Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chapter 68 [part 3 of 4]

[Which tells how the battle began, and how King Aravigo’s troops had the advantage and steadily gained ground.] 

[A fragment from an early 1400s Spanish version of the legend of Tristan and Iseult, from the Biblioteca Nacional de España. The fragments were discovered in the binding of a collection of works about canonical law from the 15th century. Old parchments were often used for bookbinding.]

King Lisuarte and his men camped on a hill a half-league from the field where his enemies were. Each side saw the other, and there were at least twice as many men with the seven kings. King Lisuarte’s company spent the night preparing their weapons and horses for the battle the next day.

Know ye that six of the kings and other great lords paid tribute that night to King Aravigo for leading the confrontation, and they pledged to be guided by his orders. He swore he would not take a greater part of the kingdom than any of them, for he only wanted honor for himself. Then they had their men move to a river between themselves and King Lisuarte to be closer.

The next morning they all armed themselves and came before King Aravigo so numerous and with such fine weapons that they held their opponents to be as nothing. And they said that since King Lisuarte had dared to do battle with them, Great Britain was theirs. King Aravigo divided his men into nine divisions, each with a thousand knights, but his division had one thousand five hundred. He gave the divisions to the kings and other knights, and arranged them in close formation.

King Lisuarte ordered Sir Grumedan, Sir Galaor, Sir Cuadragante, and Angriote d’Estravaus to divide his men and arrange them on the field ready to fight, since these men knew a great deal about everything regarding the use of arms. Then they rode down the hill onto the plain. It was sunrise, and the sun sparkled on their armor. They looked so well-prepared that their opponents, who had held them for little, thought differently of them.

These knights of whom I tell ye had been placed into five divisions. Brian of Monjaste had the first one with a thousand knights from Spain at his orders, whom his father had sent to King Lisuarte. King Cildadan had the second division with his men and others who had been given to him. Sir Galvanes had the third with his nephew Agrajes, who came there more for the love of his uncle and his friends than to serve the King.

Giontes, nephew of the King, went with the fourth, with exceptionally good knights. King Lisuarte led the fifth, with two thousand knights, and he asked and ordered Sir Galaor, Sir Cuadragante, and Angriote d’Estravaus to protect him and stand by him. For that reason, he did not place them in charge of any troops.

So, as ye hear, arranged thus, they slowly advanced across the field at each other. And then King Perion and his sons Amadis and Florestan arrived at the plain on their handsome horses and bearing the arms with dragon insignia, which gleamed in the sun. They rode forward to place themselves between the two armies, brandishing their lances with iron tips so polished that they were bright as stars. The father rode between his two sons.

Men in both armies stared at them and each side wished to have them among their troops, but no one knew whom they meant to help nor who they were. When the three saw that Brian of Monjaste’s division was going to meet the enemy, they spurred their horses and rode close to Brian’s standard. Then they turned toward King Targadan, who was coming at him.

Sir Brian was happy for their help, although he did not know who they were. When they saw it was the right time, all three went to attack King Targadan’s division so fiercely that everyone felt terror. In the charge, King Perion struck that King so hard that he knocked him to the ground and part of the iron of his lance entered his chest. Amadis attacked Abdasian the Brave, whose armor did not protect him, and the lance passed from one side of his ribs to the other, and he fell as a dead man. Sir Florestan knocked Carduel to the feet of his horse with the saddle on top of him. Those three, as the most esteemed of the division, had come forward to fight with the dragon-insignia knights.

Then Amadis, King Perion, and Sir Florestan put their hands on their swords and passed through the first division knocking down many whom they encountered, then attacked the second division. And when they found themselves amid both, ye would have been able to see the great wonders they did with their swords, so much that not on one side or the other was there a man who equaled them, and ten knights whom they had brought down lay beneath their horses’ hooves.

But eventually, when their opponents saw they were only three men, they charged at them with great blows from every side, so the help of Sir Brian of Monjaste was clearly needed. He immediately came with his Spaniards, who were strong men with good horses. They attacked so fiercely, knocking down and killing men, and they themselves dying and falling on the ground, that the knights with the dragon insignia were rescued and their opponents put in such danger that the struggle brought those two columns into contact with a third.

There was a great melee that put everyone in danger, and many knights on both sides died, but what King Perion and his sons did cannot be recounted. The struggle was so great that King Aravigo feared that his own men, who had retreated, would make the others flee, and he shouted to Arcalaus to move all the divisions and, with a sudden charge, break through.

And so it happened. They all charged together and King Aravigo with them, but it did not take long for King Lisuarte to do the same. So all were battling at once, and the injuries were many, and the shouting and the noise of the knights so great that the earth shook and the valleys echoed.

At this time King Perion, who was riding bravely at the front line, suddenly entered into the enemy ranks and would have been lost, but he was immediately aided by his sons, and many of those who attacked Perion were killed by them. The damsels in the tower shouted:

“There, knights, the one in the white helmet is the best!”

But Amadis’s horse was killed as he came to help, and it fell with him in the middle of the battle, and his father’s and brother’s horses were badly injured. When they saw him on foot in such great peril, they dismounted and came to him. Then many men charged to kill them, and others to help them, yet they were in great danger, and were it not for the hard and cruel blows that they offered so that none dared to near them, they would have been killed.

As King Lisuarte rode from one battle to another, with his seven companions whom ye have heard about, he saw the knights with the dragon insignia in great danger, and he said to Sir Galaor and the others:

“Now, my good friends, let us show our skills and save those who have helped us so well.”

“Now, have at them!” Sir Galaor said.

