Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chapter 81 [part 2 of 2]

[What the knights decided to do to keep Oriana safe.] 

[A detail of a depiction of Ulysses arriving at Crete, from the Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César, made in Naples in 1330-1340. From the British Library.]

Amadis left the chamber where Oriana was and went to see Landin of Fajarque, who had been fighting the Romans on the forecastle. They had surrendered, and Amadis ordered that since they had given themselves up as prisoners, none should be killed.

Then he boarded a very beautiful galley, joining Enil and Gandalin and forty knights from Firm Island, and ordered the galley be brought to where he could hear the battle cry of Agrajes, who had gone to Salustanquidio’s large ship. When he arrived, he saw that Agrajes had already attacked, and Amadis had his galley alongside so he could also board it, helped by Sir Cuadragante.

The press and noise were great because Agrajes and his companions were fighting and killing cruelly. But when the Romans saw Amadis, they jumped into skiffs or the water, where some died and others reached ships that had not yet been defeated. Amadis hurried forward asking for his cousin Agrajes, found him, and saw that he had Salustanquidio at his feet and had given him a large wound on his arm. The Roman was pleading for mercy, but Agrajes, who knew how he loved Olinda, would not stop attacking and trying to kill him, for he despised him.

Sir Cuadragante told him not to kill him because they would get a good ransom for him, but Amadis said, laughing:

“My lord Sir Cuadragante, let Agrajes carry out his will, for if we stop him, all of us he finds will be dead, for he will not leave any man alive.”

And as he spoke, Salustanquidio’s head was cut off. The ship was taken, and the flags of Agrajes and Sir Cuadragante were placed in the forecastle and quarterdeck, both well protected by the many good and brave knights on board. This done, Agrajes quickly went to the chamber where they said his lady Olinda was, who was asking for him.

Amadis and Sir Cuadragante, together with Landin and Listoran of the White Tower, went to see how Sir Florestan and those with him were faring. They boarded the galley Amadis had brought, then they met one of Sir Florestan’s galleys, where there was a knight, a relative on his mother’s side named Isanes, who told them:

“My lords, Sir Florestan and Gavarte of the Fearful Valley want you to know that they have killed or taken prisoner everyone in those ships, and they are holding the Duke of Ancona and the Archbishop of Talancia.”

Amadis, who took great pleasure in hearing that, sent him to say that they should bring all their galleys alongside the one he had taken, where Oriana was, and they would hold a council to decide what to do. First they searched everywhere and saw that the Roman fleet had been destroyed. No one on it had escaped, even though they had tried to in some skiffs, but they had been overtaken and captured, so no one could carry the news about the battle to land.

They went directly to Oriana’s ship, where Brondajel de Roca was prisoner. They came on board and took off their helmets and gloves, and washed off the blood and sweat. Amadis asked about Florestan, whom he did not see there. Landin of Fajarque told him:

“He went to Queen Sardamira in her chamber, who was calling for him to be summoned to help her, and now she is at Oriana’s feet begging for mercy and asking not to be killed or dishonored.”

Amadis went there and asked for Queen Sardamira, and Mabilia pointed her out, for she was embracing her, and Sir Florestan was holding her hand. Amadis came before her very humbly and wished to kiss her hands, but she pulled them back. He told her:

“My good lady, fear nothing, for you have at your service and command Sir Florestan, whom we all respect and obey, and everything shall be done as ye wish, to say nothing of our desire, which is to serve and honor all women, each as she deserves. And as you, good lady, among all others are noteworthy and esteemed, so your contentment should rightly be our chief concern.”

The Queen said to Sir Florestan:

“Tell me, my good lord, who is this knight who is so respectful and is your dear friend?”

“My lady,” he said, “this is Amadis, my lord and my brother, with whom we all came here to rescue Oriana.”

When she heard this, she stood up before him with great pleasure and said:

“My good lord Amadis, if I did not receive you as I should, do not blame me, for it was because I did not know who you were. And I thank God that in such tribulation He has placed me in your courtesy and in the protection and aid of Sir Florestan.”

Amadis took her by the other hand and brought her to the estrado where Oriana was and had her sit there. And he sat beside his cousin Mabilia, for he deeply wished to talk with her. But in all the while, Queen Sardamira, although she knew the Roman fleet had been defeated and destroyed, and many of its men dead and the rest prisoners, had still not learned about the death of Prince Salustanquidio, for whom she had good and faithful love and who she considered the greatest and foremost of all the men in the Kingdom of Rome, nor did she learn of this for some time.

