Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chapter 75 [part 3 of 3]

[How the Knight of the Green Sword defended Angriote and learned why the knights had wanted to kill him.] 

[Ivory plaque with scenes from the life of David: the upper binding of the Melisende Psalter, made in eastern Mediterranean in 1131-1143. At the British Library.]

Because of the armor, Angriote thought the Knight of the Green Sword was Sir Bruneo, and he was happy beyond comparison. Then he of the Green Sword attacked the first knight before them, who was Bradansidel, whom he had already jousted and made ride backwards holding his horse’s tail, as ye have heard. He was one of the most valiant men in arms that could be found in the entire region. He of the Green Sword struck him above the top of his shield close to his helmet on his chest so hard that he was thrown from the saddle onto the ground, where his hands and feet lay still.

The three attacked Angriote, and he charged at them, as he was very valiant. But he of the Green Sword took his sword in his hand and entered the fight with wrath and mighty blows. He struck a single blow on the shoulder of a knight, and his armor could not stop the blade, nor could his bones and flesh. The knight fell at the feet of Angriote, who was amazed by the attack and could not believe that Sir Bruneo had such skill, for he immediately brought down another knight.

The knight who remained alone saw he of the Green Sword coming at him and did not dare wait. He began to flee as fast as his horse could gallop, and he of the Green Sword came after him to attack. In his great fear, the fleeing knight erred as he crossed a river and fell from the horse into the water, and due to the weight of his armor, he drowned.

Then he of the Green Sword gave his shield and helmet to Lasindo and returned to Angriote, who was amazed by his great valor, believing that he was Sir Bruneo, as I have told you. But when he neared, he recognized him as Amadis and rode toward him with his arms open, thanking God that he had found him. He of the Green Sword also came to embrace him, both of them with tears of good will coming to their eyes, for they loved each other dearly.

He of the Green Sword said:

“Now it seems, my lord, that ye have loyal and true love for me, having looked for me for so long amid so many dangers in foreign lands.”

“My lord, I cannot do such labors in your honor and service to exceed what I owe to you, since ye have caused me to have she without whom I would be unable to sustain my life. But let us leave this, for the debt is so great that it can hardly be repaid. Tell me if ye have heard the ill-fated news about your great friend Sir Bruneo of Bonamar.”

“I know it,” said he of the Green Sword, “and it is good news, for God in His mercy wished that I find him at the right time.”

Then he told him how he had found Sir Bruneo and how he had left in him the care of the best doctor in the world, so he was certain to live. Angriote raised his hands to the heavens thanking God for having provided such help. Then they left, and passing by the knights they had defeated, they found that one of them was alive, and he of the Green Sword stopped alongside him and said:

“Evil knight, may God confound you. Tell me why without any reason ye wished to kill knights-errant. Speak now, for if not, I shall cut off your head. And tell me if ye were one of the ones who did ill to the knight whose armor I wear now.”

“He cannot deny this,” Angriote said, “for I left Sir Bruneo with him and the two knights, and after that I found the two boasting that they had killed Sir Bruneo. They had brought him with them to help them, saying that one of their sisters was going to be burned, so all three had to be involved in the treachery, because Sir Bruneo left with them under safe conduct to rescue the damsel. I went with an elderly knight, who had given us lodging that night, to bring back his son, who was being held prisoner in some tents down river. That turned out so well that I had him returned and put the one holding him into his own prison. And so we parted. Now, ye there, say why ye committed such treachery.”

He of the Green Sword told Lasindo:

“Dismount and cut off his head, for he is a traitor.”

The knight was very afraid and said:

“My lord, for God’s sake have mercy, and I shall tell you the truth about what happened. Know, my lord knight, that we knew these two knights were looking for the Knight of the Green Sword, whom we mortally hate, and knowing how they were his friends, we decided to kill them. We did not think we could do so if they were together, so we made up that story that this knight has told. We rode under the pretext of freeing that damsel, and we were talking without armor on our heads and hands, and we arrived at the Spring of the Tall Beech Trees. When the knight let his horse drink, we took our lances, and I, who was at his side, grabbed his sword from its scabbard, and before he could fight back, we knocked him from his horse and gave him so many injuries that we thought we had killed him. So I think he must be dead.”

He of the Green Sword said:

“Why do ye hate me? What crime have I done you?”

“What?” he said. “Are ye the Knight of the Green Sword?”

“I am,” he said. “Look, I have the sword here.”

“Then I will answer your question now. Ye must recall how a year ago ye passed through these lands, and ye fought with that knight who lies there dead,” and he pointed to Bradansidel. “He was the most fierce and mighty knight in all these lands, and the battle was before the beautiful Grasinda. With great arrogance Bradansidel set the rule the loser would have to obey, which was that he would have to ride backwards on his horse wearing his shield upside down and holding the tail of his horse like reins before that beautiful lady and through her town, which Bradansidel as the loser had to fulfill to his great dishonor and discredit. He mortally hated you over that dishonor, as did all of us who were his relatives and friends, and we fell into the error that ye have seen. Now order me killed or leave me alive, for I have told you everything ye wanted to know.”

“I shall not kill you,” said he of the Green Sword, “because those who do evil die many times while they are alive and pay as their evil deeds deserve, and given your foul acts, ye shall fulfill what I say.”

He ordered Lasindo to take a horse from among those who were loose to carry the deer and to take the reins from the other horses so they could run free through the forest, and they went to the town, where they knew they would find Sir Bruneo, and brought before them the buck on the horse.

The Knight of the Green Sword had great pleasure in asking Angriote for the news from Great Britain, who told him what he knew, although a year and a half had passed since he and Sir Bruneo had left to search for him. Among other things, he said:

“Know, my lord, that in King Lisuarte’s court there is a childe who is the most rare and handsome ever seen, and Urganda the Unrecognized told the King and Queen in a letter that he shall accomplish great things if he lives.”

Angriote told how the hermit had raised him, taking him from the mouth of a lion, and how King Lisuarte found him, and told him about the white and red letters he had on his chest, and how the King was raising him honorably because of what Urganda had said, and how, besides being such a handsome and gallant young man, he was well accomplished in everything he did.

“By God,” the Knight of the Green Sword said, “ye speak to me of a very strange man. Now tell me how old he is.”

“He must be about twelve years old [sic],” Angriote said. “And he and Ambor de Gadel, my son, serve Oriana, who treats them very well because their service is so good, so much that in the King’s court there are none so honored or admired as them. But they are very different in appearance, for one is the most handsome as could be found and the best mannered, and Ambor seems very lazy to me.”

“Oh, Angriote,” the Knight of the Green Sword said, “do not judge your son at an age when he cannot understand either good or bad. And I tell you, my good friend, that if he were older and Oriana wished to give him to me, I would bring him with me and would make Gandalin a knight, for he has served and cared for me for such a long time.”

“So help me God,” Angriote said, “he very much deserves that, and I think that he would make a very good knight, since he has been one of the best squires in the world. And if he were a knight and my son were to serve you in his place, then I would lose all the doubts I have, and he would be exposed to such great experience in your company that he would turn out in such a way as to bring great honor to everyone in his lineage. And let us leave that now until its time, when God may make it so.”

And then he said:

“Know, my lord, that Sir Bruneo and I have been traveling everywhere in the islands of Romania, where we have found that ye have done great deeds at arms, both against very arrogant knights and against powerful and furious giants, and everyone who knows about it is amazed by how much the body of a single man can suffer from such opponents and dangers. And there we learned about the death of the frightening and mighty Endriago, and we wondered at how ye dared to challenge the devil himself, for they say that was how he was made and who engendered him and raised him, although he was the son of a giant and his daughter. And I ask you, my lord, to tell me how ye did it, so I may hear of the most strange and perilous thing that ever happened to a mortal man.”

The Knight of the Green Sword told him:

“For that, better witnesses than I would be Gandalin and the doctor who is treating Sir Bruneo, and they can tell you.”

And speaking as ye hear, they arrived at the town, where they were received with great pleasure by Grasinda. Angriote had been told he should only call him the Knight of the Green Sword, and they were met by a group of armed knights that Grasinda had sent to look for them. She took them with her and brought them to the chamber of the Knight of the Green Sword, where Sir Bruneo of Bonamar lay in a bed.

When they entered and found him in a good disposition, who could tell you of the pleasure that came to their spirits to find themselves together? And that very beautiful lady also felt great pleasure, feeling very honored to have such esteemed knights in her house protecting her, whom she could give such help that could not be found anywhere else.

Then Angriote was treated for a wound to his leg, which was very inflamed by travel and by the hard combat with the knights. He was placed in a bed next to Sir Bruneo, and when they had eaten the food that the doctor ordered, they all left to let them rest and sleep.

They fed the Knight of the Dwarf in another chamber, where he told Grasinda of the skills and great valor of those very true friends. After he had eaten, she went to her ladies and damsels, and he of the Green Sword to his companions, whom he dearly loved and whom he found awake and talking. He ordered his bed be brought next to theirs, and there he rested, speaking with great pleasure with them about all the things that had happened to them.

The Knight of the Green Sword told them about the boon he had promised the lady and what she had asked for, and how he was preparing to travel by sea to Great Britain, which greatly pleased Sir Bruneo and Angriote, because having found whom they were searching for, they wished to return to that land.

So, just as this story has recounted, the Knight of the Green Sword, Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, and Angriote d’Estravaus were in the house of the beautiful lady Grasinda, with great delight and pleasure. When there was no danger to their health to go to sea, the fleet had already been provisioned with food for a year and men to sail and fight, as might be needed.

One Sunday morning in the month of May, they boarded the ships, and with good weather, they began to sail toward Great Britain.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The truth about good King Wenceslaus

“Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen, when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even...” 

