Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chapter 88

What Amadis said to Grasinda, and how she responded. 

[Saint Luke, the patron saint of doctors. Detail of the Saint Luke Altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna, 1453.]

Amadis went to see Grasinda, whom he dearly loved and esteemed both for who she was and for the many honors he had received from her. He did not think these had been repaid, although he had done for her all the things that this story has recounted. He believed there was a great difference between men who do great feats out of virtue without much knowledge of those who benefit, and men who receive satisfaction and payment from those who benefit, because the former has a generous heart, and the latter, although he may be recognized and thanked, created a debt and was repaid.

Seated with her on an estrado, he told her:

“My lady, if I have not given you the kind of service and pleasure that I wish and desire and that your virtue deserves, I hope I may be pardoned, because as ye have observed, these troubled times are the reason for that. And because your nobility will understand that, I shall not speak of it. I have decided to speak to you and to ask if ye would favor me by telling me the goal of your desires and intentions, because ye left your lands a long time ago, and I do not know if your spirit is suffering any distress over that. If I were to learn this is so, the means to solve that shall be placed at your command.”

Grasinda told him:

“My lord, if I did not believe that your companionship and friendship had not brought me greater honor than anything that could have come my way, and that all the service and pleasure that ye received in my house was repaid and satisfied, if it indeed gave you any contentment, the person with the poorest judgment in the world would notice. And because this is true and well known by all, my lord, I wish that all my desires as I have them be manifest to you. I have seen that although many princes and knights of great valor have come together here to aid this Princess, my good lord, ye are the one whom they all look to and obey, so that in your wisdom and courage they have placed all the hope and good fortune they expect. Given your great courage and position, ye cannot avoid taking charge of everything, because it should and must fall upon no one else but you.

“So it is necessary for your friends and supporters to do all they can to sustain your honor and great estate. Because I hold myself by my own will to be one of your important friends and supporters, I wish to put my desires into practice, and I have agreed with the doctor Elisabad to send him to my lands, and with great care to have all my vassals and friends prepare and supply a great fleet for whenever it may be needed to serve at your orders, my lord. And meanwhile, I shall remain in the company and service of this lady, with the others who are with her, and I shall not part from her nor from you until the conclusion of this matter tells me what I should do.”

When Amadis heard this, he embraced her laughing and said:

“I believe that if all the virtue and nobility in the world were to be lost, it could be recovered in you, my good lady. And if that is what pleases you, so it shall be done. In your service and at my request, the doctor Elisabad must go to see the Emperor of Constantinople with a message from me, although it will be a hardship for him. Considering the gracious offer that the Emperor gave me and the discontent that many told me there he has with the Emperor of Rome, and knowing that the dispute is principally with him, I am sure that given his great and accustomed virtue he will send me help equal to the good service I have given him.”

Grasinda agreed with that, and given the great affection the doctor had for him, she would not need to order him to perform that service, for making such a journey with the message for such a person would be more of an honor and pleasure than a labor.

Amadis told her:

“My lady, since it is your will to remain here with that Princess, ye should be with her and in her chambers along with the other princesses and great ladies, and so ye shall be there and from her ye shall receive the honor and courtesy that your great virtue deserves.”

Then he had his foster father Sir Gandales called, and asked him to go to Oriana and tell her of that lady’s great willingness to be at her service, and to ask her on his behalf to accept her and give her that same honor that she was giving the highest ladies with her. This was done, and Oriana received her with the same love and goodwill that she was accustomed to give to such people, not just for her present service but for what she had done in the past for Amadis by giving him what he needed to go to Greece and above all for the gift of the doctor Elisabad. As this story has told in its third part, by treating the grave injuries that Amadis suffered when he killed the Endriago, second only to God, Elisabad gave life to him and to her, for she could not survive a single day after his death.

