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Sir Thomas Malory’s Book
of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights
of the Round Table
The Text of Caxton
Si quando indigenas revocabo in carmina reges,
Arturumque etiam sub terris bella moventem;
Aut dicam invictae sociali foedere mensae
Magnanimos Heroas.—Milton.
The Introduction to the first edition of this volume included an account of the Text in the various editions of Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Morte Darthur,’ and an attempt to estimate the character and worth of his book. The publication of Dr. Sommer’s edition of the Text and Prolegomena, demands that I should complete my bibliography by an account of this important work; and it enables me, by help of this learned writer’s new information, to confirm, while enlarging, my former criticism. I have, therefore, revised and re-written the two first sections of the Introduction. The Essay on Chivalry remains, but for a few verbal changes, as it was first printed.

Sutton Court,

November, 1891.

§1. The Authorship and Matter of the Book.
Origin of the Book.—Its claim to be called a poem.—Epic in plan.—Malory’s use of the old romances.—His History and Geography.—Camelot.—Glastonbury.—Almesbury.—Joyous Gard.—The Sangreal.—Influence on our language, letters, life.—Morality of the Book.—Spenser, Milton, Tennyson.—Malory, Caxton

§2. The Text and its Several Editions.
The edition of Caxton, 1485.—Those of Wynkyn de Worde, 1498 and 1529.—Of Copland, 1557.—Of East, without date.—Of Stansby, 1634.—Editions of 1816.—Southey’s edition of 1817.—Discovery of interpolations in that edition.—Mr. Wright’s editions, 1858 and 1866.—Character and object of the present edition.—Abridgements.—Extracts.—Dr. Sommer’s edition, 1889-91

§3. An Essay on Chivalry.
Origin of Chivalry.—Contest of Civilization with Barbarism.—The Chevalier and the Knight.—His education.—Amadis and Oriana.—The Black Prince.—Birth not essential to Knighthood.—The Lady.—Queen Philippa.—Decay of Chivalry.—Knights of Malta.—Modern Manners

Preface of William Caxton 1

The Table Or Rubrysshe of the Contents of Chapters 3

The Book of King Arthur, Books I to XXI 25

Notes 488

Glossary and Index 493
§1. The Authorship and Matter of the Book.
Origin of the Book.
We owe this our English Epic of Le Morte Darthur to Sir Thomas Malory, and to William Caxton the first English printer. Caxton’s Preface shows (what indeed would have been certain from his appeal to the ‘Knights of England’ at the end of ‘The Order of Chivalry’) that however strongly he, ‘William Caxton, simple person,’ may have been urged to undertake the work by ‘divers gentlemen of this realm of England,’ he was not less moved by his own love and reverence for ‘the noble acts of chivalry,’ and his deep sense of his duty and responsibility in printing what he believed would be for the instruction and profit of his readers, ‘of whatever estate or degree.’ But to Sir Thomas Malory he gives all the honour of having provided him with the copy which he printed. And ever since, for more than four hundred years, successive generations have approved the fitness of Caxton’s choice. For it is Malory’s book, and not the older forms of King Arthur’s story which we still read for enjoyment, and for the illustration of which scholars edit those earlier books. Only a true poem, the offspring of genius, could have so held, and be still holding its ground, age after age. It may be said that it is chiefly with boys, and with men who have formed the taste by their boyish reading, that the book is so popular. But is not this so with the Iliad too? Men of mature intellect and taste read and re-read the Iliad with ever new discoveries, appreciation, and enjoyment; but it may be questioned whether there are many, or even any, of them who did not begin those studies at school, and learn to love Homer before they knew that he was worthy of their love. And they who have given most of such reading, in youth and in manhood, to Malory’s Morte Darthur will be the most able and ready to recognise its claim to the character of an Epic poem.

Malory a Poet.
Malory wrote in prose, but he had ‘the vision and the faculty divine’ of the poet, though ‘wanting the accomplishment of verse’; and, great as that want is, we may apply Milton’s test of ‘simple, sensuous, and passionate,’ and we shall find no right to these names more real than is Malory’s. Every incident, the description xof every event, is ‘simple,’ that is to say, complete in itself, while making a part of the whole story. The story is ‘sensuous,’ like that of Homer, and as every true poem must be, it is a living succession of concrete images and pictures, not of abstractions or generalized arguments and reasonings. These are the characteristics of the book, from its opening story of Igraine, which ‘befell in the days of Uther Pendragon,’ down to the death of the last four remaining knights who ‘went into the Holy Land, there as Jesus Christ was quick and dead,’ and there ‘did many battles upon the miscreants or Turks, and there they died on a Good Friday for God’s sake.’ And for ‘passion,’ for that emotion which the poet first feels in a special manner, and then awakens in his hearers, though they could not have originated it in themselves, with the adventures of the Round Table and the San Greal, or the deaths of Arthur, of Guenever, and of Launcelot, we may compare the wrath of Achilles, its cause and its consequences, or the leave-taking of Hector and Andromache. It would, indeed, be hard to find anywhere a pathos greater than that of Malory’s description of the death or ‘passing’ of Arthur, the penitence of Guenever, and her parting with Launcelot, or the lament of Launcelot over the King and Queen, and of Sir Ector over Launcelot himself. The first is too long to quote, but I may say that Malory has re-cast the old story, and all the poetry is his own. I give the two last:—

‘Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I trust I do not displease God, for He knoweth mine intent, for my sorrow was not, nor is not, for any rejoicing of sin, but my sorrow may never have end. For when I remember of her beauty, and of her noblesse, that was both with her king and with her; so when I saw his corpse and her corpse so lie together, truly mine heart would not serve to sustain my careful body. Also when I remember me, how by my default, mine orgule, and my pride, that they were both laid full low, that were peerless that ever was living of christian people, wit you well, said Sir Launcelot, this remembered, of their kindness and mine unkindness, sank so to my heart, that I might not sustain myself.’

And again:—

‘Ah, Launcelot, he said, thou were head of all christian knights; and now I dare say, said Sir Ector, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight’s hand; and thou were the courtiest knight that ever bare shield; and thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrode horse; and thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman; and thou were the kindest man that ever strake with sword; and thou were the goodliest person ever came among press of knights; and thou was the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest[1].’

xiThe former passage is all Malory’s own: the beauty of the latter is enhanced, if we set by its side the old version which he follows:—

‘Alas, sir [said] Bors, that I was born,
That ever I should see this indeed,
The beste knight his life hath lorn,
That ever in stoure [fight] bestrode a steed,
Jesu, that crowned was with thorn,
In heaven his soul foster and feed[2].’
Humour is akin to passion; and it may not be out of place to notice here Malory’s vein of humour, as shown, for instance, in the way in which he tells the adventures of La Cote Male Taile, and of Beaumains; the pranks of the braver knights with Dinadan and Dagonet; the story of Arthur’s wedding feast, when a lady who ‘cried and made great dole,’ was forcibly carried out of the hall by a strange knight, and Arthur ‘was glad, for she made such a noise,’ and was thereupon rebuked by Merlin for thinking so lightly of his royal and knightly duties; or that of the usurper Mordred and the Bishop of Canterbury, when after each had defied the other, the bishop ‘did the curse in the most orgulous wise that might be done,’ and then retired to live ‘in poverty and holy prayers, for well he understood that mischievous war was at hand.’

The Book Epic in Plan.
In the Drama the action is present, actually unwinding itself and going on before our eyes. The Epic is the story of the past, a cycle of events completed, while through the one and the other may be traced a thread of destiny and providence, leading either to a happy triumph over circumstances, or to a tragic doom, which, too, is in the end, a triumph also. Thomas Hughes, the early Elizabethan dramatist, in his ‘Misfortunes of Arthur,’ concentrated and deepened the horror of such a tragedy by transferring the guilt of Launcelot to Mordred the son of Arthur and his unknown sister. He would better have recognised and followed the finer art of Malory. For though the motive of Malory’s epic is less gross and exaggerated than that of Hughes’s drama, the thread of guilt and doom which runs from first to last through the former is not less real than in the latter. The crime of Uther Pendragon, with which the story opens, leads to the concealment of Arthur’s parentage from himself, and this to his illicit love for her whom he does not know to be his sister, and so to the birth of Mordred. Then comes the prophetic doom:—‘Ye have done of late a thing that God is displeased with you: and your sister shall have a child that shall destroy you and all the knights of your realm.’ Arthur tries in vain to prevent the fulfilment of this doom by the only cruel deed of his life: and then—after another warning of the woe which his marriage with xiiGuinevere will bring on him, through her guilty love for Launcelot—these germs of tragic destiny remain hidden through long years of prosperity. Arthur, aided by his fellowship of the Round Table, reduces universal anarchy into order: and not only ‘gets into his hand’ all England, Wales, and Scotland, but by his march to Rome makes himself emperor, and the head of all the kingdoms as well as of all the chivalry of Christendom. Still the fame and the honour of the king and his knights of the Round Table open continually into new and brighter forms, which seem above the reach of any adverse fate, till the coming of the Sancgreal, into the quest of which all the knights enter with that self-reliance which had become them so well in the field of worldly chivalry, but which would be of no avail now. They are now to be tried by other tests than those by which they had been proved as ‘earthly knights and lovers,’ tests which even Launcelot, Ector de Maris, Gawaine, and the other chiefest of the fellowship could not stand. The quest is achieved by the holy knights alone: two depart from this life to a higher, while Sir Bors, not quite spotless, yet forgiven and sanctified, the link between the earthly and the spiritual worlds, returns to aid in restoring the glory of the feasts and tournaments at Camelot and Westminster. But the curse is at work: the severance between good and evil which had been declared through the Sancgreal cannot be closed again; and the tragic end comes on, in spite of the efforts—touching from their very weakness—of Arthur and Launcelot to avert the woe, the one by vainly trying to resist temptation, the other by refusing to believe evil of his wife and his dearest friend. The black clouds open for a moment as the sun goes down; and we see Arthur in the barge which bears him to the Holy Isle; Guenever, the nun of Almesbury, living in fasting, prayers, and almsdeeds; and Launcelot with his fellowship, once knights but now hermit-priests, ‘doing bodily all manner of service.’

Nor are the marks of harmony and unity less plain in the several characters than in the events of the story. Arthur is a true knight, sharing the characteristics of his nobler knights, yet he differs from them all in showing also that he is, and feels himself to be, a king; as when—with an imperiousness which reminds us of Froissart’s story of Edward III refusing to listen to Sir Walter of Manny’s remonstrances on behalf of the burgesses of Calais—he tells Sir Launcelot that he ‘takes no force whom he grieves,’ or insists on his entering the lists against a tired knight whom he is not willing to see victorious over the whole field; or as when he sadly regrets that he cannot do battle for his wife, though he believes her innocent, but must be a rightful judge according to the laws. There are many others of the Round Table who are ‘very perfect gentle knights, yet we feel that Launcelot stands distinct among them all in the pre-eminence of his knightliness, notwithstanding his one great sin. Thus, to take one of many instances, who but Launcelot would have borne the taunts and the violence of Gawaine with his humble patience and ever-renewed efforts for a reconciliation, when he was leaving the realm, and when he was besieged in Joyous Gard. Modern critics of great xiiiname agree in censuring Sir Thomas Malory for departing from the old authorities who represented Gawaine as the very counterpart of Launcelot in knightly character: but I rather see a proof of Malory’s art in giving us a new Gawaine with a strongly individual character of his own. Gawaine’s regard for his mother’s honour, his passion for Ettard, and his affection for his brothers, are fierce impulses driving him to unknightly and unworthy deeds, yet he is far from being represented as a mere savage. If Malory depicts him thirsting to revenge upon Launcelot the unintentional killing of Gaheris and Gareth, he depicts also his long previous affection for Launcelot and his opposition to the hostility of his other brother, Mordred, against him; his devotion to his uncle Arthur; his hearty repentance towards Launcelot at the last; and his entreaty that he would ‘see his tomb, and pray some prayer more or less for his soul.’ Nor must we forget that it was by the prayer of those ladies for whom Gawaine had ‘done battle in a rightwise quarrel,’ that his ghost was permitted to give Arthur a last warning. Distinct again from the character of this fierce knight is that of the Saracen Palamides, whose unquestionable courage and skill in deeds of chivalry also want—though in another way than Gawaine’s—the gentleness, the meekness, and the delicate sense of honour of the Christian knight. Sir Dinadan again, who can give and take hard knocks if need be, though he has no great bodily strength, and who is always bantering the good knights who know and esteem him with his humorous protests against love and arms, is a distinctly drawn character. So is Merlin, half Christian, half magician, but always with dog-like loyalty to the house of Uther Pendragon. So is the Bishop of Canterbury, who appears at intervals in the story. So are many others whose names I might recite. The dignity of queen Guenever towards her husband and her court is not less marked than her guilty passion for Launcelot, and the unreasoning jealousy it excites in her. The wife-like simplicity of Igraine, the self-surrender beyond all limit, though from different impulses, of the two Elaines, the pertness of the damsel Linet, and the piety and self-sacrifice of Sir Percivale’s sister, will occur to the reader among the distinctive characteristics of the different ladies and damsels who live and move, each in her own proper form, in the story. Sir Thomas Malory, as we know, found many of these men and women already existing in the old romances as he represents them to us; but we may believe that those earlier books were to him something of what the pages of Plutarch and Holinshed were to Shakespeare.

Malory’s use of the Old Romances.
It has been too commonly assumed that, because Caxton says that Sir Thomas Malory took his work ‘out of certain books of French and reduced it into English,’ he was a mere compiler and translator. But the book itself shows that he was its author—its ‘maker,’ as he would have called it. Notwithstanding his occasionally inartificial manner of connecting the materials drawn from the old romances, there is an epic unity and harmony, ‘a beginning, a middle, and an end,’ which, if they xivhave come by chance and not of design, have come by that chance which only befalls an Homeric or a Shakespeare-like man. If more instances and proofs are needed than have been already given, let us turn to the opening chapters of the book. If we compare these with the old romances which supplied the materials for them, we see at once how Malory has converted prose into poetry, giving life and beauty to the clods of earth, and transmuting by his art the legends which he yet faithfully preserves. For the long and repulsive narrative of Merlin’s origin[3] he substitutes a slight allusion to it: without disguising what he probably believed to be at least an half historical record of Arthur’s birth, he gives a grace and dignity to the story by the charms of the mother’s character, the finer touches of which are wanting in the original: and so through the whole of this part of the story.

Twenty-three years ago, I ventured to assert Malory’s claim to epic genius: and now this claim may be farther tested, and as I think, established, by help of the learned researches of Dr. Sommer. Of these I shall state some details, in speaking of the text and its several editions, here giving the result so far as it bears on the present point. We may now see how Malory’s ‘Morte Darthur’ was fused into its actual form out of crude materials of ten times its bulk, and that while he often translated or transcribed the French or English romances as they lay before him, on the other hand he not only re-wrote, in order to bring into its present shape the whole story, but also varied both the order and the substance of the incidents that so he might give them that epic character, and that beauty in the details, which his book shows throughout. Malory was no doubt a ‘finder’ as well as a ‘maker,’ but so, I repeat, was Shakespeare, and so was every other great poet. But the quarry and the building are not the same thing, though the one supplies the rough stones with which the other is raised up. We see that there is much that is rude and inartificial in Malory’s art. He has built a great, rambling, mediæval castle, the walls of which enclose rude and even ruinous work of earlier times, and not a Greek Parthenon nor even an Italian palace of the Renaissance. Still, it is a grand pile, and tells everywhere of the genius of its builder. And I ask, as Carlyle once asked me, Who built St. Paul’s? Was it Wren, or the hodman who carried up the bricks? But while supporting my conclusions as to Malory’s art by the evidence of Dr. Sommer’s facts, it is right to add that the conclusions are my own rather than those of this learned critic. His estimate of Malory’s genius in the choice and treatment of his materials falls far short of mine: and I can believe that Malory may have judged rightly, for his own purpose, when he did not take that form of a legend which was in itself the most beautiful.

Malory’s History and Geography.
The most recent critics are disposed to prefer Hume’s and Gibbon’s belief to Milton’s scepticism as to the actual existence of Arthur. But upon this question xvI do not enter. Malory’s historical chapters, as they may be called, seem to be mainly taken from the Historia Brithonum of Geoffrey of Monmouth, though much of them is also to be found in the romances[4]. The details of Arthur’s march to Rome are so accurate that I think that Malory may have had actual knowledge of the road, which indeed must have been familiar to many men—soldiers, priests, and merchants—in the days of Edward IV. But of the rest of the history and the geography of the book before us we can only say that they are something

‘Apart from place, withholding time,
But flattering the golden prime’
of the great hero of English romance. We cannot bring within any limits of history the events which here succeed each other, when the Lords and Commons of England, after the death of King Uther at St. Alban’s, assembled at the greatest church of London, guided by the joint policy of the magician Merlin and the Christian bishop of Canterbury, and elected Arthur to the throne; when Arthur made Carlion, or Camelot, or both, his head-quarters in a war against Cornwall, Wales, and the North, in which he was victorious by help of the king of France; when he met the demand for tribute by the Roman emperor Lucius with a counter-claim to the empire for himself as the real representative of Constantine, held a parliament at York to make the necessary arrangements, crossed the sea from Sandwich to Barflete in Flanders, met the united forces of the Romans and Saracens in Burgundy, slew the emperor in a great battle, together with his allies, the Sowdan of Syria, the king of Egypt, and the king of Ethiopia, sent their bodies to the Senate and Podestà of Rome as the only tribute he would pay, and then followed over the mountains through Lombardy and Tuscany to Rome, where he was crowned emperor by the Pope, ‘sojourned there a time, established all his lands from Rome unto France, and gave lands and realms unto his servants and knights,’ and so returned home to England, where he seems thenceforth to have devoted himself wholly to his duties as the head of Christian knighthood.

With the exception just mentioned, the geography is fanciful enough; and we need the magic of Merlin, or of some conjuror-poet like him of Horace, to set us with the required disregard of time successively in Carleon, Carlisle, Winchester, London, St. Alban’s, and Camelot. The story opens within a night’s ride of the castle of Tintagil. Thence we pass to St. Alban’s, to London, and to Carlion. This last is, no doubt, Caerleon-upon-Usk; but it seems through this, as in other romances, to be interchangeable in the author’s mind with Carlisle, or (as written in its Anglo-Norman form) Cardoile, which latter in xvithe History of Merlin is said to be in Wales, while elsewhere Wales and Cumberland are confounded in like manner. So of Camelot, where Arthur chiefly held his court, Caxton in his Preface speaks as though it were in Wales, probably meaning Caerleon, where the Roman amphitheatre is still called Arthur’s Round Table. Malory himself, though at page 49 he seems to connect Camelot with Avelion, or Glastonbury, yet farther on, page 63, says that Camelot is Winchester, where, too, there is a Round Table, mentioned by Caxton, and still to be seen,—an oaken board with the knights’ names on it. And yet at the time these authorities wrote Camelot itself existed in Somersetshire with its proper name, and with all the remains of an important town and fortress, and, doubtless, the traditions of Arthur which Leland found there, and which in great part at least remain to this day. Leland calls it Camallate or Camalat, ‘sometime a famous town or castle, upon a very torre or hill, wonderfully enstrengthened of nature[5].’ Four ditches and as many walls surrounded a central space of about thirty acres where foundations and remains of walls might be seen, and whence Roman pavements, urns, coins, and other relics have been found up to the present time. I find it called the Castle of Camellek in maps of the dates of 1575 and 1610, and in that of the 1727 edition of Camden’s Magna Britannica, the text of which says ‘the inhabitants call it King Arthur’s Palace.’ But soon after that date a learned antiquarian[6] writes that the name had been superseded by that of Cadbury Castle, which trilingual appellation may seem to indicate the Roman, British, and Saxon possessors by whom it was probably held in succession. The neighbouring villages which, according to Leland, bore ‘the name of Camalat with an addition, as Queen-Camel,’ still exist as Queen-Camel, or East Camel, and West Camel, and near by runs the river Camel, crossed by Arthur’s Bridge. Arthur’s well still springs from the hill side; and if Arthur’s Hunting Causeway in the field below, Arthur’s Round Table and Arthur’s Palace within the camp, cannot still, as of old, be pointed out to the visitor, the peasant girl will still tell him that within that charmed circle they who look may see through golden gates a king sitting in the midst of his court. Drayton describes the river Ivel in Somersetshire as

‘The nearest neighbouring flood to Arthur’s ancient seat,
Which made the Britaines name thro’ all the world so great.
Like Camelot what place was ever yet renown’d?
Where, as at Caerleon, oft he kept the Table Round,
Most famous for the sports at Pentecost so long,
From whence all knightly deeds and brave atchievements sprong[7].’
These old legendary traditions, pleasant to hear or to know of, have been collected by another Somersetshire antiquarian, the late Rev. J. H. Bennett, xviiRector of South Cadbury[8]. Together with the legends told by Leland and others, and those which he himself gathered on the spot, Mr. Bennett has given a carefully detailed topographical description of the old town and fortress of Camelot, strong by nature and strengthened by art, where the Britons made their last stand against the Saxons; and he has shewn how its strategical position was connected, in fact as well as in romance, with the Isle of Avallon, the Monastery of Glastonbury, and the Nunnery of Almesbury. He thinks that during the hundred years which followed the taking of Sarum by the Saxons A. D. 551, during which (except in the capture of Bath in 577 A. D.) they made no further progress in the conquest of Somersetshire, Camelot became the capital of the South British kingdoms, and stemmed the tide of war in this direction by its great line of strongholds; and he thus suggests that we may have here the historical circumstances which connected or helped to connect, the legends of the great British hero with Camelot. Leland, who wrote his Itinerary early in Henry VIII’s reign, mentions, among other relics found at Camelot, a silver horseshoe, and Mr. Bennett gives us the words of one of the Cadbury peasants who told him ‘folks do say that on the night of the full moon King Arthur and his men ride round the hill, and their horses are shod with silver, and a silver shoe has been found in the track where they do ride, and when they have ridden round the hill they stop to water their horses at the wishing well.’ But more than three hundred years before Leland wrote, this still living legend had been recorded by Gervase of Tilbury, who, in his Otia Imperialia (date about 1212) says that in the woods of Britain the foresters, as the common people call the keepers of the woods and wild game, tell that on alternate days, about noon, or at midnight when the moon is full and shining, they often see an array of hunters with dogs and sound of horns, who, in answer to the enquirers, say that they are of the household and fellowship of Arthur. And, what is still more curious, Gervase, in the same place, gives a legend of Arthur, of Mount Etna, which singularly corresponds with that just mentioned as still living among the mounds of ancient Camelot. He tells that the horse of the Bishop of Catania had run away from his groom, and when the groom was following him up the precipitous side of the mountain, he came upon an open place where was the Great Arthur, resting upon a couch. Arthur ordered the horse to be brought back and restored to the bishop, sent him presents, and related how he had lain there, all those years, suffering from wounds he had received in the battle with his nephew Mordred, and Childeric the leader of the Saxons[9]. The British story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table had xviiispread through Italy by the side of the French romances of Roland and Charlemagne[10] but this curious transfer of an incident from Camelot in Somersetshire, to Mount Etna in Sicily seems as if it must have been due to some Norman troubadour who had actually passed from one land to the other, and given the proper local colouring to the story in its new home as the bee carries fertility from one garden to another. Scotland, too, among the stories by which she claimed her part in Arthur and his knights, had a tale how ‘Arthour Knycht he raid on nycht with gylten spur and candel lycht[11].’

