Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chapter 126 [part 2 of 2]

[How the Kings and knights left Firm Island, and what they planned to do.] 

[A series of photos depict the Moon rising over Sesimbra Castle, south of Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Miguel Claro.]

The lords and ladies returned to island for the games and great merriment in honor of the weddings. When they were finally over, the Emperor asked Amadis for permission to leave, if he were pleased, because the Emperor wished to return to his lands with his wife and reform that great realm, which after God Amadis had given him. He asked for Sir Florestan, King of Sardinia, to come with him, and said he would immediately deliver all the realm of Calabria, as Amadis had ordered, and the rest he would divide with him as a true brother. This he did, and after Arquisil, Emperor of Rome, arrived in his grand empire, he was received with great love by all, and he was always accompanied by that courageous and valiant knight Sir Florestan, King of Sardinia and Prince of Calabria, by whom both he and all the empire was benefitted and honored, as we shall recount farther on.

When the Emperor had bid farewell to Amadis, offering him his person and realm at his wishes and command, he took his wife, whom he loved more than he loved himself, and the very noble and courageous knight Sir Florestan, whom he considered to be just like a brother, and the very beautiful Queen Sardamira. He also brought the bodies of the Emperor Patin and the very courageous knight Floyan, which were in the monastery at Lubaina at the orders of King Lisuarte, and of Prince Salustanquidio, which at the time when Amadis and his companions brought Oriana to Firm Island, he had ordered to be very honorably placed in a chapel so that it could receive the sepulture in his lands appropriate to his grandeur.

He ordered the great fleet that the Emperor Patin had left at the port of Windsor to come there, and he and all the Romans who had been prisoners at Firm Island returned to his empire.

All the other Kings and lords prepared to go to their lands, but before they left they decided to plan how the knights who were going to win the realms of Sansuena, the Kingdom of Arabigo, and Deep Island might proceed with precautions so that they could achieve their goals without any obstacles.

Amadis spoke with King Lisuarte, saying that he thought that given the time the King had been away from his lands, he might be feeling anxious, and if he were, Amadis hoped he would not delay his return. The King said that in fact he had been relaxing with great pleasure, but now it was time to do as Amadis said, but if for what was being planned he needed Lisuarte’s knights, he would gladly give them. Amadis thanked him deeply and said that since the lords of those lands were being held prisoner, no more provisions would be needed than the men that his lord King Perion was leaving behind, and if by chance Lisuarte’s were necessary, he would accept them, for all had to serve Lisuarte as a lord, and those lands were being won for him.

The King said that if that was how things seemed to him, he would immediately arrange to leave, but first he wished to call together all those lords and ladies in the great hall because he wanted to speak to them. When they were all together, King Lisuarte said to King Cildadan:

“Your great loyalty, which has delivered me in the recent past from many dangers and fears, has tormented and afflicted me because I did not know how I might offer satisfaction. A reward equal to your great merit would be hopeless to search for because it could not be found. Considering what was in my hand and possible, I saw that just as your noble person had been placed at my service in many battles, in that same way mine with everything in its realm shall with complete willfulness be place to fulfill whatever may be to your honor, and so from here onward ye shall no longer be in vassalage to my service, which your contrary fortune had subjected you to by force. From here on any service shall be done at your pleasure as between two good brothers.”

King Cildadan said:

“Whether this deserves thanks or not I leave to be judged by those who by some compulsion were caused to follow another’s will rather than their own, which is always accompanied by anxiety and sighs. And ye may believe, my lord, that the volition which until now ye received by force and with no friendship, shall from here on be given with love and many more men and obedience and attention to whatever is most agreeable to you. Let the time come that can demonstrate this by deeds.”

All the great lords thought King Lisuarte had acted with great virtue, and many praised him, above all Sir Cuadragante, who had always thought the vassalage was a enormous and sorrowful misfortune for that kingdom, where he was had been born, which in other times had been very honored and empowered over all others, for he now saw it freed from such heavy and dishonorable servitude.

King Lisuarte asked King Cildadan what he wished to do, because Lisuarte was arranging to return to his lands. He answered that if it pleased King Lisuarte, he would remain there to help plan how his uncle Sir Cuadragante could win the kingdom of Sansuena and, if necessary, go with him. The King told him that he had spoken wisely and he was pleased for him to do so, and if any of his men would be necessary, he would immediately send them. King Cildadan thanked him sincerely and said that he believed what they had would suffice, since Barsinan was their prisoner.

With that King Lisuarte and his company left, and Amadis and Oriana went with him, although he did not wish them to, for almost a full day’s journey, then they returned to plan what ye have heard about, which they did in this way: since the kingdom of King Arabigo shared a border with Sansuena, Sir Cuadragante and Sir Bruneo would go together and immediately try to win whatever part was weakest, and the rest would be easier to conquer.

