Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chapter 117 [part 4 of 4]

[How Oriana learned about the victory and peace, and what happened to Arquisil.] 

[A map of Rome from folio 141v of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, made in the early 1400s. Held at L’Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes.]

Then Amadis and Arquisil left the chamber, mounted their horses, and returned to the monastery. There Amadis immediately called for his dwarf, Ardian, and ordered him to go to Firm Island and tell Oriana and all the ladies there everything he had seen. And he gave him a letter for Isanjo telling him to immediately send, well guarded, Brondajel de Roca, the Duke of Ancona, the Archbishop of Talancia, and all the other Romans who were prisoners there, as quickly as they could come.

The dwarf took great pleasure in carrying this news because from it he hoped to win great honor and advantage. He immediately mounted his nag and rode all day and night stopping very little until he reached Firm Island, where no one knew anything about what had happened. Oriana had not received any news except about the two battles and how Nasciano, the holy hermit, had brought about a truce, and how the Emperor of Rome was dead, from which she took no little joy. But beyond that she knew nothing. Instead, she continuously felt great anguish thinking that the good man Nasciano was not enough to bring peace to such great disturbance. She did nothing except pray and make devotions and processions to the churches on the island and to ask God for peace and accord between the two sides.

When Adrian arrived, he immediately went straight to the garden where Oriana was, and he told a lady who was guarding the gate to tell her he was there and he brought her news. The lady told her that, and Oriana ordered him to enter, but as she awaited what he might say, her heart was not calm. Instead, she suffered great anxiety because she could only hear news that might be advantageous to one side but harmful to the other because her beloved Amadis was on one side and her father the King on the other, and although she feared harm to Amadis most of all, anything that happened to her father would give her great sorrow.

When the dwarf entered, he said to Oriana:

“My lady, I wish a reward for good news, not because of who I am, but because of who ye are and the great news that I bring you.”

She told him:

“Ardian, my friend, from thy face I see that thou comest on behalf of thy lord, but tell me whether my father is alive.”

 The dwarf said:

“What, my lady, whether he is alive? He is alive and well, and happier than he has ever been.”

“Oh, holy Mary!” she said. “Tell me what thou knowest, and if God gives me anything, I shall make thee blessed in this world.”

Then the dwarf told her everything that had happened and how, when her father the King had been about to lose his life and was defeated and surrounded by his enemies without hope, the young and very handsome Esplandian had told this to Amadis, who had immediately left with his men; and he recounted everything that happened on the way, which he had been present for. And he told how Amadis had arrived at the town, and the situation in which her father the King was, and how with Amadis’s arrival, all his enemies were destroyed, killed, or taken prisoner, including King Arabigo, Arcalaus the Sorcerer, the Duke of Bristol, and Barsinan, lord of Sansuena. And he told how afterwards the King came to Amadis, who was leaving without seeing him, and how King Perion arrived. Finally he had told everything that happened, and how they were happily together in the monastery, as he had seen.

Oriana, who as she heard it was out of her mind with the great pleasure she felt, knelt on the ground and raised her hands and said:

“Oh powerful Lord, Who heals all things, may Thy holy name be blessed. And as Thy, Lord, art the just judge and knowest the great injustice done to me, I always had hope that Thy mercy would bring an end for all this to my great honor and to those who fought on my behalf. Blessed be the handsome youth who has caused so much good to come about, and so made true the prophecy that Urganda the Unrecognized had written about him, for which everything that she said should and must be believed. I am very obliged to love and cherish him more than anyone could think, and to reward him for all the good fortune that shall come to me because of him.”

Everyone believed she had said this because of the rescue he had brought her father the King, but in secret it came from her heart as mother to son. Then she rose and asked the dwarf if he would be returning immediately. He said he would because Amadis had ordered him that after giving the news to her and the ladies who were there, he should deliver a letter to Isanjo that he brought, in which he was ordered to immediately send the Romans who were prisoners there.

“Then Ardian, my friend,” Oriana said, “tell me what fine things they will seek to do there?”

“My lady,” he said, “I do not know for certain, except that your father the King has detained King Perion and my lord, and all the lords and knights who are there, and he says that he does not want them to leave there until everything that remains between them has been settled with great peace.”

“May God be pleased to make it so,” she said.

Then Queen Briolanja and Melicia, who were there, asked him to tell them how the very handsome young Esplandian was and how King Lisuarte considered the great service that he had done for him, and he told them:

“My good ladies, I was with Amadis in the King’s chamber, and I saw Esplandian come to kiss his hands for the favors he was promised, and I saw how the King took him with his hands on his head and kissed his eyes. And of his handsomeness I tell you that, although he is male and ye consider yourselves beautiful, if ye were to find yourselves in front of him, ye would hide and not dare show yourselves.”

“Then it is good,” they said, “that we are secluded here, for he shall not see us.”

“Do not be sure of that,” he said, “for he is such that however secluded ye may be, ye and all those who are beautiful shall go to seek him.”

They all laughed at the good news they had heard and how the dwarf had answered the question. Oriana looked at Queen Sardimira and told her:

“My lady and Queen, be happy because the Lord, Who has given help to us here, will not wish you to be forgotten.”

The Queen said:

“My lady, I have great hope in Him and that ye shall seek my welfare, although I do not deserve it from you.”

Then she asked the dwarf about the unfortunate and ill-fated Romans who were with King Lisuarte. He said:

“My lady, many of those are now lacking, and those who are alive are badly wounded. But after the death of the Emperor and Floyan and Constancio, no important man is missing from among them, and I saw that Arquisil was well and that he spoke a lot with my lord Amadis, and your brother Flamineo was injured but not badly, according to what I heard.”

The Queen said:

“May it please God that since there is no hope for those who are dead, there is hope for those who are alive, and that He shall give them grace so that without heed to what has passed, they shall be friends with great love in the present and future.”

The dwarf asked Oriana if she had any commands, for he wished to deliver the orders of his lord. She told him that since he had not brought a letter, that he should give her regards to King Perion and Agrajes, and to all those knights.

