Then the King ordered the messengers to disarm and eat, for it was meal time. And so it was done, and in the hall where they ate the King ordered a table set opposite his, with his nephew Giontes and Sir Guilan the Pensive and other esteemed knights, who for their great worth he went to extremes to give honor beyond all others. This brought them enhancement, and the others, if they were lesser, were encouraged to be as good as them, so they would all be held equally by their lord the King.

And if all kings were like him, they would make the men in their service virtuous, brave, loyal, and loving, and would esteem them more than temporal riches. These kings would recall the words of Fabricius, the famous consul of Rome. The ambassadors of the Samnites, whom he was going to conquer, had brought him generous gifts of gold and silver and fine jewels because they had seen him eating with earthenware vessels, and they hoped to placate him and cause him to abandon what the Senate had sent him to do to them. But he, in his great virtue, rejected the riches that many risk their lives and souls to get, and he said:

“We Romans do not want treasures, we want to conquer and rule over the lords of treasures.”

The force behind these words cannot be executed without knights of exceeding skill and worth, who serve their lords with great love in exchange for the benefits and honors that they may receive from them.

During the meal, the King was very happy and told all the knights to prepare as quickly as they could to go to the Island of Mongaza and that, if it were necessary, he himself would go with them. When the tablecloths were lifted, Sir Grumedan brought Gandales to the Queen, who wished to see him. This pleased Oriana and Mabilia immensely, because they would learn the news they longed to hear about Amadis from him.

When he entered the chamber where the women were, he was received well and with great affection, and the Queen had him sit before her, next to Oriana. She told him:

“Sir Gandales, my friend, do ye recognize this damsel next to you, whom ye served so well?”

“My lady,” he said, “if I have done some service for her, I consider myself blessed, as I do every time that I can serve you, my lady, or her, and so I would do for the King if he were not in opposition to Amadis, whom I raised and who is my lord.”

When the Queen heard this, she told him that he should serve Amadis. “But while ye protect his honor, my good friend, ye may advise him and bring peace better than anyone else, as I shall do as well as I can with my lord the King.”

“I shall do this willingly,” Gandales said, “as much as I can and as my counsel may serve, and may God do what He thinks may be good.”

The Queen told him:

“May what ye have said be done also for my love.”

Gandales told her:

“My lady, I came with message from Amadis to the King, and he also ordered me that if I could see you, to kiss your hands for him as he who is sorry to be separated from your service. And I was also asked by Agrajes to ask for the mercy of sending his sister Mabilia to him. Since he and Sir Galvanes are no longer within the love of the King, she has no reason to be in your house.”

When Oriana heard this, she felt great sorrow and tears came to her eyes. She could not contain herself due to the heart-felt love she had for Mabilia and because without her she did not know what to do at her childbirth, which was drawing near.

But when Mabilia saw her, she felt very sad for her, and told her:

“Oh, my lady, what a great injustice your father and mother would do to take me from you.”

“Do not weep,” Gandales said, “for this issue shall be resolved well, and when ye leave here, ye shall be taken to your aunt, Queen Elisena of Gaul, and other than the Queen we have here, there is none more honored and better attended, and ye shall enjoy the company of your cousin Melicia, who loves you dearly.”

“Sir Gandales,” the Queen said, “I am very sorry over what Agrajes wishes, and I must speak of it with the King. If he takes my advice, this princess shall not leave here until she is wed with someone of equally high estate.”

“Then do so quickly,” he said, “because I cannot wait long.”

The Queen sent for the King to be called. When Oriana saw him, in whose will was her only hope, she went to him and knelt and said:

“My lord, ye know how much honor I received in the court of the King of Scotland, and how when ye sent for me they gave me their daughter Mabilia, and how poor it would be of me if she were not repaid. And besides this she is the only aid I have for my suffering and illnesses. Now Agrajes has been sent for her, and if ye were to take her from me, ye would do me the greatest cruelty and injustice that has ever been done to anyone, unless she were first rewarded for the honors that I received from her father.”

Mabilia knelt next to her and took the hands of the King, weeping, and begged him not to let her be taken away, for she would die of despair. She embraced Oriana.

The King, who was very calm and understanding, said:

“My child Mabilia, do not think that due to the discord between myself and some of your family members that I would forget how ye have served me, and I shall not cease to accept all those of your bloodline who wish to serve me and give them my thanks, for there is no reason to reject some due to others, especially you, whom we owe so much. Until ye receive the reward that ye deserve, ye shall not be removed from my house.”

She wished to kiss his hands, but he would not let her. He rose them up and had them sit on an estrado, and he sat between them.

