Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chapter 106 [part 1 of 2]

How the Emperor of Rome arrived in Great Britain with his fleet, and what he and King Lisuarte did. 

[A reconstruction of the face of Richard III of England (2 October 1452 - 22 August 1485), based on the skull discovered in 2012.]

This story says that after Giontes, the nephew of King Lisuarte, departed from Grasandor, as ye have heard, he went directly to Rome, where with his haste along with the urgency he gave the Emperor, very quickly a great fleet was raised and equipped with the ten thousand knights we have told you about, and then the Emperor set sail. Without any incident on the way he arrived in Great Britain at the port of Windsor, where he knew King Lisuarte was.

And when Lisuarte learned he had arrived, he along with many noblemen, among them two kings, Cildadan and Gasquilan, mounted their horses and went to receive him. When he arrived, most of the men had come to shore, the Emperor among them. And when they saw each other, they went to embrace and receive each other with great pleasure.

The Emperor told him:

“If ye, King, have received any injury or trouble because of me, I am here, and with a double victory your honor will be satisfied. And as I alone am its cause, I would wish to have the chance to take vengeance with only my men so it will be an example and a lesson to everyone that such a high man as myself no one should dare to anger.”

The King told him:

“My good friend and lord, ye and your men come exhausted from your long trip on the sea. Order them to disembark, take lodging, and refresh themselves from their labors. And meanwhile, we shall take counsel regarding our enemies, and when it is heard, ye may choose the place and means that most pleases you.”

The Emperor wished to leave immediately, but the King, who better than him understood what was necessary and whom they were fighting, restrained him until a more appropriate time, for he knew well that everything depended on that initial battle. And so they were encamped for a week as each day more men came to serve the King.

Then it so happened that one day as the Emperor and Kings and many other knights were riding through the fields and meadows around the encampment, they saw an armed knight coming on a horse with a squire who carried his weapons. If anyone were to ask me who it was, I would tell them that he was Enil, a good knight, Sir Gandales’ nephew. When he arrived at the encampment, he asked if Arquisil was there, a relative of Emperor Patin, and he was told that he was and that he was riding with the Emperor. When he heard this, he was very happy, and he went to where he saw the men riding, for he was sure he would be there. And when he reached them, he found that the Emperor and Kings were speaking in a field near a riverbank over their concerns about the battle. Enil knew that Arquisil was with them, and he went to them and greeted them very humbly, and they told him he was welcome and asked what he sought. When he heard this, Enil said:

“My Lords, I come from Firm Island with a message from my lord the noble knight Amadis of Gaul, son of King Perion, for a knight named Arquisil.”

When Arquisil heard this and on whose behalf he was asked, he said:

“Knight, I am he whom ye seek, say what ye wish and ye shall be heard.”

Enil told him:

“Arquisil, Amadis of Gaul would have ye know how when he called himself the Knight of the Green Sword and was in the court of King Tafinor of Bohemia, a knight arrived there named Sir Garadan, accompanied by eleven knights, of which ye were one. And he did battle with Sir Garadan, in which Garadan was defeated and killed as ye saw. And then the next day he did battle with you and your companions, he and eleven knights as had been agreed upon, and when ye and they were defeated, he took you as prisoners, and set you free at your request, and ye promised him as a loyal knight that anytime he called upon you, ye would put yourself under his control. And now through me he calls on you to comply with what a man of such high standing and such a good knight as yourself must do.”

 Arquisil said:

“Truly, knight, in everything ye have said ye have spoken the truth, and it happened just as ye say. It only remains to be seen if the knight who called himself the Knight of the Green Sword is Amadis of Gaul.”

Some knights who were there told him that without a doubt he may believe that he was. Then Arquisil said to the Emperor:

“Ye have heard, my lord, what this knight asks of me, and I cannot avoid fulfilling that to which I am obliged, because ye may believe that he gave me life and saved me from being killed by those who had a great desire to do so. And for that reason, my lord, I beg you not to be troubled by my leaving, for if I failed to do so in this case it would not be right for a man as high born and powerful as ye are to have me in his family nor in his company.”

The Emperor, as he was very impetuous and often given more to following his passion or preferences than the propriety of the grandeur of his estate, said:

“Ye, knight who has come on behalf of Amadis, tell him that he must be tired of giving me the kind of annoyances that petty men tend to do to great men, whom he nothing resembles, and the time will come when he shall find out who I am and what I can do. He shall not escape from me anywhere, even in that cave of thieves where he is hiding, and he shall pay for what he has done to me seven times over to satisfy my will. And ye, Arquisil, fulfill what has been asked of you, for it shall not be long before I put into your hands he of whom ye are prisoner, so ye may do with him what ye will.”

When Enil heard this, he was enraged beyond all fear, and he said:

“I do believe, my lord, that Amadis knows you, for he has seen you in the past, but more as a knight errant than as a great lord, as then ye also knew him, and that ye did not leave his presence so easily. And now, as ye come as a great lord, he also comes looking for you. Let he who knows the past judge as he will, and God shall judge what is coming, as He alone can do.”

As King Lisuarte saw this, he was very worried that Enil might receive some harm on orders of the Emperor, which troubled him greatly, as did all that he had heard him say, because it was quite unlike Lisuarte’s nature to be other than a king very discreet in what he said and very rigorous in what he did. And before the Emperor could say anything, he took him by the hand and told him:

“Let us go to our tents, for it is time to eat, so this knight may enjoy the freedom that messengers by custom and right must have.”