With that he went to Isanjo and gave him the letter from Amadis. When he saw what was ordered in it, he immediately brought those lords from Rome out of the tower and gave them horses and one of his sons and other people to escort and guide them, and he had them given food and all the other things they would need. And he set free the others who were prisoners, almost two hundred men, and sent them to Amadis.

And so they traveled down the road and reached the monastery where King Lisuarte was, and they kissed his hands. The King received them with great pleasure although he felt otherwise secretly, but he did not show it so he would not give them more troubles than they had. But when they saw Arquisil, they could not keep tears from coming to their eyes, nor he to his. Amadis spoke to them with much courtesy, cheering them greatly, and brought them to their lodging, where they received much honor and consolation from him. And after they had arrived and rested a little from their trip, Amadis took them aside without Arquisil and told them:

“My lords, I had you brought here because it seemed to me that since things are reaching a good end, it is very proper for you to be present at everything that shall be done, for such honorable men should be taken into account, and also to have you know what I have spoken about with Arquisil, which I think ye have heard, that he should be imprisoned by me wherever I should wish.

“And knowing from what great lineage he comes and that his nobility deserves great recognition, I agreed to speak with you, since in the Roman Empire ye have no one left who ought to lead it as this knight would. A way should be found so that yourselves and all others who find themselves here may swear loyalty to him and take him as your lord.

“And in this ye should do two things: first, comply with your obligation to give sovereignty to the one who deserves it by right, a knight who fulfills all good qualities and shall do you many favors. Second, regarding the imprisonment of yourselves and him, I consider it proper to set you free so that without delay ye may go to your lands. I shall always be your good friend as long as it pleases you, and I greatly esteem Arquisil, and I have as great love for him as for a true brother, and I always shall, if he does not lose it, in what I have been speaking of to you and everything else that concerns him.”

When those Roman lords heard that, they asked Brondajel de Roca, who was the most principal and best reasoned among them, to respond, and he told him:

“We consider highly your gracious speech, my lord Amadis, and we must thank you very deeply, but as this matter is so important and for it is necessary the consent of many people, those of us here now cannot respond until we have spoken with all the knights who are here. Although many of them have not been taken into account, they are principal for this matter, my lord, because in our land they hold many fortresses and cities and towns in the Empire, and other offices in the communities that are very central to the selection of the Emperor. Because of that, if ye please, give us the chance to see Flamineo, who is a very honorable knight, and whom we are told is injured, and everyone shall be called into his presence by us, and we shall be able to deliberate and give you our answer.”

Amadis consider that good, and he told them they had replied like wise knights and as they should have, and he asked them, because he believed that they would leave there soon, not to take long. They told him they would act right away, and delay would be very serious for them.

Then all three mounted and they entered the town, which had been cleared of the dead, because King Lisuarte had ordered many people to come from the area to bury them. And when they reached the lodging where Flamineo was, they dismounted and entered his chamber. When they saw him, their spirits were very joyful, although their faces were very sad for the great misfortune that had come over them. Immediately they told him it was necessary to call all the officers and important persons that were still alive among those who were there, because they needed to know what Amadis had told them about his deliberation, and on which their continued freedom or imprisonment rested. Flamineo had them called, and when those who could come had arrived and were together, Brondajel de Roca told them:

“Honorable knight Flamineo and all ye others, good friends, ye already know the misfortune and ill fate that has overcome all of us from Rome since by command of our Emperor, may God forgive him, we came to the island of Great Britain. Because it is so well known to you, there is no need to repeat it now. While we were prisoners at Firm Island, Amadis of Gaul considered it good for us to come here where ye see us, where with great love and goodwill he has given us many honors, and he has spoken to us at length saying that, since our Roman Empire is without a lord, and by rights more than to anyone else the succession belongs to Arquisil, it would be agreeable to him that by you and by us he be made our lord and Emperor. Not only will Amadis set us free from the imprisonment he holds over us, but he will be our faithful friend and aid in everything we need.

“And it seems to us, given the affection he has shown us, as we say, that he takes it for a given that if it is done at our will, he shall give us the things that ye have heard, and if not, he shall find a way to have it done by other means. And so, my good lord, and ye, good friends, this is what we have been called for. And so that your will may be determined knowing ours, it is very right that ye be told, since we have spoken among ourselves about this and we find that what this knight Amadis asks and urges of us is what we would have asked and begged very earnestly from him because, as ye know, such a great dominion as Rome cannot be without its lord.

“Then who by right, by courage, and by virtue, deserves it more than Arquisil? Truly, from what I see, no one. This is our fellow Roman, raised among us. We know his good habits and manners, and from him without difficulty we may ask by law for the rights that another who may be a foreigner would deny us. In addition, we gain the friendship of this famed knight Amadis, who being our enemy had so much power to harm us, being our friend with the same power can do much honor for us, and he can make amends for everything in the past. Now say what ye please, and do not consider our imprisonments or fatigue, but only that which reason and justice guides you to say.”

Just as all things proper and honest have such force that even evil men cannot deny them without great shame, so these knights, as men of discretion and understanding, seeing how very justly they were obliged to what the knight Brondajel de Roca said, they could not contradict him. Although as always happens when there are many different wills, there was discord, so many saw reason and followed it that others who wished something else found no place for their desire. Together they all said that what Amadis had asked for they would do, and they would return to their homes with their Emperor without lingering any longer in those lands where they had been in such error, and they would let their leaders take charge of what had to be sworn and promised to Arquisil.

With that they returned to Amadis at the monastery and told him everything they had agreed to, in which he took great pleasure. Then finally, in the church, all those knights, great lords of Rome, and the other people of lower estate in the Empire swore allegiance to Arquisil as their Emperor and promised to be his vassals, and he swore allegiance to all their laws and customs, and he gave them all the favors they asked for that he reasonably could.

And so from this we can say that sometimes it is better to be subjugated and constrained by great men against our freedom than with freedom to serve and obey evil men, because from good men,  good can be expected without doubt, and from evil men, although for a while it may yield pretty flowers, in the end they shall soon become dry down to their roots.