Sir Galaor said he wished to go, and his cousin Dragonis would go with him, since he would soon be able to bear arms, and that he, with all the rest of what he would have in his kingdom, could be used to help him win Deep Island. Sir Galvanes said he also wished to make the same journey, and he would get good men for it from the island of Mongaza. With that agreement Sir Galaor left with his wife, the very beautiful Queen Briolanja, and Dragonis went with them, and Sir Galvanes and Madasima went to his land to prepare for the journey as fast as they could.

Although Amadis had urged Agrajes to stay with him at Firm Island, he did not wish to do so. Instead, he said he would go with Sir Bruneo and with the men from his father the King, and would not leave Sir Bruneo until he was a king and at peace. Sir Brian of Monjaste and all the other knights there said the same and left with Sir Cuadragante, especially the good and courageous Angriote d’Estravaus, who no matter what Amadis said would not go to his own lands and rest, or be dissuaded from going with Sir Bruneo of Bonamar.

All these knights left with new arms and brave hearts, taking the men from Spain, Scotland, and Ireland, and from the Marquis of Troque, who was Sir Bruneo’s father, and from Firm Island and the King of Bohemia, and many other companies that had come from other lands. They boarded a great fleet and they all urged Grasandor to remain with Amadis to keep him company, which he did much against his wishes, for he would rather have made that journey.

But he was not there in vain, nor was Amadis, for they often left to accomplish great feats at arms, righting many wrongs and injuries done to ladies and damsels and others who could not defend themselves by their own hands and abilities, and who sought them ought, as this story shall recount farther on.

King Cildadan, who deeply loved Sir Cuadragante, tried as hard as he could to be allowed to go with him, but Sir Cuadragante would not consent to it at all. Instead, he asked him out of love to return immediately to his kingdom to bring happiness and consolation to his wife the Queen and all his subjects with the good news he brought and could fully recount: that by fulfilling his duty he had lost his freedom, and by fulfilling the promise and vow to his honor and obligation, he had won it back.

Gastiles, nephew of the Emperor of Constantinople, had send all his men with the Marquis of Saluder, and remained to see the results of the effort so he could tell his lord the Emperor everything about it. When he saw what was being done, he spoke with Amadis and told him that he was very sorry not to have men prepared to help those knights in their journey, but if Amadis considered it good, he would go personally and with some of the men who had remained behind.

Amadis told him:

“My lord, what has been done should be enough, and because of your uncle and yourself I have been given all the honor that ye see. May God be pleased in His mercy to have a time come when I can serve him. And ye, my lord, should leave immediately and kiss his hands for me, and tell him that everything that has just been won here has been won by him, and it shall always be at his service or whomever he may send. I also commend you to kiss the hands of the very beautiful Leonorina and Queen Menoresa for me, and tell her that I shall fulfill everything I promised and shall send them a knight of my lineage who will be able to serve her very well.”

“I fully believe that,” Gastiles said, “because there are so many in your lineage that there are enough to serve all the world.”

With that he said farewell and boarded his ship, and for now nothing more shall be told until the proper time.

When everything ye have heard of was arranged and prepared, the great fleet left the port and went out to sea with all those knights and the courage that their great hearts would give them in perilous encounters. Amadis remained at Firm Island with Grasandor, as has been said; Mabilia, Melicia, Olinda, and Grasinda remained with Oriana, praying for God to help their husbands. King Perion and his wife Queen Elisena returned to Gaul. Esplandian and the King of Dacia and the other youths remained with Amadis waiting for their time to become knights and for Urganda the Unrecognized to arrange it, as she had said and promised.

But now this story shall cease to speak of those knights who went to win their kingdoms, and shall recount what happened Amadis a little later.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Chapter 126 [part 1 of 2]

How Urganda the Unrecognized brought together all the Kings and knights that were at Firm Island, and the great things she told them that would happen in the past, present, and future, and how she finally left. 

[Gargoyle at the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Bernard Gagon.]

The story recounts that after the great festivities of the weddings were over at Firm Island, Urganda the Unrecognized asked the Kings to order all the knights and ladies and damsels to gather together because she wished to tell them all of them her purpose and reason for coming, which they ordered to be done.

When they were all together in the great hall of the castle, Urganda sat before them, holding her two young noblemen by the hands. When everyone was quiet, waiting for her to speak, she said:

“My lords, without being told, I knew about these great festivities following those many deaths and losses that ye have suffered, and God is my witness that if any or all of those evils could have been prevented by me, I would have not failed to place all my effort and person into such labors. But as it had been permitted by the Lord on high, they could not have been avoided, because what by Him is ordained, without Him none has the power to prevent. And since I could not have forestalled those evils with my presence, I realized that to improve on what good was within my powers, given the great love I have for many of you and that ye have for me, and to declare some things that I had previously told you by private means, as I am accustomed to do. That way ye may truly believe what I said, as ye could the things ye heard from me at other times.”