Legend tells that Glastonbury—founded by Joseph of Arimathea, and his burial-place, though his body was vainly sought in Edward III’s reign—possesses the coffin of Arthur. It is said that Henry II found the bodies of Arthur and Guenever there, and that Guenever had yellow hair. Their skulls were afterwards taken for relics by Edward Longshanks and Eleanor.

Almesbury, where Guenever died a nun, is a town in Wiltshire, seven and a half miles from Salisbury, where may still be seen the ruins of its celebrated abbey. The name was originally Ambrosebury, then Ambresbury, and lastly Amesbury, as it is now spelt.

The ruins of the castle of Tintagil, too, may still be seen in Cornwall.

Joyous Gard, Launcelot’s favourite castle, is sometimes identified with Berwick. Malory tells us that ‘some men say it was Anwick, and some men say it was Bamborow.’ Bamborow, or Bamborough, is in Northumberland, sixteen miles southeast of Berwick. The castle, founded in the middle of the sixth century, which is the supposed time of Arthur’s reign, stands on a high rock projecting into the North Sea. It now contains a granary, hospital, and other endowments made for the poor in 1715 by Lord Crewe, bishop of Durham. Did he think of his predecessor Launcelot, and his doles of ‘flesh, fish, wine and ale, and twelve pence to any man and woman, come who would?’

The names of some other places in this book are given in the Glossary.

The Sangreal.
Let us turn to the Sangreal, or Holy Grail, the Quest of which forms so important a part of Malory’s book. The word ‘Grail’ means a dish, a drinking vessel, xixor a tureen, in the Romance language, and is probably derived from the Low Latin ‘gradalis’ or ‘grasalis’; and this from the Greek ‘crater’: and the old writers describe it sometimes as a shallow vessel for holding food, and sometimes as a cup[12]. The legend of the Grail is traced back to Pagan times, where it appears as a miraculously food-producing vessel, of which we perhaps see a survival in the coming of the Sangreal to Launcelot and King Pelles, and at the feast of Pentecost which led to the Quest:—

‘Then there entered into the hall the holy Grail covered with white samite, but there was none might see it, nor who bare it. And there was all the hall full filled with good odours, and every knight had such meats and drinks as he best loved in this world: and when the holy Grail had been borne through the hall, then the holy vessel departed suddenly, that they wist not where it became.’

But in the Christian form into which the legend passed, the Grail became either the dish which held the paschal lamb at the Last Supper, the vessel in which Joseph of Arimathea had received the Saviour’s blood, or the sacramental cup itself. Mr. Alfred Nutt has treated the whole subject with exhaustive learning in his ‘Studies of the Legend of the Holy Grail,’ and his article ‘Grail, the Holy’ in Chambers’ Encyclopaedia. But when I say that one only of the many stories of which Mr. Nutt gives an account is a poem of 60,000 verses, I shall not be expected to attempt any summary of his book. I shall content myself with the more popular account of the Sangreal, in its immediate relation to Malory’s Morte Darthur. According to the romances of Le S. Graal, Lancelot du Lac, Perceforest, and Morte Arthur, the Sangreal, or Holy Graal, was the dish which held the paschal lamb of the Last Supper. Joseph of Arimathea having gone into the house where the Supper had been eaten, took away the dish, and in it received the blood from the wounds of Jesus; and this dish, ‘with part of the blood of our Lord,’ he brought with him into England, and with it converted many heathens; and it was kept in a tower expressly built for it at Corbenicy. The romance of Merlin says that ‘this vessel was brought to this said knight [Joseph of Arimathea] by our Lord Jesu Christ while he was in prison xl. winter, him to comfort,’ but does not mention its earlier history.

When Caxton replied to the ‘noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of England’ who urged him to print the history of Arthur, that many persons held the opinion that there was no such Arthur, ‘one in special’ insisted that this was mere blindness, since Arthur’s sepulchre was to be seen at Glastonbury, Gawaine’s skull at Dover, the Round Table at Winchester, as well as many other relics. And if this noble gentleman had only known it, he might have added that the Holy Grail itself was to be seen in the Cathedral Church of Genoa. There it is still shewn. It is an hexagonal dish, about seventeen inches across, and was long xxsupposed to be a single emerald, which stone it resembles in colour and brilliancy. It is called ‘Sagro Catino,’ with a tradition which makes it to be the Holy Grail we have just described, and with the addition that it was brought to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. It was taken, on the capture of Caesarea, by the Genoese under Guglielmo Embriaco in 1101 A. D. Like the other plunder of Italian cities it was taken to Paris by Napoleon I, and restored after the peace of 1815, but was broken in pieces on the road from careless packing. It is now kept together by a wire frame: and when I saw it in the Cathedral treasury a few years since I was gravely told that it was broken in its return from the Paris ‘Exposition’ of Napoleon III[13].

Influence of the Book on English Letters and Life.
The influence of Sir Thomas Malory’s book upon English literature, and so upon English life, upon our thoughts, morals, and manners, has been great and important. I have spoken of its claims to be considered an Epic poem; but it is not the less true, that it is our first great work of English prose, the first in which the writing of prose was shown to be one of the fine arts for England. Malory’s style is often inartificial: he is not always able to master the huge masses of his materials, and fails to fuse and mould them into a perfect whole. But we must confess the like of Milton, whose grand periods of magnificent English are often followed by others which are confused and cumbrous in form, if not in thought. It has taken many workmen, through many generations, to make our prose writing what it is: but there is an infant beauty in Malory’s style which is full of promise of the perfect manly form that is to be. The passages which I have already quoted are instances of this inartificial beauty of style. The thoughts and images spontaneously utter themselves in words without any attempt at rhetorical balance and arrangement. Thus in the lament of Sir Ector over Sir Launcelot, Malory does not ask himself whether there is a logical connection between courtesy and bearing a shield, or between true friendship and bestriding a horse, as a modern writer would have done, and so brought those sentences into a more finished though more monotonous correspondence with the rest. The flow of feeling is true, direct, and simple, and that is enough. Dr. Sommer, in his notes on the language of ‘Le Morte Darthur,’ points to the indications, in grammar, spelling, and other usages of words, of its transitional place between the language of Chaucer and that of Shakespeare; while Southey says that it was composed in the best possible time for making it what it is: and Mr. J. A. Symonds (whom I am permitted to name) says:—‘The Morte Darthur was written at a lucky moment in our literary history, when the old Saxon fountain of speech was yet xxiundefiled, and when printing had not introduced stereotyped forms or enforced the laws of a too scrupulous grammar; at the same time the language is truly English—rich in French and Latin words, as well as Saxon, and not so archaic as to be grotesque or repulsive[14].

And if in these things Malory was happy in the opportuneness of the times in which he wrote, not less was he so in that he lived in a day in which (as we see from Caxton’s Preface) men could still believe in the marvellous adventures of knight-errantry. A hundred years later, the spirit of chivalry had so departed from the old forms that Spenser could only use them as materials for allegory, while Cervantes, himself full of the old spirit, could only treat the belief in knight-errantry as the fantasy of a crazed though generous mind. But Malory was still able to embody the ideals of chivalry in actual and serious personages, and so to influence the national character and manners of his countrymen in the best way. His book is a possession for all times. The old stock is still putting out new leaves and fruits for ourselves.

The Morality of the Book.
In morals as well as in language (though more obscurely, since the subject of morals is so much more complicated than that of philology), we may find signs of a transition from the times of Chaucer to those of Shakespeare, and of progress no less than transition. The suppression of the Lollards—hated alike by the Church and the feudal lords, the War of the Roses, and the licentiousness of the court and courtiers, must, in the days of Edward IV, in which Malory wrote, have cut the moral and social life of the country down to its roots. Yet even in Malory’s book there are signs of the new moral life which was coming, and which in the days of the Reformation reached a power and expansion never before known. It would be absurd to pretend that Malory had greatly advanced in morality from the position of Chaucer and his age towards that of the Elizabethan period. Roger Ascham, indeed, while admitting that ‘ten Morte Arthurs do not the tenth part so much harm as one of these books made in Italy and translated in England,’ protests against the demoralising effect of the literature of which he takes this book as the example, ‘the whole pleasure of which,’ he says, ‘standeth in two special points—in open manslaughter and bold bawdray. In which book those be counted the noblest knights that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts[15].’ I remember Dante’s story of the sin and doom of Paolo and Francesca—

‘Galeotto fu il libro, e chi lo scrisse’—
and recognise a real though only half truth in Ascham’s strictures. But he greatly over-states the evil, while he altogether omits to recognise the good xxiiin the book. Caxton’s estimate of the moral purport of the whole book, gives not merely the other side, but both sides of the case. Much more than half the ‘open manslaughter’ is done in putting down cruel oppressors and bringing back kingdoms from anarchy to law and good government; and the occasions call forth all the knightly virtues of gentleness, forbearance, and self-sacrifice, as well as those of courage and hardihood. And though it is far from possible to deny the weight of Ascham’s other charge, yet we must not, in forming our estimate of the book, forget the silent yet implied judgment which is passed upon lawless love by its tragic end, nor the ideal presented in the lives of the maiden knights, Sir Galahad and Sir Percivale. For the purpose of a due estimate of Malory’s ‘Morte Darthur,’ we may fairly take Caxton’s Preface as an integral part of the book. The Preface gives the tone, the motive, to the whole book. The morality of ‘Morte Darthur’ is low in one essential thing, and this alike in what it says and in what it omits: and Lord Tennyson shows us how it should be raised. The ideal of marriage, in its relation and its contrast with all other forms of love and chastity, is brought out in every form, rising at last to tragic grandeur, in the Idylls of the King. It is not in celibacy, though spiritual and holy as that of Galahad or Percivale, but in marriage, as the highest and purest realisation of the ideal of human conditions and relations, that we are to rise above the temptations of a love like that of Launcelot or even of Elaine; and Malory’s book does not set this ideal of life before us with any power or clearness. In no age or country has the excellence of marriage, as the highest condition of man’s life, been wholly unknown: but Luther and the Reformation brought it first into the full light of day, when he, a monk, married a nun, and thus in the name of God, declared that the vows of marriage were more sacred and more binding than those of the convent, and that the one might be lawfully set aside by the other. And we know how this ideal of love in marriage is worked out by Shakespeare. With Shakespeare it is marriage which explains, justifies, forgives, glorifies, and blesses every prosperous and happy condition of life, and gives an abiding peace as well as dignity to the closing scenes of his deepest tragedies. Marriage not only sheds its radiance upon the loves of Ferdinand and Miranda, and of Rosalind and Orlando, but on all around them: marriage justifies the boldness of Helena as the love of Elaine, touching as its self-surrender is, cannot do: it secures forgiveness to the weak and foolish Leontes, and even to the worthless Angelo; it is to the husband of Desdemona that we find ourselves constrained to accord the pardon and the sympathy which she herself had given him. And no one will know Hamlet as he is, nor fully understand his tragic destiny, unless he sees what it might have been, as his mother saw it, when she exclaims:—

‘Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;
I thought thy bridal bed to have deck’d, sweet maid,
And not have strew’d thy grave.’
xxiiiBut this is Shakespeare’s Ophelia, not the preposterous misconception of Tieck and Goethe, who should have been warned by Polonius not ‘to cast beyond themselves in their opinions.’

If Morte Arthur does not deserve the unqualified denunciation of the learned Ascham, it cannot be denied that it exhibits a picture of a society far lower than our own in morals, and depicts it with far less repugnance to its evil elements, on the part either of the author or his personages, than any good man would now feel. Still—with the exception of stories like those of the birth of Arthur and Galahad, which show not only another state of manners from our own, but also a really different standard of morals from any which we should now hold up—the writer does for the most part endeavour, though often in but an imperfect and confused manner, to distinguish between vice and virtue, and honestly to reprobate the former; and thus shows that his object is to recognize and support the nobler elements of the social state in which he lived, and to carry them towards new triumphs over the evil. And even where, as in the story of Tristram, there is palliation rather than reprobation of what Sir Walter Scott justly calls ‘the extreme ingratitude and profligacy of the hero,’ still the fact that such palliation, by representing King Mark as the most worthless of men, was thought necessary in the later, though not in the earlier, romance on the same subject, shows an upward progress in morals; while a real effort to distinguish virtue from vice is to be seen in the story of Launcelot, with his sincere though weak struggles against temptation, and his final penitence under the punishment of the woes which his guilt has brought on all dear to him as well as to himself. Or if we look at the picture which Chaucer’s works give us of the co-existence in one mind—and that one of the noblest of its age—of the most virtuous Christian refinement and the most brutish animal coarseness, and then see how in the pages of Malory, inferior as we must hold him to be to Chaucer, the brutish vice has dwindled to half its former size, and is far more clearly seen to be vice, while the virtue, if not more elevated in itself, is more avowedly triumphant over the evil, we find the same upward progress. And I cannot doubt that it was helped on by this book, and that notwithstanding Ascham’s condemnation of Morte Arthur, Caxton was right in believing that he was serving God and his countrymen by printing it; and that he justly estimated its probable effect when he says, ‘Herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, sin. Do after the good, and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renommée…. All is written for our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall not to vice nor sin, but to exercise and follow virtue, by which we may come and attain to good fame and renommé in this life, and after this short and transitory life to come unto everlasting bliss in heaven; the which He grant us that reigneth in heaven, the blessed Trinity. Amen.’

Spenser, Milton, Tennyson.
It can hardly be doubted that Spenser, while drawing largely from Geoffrey of Monmouth, was acquainted with Malory’s story of Arthur, if not with the earlier romances also. We might have known this with certainty, if Spenser had completed his great design which he sketched in his letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, prefixed to the first three books of the Faerie Queene, and after labouring ‘to pourtrait in Arthur before he was king, the image of a brave knight, perfected in the twelve Morall Vertues,’ he might have been ‘perhaps encouraged to frame the other part of Politick Vertues in his person, after that he came to be King.’ He farther identifies his hero as the son of the Lady Igraine, and the infant charge of Merlin, and his description of the Redcross Knight and his claim to the adventure of Una, must forcibly recall Malory’s story of Beaumains and the lady Linet, notwithstanding the differences between the two. Beyond this, there is the evidence of general literary probability. Spenser’s ideals of knighthood and knight-errantry are so much in harmony with those of Malory, while they rise into a far higher moral life, that it does not seem unreasonable to suppose a relation between the two, and to believe that we owe to Malory the transmission from the earlier romances of all that was worth preserving in these to the generation which could give birth to the Faerie Queene.

And while Spenser strove to carry forward the national life of his countrymen by presenting the noblest ideals of chivalry under the old forms of romance, Shakespeare was embodying them in the new forms destined thenceforth to take the place of the old, and showing us in a Ferdinand, a Prince Henry, or a Hamlet, the ideals of the Gentleman, while the Sydneys and the Raleighs were presenting the counterpart in actual life. Ben Jonson, too, though he makes fun of ‘the whole sum of Errant Knighthood’ in his Execration upon Vulcan, elsewhere describes the old training of pages and squires in chivalry, as ‘the noblest way of breeding up our youth in all the blazon of a gentleman.’

Of Milton’s debt to Malory there is no less probability. He no doubt knew the other legends of Arthur, but Malory’s book must surely have had some part in taking that hold on his imagination, and exercising that influence in the formation of his character and life, of which he himself tells us. In his poem addressed to Giovanni Battista Manso, Marquis of Villa, the friend of Tasso, and of himself when he visited Naples, he says:—

‘O mihi si mea sors talem concedat amicum;
Phoebaeos decorasse viros qui tam bene nôrit,
Si quando indigenas revocabo in carmina reges,
Arturumque etiam sub terris bella moventem;
Aut dicam invictae sociali foedere mensae
Magnanimos Heroas, et (O modo spiritus adsit)
Frangam Saxonicas Britonem sub Marte phalanges.’—Mansus 78[16].
The like hope and purpose of writing an Epic poem of British story is to be found in the Epitaphium Damonis. And in his defence of his life in the ‘Apology for Smectymnuus,’ he says:—

‘Next, (for hear me out now, readers), that I may tell ye whither my younger feet wandered; I betook me among those lofty fables and romances, which recount in solemn cantos the deeds of knighthood founded by our victorious kings, and from thence had in renown over all christendom. There I read it in the oath of every knight, that he should defend to the expence of his best blood, or of his life, if it so befel him, the honour and chastity of virgin or matron; from whence even then I learned what a noble virtue chastity sure must be, to the defence of which so many worthies, by such a dear adventure of themselves, had sworn; and if I found in the story afterward, any of them, by word or deed breaking that oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet, as that which is attributed to Homer, to have written indecent things of the gods; only this my mind gave me, that every free and gentle spirit, without that oath, ought to be born a knight, nor needed to expect the gilt spur, or the laying of a sword upon his shoulder to stir him up both by his counsel and his arms, to secure and protect the weakness of any attempted chastity. So that even these books, which to many others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose living; I cannot think how, unless by divine indulgence, proved to me so many incitements, as you have heard, to the love and steadfast observation of virtue.’

In a word, not the fears of Ascham but the hopes of Caxton were now fulfilled in Milton’s study of the old romances.

And though it were idle and mistaken to wish that the poet had finally chosen the Death of Arthur rather than Paradise Lost, the lovers of the story of the Round Table may be forgiven if they wish it were possible to call up him who left untold that story as it would have been seen in the light of his genius.

xxviSuch a transformation has, indeed, been effected for us by Lord Tennyson in his Idylls of the King. He who has been familiar with the old Morte Arthur from his boyhood, must consent to let the poet transport him into a quite new region of the imagination, and must in a manner and for the time forget the old before he can read the Idylls of the King without a somewhat sad feeling that these are not the old knights whom he has always known. I have already likened Malory’s work to a mediæval castle, and, if I may be allowed to vary my parable a little, I would say this: There are some of us who in their childhood lived in, or can at least remember, some old house, with its tower and turret stairs, its hall with the screen, and the minstrel’s gallery, and the armour where it was hung up by him who last wore it: the panelled chambers, the lady’s bower, and the chapel, and all the quaint rambling passages and steps which lead from one to another of these. And when in after years he comes to this same house, and finds that it has all been remodelled, enlarged, furnished and beautified to meet the needs and the tastes of modern life, he feels that this is not the very home of his childhood, and that a glory has departed from the scenes he once knew: and yet, if the changes have been made with true judgment, and only with a rightful recognition of the claim that the modern life should have full scope for itself while preserving all that was possible of the old, though not letting itself be sacrificed or even cramped and limited, for its sake: if he is thus reasonable, he will acknowledge that it was well that the old order should yield place to the new, or at least make room for it at its side. And such are the thoughts and sentiments with which the lover of the old Morte Arthur will, if he be also a student of the growth of our national character and life, read the new Idylls of the King.

Sir Thomas Malory.
Of Sir Thomas Malory himself we know nothing more than can be inferred by probable conjecture from his book. His name occurs in it three times, and with the three variations of Malorye, Malory, and Maleore. These variations are not singular, for the spelling of proper as well as of common names was very much at the fancy of the writer; and we know that Shakespeare, Marvell, and Pym, wrote their own names in various forms. Sir Thomas Malory tells us that his book was ended in the ninth year of the reign of Edward IV, or 1470 A.D.; and at that time there was an old and important Yorkshire family of the name at Hutton Coniers and High Studley, near Ripon; for Leland, early in the next century, speaks of the ancestors of Malory[17], and in 1427 and 1472 the death or burial of two persons of xxviithe same name is recorded at Ripon[18]. Andrew Mallorie of Middlesex armiger is among the contributors to the funds for defence against the Spanish Armada (1588)[19]. At the beginning of the seventeenth century we find Sir John Mallory of Studley, and son of Sir William Mallory, M.P. for Thirsk and Ripon, and a subscriber to the second Virginia Charter[20]: in 1622 Burton speaks of the pedigree, arms, and lands of Sir Thomas Malory in Kirby-Malory, Winwick, Newbould, and Swinford in Leicestershire[21]; and about the same time two scholars of the name were elected to Winchester College[22]; and reasonable conjecture may connect our author with these Malorys, although no links of actual pedigree have been found.