It follows that Arquisil was raised by men whose blood was of the Emperor Patin, and who did many outstanding services in honor of the imperial crown. Instead of being recognized for it, he was cast aside, almost exiled, and mistreated wherever he was, for the Emperor feared the virtue and good conduct of this knight. He should have been loved and esteemed and done many favors, but the Emperor wished to banish him from his reign.

And being taken prisoner by his enemy when he expected no kind of grace or honor and instead the opposite treatment, this enemy, by being so different and perfect in the virtues that the Emperor lacked, brought him to such great honor and high estate as to become Emperor of Rome.

In this, all should take as an example and remain with the virtuous and wise, because from good men their share shall reach them, and they should shun wicked, scandalous, and envious men with little virtue and many vices, so that no harm shall reach them.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Chapter 117 [part 3 of 4]

[What Nasciano did when he arrived, and what Gasquilan and Arquisil said to Amadis.] 

[St. Mary’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery, from The Ruined Abbeys of Yorkshire by William Lefroy, 1883.]

In the meantime the good and holy man Nasciano arrived, which greatly pleased them all, because up until that moment both sides had suffered great discord in all things, and great reversals and fatigues had come to them, but this had been entirely transformed into peace, in which all their spirits took great pleasure in rest and repose. When the good man saw them together in such love when only three days ago they had been killing each other with such cruelty, he raised his hands to the heavens and said:

“Oh Lord of the world, how great is Thy holy pity and the way Thou sendest it over those who have some understanding of Thy holy service. The blood of these kings and knights is not yet dry in the injuries caused them by the Evil Enemy. And because in Thy name and with Thy grace I set them on the right road, and they were willing to understand how great an error they were in, Thou, Lord, hast brought them so much love and goodwill that no one could have imagined it. And so, Lord, may it please Thee to allow this peace to be brought to its conclusion and end, so I as thy servant and a sinner, before I leave them, may give them such serenity that they will set aside the things contrary to Thy service and shall commit themselves to enacting Thy holy Catholic faith.”

This saintly hermit had done nothing other than go from one side to the other, placing before them many examples and doctrines so they might follow them and carry them out as he had brought them, and so their hard hearts could become fully soft and reasonable.

As they were altogether in that chamber one day, King Lisuarte asked King Perion from whom he had learned that the troops were attacking him. King Perion told him how young Esplandian had told it to Amadis, and that he knew nothing more. Then the King had Esplandian called and asked him how he had learned about those troops. He told him how he had been sent by the good man, his foster father, to the King’s encampment, which he found that the King and his men had left, and as he continued on the way, he saw the troops coming down the mountain toward the place where he was going, and he realized how many these men were and how few and in what poor condition the King’s men were, and how they could not defend themselves without great danger. Immediately he and Sarguil had ridden as fast as their palfreys could go all night without stopping, and he told it to Amadis.

King Lisuarte told him:

“Esplandian, ye have done me a great service, and I trust in God that ye shall be well rewarded by me.”

The good man said:

“Son, kiss the hands of your lord the King for what he told you.”

The youth came and knelt and kissed his hands. Then the King took him by the head and pulled him up and kissed him on the face and looked at Amadis. And because Amadis had his eyes fixed on the youth and on what the King was doing, he saw that the King was looking at him, and he blushed because he realized full well that the King knew everything about what had happened between himself and Oriana, and how the youth was his son.

And he was happy at the love the King showed to Esplandian, which touched his heart, and his desire to serve him grew even larger than it had been, and the King felt the same, for the sight and the grace of that young man gave them such contentment that when he was between them, nothing could come that would hinder their affection and love.

Gasquilan, the King of Suesa, had remained in camp, injured from the joust he had fought with Amadis, along with those of his men who had survived the battles. And when King Lisuarte parted from him, he had urged him to leave in a litter and take a right-hand detour on the road as distant from the mountains as he could, and he left men with him who could guide him well. And so they did and brought him to a meadow upon the banks of a river, which lay between him and the mountains.

He lodged there that night beneath some trees, and the next day went on his way, but due to the great distance and the roundabout route he took, he did not reach Lubaina and until five days had passed, and he arrived at the monastery where the kings were, knowing nothing of what had happened. And when they told him about it, he felt very sad to be in such a state that he had not participated in such an extraordinary event, and as he was very haughty and arrogant, with great pride he made some complaints that those who heard them did not consider good.

When King Perion and King Cildadan and those lords learned he had arrived, they went to meet him at the gate of the monastery where he was in his litter and helped him from it, and the knights took him in their arms and put him where King Lisuarte was resting, for he had asked them to do so. And there in the chamber where the King was they made another bed, where they put him.

When Gasquilan was there, he looked at all those knights from Firm Island and saw them so handsome and so well figured and dressed for war, that in his opinion he had never seen men who looked so good. He asked which of them was Amadis, and they pointed him out. And because Amadis learned he had been asked about, he came to him hand-in-hand with King Arban of North Wales, and he said:

“My good lord, may ye be very welcome. I would have been very pleased to find you well rather than how ye are, for in such a good man is yourself, ill health is ill employed. But it shall please God for you to be well soon, and for the disagreement between you and I to be mended with good works.”

Gasquilan, seeing Amadis so handsome and relaxed and courteous, if he had not known his ability so well, both from what he had heard about him and from what he had learned when he tested him, he would not have considered him highly, for he seemed better prepared to be among damsels than among knights and acts of war. And because Gasquilan was valiant in strength and spirit, he thought he should also be so in his speech, because he believed that anyone who was very brave ought to be brave in everything, and if in any way he was lacking, that would greatly diminish his worth. And for that reason he did not consider it a fault to be arrogant. Instead, he thought highly of that, and whether he was fooling himself, anyone can be the judge.

In answer to Amadis he said:

“My good lord Amadis, ye are the knight I most wished to see in the world not for your good nor for mine, instead to fight you to the death. And if what had happened to me from you now had happened to you from me, and if what I received from you ye would have received from me, besides considering myself the most honored knight in the world, I would have received the love of a lady whom I very much love and desire, on whose orders I have been seeking you. Because of what has happened to me, I do not know how I can appear before her. And so my ill health is much greater in what cannot be seen than in what is clear and publicly obvious to all.”

