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.