The Biographia Britannica (article ‘Caxton’) says:—

‘If this Sir Thomas Malory was a Welshman, as Leland and others after him assert, he was probably a Welsh Priest; as appears not only by the legendary vein which runs through all the stories he has thus extracted and wove together, but by his conclusion of the work itself, in these words: “Pray for me, whyle I am on lyve, that God sende me good delyveraunce; and when I am deed, I praye you all, praye for my soule; for this booke was ended the 9th yeer of the reygne of Kyng Edward the Fourth, by Syr Thomas Maleore, Knyght, as Jesu helpe him for his grete myght, as he is the servaunte of Jesu, bothe day and nyght.”’

But no references are given as to where this supposed assertion by ‘Leland and others’ is to be found; in fact, it is not to be found in any of Leland’s writings. And the origin of the statement remained an unexplained puzzle, until Dr. Sommer has now apparently discovered the key to it in a passage which he quotes from Bale’s Illustrium Maioris Britanniæ Scriptorum, &c., first edition, folio 208. In this passage, Bale, after praising Thomas Mailorius and his history of King Arthur, goes on to say, ‘Est Mailoria in finibus Cambriæ regio,’ on the authority of Leland[23]. I have not myself verified these references, but I infer from what Dr. Sommer tells us, that Bale, perhaps writing from an imperfect recollection, supposed that he had the authority of Leland for a connection between Mailorius, and the Welsh place of the like name: and then the writer of the Biographia Britannica, still more inaccurately, converted the possible suggestion of Bale into the direct statement that Leland had asserted Malory to be a Welshman, while Bale himself is referred to as ‘the others.’ Nor is there any reason to suppose from Malory’s own book that he was a Welshman. Though Caxton tells us that there were books in Welsh about Arthur and his Knights, Malory never xxviiiquotes any but the French and English books. He shows no acquaintance with Welsh legends or traditions, unless it be with those in Geoffrey of Monmouth, who wrote in Latin, nor of any local knowledge of Welsh places. Then as to the fanciful and inconsequent conjecture that he was a priest, he himself tells us that he was a knight, and thus implies that he was not a priest, while the words that ‘he is the servant of Jesu by day and by night,’ which suggested the notion that he was a priest, are evidently put into that form in order to give a rhythmical ending to the book. Nor did the priest’s usual title of ‘Sir’ make him a knight. What we may say of Sir Thomas Malory is that he was probably of an old English family: that he was a knight both in rank and in temper and spirit, and a lover alike of the gentle and the soldierly virtues of knighthood. He was a man of genius, and a devout Christian: he wrote for gentlewomen as well as gentlemen, believing that they would read his book ‘from the beginning to the ending,’ and that it would call forth in them a sympathy which would properly express itself in prayers for the pious writer.

William Caxton.
Of William Caxton we know more. A native of Kent, he became an apprentice, freeman, and livery man of the London Guild of Mercers, and was for many years resident in the English factory at Bruges, which was under their chief authority, though it represented and controlled all English trading interests in the Low Countries. Such factories were the usual, and indeed essential means of carrying on trade with foreign nations in the Middle Ages. Thus charters were granted by Henry IV and his successors to ‘Merchant Adventurers’ trading in Flanders, which, in giving them a corporate character, enabled them to treat with the authorities of the country more effectually than would have been possible to private individuals, and also to exercise needful control over, and give protection to, their own countrymen in the place. Though these Merchant Adventurers included many of the City Guilds, the majority were Mercers, and the factory at Bruges, while called ‘the English Nation,’ and its house ‘the English House,’ was practically under the management of the London Mercers’ Guild. Mr. Blades has given an engraving from Flandria Illustrata of the ‘Domus Anglorum’ at Bruges as it was in Caxton’s time; and he thus describes the mode of life of its inhabitants:—

‘A great similarity prevailed in the internal management of all foreign guilds, arising from the fact that foreigners were regarded by the natives with jealousy and suspicion. The laws which governed the Esterlings in London, who lived in a strongly-built enclosure, called the Steel Yard, the site of which is now occupied by the City station of the South Eastern Railway Company, were much the same as those under which the English Nation lived in Bruges and other cities. The foreign merchant had, in Caxton’s time, to brave a large amount of popular dislike, and to put up with great restraints on his liberty. Not only did he trade under harassing restrictions, but he resigned all hopes of domestic ties and family life. As in a monastery, each member had his own dormitory, xxixwhilst at meal-times there was a common table. Marriage was out of the question, and concubinage was followed by expulsion. Every member was bound to sleep in the house, and to be in-doors by a fixed time in the evening, and for the sake of good order no woman of any description was allowed within the walls[24].’

To this house of the English in Bruges Caxton went to live in the year 1441, being then probably about twenty years of age. In 1462 he was acting as ‘Governor of the English Nation in the Low Countries,’ and certainly in full possession of that office and title two or three years later. And in 1465 he was appointed by Edward IV one of two envoys with the title of Ambassadors, to negociate a renewal of the existing treaty of trade with the Duke of Burgundy. We do not know at what time he began to combine his literary studies or his acquaintance with the new art of printing with the prosecution of his official duties: but he tells us that in 1471, at the request of Margaret, sister of Edward IV and wife of the Duke of Burgundy, he completed his translation of the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye which he had begun, but laid aside unfinished some time before. And then, in order to meet the desire of many friends to have copies of this translation, he printed such copies for their use.

He was now in the service of Margaret, and married; and about the year 1476, after thirty-five years’ residence abroad, he returned to England, there to introduce the Printing Press, and to make himself famous to all ages by so doing. Caxton was not only a printer, but a translator, an editor, and the publisher of the books which he printed in unfailing succession, during the remaining fifteen years of his life. He was the first of that honourable order of publishers who from his day to our own still share with authors the gratitude of men for that inestimable boon, the Printed Book. There are still publishers among us who, like Caxton, are themselves authors and editors of no unimportant ability: and not only to them, but also to those who aspire only to be the publishers of other men’s books, do we owe—what even the art of printing could have done little towards giving us—that broad spreading[25] of knowledge which has become to us like the common light of day in which we live and move, only half conscious of its blessings. Mr. Blades justly defends Caxton against Gibbon’s censure of him because he did not print the ancient classics. He did far better. He printed and published translations from those classics for men who could not read the originals; and it was surely no loss, but the greatest gain, to Englishmen that he enabled them to read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the Polychronicon of English History (which latter he xxxcarried down to his own time) rather than if he had printed Virgil and Livy in the original Latin. He laid the foundations of popular English literature in the best possible way. He taught his countrymen to read, by giving them a large and judiciously selected succession, year by year, of books which they could and would read. He gave them books of piety and devotion, poetry and history, of chivalry and romance, of morals and manners, including his own translations of Cicero’s Old Age and Friendship; of proverbs, fables, and classical legends; of statutes of the realm; and the Game of Chess, an allegory of civil government. We cannot read down the list of ninety-nine books, including several second and third editions, which Caxton printed, without wonder and respect for the genius and the judgment of the man whose choice of subjects was so wide, so high-minded, moral, religious, and generous, and at the same time so popular. He was indeed, in all senses, the first of English publishers. He died in 1491, occupied (as his chief workman and successor, Wynkyn de Worde, tells us) on the last day of his life in finishing his translation of the Lives of the Fathers from the French. Mr. Blades conjectures, with apparent probability, that his wife was the Mawde Caxton whose burial is recorded in the parish books of St. Margaret’s in 1489, and he adds:—

‘If so, it will explain, in a most interesting manner, the reason why he in that year suspended printing the Fayts of Arms until he had finished a new undertaking, The Arte and Crafte to Die Well.’

The operation of the silent but never-failing laws which govern the growth and progress of our national life, seems to be sustained and directed in certain epochs of our history by great men who have yet themselves been made what they are by those very laws. Among such laws are the ideals of chivalry in its twofold aspect of self-sacrifice and of self-assertion. And not least among the men who have given to the spirit of chivalry its special English forms in which the sense of duty and zeal in the redress of wrongs are characteristic, stand Sir Thomas Malory and William Caxton.

§2. The Text, and its several Editions.
The first edition of Le Morte Darthur was printed by Caxton at Westminster in 1485, as he tells us in the colophon. Two copies only are known: they are folio, black letter, with wide margin, and among the finest specimens of Caxton’s printing. One belongs to Mrs. Abby E. Pope, of Brooklyn, United States, by whom it was bought for £1950 at the sale of the Osterley library in 1885[26]; and the other to Earl Spencer. The Osterley copy, which is perfect, has the autograph ‘Oxford’ on the first leaf; it was sold with the Harleian Library to Osborne the bookseller, and apparently bought of him for £5 5s. by Bryan Fairfax, who sold his library to Mr. Child, maternal ancestor of the Earl of Jersey[27]. The Althorp copy, which was bought at Mr. Lloyd’s sale in 1816 for £320, had eleven leaves deficient; but these were supplied by Mr. Whittaker in fac-simile from the Osterley copy with remarkable skill[28], though on collation with the original I have found many mistakes. This edition, like all Caxton’s books but one, has no title-page; the Prohem or Preface begins at the top of the first page[29].

The two next editions of Morte Arthur were printed by Wynkyn de Worde, the chief workman and successor of Caxton, in 1498 and 1529. Only one copy of each is known. That of 1498 is in the Althorp Library: it wants some pages, but contains the Preface, which is a reprint of that of Caxton, though it here follows instead of preceding the Table of Contents. This edition, which has numerous xxxiiwoodcuts, is not an exact reprint of Caxton’s; there are differences of spelling and occasionally of a word; and the passage in the last chapter but one, beginning ‘Oh ye mighty and pompous lords,’ and ending with ‘turn again to my matter,’ which is not in Caxton’s edition, appears here, as in all later editions[30]. The edition of 1529 is in the British Museum, and wants the Title, Preface, and part of the Table of Contents.

In 1557 the book was reprinted by William Copland, with the title of ‘The story of the most noble and worthy kynge Arthur, the whiche was one of the worthyes chrysten, and also of his noble and valiaūte knyghtes of the rounde Table. Newly imprynted and corrected mccccclvij. ¶ Imprynted at London by Wyllyam Copland.’ And on the title-page, above the last line, is a woodcut of St. George and the Dragon, of which that on the title-page of Southey’s edition is a bad copy. A copy of this edition is in the British Museum, with a note that this is the only one with a title which the annotator has seen.

A folio and a quarto edition were published by Thomas East, without date, but probably about 1585, the former of which is in the British Museum.

The next, and last black-letter, edition is that of William Stansby, in 1634, which has been reprinted by Mr. Wright, and which contains the woodcut of the Round Table with Arthur in the middle and his knights around, a copy of which is familiar to many of us in one of the small editions of 1816. From the fact of an omission in this edition which exactly corresponds with a complete leaf in East’s folio, Mr. Wright concludes that the one was printed from the other. Each succeeding edition departs more than the previous one from the original of Caxton; but if we compare this of 1634 with Caxton’s, we find the variations almost infinite. Besides remodelling the preface, dividing the book into three parts, and modernising the spelling and many of the words, there are a number of more or less considerable variations and additions, of which Mr. Wright has given some of the more important in his notes, but which I estimate at above twenty thousand in the whole; and which have probably arisen in the minor instances from the printer reading a sentence and then printing it from recollection, without farther reference to his ‘copy,’ but in the others from a desire to improve the original simplicity by what the editor calls ‘a more eloquent and ornated style and phrase.’

No new edition seems to have been published till 1816, when two independent editions appeared, one in two, and the other in three 24mo volumes. Both are modernised for popular use, and are probably the volumes through which most of my own generation made their first acquaintance with King Arthur and his knights; but neither has any merit as to its editing.

In 1817 Messrs. Longmans and Co. published an edition in two volumes quarto, xxxiiiwith an introduction and notes by Southey, who says,’The present edition is a reprint with scrupulous exactness from the first edition by Caxton, in Earl Spencer’s library[31].’ As it appears from a note[32] that he had nothing to do with the superintendence of the press, which was undertaken by Mr. Upcott, he was probably unaware that eleven leaves were, as I have mentioned above, then wanting in the copy from which this reprint was made. These had not then been restored in fac-simile; for Earl Spencer’s copy contains a note, signed by Messrs. Longmans and dated 1816, which gives a list of the pages then wanting; and, in fact, the substitutes for them which actually appear in Southey’s edition differ widely from the restored, or the original, text. Thus in chapter xii. of the last book, besides the interpolation of the long passage ‘O ye myghty and pompous lordes,’ &c., which is not in Caxton, there are in the first eleven lines thirty-five variations of spelling and punctuation, besides the introduction of the words ‘but continually mourned un—’ and ‘needfully as nature required,’ which are not in Caxton, and the change of Caxton’s ‘on the tombe of kyng Arthur & quene Guenever’ into ‘on kynge Arthur’s & quene Gwenever’s tombe.’ And thus throughout the pages in question—seventeen in number[33]—the spelling constantly, and words and even sentences occasionally, differ from the real text of Caxton[34].

When at page 113 of volume i. the editor introduces the words ‘certayne cause’ to complete the sense, he is careful to call attention, in a foot-note, to the fact that these words are not in the original, but taken from the ‘second edition,’ by which I presume he means that of 1498. But when he subsequently supplies seventeen pages which were also not in his original, he gives no hint of the fact; and his reticence was so successful that for fifty years the interpolations passed as genuine among learned critics, who quoted from them passages wholly spurious as Caxton’s genuine text. It was only in 1867 that, in collating Earl Spencer’s copy with the edition of Southey, I discovered that these passages—to which my attention was directed by Messrs. Longman’s note above mentioned—did not correspond with Caxton’s text, as represented by Whittaker’s restorations: and on afterwards collating them with the Osterley text itself I found the like result. It remained to trace them to their real sources. This was not so easy as might be supposed, for though it was evident that Mr. Upcott must have had recourse to one or other of the existing editions, the interpolated passages in fact agree exactly with none of them. But a careful collation of the last four chapters of the book (which include more than half the interpolations, and may be taken as a fair specimen of the whole) with the old texts, leaves no doubt that, with the exception of the first xxxivthirty-six lines of chapter x, they were taken, like the two words mentioned above, from the first edition of Wynkyn de Worde, but with the spelling occasionally altered, and here and there a small word put in, left out, or changed. These alterations throw an ingenious disguise over the whole; but if we penetrate through this we find that in these four chapters there are only thirteen words differing from those in Wynkyn de Worde’s first edition, and these unimportant; while in his second edition, and in those of Copland and East, the variations from Mr. Upcott’s text of the same chapters are respectively fifty-seven, fifty-six, and fifty in number, and many of them important in kind: and if we go to the edition of 1634 we find the differences still greater, except as to those thirty-six lines, which are supplied from this edition, as they were wanting in the other copy. But the colophon, or concluding paragraph of the book, Mr. Upcott could not take from any of the editions which followed that of Caxton; for though Wynkyn de Worde might, and in fact did, supply at least one or two of the first words, the latter part of his colophon relates to his own edition, and departs widely from that of Caxton, while those in the later editions are still more unlike; and yet Mr. Upcott’s colophon is a tolerable, though not an exact, representation of that of Caxton. But his other materials can be ascertained beyond a doubt. They are, the colophon as given by Ames, and repeated by Dibdin in a modernised and otherwise inexact form[35], and that which first appeared in the Catalogue of the Harleian Library[36], and was thence copied in the article on Caxton in the Biographia Britannica, and also in Herbert’s Additions to Ames. The colophons of Ames and of the Harleian Catalogue have important variations from each other and from that of Caxton; and as Mr. Upcott adopts some portions of each which are not found either in the other, or in Caxton, we see the manner in which the paragraph in question was compounded. Each stone of the ingeniously fitted mosaic may be referred to the place from which it was taken. We cannot indeed choose positively between Ames and Dibdin, or among the Harleian Catalogue, the Biographia, and Herbert; but as the two paragraphs which are required in addition to that of Wynkyn de Worde are both found in Herbert’s Ames, it seems most probable that Mr. Upcott had recourse to that work, though another combination would have served the purpose equally well. That the interpolated passages are not taken from the Osterley Caxton itself, even in the roughest and most careless manner, is quite evident[37].

In 1858 and 1866 Mr. Wright published successive editions reprinted from that of 1634. His learned introduction and notes are of considerable interest; but nothing can justify the reprinting the most corrupt of all the old editions when the first and best was within reach, though perhaps at greater cost.

xxxvIn 1868 was published the first edition of the present volume, with the purpose of giving the original text in a form available for ordinary readers, and especially for boys, from whom the chief demand for this book will always come. It is a reprint of the original Caxton with the spelling modernised, and those few words which are unintelligibly obsolete replaced by others which, though not necessarily unknown to Caxton, are still in use, yet with all old forms retained which do not interfere with this requirement of being readable. For when, as indeed is oftenest the case, the context makes even an obsolete phrase probably, if not precisely, known, I have left it in the text, and given its meaning in the Glossary, in which I have chiefly followed Roquefort, Halliwell, and Wright. In the Glossary I have also added a few geographical notes for those readers who may care for them. And for the like reason—of making the book readable—such phrases or passages as are not in accordance with modern manners have been also omitted or replaced by others which either actually occur or might have occurred in Caxton’s text elsewhere. I say manners, not morals, because I do not profess to have remedied the moral defects of the book which I have already spoken of. Lord Tennyson has shown us how we may deal best with this matter, in so far as Sir Thomas Malory has himself failed to treat it rightly; and I do not believe that when we have excluded what is offensive to modern manners there will be found anything practically injurious to the morals of English boys, for whom I have chiefly undertaken this work, while there is much of moral worth which I know not where they can learn so well as from the ideals of magnanimity, courage, courtesy, reverence for women, gentleness, self-sacrifice, chastity, and other manly virtues, exhibited in these pages.

The omissions, not many, nor in any sense constituting an abridgment of the original, were thought desirable to fit the book for popular reading. And if any one blames the other departures from the exact form of that original, I would ask him to judge from the specimens of the old type and spelling which I have given at the end of each book, and of the volume, whether a literal and verbal reproduction of the whole would not be simply unreadable except by students of old English[38]. And if some departure from the original was necessary, it was reasonable to carry it so far as, though no farther than, my purpose required. And, subject to these conditions, the present volume is in fact a more accurate reproduction of Caxton’s text than any other except those of Southey and Dr. Sommer. I have, indeed, made use of Southey’s text for this edition, having satisfied myself by occasional collation with the Althorp and Osterley Caxtons that it is a sufficiently accurate reprint excepting as to the passages above mentioned; and these have been taken by me from the original in the way I have said.

xxxviIn 1862, 1868, 1871, 1880, abridgments of Malory’s book were edited by J. T. King, E. Conybeare, B. M. Ranking, and S. Lanier, respectively. And in 1886 Mr. Ernest Rhys edited a reprint of fourteen of the twenty-one books, from the version of Mr. Wright, with further modernisations and an introduction.

In 1889, 1890, and 1891, Dr. H. Oskar Sommer edited, and Mr. Nutt published, in three volumes, what will henceforth be the best, if not quite the best possible, edition of Caxton’s original text, for the scholar and the student. It would be hard to over-rate the industry, the learning, and the munificent public spirit of these worthy representatives of Sir Thomas Malory and William Caxton. The first volume gives the text of the Althorp copy, page for page, line for line, word for word, and letter for letter, with no change but that of Roman for black letter type. It is, indeed, too scrupulously exact, for it reproduces the mistakes in Whittaker’s fac-simile pages which now form part of the Althorp copy, only correcting these by collations with the Osterley original, given in the second volume. Whittaker has no more authority than any other mere copyist; and the direct correction of his mistakes would have made Dr. Sommer’s reprint a perfect representation of the original while making a reprint of the collations unnecessary. Besides these collations, and others of the second edition of Wynkyn de Worde with the text of Caxton, Dr. Sommer’s second volume contains a complete bibliography of the original text and all its after editions; an Index of names of persons and places; a Glossary, or indeed dictionary, of words, whether obsolete or still in use; and an Essay on the language of the book.

In the third volume, after a graceful essay by Mr. Andrew Lang on the literary merits of Malory, Dr. Sommer gives us a series—an original and very important series—of ‘Studies on the Sources’; and he prints from MSS. in the British Museum the only two of those ‘sources’ which had not been so made accessible already, either by ancient or modern editors. Into this hitherto chaotic mass of mediæval romances, French and English, prose or verse, Dr. Sommer has now first brought light and order. With an almost inconceivable amount of thoughtful and learned labour, he has collated the various manuscripts with the printed editions and with Malory’s book, in a detail which, great as it is, represents, as he tells us, a still more minute investigation of which he only gives the main results. With the exception of the story of Beaumains, which is an enlarged narration of that of La Cote Male Taile, and subject to the changes made by Malory’s own genius, all the adventures and incidents of Malory’s Morte Darthur are now shown to be found in one or more of these ‘sources,’ often translated literally from French, or transferred word for word from the English, yet still oftener so compressed and fused into a new shape that the finished work is but a tenth of the bulk of the original matter. Dr. Sommer arranges these sources into the four groups of the Merlin, the Lancelot, the Tristan, and the Prophecies of Merlin, and shows the relations of each group to the corresponding portions of Malory. He thinks, with M. Gaston Paris, that Malory had a now lost form of the ‘Lancelot,’ comparable to the ‘Suite de xxxviiMerlin’ discovered only fifteen years since; and indeed believes that he has found some pages of this missing ‘Lancelot’ imbedded in a ‘Tristan’ MS. in the British Museum. But the work of this learned critic must be studied in itself, not in a summary. Of the light which these investigations throw upon the genius of Malory, and on the character of his art, I have already spoken.