Amadis, when he heard that, he said:

“The matter with your lady-love must give you much sorrow. It does to me, and all that could have been won by defeating me ye should not consider important because your deeds are so great and famous throughout the world and ye are so outstanding in feats at arms, that ye would not have gained much by overcoming a knight of such little fame as myself.”

Then King Cildadan said, laughing, to King Lisuarte:

“My lord, it would be well for you to place your royal staff between these two knights and command them to be at peace.” And for the pleasure of everyone he made other jokes.

And so those Kings and knights remained in the monastery very well provided with everything they needed, and since King Lisuarte was within his own lands, he had many delights brought in such abundance that it gave everyone great contentment. King Perion asked him many times to let him go with his men to Firm Island, and he would immediately send the two knights for the negotiations as they had agreed, but King Lisuarte was never willing to do so. He said that because God had brought him there, in no way did he wish to let him go until everything was settled, and so King Perion was embarrassed to ask him again. Instead he tried to show the same goodwill as King Lisuarte.

Arquisil spoke with Amadis, asking him where he would order him to be in prison, since soon he would have to fulfill the promise he had made. Amadis told him that he would speak to him concerning that and other things that he had been thinking about, and that the next morning after hearing Mass he should have his horse brought, for Amadis wished to speak to him in the countryside. He did so, and the next day they mounted their horses and left to ride outside the town walls. When they were far away from everyone, Amadis told him:

“My good lord, all these past days here I have wished to speak to you, but I have been so busy I have not been able to do so. Now that we have time I wish to tell you my thoughts regarding yourself. Since the Emperor of Rome is dead, as he is, I know that because ye are in direct lineage by blood, there is no one else in the Empire with the right to succession or inheritance besides you. I also know that among all those who are lords there, ye are well loved. And if anyone does not love you, it is only because your kinsman, the Emperor, envied your good conduct, and his bad attitude gave them a reason to dislike you.

“Since the matter has reached this point, it would be very reasonable to take care of something as important as this is. Ye have here most of the best knights in the kingdom of Rome, and I have at Firm Island Brondajel de Roca, the Duke of Ancona, the Archbishop of Talancia, and many others who were taken prisoner at sea. I will immediately send for them and speak to them about it, and before they arrive here arrangements should be made for them to swear loyalty to you as their Emperor.

“And if some of them are contrary, I shall help you achieve all your rights. So, my good friend, think about that, work to make it happen, and recognize the opportunity God gives you, and do not lose it through your own fault.”

When Arquisil heard this, ye can well imagine the pleasure it gave him, for he had only expected to be sent to a prison somewhere that he would not be able to leave for a long time. He told him:

“My good lord, I do not know why everyone in the world does not seek your love and recognition and to increase your honor and estate. And as for myself, I see that whether or not what ye say can be accomplished, whatever fate may bring, there will never be a time in which I shall not repay the great gifts and honor that I have received from you, even to the point of giving up my life. If thanks could be enough for the great benefit ye have given me, I would give them. But what could these thanks be? Truly none other thanks than my own person, as I have said, with all that God and my blessings would permit me to give. Starting now I place in your hands all my welfare and honor. And since ye have spoken so clearly, it shall be carried out as a victory more for you than for me.”

“Then I shall take charge of it,” Amadis said, “and with the help of God ye shall leave here as Emperor or I shall not consider myself a knight.”

And so they finished that discussion, and Amadis said:

“Before we return to the monastery, let us enter the town, where I will show you the man who wishes the worst for me in the world.”

And so they entered Lubaina and went to the lodgings of Sir Gandales, where he was holding prisoner King Arabigo and Arcalaus and the other knights that ye have heard about. When they arrived there, they went directly to the chamber where King Arabigo and Arcalaus were alone, and they found them dressed and sitting on a bed, for since they had been taken prisoner, they had not wished to remove their clothing. Amadis immediately recognized Arcalaus and told him:

“What are ye doing, Arcalaus?”

And he said:

“Who art thou to ask?”

“I am Amadis of Gaul, he whom thou so much wished to see.”

Then Arcalaus looked at him more carefully and said:

“Truly, thou speakest the truth, and although it has been a long time since I have seen thee, I have not forgotten to recognize that I had thee, Amadis, in my power in my castle at Valderin. And I had pity for thy youth and thy handsome looks, but since then for a long time thou hast placed me in many great tribulations until in the end I have reached such straits that now I must ask thee for mercy.”

Amadis told him:

“And if I had it for thee, wouldst thou cease to do the great evil and cruelty that thou hast committed until now?”

“No,” he said, “I have been accustomed to it for so long that I could not will myself to change those vices. But necessity, which is a very forceful and strong means for changing every bad habit to good or good to bad according to each person and situation, would make me do in my old age what in my youth and freedom I did not wish to do nor could.”

“Then, what necessity could I placed upon thee,” Amadis said, “if I were to release thee and give thee freedom?”

“The necessity of that,” Arcalaus said, “which by having and increasing has done great harm to my conscience and fame, which are my castles. I shall order them given and delivered to thee with all my land, and I shall not take from it more than what thou mayst wish to give me according to thy virtue, because at the present I have no other thing to give. And it may be that such great need and thy great goodness shall cause a change in what up until now reason has not had any luck in bringing about.”

Amadis told him:

“Arcalaus, if I had any hope that thy deep-rooted condition could be corrected, it is in nothing other than the knowledge of thy recognition that thou knowest thyself to be evil and sinful. For that reason, take strength and consolation, for it may be that the prison where thou art now and hast so much feared shall be the key to release thy soul, which for so long thou has held enchained and imprisoned.”

And as Amadis was about to leave, Arcalaus told him:

“Amadis, see this unfortunate knight who until recently was one of the greatest princes in the world. At one time fortune itself was favorable for him, but now it has brought him down and put him in such cruel captivity. May he be an example to thee and all those who have wished for honor and high estate. I would remind thee that strong spirits and hearts are the basis for conquest and pardon.”