According to legend, Wenceslaus was holding this church door handle when he was struck down. Photo by Sue Burke.

Christmas was an important holiday in the Middle Ages, and not just Christmas Day but all the time around it, starting with Advent in November and ending with the visit of the Magi in January. People feasted and drank, gave gifts, danced, and sang carols.

The carol about “Good King Wenceslaus” is only somewhat medieval. It was published in 1853 by John Mason Neale in Great Britain, the words inspired by medieval legends that described the king as pious and generous, constructing and visiting churches and giving to the poor. But Neale set it to a tune that was entirely medieval, originally for a 13th-century spring carol.

Wenceslaus was born in about 907 in Prague, son of the Duke of Bohemia. Legends say his family struggled between Christianity and paganism, but his Christian faith never wavered. He became the Duke at age 18 in 924 or 925.

In September 935, his brother Boleslav the Cruel and other nobles quarreled with him on the way to church and he was killed – legend says with his hand on the door of the church where he sought shelter from the attack.

Wenceslaus immediately became a saint and martyr with followers in Bohemia and England, extolled as a righteous king whose power arose in part from his piety. Holy Roman Emperor Otto I soon awarded him the posthumous title of king. Today he is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

So although the words to the Christmas carol about Wenceslaus are modern, the tune and the sentiment in it come straight from the Middle Ages. Sing and celebrate during the holidays.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chapter 75 [part 2 of 3]

[How the Knight of the Green Sword found his dear friend Sir Bruneo of Bonamar injured and dying.] 

[A statue of a knight from about 1350 to 1450 in England, possibly a depiction of St. George. On display at the British Museum, with a detailed on-line description.]

After the Knight of the Green Sword had rested for two days, he felt the urge to hunt in the forest and hills, for when he did not need to use arms, he spent his time that way. He brought with him some local knights and huntsmen who knew the area, and went to a very dense forest two leagues form the town, where there were many deer. He was provisioned with two fine dogs and placed himself amid a line of beaters between a densely wooded mountain and a nearby forest frequented by game.

It did not take him long to kill two large bucks, and the huntsmen killed another one. Since it was now close to nightfall, the huntsmen blew their horns. Although he was about to leave with them, the Knight of the Green Sword saw a marvelously handsome buck leave some thick brush. He set the dogs on it, and they pursued the buck until it jumped into a large lake to save itself. The dogs followed eagerly and captured it, and the Knight of the Green Sword arrived and killed it.

Gandalin was with him and was as happy as he was. The knight had spoken a lot about leaving soon to go where his lady was, and he found great comfort from the idea, for he had not seen her for a long time, as ye have heard. He jumped from his horse and fed the dogs, who were well trained, for he had great experience in such things.

At this time, night had fallen and almost nothing could be seen. They quickly put the deer over some bushes, covered it with green branches, and mounted their horses. Soon they lost their way due to the dense brush. They did not know what to do or where to go, so they rode for a while through the woods hoping to come across some road or someone from their party. Although they did not find that, they happened to come upon a spring. There they let their horses drink, and without hope of finding other lodging, they dismounted. They took off the saddles and reins and let the horses graze on the green grass that was next to the fountain.

But he of the Green Sword ordered Gandalin to wait and went to some large trees nearby where he could be alone and would be better able to think about his life and his lady. When he neared them, he saw a dead white horse, marked by great blows, and heard someone among the trees groaning painfully, but could not see anyone because the night was dark and the trees were very dense.

He sat beneath a tree, listening to find out who it might be, and soon he heard someone say with great anguish and pain:

“Oh, miserable wretch, Bruneo de Bonamar, now has come the time when thy mortal desires shalt perish and die with thee, from which thou hast always been tormented! Thou shalt never again see thy great friend Amadis of Gaul, for whom thou hast carried out so much toil and labor in foreign lands, he who more than everyone else in the world valued and loved thee. Without him nor family nor friends to mourn thee, thou shalt pass from this life to cruel death, which has come nigh!”

Then he said:

“Oh, my lady Melicia, paragon and example above all women in the world, now your loyal vassal Bruneo de Bonamar shall no longer see you nor serve you, he who in word and deed never failed to love you more than he loved himself! My lady, ye lose that which ye could never have, and truly, my lady, ye shall never find another who loves you as loyally as I. Ye were she whose sweet memory maintained me and made me happy, the source of my valor and courage as a knight without ever having been able to serve you. And now that I have placed my service in the search of this brother whom ye love so much, a quest I shall never give up except through failure, not daring to come before you, my hard fate has not given me the chance to do this service for you and has brought me death, which I always feared would come to me because of you.”

Then he said,

“Oh, my good friend Angriote d’Estravaus, where are ye now? We spent so long on this quest, but at the end of my days shall I receive no aid or help? Cruel has been my fate when it wished us to split up last night. Sad and troubling has been that separation, for we shall not see each other again as long as the world shall last. But may God receive my soul, and may your great loyalty receive what it deserves.”

Then he was quiet, moaning and breathing painfully. The Knight of the Green Sword, who had heard all that, wept fiercely, and once he had grown quiet, went to him and said:

“Oh, my lord and good friend Bruneo de Bonamar, do not be troubled, have faith in the very merciful God, who wished me to find you now to help you with whatever ye may need, and that shall be the medicine for the illness ye suffer. And believe, my lord Sir Bruneo, that if any man may get remedy and health from the wisdom of a mortal person, ye shall have it with the help from our Lord God.”

Sir Bruneo thought because of how fiercely the knight was weeping that it was his squire Lasindo, whom he had sent to find a priest so he could confess, and said:

“My friend Lasindo, thou hast been away long, and my death is near. Now I ask that as soon as thou takest me from here, that thou goest directly to Gaul to kiss the hands of the princess for me, and give her this part of my shirt-sleeve where seven letters have been written with a stick dipped in my blood, for I had no energy for more. And I trust that in her great discretion she shall have some pity for me in my death, which I did not get to sustain my life, and I found death in her service searching with struggle and labor for the brother whom she loved so much.”

The Knight of the Green Sword told him:

“My friend Sir Bruneo, I am not Lasindo. Rather I am he for whom ye have undergone such trouble. I am your friend Amadis of Gaul, so I am as sad as you over your danger. Do not fear, for God will attend to you, and I, with the help of a doctor to help, shall restore your health, since your soul has not yet left your flesh.”

Sir Bruneo, although he was very confused and weak from the loss of blood, recognized the voice and held his arms out toward him, took him, and held him close, tears falling abundantly down his face. But he of the Green Sword, also holding him and weeping, shouted to Gandalin to come immediately, and when he came, he said:

“Oh, Gandalin, thou seest here my lord and loyal friend Sir Bruneo, who has searched long for me and now has come to the point of death. Help me remove his armor.”

They carefully disarmed him and placed him on Gandalin’s tabard, covering him with the Knight of the Green Sword’s tabard. He ordered Gandalin to ride as fast as he could to an outcrop and wait there until morning, and go to the town and to tell doctor Elisabad that for the great faith the Knight of the Green Sword had in him to take everything he might need and come immediately to care for a knight who was badly injured, and to know that it was one of the best friends he had. Gandalin should also ask Grasinda to send men and equipment to take him to town, as one ought for a knight of such high lineage and great skill at arms.

He of the Green Sword stayed there with him, holding his head in his lap and consoling him, and Gandalin left promptly with those orders. He rode up a high peak in the forest, and when day came, he immediately saw the town, spurred his horse, and rode there. He traveled with such speed that he did not stop to answer any questions, and everyone thought had something that happened to his lord.

He arrived at the home of the doctor Elisabad. When he heard the orders from the Knight of the Green Sword and saw the great haste of Gandalin, he knew that the situation was grave, and he took everything he might need and mounted his horse, waiting for Gandalin to guide him, while Gandalin told Grasinda what had happened to his lord and what he had asked her to provide.

He left and they took the road to the mountains, and soon they had arrived at the place where the knights were. When the doctor Elisabad saw how his loyal friend the Knight of the Green Sword held the head of the other knight on his lap and was fiercely weeping, he well understood that he loved him dearly.

He arrived laughing and said:

“My lords, do not fear, for God shall soon give you council that will make you happy.”

Then he went to Sir Bruneo and studied his wounds, finding them swollen and inflamed from the night’s cold. He put such medicines on them that soon the pain had been taken away, and so sleep overcame him, which was a great aid and rest. When he of the Green Sword saw how the doctor held Sir Bruneo to be in so little danger, he joyfully embraced him and said:

“Oh, doctor Elisabad, my good lord and my friend, on a good day I was placed in your company, for so much goodness and advantage has followed for me! I ask God for the mercy that some time I may reward you, for although ye see me now as a poor knight, it may be that before much time has passed, ye shall find my otherwise.”

“So help me God, Knight of the Green Sword,” he said, “I am more content and find it more agreeable to serve you and help your life than I would be for you to give me a reward, for I am certain that I lack none of your gratitude. Let us speak no more of this and go to eat, for it is time.”

And so they did, for Grasinda had ordered him to be very well provided, since besides being a great lady, she was very careful to give pleasure to the Knight of the Green Sword in everything she offered. As they ate, they spoke about how beautiful the beech trees were that they saw there, which seemed to be the tallest trees they had ever seen.

As they were looking at them, they saw a man arrive on a horse with the heads of two knights hanging from its harness, and he carried a battle ax covered with blood. When he saw the people at the trees, he stopped and wished to turn back. But the Knight of the Green Sword and Gandalin recognized him. He was Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, and they feared that if he approached, he would innocently say who they were, so he of the Green Sword said:

“Be still everyone, and I shall see who he is, since he is afraid to approach us, and find out why he is carrying those heads.”

Then, mounted on a horse and with a lance, he rode toward him, and told Gandalin to come with him.

