Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chapter 80 [part 1 of 3]

How King Lisuarte sent for Oriana to deliver her to the Romans; what happened with a knight from Firm Island, and in the battle between Sir Grumedan and the Greek Knight’s companions against three Roman challengers; and how, after they defeated the Romans, the Greek Knight’s companions went to Firm Island, and what they did there. 

[A lady being borne in a litter, from The Collected Works of Christine de Pizan, “The Book of the Queen,” (c. 1410-1414) Harley MS 4431, British Library.]

Ye have heard that Oriana was at Miraflores Castle and Queen Sardamira was with her, having been sent by King Lisuarte to visit her and tell her of the grandeur of Rome and how her reign would by enlarged by her marriage to the Emperor, which was being readied. Now know that, since her father the King had made a promise to the Romans, he decided to order her brought and make arrangements to send her away. He ordered his nephew Giontes to take two knights and some servants to bring her, and to prevent any knight from talking with her.

Giontes took Ganjel of Sadoca and Lasanor and other servants, and went to where Oriana was. They bore her in a litter because that was the only way she would come, for she was faint from so much weeping. With her damsels and Queen Sardamira and her retinue, they left Miraflores and took the road to Tagades, where the King was.

On the second day something happened, about which ye shall now hear: near the road and below some trees next to a fountain was a knight in fine armor on a brown horse. He wore a green surcoat tied with green cords through gold eyelets over his chain mail, and he seemed extremely handsome. He took a shield and put it around his neck, took a lance with a green pendant and blandished it a little, then said to his squire:

“Go tell Oriana’s guards that I ask them to give me the chance to speak with her, and there shall come no harm to them nor her, and if they let me do that, I shall thank them, and if not, I shall be sorry and must attempt to do what I can.”

The squire went and gave them the message, and when he said the knight would force them to let him speak to her, they laughed and told him:

“Tell your lord that we shall not let him see her, and if he wishes to attempt to do so by force, nothing shall come of it.”

But Oriana, who overheard that, said:

“What does it matter to you if that knight speaks to me? Perhaps he brings me some news that would please me.”

“My lady,” Giontes said, “your father the King ordered us not to allow anyone to approach you to speak to you.”

The squire returned with this answer, and Giontes prepared for battle. When the knight in green heard the reply, he immediately charged and they struck each other on their shields so mightily that their lances broke into pieces, but with the great force of the encounter, Giontes’s horse’s leg was dislocated and it fell. One of Gionte’s feet was trapped beneath it in the stirrup, and he could not get up. The knight in green went past him, riding handsomely, turned immediately, and said:

“Knight, I ask you to let me speak with Oriana.”

He told him:

“I can no longer deny you that, although my horse is to blame.”

Then Ganjel of Sadoca shouted at the knight in green to prepare himself and not touch Giontes or he would die for it. “Would that I had you in such as state,” he said.

The knight in green rode at him as fast as his horse could gallop once he got a lance from his squire, but he erred in the encounter. Ganjel of Sadoca struck him on the shield and broke his lance, but no other harm was done. The knight turned around toward him and saw his sword in his hand, and struck him with his lance so hard it flew into pieces. Ganjel was thrown from his saddle and fell hard.

Then Lasanor charged, but the knight, who was very skilled at such situations, protected himself so well that Lasanor missed with the lance and it was knocked from his hand, and they struck each other so bravely that their shields were smashed and the arm Lasanor used to hold it was broken. The knight in green, who turned to face him sword in hand, saw that he was too stunned to attack, so he took the reins to his horse and struck its head with the flat of his sword to made it flee through the countryside with his master. And seeing it go, he could not help from laughing.

Then he took a letter he carried and went to Oriana in her litter. And she, who had seen him defeat those three knights, all quite skilled at arms, thought it was Amadis, and her heart trembled. But the knight approached her with great humility, held out the letter, and said:

“My lady, Agrajes and Sir Florestan send you this letter, in which ye shall find news that will give ye pleasure. May God keep you, my lady, for I must return to those who sent me. I know for certain that they need me, though I may be of little worth.”