Amadis did not wish to respond, since he held him as a prisoner, but he considered saying that Arcalaus had defeated many men by weapons and enchantments, but he never learned to pardon a single one. And yet Amadis could not help but realize that Arcalaus had made a strong argument.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chapter 117 [part 2 of 4]

[What King Perion said upon his arrival, and the answer from King Lisuarte.] 

[A gate at Richmond Castle, England. Photo by Nilfanion.]

When Amadis came closer, he observed the King, whose armor was in pieces and covered with blood from his injuries, and he felt great pity to see him thus. Although their discord had run so high, he had always remembered that this was the wisest, the most honorable, and the bravest king in the world. And when he was even closer, he dismounted and came to him, knelt, and wished to kiss his hands, but the King did not wish to give them. Instead, he embraced him with very good will and lifted him up.

Then Sir Cuadragante, who had followed Amadis, arrived with King Cildadan and many others who had come out of the town to keep Amadis from leaving before he had seen the King. Sir Cuadragante, Sir Florestan, and Angriote came to kiss the King’s hand. Amadis went to King Cildadan and embraced him many times. Who could tell you of the pleasure they all felt in seeing themselves together and the destruction of their enemies? King Cildadan said to Amadis:

“My lord, go back to the king, and I will remain with my uncle, Sir Cuadragante.”

And so he did. And as he was doing this, Brandoivas arrived with great effort, for he had many injuries, and he told the King:

“My lord, your men and the men of the town are killing so many of your enemies who had hidden in the houses that all the streets are running with rivers of blood. And although their lords might deserve that, their men do not. For that reason, order what they should do regarding such cruel destruction.”

Amadis said:

“My lord, order this to be corrected, for in confrontations and defeats of this kind, great spirits should prevail.”

The King ordered his son Norandel and Sir Guilan to go and not allow them to kill those who were found alive, instead to take them prisoner and to put them somewhere secure. It was so done.

Amadis ordered Gandalin and Enil, along with his foster-father Gandales, to place a guard over King Arabigo, Arcalaus, Barsinan, and the Duke of Bristol that would stay with them at all times, and they did so. King Lisuarte took Amadis by the hand and told him:

“My lord, it would be good, if ye please, for us to order our men to rest and relax, which we very much need, and we should enter the town and take out the dead.”

Amadis told him:

“My lord, kindly give us permission so that I and these knights may return to join my lord King Perion, who is coming with other men.”

“Truly, I shall not excuse you, for although in virtue and courage none may defeat you, in this I wish you to be defeated by me. We shall wait for your father the King here, for it is not right for us to part ways so soon after such an extraordinary thing has just happened.”

Then he told King Cildadan:

“Hold this knight, since I cannot.”

King Cildadan told Amadis:

“My lord, do what the King asks you which such urgency, for a man raised so well as ye should not be so discourteous.”

Amadis turned to his brother Sir Florestan and to Sir Cuadragante and the other knights, and told them:

“My lords, shall we do what the King orders?”

They said they would do whatever he considered best. Sir Cuadragante said that since they had come to help and serve the King, and that they had done what mattered most, they should also do what mattered least.

“Then, my lord, if that is how it seems to you, it shall be done as ye order,” Amadis said.

Then they told their men to dismount and place their horses in the field, and to look for something to eat. As they were doing this, they saw King Arban and Sir Grumedan coming, for the guards who had been holding them had set them free, but they came with their hands tied, and it was amazing that they had not been killed. When the King saw them, he felt great pleasure, for he had thought they were dead, and so they would have been if help had not arrived. They came to him and kissed his hands, and then they went to Amadis with all the pleasure ye can imagine of friends that could be found.

They all told the King to take those knights with him and to lodge in the monastery until the town had been cleared of the dead. As they were doing this, Arquisil arrived. He had been taking care of Flamineo, who had been badly injured, and when he saw Amadis, he went to embrace him and said:

“My lord, ye aided us at a good time, and although some of ours may have died, ye have saved many others.”

Amadis told him:

 “My lord, I take great pleasure in having helped you, and ye may believe and be sure of my will, for without any doubt I love you.”

As King Lisuarte was leaving for the monastery, they saw the battalions of the men that King Perion was bringing, who were coming as fast as they could. And Sir Grumedan said to the King:

“My lord, that is a great help, but if the first help had arrived late, our welfare would have been utterly belated.”

The King said, laughing with good will:

“Sir Grumedan, if anyone were to debate with you over whether Amadis performs good deeds or not, he would have a very difficult time and would be in great danger of losing.”

Amadis said:

“My lord, it is very proper that all us knights love and honor Sir Grumedan because he is our example and the guide for our honor. And he knows how obedient I would be with anything he might order, which is why he loves me well, not because I have done any good deed for him other than giving him goodwill.”

And so they were enjoying themselves, although some of them were seriously wounded, but they all considered that to be nothing, having escaped from the cruel death that they had beheld before their eyes. King Lisuarte called for a horse and told King Cildadan to get another, and they went to receive King Perion. Amadis told him:

“My lord, it might be better if ye went to rest and get care for your wounds, for my lord the King will not pause on his way until he sees you.”

The King said that he wished to go anyway. Then he mounted a horse, and King Cildadan and Amadis mounted theirs, and they rode to where King Perion was coming. Amadis ordered all his men to remain in place until he arrived, and he ordered Durin to go forward and let his father know that King Lisuarte was coming.

And so they went as ye hear, and many of the knights with them. Durin rode ahead and arrived at the battalions, and in its front lines he was told that the King and Gastiles were leading the rear guard. Then he rode past them to reach the King and told him the message from Amadis. The King took Gastiles, Grasandor, Sir Brian of Monjaste, and Trion, and asked Agrajes to stay with the men, which King Perion did because he knew of the anger he held for King Lisuarte, to avoid any confrontation. Agrajes was pleased by that, and as King Perion rode on ahead, Agrajes remained behind with the men so he would have no reason speak with King Lisuarte.