“And if that man does not wait for me, follow him.”

The squire, when he saw them coming toward him, pulled back into the forest out of fear, and he of the Green Sword followed him. But when they came to a valley, where the others could not see or hear them, he began to call him, saying:

“Wait, Lasindo. Do not fear me.”

When Lasindo heard this, he looked and recognized Amadis, and with great pleasure he came and kissed his hands, and said:

“Oh, my lord, ye do not know of the misfortune and sad news of my lord Bruneo, who has suffered so much danger looking for you in foreign lands.” He began to mourn, saying: “My lord, these two knights told Angriote that they left him dead near this forest, so he cut off their heads and ordered me to put them next to Sir Bruneo if he were dead or to present them to him on his behalf if he were alive.”

“Oh, God,” said the Knight of the Green Sword, “what is this that thou sayest? I found Sir Bruneo, but in such a state that he could tell me nothing. Wait a bit now, and take Gandalin with thee as if he has caught up with thee, and he shall tell thee the news about thy lord, and when thou art before me, call me the Knight of the Green Sword.”

“I have already been advised to do this,” he said.

“And there thou shalt tell us the news that thou knowest.”

Then he turned back and told his companions that Gandalin was coming behind him with the squire, and soon they saw them coming together. When Lasindo arrived and saw the Knight of the Green Sword, he promptly dismounted and knelt before him and said:

“Blessed be God to bring us to this place, because ye have saved the life of my lord Sir Bruneo, who loved you so.”

He of the Green Sword lifted him up by the hand and said:

“My friend Lasindo, thou art welcome, and thou shalt find thy lord in a good state. But now tell us why thou bringest these men’s heads.”

“My lord,” he said, “show me Sir Bruneo, and there I shall tell you, for such are my orders.”

They went to where he was in a small tent that Grasinda had ordered brought with the other things. Lasindo knelt before him and said:

“My lord, ye see here the heads of the knights who did you such great harm, and they were sent by your loyal friend Angriote d’Estravaus. He knew of the infamy they had done to you, and he fought and killed them. He shall be here soon, for he stopped at a convent next to the forest to have a wound on his leg tended to, and when the blood flow is stopped, he shall come here.”

“God help him!” Sir Bruneo said, “how shall he know where to go?”

“He told me to come to the tallest trees in this forest, where I would find you dead, and he knew that because of what one of those traitors had told him before he killed him. The mourning he made for you cannot be recounted or told.”

“Oh, God!” the Knight of the Green Sword said, “protect him from evil and danger. Tell me,” he said to Lasindo, “dost thou know how to guide me to this convent?”

“I do,” he said.

Then he told the doctor Elisabad to take Sir Bruneo on a stretcher to the town. He put on Sir Bruneo’s armor, mounted his horse, and entered the forest with Lasindo, who carried his helmet and lance. They reached the place where the night before they had left the buck under a tree and saw Angriote coming on his horse, his head down as if he were in mourning, and he of the Green Sword was very pleased to see him.

Then he saw four well-armed knights coming behind him who shouted:

“Wait, Sir False Knight, ye ought to lose your head in exchange for the ones you cut off. They were worth much more than ye are.”

Angriote turned his horse toward them, raised his shield, and meant to defend himself from them even before he had seen the Knight of the Green Sword, who had already taken up his arms and rode as fast as his horse could carry him to Angriote, reaching him before the others arrived.

He said:

“My good friend, do not fear, for God shall be with you.”


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chapter 75 [part 1 of 3]

How the Knight of the Green Sword left Constantinople to fulfill the promise he had made to the very beautiful Grasinda, deciding to leave with her for Great Britain to carry out her orders, and how he found Sir Bruneo de Bonamar badly injured while he was out hunting; and the adventure by which Angriote d’Estravaus encountered them, and how they all went together to the house of the beautiful Grasinda.

[A view of the Bran Castle bailey in Romania. From 1438 to 1442, this castle in a mountain valley between Transylvania and Wallachia was used to defend against the Ottoman Empire.]

When the Knight of the Green Sword left the port of Constantinople, the weather was good and the wind was right for his trip, which in time would lead to the land where his lady Oriana was. This made him joyful, although at the time he was more anxious and tormented than ever over her because he had lived for three years in Germany and two in Romania and Greece, and in that time he had not only received no message from her, he had not heard any news about her at all.

So he found it agreeable that in twenty days they made port in the town where Grasinda was. When she learned they had arrived, she was very happy for she already knew how he had slain the Endriago and defeated and killed the mighty giants in the Romanian islands. She adorned herself in her best to receive them, being a great and rich lady, and ordered horses be brought to him and to the doctor Elisabad when they left the galley.

He of the Green Sword dressed in fine clothing. He was mounted on a handsome horse and the doctor on a palfrey, and they rode to the town, where his rare and famous deeds were already known, and he was regarded at and honored by all as a marvel, and the doctor as well, who was of an illustrious and rich family in that land. Grasinda came out to meet them in the courtyard with all her ladies and damsels.

He dismounted and knelt deeply to her and she to him, as those who shared a fine love for each other.

Grasinda told him:

“My lord knight of the Green Sword, God has made you constant in all things, for having surpassed many dangers and accomplished amazing things, He has wished that your great good fortune bring you here to fulfill and complete the promise that ye gave me, for five days from today is the end of the year that ye had promised. May it please Him to give your heart so completely to fulfill the other boon that I have yet to ask of you.”

“My lady,” he said, “God willing, never would I fail to do what I have promised, especially to such a fine lady as yourself who has done me so much good, and if I place myself in your service, ye ought not thank me, for you gave me the doctor Elisabad, and because of that I still have my life.”

“His service is well-employed,” she said, “since it is so well appreciated. And now come to eat, for I have desire to ask nothing of you that your great valor cannot fulfill.”

Then she took him to a courtyard with beautiful trees where he had once been treated for his injuries, as ye have been told. There he and the doctor Elisabad were served as was fitting in a house of a lady who loved them so, and the Knight of the Green Sword lodged in a chamber adjacent to the courtyard for the night.

Before he went to bed, he spoke for a long while with Gandalin, telling how his heart was joyful to travel toward the place where his lady was, if the boon of that lady did not stop him.

Gandalin told him:

“My lord, take pleasure when it comes, and leave the rest to our Lord God, for it may be that the lady’s boon will serve to increase your pleasure.”

So he slept that night more peacefully, and in the morning he arose and went to hear Mass with Grasinda in her chapel, which she attended with her ladies and damsels. After it was said, she ordered everyone outside, took him by the hand, and sat next to him on a stone bench set into the wall. At his side, she said:

“Knight of the Green Sword, know ye that a year before ye came here, all the ladies of this land who were by far the most beautiful of all were together at a wedding for the Duke of Vaselia, where I went accompanied by the Marques Saluder, my brother, whom ye know. And when we were together, including myself, all the noblemen who had come to that wedding entered the hall. My brother the Marques, whether for his convictions or for madness, proclaimed loudly so that all would hear that my beauty was so great that it exceeded all the other ladies there, and if someone were to disagree, he would make them say it was true so by force of arms.

“I do not know if it was because of his courage or because the others agreed, but no one responded, and I stood judged as the most beautiful lady of all the beauties of Romania, which is a great land, as ye know. My heart has always been joyful and flattered by this, and it would be even more so and held more highly if ye can achieve what my heart desires so much. I would not hesitate to do what it might involve nor to spend money from my estate, no matter how much.”

“My lady,” he said, “ask for what would please you most, and if it is anything that I can do, I shall immediately execute it.”

“My lord,” she said, “what I ask for you as a boon is this: I know for certain that the court of King Lisuarte, Lord of Great Britain, holds the most beautiful women in the world. I ask that ye bring me there, and by force of arms if it cannot be by other means, ye have me win the glorious victory of beauty over all the damsels there in the same way that here I was victorious over all the ladies, as I told you, saying in his court that there is no damsel as beautiful as is the lady that ye bring. And if anyone were to contradict you, ye shall have them recognize the truth by force of arms. I shall bring a fine crown for you to wager for me, and the knight whom you might fight shall wager another, and the victor shall take both crowns to show that he has the most beautiful lady.

“If God has us leave there in honor, ye must take me to a place they call Firm Island, where they say there is a forbidden chamber where no woman, be she lady or damsel, may enter unless her beauty exceeds that of the very beautiful Grimanesa, who in her time had no par. This is the boon that I ask for.”

When the Knight of the Green Sword heard this, he grew pale, and he said with a mournful face:

“Oh, my lady, ye have killed me. If ye have done me well in the past, now ye have placed me in greater trouble.”

And so he was shocked senseless. He thought that if he were to go to the court of King Lisuarte for that reason, he would lose his lady Oriana, which he feared more than death. He knew well that there were many good knights who would defend her, and they would have righteousness and reason entirely on their side. So great was the difference in the beauty of Oriana and all other women in the world that he could not carry out that boon without dishonor or death.

He also thought that if he failed to comply with his word to that lady, even without considering all the honors and gifts that he had received from her, his honor and fame would be lost. Thus he was placed in the greatest confrontation since he had left Gaul. He cursed himself and his fate and the hour when he was born and when he had come to the lands of Romania.

But then he thought of a great remedy to the situation, which was that Oriana was not a damsel, and whoever fought over her would not have justice on his side. Afterwards he could see Oriana and make her understand what had happened. Having found this remedy, he ceased to worry over what had placed him in a more difficult position than he thought he would ever be in.

He became very happy, as could be seen on his face, as if nothing had happened. He told Grasinda:

“My good lady, I ask pardon for the affront I have done you, for I wish to fulfill all that ye ask of me, if it is the will of God. And if I hesitated, it was not due to my will but due to the lady of my heart, whom I cannot resist and for whom I had wished to travel elsewhere. That was the reason for what I said, for in all things she holds me subjugated. But the honors that I have received from you are so great that they overcome hers and leave me free to do what I can to bring about what ye wish without obstacle.”