After this was done, Grasinda gave Doctor Elisabad everything necessary for him to carry out what had been agreed to, and she asked and ordered him that, considering what Amadis wished him to do, he should begin work on it, giving it all the importance that it deserved. The doctor responded that although he might have to expose himself to danger and travail, he would not fail to fulfill the order. Amadis thanked them deeply and then decided to write a letter to the Emperor, which said:

Letter from Amadis to the Emperor of Constantinople

“Most high Emperor: I, the Knight of the Green Sword, who by his own name is called Amadis of Gaul, send you my respects and remind you of the offer that more by your great virtue and nobility than for my services ye were pleased to give me. Now the time has come in which this is necessary especially from Your Majesty as well as from all my friends and supporters who wish to pursue justice and righteousness, as the doctor Elisabad shall tell you about more extensively. I beg you to give faith to his mission so that it may have the same effect that I myself and all those who must protect and obey would place at your own service.”

When the letter was finished and the full accreditation was given to the doctor, as shall be told later, he took leave of him and of his lady Grasinda, and went to sea to begin his voyage, which he concluded successfully and which in its time shall be told.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

The original ending of Book III

A classic tragedy. 

Illustration from La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas, printed between 1518-1520 in Seville by Jacobo Cromberger, now at the Biblioteca Nacional de España. The Cromberger press also printed six editions of Amadis of Gaul.

The only version we have of Amadis of Gaul is by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo from 1508, and it has four “books” or divisions. Still, we know from comments in the 14th century that the original version had only three books. Montalvo himself says in the prologue to Book I that he added a fourth book.

Well, how did Book III originally end?

Again, we have comments from the 14th century and an allusion to the original ending in Montalvo’s Sergas de Esplandián (Exploits of Esplandian), which recounts the adventures of Amadis’s son, Esplandian.

The original ending was tragic:

Amadis rescues Oriana and takes her to Firm Island. King Lisuarte declares war on Amadis and comes to fight, accompanied by Amadis’s envious brother Galaor and by Esplandian. Only Oriana knows he is Amadis’s son.

After several battles, Galaor challenges Amadis, and Amadis kills him. Then Lisuarte challenges Amadis, and Amadis kills him. Finally Esplandian challenges Amadis, and Esplandian kills Amadis.

Oriana has been watching all this from a tower, and when she sees Amadis die, she jumps out to commit suicide. After that, the sorceress Urganda the Unrecognized appears and tells Esplandian the truth about his father.

Tragic endings were popular in the Middle Ages and Antiquity, but the Renaissance liked a bit more optimism. In addition, Montalvo wanted to start a series of books, and that would be hard to do if everyone were dead.

Book IV still includes the war between Lisuarte and Amadis. No spoilers, but it ends a little happier.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Chapter 87

How all the knights had a great desire to serve and honor Princess Oriana.

 [Portrait of Elizabeth Woodville, Queen consort of England, from about 1472.]

It should rightly be known and never forgotten why these fine knights, along with many others who will be told of farther on, being high-born princes, with deep love and willingness wished to be in the service of this lady and put themselves in combat at great risk. By chance could it be they were willing to act because of the gifts they had received from her? Or because they knew about the secret and fulfilled love between her and Amadis and they were willing to act over that? Truly, I say that neither the one nor the other motivated them. Although she was of great high estate, at that time she had no means by which to give anyone any favors, since she was a poor damsel and possessed nothing. And with regard to the love between her and Amadis, this grand story, if ye have read it, testifies to it secret.

There is a reason, and do ye know what it is? It is because that Princess was always the most gentle, the most well bred, the most courteous, and above all had the most calm humility that could have been found at that time, and she always remembered to honor and properly treat everyone as they deserved. This is the snare and net with which great men and women catch those who have little reason to serve them, as we see every day, for without any self-interest they are praised and willingly beloved and obliged to serve, just as these lords were with that noble Princess.