There is no title-page, as I have already mentioned, to the Caxton, that which is given by several bibliographers being only an extract, not very critically selected, from Caxton’s preface. But it is stated in Caxton’s colophon that the book was ‘entytled le morte Darthur,’ and he explains that it was so ‘entitled’ notwithstanding it treated of Arthur’s birth, life, and acts as well as death, and also of the adventures of his knights of the Round Table. And the concluding words of Malory, ‘Here is the end of the death of Arthur,’ taken with their context, point to the same title. It was indeed before Malory’s time, and has been ever since, the traditional title of this story. We have Mort Artus and Morte Arthure in the earlier times; Ascham, in Henry VIII’s reign, calls this book La Morte d’Arthure; Tyrwhitt, Mort d’Arthur; and Walter Scott and Southey, Morte Arthur, which last probably many of us are familiar with as the old name which we heard from our own fathers.

§3. An Essay on Chivalry.
St. Augustine replied to the enquiry, What is time? by saying, ‘I know when you do not ask me:’ and a like answer suggests itself to us if we try to find an adequate reply to the question, What is Chivalry? For chivalry is one of those words, like love, duty, patriotism, loyalty, which make us feel their meaning, and the reality of what they mean, though their ideal and comprehensive character hinders us from readily putting it into the forms of a definition. When the alchemist in the Eastern tale compounds, with all the resources of his art, the universal solvent before the expectant eyes of his pupil, the pupil, seeing the mysterious fluid lie quietly in the crucible, exclaims, with not unreasonable doubt, ‘O Sage, be not deceived: how can that which dissolves all things be itself contained in a ladle?’ And how shall chivalry, sparkling and flashing everywhere as it runs through that great complicated tissue of human life which we call modern civilisation,—how shall chivalry, the humaniser of society, be brought within the limits of a definition?

Chivalry, indeed, exists for us in spirit rather than in outward and visible form. It no longer comes to us with the outward symbols of war-horse, and armour, and noble birth, and strength of arm, and high-flown protestations of love and gallantry; yet we never fail to know and feel its presence, silent and unobtrusive as it now is: we recognise the lady and the gentleman not less surely now than they did in old times; and we acknowledge their rights and their power over us now no less than then. And if the spirit of chivalry does live among us still, we may read its past history by its present light, and say in Spenser’s words,—

‘By infusion sweete
Of thine own spirit which doth in me survive,
I follow still the footing of thy feete,
That with thy meaning so I may the rather meete.’
Let us then look back to those times when chivalry had an outward, visible form, and was embodied in its own proper institutions, with orders, and statutes, and courts of its own jurisdiction, and rituals, and customs, like those of other great social institutions and members of the body politic.

The deluge of the Teutonic nations which broke up the old Roman civilisation threatened for some centuries to overwhelm Europe with mere barbarism. We know now that the germs of a far higher and better civilisation were everywhere ready to burst into life as soon as the fury of that deluge had spent itself; but for a long period the evil seemed mightier than the good. From time to time the xxxixclear head, the noble heart and conscience, and the strong arm of an Alfred, a Charlemagne, or an Otho, might bring a temporary calm and order into the storm; but when the personal influences of such great men were withdrawn, society relapsed again and again into ever new anarchy, and war—at once the effect and the cause of anarchy—savage, cruel war became the business of all men throughout Europe. The selfish, the rapacious, and the unscrupulous fought for power, and plunder, and love of fighting; and while violence could only be resisted by violence, and each man had to defend himself, his family, and his possessions as best he could, with no effectual aid from law and government, there was a constant tendency to increasing barbarism and brutish, or worse than brutish, instead of human, existence.

But man differs from the brutes in this, that while he can fall lower than they, he can also rise higher, and that even the passions and the impulses which he has in common with them may be subdued, and refined, and modified, till they become the servants and instruments of his human life, and the means by which all that is properly spiritual in his being may be reflected and symbolised upon this earth in outward, visible form. The nobler races of men—the historical races, as they have been called—constantly show this aptitude for contending with these downward tendencies of our nature, and for advancing, through the conquest of them, to new and higher life.

And so it was in the Middle Ages. The Church was, no doubt, the great civiliser of the nations: still, whatever aid the State derived from the Church, it then, no less than now, had a position and processes of its own, by which it did its own work of civilisation too. And its first great work for controlling the universal anarchy of which I have spoken was the extension and firm establishment of that half-patriarchal, half-military organisation which we call the Feudal System. Every man who was not rich and powerful enough to be a lord became—willingly or unwillingly—a vassal; and all men, from the king downwards, were bound to each other for reciprocal service and protection—a service and protection partly military, but partly patriarchal, since they were rendered not by men strangers to each other except for what Mr. Carlyle calls ‘the nexus of cash payment,’ but united by ties of family, and neighbourhood, and clanship, and by the interests and sympathies that grow out of these. But the protector of his own vassals easily became the invader of the rights and ravager of the possessions of his neighbour and his vassals; and so the old evils of anarchy and violence grew afresh out of the remedy which had been devised to meet them. The ‘monarchies sank into impotence; petty, lawless tyrants trampled all social order under foot,’ says a learned historian of this period, ‘and all attempts after scientific instruction and artistic pleasures were as effectually crushed by this state of general insecurity as the external well-being and material life of the people. This was a dark and stormy period for Europe, merciless, arbitrary, and violent. It is a sign of the prevailing feeling of misery and hopelessness that, when the first thousand years of our æra were drawing to their close, the people in every country in Europe xllooked with certainty for the destruction of the world. Some squandered their wealth in riotous living, others bestowed it for the good of their souls on churches and convents; weeping multitudes lay day and night around the altars; some looked forward with dread, but most with secret hope, towards the burning of the earth and the falling in of heaven. Their actual condition was so miserable that the idea of destruction was relief, spite of all its horrors[39].’

The palliatives with which men tried to meet the evils of the times indicate the greatness of the evils, but also the moral feeling which was the promise of better things. Such was the so-called ‘Peace of the King,’ by which private wars were not to be entered on till forty days after the committal of the alleged crime which was to be avenged; and the ‘Truce of God,’ by which all these acts of private hostility were suspended from Thursday to Monday in each week. And at the Council of Cleremont, held by Urban II in November, 1095, a severe censure was pronounced against the licence of private war; the Truce of God was confirmed; women and priests were placed under the safeguard of the Church; and a protection of three years was extended to husbandmen and merchants, the defenceless victims of military rapine. We are reminded of the law of Moses, which provided Cities of Refuge for the man who accidentally and without malice killed his neighbour, but who could not look for protection from the vengeance of the family of the slain man except within those special safeguards. In each case there is the same unreasoning rage of the half-civilised man brought face to face with the demands of religion and civil law: and each is obliged to yield something to the other till the better cause has had time to prepare and strengthen itself for a more complete triumph.

Chivalry, then, was the offspring of the same spirit which dictated the Peace of the King, the Truce of God, and the decrees of the Council of Cleremont. Chivalry has another name—Knighthood—and the two are wanted to express all that we mean by either[40]. The chevalier was the soldier who rode the war-horse: he whose birth entitled him, and whose wealth gave him the means, to ride at the head of his vassals and retainers to the war: all ideas of lordship, and mastery, and outward dignity and power, are here embodied before us. But this ‘chevalier,’ this ‘ritter,’ or rider of the war-horse, was also to be a ‘knecht,’ or servant: ‘He that will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ The knight was to obey, no less than to command; he was to exert his strength and power, not for selfish ends, but in the service of others; and especially in the service of the poor, the weak, and the oppressed, who could not help or defend themselves. It was, indeed, no new discovery in the world, that such are the duties of him who possesses power, and above all the power of the sword; and they who have tried to trace the origin of chivalry to some particular place and time have had to go to the Germans of xliTacitus, to the Crusaders, to the Saracens, to the Romans, the Greeks, the Trojans, the Hebrews, only to come to the conclusion that chivalry belongs in its spirit to man as man; though the form in which that spirit was clothed in Europe in the Middle Ages has an individuality of which some of the sources may be ascertained, and though from that time forward its power has been established, and extended, in a manner, and with a greatness unknown to the ancients.

In those days society was essentially military. In this our own time the main offices, interests, and occupations of the great body politic are non-military, and the army is but a small portion of the nation, specially trained for a minor, though indispensable, function therein. Peace, for its own sake, and for the sake of the objects which can only be obtained by the arts and with the opportunities of peace, is the end and aim of every civilised nation now; and war is only an occasional means to secure that end. But in the Middle Ages war was, or seemed to be, the chief end of life to the greater part of every nation, and especially to all who possessed rank, and wealth, and power, and were in fact the leaders of the nation. And therefore chivalry, the spirit which was to humanise those warriors, needed to be warlike too, and thus to sympathise with those to whom it addressed itself.

Much, too, of its special form it no doubt owed to that wonderful race of heroes, the Normans. The romantic love of adventure; the religious and the martial enthusiasm; the desire to revenge injuries, and to win wealth and power; the delight in arms and horses, in the luxury of dress, and in the exercises of hunting and hawking; the eloquence and sagacity in council; the patience with which when need was they could endure the inclemency of every climate, and the toil and abstinence of a military life; and the gentleness, the affability and the gallantry, which were the characteristics of the Norman race; these must have been more or less impressed on men’s minds wherever the Norman sway or influence extended, from England to Sicily, and must have reproduced something of themselves in the social habits and manners of the times. When we read the description of William of the Iron Arm, the first Norman count of Apulia, so strong, so brave, so affable, so generous, and so sage above other men—a lion in battle, a lamb in society, and an angel in council—we are reminded of the heroes of chivalry in the days of its greatest refinement, the Black Prince, Sir John Chandos, and Sir Walter of Manny, as they still live in the pages of Froissart; or their counterparts in romance, King Arthur, Sir Launcelot, Amadis of Gaul, or Palmerin of England.

The Normans, the latest of the Northern races who descended, full of wild life, from their mountains and forests, upon the comparatively civilised plains of Europe, may have brought a newer and fresher feeling for those old manners and customs which Tacitus describes as characterising the Germans of his time, and which are with so much probability connected with the chivalry of the Middle Ages. In ancient Germany, and in Scandinavia, it was the custom for each youth, when he was of an age to bear arms, to be presented with a sword, a shield, and a lance, by his father, or some near relation, in an assembly of the chiefs of the nation; and xliifrom that time he became a member of the commonwealth, and ranked as a citizen. He then entered the train of some chief, of whom he and his brother youths became the followers and companions, forming one brotherhood, though not without ranks and degrees, while a generous spirit of equality ran through all.

In ancient Germany, too, women were held in a peculiar reverence, beyond what was known in the other—and otherwise more civilized—nations of antiquity; and the presence of women in the hour of battle with their husbands, brothers, and fathers, was regarded by those warriors as an incentive to courage, and a pledge of victory, which (as they boasted) their Roman foes were unable to appeal to for themselves. And this old Teutonic reverence for women conspired with the new Christian reverence for the Virgin Mary as the type and representative at once of her sex and of the Church, to supply the purer and nobler elements of the gallantry which forms so large a part, not only of the romance, but of the actual history, of chivalry.

But Christianity exercised not only an indirect, but also a direct and avowed action upon the forms of chivalry, as they attained to their full proportions. Knighthood was certainly a feature and distinction of society before the days of Charlemagne, who in permitting the governor of Friesland to make knights by girding them with a sword, and giving them a blow, adds ‘as is the custom.’ But no ritual of the Church as yet consecrated that custom. Charlemagne girt the sword on his son Louis the Good without religious ceremonies; and a century later the Saxon king of England, Edward the Elder, clothed Athelstan in a soldier’s dress of scarlet, and girded him with a girdle ornamented with precious stones and a sword with sheath of gold, but without religious rites. But in the next century, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, we read that Hereward, a noble Anglo-Saxon youth, was knighted by the Abbot of Peterborough, with confession, absolution, and prayer that he might be a true knight. And this the historian describes as the custom of the English, as indeed it was, or soon became, that of all Europe; the Normans resisting the innovation longest, but at last adopting it with their wonted ardour. The candidate for knighthood confessed his sins on the eve of his consecration (for such it now was), and passed the night in prayer and fasting in the church: the godfathers, the bath, the white garment, and the tonsure (sometimes limited indeed to a single lock) were the symbols of the new and holy state of life to which he was now called: next morning he heard mass, offered his sword on the altar, where it was blessed by the priest; and he was created a knight—either by the priest of highest rank present, or by some knight, who, in virtue of his knighthood, was qualified to confer the sacred office he had himself received—in the name of God, of St. George, and of Saint Michael the Archangel. He swore, and received the holy communion in confirmation of his oath, to fulfil the duties of his profession; to speak the truth; to maintain the right; to protect women, the poor, and the distressed; to practise courtesy; to pursue the infidels; to despise the allurements of ease and safety, and to maintain his honour in every perilous adventure. xliiiAnd the Council of Cleremont, of which I have already spoken—as if in order to give the sanction of the Church in a still more formal and comprehensive manner to the whole system of chivalry—decreed that every person of noble birth, on attaining the age of twelve years, should take a solemn oath before the bishop of his diocese to defend to the uttermost the oppressed, the widow, and the orphans; that women of noble birth, both married and single, should enjoy his especial care; and that nothing should be wanting in him to render travelling safe, and to destroy tyranny.

Thus, as has been justly observed, all the humanities of chivalry were sanctioned by legal and ecclesiastical power: it was intended that they should be spread over the whole face of Christendom, in order to check the barbarism and ferocity of the times. While the form of chivalry was martial, its objects became to a great extent religious and social: from a mere military array chivalry obtained the name of the Order, the Holy Order, and a character of seriousness and solemnity was given to it; and it was accounted an honourable office above all offices, orders, and acts of the world, except the order of priesthood.

The education for knighthood usually began at a still earlier age than that mentioned in the Canons of Cleremont. The castles of the princes and nobles were the schools of those days, at least for the youth of their own class. Every feudal lord had his court, to which he drew the sons and daughters of the poorer gentry of his domains; and if he were a knight distinguished for his merits, his castle was also frequented by the children of men of equal rank and reputation with himself: for the prudent and careful father would often have some brother in arms whom he thought better fitted than himself to educate his children in the accomplishments and duties of his station. So, long after, Ben Jonson, looking back on those old times, and picturing them in their ideal aspect, says, that then

‘Goodness gave the greatness,
And greatness worship: every house became
An academy of honour.’
And that this method of education

‘By a line
Of institution from our ancestors,
Hath been deriv’d down to us, and receiv’d
In a succession, for the noblest way
Of breeding up our youth in letters, arms,
Fair mien, discourses, civil exercises,
And all the blazon of a gentleman.
Where can he learn to vault, to ride, to fence,
To move his body gracefuller, to speak
His language purer, or to tune his mind
Or manners more to the harmony of nature,
Than in these nurseries of nobility?’
The boy of gentle birth, when he thus began his education, was called by the xlivnames of Childe, or Damoiseau, or Valet, said to be a contraction of Vassalet or little Vassal, and also Page, though this last name was originally appropriated to the youths of inferior rank. He usually entered the castle which was to be his school about the age of seven or eight. He was to learn modesty, obedience, and address in arms and horsemanship, and was duly exercised in the use of his weapons, beginning with such as were suited to his strength. He was instructed how to guide a horse with grace and dexterity, how to use the bow and the sword, and how to manage the lance,—an art which was taught him by making him ride against a wooden figure, which, if not struck in true knightly fashion, was so contrived as to turn round and give the awkward cavalier a blow with its wooden sword. He attended his lord in the chase, and learnt all its arts; he attended him also in many offices which we should now call menial, but which were then held to be the proper symbols of modesty and obedience for the youth of highest birth and rank. Thus the Black Prince was held to show the highest respect to the French king, his prisoner, by personal attendance on him. In the words of Froissart: ‘The same day of the battle, at night, the prince made a supper in his lodging to the French king, and to the most part of the great lords that were prisoners … and always the prince served before the king as humbly as he could, and would not sit at the king’s board for any desire that the king could make; but he said he was not sufficient to sit at the table with so great a prince as the king was.’

And not the least important of the youth’s duties were those towards the ladies of the house in which he lived. He was to wait on them rather as attending a sort of superior beings to whom adoration and obsequious service were due, than as ministering to the convenience of human creatures like himself. The most modest demeanour, the most profound respect, were to be observed in the presence of these fair idols. And as not only the youths, but the maidens—the damoiselles no less than the damoiseaux—were sent to the courts of the barons and their ladies for education, it would often happen that this veneration in which the boy was so early trained towards the ladies of maturer years, would find an object in some young maiden whose more suitable age might lead him, as he grew up, from mere boyish regard to that passionate and abiding devotion which was the duty of every true knight to his lady, and by the strength of which he held that all his power for good was to be maintained. Here is a description of the beginning of the loves of Amadis and Oriana, which is as charming as it is simple; and which, though we find it in the pages of a romance, we cannot doubt is a picture of actual life and manners. ‘Oriana,’ says the old book, ‘was about ten years old, the fairest creature that ever was seen; wherefore she was called the one “without a peer”…. The child of the sea (that is, Amadis) was now twelve years old, but in stature and size he seemed fifteen, and he served the queen; but, now that Oriana was there, the queen gave her the child of the sea, that he should serve her, and Oriana said that “it pleased her;” and that word which she said, the child kept in his heart, so that he never lost it from his memory, and in all his life he was never weary of serving xlvher, and his heart was surrendered to her; and this love lasted as long as they lasted, for as well as he loved her did she also love him. But the child of the sea, who knew nothing of her love, thought himself presumptuous to have placed his thoughts on her, and dared not speak to her; and she, who loved him in her heart, was careful not to speak more with him than with another: but their eyes delighted to reveal to the heart what was the thing on earth that they loved best. And now the time came that he thought he could take arms if he were knighted; and this he greatly desired, thinking that he would do such things that, if he lived, his mistress should esteem him.’

Such was the beginning of the loves of Amadis and Oriana, so famous in romance, and so generally held by knights and ladies to be a model for themselves. Constancy, such as that of Amadis, was a virtue of the true lover which those times of long inevitable separations and absences demanded in forms hardly known in our days; and in proportion was it insisted upon, and held in honour. So Spenser says:

‘Young knight whatever, that dost arms profess,
And through long labours huntest after fame,
Beware of fraud, beware of fickleness,
In choice and change of thy dear loved dame;
Lest thou of her believe too lightly blame,
And rash misweening do thy heart remove;
For unto knight there is no greater shame,
Than lightness and inconstancy in love.’
The peerless Amadis passed with more than ordinary rapidity to the rank of knighthood. The youth more usually remained an esquire—the next step to that of page—till he was twenty. He attended the knight to whose person he was attached, dressed and undressed him, trained his horses, kept his arms bright and burnished, and did the honours of the household to the strangers who visited it; so that Spenser takes the squire as the type of such courtesy. Here is Chaucer’s description of the squire:

‘With him there was his son, a youngé squire,
A lover and a lusty bachelor,
With lockés curl’d as they were laid in press;
Of twenty years of age he was, I guess.
Of his statúre he was of even length,
And wonderly deliver, and great of strength;
And he had been some time in chevachie (military expeditions),
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie,
And borne him well, as of so little space,
In hope to standen in his lady’s grace.
Embroider’d was he, as it were a mead
All full of freshé flowers, white and red;
Singing he was, or fluting, all the day;
He was as fresh as is the month of May;
Short was his gown, with sleevés long and wide:
Well could he sit on horse, and fairé ride;
He couldé songés make, and well indite,
Just, and eke dance, and well pourtray and write:
So hot he lovéd, that by nightertale
He slept no more than doth the nightingale.
Courteous he was; slowly and serviceable;
And carv’d before his father at the table.’
I have already spoken of the religious rites with which the esquire was admitted into the order of knighthood, and of the solemn and noble engagements into which he then entered. He had next to ‘win his spurs,’ as it was called; a phrase happily illustrated in the story of Edward III and the Black Prince, which Froissart thus relates:—

‘This battle between Broy and Cressy, this Saturday, was right cruel and fell, and many a feat of arms done that day came not to my knowledge…. In the morning, the day of the battle, certain Frenchmen and Almagnes perforce opened the archers of the prince’s battle (division as we should now say), and came and fought with the men of arms, hand to hand. Then the second battle of the Englishmen came to succour the prince’s battle, the which was time, for they had as then much ado. And they with the prince sent a messenger to the king, who was on a little windmill hill: then the knight said to the king, “Sir, the earl of Warwick, and the earl of Oxford, Sir Reynold Cobham, and other, such as lie about the prince your son, are fiercely fought withal, and are sore handled, wherefore they desire you that you and your battle will come and aid them, for if the Frenchmen increase, as they doubt they will, your son and they shall have much ado.” Then the king said, “Is my son dead, or hurt, or on the earth felled?” “No, sir,” quoth the knight, “but he is hardly matched, wherefore he hath need of your aid.” “Well,” said the king, “return to him, and to them that sent you hither, and say to them, that they send no more to me for any adventure that falleth, as long as my son is alive: and also say to them, that they suffer him this day to win his spurs; for, if God be pleased, I will this day’s work be his, and the honour thereof, and to them that be about him.” Then the knight returned again to them, and showed the king’s words, the which greatly encouraged them, and repented in that they had sent to the king as they did.’ Brave knights, to be ‘greatly encouraged’ by such stern though manly words. We are reminded of the not less brave and knightly demeanour of Sir Colin Halket and his men at Waterloo, when the Duke of Wellington rode up and asked how they were, and the general replied that two-thirds of the brigade were down, and the remainder so exhausted that the relief of fresh troops, for however short a time, was most desirable. But when the duke said that no relief was possible, that all depended on them, the answer which the officer made for himself and his men was, ‘Enough, my lord, we stand here till the last man falls.’