Then they spurred their horses and charged into the middle of that great battle until they reached the standard of King Aravigo, who was shouting to encourage his men. King Lisuarte was exceedingly brave, and with his good sword in his hand, giving so many mortal blows that everyone was frightened to see it, and his guards could hardly keep up. And despite the many who attacked him, they could not prevent him from reaching the standard, grabbing it from the hands of the man who held it, and throwing it at the feet of the horses. He shouted:

“Clarence, Clarence, for I am King Lisuarte,” invoking his surname.

He did so much for so long among his enemies that they killed his horse and he fell and was so badly stunned that those who guarded him could not put him on another horse. But immediately Angriote, Antimon the Brave, and Landin of Fajarque arrived. They dismounted and put him on Angriote’s horse to the consternation of his enemies and with the help of those who guarded him. And although he was badly injured and shaken, he did not leave there until Antimon and Landin of Fajarque had mounted and brought another horse for Angriote from those that the King had ordered to circulate through the battle to help his knights.

Meanwhile, Sir Galaor and Cuadragante, in the midst of the thickest part of the battle and the greatest danger, showed well their courage by suffering and giving mortal blows. Know ye that if it were not for them, through their great effort to prevent enemy troops from reaching King Lisuarte and those with him while they were on foot, the King and his guards would have found themselves in great danger.

The damsels in the tower shouted that those two knights with the flower insignia were fighting the best.

But none of this could keep King Aravigo’s men from having the advantage and steadily gaining ground. The principal cause was that two well-rested knights had begun to fight. They were of such great deeds at arms and so valiant that they thought they could defeat their enemies because they believed that King Lisuarte’s men had no knight who could hold the field against them.

One was named Brontaxar d’Anfania and the other Argomades of the Deep Isle. He bore green arms with white doves scattered across them, and Brontaxar’s had gold and red cups. When they entered into battle, they seemed so tall that their helmets and shoulders stood out above the rest, and while their lances lasted, no knight remained in his saddle. When their lances were broken, they put their hands on their uncommonly large swords. What shall I tell you? They delivered such great blows with them that soon they hardly found anyone to attack, so hard had they dealt out punishment with those swords to all.

So they cleared the field, and the damsels in the tower called out:

“Knights, do not flee. They are men, not devils.”

But the men on the side of Brontaxar and Argomades shouted:

“King Lisuarte is defeated!”

When the King heard this, he began to encourage his men, saying:

“Here I shall remain, dead or victorious, so the sovereignty of Great Britain shall not be lost.”

All the remaining knights came to him, as they ought. Amadis took another horse that was very good and rested, and waited for his father to mount. When he heard those shouts saying that King Lisuarte was defeated, he said to Sir Florestan, who rode beside him:

“What is this? Why are these despicable men braying?”

Florestan responded:

“Do ye not see those two mighty and valiant knights who done nothing but devastate and destroy all that they find? Although they did not appear in this battle until now, with their strength they are making the men on their side gain ground.”

Amadis turned his head and saw Brontaxar d’Anfania coming toward him, attacking and felling knights with his sword. Sometimes he let it hang from a chain with which it was attached, and he grabbed the knights who approached with his arms and hands, so that not one remained in his saddle, and all the rest fled from him.

“Holy Mary, help us!” Amadis said. “How can this be?”

Then he took a sturdy lance from the squire who had given him the horse, and thinking of Oriana and the great loss she would suffer if her father were defeated, he sat up straight in his saddle and said to Sir Florestan:

“Protect our father.”

By then Brontaxar had neared and saw how Amadis, in a gold helmet, was charging straight at him. Because of the great deeds that Brontaxar had been told about him before joining the battle, he had furiously searched for him. He immediately took a very heavy lance and shouted:

“Now ye shall see a beautiful blow if that knight in the gold helmet dares to approach me.”

With his lance under his arm, he spurred his horse and rode at him, and Amadis, who had already begun to charge, did the same. Their lances struck their shields, which were pierced and the lances were broken, and their horses’ bodies struck each other so hard that it seemed to each knight that they had struck a rocky peak. Brontaxar hit his head and felt so faint he could not maintain himself on his horse and fell to the ground as if he were dead. His great weight fell twisted onto one foot, and his leg broke beneath him, and he carried a piece of lance stuck in his shield, although it was strong.

Amadis’s horse bucked backwards twice and was about to fall. Amadis was so stunned he could not spur his horse or put his hand on his sword to defend himself from those who were attacking him. But King Perion, who had by then mounted a horse and had seen the enormous knight and how Amadis had met him so hard, was very frightened and said:

“My Lord God, protect that knight. Now, my son Florestan, let us come to his aid.”

Then they charged so bravely that it was amazing to see them, and they entered into the melee, attacking and striking down knights until they reached Amadis. The King told him:

“What is this, knight? Be strong, be strong, for I am here.”

Amadis recognized the voice of his father, and although he was not entirely aware of his surroundings, he put his hand on his sword and, as he saw that many knights were attacking his father and brother, began to strike at those knights, although weakly.

At this point there was nothing for them but danger because the opposing men were very spirited and King Lisuarte’s men had lost a lot of ground. Many had come to kill those three, and few had come in their defense. But then Agrajes, Sir Galvanes, and Brian of Monjaste arrived, rushing to find Brontaxar d’Anfania, who had caused so much havoc, as ye have heard, and they saw the three knights with the dragon insignia in combat. They came to their aid as those who in any kind of danger never lose heart, and as they arrived, they killed or brought down many of their opponents. Thus the knights with the dragon insignia were able to attack more fiercely and with less danger.


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