Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chapter 112

How King Lisuarte had the body of the Emperor of Rome brought to a monastery and spoke to the Romans about the situation he was in, and the answer they gave him.
[Funeral procession of King Edward to Westminster Abbey, from the Bayeux Tapestry.]

King Lisuarte came to his tent and asked King Cildadan to dismount and disarm so that, before they rested, they could decide what ought to be done with the body of the Emperor. And when they were disarmed, although they were badly bruised and very tired, they both went to the tent where the dead Emperor was, and they found all his most important knights around his body mourning deeply.

Although the Emperor by nature was arrogant and disagreeable, which for good reason those who behave like him should be unloved, he was very free and generous in both gifts and concessions to his men, which concealed many of his defects. While naturally everyone is very happy with someone who receives those who come to him with grace and courtesy, they are much happier with those who, although they may be a bit surly, carry out what is asked of them, because the true effect lies in doing virtue and not talking about it.

When the two Kings had arrived, they had the knights cease mourning and asked them to go to their tents and disarm and get care for their injuries, for they had not wished to leave until the body was placed where such a great prince should lie. So they all left, and only the royal officials remained, and King Lisuarte ordered the Emperor’s body be prepared so it could be carried to a monastery a day’s travel away at a town named Lubaina, because from there it could be taken with less haste to Rome to the chapel of the emperors.

That being done, the Kings returned to the tent they had left, and there dinner had been prepared for them. They ate, and to those who were there, they seemed to have good countenances, but one man was secretly felt otherwise. Instead, his spirit was deeply afflicted and troubled, and this man was King Lisuarte, because, once the truce was over, he had no hope for himself. Given the advantage his enemies had held in the two previous battles and the great weakness they had discovered in his men, especially the Romans, who were the greater part of his forces, and having seen the great courage of their opponents, he took it for granted that they were in no situation to withstand a third battle. He expected nothing else in it except to be dishonored, defeated, and most certainly killed, because he only wished for life when he could uphold his honor. And having eaten, King Cildadan went to his tent and King Lisuarte remained in his own.

So they passed that night, having placed a great many guards around their camp, and when morning came, the King got up, and after he heard Mass, took King Cildadan with him and went to the Emperor’s tent, whose body had been taken, accompanied by Floyan, to the monastery that I have told you of. They had Arquisil and Flamineo called, and all the great lords who were in their company, and when they had come, he spoke to them this way:

“My good friends, of the pain and sorrow that I have from this loss and the urge and will to avenge it, no one other than God knows. But as these things are very common in the world and cannot be avoided, as each one of you will have seen and heard, no other choice remains except, leaving aside the dead, those who remain alive must remedy their honor, so it will not seem that their natural deaths bring about an artificial death in those who live.

“The past is beyond remedy. For the present and future, by the goodness of God, enough of us remain that if we avail ourselves to the love and willpower that good men can and must have, I have faith in Him that we shall recover with great glory and advantage what has so far been lost. And I want you to know that if all of the world were against me and everyone were to abandon me, I would not leave this place unless I was victorious or dead. And so, my good friends, consider who ye are and the lineage ye come from, and act in such a way that all the world shall know that the death of a lord is not the death of all his men.”

When King Lisuarte had finished speaking, Arquisil, as he was the most principal of all of them, both in courage and in lineage, because as I have told you many times, he was in direct line to the succession of the Empire, stood up where he was and answered the King, saying:

“It is well known to everyone, since Rome was founded, of the great deeds and undertakings that Romans accomplished to their great honor in the past. History is full of such achievements, and their outstanding deeds are famous throughout the world like the morning star in the heavens. And since we come from such excellent blood, do not believe, my good lord King Lisuarte or anyone else, anything other than now more than ever and with more courage and care, ignoring any danger or fear that might come, we shall continue to act as our famous ancestors did, for which they left this world with such fame that they have always been remembered and praised. And as the virtuous must carry on their work and so that ye shall not fail nor your heart be made weak, on behalf of myself and all these lords and the other men whom I have been charged to govern and command, I promise that when the truce is over, we shall take the vanguard in the battle, and with greater courage and spirit we shall resist and attack our enemies as if our lord the Emperor were before us.”

What this knight said seemed very good to all those who were there, especially King Lisuarte, and it was made very clear that Arquisil would rightly deserve the honor and great sovereignty that God had given him, as shall be spoken of further on. With this answer, King Lisuarte left very content, and said to King Cildadan:

“My good lord, with such assurances that we have found in the Romans and such goodwill to help us, which I would not have believed possible, and having such a fine and courageous knight for their leader as Arquisil, it is very right and just for us to undertake this affair as reason obliges us, ignoring all danger. And I tell you that when the treaty is over, there shall be nothing but battle, in which, if God does not give me victory, I do not wish Him to give me life, for the greater honor for me would be death.”

King Cildadan, as he was a fine knight with great courage, although in his heart he always wept over the great sorrow he felt to be a tributary to that King, considered that what he had promised and sworn obliged him more than contenting his will and desire, and he told him:

“My lord, I am very happy with what has been found in the Romans, and even more in having been shown the strength of your heart. Such things like this that happened in the past, and those that we await in the present shall be the means by which virtue is tested and revealed. And as for me, have faith, for alive or dead, where ye shall be, my body shall be.”

When the King heard this, he thanked him sincerely, and at that hour, as Cildadan learned later, he decided that, whatever prosperous or adverse fortune might come to him, he would release him from the sovereignty he had over him, which he did, as ye shall hear farther on.

This is the most outstanding thing that should be noted carefully by whomever reads it, for King Lisuarte, merely by knowing the great affection with which this King offered to die in his service, although that did not come to happen, held it good to free him from the vassalage he had over him. From that, it should be understood that good and true will, both spiritual and temporal, deserves an equal prize as if the deed were actually done, because from it is born and put into effect what is good, and from the contrary, what is evil.

These Kings arrived at their tents, ate, and rested, ordering every necessary preparation to put an end to this great and renowned confrontation on which their honor and lives depended.

But now we shall leave one side and the other in their camps, as ye have heard, hoping that the third battle would bring glory and victory to one of them, although the certainty of one side was well and clearly known; and we must tell you what happened in the meantime. From it ye shall know that great arrogance and rage, and the danger so close and so near that these men meant to each other, could not obstruct what God, powerful in all things, had pledged to bring about.


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