Thenceforth the knight’s career depended, he would not have said on himself, but on God and his lady: and if we may judge by the ordinary language of the xlviiromances, his lady was often the object of actual adoration, little differing from that he would have addressed to the saints in the hour of danger or of triumph. Philosophic divines teach us that although the worship of the saints may become in practice a gross and degrading superstition, it has in it an element of true, and in itself ennobling, faith in ideals of humanity more or less perfectly revealed in human form: and so while we smile at the fictions of extravagant fancy in which the mediæval knight was wont to clothe his love, and his professions of love, for his mistress, we cannot reasonably doubt that in the main, and for that time of youthful imaginations rather than of sober reasonings, the knight was right. When I think of what society was, and what it would still be, without the humanizing influences of womanhood and ladyhood, and what it is by means of these, I say that the tree may be judged by its fruits, and that it is from a right noble stock, rightly and wisely cultivated in the main, in those old days, that we are still gathering such noble fruits. Much evil there was along with the good; and, what is worse, much confusion between good and evil. I need not tell the reader of chivalry romances, or of Lord Tennyson’s reproductions of some of their incidents in modern form of thought as well as language, how painfully this confusion defaces many of the fairest characters and most interesting tales of chivalry, while the historical records of the times in which those romances were written and read show that the actual state of morals and manners exhibited the like confusions of good and evil, in the ideals as well as in the conduct of life. But, as I have already observed, we see, at least in the romance before us, the good contending with, and mastering the evil, and this not least in the end of the story of the guilty loves of Guenever and Launcelot, the knight whose fame in romance perhaps surpasses that of Amadis, though even mediæval morality was obliged to censure the constancy of Launcelot’s love, while it might unhesitatingly extol that of Amadis.

Lord Tennyson has, I may assume, made every one familiar with the retirement of queen Guenever to the nunnery of Almesbury, and with the death of Arthur; and I venture for the completion of this sketch to show, though from the present volume, how the old story which the poet chiefly follows relates the death and draws the character of Launcelot. Launcelot, when he heard of those events, went to Almesbury, and after taking leave of the queen, resolved to follow her example; and became a hermit and penitent, taking up his abode in a forest where was an hermitage and a chapel that stood between two cliffs; and there he served God day and night with prayers and fastings. Thus he, and other knights who followed his example, ‘endured great penance six years, and then Sir Launcelot took the habit of priesthood, and a twelvemonth he sang mass.’ At the end of that time a vision directed him to take the body of queen Guenever, now dead at Almesbury, and bury her with king Arthur at Glastonbury. Then the story goes on:—‘And when she was put in the earth Sir Launcelot swooned and lay long still, while the hermit came out and awaked him, and said, Ye be to blame, for ye displease God xlviiiwith such manner of sorrow making. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I trust I do not displease God, for He knoweth mine intent, for my sorrow was not, nor is not, for any rejoicing of sin, but my sorrow may never have end. For when I remember of her beauty, and of her noblesse, that was both with her king and with her; so when I saw his corpse and her corpse so lie together, truly mine heart would not serve to sustain my careful body. Also when I remember me how by my default, and mine orgule, and my pride, that they were both laid full low, that were peerless that ever was living of christian people, wit ye well, said Sir Launcelot, this remembered, of their kindness and mine unkindness, sank so to my heart, that all my natural strength failed me, so that I might not sustain myself.’ The story goes on to say that there he wasted away, praying night and day at the tomb of the king and queen. He died, and was taken to his own castle of Joyous Gard to be buried. ‘And right thus as they were at their service there came Sir Ector de Maris, that had seven year sought all England, Scotland, and Wales, seeking his brother Sir Launcelot. And when Sir Ector heard such noise and light in the quire of Joyous Gard he alight, and put his horse from him, and came into the quire, and there he saw men sing and weep. And all they knew Sir Ector, but he knew not them. Then went Sir Bors unto Sir Ector, and told him how there lay his brother Sir Launcelot dead. And then Sir Ector threw his shield, sword, and helm from him; and when he beheld Sir Launcelot’s visage he fell down in a swoon; and when he awaked it were hard for any tongue to tell the doleful complaints that he made for his brother. Ah, Launcelot, he said, thou were head of all Christian knights! And now, I dare say, said Sir Ector, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight’s hands; and thou were the courtiest knight that ever bare shield; and thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrode horse; and thou were the truest lover, of a sinful man, that ever loved woman; and thou were the kindest man that ever strake with sword; and thou were the goodliest person ever came among press of knights; and thou was the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.’

Let me compare with this Chaucer’s description of the knight of his times:—

‘A knight there was, and that a worthy[41] man,
That from the timé that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalry,
Truth and honóur, freedom and courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his lordés war,
And thereto had he ridden, no man farre,
As well in Christendom as in Heatheness,
And ever honoured for his worthiness.
At Alisandre he was when it was won:
Full oftentime he had the board begun
Aboven allé natións in Prusse[42]:
In Lethowe had he reyséd[43], and in Russe,
No Christian man so oft, of his degree:
In Gernade at the siege eke had he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie:
At Leyés was he, and at Satalie,
When they were won; and in the Greaté Sea
At many a noble army had he be.
At mortal battles had he been fifteen,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listés thriés, and aye slain his foe.
This ilké worthy knight had been also
Sometimé with the lord of Palathie
Against another heathen in Turkey;
And evermore he had a sovereign prise[44],
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meek as is a maid.
He never yet no villainy ne said
In all his life unto no manner wight:
He was a very perfect gentle knight.’
In an age when all men, not of the clergy, were divided between the two classes of freemen or gentlemen, and serfs or villains, and the villains were in habits and in human culture little better than the domestic animals of which they shared the labours, the knight almost inevitably belonged to the class of free, or gentle, birth. Still, in theory always, and to a great extent in practice, it was not his birth, but his personal merit, which qualified him for knighthood. The personal merit would oftener exist, and still oftener come to light, where it had the advantages and aids of education and general social culture. But if it was recognised in the villain, or man of no rights of birth, he might be, and often was, knighted, and was thereby immediately enfranchised, and accounted a gentleman, in law no less than in name. Thus Froissart tells us of Sir Robert Sale, the governor of Norwich, that ‘he was no gentleman born, but he had the grace to be reputed sage and valiant in arms, and for his valiantness King Edward made him knight.’ He was governor during the popular insurrection of which Wat Tyler and Jack Straw were the London leaders; and he was invited to put himself at the head of one of the risings by men who urged upon him—‘Sir Robert, ye are a knight and a man greatly beloved in this country, and renowned a valiant man; and though ye be thus, yet we know you well: ye be no gentleman born, but son to a villain, such as we be: therefore come you with us, and be our master, and we shall make you so great a lord that one quarter of England shall be under your obeisance.’ He refused, and they killed lhim. The same king also knighted the man-at-arms, son of a tanner, who was afterwards famous as Sir John Hawkwood. And the courtly as well as knightly Chaucer, who must more or less have reflected the feeling of the royal and noble personages among whom he lived, goes farther, and asserts that not only does virtue make the gentleman, but also baseness of mind the villain or churl:—

‘But understand in thine intent,
That this is not mine intendement,
To clepen no wight in no age
Only gentle for his lineage;
But whoso that is virtuous,
And in his port nought outrageous,
Though he be not gentle born,
Thou may’st well see this in soth,
That he is gentle because he doth
As longeth to a gentleman;
Of them none other deem I can:
For certainly, withouten drede,
A churl is deemed by his deed,
Of high or low, as you may see,
Or of what kindred that he be.’
Akin to this recognition of gentleness of mind and manners, as that which made a gentleman, was the sense of brotherhood among knights and gentlemen, which led them to trust in each other’s honour, even when they were fighting under the banners of hostile kings. The chronicles are full of the instances of such consideration of the English and French knights for each other in the wars between the two nations; and it is not without probability that to these and suchlike manifestations of the spirit of chivalry have been traced the courtesy and humanity which characterise modern warfare in a degree unknown to the ancients.

Much indeed of barbarism and cruelty there was in the usages of war in the best times of chivalry, even of the knights among themselves, and still more when they came, with passions infuriated by resistance, upon the people of lower rank than themselves. Edward III of England, and the knights whom he gathered round him, are held alike by contemporary historians and romance writers, and by those of modern times, to have best exhibited the characteristics of chivalry in its day of greatest refinement as well as splendour; yet no one can read the chronicles of even the admiring Froissart without seeing how much savage passion and cruelty was often mingled with their better dispositions: though we do see also that the cruelty was not because, but in spite of their chivalry. Froissart laments bitterly the iniquity of the massacre by the Black Prince of the people of Limoges, men, women, and children, more than three thousand. And when Edward III, before him, intended, as would seem, to have treated the town of Calais in like manner, not only did the French knights who had offered to surrender declare that they would ‘endure as much pain as knights ever did, rather than the poorest lad in the town should have any more evil than the greatest of us all’—showing that they limade no selfish distinction between the noble and the villain—but the English knights, headed by Sir Walter of Manny, that flower of knighthood, protested to the utmost against their king’s purpose. And when he had yielded so far to their urgency as to say that he would be content with the lives of the six chief burgesses, Sir Walter of Manny again remonstrated, saying, ‘Ah, noble king, for God’s sake refrain your courage: ye have the name of sovereign noblesse: therefore now do not a thing that should blemish your renown, nor to give cause to some to speak of you villainy [to charge you with conduct unworthy of a knight and gentleman]; every man will say it is a great cruelty to put to death such honest persons, who by their own wills put themselves into your grace to save their company. Then the king wryed away from him, and commanded to send for the hangman, and said, “They of Calais had caused many of my men to be slain, wherefore these shall die in likewise.”’

It needed a stronger influence than that of Sir Walter of Manny to save their lives: and this brings me to speak of the Lady of the mediæval times; the Lady, who was the counterpart of the Knight, and without whom he could never have existed. Here, indeed, I meet a difficulty which reminds me of what Coleridge says of the female characters of Shakspeare, that their truth to nature, and therefore their beauty, consists in the absence of strongly marked features. It is impossible to read the poems, romances, or chronicles of the mediæval times, without feeling all through how important a part the lady plays everywhere; and yet it is far from easy to draw her from her retirement and bring distinctly before ourselves what she did, and get a picture of her as definite as we can do of the knight. Still I must try to trace the outlines of such a picture of one lady:—Philippa, queen of Edward III, whom Froissart calls ‘the most gentle queen, most liberal, and most courteous that ever was queen in her days;’ and who was the very type and representative of the lady, in the highest and best sense, in an age in which the ladies—such as the princess Blanche, the good queen Ann, the countess of Salisbury, Jane de Montfort, and the wife of Charles de Blois—were renowned for their gentle or their heroic characters.

When Isabel, queen of Edward II, visited Hainault with her son, afterwards Edward III, we are told that William, earl of Hainault, ‘had four fair daughters, Margaret, Philippa, Jane, and Isabel: among whom the young Edward set most his love and company on Philippa; and also the young lady in all honour was more conversant with him than any of her sisters.’ Queen Isabel had come to ask for aid against her enemies, and Froissart gives an account of the discussion between the earl and his council, who objected on prudential grounds to interfering with the quarrels of the English, and the earl’s brother, Sir John Hainault, who maintained that ‘all knights ought to aid to their powers all ladies and damsels chased out of their own countries, being without counsel or comfort.’ The earl finally yielded, saying, ‘My fair brother, God forbid that your good purpose should be broken or let. Therefore, in the name of God, I give you leave; and kissed him, liistraining him by the hand in sign of great love.’ The whole passage is too long to quote, but thus much gives a lively picture of the temper of the home and court in which the young Philippa was brought up.

Her marriage with Edward, then only fifteen years old, was agreed on, and sanctioned by the Pope. I am sorry to say that the chronicler gives no account of the lady’s bridal outfit[45], except in the general terms, that ‘there was devised and purveyed for their apparel, and for all things honourable that belonged to such a lady, who should be queen of England.’ They were married, and she arrived in England and was crowned, ‘with great justs, tourneys, dancing, carolling, and great feasts, the which endured the space of three weeks.’ And then ‘this young queen Philippa abode still in England, with small company of any persons of her own country, saving one who was named Walter of Manny, who was her carver, and after did so many great prowesses in divers places, that it were hard to make mention of them.’ If we couple this statement, that she retained hardly any of her own people, with that which Froissart makes in reviewing her whole life, that ‘she loved always her own nation where she was born,’ we have pleasing thoughts suggested of the cheerful acceptance of new duties in a foreign land by the young wife; while, if I had space to describe in detail the noble life of Sir Walter of Manny, the reader would agree with me that his habitual presence in the English court must have done much to make both Edward and the Black Prince, as well as the rest of the princes and nobles, what they were, as knights and gentlemen.

The next glimpse we get of the queen is when she appears, accompanied with three hundred ladies and damsels ‘of noble lineage, and apparelled accordingly, at the yearly feast at Windsor, in honour of the order and brotherhood of the Knights of the Blue Garter, there established on St. George’s day.’ Again, when the king of Scots had advanced to Newcastle, while king Edward lay before Calais, we see the queen arriving to meet the English army, and going from division to division, ‘desiring them to do their devoir’—duty was then, as now, the English soldier’s word—‘to defend the honour of her lord the king of England, and, in the name of God, every man to be of good heart and courage; promising them that to her power she would remember them as well or better as though her lord the king were there personally. Then the queen departed from them, recommending them to God and St. George.’ She does not seem, like some of the ladies of that generation, to have considered the field to be her place while the battle was going on; but after it was won she returned, and with her council made all necessary arrangements and plans. Shortly after she joined her husband while he lay before Calais, ‘bringing many ladies and damsels with her, as well to accompany her, as to see their husbands, fathers, brethren, and other friends that lay at siege there before Calais, and had done a long time.’ And I think we may attribute it as well liiito the general humanising influence of all those ladies, as to the personal persuasion of Philippa, that Calais did not suffer the same horrors of war as did Limoges at the hands of the Black Prince. To what I have already quoted from Froissart as to this story, I must now add what he tells us of Philippa, after Edward had refused to hear Sir Walter of Manny. ‘Then the queen kneeled down, and sore weeping, said, “Ah, gentle sir, sith I passed the sea in great peril, I have desired nothing of you; therefore now I humbly require you, in the honour of the Son of the Virgin Mary, and for the love of me, that ye will take mercy of these six burgesses.” The king beheld the queen, and stood still in a study a space, and then said, “Ah dame, I would ye had been as now in some other place; ye make such request to me that I cannot deny you; wherefore I give them to you, to do your pleasure with them.”’

And lastly, as a counterpart to the picture I have already given of the death of the knight of romance, here is the account of the death of her who was the lady of the brightest day of historical chivalry:—

‘In the mean season there fell in England a heavy case and a common: howbeit it was right piteous for the king, his children, and all his realm; for the good queen of England—that so many good deeds had done in her time, and so many knights succoured, and ladies and damosels comforted, and had so largely departed of her goods to her people, and naturally loved always the nation of Haynault, the country where she was born—she fell sick in the castle of Windsor, the which sickness continued on her so long, that there was no remedy but death; and the good lady, when she knew that there was no remedy but death, she desired to speak with the king her husband, and when he was before her, she put out of her bed her right hand, and took the king by his right hand, who was right sorrowful at his heart. Then she said, “Sir, we have in peace, joy, and great prosperity, used all our time together: sir, now I pray you at our departing, that ye will grant me three desires.” The king, right sorrowfully weeping, said, “Madam, desire what ye will, I grant it.” The three requests of the dying woman were—that the king should pay all that she owed to any man; that he should fulfil all the promises she had made to the churches where she had “had her devotion,” and that “it might please him to take none other sepulture, whensoever it should please God to call him out of this transitory life, but beside her in Westminster.” The king, all weeping, said, “Madam, I grant all your desire.” Then the good lady and queen made on her the sign of the cross, and commended the king her husband to God, and her youngest son Thomas, who was there beside her; and anon after she yielded up the spirit, which I believe surely the holy angels received with great joy up to heaven; for in all her life she did neither in thought nor deed thing to lose her soul, as far as any creature could know. Thus the good queen of England died in the year of our Lord 1369, in the vigil of our Lady, in the midst of August.’

We have all pictured to ourselves, again and again, how the lady sat in her bower with her embroidery and her missal or romance, and saw from her lattice livwindow her knight going from the castle with lance and pennon, hoping to meet his foe: how the minstrel recited in the castle hall the feats of arms of this or that hero in some distant battle-field; and how the matron or the maiden heard those feats, and thought with silent joy that it was her lord, her husband, or her lover, whose deeds were thus winning the praises of the troubadour, and the applause of the listening knights and squires. We have all seen in imagination the tournament, with the pomp and splendour of its mimic contests: contests which surpassed the Olympic and Corinthian games of classic antiquity, not only in their gorgeous show, but still more in the presence of the ladies, noble in birth, and fame, and beauty; whose scarf, or glove, the combatants wore as the token of that favour which was their highest incentive to distinguish themselves; and from whose hands the conqueror received the prize of skill and bravery: while the honourably vanquished might be sure that he would have the hardly less welcome lot of being cared for by the same ladies, who never shrank from this their acknowledged and well-fulfilled duty of tending the wounded knight.

Perhaps too we have listened in fancy to the proceedings of the so-called Courts of Parliaments of Love, in which the ladies were wont to hear questions of gallantry gravely argued on both sides by poets pleading in verse, and then to give their judgments according to the logical and metaphysical rules which the schoolmen applied to theological enquiries. But I can now but remind my reader that such things were; and must hasten forward, leaving ungathered flowers that would make many a wreath and nosegay.

The golden age of chivalry was the period from about the middle of the eleventh to the end of the fourteenth century. We may say with Gibbon, that the Crusades were at once a cause and an effect of chivalry. In the Crusades the spirit of knighthood, with all its characteristic features, actuated vast bodies of men of every rank and nation, and found a foe believed by all Christendom to be to it what the individual robber and plunderer was to the knight errant who went forth in his own country to defend or rescue the widow and orphan and their possessions, or the traveller along the road which passed the castle of some powerful though unworthy baron. The chivalry at home was kept alive, and raised to its highest energy, both in man and woman, by the chivalry in the Holy Land. It is in this period that the chief institutions of chivalry took their rise, or reached their full form; while their ruder features were gradually softened with the increasing refinement of the times, till they presented that aspect with which we find them in the days of Edward III and the Black Prince, as drawn by Froissart or Chaucer, or in the romances which were then written or remodelled out of older materials, and which show that even in the estimation of other nations the English court then afforded the pattern of knighthood for Christendom.

Thenceforward the outward forms of chivalry began to decay; very gradually indeed, and not without apparent resuscitations from time to time. But no real revival was possible; for the immortal spirit was seeking new habitations for itself, lvmore fitted to the new world which was succeeding to that of the Middle Ages. And perhaps Cervantes, by helping to tear up with his merciless satire the last remnants of an honest faith in the old forms of chivalry, did as real, though we cannot say as genial, a service to the cause of chivalry itself, as Spenser did in endeavouring to preserve its spirit by transferring it to the region of allegory. The last expiring token of the old spirit in the old forms which I have found, is in the records of the Knights of Malta—the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem—when the news of the great earthquake in Sicily, in 1783, arrived at Malta. Then those poor feeble-minded sybarites remembered for a moment their manhood and their knighthood, and their vows as Hospitallers; they manned their galleys, and, with food and clothing and medicines, and the consolations of their faith, were speedily seen, in their half-military, half-priestly garb—the armour covered by the black robe with the white cross—at the bedsides of the wounded and the dying, as they lay amid the still tottering ruins of their devastated houses. In a very few years, in that same generation, the Order had passed away for ever; but it is pleasant to him who stands in the palace of the Grand Masters among the trophies of their former greatness, or treads the aisles of the cathedral of St. John, where every step is upon the emblazoned gravestone of a knight, to think of this, and not of any less worthy deed, as their last act.

‘The knight’s bones are dust,
And his good sword rust:
His soul is with the saints, I trust:’—
but he has left to us an imperishable and a rich inheritance, won for us by him. To him we owe our Manners—all that world of existence implied in the names Lady and Gentleman. Through the Middle Ages it was ‘Our Lady,’ the Virgin mother who embodied and represented to all men and women, from the prince to the peasant, their ideals of womanhood and ladyhood. In modern times St. Paul has been held to be the model of a gentleman; in whose acts and writings are found all the principles, maxims, and spirit of a character entirely chivalrous, in the amplest sense of the term: while one of our old dramatists has ventured, in words of touching tenderness and reverence, to point to a yet higher realisation of that ideal;—

‘The best of men
That e’er wore earth about him, was a sufferer,
A soft, meek, patient, humble, tranquil spirit;
The first true gentleman that ever breathed.’
And it was the transference of these Christian ethics, into the practice of common daily, worldly life, in rude, half-barbarous times, which we owe to the knights and ladies of the Middle Ages; a transference effected slowly, and with much mixture of evil with the good: nor is the work nearly completed yet; but the worth of it can hardly be overrated.

This is not indeed all, but there is much truth in the old motto, ‘Manners makyth man.’ Manners, like laws, create a region and atmosphere of virtue within lviwhich all good more easily lives and grows, and evil finds it harder to maintain itself. How large a portion of the small, spontaneous kindnesses of hourly life, in which, after all, so much of our happiness consists, are not only unknown, but impossible, where habitual, unaffected politeness is wanting.

But manners are good, not only as affording a fairer field for the exercise of the higher virtues, but good in themselves. They are a real part of the beauty and grace of our human life. Courtesy, and self-possession, and deference and respect for others; modesty and gentleness towards all men, and recognition in all of the true gold of humanity, whether it bear the guinea stamp or no; love of truth and honour; and not only readiness, but eagerness to help the weak, and defend their cause against the strong; and all these irradiated and glorified, as often as may be, by that sentiment which

‘——gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices;’—
these are the things which make the lady and the gentleman.