Then what can be said here of those great men and women who treat with great disdain and excessive arrogance those who do not deserve it? I shall tell you: by choosing to treat those beneath them with surly replies and angry gestures, paying no attention to courtesy and favors, in return they are poorly regarded, disrespected, and vilified with the hope that some great reverse shall come to them for their disservice and anger. Oh, what a great error and what little wisdom ! Such a small favor it would be to speak graciously, how little a gentle gesture would cost, and what a great loss it is to fail to be loved and served by those whom they never gave any favor nor treated well!

Do ye wish to know what often happens to them as a result of this disdain and scorn? I shall tell you: since they squander and waste what they have where they ought not and without regard to place or time instead of being considered generous and liberal, they are considered foolish and indiscreet. Instead of honoring those who should be esteemed or humbling and subjugating themselves to their superiors or even their equals, they fail to obtain the virtue that service and very little effort could obtain.

But returning to our purpose, Brian of Monjaste finished speaking with Oriana and bowed to Queen Sardamira and the other princesses with Grasinda. Then Agrajes and Sir Florestan came to Oriana, and with great respect told her everything that the knights had asked them to. She considered it a sound agreement and told them she would leave it to them to do what must be done, since carrying that out was more a matter for knights than for damsels. She asked them to always bear in mind, in keeping with their honor, to try to achieve peace with her father, the King, over concerns that dealt with herself and her honor. When that was done, Oriana left Sir Florestan and Brian of Monjaste with Queen Sardamira and the other ladies, took Agrajes by the hand, and went with him to sit on the far side of the room.

She told him:

“My good lord and veritable brother Agrajes, although I have great faith and hope in your cousin Amadis and the other noble knights that, with every care and great diligence for their own honor, they will faithfully fulfill everything that involves myself, I have even more faith and hope in you. Indeed, I was raised for a long time in the house of your father, the King, where from him and from your mother, the Queen, I received much honor in many pleasures, above all giving me your sister, Princess Mabilia, about whom I can truly say that if our Lord God first gave me life, she has since given it to me many times. If not for her great discretion and consolation and assistance, given my suffering and above all my misfortune after the Romans came to my father’s court and caused me hardship, it would have been impossible to endure life.

“And for this as well as many other things, I am deeply obliged if God were to give me the means to satisfy my debt. And just as I hold it in my mind, I believe ye know that when the time comes I shall do what I have said, and this makes me want to share the secrets of my impassioned heart to you before I tell anyone else. And so I shall, and what is hidden to everyone else shall in time be made manifest to you.

“For the present moment I only ask of you as honestly as I can that ye set aside the anger and resentment that ye have for my father and that ye offer everything by your deeds and advice for peace and harmony between him and your cousin Amadis. Given the size of his heart and the enmity that has so long ago hardened it, I have to doubt whether anything reasonable expressed with a good heart can satisfy him. And if ye, my true brother and friend, can in some way remedy the situation, not only would many brutal deaths be prevented and avoided, but my honor and fame, which by misfortune is in dispute in many places, would be cleared with that proper and honest solution.”

Agrajes listen to this with great courtesy and humility and responded:

“It is only right that everything that ye have said, my lady, can and should be done, and know that my father, the King, and my mother wish to do all they can to raise your honor and estate, as now they shall do. And there is no reason to speak about my sister Mabilia and myself, for our deeds give testimony to our complete wish and desire to be at your service. And as for what ye have ordered me, my lady, I tell you truthfully that more than anyone else I am greatly unhappy with your father, the King. I am a witness to the great and outstanding services that my cousin Amadis and all we of his lineage have done for him. It is well known throughout the world, as it is also well known the King’s great failure to recognize and appreciate them.

“We never asked for any favor except for the island of Mongaza for my uncle Sir Galvanes, which was won by great honor in his court and by the greatest mortal peril to the life of he who won it, which ye, my good lady, with your own eyes saw. But with all that, we had not done enough, and neither the virtue nor the worthiness of my uncle was enough to achieve such a small thing and remain his vassals and under his command. Instead, he rejected us, ignoring our request with the same discourtesy as if we were enemies instead of in service to him.

