Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chapter 116

About the battle between King Lisuarte and King Arabigo and their armies, and how King Lisuarte was defeated and rescued by Amadis of Gaul, who never failed to aid those in need. 

[Illustration from the Codex Manesse, an anthology of Minnesang poetry, made in Germany for the Manesse family in about 1304 to 1340. At the library of the University of Heidelberg.]

We have told you how King Lisuarte was warned by the knights he sent to the mountain that they had seen King Arabigo’s soldiers on its peaks, and how with great haste he tried to reach his town of Lubaina because if there was an attack, he could take refuge there. Because his men were tired and injured from the previous battles that ye have heard about, he was well aware that they would not withstand the great might of their enemies.

And so it was that as he was traveling, King Arabigo’s men followed him until it was night: Esclavor with his ten men on horseback and the forty knights that his uncle the King had sent him. Given the way the soldiers from the mountains rode, once they had descended to the plain they might have reached King Lisuarte’s troops, but the night was so dark that they could not see their opponents, and because of that and because Arcalaus had said that the village where they hoped to go had weak defenses, they made no effort to fight with them, and instead they stayed right behind them and their scouts were almost in contact with King Lisuarte’s scouts.

And so they rode until the dawn of day, when they saw that they were quite close to each other and a short distance from the village. Then King Lisuarte, as a courageous prince, drew to a halt with all his men and put them into two columns. The first he gave to King Cildadan, and with him his son Norandel, King Arban of North Wales, Sir Guilan the Pensive, Cendil of Ganota, and almost two thousand knights. In the second column were the Romans Arquisil and Flamineo, his nephew Giontes, and Brandoivas, and many other knights of the King’s retinue, and with them six thousand knights.

If these two battalions had been supplied with fresh arms and rested horses, they would have had little to fear from their enemies, but it was entirely otherwise, and all their weapons were damaged in many places from the previous battles, and their horses very weak and tired from their previous labors and their present efforts, since all that day and night they had paused very little. From this great harm came to them, as ye shall hear farther on.

King Arabigo had in his front lines Barsinan, lord of Sansuena, who as has been said was a courageous young knight eager to win honor and to avenge the death of his father and his brother Gandalod, whom Sir Guilan had defeated and brought as a prisoner to King Lisuarte, who ordered him thrown from a tower in London, at the foot of which Barsinan’s father had been burned, as was recounted in the first book of the story. He had with him two thousand knights and the other battalions behind him, as has been told.

Then when the day was bright and they saw themselves close to each other, they attacked fiercely, so that in the first encounter many horses lost their masters. Barsinan broke his lance, put his hand on his sword, and gave great blows with it, as one who was valiant and had great rage.

Norandel, who rode in front of his men, encountered a maternal uncle of Barsinan, who had been governor of his lands after his father was killed until his nephew was old enough to know how to rule. He met him with a hard blow from a lance that passed through the uncle’s shield and his chain mail, came out of his back, and struck him dead, and he fell immediately to the ground.
King Cildadan brought down another knight who was with him and who was one of the best in Barsinan’s company, and Sir Guilan and King Arban of North Wales attacked with great blows as did the others who came with them, who were all outstanding and select knights, so that Barsinan’s column would have been brought to ruin if it had not been aided by Arcalaus. He had lost half of his right hand, which Amadis had cut off when he called himself Beltenebros and killed Lindoraque, Arcalaus’s nephew, but with Arcalaus’ great experience at arms he could now fight with his left hand as well as he had with the other.

With his arrival the men on his side were greatly encouraged and recovered the fire in their hearts, so many of King Lisuarte’s troops were killed or injured or unhorsed. Arcalaus rode among them and did great deeds at arms, as one who was valiant and courageous. But at the same time you would have seen amazing deeds by King Cildadan, Norandel, Sir Guilan, and Cendil of Ganota, who acted as shields and protectors of all their men, but it would have been worth nothing if King Lisuarte had not come to their aid since their opponents, greater in number and more rested, were about to defeat them.

But King Lisuarte, who was always ready for whatever he needed to do in the great confrontations where he found himself, rode ahead of his men, more eager to be killed than to fail to do what he ought. The first man he found in front of himself was a brother of Alumas, whom Sir Florestan had killed in a matter involving damsels held by force at the Spring of the Elms, who was first cousin to Dardan the Arrogant. Lisuarte struck him, and all his armor failed and he was left dead on the ground, and the King’s men attacked the others so fiercely that they made them lose a large area of the battlefield.

