Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chapter 79 [part 1 of 2]

How the Greek Knight and his companions brought Grasinda from the sea and took her and her retinue to the battlefield, where her knight would defend her plight to fulfill her quest.

[A moment in the International Jousting Tournament at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.]

They took Grasinda from the sea with four damsels and went to hear Mass in the tents, then they mounted, the three knights in their armor on their horses, and Grasinda looking beautiful on her palfrey in clothing of gold and silk, with precious stones and pearls, so fine that the greatest empress in the world would not have worn better jewels. Since she had always been hoping for this day that had finally come, she had prepared by obtaining the most beautiful and finest things she could as the great lady she was, and since she had no husband or children or family to care for, and being supplied with a large territory and income, she only spent it on the things ye have heard of. And her damsels were also dressed in precious clothing.

Since Grasinda was naturally beautiful, these artificial fineries only increased her comeliness. Everyone who saw her marveled at it, and her appearance gave great courage to he who would have to fight for her. On her head she wore only the crown she had won in Romania as a sign that she was the most beautiful of all the ladies there, as ye have heard.

The Greek Knight led her horse by its reins, wearing armor that Grasinda had had made for him. His coat of mail was white as the moon, and he wore a tunic of the same livery and colors as Grasinda’s clothing, held in place with cords woven from gold, and his helmet and shield were painted with the same heraldic markings as his tunic.

Sir Bruneo wore green armor and the shield bore the figure of a damsel, before whom stood a knight whose armor was decorated with spirals of gold and scarlet, and he seemed to be asking a boon from her. Angriote d’Estravaus rode on a mighty and lively horse and wore armor in a vair pattern of silver and gold, and he carried the reins for the damsel who had brought the message to the King, as ye have heard. Sir Bruneo carried the reins of her sister, and they all wore their helmets laced on, as did the majordomo and his sons, who rode with them.

In such a company they arrived at the place at the edge of the town where battles were usually held. In the middle of the field was a marble column as high as a man was tall, and those who came there to seek jousts and battles would place his shield and helmet or a bouquet of flowers or a glove on it as a sign of duel. When the Greek Knight and his companions arrived, they saw the King at one end of the field and at the other the Romans, and between them was Salustanquidio, wearing black armor decorated with gold and silver serpents. He was so large he seemed like a giant, and he rode an amazingly big horse.

The Queen was at her windows with the princesses next to her, as well as Olinda the Lovely, who along with her fine attire wore a splendid crown on her beautiful hair.

When the Greek Knight arrived at the field, he saw the Queen and princesses and other ladies and damsels of high estate, and when he did not spot his lady Oriana as he usually did, his heart trembled with longing for her. He observed Salustanquidio looking brave and strong, and when he turned to look at Grasinda and saw her close to fainting, he told her:

“My lady, do not be frightened by the sight of a man so extraordinarily large, for God will be on your side, and I shall win that which will give your heart contentment.”

“May it please Him in His compassion,” she said.

Then he took the fine crown she wore on her head and slowly rode to put it on top of the marble column, and returned at once to where his squires were, who carried three strong lances with fine pennants in various colors. He took the one that seemed best, put his shield around his neck and went to where the King was, and said, after bowing, in Greek:

“May God save thee, King. I am a foreign knight who has come from the Greek Empire thinking to test myself with thy knights, who are so skilled, and not by my will but by the will of she who can command me in this matter. And now, as my good fortune guides me, it seems that the challenge shall be between myself and the Romans. Order them to put the damsels’ crown on the column as I have placed my lady’s for thee.”

Then, fiercely blandishing his lance and spurring his horse as fast as he could, he rode to one end of the field. The King did not know what he had said since he did not understand Greek, but he said to Argamon, who was beside him:

“It seems to me, Uncle, that the knight did not wish to do anything to bring discredit to himself.”

“That is true, my lord,” the Count said, “and although ye suffer some shame by having these men from Rome in your court, it would be a joy to see a bit of their arrogance broken.”

“I do not know if that shall be,” the King said, “but I believe a beautiful joust is being readied.”