“It seems to me to be the contrary from what I have seen,” Oriana said, “and I beg you to tell me your name, for ye had to work so hard to bring me pleasure.”

“My lady,” he said, “I am Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, and what your father the King is doing to you gives me deep sorrow. But I trust in God that it will be very hard for him to make it happen. Rather, so many of your subjects and others shall die that it will be known throughout the world.”

“Oh, Sir Gavarte, my good friend, may God be pleased to have such a time come to me when your great loyalty to me shall be rewarded!”

“My lady,” he said, “it has always been my desire to serve you in everything as my legitimate ruler, and in this matter even more, knowing the great injustice being done to you. I shall come to your aid with others who wish to serve you.”

“My friend,” she said, “I beg you to say this wherever ye may be.”

“So I shall,” he said, “for I can do so with loyalty.”

Then he bid her farewell. Oriana went to Mabilia, who was with Queen Sardamira, and the Queen told her:

“It seems to me, my lady, that we have equal guardians. I do not know whether it is due to their weakness or the misfortune of this road, for here your guards and mine were both defeated and left injured.”

When the Queen said this, they all laughed heartily, but the knights were ashamed and confounded and did not dare appear before them. Oriana stood there a while as the knights sought aid, for Lasanor’s horse could not bring him back for a long time.

She stepped away with Mabilia and they read the letter, and from it they learned that Agrajes, Sir Florestan and Sir Gandales wished her to know that Gandalin and Ardian the dwarf were already at Firm Island and Amadis would be there within a week. He had ordered them to prepare a great fleet that would be needed to go to an important place, and they had it ready. They hoped she would be pleased and hold great hope that God would aid her.

Oriana and Mabilia were overjoyed beyond comparison at that news, for it would bring them life, since they held themselves for dead if the wedding were to happen. Mabilia comforted Oriana and begged her to eat. Until then, in her great sorrow, she had not wished nor been able to eat, nor could she now with such great joy.

So they traveled down the road to where the King was, but before they arrived, the King and the Romans came out to receive her along with many other people. When Oriana saw them, she began to weep fiercely and had herself helped from her litter, and all her damsels joined her. When they saw her sobbing so pitifully, they wept and tore their hair and kissed her hands and dress as if they beheld her dead, and everyone felt great sorrow.

This sight troubled the King greatly. He told King Arban of North Wales:

“Go to Oriana and tell her that I feel the greatest distress in the world for what she is doing, and that I send orders for her and her damsels to enter the litter and appear more cheerful and go to her mother, and I shall tell her news that will make her happy.”

King Arban did as he was ordered, but Oriana answered:

“Oh, King of North Wales, my good cousin! My great misfortune has been so cruel that if ye and others who have undertaken great peril to aid sad and distressed damsels cannot rescue me with arms, then perhaps ye can rescue me with words. Advise my father the King not to do me such wrong and not to tempt God, or the great good fortune he has enjoyed in his life may turn contrary. My cousin, try to make him come here and bring with him Count Argamon and Sir Grumedan, for by no means shall I depart from here until this is done.”

As she spoke, King Arban could not stop sobbing and could not answer. He returned to the King and told him what Oriana had said, and Lisuarte thought it harmful to oppose her in public because the more her sorrow and anguish became notorious to everyone, the more his blame would grow. Count Argamon, seeing his hesitation, urged the King to go to her, and he insisted so much that with Sir Grumedan, the three went to his daughter. When she saw her father, she came to him and knelt before him, and her damsels with her, but he immediately dismounted and raised her up by the hand and embraced her.

She told him:

“Father, my lord, have mercy on this daughter who in a sad moment was engendered, and hear me before these noblemen.”

“My daughter,” the King said, “say what ye please, and with a father’s love I must hear you.”