And sitting there as ye hear, Oriana said to Queen Sardamira:

“My lady and Queen, although I was angered by the words that you said to me at first because they concerned a matter that I abhorred, I saw how you ceased to speak of that. Due to the kindness and courtesy in everything that has happened between us, I tell you that I shall always love you and honor you with all my heart, for ye could do nothing about what gave me sorrow, and what came to me from your noble and proper virtue gave me contentment.”

“My lady,” she said, “as such is your understanding, I shall not try to excuse myself.”

As they were speaking, Agrajes arrived with Olinda and the damsels that had been made to accompany her. When Oriana saw her, she stood up and embraced her as if she had not seen her for a long time, and she kissed her hands. She turned to Agrajes and embraced him with great love, and she also received in the same way all the knights with him, and she said to Gavarte of the Fearful Valley:

“My beloved Gavarte, ye have fulfilled the promise you gave me, and the Lord of the world knows of the thanks and the desire I have to reward you.”

“My lady,” he said, “I have done what I ought as your vassal, which I am. My lady, as my rightful ruler, when you are far from me, remember me, for I shall always be at your service.”

By then all the most honorable knights had arrived, and they went to one end of the ship to take counsel. Oriana called Amadis to come next to the estrado and very quietly told him:

“My truly beloved, I ask and order you for the true love that you have for me, now more than ever to keep our love secret. Do not speak to me privately but in front of everyone, and if you wish to tell me something in secret, do so through Mabilia. And try to take us from here to Firm Island, because when I am in a safe place, God will help me because He knows I am in the right.”

“My lady,” Amadis said, “I live only with the hope to serve you, and if I did not have that, I would not have life. As you order, so it shall be. And as for going to the island, it would be good if you were to send Mabilia to say that to these knights, so it would seem more like it came from your desire and will than from mine.”

“So I shall,” she said, “and it seems wise. Now go join those knights.”

Amadis left, and the knights spoke about what they ought to do next, but as they were many, their ideas were varied. Some thought they ought to take Oriana to Firm Island, others to Gaul, others to Scotland, which was Agrajes’ home, so they did not agree. At that time Princess Mabilia came with four damsels. They all received her well and had her stand in front of them. She said:

“My lords, Oriana asks you, for the kindness and love that ye have shown by rescuing her, to take her to Firm Island, for she wishes to remain there until she is on more loving terms with her father and mother. And she asks you, my lords, to bring to a fine end that which ye have begun so well, considering her extraordinary fate and the effort made for her, and to do for her what ye have always done for other damsels who are not of such high estate.”

“My good lady,” Sir Cuadragante said, “the fine and courageous Amadis and all the knights who have participated in her rescue are willing to serve her unto death, both ourselves and our families and friends, who can and will be many. We are all united to protect her from her father and the Emperor of Rome, if they do not come to reason and do justice for her. And tell her that if God wills, it shall be done just as I have said. She should hold that firmly in her thoughts, for with God’s help, we shall not fail her. This service has been rendered to her with deliberation and effort, and she shall be aided with even greater effort and agreement until her safety and our honor are satisfied.”

All the knights agreed with what Sir Cuadragante had said, and with great commitment they pledged that they would never abandon that quest until Oriana was free and her reigns were restored, which she was certain to have if she outlived her mother and father.

Princess Mabilia bid them farewell and went to Oriana, who felt consoled when she learned the answer to her message, and she believed that with the permission of the just Judge, she would be guided to the end she desired.

With that agreement, all the knights went to their ships to order the distribution of the prisoners and spoils, which were many. They left Oriana and Queen Sardamira with their damsels and Sir Bruneo of Bonamar, Landin of Fajarque, Sir Gordan, brother of Angriote de Estravaus, his nephew Sarquiles, Orlandin, son of the Count of Urlanda, and Enil, who had suffered three wounds, which he had kept hidden as one who was courageous and able to suffer great travail. These knights were charged with guarding Oriana and the other high-born ladies with her, accompanying them until they were brought to Firm Island, where they had agreed to go.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer vacation starts soon

Next week, we will finish Book III, then take a break. 

Your translator, Sue Burke, at the Port Notre-Dame in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a medieval town in southeastern France. The French route of the Way of St. James pilgrimage road starts there and passes through the gate and over the bridge – in fact, there’s a pilgrim right behind me. Photo by Mary Drzycimski-Finn.


As usual, after the next post, this blog will take August off. Actually, I’ll be working on Book IV throughout August, since we’re about to finish Book III.