Then she looked at Oriana and said:

“My good lady and beautiful bride, ye should well recall that when I was with your father the King and your mother the Queen in their town in Fenusa, sleeping with you in your bed, ye asked me to tell you what would happen to you, and I asked you not to wish to know. But because I knew your will, I told you how the lion of Fearful Island would leave its cave, and his great roars would frighten your guardians so he could take control of your flesh and, with them, put his great hunger at rest.

“This ye ought to clearly understand, for your husband, who is very much stronger and braver than any lion, left this island, which may rightly be called Fearful for it has so many caves and hiding places, and with his strength and shouts the, fleet of the Romans, who guarded you, was defeated and destroyed, and so ye were placed in his mighty arms and he took control of your flesh, as all have seen, without which his ravenous hunger could not have been contented or appeased. And thus ye know that everything I told you was true.”

Then she said to Amadis:

“Then ye, my good lord, shall clearly see the truth in everything I had told you, that ye would give your blood for others, for in the battle with Ardan Canileo the Fearful ye gave it for your friends King Arban of North Wales and Angriote d’Estravaus, who were prisoners. Then your fine sword, when ye saw it in the hands of your enemy and which was turned against your flesh and bones, ye dearly wished were in some lake from which it would never reappear. And then the reward that followed from this, what was it? Truly, none other than anger and great enmity between yourself and King Lisuarte, who is here, which was the result of your winning the Island of Mongaza, as all have clearly seen and as I told you.

“And things that I wrote to you, very virtuous King Lisuarte, when ye found this very handsome and noble youth Esplandian, your grandson, in a forest hunting with a lioness, ye still hold clearly in your memory. From what I said about the past ye can see that I knew, because he was raised by three very different wet nurses, in fact a lioness and a sheep and a woman, all of whom gave him milk.

“I also told you that this youth would bring peace between yourself and Amadis, and I leave it to be judged by both of you all the ire, all the acrimony, and all the enmity he has eliminated from your wills with his grace and great handsomeness, and how because of him and his great discretion ye were rescued by Amadis when ye expected no other thing but death. Whether such a service as this was worthy of eradicating enmity and attracting love, I leave to these lords to judge.

“As for other things that in due time shall occur, as the letter foretold, may they be judged by those who will be alive to see them, from by what I knew about the past they may believe that I know about the future.

“Another prophecy I told you was much greater than the rest, for it contained everything that happened by delivering your daughter Oriana to the Romans, and the great evils and cruel deaths that resulted, which, so as not to remind you of a thing which would cause so much anguish and ire at a time when ye ought to be enjoying great pleasure, I shall leave for those who wish to see it in the second book where they may observe clearly that all the things that happened are contained in it and were said by me previously.

“Now that I have spoken of things in the past, I wish ye to learn about the present things ye do not know about.”

Then she took the handsome youths by the hand, Talanque and Maneli the Moderate, for such were their names, and said to Sir Galaor and King Cildadan:

“My good lords, if in your lives ye have received any services and aid from me, I am content with the reward I have, which is enormous glory for me. Since I myself cannot engender any progeny, I caused to have in other women such handsome youths as these to be born, whom ye see here. Without a doubt ye may believe that if God allows them to reach the age for knighthood and to become knights, they shall do such things in His service to maintain truth and virtue that not only those who engendered them against the prescripts of the Holy Church shall be forgiven, and I for causing it, but their merits and worth shall be so surpassing in this world that in the next they shall achieve their rest, and I as well. And so many things shall happen because of these youths that no matter how much I might say, it would not be enough, so I shall leave them to their time, which will not be long from now, given the age that they have already acquired.”

Then she said to Esplandian:

“Very handsome, blessed, and noble Esplandian, thou wert engendered in the great blaze of love by those from whom thou hast inherited a great part of it without them losing a single bit of their own, and which thy tender and innocent age now conceals. Take this youth Talanque, son of Sir Galaor, and Maneli the Moderate, son of King Cildadan, and love one as much as the other, for although by them thou shalt be placed in many dangerous confrontations, they shall rescue thee from other confrontations in which none but themselves shall be able to aid thee.

“And this great dragon that brought me here I leave for thee, in which thou shalt be made a knight with the horse and arms that lie hidden within it along with other rare things that at the time of thy knighthood shall be made manifest. This serpent shall be the guide to the first events in which thy mighty heart shall reveal thy high virtue, and it shall guide thee and many others of thy great lineage through fearsome storms and misfortunes in the open sea without any danger, where with great battles and labors thou shalt repay the Lord of the world for some of the great mercies thou shalt receive from Him, and in many places thou shalt be known by no other name than the Knight of the Great Serpent.