The knights and other men from the King’s court, when they saw what the Greek Knight had done, were amazed and said that they had never seen such a well-attired and handsome knight in armor except for Amadis. Salustanquidio was near and noted how everyone only had eyes for the Greek Knight and praised him, and he said with great ire:

“What is this, men of Great Britain? Why do ye marvel at a crazy Greek knight who knows nothing except how to play in a field? It seems ye do not know them as well as we do, and how they fear the name ‘Roman’ like fire. It shows that ye have not seen or experienced great feats of arms if this small man frightens you. Well, now ye shall see how that handsome armored man will seem to you when he is cold and dishonored on the ground.”

Then he rode over to the Queen and said to Olinda:

“My lady, give me your crown, for you are the one I love and value above all other women. Give it to my, my lady, and do not hesitate, for I shall return soon with the one on the column, and ye shall enter Rome with it, if the King and Queen shall be content to let me take you with Oriana, for I shall make you lady over myself and my lands.”

Olinda, upon hearing this, wanted nothing to do with his madness. Her heart and flesh shook, and her face grew livid, but she would not give him the crown. When Salustanquidio saw this, he said:

“My lady, do not be afraid to give me the crown, for I shall make you win the honor and that crazy lady shall leave without it, relying on the strength of that cowardly Greek.”

But for all of that, Olinda did not wish to give it to him at all, but the Queen took if from her head and sent it to him. He took it and went to put it on the column on top of the other one. He hurriedly asked for his arms, and three Roman knights immediately gave him them. He placed his shield around his neck, put his helmet on his head, took the thickest lance with a large, sharp iron point, and spurred his horse.

As everyone was gazing at him, so large and well armed, his courage and arrogance grew, and he said to the King:

“Now I want your knights to see the difference between them and the Romans, for I shall defeat that Greek. He said that if he defeated me, he would fight two other knights, so I shall fight with the two best knights he brings, and if they lack courage, let them bring a third.”

Sir Grumedan, who was boiling with anger to hear that and to see the King’s patience, told him:

“Salustanquidio, ye have forgotten about the battle that ye must fight with me if ye survive this one, and now you demand another.”

“It will be easy to carry out,” Salustanquidio said.

And the Greek Knight shouted:

“Ill-formed vile beast, what art thou talking about? Why art thou letting the day go by? Pay attention to what thou ought to be doing.”

When Salustanquidio heard that, he turned his horse and they charged at one another at a gallop, their lances lowered, protecting themselves with their shields. The horses were agile and fast, the knights strong and irate, and they met in the middle of the field and neither failed with his blow. The Greek Knight struck him below the boss of his shield and pierced it, but the lance struck some of the strong plates of his armor and could not pass through them. He hit him so hard he threw him from his saddle, and everyone was amazed. The Greek Knight rode past handsomely bearing Salustanquidio’s lance through his shield and into the sleeve of his chain mail, so everyone thought he was injured, but he was not.

He pulled the lance from his shield and took it in one of his hands and rode to where Salustanquidio was, and saw that he did not move and lay as if he were dead. That was no surprise, for he was large and heavy and had fallen from his horse, which was tall, and the armor was heavy and the field hard. All that caused him to be close to death, which he was. Above all, his left arm had broken when he fell over it just above his hand, and most of his ribs had been dislocated.

The Greek Knight, who had expected him to be more courageous, stopped beside him, still on his horse, and put the iron tip of the lance in his face, since his helmet had fallen off with the force of the fall, and told him:

“Knight, do not be of such ill will that ye refuse to yield the damsel’s crown to that beautiful lady, for she deserves it.”

Salustanquidio did not respond, so he left him there and rode to the King and said in Greek:

“Good King, that knight, although he is no longer arrogant, does not wish to yield the crown to that lady who waits for it, nor does he wish to defend it or answer me. Grant it to her by your judgement, as is right. If not, I must cut off his head so in that way the crown shall be yielded.”

Then he returned to where knight lay. The King asked what he had said, and his uncle the Count told him and added:

“It would be your fault to let that knight die before you, since he cannot defend himself, and by right ye may judge that the crowns are for the Greek Knight.”

“My lord,” Sir Grumedan said, “let the knight do what he wishes, for the Romans have more tricks than foxes do, and if Salustanquidio lives, he will say that he was still able to continue fighting if you had not been so fast in delivering judgement.”