The King put his hand on his sword, striking with it such that whoever was reached by a proper blow could not have been saved by a doctor. At that time he was full of rage and, forgetting all danger, he rode into his enemies, causing injury and death. Arcalaus had earlier learned what insignia he would be wearing to be able to attack and injure him in any manner he possibly could, for such was his way, and when he saw him so separated from his men, he went to Barsinan and told him:

“Barsinan, seest thou before thee thine enemy, and if he is killed, this will all be over. Dost thou not see what King Lisuarte is doing?”

Barsinan took ten knights from among the men who guarded him and said to Arcalaus:

“Now to bring death to him, or for all of us to die!”

Then they rode at the King and struck him on all sides and unhorsed him. Filispinel always rode with the twenty knights that ye have heard of who had gone with him to investigate the mountain, and they had promised to stay together in the battle, and when they saw the King brought down, Filispinel told them:

“All my lords, now is the time to die with the King!”

Then they wrote together and reached the King, whom they found being held down by two knights who had thrown themselves over him before he could get up, and they had taken his sword. Filispinel and his men attacked Barsinan and Arcalaus and their men, who were unwillingly driven from there. But Arcalaus had shouted to his men and so many of them charged against their opponents that if fate had not brought there King Cildadan, Arquisil, Norandel, and Brandoivas along with some knights they had aided, the King would have been lost. Instead these men killed so many opponents that by the might of their weapons they recovered the King. When Norandel reached him, he jumped off his horse and attacked those who held him with fierce blows, recovered the King’s sword, put it in his hand, and told him:

“Take my horse.”

The King did so, and did not leave there until Brandoivas had given another horse to Norandel and had him mount. They immediately went to help their men and fought so fiercely that their opponents did not dare to wait. Arcalaus said to one of his knights:

“Ask King Arabigo why he is letting them kill us.”

The knight rode to King Arabigo and told him that, who answered:

“I have thought for a while it would be proper to help them, but I did not do that so our opponents would ride farther away from the town. But if that is what he wants, so it shall be done.”

Then the trumpets sounded and he came with all his men, and with him the six knights from Centaur Island. And as they found the other troops in confusion and tired, they attacked to save them and wrought great havoc. Those six knights of whom I spoke did extraordinary things, bringing down and killing whomever they reached, and so with what they did and with the many rested men who arrived with King Arabigo, King Lisuarte’s men could not withstand the attack and began to lose ground and lose the battle.

King Lisuarte, who saw that things were lost and in no way could be recovered, took with him King Cildadan, Norandel, Sir Guilan, Arquisil, and other select knights and, placing himself in front of his men, ordered the remainder to retreat to the town that was nearby. What shall I say to you? In this retreat and defeat the King did so much to defend his men that never before had his skill and courage as a knight been demonstrated as it was then, and the same was true of all the knights who found themselves with him.

But in the end, given the great loss of his men, some killed and many others taken prisoner or injured, they were forced inside the gates of the town. And as the men began to crowd toward it and their enemies saw the battle already won, so they charged, and even more were lost. King Arban of North Wales and Sir Grumedan, with the King’s standard, were brought down from their horses and taken prisoner by the enemy. And that would have happened to the King as well if some of his men had not dragged him inside the town, and then the gates were closed. The number of men who had entered were very few.

Their opponents pulled back because they were being shot at by bows and crossbows, and they brought with them King Arban and Sir Grumedan with the King’s flag. Arcalaus wished to have them immediately killed, but King Arabigo would not agree and told him to wait, for soon they would have King Lisuarte and all the other men, and with the agreement of himself and the other great lords who were there, they would do justice. He ordered them brought to some of his own men to be guarded very carefully.

And so, as I tell you, King Lisuarte was defeated and ruined and most of his men lost, dead, or taken prisoner, and he and the others with him were inside that ill-protected town where other than death, little else awaited them.

Then what shall we say of what brought him to that point? God and fate? Truly, no, only he himself by having his ears more open and willing to receive harmful words and believe what those evil man Brocadan and Gandandel told him about Amadis than to believe what he saw with his own eyes. And he was more given to their evildoing than to the natural goodness of Amadis and his lineage, by whom he had been placed in higher fame than any other prince in the world.

Yet aside from our Lord God, who will rescue him? By chance will he be restored from his harm and danger by Brocadan and Gandandel and their lineage or by others like them who are devoid of conscience as they were and are envious of those who are virtuous and courageous, placing themselves in danger for the sake of following virtue? Have they the desire to seek what the virtuous seek or instead do they wish to harm and defeat them with all their might? It seems to me that if Lisuarte were waiting for Brocadan and Gandandel, very soon would be avenged the death of Barsinan, the lord of Sansuena, and the great loss that King Arabigo suffered in the battle of the seven kings, and the rage of Arcalaus.