“In it thou shalt travel for long days without rest, for besides the great and dangerous battles thou shalt fight, thy spirit shall be placed in all affliction and great anguish by she who shall read and understand the seven letters that will burn like fire on thy left side. That great heat and ardor shall burn within thee with flames that shall not be quenched until the great flocks of cormorants fly to the East over the rough waves of the sea and place the hawk in such dire straits that it will not dare to alight in its tight nest, and the proud black falcon, the most esteemed and beautiful of all birds of prey, along with those of its lineage and other birds that are not, shall come to its aid and cause such great destruction among the cormorants that the field shall be completely covered by their feathers and many of them shall perish in their sharp claws, and others shall drown in the water where the mighty black falcon and its allies overtake them.

“Then the great hawk shall pull out most of their entrails and place them in the sharp claws of its helper, and with them, its ravenous hunger, which for a long time had tormented him, shall be satisfied and ceased. It shall give him possession of all its forests and great mountains, and he shall be brought back to his perch in the tree of the Holy Garden. At this time the great dragon, having fulfilled  the hour marked by my great wisdom, before all shall sink into the great sea, giving thee to know that more on firm ground than on moving water thou ought to pass the coming time.”

This said, she told the Kings and knights:

“My good lords, now I must go elsewhere and cannot avoid it, but when Esplandian is ready to receive knighthood and all these youths receive it with him, I know that for a reason now hidden to you, many of you here now shall be brought together and at that time I shall come, and in my presence great festivities will be made for the novice knights, and I shall tell you many great and amazing things that will come to them. And I warn you all not to dare to approach the serpent until I return, for if anyone does, everyone in the world could not prevent that person from losing his life.

“And because ye, my lord Amadis, have here as a prisoner the wicked and evil-doing Arcalaus, who is called the Sorcerer and whose vile wisdom is never used except to do harm, and who might still do you injury, take these two rings, one for you and the other for Oriana, for while these are on your hands, nothing that he may do can cause harm to you or to anyone in your company, nor shall his enchantments have any power while ye hold him prisoner. And I tell you not to kill him because with death he would not pay in the least for the evil he has done. Instead put him in an iron cage where all can see him, and there he shall die many times. Much more painful is the death that leaves a person alive than that with which all dies and perishes.”

Then she gave the rings to Amadis and Oriana, which were the finest and most extraordinary ever seen. Amadis told her:

“My lady, what can I do to repay you for all the honors and gifts I have received from you?”

“Not a thing,” she said, “for everything I have done and shall do from here on ye already paid for when I could not take advantage of my wisdom and ye restored that very handsome knight to me, who is the thing I most love in the world, although he felt contrary, when by force of arms ye defeated the four knights at the causeway of the castle where they were holding him, and then ye defeated the lord of the castle. Then ye made your brother Sir Galaor a knight. And with that great benefit to my life, which could not be sustained without my beloved, I was repaid and will still be repaid for all the days in which I will be allowed to aid your advancement by the most powerful Lord of this world.”

Then she called for her palfrey to be brought, and all the lords and ladies accompanied her to the seashore, where she found her dwarves and the skiff. After she was bid farewell by everyone, she got in and they watched her return to the great dragon, and then the smoke was so black that for more than four days nothing could be seen of what was within it, but after that, it dissipated, and they saw the serpent as it was before. Of Urganda they knew not what she had done.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chapter 125

How the Kings met to organize the weddings of the great lords and ladies, and what they decided. 

[Marriage of Philip III and Marie of Brabant, Queen of France, a miniature in the manuscript Chroniques de France ou de St. Denis, British Library.]

The Kings met again as they had before, and they set the date of the weddings to be four days hence and the festivities to last for two weeks. At their conclusion, when everything had been settled, the kings would leave to return to their lands.

When the appointed day came, all the grooms met in Amadis’ lodgings, and they dressed in the fine and precious clothing that their great estate and the event required. And the brides did the same. The Kings and great lords took the grooms with them, mounted on richly adorned palfreys, and went to the garden, where they found the Queens and brides also on their palfreys.

They all rode together to the church, where the holy man Nasciano was ready to celebrate Mass. The marriage rites and weddings took place with the solemnities that the Holy Church requires, then Amadis came to King Lisuarte and told him:

“My lord, we wish to ask you for a favor that will not be troublesome to give.”

“I grant it,” the King said.

