Monday, November 25, 2013

Chapter 66 [part 1 of 2]

On their way to the court of King Lisuarte, how King Cildadan and Sir Galaor met a lady who brought a handsome young nobleman accompanied by twelve knights, and she begged them to ask the King to make him a knight, which was done; then the King learned he was his son. 

[Madonna holding the Christ-child in a rosebush, from a Book of Hours made in South Holland in 1489. Now at the National Library of the Netherlands.] 

While King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were traveling to where King Lisuarte was, they were told that he was preparing to sail to the Island of Mongaza, so they hurried to arrive in time to go with him. And it happened that when they were sleeping in a forest, they heard a church bell ring for Mass at dawn, and they went there to hear it.

When they entered the hermitage, around the altar they saw a dozen handsome shields, each beautifully painted with a cardinal-red field figured with golden castles, and in the middle of these red shields was a white shield trimmed with gold and precious stones. After they had prayed, they asked some squires there who the shields belonged to, and they said they could in no way say, but if they went to the court of King Lisuarte, they would find out soon.

At that moment, the knights who owned the shields entered, each leading a damsel by the hand, and behind them came a novice knight speaking with a lady who was not very young. He was so well built, handsome and well dressed, that it would be hard to find anyone of equal appearance. King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were amazed to see such an unusual man, and they thought he must have come from some distant land, since they could not remember ever seeing him.

They all went to the altar where they heard Mass. After it had been said, the lady asked them if they were from the court of King Lisuarte.

“Why do ye ask?” they said.

“Because we would wish your company, if it pleases you, because the King is in the forest near here with the Queen and many of his retinue in tents, hunting and relaxing.”

“Then, what would be your pleasure of us?” they said.

“We wish,” the lady said, “that ye would do the courtesy of asking the King and Queen and their daughter Oriana to come here and make this squire a knight for us, for he is such that he deserves all the honor that could be done to him.”

“Lady,” they said, “we would be glad to do what you say, and we think the King would do it just as he is proper and well measured in all things.”

Then they and the lady and damsels mounted, and they rode together to a hilltop near the road on which the King would be coming. Soon they saw him, along with the Queen and their company. The King rode ahead and saw the damsels and the two armed knights, and thought they wanted to joust. He sent Sir Grumedan, who accompanied him along with thirty knights to guard him, to tell them not to seek to joust but to come to see him. Sir Grumedan went to them, and the King waited. When King Cildadan and Sir Galaor saw that Lisuarte had stopped, they came down the hill with the damsels and rode toward him. After they had ridden a little way, Sir Galaor recognized Grumedan and told King Cildadan:

“My lord, look, here comes one of the best men in the world.”

“Who is he?” the King said.

“Sir Grumedan,” Galaor said, “the one who carried the flag of King Lisuarte in the battle against you.”

“You can say this with truth,” the King said, “because I was the one who tried to take the flag,  and I could never get it from his hands until the staff broke. Then I saw him doing such feats at arms against me and my men that I wished I had not broken it.”

After they took off their helmets so they could be recognized, Sir Grumedan, who was now even closer, recognized Sir Galaor, and shouted, as he often did:

“Oh, my friend Sir Galaor, ye are as welcome as the angels of Paradise!”

He rode as fast as he could toward him, and when he arrived, Sir Galaor said:

“My lord Sir Grumedan, approach King Cildadan.”

He went to kiss his hands, and he was well received. He turned immediately to Sir Galaor and embraced him many times as those who love each other from the heart, and he told them:

“My lords, continue on slowly, and I shall tell the King ye are arriving.”

He left them, went to the King, and told him:

“My lord, I bring news that will make you happy, for your vassal and friend Sir Galaor is coming here, who never fails you in times of need, and the other man is King Cildadan.”

“I am very happy they are coming,” the King said, “and I thought rightly that since he was well and free, he would not fail to come to me just as I would do whatever was for his honor.”

At that moment the knights arrived, and the King received them with great love. Sir Galaor wanted to kiss his hands, but he would not let him. Instead, he embraced him in such a way that all those who saw them understood that he loved him with all his heart. Then they told him what the lady and the damsels wanted, and how they had learned that the novice wished to be a knight, and how he was very handsome and well built. The King thought a bit, since he was not accustomed to making a man a knight who was not worthy, and he asked whose son he was.