“Because of this, I cannot deny that I would find no great pleasure in helping him in the great difficulty and need he has been placed, and by repenting of what he did everyone would understand how much he lost when he lost us, knowing the honor that our services had given him. But just as a man who denies and represses his own will gains before God more merit by acting in his service, so shall I, my lady, comply with what ye wish and deny and control my anger, because by doing this, which is so difficult for me, I may discover the other things that also hold me obliged to serve my anger. But this will require much temperance, because while I may be among those noblemen who places the enhancement of your honor above all things, many of them would find themselves weakened if they were to note it in me.”

“And that is what I ask, my good friend,” Oriana said. “As I well know, given the extreme of what has happened and with whom this great conflict is, not only is it necessary for the strong to make an effort to be weak, but for the very weak with great care to become strong. And because ye know much better than I how and when ye might act for good or ill, I leave it to you with that true love that exists between us.”

Thus they finished their conversation and they returned to where the ladies and knights were. Agrajes could not take his eyes off his lady Olinda, whom he loved with deep affection, which must be believed as true because on her behalf he had deserved to pass beneath the enchanted arch of the loyal lovers, as the second book in the story has recounted. But as he was of noble blood and upbringing, and as such among those who urgently met their obligations, setting aside passion and inclination to follow virtue, and knowing of the virtuous life that Oriana prefered to have, he chose to subjugate his will despite hardship until he saw how the negotiations underway would conclude.

And so they spent a while speaking about many things, and those knights, as they were very brave, shared their courage and eased the fears that women tend to have when they find themselves in such unusual circumstances. After having bid them farewell and delivered Oriana’s response to those whom she had sent it, with great diligence they began to get to work on what they had agreed to and send the emissaries to King Lisuarte. They had all decided Sir Cuadragante and Sir Brian of Monjaste could fulfill that task the best.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chapter 86

How all the knights were very pleased by what Sir Cuadragante proposed. 

[Detail of Jerpoint Abbey, Ireland. Photo by Clemensfranz.]

The knights were very pleased by Sir Cuadragante’s response because it seemed he left nothing more to say. They immediately agreed that Amadis should send word to his father, King Perion, asking for help and support when it would be needed from the King and all his men, as well as from those who were the King’s friends and vassals; also asking him to send word to all others that he knew who might wish and be able to help, for he had aided many people by doing great deeds to their honor and advantage although it had brought great peril to himself.

They agreed that Agrajes should send word or should go to see his father, the King of Scotland, asking for the same things, and that Sir Bruneo should send a message to his father the Marquess and to his brother Branfil asking them to diligently call up all the men they could but not to come until they were ordered. They also agreed that all the other knights and friends who were there and who had estates should do the same thing.

Sir Cuadragante said he would send his nephew Landin to the Queen of Ireland, because he believed that although her husband, King Cildadan, would send King Lisuarte the number of men that he was obliged, she would make it possible for all the men in her kingdom, both vassals and friends, who wished to come and serve, to be able to do so, and that would amount to a good number of men.

Once this was agreed to, they asked Agrajes and Sir Florestan to tell Princess Oriana and receive her orders for the best way to serve her. They all left the meeting greatly encouraged, especially those of low rank to whom this seemed like a very grave conflict and who feared its result more than they showed. After they had seen the great concern and foresight of those who were high ranked, which should bring them great aid, their courage rose and they lost all fear.

When they reached the gate of the castle, which offered a lookout over the entire island, they saw a knight in armor riding up the hill with five squires carrying his weapons and belongings. They all watched to find out who it was. When he got closer, they were very pleased to recognize him as Sir Brian of Monjaste because they all esteemed him and considered him a good knight, which he truly was, as well as being of such high estate as the son of Lasadan, the King of Spain. He enjoyed a fine reputation everywhere and was known for his discretion and valor.