“Then, my lord, order Oriana to take the test of the Enchanted arch of the Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber before dinner, which she has not been able to do until now due to her great sadness, no matter how much we have begged and asked her to. I have such faith in her loyalty and her great beauty that there, where for a hundred years no woman has been able to enter no matter how much she excelled over all others, she shall enter without any difficulty. I saw the statue of Grimanesa there in such perfection that she seemed alive, made by the surpassing magic arts of her husband Apolidon, and her great beauty does not equal that of Oriana. And in that Forbidden Chamber, we shall hold the festivities of our weddings.”

The King told him:

“Good son, my lord, it is easy for me to comply with what ye ask, but I am concerned that with it we may cause some disturbance in these festivities, because often times, in fact always, great affections can fool the eyes and judge things to be opposite from what they are. This may be happening to you with my daughter Oriana.”

“Do not worry about that,” Amadis said, “for my heart tells me what I say shall be fulfilled.”

“Then if it pleases you, so be it,” the King said.

Then he went to his daughter, who was with the Queens and other brides, and he told her:

“My daughter, your husband has asked me for a favor, and it can only be fulfilled by you. I want you to make my word true.”

She knelt before him, kissed his hands, and said:

“My lord, may it please God that some way might come for me to serve you. Order whatever ye please, for it shall be done if I can accomplish it.”

The King raised her up, kissed her face, and said:

“My daughter, before eating ye should take the test of the Arch of the Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber, which is what your husband asked of me.”

When everyone heard that, many were pleased to see the test attempted, and others were upset because such a challenging thing had ended for so many women in failure, and so they thought that just as glory would be acquired by achieving it, if she failed she would risk dishonor and shame. But since they saw that the King had ordered it and Amadis had asked for it, they did not wish to say anything except that it should be done.

And so they left the church, and on horseback, rode to the line a the Arch that marked the limits beyond which no man or woman would be free to enter if they were not worthy of it. When they had arrived, Melicia and Olinda told their husbands that they also wished to take that test, which gave great joy to their hearts to see the how they were emboldened with true loyalty. But fearing that some reversal could occur, they said they were very content and satisfied by their wishes, and as far as they were concerned, they should not undertake that effort. But the wives said they ought to take the test, and if they had been elsewhere, they could be excused, but since they were there, they did not wish others to think that they had failed to try because of what they knew they truly felt.

“Then, if it is so,” the husbands said, “we cannot deny that we would receive greater favor from it than from any other thing.”

They immediately told this to the King and the other lords.

“In the name of God,” they said, “and may He be pleased by it, for it would add greater pleasure to our festivities.”

They all dismounted and agreed that first Melicia and Olinda would enter, and so they did, and one after the other they passed the line and without any difficulty walked beneath the Arch and entered the room where the statues of Apolidon and Grimanesa were. The trumpet held by the image above them played very sweetly, and they were all cheered by that tune, which no one had witnessed except those who had already seen or attempted the test.

Oriana came to the line, looked at Amadis and blushed, then turned to enter, and when she came halfway to the site, the image began to play a sweet song. And when she arrived beneath the Arch, so many flowers and roses emerged from the mouth of the trumpet that the entire field was covered with them, and the song was so sweet and so different from the others it had played that everyone there felt such great delight within themselves that as long as the song lasted they did not wish to depart from there.

But when she passed through the Arch, the song immediately ceased. Oriana found Olinda and Melicia, who were looking at the statues and their names, which they found written in the jasper, and when they saw her, they came to her very pleased and took her between themselves by the hand and returned to the statues. Oriana looked very closely at Grimanesa, and she saw clearly that neither of the two nor any of the women outside were as beautiful as she was. She had great doubts about the test of the Chamber, for to enter she would have to exceed Grimanesa in beauty, and if it had been left to her will, she would not have tried, although she never had any doubts about the test of the Arch since she knew in her most hidden heart that it had never been given to anyone other than her beloved Amadis.

And so they remained there a while and would have stayed longer if the day were not such that the others were awaiting them. They decided to leave there, all three together, so content and joyful that those who were waiting looked at them, and it seemed as if their beauty had increased quite a bit, and they believed that any of the three was sufficient to pass the test of the Chamber. And this was caused, as I say, by their great happiness, for all beauty is increased by joy just as to the contrary it is distressed and diminished by sadness.

Their three husbands, Amadis and Agrajes and Sir Bruneo, who had already passed the test, as the second book of this story has already told you, came to them, which none of the others who were there could have done. When they arrived, the trumpet began to play a song again and emit flowers, which fell over their heads. They embraced their wives and kissed them, and so all six left the Arch.

This done, they agreed to go to the test of the Chamber, although some were very concerned that it could not be successfully completed. When they arrived at the site in the castle hall, Grasinda came to Amadis and told him:

“My lord, although my beauty may not help me as much as the desire in my heart wishes were so, I cannot contain my madness. I desire to test myself in that doorway, for, certainly, I would never cease to feel sorrow if I did not attempt the test. Regardless of what may happen, I still wish to try.”