The lady told him:

“This ye shall not know, but I swear to you by the faith I owe God that he comes from legitimate kings on both sides.”

The King said to Sir Galaor:

“How does all this seem to you?”

“It seems to me, my lord, that ye should do it and not find any excuse to avoid it, for the novice is exceedingly graceful and handsome, and he could not fail to be a good knight.”

“If it seems so to you,” the King said, “it shall be done.”

He ordered Sir Grumedan to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor to the Queen and tell her to come to the hermitage where he was going. They immediately left, and it does not need to be told how they were received by the Queen and Oriana and all the other damsels, for none were welcomed better or with more love.

The Queen learned what the King had ordered, so she and Oriana followed him to the hermitage. When they saw the shields and the white one so beautiful and richly decorated among them, they looked at it with wonder, and even more at the exceeding handsomeness of the novice, but they could not imagine who he was because up until then they had never heard him spoken of.

The novice kissed the hands of the King with great humility, and neither the Queen nor Oriana wished to give him theirs because he was a highborn man. The King made him a knight, and told him:

“Take the sword from whomever ye choose.”

“If it pleases your mercy,” he said, “I would take it from Oriana, and with that my wish will be satisfied and my heart’s desire will be fulfilled.”

“Make what ye say be so,” the King said, “as it pleases you.”

He called Oriana and told her:

“My beloved daughter, if it pleases you, give the sword to this knight, for he wishes to take it from your hand instead of any other.”

Oriana felt great shyness, for she did not know him at all, but she took the sword and gave it to him, and so he was fully made a knight.

When this was done, as ye have just heard, the lady told the King:

“My lord, my damsels and I must leave immediately, for those are my orders, and I can do nothing else, although I would prefer to spend several days here. If ye order it, Norandel, who is the man ye have just knighted, will remain in your service, and the twelve knights who came with him.”

When the King heard this, he felt great pleasure, for he was very taken by this novice knight, and told her:

“My lady, go with God.”

She said goodbye to the Queen and the very beautiful Oriana, her daughter. And when she came to say goodbye to the King, she put a letter in his hand that no one saw, and told him privately as quietly as she could:

“Read this letter without letting anyone see it, and then do what ye most please.”

With that, she went to her ship. The King thought about what she had said, and told the Queen to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor with her and go to the tents, and if he came back late from hunting, to relax and dine. The Queen did so. When the King was alone, he opened the letter.

Letter from Princess Celinda to King Lisuarte:

“Most high Lisuarte, King of Great Britain: I, Princess Celinda, daughter of King Hegido, kiss your hands in greeting. Ye may well remember, my lord, the times ye rode as a knight errant in search of adventures, achieving many to your great honor. Fate and good fortune brought you to help the kingdom of my father, who at that time had left this world, and ye found me under siege in my castle named the Great Rosebush. Antifon the Brave, whom I had disdained for marriage because his lineage was not equal to mine, wished to take all my land from me. A battle was set between him and yourself, and while he was confident in his great victory because I was a weak damsel, ye put yourself in great danger and fought him, and in the end he was defeated and killed. Thus ye won glory in that vicious battle, and ye gave me freedom and great blessings.

“Then as ye entered the castle, my lord, either because of my beauty or because Fortune wished it so, I was very taken by you beneath that rosebush. While many roses and flowers bloomed above us, I lost my flower, which I had held until then, and this young nobleman was engendered. Given his exceeding handsomeness, the lovely fruit which that sin gave rise to, by the most powerful Lord he shall be forgiven. And this ring, which ye gave me with so much love and which I kept, I send with him as witness of all that this letter recounts. Honor him and love him, my good lord, make him a knight, for he is royal on both sides of his family. From your side he takes your burning heart and from my side the burning love that I had for you, so it should be dearly hoped that all that he has inherited shall be put to good use.”