Grasinda told him:

“Truly, my good lord, I fully believe what ye tell me. But I say that I was very upset when I saw you thus.”

And she reached out with her very beautiful arms, put them on his shoulders, and forgave what had happened, saying:

“My lord, when shall I see the day when your great skill at arms shall place on my head the crown that ye shall win from the most beautiful damsels in Great Britain, and I shall return to my lands with a great glory that shall set me apart from all the ladies of Romania?”

He told her:

“My lady, whoever is to travel that road must be careful, for ye shall have to pass through many foreign lands and people who speak unintelligible languages, suffering great travail and danger. If my boon had not been promised, and ye were to ask my advice, it would be none other than this: someone of such honor and high estate as yourself ought not to face such a challenge to win that without which she can still have glory due to her great loveliness and beauty.”

“My lord,” she said, “I am more impressed by your valor to travel than your advice, since having such help as yours, without any concern I hope to satisfy my desire, which for a long time I have ached to fulfill. And these strange lands and people that you speak of may be avoided, since we shall travel better by the sea rather than the land, according to what I have been told by many who know the way.”

“My lady,” he said, “I shall protect and serve you. Order me to do what shall best satisfy your will, and I shall labor to do so.”

“I deeply thank you,” she said, “and ye may expect to have such attire and company that a leader like you deserves.”

“In the name of God,” he said, “may it all be so.”

And that was what they decided.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chapter 74 [part 3 of 3]

[How Amadis spent his final days in Constantinople, and how Emperor Patin's delegation traveled to Great Britain.] 

[Detail of the Hagia Sophia. Photo by Sue Burke.]

So as ye have heard, the Knight of the Green Sword spent six days in the court of the Emperor receiving the highest possible honors from him, the Empress, and the beautiful Leonorina. But he remembered that he had promised Grasinda to be with her within a year, and the date was nearing, so he spoke with the Emperor, saying that he needed to leave. He asked the Emperor by his grace to order him to serve him wherever he might be, for he would never be anywhere in such honor or pleasure or need that he would not leave it all behind to serve him, and if the knight were to learn that the Emperor needed his service, he would not wait for orders but would go where he needed to be.

The Emperor told him:

“My good friend, I am not pleased to have ye leave so soon, but ye may be excused so ye do not fail to fulfill your word.”

“My lord,” he said, “it cannot be avoided without greatly diminishing my honor and word, so as the doctor Elisabad knows, I have to be at a certain place and time as I promised.”

“If that is so,” he said, “I ask ye to rest here for three days.”

He said he would as he was ordered. At that moment, he was in the presence of the beautiful Leonorina, who took the edge of his cloak and said:

“My good friend, if at the request of my father ye shall be here for three days, I wish that by my request ye spend two with me, and these as the guest of myself and my damsels where I and they dwell, because we wish to speak with you without anyone interfering besides two knights whom ye would choose to give you company as ye eat and sleep. And I ask ye to give this boon with pleasure. If not, I shall have these damsels seize you, and I will not need to thank you for anything.”

Then he was surrounded by more than twenty very beautiful and finely attired damsels, and with pleasure and laughter, Leonorina said:

“Leave him be until he answers.”

He was delighted by what that beautiful lady did, holding it as the highest honor that had been done to him there, and he said:

“Blessed and beautiful lady, who would dare to fail to grant your will, since if he were not to, he would be placed in such a miserable prison? I grant what ye order, in this and any other service your father and mother and yourself may need. And, my good lady, I pray to God and His mercy that the time shall come when my lineage may properly thank and return the honors and gifts I receive from you.”

This would be entirely fulfilled not by the Knight of the Green Sword but by his son Esplandian, who would rescue the Emperor at a place and time when he needed help, as Urganda the Unrecognized will prophecy in the fourth book, and as shall be told in due time.

The damsels told him:

“Ye have made the right decision. Otherwise, ye could not escape a danger greater than the Endriago was.”

“I believe, my ladies,” he said, “that greater harm may come to me by angering angels than the devil, which it was.”

All this gave great pleasure to the Emperor and Empress and all the noblemen who were there, and the answers from the Knight of the Green Sword to everything that was said to him seemed very witty. This, even more than his great courage, convinced them he was high born, because courage and bravery are often found in people of low lineage and common judgement, but honest restraint and exquisite comportment are rarely found there, because this is due those who come from clean and noble blood. I do not affirm that all attain this, but I say that they are obliged to try to reach it, as the Knight of the Green Sword did, who surrounded his mighty heart with a border of great patience and loving kindness, protecting it so arrogance and ire would find no means to harm his high virtue.

So he of the Green Sword rested three days with the Emperor, who had his nephew Gastiles and the Marques of Saluder take him through the city to show him the amazing sites it held as the head and center of all Christendom. In the palace he spent the rest of his time in the chamber of the Empress speaking with her and the other great ladies who accompanied and waited on her.

Then he went to the rooms of the beautiful Leonorina, where he found many daughters of kings and dukes and counts and other great men, with whom he passed the most honored and amusing time he had spent in his life anywhere outside the presence of his lady Oriana. They happily asked him to tell them of the marvels of Firm Island where he had been, especially about the arch of the loyal lovers and the forbidden chamber, and who and how many had been able to see the wonderful images of Apolidon and Grimanesa, and to tell them about the ways of the ladies and damsels in the court of King Lisuarte, and the names of the most beautiful. He told them everything he knew with great discretion and humility, as he who had seen it and been there so many times, as this story has told.

And it happened that as he looked at the great and full beauty of the Princess and her damsels, he began to think about his lady Oriana and how if she were there, all the beauty in the world would be brought together in one place. And he thought about how far away she had been for so long and how he had no hope of seeing her, and he became faint and almost senseless. Thus the ladies realized that he was hearing nothing that they said. He spent some time that way until Queen Menoresa, who was lady of a great island named Gabasta, the most beautiful woman of all Greece besides Leonorina, took him by the hand and made him come back from where he had been lost in thought, which he left moaning and sighing as a man who felt great anguish. But when he was more self-aware, he felt great embarrassment, and realized that he ought to be reprehended by all those ladies.

He said:

“My ladies, do not consider it odd or surprising that he who sees the great beauty and grace, which God has placed in you, may think of some good fortune that he has experienced with great honor and pleasure, and remember its loss in such a way that I do not know when I may recover it either through desire or any labor I might do.”

He said this with the sadness that his tormented heart sent to his face, and all the ladies were moved to pity for him. But with great effort he retained the tears that his heart sent to his eyes and tried to return the lost happiness to himself and to them. In this way and others like it the Knight of the Green Sword spent the time he had promised there, and when he needed to say farewell, the ladies gave him very fine jewels. But he did not wish to take any of them besides the six swords that Queen Menoresa gave him, which were the most handsome and finely decorated that could be found in the world, and she said that she only gave them to him so that, when he gave them to his friends, he would think of her and those ladies and how much they loved him.

The beautiful Leonorina told him:

“My lord Knight of the Dwarf, I ask the courtesy of you that, if ye can, ye must come and see us again soon and be with my father, who esteems you highly. And I know that ye give him and all the nobles of his court great pleasure, and even more to us, because we find ourselves under your protection and defense if anyone were to trouble us. And if this cannot be done, I and all these ladies beg you to send us a knight of your lineage to serve us as may be necessary and whom we may speak to, thinking of you and forgetting some of the loneliness that your departure gives us. We fully believe from seeing you that ye must have relatives who would not cause you much shame.”

“My lady,” he said, “it can be said with truth that in my lineage there are such knights whose excellence makes mine look like nothing, and among them there is one whom I trust that if by the mercy of God he were to come to your service, he would return the great honors and gifts that I have received from your father and yourselves undeservedly, so that wherever I may be, I may believe that I am no longer in your debt.”

He said this thinking of having his brother Galaor come there to increase his honor, where his great skills would be appreciated as much as they ought to be. But that did not happen as the Knight of the Green Sword expected. Instead, in place of his brother, Sir Galaor, another knight of his lineage came there at such a time that he made the beautiful lady suffer so much anguish and worry that it would be hard to recount, because at sea and on land he had such amazing and dangerous adventures that not in his time nor for a long time afterwards could an equal be found, as shall be told in a branch of these books called The Exploits of Esplandian, as ye have already been told.

After the lady Leonorina earnestly begged him to return or send or the knight he spoke of, and he had promised to do so, she gave him permission to go. All the ladies went up to the windows, which they did not leave until they had lost sight of his galley in the sea.

Ye have been told earlier how the Emperor Patin sent his cousin Salustanquidio accompanied by a great many knights, and Queen Sardamira with many ladies and damsels, to King Lisuarte to ask for his daughter to marry. Now know that these messengers, wherever they went, sent letters from the Emperor to the princes and grandees they found on the way that asked them to honor and serve the Empress Oriana, daughter of King Lisuarte, whom he already considered his wife.

Although their words expressed their good will to do so, privately they prayed to God that such a fine lady, daughter of such a king, would not be taken by a man as scorned and despised by all those who knew him. They did that for good reason, for his immoderate behavior and arrogance was so overwhelming that, no matter how great anyone was within his realm or who had been conquered, none of them received any honor from him. Instead, he despised and vilified them, as if in that way he thought he could make himself more safe and lofty.

Oh, how mad is it for any prince to think that if he deserves to be despised by those whom he rules, he may be beloved by God! And if he is despised by God, what can he hope for in this world and the next? Truly, he can hope for nothing in one or the other except to be dishonored and destroyed and his soul forever sent to hell.

