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.