And if it should seem as though the chivalry of our own times is reduced to something less noble than that of old, when men risked life, and things dearer than life, in defending the weak and attacking the oppressor in his strongholds—when the hardness of the actual fight against evil-doers was not exaggerated in the romances which pictured the knights contending with dragons and enchanters and giants—we must remember that our nineteenth century world is yet far from cleared of the monstrous powers of evil, which still oppress and devour the weak; and that a battle, not really less resolute, nor, if need be, less desperate, than those of old, is still carried on by those who, under the modest guise of common life, are fighting in the true spirit of chivalry—uniting the most adventurous enthusiasm with the most patient endurance, and both with the gentlest service of the poor, the weak, and the oppressed; and, what is most worthy of admiration, the service of the morally poor, and weak, and oppressed, who, but for such deliverers, must remain in a house of bondage darker than can be built or barred by earthly hands.

But whether we are content with the chivalry of manners, or aspire to a place in the brotherhood of the chivalry of action, our principles, our maxims, and our examples have come down to us as an inheritance from the past:—an inheritance common to all who care to claim it; and won for us by the old knights, fighting in the name of God and of their ladies[46].

After that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, as well of contemplation as of other historial and worldly acts of great conquerors and princes, and also certain books of ensamples and doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of England came and demanded me many and ofttimes, wherefore that I have not do made and imprint the noble history of the Saint Greal, and of the most renowned Christian king, first and chief of the three best Christian, and worthy, king Arthur, which ought most to be remembered amongst us Englishmen tofore all other Christian kings; for it is notoriously known through the universal world, that there be nine worthy and the best that ever were, that is to wit, three Paynims, three Jews, and three Christian men. As for the Paynims, they were tofore the Incarnation of Christ, which were named, the first Hector of Troy, of whom the history is comen both in ballad and in prose, the second Alexander the Great, and the third Julius Cæsar, Emperor of Rome, of whom the histories be well known and had. And as for the three Jews, which also were tofore the incarnation of our Lord, of whom the first was duke Joshua which brought the children of Israel into the land of behest, the second David king of Jerusalem, and the third Judas Machabeus. Of these three the Bible rehearseth all their noble histories and acts. And since the said incarnation have been three noble Christian men, stalled and admitted through the universal world into the number of the nine best and worthy. Of whom was first the noble Arthur, whose noble acts I purpose to write in this present book here following. The second was Charlemain, or Charles the Great, of whom the history is had in many places, both in French and in English. And the third and last was Godfrey of Boloine, of whose acts and life I made a book unto the excellent prince and king of noble memory, king Edward the Fourth. The said noble gentlemen instantly required me to imprint the history of the said noble king and conqueror king Arthur, and of his knights, with the history of the Saint Greal, and of the death and ending of the said Arthur; affirming that I ought rather to imprint his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey of Boloine, or any of the other eight, considering that he was a man born within this realm, and king and emperor of the same: and that there be in French divers and many noble volumes of his acts, and also of his knights. To whom I answered that divers men hold opinion that there was no such Arthur, and that all such books as been made of him, be but feigned and fables, because that some chronicles make of him no mention, nor remember him nothing, nor of his knights. Whereto they answered, and one in special said, that in him that should say or think that there was never such a king called Arthur, might well be aretted great folly and blindness. For he said that there were many evidences of the contrary. First ye may see his 2sepulchre in the monastery of Glastingbury. And also in Policronicon, in the fifth book the sixth chapter, and in the seventh book the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried, and after found, and translated into the said monastery. Ye shall see also in the history of Bochas in his book De Casu Principum part of his noble acts, and also of his fall. Also Galfridus in his British book recounteth his life: and in divers places of England many remembrances be yet of him, and shall remain perpetually, and also of his knights. First in the abbey of Westminster, at St. Edward’s shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red wax closed in beryl, in which is written, Patricius Arthurus Britannie, Gallie, Germanie, Dacie, Imperator. Item in the castle of Dover ye may see Gawaine’s scull, and Cradok’s mantle: at Winchester the Round Table: in other places Launcelot’s sword and many other things. Then all these things considered, there can no man reasonably gainsay but that there was a king of this land named Arthur. For in all places, Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for one of the nine worthy, and the first of the three Christian men. And also, he is more spoken of beyond the sea, more books made of his noble acts, than there be in England, as well in Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Greekish, as in French. And yet of record remain in witness of him in Wales, in the town of Camelot, the great stones and the marvellous works of iron lying under the ground, and royal vaults, which divers now living have seen. Wherefore it is a marvel why he is no more renowned in his own country, save only it accordeth to the Word of God, which saith that no man is accepted for a prophet in his own country. Then all these things aforesaid alleged, I could not well deny but that there was such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed one of the nine worthy, and first and chief of the Christian men. And many noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in French, which I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not had in our maternal tongue. But in Welsh be many and also in French, and some in English but no where nigh all. Wherefore, such as have late been drawn out briefly into English I have after the simple conning that God hath sent to me, under the favour and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, enprised to imprint a book of the noble histories of the said king Arthur, and of certain of his knights, after a copy unto me delivered, which copy Sir Thomas Malorye did take out of certain books of French, and reduced it into English. And I, according to my copy, have down set it in print, to the intent that noble men may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and virtuous deeds that some knights used in those days, by which they came to honour, and how they that were vicious were punished and oft put to shame and rebuke; humbly beseeching all noble lords and ladies, with all other estates of what estate or degree they been of, that shall see and read in this said book and work, that they take the good and honest acts in their remembrance, and to follow the same. Wherein they shall find many joyous and pleasant histories, and noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalry. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renommee. And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant to read in, but for to give faith and belief that all is true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty: but all is written for our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall not to vice nor sin, but to exercise and follow virtue, by the which we may come and attain to good fame and renown in this life, and after this short and transitory life to come unto everlasting bliss in heaven; the which He grant us that reigneth in heaven, the blessed Trinity. Amen.

3Then to proceed forth in this said book, the which I direct unto all noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, that desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history of the great conqueror and excellent king, King Arthur, sometime king of this noble realm, then called Britain; I, William Caxton, simple person, present this book following, which I have enprised to imprint: and treateth of the noble acts, feats of arms of chivalry, prowess, hardiness, humanity, love, courtesy, and very gentleness, with many wonderful histories and adventures. And for to understand briefly the content of this volume, I have divided it into XXI Books, and every book chaptered, as hereafter shall by God’s grace follow. The First Book shall treat how Uther Pendragon gat the noble conqueror king Arthur, and containeth xxviii chapters. The Second Book treateth of Balin the noble knight, and containeth xix chapters. The Third Book treateth of the marriage of king Arthur to queen Guenever, with other matters, and containeth xv chapters. The Fourth Book, how Merlin was assotted, and of war made to king Arthur, and containeth xxix chapters. The Fifth Book treateth of the conquest of Lucius the emperor, and containeth xii chapters. The Sixth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel, and marvellous adventures, and containeth xviii chapters. The Seventh Book treateth of a noble knight called Sir Gareth, and named by Sir Kay Beaumains, and containeth xxxvi chapters. The Eighth Book treateth of the birth of Sir Tristram the noble knight, and of his acts, and containeth xli chapters. The Ninth Book treateth of a knight named by Sir Kay Le Cote male taille, and also of Sir Tristram, and containeth xliv chapters. The Tenth Book treateth of Sir Tristram, and other marvellous adventures, and containeth lxxxviii chapters. The Eleventh Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Galahad, and containeth xiv chapters. The Twelfth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and his madness, and containeth xiv chapters. The Thirteenth Book treateth how Galahad came first to king Arthur’s court, and the quest how the Sangreal was begun, and containeth xx chapters. The Fourteenth Book treateth of the quest of the Sangreal, and containeth x chapters. The Fifteenth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot, and containeth vi chapters. The Sixteenth Book treateth of Sir Bors and Sir Lionel his brother, and containeth xvii chapters. The Seventeenth Book treateth of the Sangreal, and containeth xxiii chapters. The Eighteenth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and the queen, and containeth xxv chapters. The Nineteenth Book treateth of queen Guenever and Launcelot, and containeth xiii chapters. The Twentieth Book treateth of the piteous death of Arthur, and containeth xxii chapters. The Twenty-first Book treateth of his last departing, and how Sir Launcelot came to revenge his death, and containeth xiii chapters. The sum is twenty-one books, which contain the sum of five hundred and seven chapters, as more plainly shall follow hereafter.

The First Book of King Arthur.
First how Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.

It befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was named the duke of Tintagil. And so by means king Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine. So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the means of great lords they were accorded both: the king liked and loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, and desired to have had her love. But she was a passing good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And then she told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dishonoured, wherefore, husband, I counsel you that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all night to our own castle. And in like wise as she said so they departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware of their departing. All so soon as king Uther knew of their departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of the duke and his wife. Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a great charge: and if he will not come at your summons, then may ye do your best; then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. So that was done, and the messengers had their answers, and that was this, shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at him. Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest castle that he hath. When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight Tintagil and the other castle hight Terrabil. So his wife, dame Igraine, he put in the castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in the castle of Terrabil, the which had many issues and posterns out. Then in all haste came Uther with a great host, and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabil. And there he pight many 26pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties, and much people slain. Then for pure anger and for great love of fair Igraine the king Uther fell sick. So came to the king Uther Sir Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I shall tell thee, said the king; I am sick for anger and for love of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole. Well, my lord, said Sir Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy that your heart shall be pleased. So Ulfius departed, and by adventure he met Merlin in a beggar’s array, and there Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought? and he said he had little ado to tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin; therefore seek no further, for I am he, and if king Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine, for I shall cause him to have all his desire. All this will I undertake, said Ulfius, that there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have thy desire. Well, said Merlin, he shall have his intent and desire. And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your way, for I will not be long behind.

How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and how by the means of Merlin he made the duchess his queen.

Then Ulfius was glad, and rode on more than a pace till that he came to Uther Pendragon, and told him he had met with Merlin. Where is he? said the king. Sir, said Ulfius, he will not dwell long. Therewithal Ulfius was ware where Merlin stood at the porch of the pavilion’s door. And then Merlin was bound to come to the king. When king Uther saw him he said he was welcome. Sir, said Merlin, I know all your heart every deal; so ye will be sworn unto me, as ye be a true king anointed, to fulfil my desire, ye shall have your desire. Then the king was sworn upon the four Evangelists. Sir, said Merlin, this is my desire: after ye shall win Igraine ye shall have a child by her, and when that is born that it shall be delivered to me for to nourish there as I will have it; for it shall be your worship and the child’s avail, as mickle as the child is worth. I will well, said the king, as thou wilt have it. Now make you ready, said Merlin: this night shall you see Igraine in the castle of Tintagil, and ye shall be like the duke her husband, Ulfius shall be like Sir Brastias, a knight of the duke’s, and I will be like a knight that hight Sir Jordanus, a knight of the duke’s. But wait ye make not many questions with her nor with her men, but say you are diseased, and so hie you to bed, and rise not on the morn till I come to you, for the castle of Tintagil is but ten mile hence. So this was done as they had devised. But the duke of Tintagil espied how the king rode from the siege of Terrabil, and therefore that night he issued out of the castle at a postern, for to have distressed the king’s host. And so, through his own issue, the duke himself was slain or ever the king came at the castle of Tintagil. So after the death of the duke king Uther came to the castle, more than three hours after his death; and there he found Igraine. And or day came Merlin came to the king and bade him make him ready, and so he kissed the lady Igraine and departed in all haste. But when the lady heard tell of the duke her husband, and by all record he was dead or ever king Uther came to her, then she marvelled who that might be that came to her in likeness of her lord; so she mourned privily and held her peace. Then all the barons by one assent prayed the king of accord between the lady Igraine and him. The king gave them leave, for fain would he have been accorded with her. So the king put all the trust in Ulfius to entreat between them; so, by the entreat, at the last the king and she met together. Now will we do well, said Ulfius: our king is a lusty knight and wifeless, and my lady 27Igraine is a passing fair lady; it were great joy unto us all and it might please the king to make her his queen. Unto that they were all well accorded, and moved it to the king: and anon, like a lusty knight, he assented thereto with good will, and so in all haste they were married in a morning with great mirth and joy.

And king Lot of Lothian and of Orkney then wedded Margawse that was Gawaine’s mother: and king Nentres of the land of Garlot wedded Elaine. All this was done at the request of king Uther. And the third sister, Morgan le Fay, was put to school in a nunnery: and there she learned so much that she was a great clerk of nigromancy. And after she was wedded to king Uriens of the land of Gore, that was Sir Ewaine’s le Blanchemains father.

Of the birth of king Arthur, and of his nouriture; and of the death of king Uther Pendragon; and how Arthur was chosen king; and of wonders and marvels of a sword that was taken out of a stone by the said Arthur.

Then the time came that the queen Igraine should bear a child. So it fell within half a year, as king Uther was with his queen, he asked her, by the faith she owed unto him, whose was the child that should be born: then was she sore abashed to give answer. Dismay you not, said the king, but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better, by the faith of my body. Sir, said she, I shall tell you the truth. The same night that my lord was dead, the hour of his death, as his knights record, there came into my castle of Tintagil a man like my lord in speech and countenance, and two knights with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and Jordans, and so I welcomed him as I ought to welcome my lord: and thus, as I shall answer unto God, this child was begotten. That is truth, said the king, as you say, for it was I myself that came in the likeness, and therefore dismay you not, for I am father to the child. And there he told her all the cause how it was by Merlin’s counsel. Then the Queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her child. Soon came Merlin unto the king and said, Sir, ye must purvey you for the nourishing of your child. As thou wilt, said the king, be it. Well, said Merlin, I know a lord of yours in this land, that is a passing true man and a faithful, and he shall have the nourishing of your child, and his name is Sir Ector, and he is a lord of fair livelihood in many parts in England and Wales. And this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, for to come and speak with you, and desire him yourself, as he loveth you, that he will put his own child to nourishing to another woman, and that his wife nourish yours. And when the child is born let it be delivered unto me at yonder privy postern unchristened. So like as Merlin devised it was done. And when Sir Ector was come he made affiance to the king for to nourish the child like as the king desired; and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards. Then when the lady was delivered, the king commanded two knights and two ladies to take the child bound in a cloth of gold, and that ye deliver him to what poor man ye meet at the postern gate of the castle. So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and made an holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur: and so Sir Ector’s wife nourished him with her own breast.

Then within two years king Uther fell sick of a great malady. And in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him, and did a great battle upon his men, and slew many of his people. Sir, said Merlin, ye may not lie so as ye do, for ye must to the field, though ye ride on an horse-litter; for ye shall never have the better of your enemies but if your person be there, and then shall ye have the victory. So it was done as Merlin had devised, and they carried the king forth in a horse-litter 28with a great host towards his enemies. And at St. Albans there met with the king a great host of the North. And that day Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and king Uther’s men overcame the Northern battle, and slew many people, and put the remnant to flight. And then the king returned unto London, and made great joy of his victory. And then he fell passing sore sick, so that three days and three nights he was speechless; wherefore all the barons made great sorrow, and asked Merlin what counsel were best. There is none other remedy, said Merlin, but God will have his will. But look ye all barons be before king Uther to-morn, and God and I shall make him to speak. So on the morn all the barons with Merlin came tofore the king: then Merlin said aloud unto king Uther, Sir, shall your son Arthur be king after your days, of this realm, with all the appurtenance? Then Uther Pendragon turned him and said in hearing of them all, I give him God’s blessing and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, and righteously and worshipfully that he claim the crown upon forfeiture of my blessing. And therewith he yielded up the ghost. And then was he interred as longed to a king. Wherefore the queen, fair Igraine, made great sorrow and all the barons. Then stood the realm in great jeopardy long while, for every lord that was mighty of men made him strong, and many wend to have been king. Then Merlin went to the archbishop of Canterbury, and counselled him for to send for all the lords of the realm, and all the gentlemen of arms, that they should to London come by Christmas upon pain of cursing: and for this cause—that Jesus, that was born on that night, that he would of his great mercy shew some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for to shew some miracle who should be rightwise king of this realm. So the archbishop by the advice of Merlin sent for all the lords and gentlemen of arms, that they should come by Christmas even unto London. And many of them made them clean of their life, that their prayer might be the more acceptable unto God. So in the greatest church of London (whether it were Paul’s or not, the French book maketh no mention) all the estates were long or day in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard against the high altar a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone, and in the midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stack a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that said thus: Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England. Then the people marvelled, and told it to the archbishop. I command, said the archbishop, that ye keep you within your church, and pray unto God still; that no man touch the sword till the high mass be all done. So when all masses were done all the lords went to behold the stone and the sword. And when they saw the scripture, some assayed—such as would have been king. But none might stir the sword nor move it. He is not here, said the archbishop, that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not God will make him known. But this is my counsel, said the archbishop, that we let purvey ten knights, men of good fame, and they to keep this sword. So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man should assay that would, for to win the sword. And upon New Year’s Day the barons let make a justs and a tournament, that all knights that would just or tourney there might play: and all this was ordained for to keep the lords together and the commons, for the archbishop trusted that God would make him known that should win the sword. So upon New Year’s Day when the service was done the barons rode to the field, some to just, and some to tourney; and so it happed that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London, rode unto the justs, and with him rode 29Sir Kay his son and young Arthur that was his nourished brother, and Sir Kay was made knight at Allhallowmas afore. So as they rode to the justs-ward Sir Kay had lost his sword, for he had left it at his father’s lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur to ride for his sword. I will well, said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword; and when he came home the lady and all were out to see the justing. Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, I will ride to the churchyard and take the sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day. So when he came to the churchyard Sir Arthur alighted, and tied his horse to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and found no knights there, for they were at the justing; and so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone, and took his horse and rode his way till he came to his brother Sir Kay, and delivered him the sword. And as soon as Sir Kay saw the sword he wist well it was the sword of the stone, and so he rode to his father Sir Ector, and said: Sir, lo here is the sword of the stone; wherefore I must be king of this land. When Sir Ector beheld the sword he returned again and came to the church, and there they alighted all three and went into the church, and anon he made Sir Kay to swear upon a book how he came to that sword. Sir, said Sir Kay, by my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me. How gat ye this sword? said Sir Ector to Arthur. Sir, I will tell you: when I came home for my brother’s sword, I found nobody at home to deliver me his sword, and so I thought my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, and so I came hither eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without any pain. Found ye any knights about this sword? said Sir Ector. Nay, said Arthur. Now, said Sir Ector to Arthur, I understand ye must be king of this land. Wherefore I, said Arthur, and for what cause? Sir, said Ector, for God will have it so: for there should never man have drawn out this sword but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the sword there as it was, and pull it out again. That is no mastery, said Arthur: and so he put it into the stone. Therewith Sir Ector assayed to pull out the sword and failed.

How king Arthur pulled out the sword divers times.

Now assay, said Sir Ector to Sir Kay. And anon he pulled at the sword with all his might, but it would not be. Now shall ye assay, said Sir Ector to Arthur. I will well, said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir Ector kneeled down to the earth, and Sir Kay. Alas, said Arthur, mine own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to me. Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so: I was never your father nor of your blood, but I wote well ye are of an higher blood than I wend ye were. And then Sir Ector told him all, how he was betaken him for to nourish him, and by whose commandment, and by Merlin’s deliverance. Then Arthur made great dole when he understood that Sir Ector was not his father. Sir, said Ector unto Arthur, will ye be my good and gracious lord when ye are king? Else were I to blame, said Arthur, for ye are the man in the world that I am most beholding to, and my good lady and mother your wife, that as well as her own hath fostered me and kept. And if ever it be God’s will that I be king, as ye say, ye shall desire of me what I may do, and I shall not fail you: God forbid I should fail you. Sir, said Sir Ector, I will ask no more of you but that you will make my son, your foster-brother Sir Kay, seneschal of all your lands. That shall be done, said Arthur, and more by the faith of my body, that never man shall have that office but he while he and I live. Therewithal they went unto the archbishop, and told him how the sword was achieved, and by 30whom. And on Twelfth Day all the barons came thither, and to assay to take the sword who that would assay. But there afore them all there might none take it out but Arthur, wherefore there were many lords wroth, and said it was great shame unto them all and the realm, to be over governed with a boy of no high blood born. And so they fell out at that time that it was put off till Candlemas, and then all the barons should meet there again. But always the ten knights were ordained to watch the sword day and night, and so they set a pavilion over the stone and the sword, and five always watched. So at Candlemas many more great lords came thither for to have won the sword, but there might none prevail. And right as Arthur did at Christmas he did at Candlemas, and pulled out the sword easily, whereof the barons were sore aggrieved, and put it off in delay till the high feast of Easter. And as Arthur sped afore, so did he at Easter: yet there were some of the great lords had indignation that Arthur should be their king, and put it off in a delay till the feast of Pentecost. Then the archbishop of Canterbury by Merlin’s providence let purvey then of the best knights that they might get, and such knights as king Uther Pendragon loved best and most trusted in his days, and such knights were put about Arthur, as Sir Baudwin of Britain, Sir Kay, Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastias. All these, with many other, were always about Arthur, day and night, till the feast of Pentecost.

How King Arthur was crowned, and how he made officers.

And at the feast of Pentecost all manner of men assayed to pull at the sword that would assay, but none might prevail but Arthur; and he pulled it out afore all the lords and commons that were there, wherefore all the commons cried at once, We will have Arthur unto our king; we will put him no more in delay, for we all see that it is God’s will that he shall be our king, and who that holdeth against it we will slay him. And therewithal they kneeled down all at once, both rich and poor, and cried Arthur mercy, because they had delayed him so long. And Arthur forgave them, and took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the archbishop was, and so was he made knight of the best man that was there. And so anon was the coronation made, and there was he sworn unto his lords and the commons for to be a true king, to stand with true justice from thenceforth the days of this life. Also then he made all lords that held of the crown to come in, and to do service as they ought to do. And many complaints were made unto Sir Arthur of great wrongs that were done since the death of king Uther, of many lands that were bereaved lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. Wherefore king Arthur made the lands to be given again unto them that owned them. When this was done that the king had stablished all the countries about London, then he let make Sir Kay seneschal of England; and Sir Baudwin of Britain was made constable; and Sir Ulfius was made chamberlain; and Sir Brastias was made warden to wait upon the north from Trent forwards, for it was that time for the most part the king’s enemies. But within few years after, Arthur won all the north, Scotland, and all that were under their obeisance. Also Wales, a part of it held against Arthur, but he overcame them all as he did the remnant through the noble prowess of himself and his knights of the Round Table.