In addition to that, he was a knight who loved his friends more than anything else in the world, and whenever he was with them he provided fine jests, as one who was very discreet and properly bred, so they were fond of him and were always happy to be with him. They all went down the hill together on foot as they were; when he saw them, he was very surprised and could not imagine what venture brought them all together, although he had been told a little bit about it after he had arrived by sea. He dismounted and came to them with his arms open, and said:

“I wish to embrace you all, for I consider you all as one.”

Then those who were in the forefront arrived, and behind them Amadis. When Sir Brian saw him, it gave him such great pleasure that it need not be recounted because they were descended from siblings: Sir Brian’s mother, the wife of the King of Spain, was the sister of King Perion. In addition, Amadis was also the knight he most loved in the world. Sir Brian said, laughing:

“Are ye here? Well, I was coming in search of you, and even if we did not have enough other adventures, we would wear ourselves out looking for you, the way ye can hide.”

Amadis embraced him and said:

“Say what ye will, ye have come to where I will make amends for all that. And these gentlemen order you to get back on your horse and ride farther into this island, where a prison is being prepared for the likes of you.”

Then all the rest of the knights came to embrace him, and against his will, they made him mount his horse and, with them on foot, they went up the hill to Amadis’ lodging, where he dismounted and his cousins Agrajes and Sir Florestan helped him disarm and ordered a scarlet cloak be brought for him to wear. Once he was disarmed, he saw himself surrounded by very many noble knights whose skill at arms he knew, and he told them:

“A company of so many good men could not have assembled here without some great and mysterious purpose. Tell me, my lords, because I heard a little bit about it after I arrived at these lands, and I would very much like to know more.”

They all asked Agrajes to explain what had happened since he had been present during everything, and he told him all the events that this story has recounted it, blaming King Lisuarte and offering earnest praise and approval for what the knights had done and wished to do in the future. He spoke of what was to come and how Sir Brian might wish to take part in what would bring him riches and honor.

As he listened, he thought their plans were inordinate, for he was a person who by his great discretion considered the outcome of any event more carefully than its beginning. Since he did not know about Amadis’ secret love, his advice could have opposed their plans, or he might have recommended considering other honest methods rather than the extremes that things had come to. He knew King Lisuarte to be concerned and protective of his honor and that its affront had grown so large that he feared the King would seek vengeance.

But he realized that the issue had reached a point that required more help than advice, and especially seeing Amadis at its head, he heartily approved of it, praised the great propriety that had been used on Oriana’s behalf, and pledged not only himself but all the men that his father could manage to provide. And he told them that he wished to see Princess Oriana so that she would know from him how completely he desired to be in her service.

Amadis told him:

“My lord cousin, ye have just come from a long trip and these lords have not eaten, so while your arrival is being announced, rest and eat, and it can be better carried out this afternoon.”

Sir Brian thought that was wise, and he bid farewell to those lords, who went to their lodgings. In the afternoon, Agrajes and Sir Florestan, who as ye have been told were selected to speak with Oriana, took Sir Brian with him and the three went finely dressed to see her. They found her waiting for them in Queen Sardamira’s chambers accompanied by all the ladies that ye have heard of and this story has told of. When they arrived there, Sir Brian went to Oriana and knelt to kiss her hands, but she pulled them back and did not wish to give them. Instead she embraced him and received him with great courtesy, as she in whom all the nobility in the world could be found. She told him:

“My Lord Sir Brian, ye are very welcome, and given your nobility and virtue, at any time ye would deserve to be well received, but at this moment ye deserve it more than ever. I believe that these noble knights and your friends, have told you everything that has happened, so I can be forgiven from having to tell you anything, nor for reminding you of what ye ought to do, because, as is customary, your discretion is better served by giving advice than by taking it.”

Sir Brian told her:

“My lady, the reason I have come is that a long time ago I took part in the battle that your father the King had with the seven kings from the islands, and after that I was with my father in Spain to deal with a concern he had with the Africans. I learned that my cousin and lord Amadis had gone to foreign lands and that no news had been heard from him. Since he is the finest member of all my lineage and he for whom I have the most esteem and love, his absence put such pain in my heart that it drove me to go in search of him.