And thus the Emperor left as enraged as if the anger were for someone of equal grandeur as himself. Arquisil took Enil to his tent and did him great honors, and then he armed himself, mounted his horse, and left with him.

From here nothing else is told about what happened to him except that they arrived at Firm Island in peace and agreement. And as they came close to the encampment and Arquisil saw so many men there, since the troops of the Emperor of Constantinople had arrived, he was very amazed and fell quiet and said nothing, instead acting as if he had not seen it. Enil took him to Amadis’ tent, where he was well received by him and by many other noble knights.

Arquisil was there for four days, during which time Amadis took him to show him all the troops and outstanding knights and told him their names, for they were well-known for their skills in great feats at arms everywhere in the world. Arquisil was very amazed to see such knighthood, especially all those famous knights, and he fully believed that if the Emperor were to suffer some reverse, it would be only due to them, for he did not fear the other troops very much and would not have worried about them at all if they had not had such leaders, for their strength was enough to fortify all the men beneath them.

He also saw that his lord the Emperor would need great resources to do them battle, and considered himself most misfortunate to be a prisoner at that time, for if he had been far away, hearing about such an extraordinary and great thing as this, he would come to take part in it. But as he was a prisoner and could not take fight, he considered himself the most unlucky knight in the world, and he fell into such thoughts that without noticing nor wishing to do so, tears ran down his cheeks. And with that great anguish he decided to test the virtue and nobility of Amadis.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chapter 105 [part 3 of 3]

[What Queen Briolanja decided to do with Trion, and how more knights arrived at Firm Island.] 

[Atienza Castle in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Photo by Cruccone.]

Trion was brought out and appeared before the Queen with great humility and with such presence that he made it well understood the fine lineage from which he had come. The Queen told him:

“Trion, whether I have reason to pardon you or to order you executed to avenge the wrong that ye did to me, ye already know, and it is also notorious what your father did to me. Yet although those things have happened, knowing the great kinship that I have in this world with you, I am moved not only to have pity for your youth, if ye have the understanding of righteousness that ye ought, but to place you in the rank and honor ye would hold if instead of having been my enemy, ye had been my friend and servant. So I wish ye to tell me your will in front of these knights, and may it be so complete that, good or otherwise, the truth comes from your lips as befits a man of such a high standing as yourself.”

Trion, who had expected worse news, said:

“My lady, in what involves my father, I do not know how to answer, for my tender age at the time excuses me, and as for what involves myself, it is true that by my desire and will and by the wishes of many others who advised me, I tried to put you in such straits and myself in such liberty that I could achieve the state of grandeur that my parentage deserved. But such was contrary fortune, first for my father and brothers and then for me, that there is nothing to offer for my defense except recognizing that ye are the rightful heir of that kingdom that our grandparents left; and, I shall repay the great pity and mercy that ye may voluntarily do with many services for what my heart wished to obtain by force.”

“Then if ye, Trion, do so,” the Queen said, “and ye are my loyal vassal, I shall be not only your cousin but your true sister, and from me ye shall achieve such favors that your honor will be satisfied and your estate content.”

Then Trion knelt and kissed her hands. And from then forward Trion was so loyal to his Queen that he did everything in her kingdom as she commanded.

Great men should take this as an example and be inclined toward pardon and mercy in many cases requiring it for everyone, but especially for their kin, thanking God that being of one blood and lineage, He made them lords over others and those others their vassals, and although sometimes they may err, they should withstand the affront, considering the great lordship they exercise over them.

The Queen told them:

“Then setting aside all my anger and setting you free, I want you to take charge of commanding my men and do whatever Amadis wishes.”

Those knights highly praised what that very beautiful and fine Queen had done, and from there on this knight was very much sought after and honored by them, as shall be told more extensively farther on, and by all he was known for his goodness and great courage.

King Perion took leave of Oriana and those ladies, and he returned to the encampment with those knights. And Queen Briolanja asked Agrajes to introduce her cousin Trion to Amadis and tell him everything that had happened with him, and so he did, and everything was recounted extensively.

When King Perion arrived at the encampment, he found that Balais of Carsante had arrived there with twenty very good and well-armed and prepared knights of his lineage to serve and help Amadis. And I want ye to know that this knight was one of the many whom Amadis had freed from the cruel prison of Arcalaus the Sorcerer, and also the knight who had cut off the head of the damsel who had brought Amadis and his brother Sir Galaor together so they would kill each other. And truly, if he had not done so, one or both of them would have died, as the first book in the story has recounted.

Balais told the King and those knights that King Lisuarte was encamped at Windsor, and that, according to what he had been told, he might have as many as 6,000 men on horseback and additional men on foot, and the Emperor of Rome had arrived at the port with a great fleet, and all his men were disembarking and settling into King Lisuarte’s encampment. And in addition Gasquilan, the King of Suesa, had brought 800 good knights, and King Cildadan was already there with 200 knights, and that he believed that they would not leave there for two weeks because the men had arrived exhausted from the sea. And Balais of Carsante could well know this because he had a very fine castle within the realm of King Lisuarte, and it was located in a place where without much difficulty he could learn the news about those troops.