Amadis thought that all the women should attempt the test before his lady did so that she would achieve glory over all the others, for he never doubted that she would pass although he did doubt the others would. He answered Grasinda by saying:

“My good lady, I do not consider what ye say to be anything other than grandeur in your heart to wish to attempt what so many other beautiful women failed to do. So may it be done.”

Then he took her by the hand, went forward, and said:

“My lords, this very beautiful lady wishes to take this test, as ye, my ladies Olinda and Melicia, should also do, for it would require great cowardice, God having distributed among you such extreme beauty, to fail to attempt such an exemplary thing out of fear. It may be that one of you may pass the test, and ye would free Oriana from her great dread.”

That was what he said publicly, but it was all dissembled because he knew well, as has been said, that none of them could pass except his lady, for neither Grimanesa in her time nor later any other lady in any way could approach her beauty.

Everyone said they should to it, and immediately Grasinda commended herself to God, entered the Forbidden area, and with little difficulty reached the copper pillar. She went forward and near the marble pillar she was detained, but with difficulty and great spirit she showed she was a much stronger woman than expected and reached the pillar, but from there she was pulled without mercy by her beautiful hair and thrown from the area so stunned that she was senseless.

Sir Cuadragante took her away and although he knew for certain she was in no danger, he could not avoid feeling very sorry and having great pity for her, for although this knight now was no longer a young man and his heart had never been captivated in love by any woman any more than he himself could have been, what he had earlier forgotten along with what he saw before him came over him like a blow in such a way that he would not have allowed any man to say he desired and loved his lady more.

Immediately Olinda the Moderate came forward, bringing Agrajes by the hand, who gave her great courage, but he did not hold much hope, for neither his great love nor affection for her kept him from realizing that she did not equal Grimanesa’s beauty, although he believed she was among the more beautiful of women. When they came to the area, he let go of her hand; she entered and went straight to the copper pillar, and from there she continued to the marble one, and she felt nothing. But when she wished to go farther, the resistence was so great that no matter how she tried, she could take only one step beyond, and then she was thrown out like the other lady.

Melicia entered with a gentle mein and healthy heart, for she was the most hale and very beautiful. She passed both columns and they all believed she would enter the chamber, and Oriana, who thought she would, was beyond herself with anguish. But she took one more step than Olinda had and then was stunned and thrown out with no more mercy than the others, as senseless as if she were dead, for the farther forward each one went, the greater was the penalty that each received given her achievement, as had happened to the knights before Amadis passed the test. Sir Bruneo’s rants for her moved many to pity, but those who knew how little danger she was in laughed a lot to see it.

This being done, Amadis took Oriana, in whom all the beauty of the world was united, and led her to the area with very relaxed steps and a very modest face. She crossed herself and commended herself to God and entered, and without feeling a thing she passed the pillars. When she had come one step away from the chamber, she felt many hands pushing her and turning her away, and so she was turned around three times until she was near the marble pillar. But she only pushed them aside one after another with her beautiful hands, and it seemed to her that she was touching other arms and hands.

And so with a great deal of effort and spirit, and above all with great beauty, extremely more than Grimanesa’s, as has been said, she reached the door of the chamber exhausted and held onto one of the lintels. Then it seemed that the same arm and hand that had taken hold of Amadis reached out and took her by the hand, and she heard more than twenty voices singing sweetly that said:

“Welcome noble lady whose great loveliness has surpassed the beauty of Grimanesa. Ye shall be the companion for the knight more valiant and courageous in arms that Apolidon, who in his time had no par, that has won the right to be lord of this island. His descendants shall reign over it for a long time and from it shall win other realms.”

Then the arm and hand pulled, and Oriana entered the chamber, where she felt as happy as if the world were her realm, not merely for her beauty but because her beloved Amadis was lord of the island. Without any difficulty he would be her companion in that beautiful chamber, and she had removed all hope forever for any woman to come to test herself, no matter how beautiful she might be.

Isanjo, the knight and governor of the island, then said:

“My lords, enchantments of this island have now been fully undone and none remains, as was established by he who left them here. He did not wish them to endure after a lord and lady were found who could complete these tests, as these have. Without any impediment all ladies can enter here as all men could after Amadis completed the test.”

Then the Kings and Queens entered, and all the other knights, and ladies and damsels: everyone who was there. They saw the finest and most delightful dwelling as was ever seen, and they all embraced Oriana as if they had not seen her for a long time. Such was their pleasure and joy that no one thought about eating or any other thing but about gazing upon that extraordinary chamber.

Amadis ordered that tables be brought to that grand chamber right away, and so it was done. Finally the brides and grooms, and Kings, and those who could fit, rested and ate in the chamber, where a great variety of delicacies and fruit of all kinds and wines were properly served.