“Since I thought that I would likely find news about my cousin here on this island more than anyplace else, I came here, where my good fortune and fate guided me not only by finding him but by arriving at a time when I could put into practice the desire that I have always had to serve you. And as ye have said, my lady, I know what has happened and am concerned about what might result from it given the intransigence of your father, the King. Whatever may come to pass and wherever fate may guide me and whatever the consequences for my person, with all my will I offer and am prepared to provide my aid.”

Oriana gave him her deepest thanks for that.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Summary of Book III

Amadis’ conflicts escalate with King Lisuarte of Great Britain and Emperor Patin of Rome as he travels in secret throughout Europe, and unknown to him, Princess Oriana bears him a son. Lisuarte agrees to send her to Rome to marry Patin, and Amadis must rescue her.

Helmets on display at Prague Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.

In Book I, Amadis as a boy meets Princess Oriana of Great Britain and falls in love with her. As a very young man, he becomes a knight and proves his skill and valor with many amazing feats that show him to be the greatest knight in the world. The book closes as he saves the kingdom for King Lisuarte, Oriana’s father, from an attack organized by the evil sorcerer Arcalaus.

In Book II, the secret love between Amadis and Oriana is tested and grows stronger. But treacherous advisors convince King Lisuarte to order Amadis to leave his court, so he goes to Firm Island, where he is lord. Soon after that, Oriana discovers she is pregnant.

Book III opens as King Lisuarte realizes he received dishonest advice, but he remains angry wants to wage war over the ownership of the Island of Mongaza, which Amadis believes should belong to his friend Galvanes. Galvanes and his friends, all fine knights, return the challenge, and go to Mongaza. They take it from the King’s supporters in a pitched battle, but they are promptly besieged by more of the King’s men.

Oriana, who has been disguising her pregnancy, gives birth to a boy with strange red and white markings on his chest in Latin and Greek letters. The plan is for the Damsel of Denmark to take the baby to a convent to be raised, but on the way, a lioness attacks and takes the baby. A very holy hermit named Nasciano finds the lioness and by the power of God orders her to care for the child rather than eat it. Soon he sends the baby to be raised for the next few years by a woman in a nearby village.

King Lisuarte joins his troops at Mongaza, defeats its defenders after a fierce battle, but lets Galvanes keep it if he promises to be loyal. King Lisuarte needs allies because the sorcerer Arcalaus has recruited some kings to attack his realm, and he must prepare to defend it.

Amadis goes to Gaul, his father’s kingdom, to see his parents, meeting his brother Galaor on the way during a battle with an evil giant. When he and his father and half-brother Sir Florestan learn of King Lisuarte’s coming battle, they wish to help him, and the good sorceress Urganda the Unrecognized sends them armor and weapons so they will not be recognized.

They travel to the battlefield, join in the melee, and turn the tide in Lisuarte’s favor. Amadis even rescues the King in battle. Amadis and his father and brother leave without identifying themselves, although eventually Lisuarte finds out who they were.

On their way home, Amadis and his brother and father are taken prisoner by Arcalaus the sorcerer by trickery, but he does not know who they are. With the clever intervention of Amadis’s squire Gandalin, they escape and set fire to the castle, almost killing Arcalaus, who learns he was defeated again by Amadis and swears revenge.

Amadis leaves Gaul to travel incognito for the next four years, known as the Knight of the Green Sword or the Knight of the Dwarf, because his servant Ardian is a dwarf. He has many adventures in Germany and Bohemia, where he defeats the knights of the Emperor of Rome, Patin.

Meanwhile, as King Lisuarte is hunting one day, he meets a handsome and extraordinary boy about five or six years old named Esplandian who is living with the hermit Nasciano, and takes him to his court. A prophetic letter from Urganda says the boy shall become an outstanding knight and save the King. Oriana recognizes the boy as her son by the markings on his chest and cares lovingly for him.

