Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chapter 111 [part 1 of 2]

What happened on each side during the second battle, and why the battle was halted. 

[Depiction of England and France at war, c. 1415, from the Grandes Chroniques de France, at the British Library.]

King Lisuarte placed King Arban of North Wales, Sir Guilan the Pensive, and the other knights in the vanguard, as ye have heard. And King Lisuarte with his battalion and King Cildadan were behind them, and the Emperor and all his men were farther back, each one in a column with its captains, as had been arranged.

King Perion gave the vanguard to his nephew Sir Brian of Monjaste, and he and Gastiles, with the standard of the Emperor of Constantinople, were behind him and all the other battalions arranged so that those that were farthest away on the first day of fighting now were at the front.

In these formations, they marched toward each other, and when they were close, trumpets played on both sides and the columns of Brian of Monjaste and King Arban of North Wales met each other so bravely that in the first attack more than five hundred knights fell to the ground, and their horses ran free through the field. Sir Brian found himself facing King Arban, and they struck each other hard and broke their lances, but did no further harm to each other. Then they put their hand to their swords and began to attack every way they could to do the most harm possible, as knights who had done so many times before and were experienced.

Norandel and Sir Guilan, working together, attacked the men on the opposing side, and as they were very brave and courageous, they caused great harm, and they would have caused even more if not for a knight related to Sir Brian and who had come with the men from Spain, named Fileno. He had with him many of the Spaniards, who were good men at war, and they attacked with such force in the area where Sir Guilan and Norandel were fighting that the Spanish knights pushed back them and all the others there, where Norandel and Sir Guilan did amazing feats to protect their men.

King Arban and Sir Brian were separated from their battalions and from each other due to the great press of fighting on the other side, and each of them began to encourage their men by attacking and bringing down their opponents. But as the Spanish knights were greater in number and had better horses, they held a great advantage, and if King Lisuarte and King Cildadan had not come to the rescue with their columns, their men could not have held the field and would have all been lost, but the arrival of those Kings compensated for the difference.

King Perion, when he saw the flag of King Lisuarte, said to Gastiles:

“Now, my good lord, let us move out, and keep watching that flag, as I shall do myself.”

Then they raced toward their enemy. King Lisuarte received them like he whose heart and courage had never failed; without any doubt ye may believe that during his lifetime there was never a king who better or more freely placed his body in danger over matters of honor, as ye can see throughout this great story in every battle and confrontation in which he is found.

Now, as these men were fighting in such a large number, who could tell you of the knightly deeds they did there? It would be impossible for whoever wished to tell the truth, for so many good knights were killed and injured there that the horses could hardly move without trampling them. Of King Lisuarte I tell you that as a man whose pride was hurt and holding his life as worthless, he charged into his enemies so courageously that few could be found who dared to await him. King Perion, coming from another area and performing amazing feats, by chance encountered King Cildadan, and when they recognized each other, they did not wish to attack each other. Instead they passed each other by and went on to attack whomever they found in front of them and sent many knights dead or injured to the ground.

When the Emperor saw such a great turbulence, he thought that the men on his side were in great danger, and he ordered the captains of his columns to attack as fast as they could, as he himself would, and this was carried out. All the battalions along with the Emperor charged at their opponents. But before they could arrive, those on the other side saw them coming and together they galloped as one across the field, so that they were all mixed among each other in such a way that they could not be organized nor protect their captains. Instead they rode so close together that they could not attack with their swords, and they fought hand to hand and tried to pull each other from their horses, and more of them died from being trampled than from injuries inflicted by men.

The confusion and noise was so great, along with the shouts and the clash of arms echoing in all the valleys of the mountains, that it seemed as if all the world were fighting there. And ye may truly believe that not all the world but most of Christendom and its best men were there, where it suffered so much damage on that day that for a very long time it could not recover.

Thus this should be taken as an example by kings and great lords. Before they do something, they should ponder and think carefully, putting great consideration into the problems that could result because under their command and due to their errors and fervor, blameless men can be injured and killed, as so often happens: and may their innocence carry their souls to a better place. Although those who caused this present destruction might survive, many deaths and great peril could be recounted, as came to pass on this occasion with King Lisuarte; he was very discreet and wise in all things, as ye have heard, but in this case he did not wish to take anyone’s advice but his own.

Great arrogance and rage can be found among those who have lordship over us that can place us in great anguish and suffering and tribulation, but because I believe these admonishments will be ignored, I shall place all this aside and return to our purpose, and I say that as the battle continued and many men died, the press was so great that neither side could prevail and all were occupied with fighting whomever they found in front of them.

Agrajes constantly tried to find King Lisuarte and had not seen him due to the great press and crowd of men, and going among the battles, he saw that Lisuarte had just brought down Dragonis in an encounter in which he broke his lance, and he had his sword drawn to attack him. Agrajes rode at him with his sword in hand and said:

“Attack me, King Lisuarte, for I am the one who despises thee most.”

When he heard that, the King turned to look and charged at him, and Agrajes at him, and they met each other so hard they could not strike a blow. Agrajes dropped his sword, which was attached by a chain, and seized the King’s arms, for, as has been said in other places in this story, Agrajes was the most aggressive knight with the most lively heart as there was in his time, and if courage like his was enough, there could not have been found a better knight in the world than him, and he was one of the best that could have been found in many places.

And as they gripped each other each trying to throw the other from his horse, Agrajes could have found himself in great danger because the King was larger and had greater strength, if it had not been for the intervention of King Perion, who came with Sir Florestan and Landin and Enil and many other knights. When they saw the situation Agrajes was in, they hurried to rescue him, and on the other side came Sir Guilan the Pensive, Norandel, Brandoivas, and Giontes, nephew of the King. Those men, even when they were charging on their horses and doing great deeds of knighthood elsewhere, always kept an eye out to look for the King, as was their responsibility. When these men arrived, they attacked with their swords since their lances had been broken, all of them so bravely that it was an astonishing thing to see, and both sides came together to rescue their own.

But the King and Agrajes were gripping each other so tightly that they could neither let go nor throw each other down, because the men on their side were in their way and helping them so they could not fall. And since the greatest press of battle and noise was there, many knights hurried there from both sides, among them Sir Cuadragante. When he arrived and saw the tumult and the King holding Agrajes, he charged roughly through them all and grabbed the King so bravely he almost knocked both of them down, but he did not dare to attack the King because he might have hit Agrajes, and he never let him go even though those who were defending the King gave him many blows.

King Arban of North Wales, who was coming with the Emperor of Rome, had not seen the King for a while, and when he arrived there and saw him in great danger, he was overcome and grabbed Sir Cuadragante tightly. And so all four were in each others’ grasp and around them were King Perion and his men, and from the other side Norandel and Sir Guilan and his men, and they never ceased fighting.

And as the situation was in great tumult and danger, on the side of King Lisuarte, the Emperor and King Cildadan intervened with more than three thousand knights, and on the other side, Gastiles and Grasandor with just as many companies of men. Each side arrived with such fury into the press and with such thunderous noise that by force they scattered those who were fighting, and those who were holding each other found they could finally let each other go. All four remained on horseback but were very tired and could barely hold themselves in their saddles. And so many men on King Lisuarte’s side had charged that the battle would have been lost if it had not been for the great skills of King Perion, Sir Cuadragante, Sir Florestan, and their other friends, who as courageous knights endured so much that it was a great marvel.


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