And so they spent the day resting in the camp, preparing all their arms and horses for the battle, although all the arms were newly made, very fine and bright, as shall be told further on.

The next day early in the morning the doctor Elisabad arrived at the port with the men from Grasinda, 500 knights and archers. And when Amadis learned that, he took Angriote and Sir Bruneo and went to receive him with the goodwill and love that reason obliged him. They had all the men disembark and quartered in the encampment with the others, and Libeo, the doctor’s nephew, served as their captain. With great pleasure, they took the doctor to King Perion, and Amadis told him who he was and what he had done for him when he had killed the Endriago, as the third part of this story has recounted, and how no one could have come at that time whom they needed more.

The King received him well with goodwill, and told him:

“My good friend, the argument should wait until after the battle, if we are alive, over whom my son ought to thank more: me, who after God made him out of nothing, or ye, who brought him back from death.”

The doctor kissed his hands and with great pleasure told him:

“My lord, may it be as ye order, for until more is known I do not wish to give you the advantage as to whom he is most obliged.”

Everyone took pleasure in what the King had said and the reply from the doctor Elisabad. And immediately he said to the King:

“My lord, I bring you two pieces of news which ye should know, and they are that the Emperor of Rome has left with his fleet, in which, as has been verified by people whom I sent there, he has 10,000 knights, and in addition I have received a message from Gastiles, nephew of the Emperor of Constantinople, that he is at sea with 8,000 knights his uncle is sending to aid Amadis, and he believes they will arrive at the port in three days.”

Everyone who heard that news was very happy and encouraged, especially the men of the lowest estate. And so as ye hear, King Perion was with all those companions attending to the men as they arrived, and arranging everything necessary for the battle.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chapter 105 [part 2 of 3]

[How King Perion met with Oriana, and what she asked of him.] 

[Illustration from Cantiga 51 of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X, 1250-1300.]

King Perion, when he saw that all of his men had been quartered, took Grasandor, the King of Bohemia’s son, and Agrajes with him and said that he wished to see Oriana, and so he went with them to the castle, ordering Amadis and Sir Florestan to stay with his men. When Oriana learned the King was coming, she was very pleased, because she had not seen him after he made Amadis of Gaul a knight at her request at the court of King Languines of Scotland, Agrajes’ father, when Amadis was called the Childe of the Sea, just as the first book of this story has recounted. She went to receive him with all of her ladies.

When the King and those knights arrived at her chamber, they entered, and the King greeted her with great courtesy, and she greeted him very humbly, followed by Queen Briolanja and Queen Sardamira and all the other princesses and ladies. Mabilia came to him, knelt, and wished to kiss his hands, but he pulled them back and embraced her with great love and told her:

“My good niece, I bring you many greetings from your aunt the Queen and your cousin Melicia, as the one whom they greatly loved and esteem, and Gandalin will bring you their message. He has stayed behind to travel with Melicia, who will soon be with you to accompany this lady, who so well deserves it.”

Mabilia told him:

“May God give them my thanks for what ye tell me, my lord, and I shall serve them with whatever may come to my hand. I am very joyful over the arrival of my cousin, as will be the Princess, who has wished to see her for a long time because of the fine things she has been told about her.”

The King turned to Oriana and told her:

“My good lady, what has caused me to feel very sorrowful and sad at your trials also obliged me to have a great desire to procure the remedy for it, and that is why I have come, where our Lord may be pleased to give me the opportunity to do such things at your service to advance your honor as ye and I desire, my good lady. And I am very amazed that your father, who is usually wise and careful to present all the good behavior that a king must, in this case, which has so much to do with his honor and reputation, has comported himself so crudely and abruptly. After he had made his first error, he should have corrected it as his second deed, which these knights tell me that they requested with great courtesy but which he did not wish to hear.

“If he has any excuse to seek forgiveness, it is only that great errors tend toward this ailment: they do not know how to reverse themselves and return to proper understanding. Instead, they become more rigorously stubborn and think that with additional errors and greater insults they can remedy their first mistakes.

“Since the outcome and honor in this is being prepared by God, Who is the true wisdom and judge of the great injustice that was done to you, He knows that in this extraordinary event He may show his power even more extraordinarily. My lady, have great hope in Him that He will help you and return you to the grandeur that justice and your great virtue deserve.”

Oriana, who was very intelligent and more understanding than any other woman, gazed at the King, and he seemed so noble both in his person and speech that she had never seen anyone like him. And she well understood that he deserved to be father to such sons, and very rightly he was praised and his fame was known in every part of the world as one of the best knights in it. She felt very consoled to see him, and if the love she had for her father were not so great, who had placed her in such great anguish and concern, she would have considered as nothing if all the world were against her and she had on her side such a leader with the men whom he expected to command.

She told him:

“My lord, what thanks can be given to you for this which ye have told me from the poor, wretched, disinherited damsel that I am? Truly, no other thanks except those that all the ladies have given you until now whom ye have rescued despite great danger, which are to serve God in return for the great fame and praise ye have won among all people. I ask for one thing to be done for me in addition to the great benefits that I am receiving from you, my good lord, which is that peace may be made in all this with my father the King, because not only would our Lord be served in preventing the death of many men, but I would consider myself the most blessed woman in the world if things could end that way.”