King Perion arrived quickly with the companions I have told you of to meet King Lisuarte, and when they saw each other, they both rode forward and embraced each other with goodwill. And when King Perion saw him injured and exhausted with his armor in pieces, he told him:

“It seems to me, my good lord, that I did not leave you in such bad condition as I now see you, although there your weapons were not in their sheaths nor were ye in the shade of the tents.”

“My lord,” King Lisuarte said, “I thought it good for ye to see me so that ye would know how I was when Amadis and those knights rescued me.”

Then he told him the most important things about the great conflict in which he had been. King Perion took great pleasure in knowing what his sons had done and the good fortune and great honor that would come to them from that, and he said:

“I give great thanks to God because the battle came to such an end, and because ye, my lord, were so well served and helped by my sons and lineage, for truly, despite what may have happened between us, it has always been and is my desire that they respect and obey you as a lord and father.”

King Lisuarte said:

“Let us leave this now for when we have more time, because I have faith in God that before we part we shall be united by much kinship and love for a long time.”

Then he looked around and did not see Agrajes, whom he esteemed, both for his skills and for his close kinship with those lords, because his will had been made up to do what ye shall hear about further on. He did not wish any trace of anger to remain, because he knew well how Agrajes more than anyone else had been aggravated by him and had publicly wished him ill. He asked about him, and King Perion said that at his request he had remained with the battalions so there would be none of the disagreements that there often are among a large group of men when they have no one whom they fear and who can control them.

“Then have him called,” the King said, “for I shall not leave here until I see him.”

Amadis said to his father:

“My lord, I shall go for him.”

Amadis did this because he believed Agrajes would not come if anyone else asked him. And he immediately went to where the battalions were and spoke with him, and told him everything that had happened and how they had defeated and destroyed all those troops, and the prisoners they had taken and how, and how he had tried to leave without having speaking to King Lisuarte, who came after him, and what happened, and how their enmity had become friendship, and how much his honor had grown; and he urged him to come with him because King Lisuarte did not wish to leave without seeing him.

Agrajes told him:

 “My lord and cousin, ye know that my anger or pleasure would last no longer than ye wish it to, and may God wish that the aid ye have done for the King be better appreciated than what ye have done for him in the past, which were no few things. But I understand that it has pleased God to give him the loss and harm that has come to him because he deserved it for his poor judgement, and it shall befall him in the future if he does not change. And since it pleases you for me to see him, let us go.”

He told his men to remain in place until they received further orders.

And so they went together to see the King. Agrajes wished to kiss his hands, but the King would not give them, and instead embraced him and held him for a while, and said:

“And what is the greater affront for you, being embraced by me now or battling each other in war? I believe what is happening to you now would seem worse.”

Everyone laughed at that, and Agrajes, with great restraint, said:

“My lord, it will require more time for me to be able to respond with utter truthfulness to your question.”

“Then now it would be good,” the King said, “if we went to rest. And ye, my good lord,” he said to King Perion, “are going to be my guest, along with the knights who came with you. Your men should enter the town, as many as can fit, and the others can lodge in these fields. We should stay at the monastery, and I shall order that all the pack trains in my lands that were bearing provisions to the camp should come here so that we shall not lack anything we need.”

King Perion thanked him very much and asked for permission to leave, since the troops were no longer needed, but King Lisuarte would not agree. Instead he asked him so insistently, along with King Cildadan, that King Perion felt obliged to do as he asked, and together they went to the monastery, were they were lodged well.

There King Lisuarte’s wounds were treated by the doctors he had brought with him, but all of them knew nothing compared to the doctor Elisabad, who treated and healed the King and all the others in a way that was amazing to behold, and he treated Amadis and some of his men who had injuries, although not as serious.

But King Lisuarte spent ten days in bed and did not arise from it, and King Perion and all the other lords were with him every day speaking of things that gave them much pleasure and never mentioning either peace or war, instead only speaking and laughing at how Arcalaus, a knight of low character and not of high estate, with his arts had managed to cause so many people to revolt, as ye have heard.

And they remembered how he had enchanted Amadis, and how he had taken King Lisuarte prisoner and had deceived his daughter Oriana, and how Barsinan, the lord of Sansuena, had died because of him, and how later Arcalaus had brought the seven kings to do battle against King Lisuarte, and how he had held King Perion and Amadis and Sir Florestan in prison, who had been tricked by his niece Dinarda, and how later he had escaped from Sir Galaor and Norandel by calling himself Granfiles, first cousin of Sir Grumedan, and how now he had again brought King Arabigo and those knights, and how he would have been successful if he had not faced the obstacle of the aid to King Lisuarte that great good fortune had placed so close at hand, and many other things that they told in jest that hardly strayed from the truth and that they all laughed about a lot.

Then Sir Grumedan, who as this story has shown you was a very wise knight in all things, said:

“Ye see here, my good lords, why many dare to do il. After carefully considering some examples of the good fortune that the devil in his evil exploits allows them to achieve, their sweet taste cannot be surmounted, and they do not think about those dishonorable and dangerous downfalls that in the end will befall them. If we were to consider what we have been able to tell about Arcalaus in his favor, and how now he is an old man, a prisoner, with a damaged hand, at the mercy of his enemies, he alone would serve as enough of an example that no one would stray from the road of virtue to pursue what has brought him so much harm and misfortune.

“But as virtues are harsh to suffer and in them are many rough moments, and in evil deeds the contrary, and as we are all naturally inclined more toward evil than good, we pursue with all affection what at the moment most pleases and contents us, and we care little for what may begin with difficulty but in the end will conclude with blessings. And by following more the appetite of our ill will than just reason, which is the queen and mother of all virtues, we come to fall when we are most exalted, when neither body nor soul can be saved, as this evil man of foul deeds has done, Arcalaus the Sorcerer.”

What this knight said seemed very good to King Perion, who held him to be a very discreet man. And later he would seek to learn more about him, and learned why such a knight as him was worthy and deserving to stand alongside kings.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Europe’s first best-seller

What made it so popular?

Illustration from the 1531 edition of Amadís de Gaula, printed by Juan Cromberger in Seville. A PDF of the book is available for download at the Biblioteca Digital Mundial. The original is at the Biblioteca Nacional de España.