I began this translation blog in January 2009, and at the current rate, I should finish the novel in July of 2017. Over the years, this translation has gathered more and more loyal readers – and I thank each and every one of you. I’m having fun and learning a lot, and I hope you are, too. If I can do anything to make this blog better for you, let me know.

Come back in September for more adventures of the greatest knight in the world. Will Amadis make peace with King Lisuarte? Will he marry Oriana? Will he learn that Esplandian is his son? And what about the evil sorcerer Arcalaus?

Remember that this blog is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0, so feel free to copy, distribute, display, share, or perform all or any part of it, or to create derivative works – for non-commercial use. Just say that you got it here. Thank you!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chapter 81 [part 1 of 2]

How King Lisuarte delivered his daughter to the Romans against her will; and the rescue of the very beautiful Oriana by Amadis along with all the other knights of Firm Island, and how they took her to Firm Island. 

 [An early 15th century French depiction of the Greeks attacking Troy from the Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à César. From the British Library.]

King Lisuarte was determined to deliver his daughter Oriana to the Romans, so firm in his decision that nothing could change his mind, as ye have heard. The time came for her to go, and he spoke with her, trying in many different ways to move her will in the direction that he wished, but in no way could he overcome her weeping and suffering. So he left her, irate, went to the Queen, and told her to calm their daughter, since he had accomplished little, and he had to keep his promise.

The Queen had spoken to him about that promise many times, hoping to find some argument against it, but her attempts had always failed and she found nothing to change his mind, so she did not want to say anything more to him and went to do as he had ordered, although she felt so much anguish in her heart that she could take no more.

She ordered all the princesses and other damsels that were going to travel with Oriana to go immediately to the ships. With her were only Mabilia, Olinda, and the Damsel of Denmark. The Queen also ordered all her clothing and fine attire taken to the ships.

Oriana, when she saw her mother and her sister, went to them in deep sorrow, took her mother’s hand, and began to kiss it. Her mother said:

“Good daughter, I ask you now to be happy, as the King orders, for I trust in the mercy of God that it will be for your own good, and He will not wish to forsake you or me.”

Oriana told her:

“My lady, I believe that this separation between you and me shall be forever because my death is very near.”

And having said that, she fell into a faint, and the Queen as well, so they were both unconscious. But the King, who came immediately, had Oriana taken to the ships just as she was, and Olinda with her. But first Olinda knelt and begged him for mercy’s sake to let her go to her father’s home and not send her to Rome. But he was so infuriated that he would not listen and had her brought immediately after Oriana, and ordered Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark to go with them.

So they were all on the ships, including the Romans, as ye have heard, and King Lisuarte mounted a horse and rode to the port where the fleet was, and there consoled his daughter with the piety of a father, but not in a way that allowed any hope that he would change his intentions. And when he saw that this was not enough to soothe her emotions, he felt a degree of pity, and tears came to his eyes.

He left her and spoke with Salustanquidio, Brondajel de Roca, and the Archbishop of Talancia, and put her in their care to protect and serve her, delivering her as promised. He returned to his palace, and behind him the ships were filled with so much weeping and wailing from the ladies and damsels when they saw him leave that it could not be written nor recounted.

After the King had left, Salustanquidio and Brondajel de Roca, who now had Oriana in their power and all the damsels on board the ships, decided to put her in a chamber that had been richly prepared for her, and placed her there with Mabilia, who they knew was the damsel she loved most in the world, and they secured the door with strong locks.

They kept Queen Sardamira on the ship with her retinue, along with many other of Oriana’s ladies and damsels. And Salustanquidio, who was dying with love for Olinda, had her taken to his ship with a number of damsels, but not without their great weeping to be separated from their lady Oriana. And when Oriana heard from her chamber what was being done to the women and how they came to the chamber door holding Olinda and begging Oriana to save them, she fainted again and again in the arms of Mabilia.

But as everything was ready, the sails were raised to the wind and they went on their way, to the great pleasure of those who saw their lord the Emperor’s wishes fulfilled. They had a large flag of the Emperor raised on the top of the mast of the ship that contained Oriana, and all the other ships sailed around it to protect it. And as they sailed very proud and happy, they looked to their right and saw Amadis’ ships, which were overtaking them and were between themselves and the land where they were headed.

Agrajes, Sir Cuadragante, Dragonis, and Listoran of the White Towers had agreed to attack the Romans before Amadis could arrive and rescue Oriana, and that was why they placed themselves between the fleet and the land. But Sir Florestan, the noble Sir Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, Orlandin, and Imosil of Burgundy with their friends and vassals also meant to be the first in the rescue, and came as fast as they could to reach the Roman fleet before Agrajes’ ship. And Amadis and his ship full of friends and men from Firm Island, came at full speed to be the first to rescue her.

