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.


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