Sir Gandales, who saw all this, said:

“My ladies, since ye love each other so much and have been together for so long, anyone who separated you would be unreasonable. And my lady Oriana, nor by my will nor my advice shall Mabilia be separated from you except in the way that ye and the King shall order. Now I have delivered my message to the King and the Queen, and I shall give the answer to your uncle Sir Galvanes and your brother Agrajes, and however it may please or trouble them, they shall consider proper what the King may do and what ye, my lady, may wish.”

After that, he told the King and Queen:

“My lords, I wish to go.”

The King told him:

“Godspeed, and tell Amadis that regarding what he had ordered be told to me, that he would not go to the Island of Mongaza since he won it for me, that I think he did so more for his advantage than to advance my honor, and since I understand that, I thank him. And from today on, may each one do as he thinks best.”

And he left the chamber to go to the palace hall.

The Queen said:

“Sir Gandales, my friend, pay no heed to the angry words of the King or Amadis. Instead I beg you to try to make peace between them, as I shall do. Give my warmest greetings to Amadis and tell him I appreciate his courtesy in sending me the notice that he would not do any affront anywhere I may be, and I beg him to honor me when I may send him an order.”

“My lady,” he said, “I shall do all in my power to fulfill your orders.”

He said his farewells to her, and she asked God to protect him and to use His Grace to restore the friendship between the King and Amadis.

Oriana and Mabilia called him, and Oriana told him:

“My lord Sir Galvanes, my loyal friend, I am very sorry that I cannot reward you for the service ye did for me, for the time does not allow it nor do I have what would be required to repay all that ye deserve, but when it shall please God I shall do what I ought and wish to do.”

When Sir Gandales heard this, he said:

“My lady, as my services were small, I get great satisfaction from your deep thanks, since there is no greater reward. And my lady, at any time tell me how I can serve you in any way, for ye know that I am yours and pay no attention to the loss of love now between Amadis and your father. And although he may not love the King, ye, my lady, should not cease to care for him, since he has always served you since his childhood when he was known as the Childe of the Sea and later as a knight with many deeds. Besides the many and well-known services he did for your father the King, and for which he got a poor reward, he freed you from the hands of the vile sorcerer Arcalaus, from whom ye could have only received great dishonor. And so, my lady, it does not seem that he has lost the affection of everyone, for it is well known that he did not deserve what the King did, and for that, my lady, my spirit feels deep pain to see him receive such a bad reward in repayment for his great services.”

Oriana, when she heard this, replied with great humility:

“Sir Gandales, my good friend, all that ye say is very true, and I am quite displeased at this loss of affection, because between their hearts one can hope for nothing but more ill-will and harm that grows each day, if God in His mercy does not send help. But I place my hopes that He shall bring this wrong to an end. Give Amadis my fond greetings and tell him that I beg him to remember the things that happened in my father’s house. May the present and future temper the counsel and orders of my father, who esteems and loves him dearly.”

Mabilia told him:

“Gandales, with thanks I ask you to give my regards to my cousin and lord Amadis, and to my lord and brother Agrajes, and to my virtuous lord Sir Galvanes, my uncle. Tell them that I ask them not to wish nor work to separate me from my lady Oriana, because it would be a lost cause, since I would rather lose my life than leave her against her will. And give this letter to Amadis, and tell him that he will find everything in it about what I am doing, and I think that it will be a great consolation for him to receive it.”

After Gandales heard this, he said his farewells and left them. He took Sadamon, who was with the King, and they armed themselves and took to the road. As they left the town they found many of the King’s men in armor, preparing to go to the Island of Mongaza, which the King had ordered so that the two messengers would see all those fine knights and would tell those who had sent them about it and strike fear in their hearts. And they saw among them the King’s commanders, including the King Arban of North Wales, who was a courageous knight; and Gasquilan the Troublesome, who was the son of Madarque, the brave giant of Sad Island, and a sister of Lancino, King of Suesa.

Gasquilan the Troublesome had such endeavor and courage at arms that when his uncle Lancino died without an heir, everyone in the kingdom thought he ought to become their king and lord. And when Gasquilan heard about the war between King Lisuarte and Amadis, he left his kingdom and to take part in it and prove himself in battle against Amadis, ordered by a lady whom he dearly loved. This shall be told more fully and completely in the fourth book, where the battle between this knight and Amadis, son of King Perion of Gaul, shall be recounted in detail, and so no more shall be said here to avoid an excess of words.

Sir Gandales and Sadamon observed these knights and continued on their way, concluding that while these were good men, the men of Firm Island would not be frightened by them.