I tell you that when the Romans saw the fleet far off in the distance, they thought it was some peaceful fleet going past, but when they saw it separate into three, two in front between them and the land, and the other behind them, they were frightened and raised an uproar, shouting:

“To arms, to arms, for foreigners are coming!”

They immediately armed themselves and placed some very good crossbowmen where they needed to be, and other men in their stations. Brondajel de Roca and many other fine knights who served the Emperor were on the ship where Oriana was, which was where the Emperor’s flag had been raised, as ye have heard.

At that moment the ships came together: Agrajes and Sir Cuadragante with Salustanquidio’s ship, where the beautiful Olinda was on board, and they began to fight bravely. Sir Florestan and Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, who were in the middle of the fleet, attacked the ship that carried the Duke of Ancona and the Archbishop of Talancia, who had many vassals there, well armed and strong, and so the fighting was fierce between them.

And Amadis directed his fleet to the ship that carried the Emperor’s flag, and ordered his men to prepare. He put his hand on Angriote’s shoulder and said:

“My lord Angriote, my good friend, remember the loyalty that ye have always had and still have for your friends, and try to help me in every way you can in this deed. If God wishes me success, all my honor and good fortune and blessings will be fulfilled. Stay by my side as best ye can.”

He replied:

“My lord, I could do no more than lose my life on your behalf and in your aid so that your honor will be upheld, and may God be on your side.”

Then the ships neared each other. So great was the attack with arrows and stones and spears from one side to the other that it seemed like rain, so heavy did they fall. Amadis and his men sought only to bring their ship in contact with their enemy’s, but they could not, for the Romans, although they outnumbered their foes, did not dare to let them come close, and when they saw how determined they were, defended themselves with long iron hooks and many other kinds of weapons.

Then Tantiles of Sobradisa, who was Queen Briolana’s majordomo, standing on the forecastle and watching Amadis’s attempts fail, ordered a large, heavy anchor on a strong chain be brought and launched at the enemy ship from the forecastle. Then he and many others pulled so hard on it that with great effort they brought the ships together against each other, inseparable by any means unless the chain broke.

When Amadis saw this, he urgently ran past everyone else, with Angriote and Sir Bruneo right behind him through the path he had cleared, and when he reached the prow, he put a foot on the edge of his ship and jumped to the other one, and his opponents could not shove him away or stop him. And because the jump was long and he came with great fury, he landed on his knees and was struck with many blows, but he stood up in spite of his fierce attackers and put a hand on his fine burning sword. He saw that Angriote and Sir Bruneo had followed him and were attacking the enemy with mighty and hard blows, shouting, as he had asked them to when they were on the ship:

“Gaul, Gaul, for Amadis is here!”

Mabilia, who was locked in the chamber with Oriana, heard the noise and shouts and then that name, and took Oriana by the arms, who was more dead than alive, and told her:

“Be brave, my lady, for ye are being rescued by that blessed knight, your vassal and loyal lover.”

Oriana stood up asking what was happening, for she was so weak from weeping that she could barely hear or see anything.

After Amadis had stood up and put his hand on his sword, and saw the wonders that Angriote and Sir Bruneo were doing along with the others who had swarmed onto the ship, he went with his sword toward Brondajel de Roca, reached him, and struck such a mighty blow on top of his helmet that he fell at his feet, and if not for the helmet, he would have split his head in two.

Amadis remained where he was because he saw that his opponents had surrendered and were begging for mercy. And he saw that Brondajel wore very fine armor, and he realized that he was the man whom the others were protecting. He took the helmet from Brondajel’s head and struck his face with the hilt of his sword, asking where Oriana was. Brondajel pointed to the locked chamber and said she was there.

Amadis hurried there and called Angriote and Sir Bruneo, and with their combined great strength, they broke down the door and inside saw Oriana and Mabilia. Amadis knelt before her to kiss her hands, but she embraced him and held him by the sleeve of his chain mail, which was stained with the blood of his enemies.

“Oh, Amadis,” she said, “light for all women in distress, now in your great nobility ye have come to rescue myself and these princesses, who have been placed in such bitter tribulation. In all the lands throughout the world ye shall be known and praised.”

Mabilia was kneeling before him and holding the skirt of his chain mail, but since his eyes were only for his lady, he had not seen her. When he did, he raised her up and embraced her with great tenderness, and told her:

“My lady and cousin, I have missed you so much.”