After the King had read the letter, he immediately remembered the time when he rode as a knight errant in the Kingdom of Denmark, and due to his great deeds at arms he came to be loved by the very beautiful Brisena, princess and daughter of the King, whom he took as his wife, as has been already told. He remembered how he had found Princess Celinda under siege and how everything had happened as was recounted in the letter. Seeing the ring, he was more certain that it was true. And although the great handsomeness of the novice promised that he would be a good knight, he decided to keep the secret until his works gave testimony to his virtue.

So he went hunting with success and returned to the tents very happily, where the Queen was. He went to the tent where they told him King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were to do them honor, and came accompanied by the most honorable knights, all richly dressed. Before them all, he began to praise the great deeds of Galaor and Cildadan, which they deserved, and for the great help he expected to get from them in the war he would face against the best knights in the world. With great pleasure he recounted what he did in the hunt, and how he would not let them eat any of it, laughing and joking with them. He ordered it given to his daughter Oriana and the other princesses and sent word for them to say that they would share their food with King Cildadan and Sir Galaor. He ate there with them happily.

When the tablecloths were lifted, he took Sir Galaor and went beneath some trees, put his arm over his shoulder, and told him:

“My good friend Sir Galaor, as God knows how much I love and appreciate you because your great efforts and counsel have always served me well, and I have great faith in your trustworthiness to the point that what I would not disclose to you I would not tell to my own heart. And leaving aside the most grave things that will always be made known by me to you, I wish you to know something that is happening now.”

Then he gave him the letter for him to read, and when Sir Galaor saw that Norandel was the King’s son, he was delighted, and he said:

“My lord, the effort and danger that ye suffered to save that damsel was well repaid by such a handsome son. And may God save me, I think he will be so good that your concern to keep him a secret now will eventually become a much greater concern to make him known. And if it pleases you, my lord, I would like to have him as a companion all this year so that some of the desire I have to serve you may be employed in something that is so close to your blood.”

“I truly thank you for doing this,” the King said, “because when this is no longer a secret, all the honor that he shall do will be mine. But how shall I give a mere apprentice to you as a companion when we do not know how he will fight, although I would be very happy and honored to have him with you? But if it pleases you, so it shall be done.”

Then they returned to the tent where King Cildadan and Norandel and many other fine knights were. And when they were all quiet, Galaor stood up and told the King:

“My lord, ye know well that the custom in your house and the entire Kingdom of London is that the first boon that any knight or damsel asks of a new knight must rightly be awarded.”

“That is true,” the King said. “But why are you saying that?”

“Because I am a knight,” Galaor said, “and I ask Norandel to grant me the boon that I ask of him, which is that we shall be in each others’ company for a full year, in which time we shall be loyal to each other and not part except for death or imprisonment.”

When Norandel heard this, he was surprised by what Galaor had said and very happy because he already knew of his great fame and had seen the extreme honor that the King gave him among so many other fine and esteemed knights; and because except for his brother Amadis, no one else in the world surpassed him at skill of arms. He said:

“My lord Sir Galaor, considering your great skills and achievements and my small ones, it well seems that ye ask for this boon more from your own great virtue than from my worth. But be that as it may, I grant it and thank you as the thing in this world, except for the service to my lord the King, that could befall me and make me most happy.”

King Cildadan, who had observed what had happened, said:

“Given your age and the handsomeness of you both, for good reason this boon could be asked and given. May God make it good, as it is with things that are asked for with deep thought rather than passing desire.”

Once the companionship between Sir Galaor and Norandel was granted, just as ye have heard, King Lisuarte told them that he had decided to set sail in three days because, according to the news that had come to him from the Island of Mongaza, it was very necessary to go.

“In the name of God it shall be,” King Cildadan said, “and we shall serve you in everything that is to your honor.”

And Sir Galaor said:

“My lord, since ye have the whole hearts of your men, ye need fear only God.”

“So I believe,” the King said, “and although your strength is great, your love and affection make me feel much more secure.”


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chapter 65 [part 2 of 2]

[How Queen Elisena met Galaor, and his concerns about the enmity between his brother Amadis and King Lisuarte.] 

[Illustration for Chapter LXV from the 1531 edition printed by Juan Cromberger in Seville.]  