The King told her:

“Things have come to such a state that it would be very difficult to find agreement between the two sides, but oftentimes it happens that at the greatest extent of rupture is found the peace that until then could not be accomplished with great labor, and so it might happen with this. And if it can be found, my good lady, ye may be sure that both in the service of God and of you, my will shall be given entirely for that, such is my desire to serve you.”

Oriana thanked him with great humility as she in whom all virtue reigned more than in any other woman.

And while King Perion was speaking with Oriana, Agrajes and Grasandor were speaking with Queen Briolanja, Queen Sardamira, Olinda, and the other ladies. And when Grasandor saw how extremely more beautiful and gracious Oriana and all those ladies were than all the others he had seen or heard of, he was so astonished that he did not know what to say, and could only believe that God had made them with His own hand. And although the beauty of Oriana and Queen Briolanja and Olinda could never be equaled unless by Melicia, who was soon to arrive, the charm and grace and gentility of Princess Mabilia, and her great modesty, seemed so fine to him that from that moment on his heart was given to serve and love no other woman but her. And thus his heart was taken prisoner, and the more he looked at her the more affection he had for her, as in such times and events so often happens.

And as he stood there almost overcome, as a young knight who had never been outside of his father’s kingdom, he asked Agrajes for the courtesy of telling him the names of those ladies who were there with Oriana. Agrajes told him who everyone was in the grandeur of their estates, and although Mabilia was still with King Perion and Oriana, he also asked about her. Agrajes told him that she was his sister, and that he should believe that there was no woman in the world with greater goodwill nor better loved by everyone who knew her. Grasandor said nothing and was quiet, but his heart knew that Agrajes had spoken the truth, and so he had, for everyone who knew Princess Mabilia loved her for her great humility and graciousness.

And as they were there to share their great pleasure with Oriana, who could not be made happy, Queen Briolanja said to Agrajes:

“My good lord and great friend, I need to speak with Sir Cuadragante and Brian of Monjaste in front of you about something, and I ask you to have them come here before ye go.”

Agrajes told her:

“My lady, this shall be done at once.”

He ordered one of his men to call them, and they came. The Queen took them aside with Agrajes and told him:

“My lords, ye know the danger in which I found myself where, after God, your skills saved me, and how ye put my cousin Trion into my power, whom I still hold prisoner. I have been thinking a lot about what to do with him, for on one hand I know he is the son of my uncle Abiseos, who did such a great injustice to my father and killed him treasonously, and the seed of such an evil man ought to die because if it is sown in other places, only similar treachery could be born.

“On the other hand, I am constrained by the close kinship I have with him, and often it happens that sons are very different from their fathers. He attacked as a young man with some very bad advisers, as I have come to learn. I do not know what to do. And this is why I had ye called so that, as people who in this and everything your great discretion will arrive at what should be done, ye could tell me what ye think.”

Sir Brian of Monjaste told her:

“My good lady, your fine intelligence has covered everything that can be said about this case, and there is nothing to advise except to remind you that one of the reasons that princes and great men are praised and their estates and persons are assured is for clemency, because with this they follow the doctrine of He whose ministers they are, and when done as it ought to be, nothing more can be said. So that your questions can be answered to determine which route to take of those ye have described, my lady, it would be good to have him called here to speak to him about many things so that ye may judge something that, by not seeing him, could never be defined in his absence.”

They all consider that good, and so it was done, and the Queen asked King Perion to remain for a while until, with those knights, she could reach a conclusion about a matter of such importance to her.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The size of medieval armies

Thousand of knights? 

Depiction of the Siege of Orleans during the Hundred Years’ War in the Viliges du Roi Charles VII, by Martial d’Auvergne.

King Perion brought 3,000 knights from Gaul. From Spain came 2,000. From Constantinople, 8,000. Great Britain, 6,500. And 10,000 from Rome.

How realistic were these numbers?

In about 1423, Venice tried to document the estimated power of the countries in Europe and parts of Asia, according to an article at Medievalist.net. Among the estimates:

Brittany: 8,000 horsemen
England: 30,000
Scotland: 10,000
Castile: 30,000
The Papacy: 6,000

So the fighting forces of the late Middle Ages were larger than those in this story. Of course, as the story says, the events in Amadis of Gaul occur “not many years after the passion of our Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ” – that is, long, long ago in the fantasy past.

But given that it really was set in medieval Europe, these emperors, kings, and lords reasonably could have raised the armies described in the story. Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo had served King Fernando in battles against the Kingdom of Granada, so he had some idea of warfare. The exact battle techniques, however, tend to be from earlier medieval times, perhaps because they are more dramatic and offer more chances for individual fighters like Amadis to excel.

This is fiction, not a documentary, but the fighting that is soon to come has some basis in reality. Big armies are about to fight – two armies, with a third waiting to ambush the victor.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chapter 105 [part 1 of 3]

How Grasandor, son of the King of Bohemia, encountered Giontes, and what happened. 

[Windsor Castle. Photo by Mark S Jobling.]

We have told you how Grasandor left the court of his father, the King of Bohemia, in a ship with twenty knights to go to Firm Island. He was sailing through the sea as fate guided him, when one night he encountered Giontes, the nephew of King Lisuarte, who was going to Rome with his message for the Emperor, as ye have heard. When they neared each other, Grasandor ordered his sailors to steer toward that ship to take it. Giontes had brought only the men necessary to sail the ship and a few other servants because he was traveling on such an important matter for his lord the King, and his only thought was to avoid any kind of conflict and complete his voyage as he had been ordered. For that reason he could not move evasively and avoid being captured and taken before Grasandor in his armor, who asked him who he was. He told him he was a knight from King Lisuarte taking a message to the Emperor of Rome, and if Grasandor would have the courtesy of ordering him released, since he had no reason to detain him, he would appreciate that very much so he could continue on his voyage.