I’m back after an August break. We’re in the final stretch of this translation of Amadis of Gaul – only 17 chapters to go. These are the chapters Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo created in which he rewrote the original medieval ending, which was tragic (everybody dies). In doing so, he set up the next novel, a sequel, The Exploits of Esplandian, which tells the story of Amadis’s son.

Montalvo could not have expected that dozens of sequels to Amadis would be written in five different languages during the 1500s – along with a hundred other novels of chivalry. What made the idea of chivalry so popular in the Renaissance?

First of all, the printing press had made best-sellers possible. The new technology had spread across Europe in the late 1400s, and something was going to take Europe’s new and growing readership by storm. That something turned out to be Amadis.

Novels of chivalry were already popular, in fact. A long list of titles come to us from the Middle Ages, starting with the tales of King Arthur that Geoffrey of Monmouth popularized in the early 12th century. Maybe their appeal in the Renaissance was nostalgic, since knights-errant, if they ever existed, had no place in 16th-century Europe with its growing consolidation of royal and imperial power. The stories of brave knights of old could still stir imaginations. Even today medieval fantasy novels crowd bookstores and Amazon’s website.

During the Renaissance, novels about Amadis and chivalry especially won the hearts of women and girls. I think the reason for that is obvious: women of all kinds fill Amadis, from queens and empresses to mere errand-girls, along with sorceresses and temptresses who experience all kinds of danger and excitement. Few other books in those days could offer that type of adventure to women, who usually led restricted lives. This may be why novels of chivalry were eventually condemned for corrupting young women.

Whatever the reason for its popularity, Amadis of Gaul is a phenomenon, one of the fundamental works of European literature.

– Sue Burke, translator


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chapter 117 [part 1 of 4]

How Amadis came to rescue King Lisuarte, and what happened to him on the way. 

[Caesar in battle, from the month of August in the Bedford Hours, a 1430 Christmas gift to the newly crowned King Henry VI, then 8 years old, from his aunt, Anne of Burgundy, the duchess of Bedford.]

We have recounted for you how the handsome noble youth Esplandian rode as fast as he could to King Perion’s camp and told Amadis of Gaul about the great peril and danger his lord King Lisuarte faced, and how King Perion immediately left with all his men to help him, preceded by Amadis and all those knights, as ye have heard.

But now we shall tell you what they did. After Amadis departed from his father, he hurried to arrive in time to deliver the rescue so his lady Oriana would know how, rightly or wrongly, he always looked for ways to serve her. Despite his men’s haste, the journey was long. It was five leagues from King Perion’s camp to what had been King Lisuarte’s camp during the great battles, and eight leagues from there to the town of Lubaina, so in all it was thirteen. He was still three leagues away from the town at nightfall.

And due to the darkness, despite the scouts Amadis had sent to skirt the mountain and to cut off King Arabigo so he could not take refuge somewhere secure, he erred on the way, because the scouts had become lost and did not know where they were going or if they had passed the town or it still lay ahead, which they immediately told to Amadis.

When he heard that, he felt great sorrow and was almost overcome by anxiety, and although he was the most long-suffering man in the world and knew best how to subjugate his anger in any matter of passion, he could not restrain himself and repeatedly cursed himself and his fate, which had become so contrary, and no man dared to speak to him.

Sir Cuadragante, who was also very worried about King Cildadan, whom he loved so much and to whom he was closely related, came to Amadis and told him:

“My good lord, do not be so upset, for God knows what is best. If He will be served by us to the benefit of those kings and knights who are such good friends, He shall guide us, and if it is not His will, no one has the power to do anything else.”

And truly, given what happened next, if that error had not been made, the outcome would not have been as honorable for them as it was, as ye shall hear further on.

As they were stopped there and did not know what to do, Amadis asked the scouts if the mountain was nearby. They said they believed it was because they had kept skirting it as he had ordered. He told Gandalin:

“Take one of the scouts and try to find some hill and climb it, and if the troops are in a camp, they will have fires. Take careful note if ye see something.”

Gandalin did so, and as the mountain was to the left, he only had to ride in that direction, and after a while they found themselves at the foot of the mountain. He climbed it as high as he could and looked down onto the plain, and there he saw the fires of the troops, which made him very happy. He called the scout, showed it to him, and asked if he knew how to find it, and he said he did.

Then they returned as fast as they could to where Amadis and his men were and told him about it, which gave him great pleasure, and he said:

“Since it is so, lead on, and we shall travel as fast as possible because the greater part of the night has already passed.”

Then they all followed the scout in the most orderly fashion they could, although they did not know what King Perion was doing, nor did he know where they were. Amadis followed the trail, and he and his men rode on and neared the town, where they saw the fires of the camp, which were many. And whether that pleased them need not be told, especially how much it encouraged Amadis. In all his life he had never wished to find something so much because he wanted King Lisuarte to know that he would always be his protector from all danger, and that after God, he would assure his life and all his kingdom. He was aware that the King could not escape being defeated and killed given how few men he had and how many his opponents had, and without seeing or speaking to him, he would change that situation.

At this time dawn began to break, and they were still a league from the town. Since day had come, King Arabigo and all his knights prepared for combat with great courage and pleasure. When they were armed, they all came to the city wall and its gates for the siege, but King Lisuarte’s men defended themselves very bravely.

Yet in the end, as there were many brave men opposing them and fortune was on their side, and King Lisuarte’s men were few and most of them were injured and in dismay, they could not offer sufficient resistance to defend themselves and to prevent their opponents from entering by force with great war cries. The noise in the streets was very great where the King and his men protected themselves fiercely, and from the windows the women and children and others who were not apt for such a confrontation helped them as they could. The clamor was so great from the blades and lances and stones and shouting that anyone who had witnessed it would have been terrified.

Since King Lisuarte and the knights who served him saw that they were lost, and since they considered it worse to be taken prisoner than to be killed, ye could not be told of the amazing deeds that they did there and the mighty blows that they gave, and their opponents did not dare to come close to them but instead made them retreat using the force of lances and stones.