They continued to travel, as ye hear, until they left that strait and entered the high sea, speaking of many things as those who love each other without reserve. Amadis told them how he had fallen into discord with King Lisuarte, and how all his friends and family who were in the court had joined his side, and why. He told them about the marriage between Sir Galvanes and the very beautiful Madasima, and how the couple had left with a great fleet to go to the island of Mongaza to take it, since it was her inheritance; and he told them about all the knights who had gone with them, and their great desire to help them.

When Sir Galaor heard this, he was very sad over the news and felt grief in his heart, for he understood that those troubles could only grow. He suffered great sorrow because although his brother Amadis, whom he loved so much and owed so much, was on one side, his heart could not join him and instead was given to serve King Lisuarte, with whom he would lodge, as shall be told further on.

Thinking about this and how Amadis had left the King for Firm Island, he took him to one end of the ship and said:

“My lord brother, what grave and great thing could have happened between you two that was larger than the debt and love between us? You seem to have hidden something from me.”

“Good brother,” Amadis said, “since its cause held sufficient force to break the strong ties of debt and love as ye said, ye may well believe that it is more dangerous than death itself, and I beg you not to try to find out what it was.”

Galaor’s face had been somewhat angry, but he made it look happier since Amadis still wished to keep secrets, let the matter drop, and spoke to him of other things.

And so they sailed for four days, then they docked in a town in Gaul named Mostrol, where at that time their father King Perion and their mother the Queen were because it was the closest port to Great Britain and where they could best learn news about their sons. When they saw the galley approaching, they send to learn who was coming. When the messenger arrived, Amadis ordered him be told that King Cildadan and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar were coming, but to say nothing about himself or his brother because he did not want anyone to know.

When King Perion was informed, he was very happy because King Cildadan would give him news about Sir Galaor, for Amadis had let him know that both had been in the house of Urganda. He ordered all his company to mount and went to receive them, for he loved Sir Bruneo deeply because he had been in his court several times and he knew that he had spent time with his sons.

Amadis and Sir Galaor mounted their horses, splendidly dressed, and went by another way to the palace of the Queen, and when they arrived, they told the gatekeeper:

“Tell the Queen that two knights from her family are here who wish to speak with her.”

The Queen ordered them to enter, and when she saw them, she recognized Amadis and Sir Galaor because of Amadis, since they resembled each other so much, although she had not seen Galaor since the giant had taken him, and she called out:

“Oh, my lady Virgin Mary! What is this? Do I see my two sons before me?”

As she said the final word, she fell onto the estrado as if senseless. They knelt to kiss her hands very humbly, and the Queen descended from the estrado and took them in her arms and held them tight, and kissed one and the other so many times they could not speak until their sister Melicia entered. The Queen let them go so they could talk to her, of whose great beauty they were very amazed.

Who could recount the pleasure of this noble Queen in seeing before her those knights, such handsome sons, after all the anguish and pain that had always tormented her spirit knowing the dangers that stalked Amadis, waiting for news of life or death to arrive at any time, and having lost Sir Galaor to fate when the giant took him – and now they had returned with such honor and fame? Truly, no one could say enough who was not she or someone in a similar state.

Amadis told the Queen:

“My lady, we are bringing Sir Bruneo of Bonamar here badly injured. Order that he be done honor as one of the best knights in the world.”

“My son,” she said, “so it shall be done because you wish it and because he has served you so well, and when I cannot attend him, your sister Melicia shall.”

“Do so, my lady and sister,” Sir Galaor said, “since you are a damsel, for you and all damsels owe him honor as one who serves and honors you more than any other. And whomever he loves is fortunate because he easily passed beneath the enchanted arch of loyal lovers, which is a sure sign that he has never strayed.”

When Melicia heard this, her heart trembled, because she knew well that he had done so because of her. Responding as one who was very discrete, she said:

“My lord, I shall do the best I can for him, and may God do His will. I shall do this because ye order it, and because they tell me that he is a good knight who loves you dearly.”

And while the Queen was with her children as ye hear, King Perion and King Cildadan arrived. When Amadis and Galaor saw their father, they came to him and knelt. Each kissed one of his hands, and he kissed them, tears filling his eyes from the pleasure that he felt.