The ambassadors arrived at a port facing Great Britain called Zamando, and they waited there until they could find ships to carry them across. Meanwhile they sent word to King Lisuarte that they were coming to him with a message from their lord the Emperor that would please him greatly.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Exploits of Esplandian

Montalvo hoped to start an epic series, and he succeeded. 

“The exploits of the virtuous knight Esplandian, son of Amadis of Gaul”


The story of Amadis of Gaul dates back to the 1300s. The oldest version we have was printed in 1508, and is divided into four books, but originally there had been only three. The author, Garcí Rodríguez de Montalvo, explains the reason for the addition in the prologue:

“I corrected these three books of Amadis, such as they could be read, due to poor writers or very corrupt and dissolute scribes, and I translated and emended a fourth book and The Exploits of Esplandian, a sequel, which up until now no one can recall seeing. By great good fortune, it had been discovered in a stone tomb beneath a hermitage near Constantinople and was brought by a Hungarian merchant to eastern Spain in such ancient script and old parchment that it could only be read with much difficulty by those who knew the language.”

Of course, that’s not quite true. The third book ended tragically, which satisfied Medieval tastes, but Montalvo gave it a more optimistic Renaissance outcome, which allowed him to write a fourth book. He also added “doctrinal improvements” to Amadis of Gaul that you may have already noticed, adding a kind of piety more in keeping with Renaissance thought.

The “fifth book,” The Exploits of Esplandian (Las Sergas de Esplandián), opens:

“Here begins the branch from the four books about Amadis, called Las Sergas de Esplandían, which was written in Greek by the hand of the great master Elisabat, who saw and heard of many of his great deeds... and was translated into many languages for the provinces and kingdoms where... having read of the great things of his father, they were eager to see those of his son.”

The book ends inviting other writers to continue the stories, and that came to pass. Las Sergas de Esplandián enjoyed ten edition between 1510 and 1588, and during that century, eight more books were written about Amadis’s family in Spain, and those, too, achieved great success over the decades. (The exception is Book VIII, Lisuarte de Grecia by Juan Díaz, published in 1526, which was overly pious and boring, so it sold badly.) If that were not enough, another 75 novels of chivalry about other knights were published in Spain in the 1500s.

In addition to translations of the Amadis books into several languages, the Amadis family story was extended in Italy, Germany, and France with many additional sequels. In the end, the family tree grew into a sequoia. You can see a pdf of the Amadis clan including the Spanish and Italian branches, published by the Biblioteca Nacional de España, here (scroll down).

Unlike his father, Esplandian fights infidels in war, not individual fellow Christian knights. In much of the book, the son leads a crusade to protect Constantinople from the siege of King Armato of Persia and his Islamic allies. (Constantinople fell in 1453 to the Ottomans, and Sergas was published in 1510, so that was either wishful thinking or alternate history.)

Esplandian also fought for different reasons – not for earthly fame and honor, as he himself explains in Chapter II:

“...if the great things that my father did in this world with so much effort and such a courageous heart and no small danger to his life, so exceedingly well and amid such good men, had been employed in service to the Lord, there could never have been any man equal or comparable to his virtue and valor. But instead he has eagerly sought the things of this mortal world rather than those that shall last forever.... So may it please the Lord on High that, while I resemble my father somewhat, if I exceed his skill, it may be by aiming more to save my soul than to honor my body, and by avoiding everything that may offend Him.”

Montalvo, however, sought worldly fame, “wishing that some shadow of remembrance remain of me,” and shamelessly advertised the sequel to Amadis of Gaul within its “corrected” text. That’s one of the things we can remember him for.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chapter 74 [part 2 of 3]

[How the Knight of the Green Sword was honored; and his jests with the Emperor and Princess Leonorina.]

[12th century mosaic from the upper gallery of the Hagia Sophia, Constantinople. Emperor John II (1118–1143) is shown on the left, with the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus in the center, and Empress Irene on the right.]

The next morning the Knight of the Green Sword arose and dressed himself in luxurious and handsome clothing, which he tended to wear. The Marquis and Gastiles and the doctor Elisabad were with him, and together they went to hear Mass with the Emperor in his chapel, where he awaited them, and then they went to see the Empress. And as they did, they met many ladies and damsels finely dressed in beautiful clothes who made way as they passed and received them well.

The palace was so richly and well decorated that except for the forbidden room at Firm Island, the Knight of the Green Sword had seen nothing like it. His eyes grew sated by the many beautiful women and the other amazing things he saw. When he approached the Empress, who was sitting on her estrado, he knelt before her with great humility and said:

“My lady, I thank God for bringing me where I may see you in your grand sovereignty and in your worth over all other ladies of the world, and your home accompanied and adorned by many ladies and damsels of high estate. And I thank you, my lady, for wishing to see me. I beg God in His mercy to give me a chance to serve you in some way for these great favors. And if I, my lady, do not express what my will and speech wish to say, since this language is foreign to me, please forgive me, for I learned it very quickly from the doctor Elisabad.”

The Empress took him by the hands, told him not to kneel, and had him sit near her. She spent some time talking with him about those things that such a high lady ought to speak of with a foreign knight whom she did not know, and he responded with such tact and grace that the Empress, who was very wise, looked at him and said to herself that his courage could not be so great as to overshadow his moderation and discretion.

At that time, the Emperor was sitting on a chair, speaking and laughing with the ladies and damsels as he who was very loved by all for having given them many favors and fine marriages. He said in a loud voice so all might hear:

“Honored ladies and damsels, ye see here the Knight of the Green Sword, your loyal servant. Honor him and love him, as he honors and loves all the women in the world and has placed himself in great danger to do justice for you, often coming close to death, according to what I have heard from those who know of his great deeds.”

The Duchess, the mother of Gastiles, said:

“My lord, may God honor and love you and thank you for the protection that ye provide for us.”

The Emperor had two princess rise who were daughters of King Garandel, then King of Hungary, and told them,

“Go get my daughter Leonorina, and let no one but you bring her back.”

They did so, and soon they returned with her, each holding her by the hand. And although she was finely attired, it all seemed like nothing compared to her great natural beauty, so there was no man in the world who saw her who was not amazed and was happy to gaze upon her. She was a girl no older than nine. She came to her mother the Empress, kissed her hands in humble reverence, and sat on the estrado below her. The Knight of the Green Sword was pleased to look at her and was amazed by her beauty, which seemed to be greater than that of any of the women he had seen anywhere he had traveled.

He was reminded then of his lady, the very beautiful Oriana, whom he loved more than he loved himself and of the time when he began to love her, which was at about that age, and how his love for her had always grown and never diminished. He recalled the good times when he had many great delights with her, and the bad times that had caused so much concern and pain in his heart, and he thought for a while about how he had no hope to see her for a long time. He was so lost in memories and unaware of his surroundings that tears came to his eyes, and everyone saw him cry and wondered about that, given his outstanding character.

But he returned the present and felt embarrassed, wiped his eyes, and resumed a pleasant expression. The Emperor, who was closest and saw him weep, wondered what might have caused it but seeing no reason, wished to know how such a brave and discreet knight, before himself and the Empress and other people, could have shown such weakness that even in a woman would have been considered poorly in such a situation, because of how happy the knight had been earlier. But he believed he would never find the cause for such a mystery.

Gastiles, who was next to the Emperor, said:

“What kind of man weeps at a time like this?”

“I would not ask about it,” the Emperor said, “but I think that the power of love made him do it.”

“Well, my lord, if ye wish to find out, there is no one who would know except for the doctor Elisabad, in whom he confides and often speaks to privately.”

Then he sent for Elisabad, had him sit before him, ordered all others to leave, and said:

“Doctor, I want you to tell me the truth if ye know it, and I promise you by who I am that not ye nor anyone else shall come to harm because of it.”

The doctor said:

“My lord, I have confidence in Your Highness’s virtue that it shall be so and that ye shall always show me favor, although I do not deserve it. If I know, I shall tell you willingly.”

“Why did the Knight of the Green Sword cry just now?” the Emperor said. “Tell me, for I am astonished by it, and if he needs my help in something, I shall provide it so thoroughly that he shall be content.”

When the doctor heard this, he said:

“My lord, I do not know what to say about that because there is no man in the world who better hides what he does not wish to be known; he is the most discreet knight ye shall ever see. But I often see him weep and suffer so fiercely that it seems to make no sense, and he sighs with great anxiety as if the heart in his body were breaking. And truly, my lord, as far as I believe, it is the great power of love that torments him, and he is lonely for the woman he loves. If it were some other suffering, I am sure I would find out before anyone else.”

“Certainly,” the Emperor said, “I think the same as you. And if he loves some woman, may God be pleased that she happens to be in my reign, and I would give him such a position and estate that no king or prince would not be pleased to have me give his daughter to him. And I would do this happily to have him with me as a vassal, because there is nothing I could do for him that he would not do more by serving me, such is his valor. And I ask you, doctor, to try to make him stay with me, and anything he asks for I shall grant.”

He thought about that for a while without speaking, then said:

“Doctor, go to the Empress and tell her in private to ask the knight to stay with me, and ye may counsel him to do that for my love, and meanwhile I shall arrange for something that I have just thought of.”

The doctor went to the Empress and the Knight of the Dwarf, and the Emperor called his lovely daughter Leonorina and the two princesses who waited on her, and spoke to them for a while very insistently, but no one else heard what he said. When he had finished, Leonorina kissed his hands and went with the princesses to her chamber, and he remained, speaking with his noblemen.

The Empress spoke with he of the Green Sword about staying with the Emperor, and the doctor advised and urged him to do so. And although there he would be in the best and most honorable situation possible while his father King Perion was alive, that could not conquer his heart, which could take no rest or repose except to think about returning to the land where his very beloved lady Oriana was. Thus no entreaty nor advice could attract him to remain nor detract him from his desire.