She fell to the ground to kiss his feet. He pulled back and rose her up. She said:

“My lord, your will is to send me to the Emperor of Rome and separate me from you and my mother the Queen and this land which God made my homeland. And since from this trip I expect nothing but death, which shall either come for me or I shall give to myself, in no way shall your wish be fulfilled. The results for you shall be sin, and in two ways: first, I shall be disobedient to your will, and second, I shall die because of you. For all this to be avoided and God be served by us, I wish to enter a convent and live there, leaving you free to dispose of your kingdom and lordships as ye wish. I shall renounce all rights that God gave me in favor of my sister Leonoreta or anyone else as ye may desire. And, my lord, ye shall be better served by whoever she marries than by the Romans, who when they have me, shall become your enemies. If in this way ye think to win them, ye shall not only lose them but, as I said, ye shall make them mortal enemies of yours, and they will think of nothing else but how to take this land.”

“My daughter,” the King said, “I understand well what ye say, and I shall give you my answer in front of your mother. Now return to your litter and go to her.”

Then they put her in her litter and had her taken to her mother the Queen, who received her with great love, but weeping, for the wedding was being arranged entirely against her will.

But neither her nor the great lords of the kingdom nor the lesser lords could change the King’s mind. Because of this, Fortune was now angered and tired. It had given him high achievements and blessings, but now he had grown more angry and arrogant than ever before, so Fortune wished to change things to the contrary, more for the sake of his soul than his honor, as the fourth book of this grand story shall tell in much greater detail.

The Queen consoled her daughter with great pity, and her daughter, with many tears and true humility, on her knees, said that her mother was outstanding in the world for giving counsel to sad women and finding the remedy to their tribulations, so who equal or better than she could be found in all the world? To those who saw them, mother and daughter seemed embraced, speaking with deep compassion both of the great delights of the past and their anguish and profound sadness, which many times overcome people, and no one, no matter how great or discreet they may be, can avoid it.

Count Argamon, King Arban of North Wales, and Sir Grumedan took the King aside under some trees, and the Count told him:

“My lord, ye have ordered me not to speak further about this concern, and because your discretion is so much greater than all others, knowing what is best and what is not, well and honorably I could be excused from speaking. But as I am of your blood and your vassal, I am not content or satisfied with what has been said, and I believe, my lord, that as wise men oftentimes are right, when they err even once, they do so worse than any madman, because, in their daring wisdom, they do not take counsel, blinded by love, hatred, greed, or pride, and they can fall so low that they can hardly rise again. Beware, my lord, for ye are committing great cruelty and sin, and very soon ye may suffer such a lashing from the Lord on high that your brilliance and glory in the world shall become obscured. Consider how many wise men have forgone their own desires to bend their fortunes to follow your will. Listen to advice this one time, and if trouble should come to you from this, you can blame the advice rather than yourself, which this is the great remedy and relief of those who err.”

“Good Uncle,” the King said, “I am very aware of all that ye have just told me, but I can do nothing else but fulfill the promise I have made.”

“Then, my lord,” the Count said, “I ask for permission to return to my lands.”

“May ye go with God,” the King said.

So they concluded their conversation, and the King went to eat. When the tablecloths were lifted, he ordered Brondajel de Roca be called, and said to him:

“My friend, ye see how much this wedding goes against the will of my daughter and all my vassals, who love her dearly. But I, understanding that I will be giving her to such an honorable man and placing her among you, shall not go back on my promise. So prepare the ships, for within three days I shall deliver Oriana and all her ladies and damsels to you. And take the precaution of not allowing her to leave her chamber in the ship so that no disaster can occur.”

Brondajel told him:

“Everything shall be done as ye order, and although now the Empress finds it sorrowful to leave her lands where she is known to all, when she sees the grandeur of Rome and its great reign, and sees kings and princes bowing to serve her, it shall not take long before her will shall be satisfied and content. Such news shall be sent to you by writing soon, my lord.”

The King embraced him laughing and said:

“May God help me, Brondajel, my friend, I believe that such men as you will know very well how to make her recover her joy.”

Salustanquidio, who was now well enough to leave his bed, asked the King for the kindness of sending Olinda with Oriana, for he had promised Olinda that when he was King, as the Emperor had said he would be when he arrived with Oriana, he would take her as his wife. The King was very pleased by that and praised her highly, saying that given her discretion and honesty and great beauty, she well deserved to be queen and lady of a great land.


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