Grasandor told him:

“Knight, although I hope to fight very soon against this King ye speak of to help Amadis of Gaul, and for that reason I am not obliged to treat any of this King’s men well, I wish to offer you full consideration and let you go on the condition that ye tell me your name and the message that ye bring to the Emperor.”

Giontes told him:

“If by not telling you my name and what I am doing were to gain more honor for me and if my lord the King were better served, ye would have no need to ask me that, since it would be in vain. But since my mission is public, by revealing it and my name I am better fulfilling my duties, I shall do what ye ask. Know that I am called Giontes and I am the nephew of King Lisuarte, and the message that I carry is to bring the Emperor with all his strength as fast as possible so that he may unite with my uncle the King and march against those who took the Princess Oriana in the sea, as I believe ye know, because such a great deed cannot help but be publicly known in many places. Now that I have told you what ye wished to know, let me go on my way, if you please.”

Grasando told him:

“Ye have spoken like a knight. I release you to do what ye will, and may ye return as quickly as ye say and find what ye are looking for.”

And so Giontes went on his way, and Grasandor ordered one of the knights with him to depart in a boat they had and return to his father and tell him that news, since things had reached such a state, for his father had asked the favor of being notified when the Emperor or his men departed to go to King Lisuarte; and Grasandor said to tell him that without awaiting another message he should send all his men to Firm Island with Count Galtines, because they would be much more appreciated if they arrived first. And so it was done, and when the King of Bohemia learned this news, he immediately ordered his fleet to leave with many well-armed men, as someone who with great affection and love wished to increase the honor and advantage of Amadis.

Grasandor continued sailing through the sea and without any other incident arrived in the port at Firm Island. When some of the people on the island saw them, they told Amadis, who ordered them to find out who came in the ship, and so it was done. When they told him it was Grasandor, son of the King of Bohemia, he was very pleased, mounted a horse, and went to Sir Cuadragante’s quarters, taking Agrajes with him, and they went to receive him. When they arrived at the port, Grasandor and his men had come to land and were all on horseback. When he saw Amadis coming toward him, he rode ahead of his men and went to embrace him, and Amadis went to him and told him:

“My lord Grasandor, ye are very welcome, and it is a great pleasure to see you.”

“My good lord,” he said, “may it please God through His mercy that ye shall always find pleasure with me, and that your pleasure be as great as mine to know that my father the King and I can repay some of the great debt that ye left us. And it would be good if ye knew some of the news that I learned along the way, so ye may apply the proper remedy in time.”

Then he told him everything he had learned from Giontes, just as ye have heard, and how from there he had sent word to his father, for when he learned that the Emperor’s men were on the move, without any other information the King would immediately send all of his men, so that without a doubt they would arrive before his opponents and Amadis should not be concerned about calling them up.

Sir Cuadragante said:

“If all our friends helped us with as much goodwill as this lord, we would have little fear over this attack.”

And so they went to the castle, and Amadis took Grasandor to his quarters, had his men lodged, and ordered them be given everything they needed. He sent for all the lords to come see the very honorable prince who had arrived, and so they did, immediately going to Amadis’ quarters wearing their finest martial clothing, as they were always accustomed to do when they were off duty. When Grasandor saw them and how many knights there were whose fame was well known by everyone in the world, he was amazed and considered himself very honored to be in the company of such men. They all came with great courtesy to embrace him and showed him great love.

Amadis told them:

“My good lords, it would be good for you to hear what this knight told us about King Lisuarte.”

Then Grasandor told them everything, as ye have already heard, and they all said it would be good to send other messengers to call up the men who had been already advised, and so it was done. And because it would be very long and bothersome to write extensively here what they said and what happened in those journeys, we shall only tell you that when these messengers arrived where they had been sent, the men were called up by their lords and placed in ships and they all traveled to Firm Island, each one with the men that here shall be told:

King Perion brought 3,000 knights, both his own men and his friends’ men. King Tafinor of Bohemia sent 1,500 knights with Count Galtines. Tantiles, Queen Briolanja’s majordomo, brought 1,200 knights. Branfil, Sir Bruneo’s brother, brought 600 knights. Landin, Sir Cuadragante’s nephew, brought 600 knights from Ireland. King Ladasan of Spain sent 2,000 knights with his son Sir Brian of Monjaste. Sir Gandales brought from Agrajes’ father, King Languines of Scotland, 1,500 knights. The men from the Emperor of Constantinople, brought by his nephew Gastiles, were 8,000 knights.

All these men that this story speaks of arrived at Firm Island. And the first to come was King Perion of Gaul due of his haste and his lands being closer than any other, and if he were well received by his sons and by all those lords, it is not necessary to say, as well as the great pleasure that he had with them. He agreed that all the men of Firm Island should go with their tents and equipment to a plain below the hill topped by the castle, which was very flat and beautiful, surrounded by many trees and with many springs, and so it was done, and so from then on they were all encamped there, and all the men who came were immediately lodged there.