The Empress made signs to the Emperor that the knight did not accept her offer. He stood up and came to them and said:

“Knight of the Green Sword, could there be any way that ye would stay with me? There is nothing that ye could ask for that I would not grant if it were in my power.”

“My lord,” he said, “so great is your virtue and grandeur that I would not dare nor know how to ask for such a favor that would be granted, but it is not in my power to do so at the sufferance of my heart. And my lord, do not blame me for not fulfilling your order, for if I were to do so, death would not leave me much time in your service.”

The Emperor truly thought that his passion was caused by nothing other than love, as did everyone else. And at that time the beautiful Leonorina entered the hall with her resplendent visage that annulled all other beauty, and the two princesses with her. She wore a very fine coronet and carried an even finer one in her hand, and she went directly to the Knight of the Green Sword and said:

“My lord Knight of the Green Sword, the time has never come to me before to ask for a boon except from my father, and now I wish to ask it from you. Tell me what ye shall do.”

He knelt before her and said:

“My good lady, who would be of such little wisdom that he would fail to do for you whatever he could? I would be very mad if I did not do your will, my lady. Ask for what would make you delighted, and I shall fulfill it unto death.”

“Ye have made me very happy,” she said, “and I thank you, and I wish to ask for three boons.”

She took the beautiful coronet from her head and said:

“This is the first one. Give this coronet to the most beautiful damsel that ye know, and greet her from me and tell her to send me a message by letter or messenger, and tell her I sent her this coronet which is a gift from this land, although I do not know her.”

Then she took the other crown which had many pearls and stones of great value, especially three that could light an entire room, no matter how dark it was, and gave it to the knight and said:

“Give this to the most beautiful lady that ye know. And tell her that I sent it to her to learn about her, and that I ask her to send me a message. This is the second boon. And before I ask the third, I wish to know what ye shall do with these crowns.”

“What I shall do,” he said, “is to comply immediately with the first boon and fulfill it.”

Then he took the first crown and put it on her head and said:

“I place this crown on the head of the most beautiful damsel that I know of now. And if anyone wishes to disagree, I shall make them know the truth of it by arms.”

Everyone took great pleasure in what he did, and Leonorina no less, although she was embarrassed to be praised so. They said that he had properly fulfilled that gift. And the Empress said:

“Truly, Knight of the Green Sword, I think men would be defeated by your arms easier than my daughter’s beauty would defeat them.”

He felt embarrassed to be praised by such a high lady and did not answer. Instead, he turned to Leonorina and said:

“My lady, do ye wish to ask me the third boon?”

“Yes,” she said. “I ask you to tell me why ye wept, and who she is who has such complete reign over you and your heart.”

The knight blushed and ceased to smile, so everyone knew that her request had troubled him. He said:

“My lady, if ye would be pleased to set aside this question, ask another that would serve you better.”

She said:

“This is what I ask, and I want nothing else.”

He lowered his head and spent some time hesitating, so everyone thought what he had to say was serious. But soon he lifted his head with a happy face, looked at Leonorina, who was before him, and said:

“My lady, since there is no other way to keep my promise, I shall say that when you first entered and I saw you, I recalled the time when I was your age, and a memory came to my heart of that time that was good and delightful, but since it is gone now, it made me weep, as ye saw.”

And she said:

“Well, now tell me who she is who rules your heart.”

“Your great restraint,” he said, “which never fails, works against me. This is my great misfortune, and since I have no choice, I must answer even against my pleasure. Know, my lady, that she whom I most love is the same one to whom ye send this crown. I believe she is the most beautiful lady of all whom I have ever seen, and I even believe among all ladies in the world. And by God, my lady, do not wish to know more from me, for I have fulfilled my promise.”

“Ye have fulfilled it,” the Emperor said, “but in such a way that we know no more than before.”

“It seems to me,” the knight said, “that I have said more than I ever have in the past, and that is the reason I wish to serve this beautiful lady.”

“May God save me,” the Emperor said, “ye truly wish to keep your love secret and hidden, and ye have let this be known. And since my daughter was the cause of this, she must ask your pardon.”

“Many have made this error,” he said, “and they have never learned so much from me. And although I am annoyed by the others, I forgive this beautiful lady because she is so high and outstanding in the world, and she wished so much to know about the affairs of a knight-errant like me. But you, my lord, I shall not pardon so easily. After the long and secret conversation ye had with her earlier, it seems she did this not by her will but by yours.”

The Emperor laughed heartily and said:

“God has made you accomplished in everything. It is as ye say, and because of that, I wish to set things right for her and for me.”

He of the Green Sword knelt to kiss his hands, but he did not wish him to do that, and the knight said:

“My lord, I accept these amends to use them when by chance ye are less concerned about them.”

“That cannot be,” the Emperor said, “for ye shall always be in my memory, and ye may take the amends when ye wish.”

These words passed between the Emperor and he of the Green Sword almost as a jest, but the time would come when out of them would come a great deed, as the fourth book in this story shall recount.

The beautiful Leonorina said:

“My lord Knight of the Green Sword, although ye may have no complaint against me, I am still not free of the guilt of having demanded so much from you against your will, and in amends I wish you to have this ring.”

He said:

“My lady, the hand that wears it I must kiss as your servant, for the ring cannot be on another hand without it troubling me.”

“Yet,” she said, “I wish it to be yours so that ye shall remember the trap I set for you and how subtly you escaped.”

The she took the ring and threw it before the knight on the estrado, saying:

“One like it remains with me in this coronet, which I do not know if ye gave me rightly.”

“Great and good witnesses,” he said, “are those lovely eyes and that beautiful hair, and all that God gave you in special grace.”

He picked up the ring and saw that it was the most beautiful and amazing that he had ever seen, and there was no other stone in the world like it except the one that remained in the coronet. And as the Knight of the Green Sword was looking at it, the Emperor said:

“I want ye to know where the stone came from. Ye can see that half of it is the finest and fieriest ruby ever seen, and the other half is white ruby, which by chance ye have never seen, which is even more beautiful than the scarlet half, and a ring with a gem like that would be hard find anywhere else. Now know that Apolidon, who is spoken of around the world, was my grandfather. I do not know if ye have heard of him.”

“Indeed I have,” said he of the Green Sword, “because as I spent a long time in Great Britain, I saw Firm Island, as it is called, where he left marvels, and, as people recount, he won, much to his honor. He was secretly carrying off the sister of the Emperor of Rome when he made port in that island during a great storm, and as was the custom of the island, he was forced to fight with a giant who at that time reigned over it. With great effort he killed him and became lord of the island, where he lived for a long time with his beloved Grimanesa. And of the things he left there, more than a hundred years passed during which time no knight arrived who surpassed him in skill at arms. I have been there, my lord, and ye well seem to be of his lineage, given your appearance and the statues of him he left beneath the arch of the loyal lovers, which truly seem to be alive.”

“Ye have made me very happy,” the Emperor said, “to make me remember things about him, who in his time had no par. I ask ye to tell me the name of the knight who showed himself to be more valiant and mighty at arms than he was and won Firm Island.”

The knight said:

“He is named Amadis of Gaul, son of King Perion, who has done grand and astounding deeds that are recounted all over the world. When he was born, he was placed in an arc and was found in the sea. And with the name of Childe of the Sea, he killed the mighty King Abies of Ireland in one-on-one battle, then he came to be known to his father and mother.”

“Now I am happier than before because, given the great news I have heard of him, I do not need to feel my grandfather’s skills to be overshadowed since Amadis surpasses all those alive in the world today. And if I were to believe that as the son of such a King and such a great lord, he were to dare to travel so far from his land, I would truly think that he were you, But even as I say this, I doubt it, and in addition, if ye were him, ye would not be so immoderate as to not tell me.”

Although he of the Green Sword felt troubled by this, he still wished to hide his identity, so he did not respond in any way, and said:

“My lord, if your mercy would be pleased, tell me how the stone was cut.”

“I shall tell you with pleasure,” he said. “When Apolidon, my grandfather, as I have said, was lord of this empire, Felipanos, who was King of Judea at that time, send him twelve very handsome and expensive crowns, and although in all of them were large pearls and precious stones, the one that ye gave to my daughter came with this stone, which was then in one piece. Since Apolidon saw that this crown was the most beautiful because of that stone, he gave it to Grimanesa, my grandmother. She ordered a master to cut it in half and put half in this ring, and she gave it to Apolidon and left the other half in the crown as ye see. So it was cut for this ring out of love and given to him. Thus I believe that out of good love my daughter gave it to you, and you will give it to someone even better loved.”

And this came to happen as the Emperor said, for it was placed on the hand of she from whom he left, spending three years without seeing her and suffering great anguish and passion for her love, which another branch of this story shall recount called The Exploits of Esplandian, which tells all about it as well as the deeds of Esplandian.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The spurious Quixote

Cervantes did the only thing he could: write back.

The cover to this Quixote looks like most novels of chivalry.

Four hundred years ago, Don Quixote was published – but not the one you’re thinking about. This one was the Continuation of the History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote de La Mancha by Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda.

Never heard of it? It’s best known among scholars, and even they’re not entirely enthused about it. Here’s what happened:

The first part of Don Quixote was written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605, and at the time he didn’t seem to be planning to write any more about the Knight of the Woeful Countenance, even though it was a big success. Unluckily for Cervantes, maybe too big of a success: it was immediately pirated. He probably didn’t make that much money from it anyway, and he always needed money.

Copyright laws weren’t as good then as they are now, so he couldn’t do much about the piracy. He also couldn’t stop someone named Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda from writing his own sequel to Cervantes’ book nine years later. It sold fairly well, even though it fell far short of a masterpiece.