King Cildadan told them:

“My good friends, remember Sir Bruneo.”

Then, after King Cildadan had spoken with the Queen and her daughter, they all went to see Sir Bruneo, whom knights were carrying from the galley in their arms as ordered by King Perion. They put him into an exceedingly rich bed in a room in the Queen’s chambers with a window overlooking a garden with many roses and other flowers. The Queen and her daughter went to see him, and the Queen showed great compassion for his injury, which he accepted with many thanks.

After they were there a while, she told him:

“Sir Bruneo, I shall see you as often as I can, and when something keeps me from you, Melicia shall be with you as your friend and shall care for your wound.”

He kissed her hands for that, and the Queen left, and Melicia and the damsels who attended her remained there. She sat in front of the bed where he could see her beautiful face easily, which made him so happy that if he could, he would not wish to be well, because that sight cured him of a different form of suffering even more cruel and dangerous to his life.

She uncovered the wound and saw that it was large but clean on both sides, so she hoped it would heal quickly and she said:

“Sir Bruneo, I shall take care of this wound for you, but it is necessary for you to follow my orders without fail, because otherwise ye may be in great danger again.”

“My lady,” Sir Bruneo said, “I hope by God to never disobey you, for I am certain that if I were to do so, no one else could help me.”

She understood the intent of these words better than any of the damsels that were there. Then she put an unguent on his leg and in the wound that relieved all its pain and swelling, fed him with her beautiful hands, and told him:

“Rest now, and when it is time, I shall see you.”

As she left the room she met Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, who knew his circumstances and how he loved her. Melicia told him:

“Lasindo, ye know him best, and ask for whatever your lord may need.”

“My lady,” he said, “may it please God for a time to come when he may repay you for your kindness.”

Coming closer to her, so no one else could hear, he said:

“My lady, whoever wishes to cure someone must help him with the most dangerous wound that could befall him, from which he suffers great distress. By God, my lady, have mercy on him, which he needs so much, not for what he suffers from the injury but for what he suffers and bears so cruelly for you.”

When Melicia heard this, she said:

“My friend, I shall remedy what I can see if I can, but as for the other, I know nothing.”

“My lady,” he said, “ye already know of the mortal danger and pain he suffered so deeply for you that he faced the statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa.”

“Lasindo,” she said, “many times it comes to pass that people are cured of such suffering as this which thou sayest that thy lord has with the passage of time and without need for any other remedy, and this may happen to thy lord. For that reason it is not necessary to ask for a remedy for him from someone who cannot give it.”

She left him and went to her mother. And although Lasindo gave this answer to Sir Bruneo, he was not upset, for he believed she meant the opposite. Instead, he often blessed the giantess Andandona for injuring him because due to the injury he enjoyed the pleasure that in its lack the world was nothing but sorrow and loneliness.

And so, as ye hear, King Cildadan and Amadis and Galaor were in Gaul with King Perion, all of them enjoying great pleasure and delight, and Sir Bruneo was being waited on by the lady that he loved so much. And it happened one day that Sir Galaor took aside his father the King and King Cildadan and his brother Amadis, and told them:

“I believe, my lords, that although I were to try, I could not find three others who loved me so much and wished me honor like you. And for that reason, I wish you to advise me about something of which only the soul is more important. It is that ye, my lord and brother Amadis, brought me to King Lisuarte and ordered me with great affection to be his knight. And now, seeing how ye and he have severed your relationship but I have not been dismissed from his house, I find myself truly tormented. If I were to help you, my honor would be greatly lessened, and if I were to help him, it would be as ruinous for me as death to think of opposing you. And so, my good lords, give the solution to me that ye yourselves would do, and think more about my honor than the satisfaction of your wills.”

King Perion told him:

“My son, ye could not err in following your brother against a King so ungrateful and unreasonable. If ye were to stay with him, it would be without regard to the wishes of Amadis, and with just cause ye may leave him, since he has declared himself our enemy and seeks the destruction of your family, which has served him so well.”