Everyone laughed at what Sir Grumedan said, and the Romans’ hearts broke. The King, who saw that the Greek Knight had dismounted and meant to cut off Salustanquidio’s head, told Argamon:

“Uncle, run fast and tell him to desist in killing him and take the crowns, for I award them, and he should deliver them where he ought.”

Argamon hurried toward him shouting to listen to the King’s orders. The Greek Knight stepped back and put his sword on his shoulder. By then the Count had arrived, and he said:

“Knight, the King asks you on his behalf to desist in killing that knight, and orders ye to take the crowns.”

“I am pleased by that,” he said, “and know, my lord, that if I were to fight with one of the King’s vassals, I would not kill him if there were another way to end what had been begun, but with the Romans, I would kill and dishonor them as the vile men they are, alike in the false behavior of that arrogant Emperor, their lord, from whom they all learn to be arrogant and, in the end, cowards.”

The Count returned to the King, and told him what the knight had said. The knight remounted his horse and took both crowns from the column and brought them to Grasinda. He put the damsels’ crown on her head, and he gave the other to one of her damsels to keep.

The Greek Knight said to Grasinda:

“My lady, your plight is now in the state you desired, and I, by the mercy of God, have completed the boon I promised you. If ye please, ye may go to the tents to rest now, and I shall wait to see if the Romans enter the field despite their sorrow.”

“My lord,” she said, “I shall not depart from you for any reason, for I can have no greater rest or pleasure than to see your great deeds as a knight.”

“As ye will,” he said.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Summary of Book II

The love between Amadis and Oriana is tested, and treachery tears apart the court of King Lisuarte.

[Yedra Castle in Cazorla, near Jaen, Spain. Its original construction dates back to the 12th century.


Not far across the sea from Great Britain lies Firm Island, so named because a narrow strip of land connects it to terra firma. Long ago Apolidon, before he became Emperor of Constantinople, lived there and left behind enchantments to test loyalty in love, beauty in women, and skill in arms. The knight who passes the test of skill in arms would become lord of the island.

Amadis, Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes leave Queen Briolanja and decide to test themselves at Firm Island. Amadis wins and becomes its lord, to the joy of all. But Oriana wrongly believes he loves Briolanja instead of her, so she sends him a letter withdrawing her love and ordering him never to come before her again. When Amadis receives the letter, he loses the will to live and leaves the island as secretly as possible to wander desolate in the mountains.

There he encounters a foolish knight singing of his love for Oriana. Amadis easily defeats him. The knight is Patin, from Rome, and will eventually be its Emperor.

Everyone begins to search for Amadis, who is dying of grief, but he has found a hermit who takes him to spend what little remains of his life at his hermitage on an island named Poor Rock. The hermit renames him Beltenebros, which means "Handsome Gloom."

Oriana learns that her letter made Amadis want to die. Ridden with guilt, she sends the Damsel of Denmark to Scotland to look for him. Her ship is blown off course to Poor Rock, and she finds him, wasted away by grief, and eventually recognizes him by a scar on his face. She gives him a letter from Oriana confessing her guilt. He immediately leaves with the Damsel.

Meanwhile, in London, King Lisuarte has been challenged to a battle by King Cildadan of Ireland, who has several giants and the sorcerer Arcalaus on his side. Lisuarte begins to recruit one hundred knights to fight with him, including Galaor, Florestan, and Agrajes.

Oriana has gone to rest at her castle, Miraflores, near London, and sends word to Beltenebros to come there. On his way he defeats some of King Cildadan’s allies, and his esteem as Beltenebros grows in London. He arrives at Miraflores at night and is welcomed into Oriana's arms. He spends the next week there with her, both overjoyed with pleasure.

Back in London, an elderly squire arrives with a magic sword and wreath of flowers to test the loyalty of lovers. Beltenebros and Oriana go there, disguised, and win the test, so they need never doubt each other’s love again.

Beltenebros joins the hundred knights fighting for King Lisuarte against King Cildadan. The battle is long and cruel, but in the end, Beltenebros rescues Lisuarte and shouts, “Gaul, Gaul, for I am Amadis!” This rallies Lisuarte’s men and they win, led by Amadis.