Avellaneda’s version, which insults Cervantes in the prologue, tells how Don Quixote meets two knights on their way to a joust in Zaragoza. Don Quixote has recovered his sanity, but he is persuaded to undertake a life of adventure again. He arrives too late for the joust and is made fun of. He heads back to Madrid to fight a giant, and on his way, he falls in love with Barbara, a prostitute, believing she is a queen. After being the butt of more jokes in Madrid, Don Quixote is committed to an insane asylum in Toledo, Barbara enters a home for “repentant women,” and Sancho Panza goes to work for a nobleman in Madrid.

The book is marked by ridiculous humor and stereotyped characters, as well as weak writing. You can read it here if you want.

Who was this Avellaneda? A pseudonym, and the real author remains to be discovered, although there are plenty of theories.

By that time, Cervantes might have already been working on Part II of Don Quixote. If not, the spurious Quixote inspired him to reclaim his masterpiece and make some of the cash due to him for his creation. Part II takes pains to ridicule Avellaneda’s work while maintaining the profound humanity, irony, and fine humor that marks Cervantes’ genius.

The real Part II of Don Quixote de la Mancha came out in 1615, and the world is a better place because of it.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chapter 74 [part 1 of 3]

How the Knight of the Green Sword wrote to the Emperor of Constantinople, for the island belonged to hims, about how he had killed that fierce beast, and about their lack of provisions, which the Emperor promptly supplied; and he paid the knight great honor and esteem for the noble service he had rendered in freeing that island, which had been in the hands of the devil for such a long time. 

[Constantinople in the Byzantine era.]

“If that is your will, my lord,” the doctor Elisabad said, “ye must write the Emperor about what has happened to you, and to have some provisions brought here for the journey that we lack.”

“Doctor,” he said, “I never saw him or met him, so I defer this to you to do as ye see fit, and I will take that as a great mercy from you.”

On his behalf, the doctor Elisabad immediately wrote a letter so the Emperor would know everything that had happened to the foreign knight called he of the Green Sword after he had left Grasinda, his lady; and how he had achieved great feats at arms in the islands of Romania, which no other knight could have done; and how a great storm at sea sent them to the Island of the Devil, where the Endriago had been; and how the Knight of the Green Sword of his own free will despite everyone’s wishes had sought it and fought it and killed it.

And he wrote extensively about how the battle took place, and the injuries from which the Knight of the Green Sword escaped death; so there was nothing to know that he did not write. And, since the island was now free of that devil and in his reign, the Emperor should order steps be taken to repopulate it, and the Knight of the Green Sword asked for the mercy of ordering it be called Santa María Island.

He give this letter, containing what ye have heard, to a squire he had brought with him who was a relative, and sent him in the galley with as many sailors as was necessary to go to Constantinople and give it to the Emperor, and bring back the things they needed for their provision.

The squire immediately went out to sea with his company, for the weather was very favorable, and in three days the galley arrived at port. He disembarked and went to the palace of the Emperor, whom he found with many noblemen, as such a grand lord ought to be. He knelt and told him:

“Your servant the doctor Elisabad sends kisses for your feet and this letter, from which ye shall receive great pleasure.”

The Emperor took it and read what it said, which astonished him, and he said loudly so all would hear:

“Knights, amazing news has come to me the like of which I have never heard before.”

Then he was approached by his nephew Gastiles, son of his sister the Duchess of Gajaste, who was a fine young knight, and Count Saluder, brother of Grasinda, who had given so many honors to the Knight of the Green Sword, along with many other noblemen. The Emperor said:

“Know that he of the Green Sword, of whose great deeds at arms in the islands of Romania we have been told, fought the Endriago by his own free will and killed it. And if the whole world did not marvel at such a thing as this, what could come that would cause surprise?”

He showed them Elisabad’s letter, and ordered the messenger to recount aloud what had happened, which he told in its entirety, as one for whom it had all passed in his presence. Then Gastiles said:

“Truly, my lord, this is a great miracle, for I never heard it said that a mortal person could fight with the devil except for saints with their spiritual arms, who could well do so with their holiness. And if such a man as this has come to our land with a great desire to serve us, it would be an injustice not to do him great honor.”

“Nephew,” he said, “ye spoke well. Ye and Count Saluder should prepare some galleys and bring him here, for we have never seen anything like him. And take some masters who can paint the Endriago as it is, because I shall have it cast in metal and the knight himself who fought it, in their appearance and size, and I shall have those figures placed in the same location where the battle occurred, and on a grand copper plate shall have written what happened and the name of the knight. And I shall have a monastery established there where friars shall live so they may reform the island and return it to the service of God, for the people of that land have been deeply injured by the apparition of the evil enemy.”

Many were pleased by what the Emperor said, most of all Gastiles and the Marquis [sic], because they were being sent on a voyage where they could see the Endriago and the man who killed it. They had the galleys prepared and sailed to the Island of Santa María, as the Emperor had ordered that from then on it should be called. When the Knight of the Green Sword learned they had arrived, he ordered the best and finest of what Grasinda had put in the galley be used to decorated his chamber. He had improved and sometimes walked around the room.

They arrived at the castle finely dressed and accompanied by noblemen, and the Knight of the Green Sword came to receive them a little outside his chamber. There they spoke with great courtesy, and he had them sit on some estrados that he had ordered made for them. He already knew from Elisabad that the Marquis was the brother of his lady Grasinda, and he thanked him deeply for what his sister had done for him and the honors and gifts he had received from her, and how, after God, she had given him life by sending that doctor to accompany him who had treated him and kept him from dying.

The Greeks who had come there gazed at the Knight of the Green Sword, and although he had lost much of his appearance due to weakness, they said they had never seen a handsomer knight nor one more gracious in his speech. As they were there with great pleasure, Gastiles told him:

“My good lord, my uncle the Emperor wishes to see you, and through us he asks you to come to see him because he ought to do you what honor obliges him and ye deserve, for ye have served him by winning this island that he thought was lost.”

“My lord,” the Knight of the Dwarf said, “I shall do what the Emperor orders, for my desire is to see and serve him as much as a poor foreign knight such as myself can do.”

“Then let us see the Endriago,” Gastiles said, “for some masters that the Emperor has sent here ought to see it so they can portray it fully according to its figure and appearance.”

The doctor told him:

“My lords, it is necessary that ye go well protected against its poison, for if not, your life could be in danger.”

Gastiles said:

“Good friend, please give us that protection.”

“So I shall,” he said.

Then he gave them some boxes to put at their noses when they looked at it. They mounted immediately, and Gandalin came with them to guide them, and as he went he told them what had happened to his lord and to himself in the place where they were going, and what the battle had been like, and how he had wailed and pulled his hair to see his lord so close to death, and how the devil came out of its body and the form it had taken, and everything that had happened as ye have heard.

They arrived at the arroyo where his lord had lay dying, and he led them through some brush next to some rocks, and they beheld the dead Endriago, which gave them a terrible fright, so much that they could not believe that in the world nor in the inferno could there be such an unnatural and fearful beast. And while they had already considered the knight highly, now they esteemed him even more looking at that devil which, although they knew was dead, they did not dare touch or even come close.

Gastiles said that the courage to dare to attack that beast should not be considered highly because it was so great that it could not be attributed to any mortal man but to God, and to Him and no other should it be owed. The masters looked at the beast and measured everything to properly record how it was, and so they did, being singularly and marvelously gifted in their art.

Then they returned to the castle and found that the Knight of the Dwarf was waiting for them with food, and they were served with great pleasure and happiness, considering the place where they were. They all rested three days in the castle looking at that land, which was very beautiful, and at the garden and the well where the ill-fated daughter pushed her mother. On the fourth day they put out to sea, and soon they docked in Constantinople below the palaces of the Emperor. People came to their windows eager to see the Knight of the Green Sword. The Emperor ordered horses be brought so they could mount.

At that time the Knight of the Green Sword’s health was much improved as were his looks, and he wore handsome and exquisite clothing that the King of Bohemia had made him take when he left him, and from his neck he hung the rare and fine green sword he had won for the extraordinary love he had for his lady. When he saw it, he recalled the time he won it and the pleasure he had enjoyed at Miraflores when he was with she whom he loved so much and who was so far away. He shed many tears as anguished as delightful, as they are for those who are subject and tormented by such passion and joy.

So they left the sea, mounted those handsome palfreys with fine bridles and saddles that were brought for them, and they went to the Emperor, who was coming to meet them with noblemen, all very finely attired. The Knight of the Green Sword came ahead of the rest and wished to dismount and kiss his hands, but the Emperor, when he saw this, would not consent. Instead, he went to him and embraced him, showing the great esteem he had for him, and told him:

“By God, Knight of the Green Sword, my good friend, although God may have made me a great man and I come from the lineage of those who held this great reign, ye deserve the honor more than I do, for ye won it by your great courage and through great peril that none other has passed through, while mine came to me while I slept, undeservedly.”

The Knight of the Dwarf said:

“My lord, a man may be satisfied by things that can be measured, but not this, which by God’s great virtue has caused me to receive such praise, and until my death I shall remain in His service in all things that He may send me.”

As they spoke, the Emperor rode back to his palace with him, and he of the Green Sword looked at that great city and the rare and wonderful things in it and at the many people who came out to see him. In his heart, with great humility, he gave thanks to God for having guided him to such a place where the greatest man among Christians received him, and everything he had seen elsewhere seemed like nothing compared to that.

But he was even more astonished when he entered the palace, where all the riches of the world seemed to have been brought together. There the Emperor had a lodging for the great lords who came to him that was the most beautiful and delightful that could be found in the entire world, as well as fine pavilions and fountains and exotic trees. There he ordered the Knight of the Green Sword to stay as well as the doctor Elisabad, who attended to his health, and Gastiles and the Marquis Saluder to keep him company. Letting them rest, he left with his noblemen to go to his own lodgings.