When night came, after eating, in that very beautiful portion of the chamber, which we have told you in the second book was much finer than all the rest and was set apart by a glass wall, they made the bed for Amadis and Oriana to lodge there, and for the Emperor and the other knights with their wives in other chambers, for there were many of them and very fine. There they fulfilled their great and mortal desires, because of which they had suffered many dangers and great troubles. They made women of those who were not yet, and those who were took no less pleasure than them in their very beloved husbands.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Arch of the Loyal Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber

Another refresher for readers. 

Illustration of the Arch of the Loyal Lovers from a 1531 edition of Amadis de Gaula.

The next chapter, Chapter 125, will involve the magical tests of love and beauty at Firm Island. These were created by Apolidon before he left to become Emperor of Constantinople – a century before Amadis arrived, passed the tests, and became the new lord of the island.

Apolidon, who had great skills at enchantment, created those tests at the urging of his beloved wife, Grimanesa, so that in the future the island would be ruled by “those who in fortitude at arms, loyalty in love, and great beauty” would resemble those two.

The text, which is at the beginning of Book II, continues:

Then he made an arch at the entrance to a garden in which all the trees of every species were, and in which there were four beautiful chambers of rare construction. It was surrounded by a fence so that no one could enter the garden without passing through the arch. Above it he put the copper image of a man who held a trumpet to his lips as if he wished to play it. In one of those chambers he placed two statues resembling the faces and bodies of himself and his beloved, and next to them a pale jasper stone. And at the distance of half a crossbow arrow's flight away, he ordered placed a iron pillar five cubits high in a large field that was there.

He said:

"From here on no man nor woman shall pass who have erred since they first began to love, for if they try, the image that ye see shall play that trumpet with a sound so frightening that they shall be stunned by smoke and flame and thrown out from here as if dead. But if a knight or lady or damsel were to come here worthy of completing this test for their loyalty, as I have said, they shall enter without impediment and the image shall play such a sweet song that it shall delight all those who hear it. They shall see our statues and see their names written on the jasper, but they shall not know who wrote them."

And taking his beloved by the hand, he had her pass through the arch, and the image played a sweet song. He showed her their statues and their names written in the jasper. When they left, Grimanesa wanted to test it, so she ordered some of her ladies and damsels to enter, and the image played such a terrifying song that they were knocked unconscious and thrown from the garden, and Grimanesa, knowing they were in no danger, laughed with pleasure and deeply thanked her beloved Apolidon for fulfilling her will completely.

Then she told him:

"My lord, what then will become of that beautiful chamber in which we had such pleasure and delight?"

"Now," he said, "let us go there and ye shall see what I shall do."

Then they went to the chamber and he ordered two columns brought, one of marble and the other of copper, and he had the marble column placed five paces from the door of the chamber, and the copper column five paces beyond that, and he told his beloved:

"Now know that no man nor woman may enter this chamber by any means or at any time until a knight comes here who surpasses me in skill at arms or woman who surpasses your beauty. But if those who come surpass than me at arms and you at beauty, they shall enter without any trouble."

And he had words inscribed on the copper column that said:

"Knights of great arms may pass here, each according to his valor."

And he had other words inscribed on the marble column that said:

"No knight shall pass here who does not surpass Apolidon in skill at arms."

And above the door of the chamber he had words inscribed that read:

"He who surpasses me in skill shall enter this beautiful chamber and shall be lord of this island. And of the ladies and damsels who arrive, none shall enter inside who do not surpass your beauty."

And with his wisdom he made an enchantment so that no one could approach the chamber within twelve paces on any side, which had no entry other than that which passed the columns of which ye have heard. And he ordered that a governor rule over the island and collect its income and to keep for the knight whose fate was to enter the chamber and be lord of the island. And he ordered that those who failed at the test of the arch of lovers be expelled without honor, and those who passed be served.

And he further said:

"The knights who try to enter the chamber and who cannot pass the copper column shall leave their arms there, and those who manage only to pass it shall leave their swords, and those who reach the marble column but no further shall leave their shields, and those who pass this column but who cannot enter the chamber shall leave their spurs. And from the damsels and ladies nothing shall be taken, but they shall give their names to be put at the door of the castle, saying where each had reached."

And he said:

"When this island shall have a lord, the enchantment for the knights shall be undone, who shall freely be able to pass the columns and enter the chamber, but it shall not be undone for the women until one shall come who will end it with her great beauty, and who shall lodge with that knight who has won the lordship within that beautiful chamber."