Sir Galaor said:

“My lord, I place my hopes in God and your mercy, but where I place my honor, not for anything in this world would I, in a time of such troubles when the King needs my service, depart from him without having been dismissed.”

“My good brother,” Amadis said, “although we are obliged to obey the orders of our father and lord, knowing his wisdom is much greater than our ability to understand whatever he may order, I appeal to his mercy to say that ye should not be separated or dismissed from the King now except for a reason for which no one could blame him. In what happened between him and me there can be no knights on his side so strong, no matter how strong they may be, equal to the Lord on High Who knows the great services I did for King Lisuarte and the bad reward he gave that I did not deserve. And since God is the judge, I fully believe that He shall give each one what he deserves.”

Note the explanation with two meanings: one refers to God in Whom all power is. The other recognizes the importance of his brother’s desire to be in King Lisuarte’s service.

After they had all agreed that Galaor should go to King Lisuarte, King Cildadan immediately  told Amadis and Sir Galaor:

“My good friends, ye know well the outcome of my battle with King Lisuarte in which I was defeated by your skill, taking from me the glory that I and my people might have achieved. And ye also know, my lords, about the agreements and loyalty I have promised, which were that the defeated party would serve the other in specified ways. Since my sad fate was to be defeated by you, I must fulfill my promises, although to my sorrow throughout all the days of my life. The ache and pain in my heart shall make it forever broken. But as we do all things for honor, and honor means denying one’s own will to do that which a man must, I am forced to help that king with as many knights as I promised as long as God wishes. I want to depart with Sir Galaor, for today, as I left Mass, the King’s letter arrived calling on me to help him as I must.”

And thus Sir Galaor and King Cildadan ended their discussion with farewells, and the next day, having said goodbye to the Queen and her daughter Melicia, they got on a ship to go to Great Britain, where they arrived without delay. After landing, they went directly to where they knew King Lisuarte was, who was very angry about what had happened to his men on the island of Mongaza and the great losses inflicted on them. He decided not to wait for the many men he had sent for and instead to go with the knights he could find most quickly.

Three days before he boarded the ships, he told the Queen to bring their daughter Oriana and ladies and damsels because he wished to go hunting in the forest and relax with them. She did so, and the next day, bringing tents and everything necessary, they left with great pleasure and went to stay in a wide field shaded by trees in the forest.

There the King rested that day and took a great many deer and other kinds of game, with which everyone made a great feast. In fact, although he was there, his heart and thoughts were centered on the harm that his men were suffering on the island. When the hunting and feasting was over, he had all the necessary things prepared for his trip.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The second season of “Isabel” has begun

The life of Isabel I of Castile, from 1479 to 1492. 

This scene recreates the Capitulation of Grandada, as painted by Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz in 1882.


Spain’s big hit television show is back on the air (and the internet). The last season of Isabel followed her from her early teen years to her ascent to the throne of Castile in 1474 at age 23. The second season will cover her fight to keep the throne, reconquer Spain from the Moors, reign as an equal with her husband, expel the Jews, and send Columbus to find a western route to the Indies. To the delight of fans, some scenes have been filmed inside the Alhambra.

A third season is planned. It’s also available in the UK with English subtitles, according to

Isabel and Fernando were reigning when Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo prepared his version of Amadis of Gaul, and his prologue praises their leadership. He fought in the initial campaigns to capture Granada, and they made him a knight for his service. According to the show, which is well researched, Isabel enjoyed chivalry novels.

In a wink to history, the show has recreated a famous painting depicting King Boabdil’s surrender of the city of Granada to Isabel and Fernando. You can learn more about the surrender and see the painting here:

This 51-second scene from the show recreating the painting may give you an idea of why the series has won such a large following. You can watch with the following link, and if you don’t speak Spanish, here’s a translation:  

King Boabdil prepares dismount and bow to King Fernando and Queen Isabel.
Fernando: “You are the sovereign of Granada. You should not bow to us.”
Boabdil rides forward and hands Fernando a key: “Take the key to my city, and take those of us who are in it. We are yours.”
Fernando takes the key and hands it to Isabel: “My lady.” 
Isabel: “Glory is more pleasing when one has suffered so much to achieve it.”