But Galaor has been almost fatally injured. Twelve damsels arrive to take Galaor and the injured King Cildadan away in a ship. When the men awake, they discover the damsels were sent by Urganda the Unrecognized, a sorceress,who nurses them back to health.

King Arban of North Wales and Angriote de Estravaus are being held and tortured by the widow of one of King Lisuarte’s opponents. She offers to send the valiant knight Ardan Canileo to fight Amadis, and if he wins, she will free them. Amadis accepts. But his magic sword is stolen and delivered to Canileo.

The battle begins, and it is fierce. Oriana watches from a window, and her presence gives Amadis great courage. He makes a bold move to disarm Ardan, kills him, wins the fight, and recovers his sword.

Although King Lisuarte has enjoyed great good fortune for many years, he has two scheming old counselors in his court, and they are jealous of Amadis. They tell the King that Amadis is planning to take the kingdom from him. Foolishly, the King believes them and tells Amadis and his friends to leave.

That night, Amadis secretly meets with Oriana, and in bed, explains that he must go. She is heartbroken but grants permission. The next morning, Amadis calls together many knights and tells them he is departing for Firm Island, explains why, and invites them to accompany him. Five hundred leave with him.

Eventually King Lisuarte discovers the treachery, but it is too late.

And Oriana discovers she is pregnant.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chapter 78 [part 3 of 3]

[How the Romans challenged the Greek Knight, then all the Knights of Great Britain.] 

[Nobles rendering tribute to Jaime the Conqueror of Aragon (1208-1276) in the city of Teruel, as depicted at Plaza de España in Seville. Photo by Sue Burke.]


And now know that, when Grasinda’s messenger-damsel left King Lisuarte and the Queen with the reply that ye have heard, the cousin of the Emperor of Rome, Salustanquidio, rose up along with fully one hundred Roman knights and called out to the King so that all could hear:

“My lord, I and these noblemen of Rome who are here before you wish to ask for a boon that will be to your advantage and our honor.”

“I would be very pleased to give you any boon ye ask,” the King said, “especially one as ye say.”

“Then,” Salustanquidio said, “allow us to take the challenge for the damsels, and we shall do better for them than the knights from this land, because we know the Greeks well. They fear the name ‘Romans’ more than the deeds and accomplishments of the knights from here.”

Sir Grumedan, who was there, stood and came before the King to say:

“My lord, although it may be a great honor to princes to have bold adventures undertaken at their courts, and it may augment their honors and royal estates, very quickly it can turn into dishonor and loss if it is not received and managed with great discretion. I say this, my lord, for the Greek Knight, who has just come to the court with such a quest. And if his great arrogance would give rise to the defeat of those who are in our court and wish to contradict him, although the danger and harm were theirs, your honor would be diminished. And so, my lord, it seems to me that before anything is decided by you, we should wait for Sir Galaor and Norandel, your son, for from what I have learned they will be here within five days. And during that time Sir Guilan the Pensive will be better and can take up arms. These knights can defend the cause of the damsels’ honor, and yours shall be protected.”

“That cannot be,” the King said, “for I have already granted that boon. Those knights are such that they could succeed at even a greater challenge than this.”

“It may be so,” Sir Grumedan said, “but I shall see to it that the damsels will not agree to this.”

“Do not do so,” the King said, “for everything I would do for the damsels in my court has been decided, and besides, this was requested from me.”

Salustanquidio went to kiss the King’s hands, and he said to Sir Grumedan:

“I shall win this battle to my honor and that of the damsels. And ye, Sir Grumedan, if ye hold so highly these knights ye speak of and yourself and believe that they will do better than we would, if I leave that battle able to take up arms, I shall take two companions and they and I shall fight with you and them, and if I cannot, I shall send another in my place who will easily be able to replace me in the fight.”

“In the name of God,” Sir Grumedan said, “I shall accept this battle on behalf of myself and those who wish to fight with me.”

He took a ring from his finger and held it out to the King, and said:

“My lord, ye see here my pledge for myself and for those who wish to enter the battle with me. Since this was demanded by them, ye cannot refuse it rightly unless they concede defeat.”