Of King Cildadan, Arquisil, Flamineo, and Norandel, who found themselves facing King Arabigo, ye may well believe that they were not idle, and there was a very brave battle against them, for King Arabigo had entered the town with Arcalaus and had brought the six knights from Centaur Island, whom the King always kept beside himself for protection. When he saw what the situation was, he sent them down a side street to where Barsinan and the Duke of Bristol were fighting. The others he kept with him and headed for King Cildadan, and he told them:

“Now, my friends, the time has come to avenge your anger at the death of that noble knight Brontaxar d’Anfania, for ye see ahead of you those who killed him. Attack them, because they have no way to defend themselves.”

Then those four knights, finding themselves free of the King, put their hands on their long strong blades and with great fury passed through all their men, pushing them aside and knocking them to the ground, until they arrived at where King Cildadan and his companions were. And he, when he saw them so exceedingly large, was not so ardent or courageous that he did not feel fear. Then he told his men:

“Here, my lords, against those men death will be well employed, but may fate be such that, if possible, they will die before we do.”

And they attacked each other as cruelly and fiercely as those who desire nothing other than to kill or be killed. One of the Centaur knights reached King Cildadan and sent his blade straight to the top of his helmet, expecting to cut his head in two. The King, who saw the blow coming, raised his shield to receive it, which was so mighty that the blade entered halfway through the shield and cut its steel rim. When the knight pulled back the blade, he could not draw it from the shield and took that with him.

King Cildadan, since he was of great courage and had often found himself in such need, in that hour did not lose his spirit or sense. Instead, he struck him with his sword on his arm, which with the weight of the shield he could not withdraw quickly, and cut the sleeve of his coat of mail and the entire arm so that it was hanging by a bit of flesh, and the blade still stuck in the shield fell to his feet. The knight pulled back, stunned, and the King helped his companions, who were bravely fighting the other three.

And so, with the blow he had given and with the help he provided, King Cildadan made the other three knights from Centaur Island feel greatly dismayed, so that the street was defended without receiving much harm, although King Arabigo was behind them shouting not to leave any man alive. The other two knights, who had been elsewhere, arrived at the fight, and when they did, King Lisuarte and his men retreated to the crossroads of another street, where some of his men were waiting without fighting because they did not fit into the street, and there they had paused.

But it was all worth nothing because so many men charged at them from all sides and from the rear that if God in His mercy had not given them aid with the arrival of Amadis, in less than half an hour they would have all been dead or prisoners, due to the injuries they had received and the fact that all their armor was in pieces.

But even if they had still been healthy and well armed, it would have amounted to nothing because they were already defeated and as good as dead, as they themselves believed. But at this time Amadis and his companions arrived with the men that ye have previously heard about, because after daybreak they had spurred their horses as much as they could to arrive before they were noticed.

And when he arrived at the town and saw the men inside and some others who were outside of the walls, he and his men immediately swept around the town and attacked and killed all those they could reach. Then he entered through one gate and Sir Cuadragante through another with their men shouting:

“Gaul, Gaul!” “Ireland, Ireland!”

And because they found the men without leadership and not expecting them, they killed many, and others took shelter in the houses. Those up ahead who were fighting heard the shouts and great noise as they approached, and the battle cries. They immediately thought that King Lisuarte had been rescued and they were very dismayed, and they did not know what to do, whether to fight on ahead or to turn back and aid the others.

King Lisuarte, when he heard and saw that his opponents were weakening, took heart and began to encourage his men, and he brought them forward enough to attack those who were fleeing from Amadis and his men, so their opponents had no other recourse but to defend themselves fighting back to back. King Arabigo and Arcalaus, when they saw that they were losing, hid inside a house because they did not have the courage to die on the street, but they were immediately taken prisoner.

Amadis struck such mighty blows that now no one dared to face him besides the two knights from Centaur Island, who as ye have heard were fighting nearby and who came at him. And he, although he knew they were valiant, as this story has already said, was not afraid of them. Instead, he raised his very fine sword and gave such a blow to one of them on top of his helmet that although the knight was very strong, he could not help falling to both knees on the ground. And Amadis, when he saw him like that, rushed forward and shoved him to make him fall on his back, and he passed over him.

And he saw how his brother Sir Florestan and Angriote d’Estravaus had brought down the other knight and left him to those who followed. All three went on to where Barsinan and the Duke of Bristol were, who immediately surrendered. Barsinan came to embrace Amadis, and the Duke of Bristol came to Sir Florestan, because King Lisuarte had placed so much pressure on them that there was nothing for them but death, and they begged for mercy.

Amadis looked ahead and recognized King Lisuarte, and as he saw that there was no one left there to fight, he turned around as best he could toward where he had come from, taking with him Barsinan and the Duke. He approached the gate where Sir Cuadragante had entered the town, who told him that things there had already been taken care of, and they had taken King Arabigo and Arcalaus prisoners.

When Amadis heard this news, he told Gandalin:

“Go tell Sir Cuadragante that I am leaving the town, and since this matter has been concluded, it would be good if we left without seeing King Lisuarte.”

He immediately went down the street to the town gate he had entered through. And he ordered the men who came with him to mount their horses, and he mounted his own horse.

King Lisuarte, who had seen his life saved and his enemies dead and destroyed so quickly, was in such a state that he did not know what to say, and he called Sir Guilan, who was next to him, and said:

“Sir Guilan, what was all this, and who are those men who have done such good?”

“My lord,” he said, “who can it be other than who it usually is? None other than Amadis of Gaul, for ye have heard how his name was shouted. And it would be good, my lord, to give him the thanks he deserves.”

The King said:

“Then go ahead, and if it is him, stop him, for he will stop for you, and without delay I will come to you.”

Then Sir Guilan hurried down the street, and when he reached the gate, he immediately recognized that it was indeed Amadis, who had ridden off with his men and had not waited for Sir Cuadragante to avoid tarrying. Sir Guilan shouted for him to turn around, that the King was there. When he heard this, Amadis felt great embarrassment because he recognized who had called him, someone he esteemed and loved a lot. And he saw that the King was there next to him, and he turned back.