Everyone in the city who had seen the Knight of the Green Sword spoke about how handsome he was and even more about his courage, which was greater than any other knight. And if he had been amazed to see such a city as that and so many people, even more were they merely to see him, and he was praised by everyone and honored more than any other king or grandee or knight who had come from other foreign lands.

The Emperor told his wife the Empress:

“My lady, the Knight of the Green Sword, of whose many famous deeds we have heard, is here. For his great valor and for the service he did us by winning that island which was in the power of the evil enemy for so long, and simply for having done such a feat, it is right to show him much honor. To do that, order your chambers to be finely decorated in such a way that wherever he may go he will rightly praise it and speak of it as I have spoken to you of other palaces I have seen in other places. And I wish him to see your ladies and damsels in such apparel and adornment as is proper for those who serve such a high lady as yourself.”

And to everything he had said, she replied:

“In the name of God, it shall all be done as ye order.”


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chapter 73 [part 3 of 3]

[In which is recounted how the doctor Elisabad treated the Knight of the Green Sword for his wounds, which brought him near death.] 

[The Fiera Corruptia, a monster of Spanish folklore.]

Gandalin, when he saw that the knight was unconscious, made no effort to respond. Instead, he galloped up a small hill and sounded the horn as loudly as he could as a sign that the Endriago was dead. Ardian the dwarf, who was in the tower, heard it and shouted to the doctor Elisabad to go help his lord, for the Endriago was dead. As soon as he was ready, the doctor rode with everything he might need as fast as he could directly toward where the dwarf had pointed. He had not ridden far before he saw Gandalin on the hill, who, when he saw the doctor, came galloping toward him and said:

“Oh, my lord, by God and by mercy, help my lord, who desperately needs it. The Endriago is dead!”

When the doctor heard this, he felt great pleasure at Gandalin’s good news, not knowing the injuries of the knight, and spurred his horse to go as fast as it could. Gandalin guided him to where the Knight of the Green Sword lay. They found him unconscious and senseless, but groaning loudly. The doctor went to him and said:

“What is this, my lord knight? Where has your great courage gone at the time and cause when ye need it most? Do not fear dying, for your good friend and loyal servant is here, doctor Elisabad, who shall help you.”

When the Knight of the Green Sword heard doctor Elisabad, although he was weak, he recognized his voice and opened his eyes and tried to raise his head, but he could not, and raised his arms as if he wished to embrace him. Doctor Elisabad immediately took off his cloak and laid it on the ground, and he and Gandalin picked him up and put him on it, then took off his armor, disturbing him as little as possible. When the doctor saw the injuries, although he was one of the most skilled in the world, he was frightened and felt no hope for the knight’s life. But as one who loved him and held him as the best knight in the world, he decided to do all he could to heal him. He examined his wounds and saw that his flesh and bones had been injured, but that his entrails had not been touched. He felt more hope that he could heal him, so he set the ribs and bones, and sewed up the flesh, putting ointments on it and wrapping him well all around his body, which stopped the bleeding and helped him breathe. Then the knight gained more consciousness and strength, enough so he could speak, and he opened his eyes and said:

“Oh all powerful Lord God, Who chose to come to the world and take human flesh within the Virgin Mary and open the gates of Paradise, which had been closed, Who chose to suffer many injuries and in the end was killed by evil and ill-fated people! I ask thee, Lord, as one of the greatest sinners, to have mercy on my soul, for my body is condemned to the earth.”

Then he was quiet and spoke no more. The doctor told him:

“My lord knight, it pleases greatly me to see you with such consciousness, because He from whom ye ask mercy shall deliver the best medicine to you, and after that, I as your servant shall use my life for the care of yours, and with His help I shall heal you. Do not fear death at this time, only strengthen your heart and have as much hope to live as you had to die.”

Then he took a sponge with medicine against poison and put it at his nose, which gave him great strength. Gandalin kissed the doctor’s hands, knelt before him, and begged him to have mercy on his lord. The doctor ordered him to mount and hurry to the castle and bring back some men to carry the knight on a litter before night fell. Gandalin did so, and the men came and made a litter from trees in the forest as best they could, then put the Knight of the Green Sword on it and carried him to the castle on their shoulders. They readied the best chamber with the fine bedding that Grasinda had ordered put in the ship, and placed him in the bed so unconscious that he felt nothing. Thus he spent the night and did not speak, groaning as one who was badly injured, and tried to talk, but could not.

The doctor ordered his own bed placed there and was with him to care for him, and put all the proper unguents to draw out the vile poison that the Endriago had filled him with. At the dawn of day the knight fell into a peaceful sleep, so good was the medicine. Then the doctor ordered everyone out so they would not awaken him, because he knew that sleep was a great consolation. After a long time, the sleep was broken, and the knight began to shout with great affliction, and said:

“Gandalin, Gandalin, protect thyself from that cruel and evil devil. Do not be killed!”

When the doctor heard that, he laughed happily, although in his heart he still feared for his life, and said:

“If ye protected yourself as well as ye wish he did, your fame would not be as widespread throughout the world.”

He lifted his head and saw the doctor, and said:

“Doctor, where are we?”

He came to him, took him by the hands, and saw that he was still faint. He ordered he be brought something to eat and fed him with what he thought would help him regain his strength. He ate it as a senseless man. The doctor stayed with him giving him the care he needed, as he who was the best at his work as could have been found in the entire world. Before vespers came, the knight had become fully conscious and recognized everyone and spoke with them.

The doctor never left his side and gave him all things necessary for his injuries, and with that care and principally with the will of God, Who wished it so, the doctor in his wisdom saw that the wounds would heal. Then he told that to all those who were there, who felt great pleasure and thanked the sovereign God because he had saved them from both the storm in the sea and the perilous devil.

Greatest was the happiness of Gandalin, his loyal squire, and the dwarf, as those who loved him from the bottom of their hearts, for they were returned from death to life. Then they all gathered around the bed of the Knight of the Green Sword with great pleasure, consoling him and telling him not to worry about his injuries because of the honor and good fate that God had given him, more in both arms and courage than He had ever given to any other earthly man.

They insistently asked Gandalin to tell them everything about the feat as it had happened, since he had seen it with his own eyes, because they wanted to be able to recount the great prowess of the knight. He told them he would willingly do so on the condition that the doctor would have him swear on the holy Evangels, so that they would believe him and it could be written down truthfully, and thus such a great and notable deed would not be lost to oblivion from memory. Doctor Elisabad did so, to make the great deed be more certain.

Then Gandalin told them everything that had happened just as this story has recounted it, and when they heard it, they were astounded by it as the greatest exploit they had ever heard spoken of. Yet none of them had seen the Endriago, which had fallen amid some underbrush, because they had been to busy helping the knight to worry about it.

Then they all said they wished to see the Endriago. The doctor told them to go and gave them many medicines to protect themselves from the poison. When they saw the thing so terrifying and out of proportion to any living thing they had ever seen, they were much more amazed than before and could not believe that such a courageous heart existed in the world to dare to attack that devil. Although they knew for certain that the Knight of the Green Sword had killed it, it seemed to them it was only sleeping.

After they had stared at it for a long time, they returned to the castle, speaking among themselves about what a great deed the Knight of the Green Sword had brought to completion.

What shall I tell you? Know that they were there more than twenty days before the Knight of the Green Sword had become well enough that they dared to take him from his bed. But in time by God and the great diligence of doctor Elisabad his health had improved so that without any danger he could go back out to sea. When the doctor saw him thus disposed, he spoke to him one day and said:

“My lord, now due to the goodness of God, as He has wished and Whose power none equals, ye have come to the point where I dare believe that with His help and your good effort ye may go out to sea and travel where ye please. And because we still lack some very necessary things, both regarding your health and to sustain the crew, ye must give the order to leave, because while we are here, we will find ourselves lacking even more.”

The Knight of the Dwarf said:

“My lord and true friend, I owe many thanks and gifts to God because he has seen fit to heal me in my danger, more out of His holy mercy than because I deserve it, and nothing can be compared to His great power because everything is permitted and guided by His will, and every good thing that happens in this world must be attributed to Him. And leaving His part aside, my lord, I thank you for my life, because truly I believe that no one born now in this world would be able to help me the way ye have. And although God may have done me a great mercy, my fate is very contrary, for the prize for the great service that I have received from you cannot be satisfied by a poor knight who possesses no other thing but a horse and some armor, which has been damaged, as ye see.”

The doctor said:

“My lord, I need no other satisfaction than the glory that I have with you, which is to have, after God, saved from death, the best knight who has ever borne arms, and this I will dare to say before you for what ye have done before me. And the prize I hope from you is much greater than that which any king or great lord can give me, which is the help that many men and women in trouble will find in you, for you will aid them. For me a greater reward than any other shall be to have caused, after God, your recovery.”

The Knight of the Green Sword was embarrassed to hear himself so praised, and he said:

“My lord, let us leave this of which we speak aside. I wish ye to know that which I hold most firmly in my will. I had wished to travel through all the islands of Romania, and after ye told me about the fatigue of the sailors, I changed my purpose and we turned toward Constantinople, which contrary weather has kept us from. Now that it has calmed, I still desire to go there and to see that great Emperor, because, if God sends me to where my heart desires, I will be able to tell some amazing tales about things that one may rarely see except in such royal houses. My lord doctor, for the love ye have for me, I beg you not to be angry about this, because one day ye shall be rewarded by me. And from there we shall return, sovereign God willing, within the deadline set for me by the very noble lady Grasinda. I must try to fulfill it, as ye well know, so that if it is possible and as it is my desire, I may repay some of the great mercies I have received from her without deserving them.”