Salustanquidio said:

“The seas will dry up before a Roman goes back on his word except to his honor. Your old age has taken your mind, and your body shall pay for that if ye place it in battle.”

“Truly,” Sir Grumedan said, “I am not a young man and have passed quite a few days, but I do not think that is to my harm. I hold it as my greatest advantage, for in them I have seen many things, among them that arrogance never comes to a good end, which I expect shall happen to you, for your boasting shows that ye are a captain and master of arrogance.”

King Arban of North Wales stood to answer the Romans, as did thirty knights who sought their fate with him, along with another hundred. But the King, who knew him, extended his scepter and ordered them not to speak of it, and ordered Sir Grumedan to do the same.

Count Argamon told the King:

“My lord, order them all to go to their quarters, for it diminishes you to have this pass in your presence.”

The King did so, and the Count told him:

“How, my lord, does the madness of these Romans seem to you? They dishonor those in your court and pay no attention to you. Then what will they do in their own lands, and how will your daughter be treated? For they tell me, my lord, that ye have already promised her to them. I do not know what trick this is for a man as wise and as blessed as you are in good judgement to play on the wishes of God, for instead of giving Him thanks, ye wish to tempt and anger Him. Be aware that He may cause the wheel of fortune to turn, and when He is angered by those whom He has done great good, He can punish with not just one but many cruel lashes.

“The things of this world are transitory and perishable, and their glory and fame last only as long as they are before men’s eyes, and no one is judged except for how they seem in the present, so all the blessings and heights which are yours now may be forgotten, buried beneath the ground, if fortune goes against you. And if any remembrance of them remains, it will be only to blame you for their loss.

“Remember, my lord, the great error ye did for no reason to expel such an honorable knight as Amadis of Gaul from your court, along with his brothers and all his lineage and many other knights who left for his cause, and how honored and feared in all the world ye were. Ye have not yet recovered from that error, and yet ye wish to enter into another that would be worse?

“This only comes to you from your own great arrogance, and if it were not so, ye would have feared God and taken counsel from those who have served you loyally. My lord, with this I discharge the faith and vassalage I owe you. I wish to go to my lands, and if God wills it, I shall not see your daughter Oriana’s weeping and anguish when ye deliver her, for they tell me ye have ordered her to come from Miraflores.”

“Uncle,” the King said, “do not speak to me of this, for it is done and cannot be undone. I ask you to remain for three days to see these battles brought to an end, and that ye be a judge of them with whatever other knights ye wish. Do this because ye understand Greek better than any man in my realm, since ye spent time living in Greece.”

Argamon told him:

“If it pleases you, I shall do so, but when the battles are over I shall not stay longer, for I could not stand it.”

When he was done speaking, the Count went to his lodging, and the King remained in his palace.

Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, who had come there on orders of the Greek Knight, saw everything that had happened before the King after the damsel had left. He immediately went to the ships and told how the Romans asked the King to fight in those battles and how he granted that, and the words Grumedan had with Salustanquidio, and how the time of their battle was set, and everything else that ye have heard of that happened. He also told how the King had sent for his daughter Oriana to deliver her to the Romans when the battles were over.

When the Greek Knight heard that the Romans wanted to fight the battles on behalf of the damsels, he was joyful because he had been worried that his brother Galaor would take up that battle for the damsels, and he considered this the greatest challenge he could have faced because Sir Galaor was the knight who had given him more difficulty than any he had fought with, other than the giants, as the first book of this story has recounted.

He truly believed that if Galaor had been in the court, being the most skilled at arms of all, he would have taken up the challenge, and only two things could have come of it: he would die or he would kill his brother Sir Galaor, who would sooner die than suffer anything that would dishonor him. So he was happy to learn that he was not in the court, and in addition he would not have to fight against any of his friends who were in the court.

He told Grasinda:

“My lady, let us hear Mass tomorrow morning in the tent, and let us dress ourselves well and take whatever damsels ye please, also well attired, and we shall go and bring this to an end, and I trust in God that ye shall achieve the honor that ye desire so much and which ye have come to these lands for.”

Then Grasinda retired to her room, and the Greek Knight and his companions went to their ship.