How king Arthur held in Wales at a Pentecost a great feast, and what kings and lords came to his feast.

Then the king removed into Wales, and let cry a great feast, that it should be holden at Pentecost, after the incoronation of him at the city of Carlion. 31Unto the feast came king Lot of Lothian and of Orkney with five hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast king Uriens of Gore with four hundred knights with him. Also there came to that feast king Nentres of Garloth with seven hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast the king of Scotland with six hundred knights with him, and he was but a young man. Also there came to the feast a king that was called the king with the hundred knights, but he and his men was passing well beseen at all points. Also there came the king of Carados with five hundred knights. And king Arthur was glad of their coming, for he wend that all the kings and knights had come for great love, and for to have done him worship at his feast, wherefore the king made great joy, and sent the kings and knights great presents. But the kings would none receive, but rebuked the messengers shamefully, and said they had no joy to receive no gifts of a beardless boy that was come of low blood, and sent him word they would have none of his gifts, but that they were come to give him gifts with hard swords betwixt the neck and the shoulders: and therefore they came thither, so they told to the messengers plainly, for it was great shame to all them to see such a boy to have a rule of so noble a realm as this land was. With this answer the messengers departed, and told to king Arthur this answer. Wherefore, by the advice of his barons, he took him to a strong tower with five hundred good men with him: and all the kings aforesaid in a manner laid a siege tofore him, but king Arthur was well victualled. And within fifteen days there came Merlin among them into the city of Carlion. Then all the kings were passing glad of Merlin, and asked him, For what cause is that boy Arthur made your king? Sirs, said Merlin, I shall tell you the cause. For he is king Uther Pendragon’s son, born in wedlock of Igraine, the duke’s wife of Tintagil. After the death of the duke thirteen days king Uther Pendragon wedded fair Igraine. And who saith nay, he shall be king, and overcome all his enemies; and, or he die, he shall be long king of all England, and have under his obeisance Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, and more realms than I will now rehearse. Some of the kings had marvel of Merlin’s words, and deemed well that it should be as he said: and some of them laughed him to scorn, as king Lot: and more other called him a witch. But then were they accorded with Merlin that king Arthur should come out and speak with the kings, and to come safe and go safe, such assurance was there made. So Merlin went unto king Arthur and told him how he had done, and bade him fear not, but come out boldly and speak with them, and spare them not, but answer them as their king and chieftain, for ye shall overcome them all whether they will or nill.

Of the first war that king Arthur had, and how he won the field.

Then king Arthur came out of his tower, and had under his gown a jesseraunt of double mail, and there went with him the archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Baudwin of Britain, and Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias: these were the men of most worship that were with him. And when they were met there was no meekness, but stout words on both sides: but always king Arthur answered them, and said that he would make them to bow and he lived. Wherefore they departed with wrath, and king Arthur bade keep them well, and they bade the king keep him well. So the king returned him to the tower again, and armed him and all his knights. What will ye do? said Merlin to the kings: ye were better for to stint, for ye shall not here prevail though ye were ten so many. Be we well advised to be afraid of a dream-reader? said king Lot. With that Merlin vanished away, and came to king Arthur, and bade him set on them fiercely; and in the meanwhile there were three hundred 32good men of the best that were with the kings that went straight unto king Arthur, and that comforted him greatly. Sir, said Merlin to Arthur, fight not with the sword that ye had by miracle, till that ye see ye go unto the worse, then draw it out and do your best. So forthwithal king Arthur set upon them in their lodging. And Sir Baudwin, Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias slew on the right hand and on the left hand that it was marvellous: and always king Arthur on horseback laid on with a sword, and did marvellous deeds of arms, that many of the kings had great joy of his deeds and hardiness. Then king Lot brake out on the back side, and the king with the hundred knights, and king Carados, and set on Arthur fiercely behind him. With that Sir Arthur turned with his knights and smote behind and before, and ever Sir Arthur was in the foremost press till his horse was slain underneath him. And therewith king Lot smote down king Arthur. With that his four knights received him, and set him on horseback. Then he drew his sword Excalibur, but it was so bright in his enemies’ eyes, that it gave light like thirty torches. And therewith he put them on back, and slew much people. And then the commons of Carlion arose with clubs and staves, and slew many knights; but all the kings held them together with their knights that were left alive, and so fled and departed. And Merlin came unto Arthur, and counselled him to follow them no farther.

How Merlin counselled king Arthur to send for king Ban and king Bors, and of their counsel taken for the war.

So after the feast and tourney king Arthur drew him unto London, and so by the counsel of Merlin the king let call his barons to council. For Merlin had told the king that the six kings that made war upon him would in all haste be awroke on him and on his lands. Wherefore the king asked counsel at them all. They could no counsel give, but said they were big enough. Ye say well, said Arthur; I thank you for your good courage; but will ye all that love me speak with Merlin: ye know well that he hath done much for me, and he knoweth many things, and when he is afore you I would that ye prayed him heartily of his best advice. All the barons said they would pray him and desire him. So Merlin was sent for, and fair desired of all the barons to give them best counsel. I shall say you, said Merlin, I warn you all, your enemies are passing strong for you, and they are good men of arms as be on live, and by this time they have gotten to them four kings more, and a mighty duke; and unless that our king have more chivalry with him than he may make within the bounds of his own realm, and he fight with them in battle he shall be overcome and slain. What were best to do in this cause? said all the barons. I shall tell you, said Merlin, mine advice: There are two brethren beyond the sea, and they be kings both, and marvellous good men of their hands; and that one hight king Ban of Benwick, and that other hight king Bors of Gaul, that is France. And on these two kings warreth a mighty man of men, the king Claudas, and striveth with them for a castle; and great war is betwixt them: but this Claudas is so mighty of goods, whereof he getteth good knights, that he putteth these two kings the most part to the worse. Wherefore this is my counsel, that our king and sovereign lord send unto the kings Ban and Bors by two trusty knights with letters well devised, that if they will come and see king Arthur and his court, and so help him in his wars, that he will be sworn unto them to help them in their wars against king Claudas. Now what say ye unto this counsel? said Merlin. This is well counselled, said the king and all the barons. Right so in all haste there were ordained to go two knights on the message unto the two kings. So were there made letters in the pleasant wise 33according unto king Arthur’s desire. Ulfius and Brastias were made the messengers, and rode forth well horsed and well armed, and as the guise was that time, and so passed the sea and rode toward the city of Benwick. And there besides were eight knights who espied them, and at a straight passage they met with Ulfius and Brastias, and would have taken them prisoners. So they prayed them that they might pass, for they were messengers unto king Ban and Bors sent from king Arthur. Therefore, said the eight knights, ye shall die, or be prisoners, for we be knights of king Claudas. And therewith two of them dressed their spears, and Ulfius and Brastias dressed their spears, and ran together with great might, and Claudas’s knights brake their spears, and theirs to-held, and bare the two knights out of their saddles to the earth, and so left them lying, and rode their ways. And the other six knights rode afore to a passage to meet with them again, and so Ulfius and Brastias smote other two down, and so passed on their ways. And at the fourth passage there met two for two, and both were laid to the earth: so there was none of the eight knights but he was sore hurt or bruised. And when they came to Benwick it fortuned there were both kings Ban and Bors. And when it was told the kings that there were come messengers, there were sent to them two knights of worship, the one hight Lionses, lord of the country of Payarne, and Sir Phariance a worshipful knight. Anon they asked from whence they came, and they said from king Arthur king of England: so they took them in their arms, and made great joy each of other. But anon as the two kings wist they were messengers of Arthur’s, there was made no tarrying, but forthwith they spake with the knights and welcomed them in the faithfullest wise, and said they were most welcome unto them before all the kings living. And therewith they kissed the letters and delivered them; and when Ban and Bors understood the letters, then were they more welcome than they were before. And after the haste of the letters they gave them this answer, that they would fulfil the desire of king Arthur’s writing, and let Ulfius and Brastias tarry there as long as they would, they should have such cheer as might be made them in those marches. Then Ulfius and Brastias told the king of the adventure at their passages of the eight knights. Ha, ha, said Ban and Bors, they were my good friends. I would I had wist of them, they should not have escaped so. So Ulfius and Brastias had good cheer and great gifts as much as they might bear away, and had their answer by mouth and by writing, that those two kings would come unto Arthur in all the haste that they might.

So the two knights rode on afore, and passed the sea, and came to their lord and told him how they had sped, whereof king Arthur was passing glad. At what time suppose ye the two kings will be here? Sir, said they, afore Allhallowmas. Then the king let purvey for a great feast, and let cry a great justs. And by Allhallowmas the two kings were come over the sea with three hundred knights well arrayed both for the peace and for the war. And king Arthur met with them ten mile out of London, and there was great joy as could be thought or made. And on Allhallowmas at the great feast sat in the hall the three kings, and Sir Kay the seneschal served in the hall, and Sir Lucas the butler, that was duke Corneus’s son, and Sir Griflet that was the son of Cardol, these three knights had the rule of all the service that served the kings. And anon as they had washed and risen, all knights that would just made them ready. By then they were ready on horseback there were seven hundred knights. And Arthur, Ban, and Bors, with the archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Ector, Kay’s father, they were in a place covered with cloth of gold, like an hall, with ladies and gentlewomen, for to behold who did best, and thereon to give judgment.

Of a great tourney made by king Arthur and the two kings Ban and Bors, and how they went over the Sea.

And king Arthur and the two kings let part the seven hundred knights in two parties. And there were three hundred knights of the realm of Benwick and of Gaul turned on the other side. Then they dressed their shields, and began to couch their spears many good knights. So Griflet was the first that met with a knight, one Ladinas, and they met so eagerly that all men had wonder; and they so fought that their shields fell to pieces, and horse and man fell to the earth, and both the French knight and the English knight lay so long, that all men wend they had been dead. When Lucas the butler saw Griflet so lie, he horsed him again anon, and they two did marvellous deeds of arms with many bachelors. Also Sir Kay came out of an embushment with five knights with him, and they six smote other six down. But Sir Kay did that day marvellous deeds of arms, that there was none did so well as he that day. Then there came Ladinas and Grastian, two knights of France, and did passing well, that all men praised them. Then came there Sir Placidas, a good knight, and met with Sir Kay and smote him down, horse and man, wherefore Sir Griflet was wroth, and met with Sir Placidas so hard that horse and man fell to the earth. But when the five knights wist that Sir Kay had a fall they were wroth out of wit, and therewith each of them five bare down a knight. When king Arthur and the two kings saw them begin to wax wroth on both parts, they leapt on small hackneys, and let cry that all men should depart unto their lodging. And so they went home and unarmed them, and so to even-song and supper. And after the three kings went into a garden, and gave the prize unto Sir Kay, and to Lucas the butler, and unto Sir Griflet. And then they went unto council, and with them Gwenbaus, the brother unto Sir Ban and Bors, a wise clerk, and thither went Ulfius, and Brastias, and Merlin. And after they had been in council they went unto bed. And on the morn they heard mass, and to dinner, and so to their council, and made many arguments what were best to do. At the last they were concluded, that Merlin should go with a token of king Ban, (and that was a ring,) unto his men and king Bors’s: and Gracian and Placidas should go again and keep their castles and their countries, as king Ban of Benwick and king Bors of Gaul had ordained them; and so they passed the sea and came to Benwick. And when the people saw king Ban’s ring, and Gracian and Placidas, they were glad, and asked how the kings fared, and made great joy of their welfare and according. And according unto the sovereign lords’ desire, the men of war made them ready in all haste possible, so that they were fifteen thousand on horse and foot, and they had great plenty of victual with them by Merlin’s provision. But Gracian and Placidas were left to furnish and garnish the castles for dread of king Claudas. Right so Merlin passed the sea, well victualled both by water and by land. And when he came to the sea he sent home the footmen again, and took no more with him but ten thousand men on horseback, the most part men of arms, and so shipped and passed the sea into England, and landed at Dover: and through the wit of Merlin he led the host northward, the priviest way that could be thought, unto the forest of Bedegraine, and there in a valley he lodged them secretly.

Then rode Merlin unto king Arthur and the two kings and told them how he had sped, whereof they had great marvel, that man on earth might speed so soon, and go and come. So Merlin told them ten thousand were in the forest of Bedegraine, well armed at all points. Then was there no more to say, but to horseback went all the host 35as Arthur had afore purveyed. So with twenty thousand he passed by night and day. But there was made such an ordinance afore by Merlin, that there should no man of war ride nor go in no country on this side Trent water, but if he had a token from king Arthur, where through the king’s enemies durst not ride, as they did tofore, to espy.

How eleven kings gathered a great host against king Arthur.

And so within a little space the three kings came unto the castle of Bedegraine, and found there a passing fair fellowship and well beseen, whereof they had great joy, and victual they wanted none.

This was the cause of the northern host: that they were reared for the despite and rebuke that the six kings had at Carlion. And those six kings by their means gat unto them five other kings, and thus they began to gather their people, and how they sware that for weal nor woe they should not leave each other till they had destroyed Arthur. And then they made an oath. The first that began the oath was the duke of Cambenet, that he would bring with him five thousand men of arms, the which were ready on horseback. Then sware king Brandegoris of Stranggore that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Then sware king Clariance of Northumberland that he would bring three thousand men of arms. Then sware the king of the hundred knights, that was a passing good man and a young, that he would bring four thousand men on horseback. Then there swore king Lot, a passing good knight and Sir Gawaine’s father, that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Urience, that was Sir Uwaine’s father, of the land of Gore, and he would bring six thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Idres of Cornwall, that he would bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Cradelmas to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Agwisance of Ireland, to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Nentres to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore king Carados to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. So their whole host was of clean men of arms on horseback fifty thousand; and afoot ten thousand of good mens’ bodies. Then were they soon ready and mounted upon horse, and sent forth their fore-riders: for these eleven kings in their way laid siege unto the castle of Bedegraine; and so they departed and drew toward Arthur, and left few to abide at the siege, for the castle of Bedegraine was holden of king Arthur, and the men that were therein were Arthur’s.

Of a dream of the king with the hundred knights.

So by Merlin’s advice there were sent fore-riders to skim the country, and they met with the fore-riders of the north, and made them to tell which way the host came, and then they told it to Arthur, and by king Ban and Bors’s counsel they let burn and destroy all the country afore them where they should ride.

The king with the hundred knights dreamed a wonder dream two nights afore the battle, that there blew a great wind, and blew down their castles and their towns, and after that came a water and bare it all away. All that heard of the dream said it was a token of great battle. Then, by counsel of Merlin, when they wist which way the eleven kings would ride and lodge that night, at midnight they set upon them, as they were in their pavilions. But the scout-watch by their host cried, Lords! at arms! for here be your enemies at your hand!

How the eleven kings with their host fought against Arthur and his host, and many great feats of the war.

Then king Arthur and king Ban and king Bors, with their good and trusty knights, set on them so fiercely that they made them overthrow their pavilions on their heads; but the eleven kings by manly prowess of arms took a fair field. But there was slain that morrow tide ten thousand good men’s bodies. And so they had afore them a strong passage, yet were they fifty thousand of hardy men. Then it drew toward day. Now shall ye do by mine advice, said Merlin unto the three kings: I would that king Ban and king Bors with their fellowship of ten thousand men were put in a wood here beside in an embushment, and keep them privy, and that they be laid or the light of the day come, and that they stir nor till ye and your knights have fought with them long: and when it is daylight dress your battle even afore them and the passage, that they may see all your host, for then they will be the more hardy when they see you but about twenty thousand, and be the gladder to suffer you and your host to come over the passage. All the three kings and the whole barons said that Merlin said passingly well, and it was done anon as Merlin had devised. So on the morn, when either host saw other, the host of the north was well comforted. Then to Ulfius and Brastias were delivered three thousand men of arms, and they set on them fiercely in the passage, and slew on the right hand and on the left hand, that it was wonder to tell. When that the eleven knights saw that there was so few a fellowship did such deeds of arms, they were ashamed, and set on them again fiercely, and there was Sir Ulfius’s horse slain under him, but he did marvellously well on foot. But the duke Eustace of Cambenet, and king Clariance of Northumberland, were alway grievous on Sir Ulfius. When Brastias saw his fellow fared so withal, he smote the duke with a spear, that horse and man fell down. That saw king Clariance, and returned to Brastias, and either smote other so that horse and man went to the earth, and so they lay long astonied, and their horses’ knees brast to the hard bone. Then came Sir Kay the seneschal with six fellows with him, and did passing well. With that came the eleven kings, and there was Griflet put to the earth, horse and man, and Lucas the butler, horse and man, by king Brandegoris and king Idres and king Agwisance. Then waxed the meddle passing hard on both parties. When Sir Kay saw Griflet on foot he rode on king Nentres and smote him down, and led his horse to Sir Griflet and horsed him again. Also Sir Kay with the same spear smote down king Lot, and hurt him passing sore. That saw the king with the hundred knights, and ran unto Sir Kay and smote him down and took his horse, and gave him to king Lot, whereof he said gramercy. When Sir Griflet saw Sir Kay and Lucas the butler on foot, he took a sharp spear great and square and rode to Pinel, a good man of arms, and smote horse and man down, and then he took his horse and gave him unto Sir Kay. When king Lot saw king Nentres on foot he ran unto Melot de la Roche and smote him down horse and man, and gave king Nentres the horse and horsed him again. Also the king of the hundred knights saw king Idres on foot; then he ran unto Gwimiart de Bloi, and smote him down horse and man, and gave king Idres the horse and horsed him again; and king Lot smote down Clariance de la Forest Savage, and gave the horse unto duke Eustace. And so when they had horsed the kings again they drew them all eleven kings together, and said they would be revenged of the damage they had taken that day. The meanwhile came in Sir Ector with an eager countenance, and found Ulfius and Brastias on foot in great peril of death, that were foul bruised under the horse feet. Then king Arthur as a lion ran unto 37king Cradelment of North Wales, and smote him through the left side, that the horse and the king fell down; and then he took the horse by the rein and led him unto Ulfius, and said, Have this horse, mine old friend, for great need hast thou of horse. Gramercy, said Ulfius. Then Sir Arthur did so marvellously in arms that all men had wonder. When the king with the hundred knights saw king Cradelment on foot he ran unto Sir Ector, that was well horsed, Sir Kay’s father, and smote horse and man down, and gave the horse unto the king and horsed him again. And when king Arthur saw the king ride on Sir Ector’s horse he was wroth, and with his sword he smote the king on the helm, that a quarter of the helm and shield fell down, and the sword carved down unto the horse’s neck, and so the king and the horse fell down to the ground. Then Sir Kay came to Sir Morganore, seneschal with the king of the hundred knights, and smote him down horse and man, and led the horse unto his father Sir Ector: then Sir Ector ran unto a knight, hight Lardans, and smote horse and man down, and led the horse unto Sir Brastias that great need had of an horse, and was greatly bruised. When Brastias beheld Lucas the butler, that lay like a dead man under the horse feet, and ever Sir Griflet did marvellously for to rescue him, and there were always fourteen knights on Sir Lucas, then Brastias smote one of them on the helm that it went to the teeth, and he rode to another and smote him that the arm flew into the field. Then he went to the third, and smote him on the shoulder that shoulder and arm flew in the field. And when Griflet saw rescues he smote a knight on the temples, that head and helm went to the earth, and Griflet took the horse of that knight and led him unto Sir Lucas, and bad him mount upon the horse and revenge his hurts. For Brastias had slain a knight tofore, and horsed Griflet.

Yet of the same battle.

Then Lucas saw king Agwisance, that late had slain Moris de la Roche, and Lucas ran to him with a short spear that was great, that he gave him such a fall that the horse fell down to the earth. Also Lucas found there on foot Bloias de la Flandres and Sir Gwinas, two hardy knights, and in that woodness that Lucas was in he slew two bachelors, and horsed them again. Then waxed the battle passing hard on both parties, but Arthur was glad that his knights were horsed again, and then they fought together that the noise and sound rang by the water and the wood. Wherefore king Ban and king Bors made them ready and dressed their shields and harness, and they were so courageous that many knights shook and trembled for eagerness. All this while Lucas, and Gwinas, and Briant, and Bellias of Flanders, held strong meddle against six kings, that was king Lot, king Nentres, king Brandegoris, king Idres, king Uriens, and king Agwisance. So with the help of Sir Kay and of Sir Griflet they held these six kings hard, that unneth they had any power to defend them. But when Sir Arthur saw the battle would not be ended by no manner he fared wood as a lion, and steered his horse here and there, on the right hand and on the left hand, that he stinted not till he had slain twenty knights. Also he wounded king Lot sore on the shoulder, and made him to leave that ground, for Sir Kay and Griflet did with king Arthur there great deeds of arms. Then Ulfius, Brastias, and Sir Ector, encountered against the duke Eustace, and king Cradelment, and king Cradelmas, and king Clariance of Northumberland, and king Carados, and against the king with the hundred knights. So these knights encountered with these kings that they made them to avoid the ground. Then king Lot made great dole for his damages and his fellows, and said unto 38the eleven kings. But if ye will do as I devise we shall be slain and destroyed: let me have the king with the hundred knights, and king Agwisance, and king Idres, and the duke of Cambenet, and we five kings will have fifteen thousand men of arms with us, and we will go apart while ye six kings hold the meddle with twelve thousand, and when we see that ye have foughten with them long then will we come on fiercely, and else shall we never match them, said king Lot, but by this mean. So they departed as they here devised, and six kings made their party strong against Arthur, and made great war long. In the meanwhile brake the embushment of king Ban and Bors, and Lionses and Phariance had the advant guard, and they two knights met with king Idres and his fellowship, and there began a great meddle of breaking of spears and smiting of swords with slaying of men and horses, and king Idres was near at discomfiture.