This done, leaving the Firm Island well protected as ye have heard, Apolidon and Grimanesa left on their ships and sailed to Constantinople, where they were Emperor and Empress, and they had sons who succeeded them in the empire after their days were done.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Chapter 124

How Amadis arranged to have his cousin Dragonis marry Princess Estrelleta and go to take Deep Island, where he would be King. 

[Kingdom of Sardinia, 16th century map made by Sigismondo Asquer.]

Now the story says that Dragonis, cousin of Amadis and Sir Galaor, was a very honorable young knight with great courage, as had been shown in the past, especially in the battle King Lisuarte had fought with Sir Galvanes and his companions over the island of Mongaza. There, Sir Florestan, Sir Cuadragante, and many noble knights were stunned and taken prisoner by Sir Galaor, King Cildadan, and Norandel, and most of their men on the other side had charged them and Sir Galvanes was taken to the island badly injured. Then this knight Dragonis stayed with the few remaining men of his father to aid and protect the rest, where due to his discretion and good courage they were rescued, as the third book of this story has told at greater length.

He was not at Firm Island when Amadis arranged the marriages of his brothers and the other knights, as ye have heard, because he had left the monastery in Lubaina with a damsel to whom he had earlier promised a boon, and he fought with Angrifo, the lord of the Valley of the Deep Sea, who held her father prisoner to take his fortress at the entrance to the valley.

Dragonis fought a great and cruel battle with him, because Angrifo was the most valiant knight that could be found in the mountains where he dwelled, but in the end he was defeated because Dragonis was fighting for what was right and freed the damsel’s father. He ordered Angrifo to go within twenty days to Firm Island and place himself at the mercy of Princess Oriana.

Because Dragonis found himself near the island of Mongaza, he went to see Sir Galvanes and Madasima, and while he was with them, King Lisuarte’s messenger arrived calling them to come to Firm Island, as Agrajes had promised. Dragonis went with them to Windsor, where they were received with much love and great honor. And from there they went with the King and Queen to Firm Island, where Dragonis discovered the agreements about the marriages and the divisions of realms, as has been told, and he took great pleasure in it. He praised what his cousin Amadis had done, and he prepared himself as best he could for the conquest, for he was convinced that it could not be accomplished without great deeds at arms.

But Amadis, who loved him with all his heart, believed it would be a great injustice and a shame to himself if such a knight were to be left without a significant part of what he had helped with so much effort to be won. And one day, Amadis took him aside in the garden and spoke to him thus:

“My lord and good cousin, although your youth and the great courage in your heart wishes to increase your honor in great battles, it removes your desire for a greater estate and more repose than what ye have had so far. But reason, to which we are all obliged to regard as the principal font from which virtue emanates, and the opportunity which is to be offered you, should change your plans if ye were to follow the advice from my little wisdom and great good will, which loves you as if ye were my own heart.

“When we were in Lubaina rescuing King Lisuarte, I learned that among those opponents who fled in the beginning was the King of Deep Island, who was wounded, and I have just learned from a squire of King Arabigo who came here that when the King of Deep Island was setting out to sea, he died.

“I consider it proper that the island where he was lord be yours, and that ye be proclaimed its king, and that your brother Palomir retain the realm of your father, and that ye be married to the Princess Estrelleta, who as ye know comes from royalty on both sides of her lineage, and whom Oriana dearly loves. I hold this to be good, and it would please me if it were done, because I would rather force your will to submit to reason than to suffer such shame at not having you, my good cousin, take part of the goods that God has given me, just as ye more than anyone else felt shame when I was treated badly.”

Dragonis had wished to go with Sir Bruneo and Sir Cuadragante to aid them personally until they had won their realms, and if he remained alive, to pass through the area around Rome looking for adventures and to spend some time with Sir Florestan, King of Sardinia, to see him and to learn if he needed help with anything, since he would be in a foreign land, and from there to return to see Amadis at Firm Island or wherever he was. He thought that he could win much honor and great fame in these travels, or die as a knight.

But at seeing such great love behind what Amadis had told him, he was too embarrassed to respond in any other way than to defer totally to his will and to be obedient in that and everything he might order. So immediately he was betrothed to that Princess, and Deep Island was designated as his, as ye have heard, of which he was then proclaimed king, and he reigned with great honor, as shall be told farther on.

When this was done, as ye hear, Amadis asked King Lisuarte for the Duchy of Bristol for Sir Guilan the Pensive, whom he loved deeply, and for him to marry the Duchess, whom he loved so much, and to be delivered the Duke’s son, who was being held prisoner there. Because the King had great love for Amadis, because he owed many and great debts to Sir Guilan, and because the Duke had been a traitor, he granted it with good will.

Amadis kissed his hands for that, and Sir Guilan wished to kiss Amadis’, but Amadis would not let him. Instead, he embraced him with great love, for in his time, this was the most prudent, gentle, and humane knight in the world with his friends.