He wished to leave them to see what was happening, but Oriana took him by the hand and said:

“In God’s name, my lord, do not leave me.”

“My lady,” he said, “have no fear, for on this ship are Angriote d’Estravaus, and Sir Bruneo and Gandales with thirty knights to protect you, and I will go help our men, who are facing a great battle.”


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Historic roots of the running of the bulls

Pamplona’s fiesta began in the Middle Ages, and it has changed a lot. 

A historic poster for the San Fermin fair and fiesta.

Every year from July 7 to 14 at 8 a.m sharp, six bulls run through the streets of Pamplona, Spain, chasing about two thousand people. This run, which usually lasts three minutes or less and ends with a report of injuries and an occasional death, has achieved worldwide fame for what some consider pure insanity, and it’s hard to argue with that. But the run is only a small part of the festivities for Saint Fermin, known in Spain as the Sanfermines: religious processions, children’s activities, music, dancing, and a fireworks contest.

It all started before the 1100s with religious activities on October 10 in Pamplona to honor Saint Fermin, one of the patron saints of the kingdom of Navarra. By the 1200s, the city was also celebrating a fair on the night of Saint John the Baptist, June 23 and 24, or sometimes on Saint Peter’s day, June 29.

Like medieval fairs depicted in movies, there was a marketplace and entertainment that attracted crowds, but even more important was the sale of livestock. And, being Spanish, the fair ended with a bullfight, although in medieval times the bull was fought with lances by men on horseback, usually knights.

In 1324, the Sanfermines lasted seven days, and in 1381, King Carlos II of Navarra granted it tax-free status. But that part of Spain is rainy in autumn, so in 1591 all the fairs were united into a single celebration that started on the seventh day of the seventh month – July 7 – to take advantage of sunny summer days. Despite the date change, it was still called the San Fermin fiesta.

The 1591 festival opened with a ceremonial proclamation, a pregón. (Fiestas in Spain still often open with a pregón.) A tournament with lances was held in the main square, and a theater presentation dramatized the “Comedy and Tragedy of the Blessed Saint Fermin.” Dancing and religious processions in the streets occurred throughout the fiesta, and goods and livestock were bought and sold. And there was a bullfight in the main square.

These medieval and Renaissance bullfights were the origin of the running with the bulls. At that time, the run was called the entrada (entrance) because the bulls entered from pastures outside of town and were herded to the corral at the main square at dawn. Just as today, the bulls were led by steers who knew the route, but in those days the bulls were followed by people on horseback or on foot, shouting and waving staffs.

In 1776, the first fencing was built along the route. Sometime in the 1800s, people began to run in front of the bulls, a custom that continues today in Pamplona and in many other cities and towns in Spain. In 1856, the event became known as the encierro (enclosure), which is still the word in Spanish for a running of the bulls. The first rules for the running were created by the municipality in 1867.

The first montón (pileup) was documented in 1878, one of the most feared accidents in a running of the bulls: Someone in the frantic rush ahead of the bulls trips and falls. Another runner trips and falls on him. Then, in the haste and panic, more runners fall until they form a pile. If it blocks the entrance to the bullring, the result is terror: the bulls are on their way and cannot be stopped. A pileup occurred in Pamplona on July 13, 2013. Although no one died, some people were injured as the bulls and steers tried to push through until, finally, the animals were guided away behind a fence at the side of the ring. The pileup starts 2 minutes into this video:

The Sanfermines remained relatively unknown until Ernest Hemingway wrote about them in the novel The Sun Also Rises in 1926. In the 1950s the fiesta became international, and despite the other festivities, the running of the bulls has overshadowed all else, at least to outside observers. A poll by the city in 2014 found that 56% of the runners came from other countries: 24% from the United States, 11% from Australia and New Zealand, 4% from Britain, 2.5% from France, and 2.5% from South America. Only 8% were from Pamplona, 6% from Navarra Province, and 30% from other parts of Spain.

A total of 17,126 runners participated during the 2014 Sanfermines. On July 13 alone, 2,924 runners ran ahead of the bulls – but on every day of the run, most runners start so far ahead of the bulls that they are in the bullring and have leaped up into the seats, ready for the post-run entertainment, long before the bulls are halfway there.

All this has turned a what was a local medieval fair to swap livestock and say some prayers into a modern international festival. The city of Pamplona has 190,000 inhabitants, but more than a million people now come for the Sanfermines. And although it may seem hard to believe, they do a lot more than just run with the bulls.