And once they were all together, who could tell you what knights, what horses, and what weapons were there? Truly ye may believe that in the memory of man there were never so many and so select fighting men as these at any time brought together to help any prince as these were.

Oriana, who felt great sorrow at this discord, did nothing but weep and curse her fate, since she had brought things to such a state where a great loss of men might occur because of her if God did not provide a remedy. But the ladies with her consoled her, offering a great deal of pity and love, saying that neither she nor those in her service were responsible for any of this before God nor before the world. Although she did not wish to do so, they had her climb to the highest point in the tower where she could see the entire plain and the men in it. And when she saw that field filled with men and so much shining armor and so many tents, she could only think that all the world had come together there, and when all the ladies were looking at this, so they were paying no attention, Mabilia came to Oriana and told her very quietly:

“How does it seem to you, my lady? Does anyone in the world have such a servant and lover as ye do?”

Oriana said:

“Oh, my lady and true friend! What shall I do, for my heart can in no way withstand what I see, for this cannot result in anything for me but great misfortune. On one side is this man of whom ye speak who is the light of my eyes and the consolation of my sad heart, without whom it would be impossible for me to live. On the other side is my father, who although I have found him very cruel, I cannot deny the true love that as a daughter I owe him. Then sorrowful me! What shall I do? Whichever shall lose, I will always be the saddest and unluckiest woman that ever was for all the days of my life.”

And she began to weep and wring her hands. Mabilia took her by the hands and told her:

“My lady, by God I ask you to set aside this grief and place your good hope in God, Who to show His great power oftentimes raises up such frightening things as this with little hope that they may be remedied, and later with thoughtful counsel brings than to an end contrary to what men might think, and so my lady, it might happen here, if it pleases Him. And given that this rupture has been permitted by Him, ye must understand that such a great violence as was done to you cannot be remedied without even greater violence. Then give thanks to God that this is not your fault, as those lords have told you.”

Oriana, as she was very wise, understood well that she had spoken the truth, and was somewhat consoled. And so they spent a long time looking, and later returned to their chambers.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

How Esplandian almost killed his father Amadis

From Chapter 28 of The Exploits of Esplandian. 

“The exploits of the virtuous knight Esplandian, son of Amadis of Gaul”

In the early versions of Amadis of Gaul, now lost, Amadis is tragically killed by his son Esplandian in combat – explained a bit more in depth here. However, in the 1508 version, that battle is never fought. Instead, in a sequel to Amadis of Gaul, called The Exploits of Esplandian, the son goes off to serve the glory of God by fighting infidels ... but an echo of their fateful encounter in the earlier tale is included in that novel:


When Esplandian left the city of London [in the company of the doctor Elisabad and others ...] he took the road straight to Firm Island intending to avoid any joust or battle that might offer itself because neither desire nor ire burned in him except to make war on the enemies of the faith. And after they had gone three leagues, they entered a forest, and before they could leave it, almost another three lay ahead of them. After they had ridden for a while, they arrived at the great river that crossed the forest, over which there was a great bridge. [...] They saw a knight leave the riverbank on a large and beautiful horse, fully armed, with a lance in his hand as if he wished to joust. When they drew near him, the knight from the riverbank said:

“Knight, do not come forward, because I am the guardian of this bridge, which I must be to keep my word, but if ye cross it by force of arms, I will be free of my promise and ye from the labor of seeking another passage.”

Esplandian told him:

“If in the time of my father, who sought adventures in this land, and of the other famous knights who for such causes fought, this might come to pass and ye could test your fate as fortune might give you it; but I say to you, my lord knight, I would not wish his honor nor his fame, nor for God to give me such a path. Ye may block our way, but ye cannot block the countryside, which is exceedingly wide.”

Then he turned away, but the knight told him:

“In vain is your labor. Do ye think to find a place to ford the river before night falls?”

When Esplandian heard this, he said, somewhat angry:

“Knight, according to that, I cannot avoid doing battle with you. Well, if that is so, I wish to see if your hindrance will be a greater obstacle then taking the long way around.”

Then he laced on his helmet, put his shield around his neck, took up his lance, and said:

“Now make way or protect yourself for me!”

The other knight said nothing and instead had his horse gallop at him as fast as it could go. Esplandian did the same toward him, and their shields met the great blows of the lances and broke them without doing much harm. And as the horses were sturdy and the knights sought victory, they met so bravely, their shields and helmets striking against each other, that both crashed to the ground from their horses in such great falls that the doctor thought they were dead. But soon Esplandian got up and put his hand on his sword, with great shame for having fallen thus, and went at the other knight, who was ready to attack, and they began the bravest fight between each other that men had ever seen.

The doctor Elisabad watched them and said:

“Oh, holy Mary! What will become of this? For this is some devil in the form of a knight who has come to meet us in our confusion.”

The knights continued to battle for a full hour without resting or doing anything other than giving each other the most deadly and fierce blows that they could, so that their shields were in pieces and their chain mail torn and broken in many places, and so much blood flowed from them that the field was colored red. Then the knight of the bridge pulled back a little and said:

“Knight, leave this road and abandon the battle because, as ye are the best of all those I have tested myself against, it would be a great sorrow if ye were to lose your life here.”