Then who shall be his remedy and aid? Truly it shall be the famous and courageous Amadis of Gaul, who has rescued him so many times, as this great story has shown. But did Amadis have any reason to do so, other than the service of his lady? Instead I say that given the great and advantageous services he had done for Lisuarte and the poor recognition and thanks that he had received, he might rightly and justly wish to see his total destruction. But because this knight had been born in this world to win glory and fame, he thought of nothing besides noble deeds of great virtue, as ye shall hear in what he did for this defeated and besieged King on the verge of death and the loss of his kingdom.

Returning to our purpose, I say that after King Lisuarte was besieged in that town, King Arabigo withdrew to the place in the battlefield where his great lords were and asked them how they thought that matter should be brought to an end. They offered many ideas, some in opposition to others, as often happens to those for whom fate is favorable and things are going so well that they do not know how to select between what is good and what is best. Some of them said it would be good to rest a while and prepare for combat and meanwhile to place many guards so that the King could not escape. Others said it would be good to fight them immediately before they could do anything else to defend themselves, and since they were lost and afraid, the town could be taken quickly and the King’s men defeated.

After King Arabigo had heard all this, everyone waited to hear his decision because he commanded all of them, and he said:

“My good lords and honorable knights, I have always heard it said that men should follow good fortune when it comes to them and not look for obstacles and pretexts to avoid it. Instead, with the greatest devotion and diligence, they should work together so that pleasure will come to all of them together. And for that reason, I say that without delay Barsinan and the Duke of Bristol with whatever men they wish should immediately go to one end of the town, and Arcalaus and I with the King of Deep Island and the other knights shall go to the other end. And what we have at hand is what we shall fight with, and our enemies shall immediately be attacked before night comes, for only two hours of sunshine remain. And if with this combat we cannot break into the town, we shall pull back and our men shall rest a little, and at the dawn of day we shall fight again. And I say to you and I will say to all my men and to any others who wish to follow me that I shall not rest nor eat nor drink until there is death: I promise as a king that my death or Lisuarte’s will come tomorrow without fail.”

King Arabigo gave great courage and pleasure to those lords, and they all agreed to what he had said and promised. They immediately ordered provisions to be brought out, of which they had a great deal, and had all their men eat and drink to be strengthened for the combat, and told them that when it was over they were bound to be rich and blessed if they did not lose due to a lack of courage. When this was done, Barsinan, the lord of Sansuena, and the Duke of Bristol with half the men went to one end of the village, and King Arabigo and the rest of the men went to the other end. They all immediately dismounted and prepared to fight, waiting for the sound of the trumpets.

King Lisuarte, who was in the town, did not wish to rest for he understood fully that he had lost, and although he realized he was somewhere that could not be defended for very long, he decided to put all his efforts  into defense until his disgrace was over, and to die like a knight before being taken prisoner by those who were his mortal enemies. After he and his men had eaten what little the people of the town had given them, he immediately distributed all the knights with the people of the village to the parts where the city wall was the weakest, admonishing and telling them that after God, health and life was definitely in their hearts and hands. But they were such that they did not need anyone to make them noble, and each one for himself hoped to die like their lord the King.

And thus, as ye hear, their enemies came fearlessly into battle with the courage that victors often have, protected by their shields and with the lances that were still in good repair in their hands and the others with their swords, and the archers and crossbow men at their backs, and they reached the wall. Those inside received them with stones and arrows from both crossbow men and archers, and because the wall was very low and in some places broken, there they met each other as if they were in a battlefield. Despite the poor protection that those inside had, they defended themselves so bravely and with such great courage that their opponents lost the impetus and passion with which they had arrived. Immediately most of them began to grow weak and to pull back while others fought fiercely, so on both sides there were many deaths and injuries.

King Arabigo and all the other captains who rode on horseback never ceased to urge their men forward and came up to the wall without hesitation so their men would follow them, and from their horses they struck those on top of the wall with their lances, so King Lisuarte came very close to having his line of defense broken, but God wished to protect him by having the night fall with great darkness. Then the men pulled back as they were ordered and treated their injuries, and others were distributed to surround the town and stand guard. They rightl considered it as a given that the next day at the first combat the matter would be settled, as it was.

But now we shall tell you what Amadis and his companions did after they departed from King Perion to go rescue King Lisuarte.


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