Amadis leaves Bohemia and continues on to Romania, where he does great feats but is always troubled by being so far away from Oriana. Finally he arrives at a seaside town, where he meets a lady named Grasinda, who becomes a good friend to Amadis and who introduces him to Elisabad, a doctor in her service with extraordinary skills. Amadis travels with him to Constantinople.

On the way, they are blown off-course to the Island of the Devil, where a fierce demon-engendered monster called the Endriago has exterminated the population. Amadis fights it and kills it, but suffers such injuries and venom that only the superb care of Elisabad keeps him alive. The island belongs to the Emperor of Constantinople, and after long bed rest to recover, Amadis travels there, where he is treated like a hero.

Amadis returns to Grasinda, who asks him to travel with her to Great Britain, where she wishes to prove that she is the most beautiful damsel in King Lisuarte’s court, and she needs his help. During their sea voyage, they pass a ship, and from its passengers, they learn some terrible news:

Patin, the Emperor of Rome, wants to marry Oriana. Years ago (in Book II), when he was a mere knight traveling in Great Britain, he had fallen in love with Oriana. He has sent King Lisuarte a delegation of leading men, along with Queen Sardamira and her ladies and damsels, and three hundred knights, to ask for her hand. Others who know Patin, however, despise him for his arrogance and immoderate behavior and pray the wedding will not happen.

When Amadis learns about the marriage plans, he decides to go to Firm Island as soon as his duties to Gradsinda and her quest are fulfilled.

King Lisuarte receives the delegation from Rome and sends Queen Sardamira to see Oriana at Miraflores Castle. On the way, Sir Florestan defeats the arrogant Roman knights guarding her, then accompanies her to Miraflores. Oriana knows why Sardamira has come and would rather die than marry Patin, but soon they become good friends. Sardamira describes the feats of the Knight of the Green Sword, who Oriana and Sir Florestan recognize as Amadis. Oriana privately asks Florestan for help, who promises to go to Firm Island, meet with others, and decide what to do.

King Lisuarte is advised by absolutely everyone, including Amadis’s brother Sir Galaor, not to agree to the marriage, but he only becomes more stubborn.

Grasinda issues a challenge to the court of King Lisuarte that she wishes to be judged the most beautiful woman there, and if any knight wants to contradict her, they must fight with the Greek Knight, as Amadis is now called; by speaking Greek and keeping his helmet on, he passes unrecognized. The Romans arrogantly challenge him, and he defeats them, then he leaves for Firm Island with beautiful Grasinda.

Oriana is brought from Miraflores with Mabilia, Olinda, the Damsel of Denmark, and Queen Sardamira. With great weeping and mourning, they are placed on board one of the Roman’s ships, and the fleet sets sail. But Amadis has arrived at Firm Island and persuades the knights there to rescue her.

And so they do – with a great sea battle. In the end, all the Roman ships are seized. At Princess Oriana’s request, she and the other ladies and damsels are taken to Firm Island, but the love between her and Amadis continues to be a secret. He and the other knights at Firm Island prepare for war with King Lisuarte and Emperor Patin.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chapter 85

How Amadis brought together the lords, and the speech he delivered to them, and what they agreed to do. 

[Meeting hall of the Knights of the Military Order of St. James at their headquarters in León, Spain. The building, the San Marcos Hostal, is now used as a hotel.]