Esplandian told him:

“If ye, knight, were such that ye considered me more virtuous than cowardly, it might be that ye said what ye did to make my will content, but knowing that ye have me in such difficulty that I believe the final glory will be the death of both of us, do not think of anything but defending yourself, and hold for certain that until death or defeat takes one of us from here, there shall be no other chance to rest from me.”

Then they attacked each other and returned to their battle with much more anger and strength than before, which went on for two long hours without either of them showing any weakness and each one of them testing all their strength. The noise of the blows was as if twenty knights were fighting there. Many times they struggled hand to hand, leaving their swords on their chains, but since they could not knock each other down, in the end they attacked each other again very cruelly.

When the doctor Elisabad saw them with such ire and in such danger he said:

“My friend Sargil [Esplandian’s squire], I think that Esplandian has found the grave at his tender and handsome age. My Lord God, protect him by Thy mercy, because his desire is none other than to expand Thy holy law!”

Sargil was terrified and tears fell down his cheeks to see the great difficulty in which his lord was. But it did not last much longer, because before the third hour was over, the knight of the bridge was in such a bad way and his weapons and armor so damaged that there was nothing for him except death. Esplandian attacked with great blows and continued so lively and lightly that he did not give him a single moment of rest; and those watching knew that if the knight of the bridge continued fighting any longer he would be dead.

When Esplandian saw that he was thus, his rage burned to see him in such difficulty, and he said:

“Sir knight, I have received great harm from you, and ye wished death to come to me unjustly; but I shall make you go first.”

Then he raised his sword to strike with all his strength, but the other knight, who could no longer raise his own sword, shouted and said:

“No more now, for I recognize my defeat.”

Esplandian held back the blow and said:

“Then say who ye are.”

The knight told him:

“Have the doctor Elisabad come, who shall be very necessary.”

Then the sword fell from his hand and he sat on the ground, for he could no longer stay on his feet. Esplandian called the doctor, telling him the knight wanted him. The doctor arrived, dismounted his palfrey, and went to him. He had lost consciousness due to all the blood he had lost from the great blows he had received. When Elisabad took off his helmet, he recognized him as Amadis, which astonished him. When Esplandian saw him, he threw his sword on the ground and, taking off his helmet, began to weep very bitterly and say:

“Oh misfortune and misery! What have I done?”

And he fell senseless next to his father. When the doctor saw the father and son, he began to curse repeatedly because great misfortune had brought him to such a state that before himself he saw the two people whom he most loved in the world at the point of death. And as he saw that he could do little for them there, he called for Sargil to come and help him. And as no one in the entire world was his equal in his profession, he provided medical care to Amadis’s injuries as no one else knew how to do.[...]

And so as ye have heard it came to pass the cruel and harsh battle between Amadis and his son, of which some say that in it Amadis died of those injuries, and others that he died in the first encounter with the lance, which passed through him front to back; when Oriana learned of it, threw herself from a window. But it was not so, for the great doctor Elisabad cured his wounds. And soon after, King Lisuarte and his wife the Queen renounced their kingdoms and retired, as shall be told further on. And Amadis and Oriana were very prosperous monarchs of Great Britain and Gaul, and they had another son, who was named Perion, and a daughter who was no less beautiful than her mother, and who married a son of Arquisil, the Emperor of Rome.

But the death that overcame Amadis was none other than this: his great deeds were forgotten almost as if they were buried beneath the earth, while those of his son flourished which such fame and such glory that they seemed to reach the height of the clouds.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chapter 104

How Sir Guilan the Pensive came to Rome with the message from his lord, King Lisuarte, and what he accomplished during his mission to Emperor Patin. 

[Castle Sant’Angelo in Rome.]

Sir Guilan the Pensive traveled so fast during his journey that twenty days after leaving Great Britain, he was in Rome with the Emperor Patin, whom he found with many people and amid great preparations to receive Oriana. The Emperor awaited her every day because his cousin, Salustanquidio, and Brondajel de Roca had written to him saying that everything had been brought to fruition and soon they would bring him all he had asked for, but the Emperor was very surprised at how long it was taking them. Sir Guilan entered the palace still wearing his armor except on his hands and head, and went to where the Emperor was, knelt and kissed his hands, and gave him the letter he carried. And the Emperor knew him well, for he had often seen him in King Lisuarte’s court when he was there after he returned badly injured from the blows that Amadis had given him one night in the forest, as the second book of the story has recounted.

He told him:

“Sir Guilan, ye are very welcome. I believe ye come with your lady Oriana. Tell me where to find her and my people bringing her.”

“My lord,” he said, “Oriana and your men are in a place that is inopportune for you and for them.”

“How was that?” the Emperor said.

He told him:

“My lord, read this letter, and when it pleases you, I shall tell you why I have come, which is for a much more urgent reason than ye can imagine.”

The Emperor read the letter and saw that it was his credentials, and as he was always very fickle and unfocused, without any further consideration, he told him:

“Now tell me the contents of this letter in front of everyone here, because I can wait no longer.”

Sir Guilan told him:

“My lord, since that is what pleases you, so shall it be. My lord King Lisuarte would have ye know that Salustanquidio and Brondajel de Roca along with many knights arrived in his kingdom and on your behalf asked for his daughter Oriana to be your wife. And he, knowing your virtue and grandeur, although this Princess was his rightful heir and the thing he and his wife the Queen loved most in the world, in order to make ye their kin and to earn your love, against the will of everyone in his kingdom, he gave her to him with a retinue and accompaniment that the grandeur of your and his estate required.

“They set sail, and when they were outside the borders of his kingdom, Amadis of Gaul came with many other knights in another fleet, and your men were thoroughly defeated and many of them killed, including Prince Salustanquidio. Brondajel de Roca and the Archbishop of Talancia and the Duke of Ancona and many other men were taken prisoner, and Oriana was taken with all her ladies and damsels and Queen Sardamira; and they and the prisoners and spoils were taken to Firm Island, where they hold her.

“Some messengers were sent from Firm Island seeking an accord, but King Lisuarte has not wished to consider that until ye, my lord, who are deeply involved in this matter, know what has happened, and he may know how ye feel about it, but he would have you know that if ye as well as he believe Amadis and his allies must be punished, it should happen soon, so that time does not make the injury grow.”

When the Emperor heard this, he was astounded and said with great pain in his heart:

“Oh miserable Emperor of Rome, if thou dost not punish this, thou shouldst not live one more hour in this world!”

And he turned and said:

“Is it true that Oriana has been seized and my cousin killed?”

“It is true beyond any doubt,” Sir Guilan said, “and everything happened as I have told you.”

“Well, knight, go back now,” the Emperor said, “and tell your lord the King that I shall take charge of this injury and its vengeance, and that he need worry about nothing else but to watch what I shall do, for I wish to be part of his family not to give him labor or care but to avenge any offense done to him.”

“My lord,” Sir Guilan said, “ye have responded like the great lord and brave knight that ye are, but I believe that ye will have to deal with such men that it could well be necessary to have troops from Britain as well as from here. And my lord the King until now has achieved full satisfaction against all those who have offended him, and so he shall do from here onward. And since I have received such a good response from you, my lord, I shall go. Order everything vital to be done, and very quickly, with all necessary preparations to take vengeance against opposition.”

And with that Sir Guilan bid farewell to the Emperor but not very happily, since he was a very noble and wise and brave knight, and he had seen how the Emperor had spoken with so little authority and heed, and he felt deep sorrow in his heart to think of his lord the King in the company of such a frivolous man, from whom, except by great good fortune, nothing could come but loss and dishonor.

And so he returned, often weeping on the way at the great loss that his lord the King had suffered through his own fault by losing Amadis, all his lineage, and many other very worthy men who had been in his service because of Amadis, and who now were his sworn enemies. So with great labor he arrived in Great Britain and was well received by the King and everyone in the court. He immediately told him everything that had happened with the Emperor and how he was preparing to come with much hurry, and then he said:

“May it please God, my lord, that being in kinship with this man will bring you honor. But may God help me, I return very little content with his authority, and I cannot believe that troops under such leadership can accomplish anything good.”

The King told him:

“Sir Guilan, I am very happy to see ye have arrived safe and sound, and I believe that by having you and other such knights in my service, we only need the Emperor’s men, and although he may not command nor guide them, ye shall be able to manage them for him and for me. Since he has responded that way, we must not fail to present our men so that when he sees them he does not consider his power as great as he does now.”

And so the King prepared everything appropriate with great diligence, for he knew well that his opponents would not fail to call up as many men as they could. He knew that the Emperor of Constantinople, the King of Bohemia, King Perion, and many other leaders had convoked their men to send them to Firm Island. He also believed it true that given the abilities of Amadis and all the knights who were with him, when they saw themselves with such strength, they would not be able to wait, and they would seek him inside his own kingdom. For that reason he never ceased to seek help everywhere, since he knew it would be necessary. He also knew that King Aravigo and Barsinan, the lord of Sansuena, and many other men with him were preparing a large armada, but he could not imagine where it would go.

As he was doing this, Brandoivas arrived and told him that King Cildadan was preparing to fulfill his orders, and that Sir Galvanes had begged not to be ordered to fight against Amadis and Agrajes, his nephew. If the King was not content with this, then he would leave the Island of Mongaza free and unembargoed, as he had agreed to at the time when he received it: that while he had it, he would be the King’s vassal, and when he no longer wished to be that, he would leave the island without any claim to it.

The King, as he was very wise, although his need was great, understood that Sir Galvanes was right, and sent word to tell him to remain there, for although in this matter he could not be of service, the time would come when he could make up for that.

A few days later Filispinel arrived from King Gasquilan of Suesa and told Lisuarte that he had been received very well with great willingness to come to his aid, for that King had long held a wish to fight against Amadis.

When the King knew what great resources he had, he decided not to wait. He ordered his nephew Giontes called and told him:

“Nephew, it is necessary that ye immediately go as fast as ye can to Patin, the Emperor of Rome, and tell him that I am content with what Sir Guilan told me on his behalf, and that I am going to my town of Windsor, because it is near the port where he ought to disembark. I will go there with all my men and be encamped awaiting his arrival. I urge him to be as fast as he can, because given his great strength and mine, at the outset we shall have more men than our opponents, who will lack help from those who are coming more slowly. And nephew, do not leave there until ye are coming with his company, for your presence may give him greater desire and concern to depart.”

Giontes told him:

“My lord, what ye order shall not fail to be fulfilled by me.”

The King immediately left for Windsor, and ordered all his men to be called up. And Giontes took to the sea in a ship equipped and prepared for everything appropriate in both sailors and supplies for such a voyage to Rome.