Amadis, despite a show of great courage, had thought deeply about how this serious matter might end, since all the responsibility fell on him, in spite of the many princes and great lords and knights of high standing there. He was already condemned to death if it did not turn out well, and his honor was threatened and imperiled. While all the others slept, he lay awake thinking about what ought to be done. With that concern, and with the advice and approval of Sir Cuadragante and his cousin Agrajes, he had all the lords called to Sir Cuadragante’s lodging in the great hall there, one of the finest in the entire island. When they had all arrived and no one was missing, Amadis stood up holding the doctor Elisabad by the hand, whom he always did great honor, and spoke to them this way:

“Noble princes and knights, I have called you here to remind you that your fame and your great lineages and estates have become known everywhere in the world. Each one of you could live in your lands with great ease and pleasure, with many servants and everything that can be acquired for recreation in a delightful and comfortable life, as ye accumulate ever greater riches. But ye understand that the great difference between following the life at arms and the pleasures acquired through temporal goods is the difference between the wise men and brute animals.

“Ye have given up what many lose their souls for, preferring to suffer great adversity in exchange for laudable fame, pursuing the military profession of arms. Since the beginning of time until our own, the good fortune of worldly men never could nor can equal the conquest and glory that it brings. Until now ye have won no profit nor dominions except by putting your persons, covered with injuries, in great dangerous labors, arriving a thousand times at the point and threshold of death, hoping and wishing more for glory and fame than for any other gain that could come to you by it.

“As a reward for that, if ye wish to know, your prosperous and favorable fate has chosen to place the great victory ye have just won in your hands. And I do not say this about your victory over the Romans, for given the difference between your virtues and theirs, it should not be highly considered. I say this because ye have provided the rescue and aid for that high and fine Princess so she would not receive the greatest injury and injustice that any person of great estate has received for a very long time. Because of that, in addition to having greatly added to your fame, ye have done a great service to God by doing what ye were born to do: help the afflicted and put an end to grievances and outrages.

“What is worthy of consideration and should give you happiness is that we have made discontent and angry two high and powerful princes, the Emperor of Rome and King Lisuarte. If they do not wish to be just and reasonable, we will face great combats and warfare. From here on, noble lords, what can be expected? Nothing else, except that as those who support reason and truth, which they disdain, we will win great victories that will resound throughout the world. And although their grandeur may seem fearful, we are not without the support of many other great lords, both family and friends, and we can easily fill battlefields with a great many knights and soldiers. No opponents, no matter how many they may be, could last a day against Firm Island.

“And so, my good lords, may each one say what he thinks best and not what he might wish, which ye know better than I is the desire for virtue to which ye are obliged. Instead speak about what can sustain and advance this cause with the courage and discretion it deserves.”

All those lords willingly heard that gracious and brave speech by Amadis; and believing that among all of them there were many who would know how to respond with great discretion and courage, for some time they were quiet, urging one another to speak. Then Sir Cuadragante said:

“My lords, if ye consider it good, since ye are all quiet, I shall say that which my judgment gives me the understanding to respond.”

Agrajes told him:

“My lord Sir Cuadragante, we all beg you to do so, because given who ye are and the great things that have happened to you and the honor that has come to you from them, ye more than any of us ought to respond.”

Sir Cuadragante thanked him for the honor he had given him, and said to Amadis:

“Noble knight, your great discretion and good moderation have contented all of our wills. Ye have said what ought to have been said, and to respond to it all would be excessive and annoying to everyone here. I can only speak to what ought to be remedied at the present time, which is this: your will in the past has never been to pursue passion or hatred, but only to serve God and follow your oath as a knight, which is to overcome force, especially when applied to ladies and damsels who have no protection except from God and you.

“This should be expressed by messengers to King Lisuarte, and he should be asked on your behalf to recognize his past errors and behave with justice and reason toward his daughter the Princess, removing the pressure he has placed on her and providing such guarantees that with good cause and certainty our honor will not be diminished if we return her to him as we ought. And as for what concerns us, I shall make no mention, because if this is carried out and can be done, I have such faith in your great virtue and courage that King Lisuarte will seek peace with us and will be very content if it were granted by you.

“And while these negotiations are underway, since we, not as knights errant but as princes and great lords, do not know if they will succeed and what may be required of us if they fail, it would be good if we were to notify our friends and families, who are many, so if they should be called upon, they may arrive in time for their labor to have the necessary effect.”