That saw Agwisance the king, and put Lionses and Phariance in point of death: for the duke of Cambenet came on withal with a great fellowship, so these two knights were in great danger of their lives that they were fain to return, but always they rescued themselves and their fellowship marvellously. When king Bors saw those knights put aback it grieved him sore; then he came on so fast that his fellowship seemed as black as Inde. When king Lot had espied king Bors he knew him well; then he said, O defend us from death and horrible maims, for I see well we be in great peril of death; for I see yonder a king, one of the most worshipfulest men, and one of the best knights of the world, is inclined unto his fellowship. What is he? said the king with the hundred knights. It is, said king Lot, king Bors of Gaul; I marvel how they came into this country without witting of us all. It was by Merlin’s advice, said the knight. As for him, said king Carados, I will encounter with king Bors, if ye will rescue me when need is. Go on, said they all, we will do all that we may. Then king Carados and his host rode on a soft pace till that they came as nigh king Bors as a bow draught: then either battle let their horses run as fast as they might. And Bleoberis that was god-son unto king Bors he bare his chief standard, that was a passing good knight. Now shall we see, said king Bors, how these northern Britons can bear their arms. And king Bors encountered with a knight, and smote him throughout with a spear that he fell dead unto the earth, and after drew his sword and did marvellous deeds of arms, that all parties had great wonder thereof; and his knights failed not but did their part, and king Carados was smitten to the earth. With that came the king with the hundred knights and rescued king Carados mightily by force of arms, for he was a passing good knight of a king, and but a young man.

Yet more of the same battle.

By then came into field king Ban as fierce as a lion, with bands of green and thereupon gold. Ha, ha, said king Lot, we must be discomfited, for yonder I see the most valiant knight of the world, and the man of the most renown: for such two brethren as is king Ban and king Bors are not living, wherefore we must needs void or die; and but if we avoid manly and wisely there is but death. When king Ban came into the battle, he came in so fiercely that the strokes resounded again from the wood and the water; wherefore king Lot wept for pity and dole that he saw so many good knights take their end. But through the great force of king Ban they made both the northern battles that were parted to hurtle together for great dread, and the three kings with their knights slew on ever, that it was pity to behold that multitude of the people that fled. But king Lot and the king of the hundred knights and king Morganore gathered the people together passing knightly, and did great prowess 39of arms, and held the battle all that day like hard. When the king of the hundred knights beheld the great damage that king Ban did, he thrust unto him with his horse, and smote him on high upon the helm a great stroke, and astonied him sore. Then king Ban was wroth with him, and followed on him fiercely: the other saw that, and cast up his shield and spurred his horse forward, but the stroke of king Ban fell down and carved a cantel of the shield, and the sword slid down by the hauberk behind his back, and cut through the trapping of steel, and the horse even in two pieces, that the sword felt the earth. Then the king of the hundred knights voided the horse lightly, and with his sword he broched the horse of king Ban through and through. With that king Ban voided lightly from the dead horse, and then king Ban smote at the other so eagerly and smote him on the helm, that he fell to the earth. Also in that ire he felled king Morganore, and there was great slaughter of good knights and much people. By then came into the press king Arthur, and found king Ban standing among dead men and dead horses, fighting on foot as a wood lion, that there came none nigh him as far as he might reach with his sword but that he caught a grievous buffet; whereof king Arthur had great pity. And Arthur was so bloody that by his shield there might no man know him, for all was blood and brains on his sword. And as Arthur looked by him he saw a knight that was passing well horsed, and therewith Sir Arthur ran to him and smote him on the helm that his sword went unto his teeth, and the knight sank down to the earth dead, and anon Arthur took the horse by the rein and led him unto king Ban, and said, Fair brother have this horse, for ye have great need thereof, and me repenteth sore of your great damage. It shall be soon revenged, said king Ban, for I trust mine use is not such but some of them may sore repent this. I will well, said Arthur, for I see your deeds full actual; nevertheless, I might not come at you at that time. But when king Ban was mounted on horseback, then there began new battle the which was sore and hard, and passing great slaughter. And so through great force king Arthur, and king Ban, and king Bors made their knights a little to withdraw them. But always the eleven kings with their chivalry never turned back, and so withdrew them to a little wood, and so over a little river, and there they rested them, for on the night they might have no rest in the field. And then the eleven kings and knights put them on a heap all together, as men adread and out of all comfort. But there was no man might pass them, they held them so hard together, both behind and before, that king Arthur had marvel of their deeds of arms, and was passing wroth. Ah, Sir Arthur, said king Ban and king Bors, blame them not, for they do as good men ought to do. For by my faith, said king Ban, they are the best fighting men and knights of most prowess that ever I saw or heard speak of, and those eleven kings are men of great worship, and if they were belonging unto you there were no king under the heaven had such eleven knights, and of such worship. I may not love them, said Arthur, they would destroy me. That wot we well, said king Ban and king Bors, for they are your mortal enemies, and that hath been proved aforehand, and this day they have done their part, and that is great pity of their wilfulness.

Then all the eleven kings drew them together, and then said king Lot: Lords, ye must other ways than ye do, or else the great loss is behind: ye may see what people we have lost, and what good men we lose, because we wait always upon these footmen, and ever in saving of one of the footmen we lose ten horsemen for him; therefore this is mine advice, let us put our footmen from us, for it is near night, for the noble Arthur will not tarry on the footmen, for they may save themselves, the wood is near hand. And when we horsemen be together, look every each 40of you kings let make such ordinance that none break upon pain of death. And who that seeth any man dress him to flee, lightly that he be slain, for it is better that we slay a coward than through a coward all we to be slain. How say ye? said king Lot, answer me, all ye kings. It is well said, quoth king Nentres; so said the king of the hundred knights; the same said the king Carados, and king Uriens; so did king Idres, and king Brandegoris; and so did king Cradelmas, and the duke of Cambenet; the same said king Clariance, and king Agwisance;—and sware they would never fail other, neither for life nor for death. And whoso that fled, but did as they did, should be slain. Then they amended their harness, and righted their shields, and took new spears and set them on their thighs, and stood still as it had been a plump of wood.

Yet more of the said battle, and how it was ended by Merlin.

When Sir Arthur and King Ban and Bors beheld them and all their knights, they praised them much for their noble cheer of chivalry, for the hardiest fighters that ever they heard or saw. With that there dressed them a forty noble knights, and said unto the three kings they would break their battle: these were their names: Lionses, Phariance, Ulfius, Brastias, Ector, Kay, Lucas the butler, Griflet la Fise de Dieu, Mariet de la Roche, Guynas de Bloy, Briant de la Forest Savage, Bellaus, Morians of the Castle of Maidens, Flannedrius of the Castle of Ladies, Annecians that was king Bors’s godson, a noble knight, Ladinas de la Rouse, Emerause, Caulas, and Graciens le Castlein, one Bloise de la Case, and Sir Colgrevaunce de Gorre. All these knights rode on afore with spears on their thighs, and spurred their horses mightily as the horses might run. And the eleven kings with part of their knights rushed with their horses as fast as they might with their spears, and there they did on both parties marvellous deeds of arms. So came into the thick of the press Arthur, Ban, and Bors, and slew down right on both hands, that their horses went in blood up to the fetlocks. But ever the eleven kings and their host were ever in the visage of Arthur. Wherefore Ban and Bors had great marvel, considering the great slaughter that there was, but at the last they were driven aback over a little river. With that came Merlin on a great black horse, and said unto Arthur: Thou hast never done: hast thou not done enough? of three-score thousand this day hast thou left on live but fifteen thousand, and it is time to say Ho! For God is wroth with thee that thou wilt never have done, for yonder eleven kings at this time will not be overthrown, but and thou tarry on them any longer thy fortune will turn and they shall increase. And therefore withdraw you unto your lodging, and rest you as soon as ye may, and reward your good knights with gold and with silver, for they have well deserved it; there may no riches be too dear for them, for of so few men as ye have there were never men did more of prowess than they have done to day, for ye have matched this day with the best fighters of the world. That is truth, said king Ban and Bors. Also said Merlin, withdraw you where ye list, for this three year I dare undertake they shall not dare you; and by then ye shall hear new tidings. And then Merlin said unto Arthur: These eleven kings have more on hand than they are ware of, for the Saracens are landed in their countries, more than forty thousand that burn and slay, and have laid siege at the castle Wandesborow, and made great destruction; therefore dread you not this three year. Also Sir, all the goods that be gotten at this battle let it be searched: and when ye have it in your hands let it be given freely unto these two kings, Ban and Bors, that they may reward their knights withal; and that shall cause strangers to be of better will to do you service at 41need. Also ye be able to reward your own knights of your own goods whensoever it liketh you. It is well said, quoth Arthur, and as thou hast devised so shall it be done. When it was delivered to Ban and Bors, they gave the goods as freely to their knights as it was given them.

Then Merlin took his leave of Arthur and of the two kings, for to go and see his master Bleise that dwelt in Northumberland, and so he departed and came to his master, that was passing glad of his coming. And there he told how Arthur and the two kings had sped at the great battle, and how it was ended, and told the names of every king and knight of worship that was there. And so Bleise wrote the battle, word by word, as Merlin told him, how it began, and by whom, and in likewise how it was ended, and who had the worse. All the battles that were done in Arthur’s days Merlin did his master Bleise do write. Also, he did do write all the battles that every worthy knight did of Arthur’s court. After this Merlin departed from his master and came to king Arthur, that was in the castle of Bedegraine, that was one of the castles that stood in the forest of Sherwood. And Merlin was so disguised that king Arthur knew him not, for he was all befurred in black sheepskins, and a great pair of boots, and a bow and arrows, in a russet gown, and brought wild geese in his hand, and it was on the morn after Candlemas Day, but king Arthur knew him not. Sir, said Merlin unto the king, will ye give me a gift? Wherefore said king Arthur should I give thee a gift, churl? Sir, said Merlin, ye were better to give me a gift that is not in your hand, than to lose great riches; for here, in the same place where the great battle was, is great treasure hid in the earth. Who told thee so, churl? said Arthur. Merlin told me so, said he. Then Ulfius and Brastias knew him well enough, and smiled. Sir, said these two knights, it is Merlin that so speaketh unto you. Then king Arthur was greatly abashed, and had marvel of Merlin, and so had king Ban and king Bors, and so they had great disport at him.

So, in the mean while, there came a damsel which was an earl’s daughter, and his name was Sanam, and her name was Lionors, a passing fair damsel, and so she came thither for to do homage, as other lords did after the great battle. And king Arthur set his love greatly upon her, and so did she upon him, and she bare a child and his name was Borre, that was after a good knight, and of the Table Round. Then there came word that the king Rience of North Wales made great war upon king Leodegrance of Cameliard, for the which thing Arthur was wroth, for he loved him well and hated king Rience, for he was always against him. So by ordinance of the three kings that was sent home to Benwick, all they would depart for dread of king Claudas; Phariance, and Antemes, and Gratian, and Lionses of Payarne, with the leaders of those that should keep the kings’ lands.

How king Arthur, king Ban, and king Bors rescued king Leodegrance, and other incidents.

And then king Arthur and king Ban and king Bors departed with their fellowship, a twenty thousand, and came within six days into the country of Cameliard, and there rescued king Leodegrance and slew there much people of king Rience unto the number of ten thousand men, and put him to flight. And then had these three kings great cheer of king Leodegrance that thanked them of their great goodness, that they would revenge him of his enemies. And there had Arthur the first sight of Guenever, the king’s daughter of Cameliard, and ever after he loved her. After they were wedded, as it telleth in the book. So, briefly to make an end, they took their leave to go into their own countries, for king Claudas did great destruction on their lands. Then said Arthur, I will go with you. Nay, said the kings, ye shall not at this 42time, for ye have much to do yet in these lands, therefore we will depart, and with the great goods that we have gotten in these lands by your gifts, we shall wage good knights, and withstand the king Claudas’s malice, for, by the grace of God, and we have need we will send to you for your succour; and if ye have need, send for us, and we will not tarry, by the faith of our bodies. It shall not, said Merlin, need that these two kings come again in the way of war: but I know well king Arthur may not be long from you, for within a year or two ye shall have great need, and then shall he revenge you on your enemies, as ye have done on his. For these eleven kings shall die all in a day, by the great might and prowess of arms of two valiant knights (as it telleth after) their names being Balin le Savage, and Balan his brother, which be marvellous good knights as be any living.

Now turn we to the eleven kings, that returned unto a city that hight Sorhaute, the which city was within king Uriens, and there they refreshed them as well as they might, and made leeches search their wounds, and sorrowed greatly for the death of their people. With that there came a messager and told how there was come into their lands people that were lawless as well as Saracens a forty thousand, and have burnt and slain all the people that they may come by without mercy and have laid siege on the castle of Wandesborow. Alas! said the eleven kings, here is sorrow on sorrow, and if we had not warred against Arthur as we had done, he would soon revenge us: as for king Leodegrance, he loveth king Arthur better than us, and as for king Rience he hath enough to do with king Leodegrance, for he hath laid siege unto him. So they consented together to keep all the marches of Cornwall, of Wales, and of the North. So first they put king Idres in the city of Nauntes in Britain with four thousand men of arms, to watch both the water and the land. Also they put in the city of Windesan king Nentres of Garlot with four thousand knights, to watch both on water and on land. Also they had of other men of war more than eight thousand, for to fortify all the fortresses in the marches of Cornwall. Also they put more knights in all the marches of Wales and Scotland with many good men of arms. And so they kept them together the space of three years, and ever allied them with mighty kings, and dukes, and lords. And to them fell king Rience of North Wales, the which was a mighty man of men, and Nero that was a mighty man of men. And all this while they furnished them and garnished them of good men of arms and victual, and of all manner of habiliment that pretendeth to the war, to avenge them for the battle of Bedegraine, as it telleth in the book of adventures following.

How king Arthur rode to Carlion, and of his dream, and how he saw the questing beast.

Then after the departing of king Ban and of king Bors king Arthur rode unto Carlion. And thither came to him Lot’s wife of Orkney, in manner of a messenger, but she was sent thither to espy the court of king Arthur; and she came richly beseen with her four sons, Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, and Gareth, with many other knights and ladies, and she was a passing fair lady, wherefore the king cast great love unto her, and so was Mordred born, and she was his sister, on the mother side Igraine. So there she rested her a month, and at the last departed. Then the king dreamed a marvellous dream whereof he was sore adread. But all this time king Arthur knew not that king Lot’s wife was his sister. Thus was the dream of Arthur. Him thought that there was come into this land griffons and serpents, and him thought they burnt and slew all the people in the land, and then him thought he fought with them, and they did him passing great harm and wounded him full sore, but at the last he slew them. When the king awaked he was passing heavy 43of his dream, and so to put it out of thoughts he made him ready with many knights to ride on hunting. As soon as he was in the forest the king saw a great hart afore him. This hart will I chase, said king Arthur, and so he spurred the horse and rode after long, and so by fine force oft he was like to have smitten the hart, till the king had chased the hart so long that his horse had lost his breath, and fell down dead. Then a yeoman fetched the king another horse. So the king saw the hart embushed and his horse dead; he sat him down by a fountain, and there he fell in great thoughts; and as he sat so him thought he heard a noise of hounds, to the sum of thirty. And with that the king saw coming toward him the strangest beast that ever he saw or heard of; so the beast went to the well and drank, and the noise was in the beast’s belly like unto the questing of thirty couple hounds; but all the while the beast drank there was no noise in the beast’s belly, and therewith the beast departed with a great noise, whereof the king had great marvel. And so he was in great thought, and therewith he fell on sleep. Right so there came a knight afoot unto Arthur, and said, Knight, full of thought and sleepy, tell me if thou sawest a strange beast pass this way. Such one saw I, said king Arthur, that is past two miles: what would you with the beast? said Arthur. Sir, I have followed that beast long time, and have killed my horse; so would I had another to follow my quest. Right so came one with the king’s horse, and when the knight saw the horse he prayed the king to give him the horse, For I have followed this quest this twelvemonth, and either I shall achieve him or bleed of the best blood of my body. Pellinore that time king followed the questing beast, and after his death Sir Palomides followed it.

How king Pellinore took Arthur’s horse and followed the questing beast, and how Merlin met with Arthur.

Sir knight, said the king, leave that quest and suffer me to have it, and I will follow it another twelve month. Ah fool, said the knight unto Arthur, it is in vain thy desire, for it shall never be achieved but by me, or my next kin. Therewith he stert unto the king’s horse, and mounted into the saddle, and said, Gramercy, this horse is mine own. Well, said the king, thou mayest take my horse by force, but and I might prove thee whether thou wert better on horseback or I. Well, said the knight, seek me here when thou wilt, and here nigh this well thou shalt find me; and so passed on his way. Then the king sat in a study, and bad his men fetch his horse as fast as ever they might. Right so came by him Merlin like a child of fourteen year of age, and saluted the king, and asked him why he was so pensive? I may well be pensive, said the king, for I have seen the marvellest sight that ever I saw. That know I well, said Merlin, as well as thyself, and of all thy thoughts; but thou art but a fool to take thought, for it will not amend thee. Also I know what thou art, and who was thy father, and of whom thou wert born; king Uther Pendragon was thy father, and had thee of Igraine. That is false, said king Arthur; how shouldest thou know it? for thou art not so old of years to know my father. Yes, said Merlin, I know it better than ye or any man living. I will not believe thee, said Arthur, and was wroth with the child. So departed Merlin; and came again in the likeness of an old man of fourscore years of age, whereof the king was right glad, for he seemed to be right wise.

Then said the old man, Why are ye so sad? I may well be heavy, said Arthur, for many things. Also here was a child, and told me many things that me seemeth he should not know, for he was not of age to know my father. Yes, said the old man, the child told you truth, and more would he have told you and ye would have suffered him. But ye have done a thing late that God is displeased with you, 44and your sister shall have a child that shall destroy you and all the knights of your realm. What are ye, said Arthur, that tell me these tidings? I am Merlin, and I was he in the child’s likeness. Ah, said king Arthur, ye are a marvellous man, but I marvel much of thy words that I must die in battle. Marvel not, said Merlin, for it is God’s will your body to be punished for your foul deeds. But I may well be sorry, said Merlin, for I shall die a shameful death, to be put in the earth quick, and ye shall die a worshipful death. And as they talked this, came one with the king’s horse, and so the king mounted on his horse and Merlin on another, and so rode unto Carlion. And anon the king asked Ector and Ulfius how he was born. And they told him that Uther Pendragon was his father, and queen Igraine his mother: then he said to Merlin, I will that my mother be sent for, that I may speak with her, and if she say so herself, then will I believe it. In all haste the queen was sent for, and she came and brought with her Morgan le Fay her daughter, that was as fair a lady as any might be. And the king welcomed Igraine in the best manner.

How Ulfius appeached queen Igraine, Arthur’s mother, of treason: and how a knight came and desired to have the death of his master revenged.

Right so came Ulfius and said openly, that the king and all might hear that were feasted that day, Ye are the falsest lady of the world, and the most traitress unto the king’s person. Beware, said Arthur, what thou sayest; thou speakest a great word. I am well ware, said Sir Ulfius, what I speak, and here is my glove to prove it upon any man that will say the contrary, that this queen Igraine is causer of your great damage, and of your great war. For, and she would have uttered it in the life of king Uther Pendragon of the birth of you, ye had never had half the mortal wars that ye have had: for the most part of your barons of your realm knew never whose son ye were, nor of whom ye were born. And she that bear you should have made it known openly in excusing of her worship and yours, and in likewise to all the realm; wherefore I prove her false to God and to you and to all your realm, and who will say the contrary I will prove it upon his body.

Then spake Igraine and said, I am a woman, and I may not fight, but rather than I should be dishonoured there would some good man take my quarrel. More she said, Merlin knoweth well, and ye Sir Ulfius, how king Uther came to me in the castle of Tintagel, in the likeness of my lord that was dead three hours tofore. And after my lord was dead king Uther wedded me, and by his commandment when the child was born it was delivered unto Merlin, and nourished by him, and so I saw the child never after, nor wot not what is his name, for I knew him never yet. And there Ulfius said to the queen, Merlin is more to blame than ye. Well I wot, said the queen, that I bare a child by my lord king Uther, but I wot not where he is become. Then Merlin took the king by the hand, saying, This is your mother. And therewith Sir Ector bare witness how he nourished him by Uther’s commandment. And, therewith king Arthur took his mother queen Igraine in his arms and kissed her and either wept upon other. And then the king let make a feast that lasted eight days. Then on a day there came into the court a squire on horseback, leading a knight before him wounded to the death, and told him how there was a knight in the forest had reared up a pavilion by a well, and hath slain my master, a good knight, his name was Miles; wherefore I beseech you that my master may be buried, and that some knight may revenge my master’s death. Then the noise was great of that knight’s death in the court, and every man said his advice: then came Griflet 45that was but a squire, and he was but young, of the age of king Arthur; so he besought the king for all his service that he had done him to give him the order of knighthood.

How Griflet was made knight, and justed with a knight.

Thou art full young and tender of age, said Arthur, for to take so high an order on thee. Sir, said Griflet, I beseech you make me knight. Sir, said Merlin, it were great pity to lose Griflet, for he will be a passing good man when he is of age, abiding with you the term of his life. And if he adventure his body with yonder knight at the fountain it is in great peril if ever he come again, for he is one of the best knights of the world, and the strongest man of arms. Well, said king Arthur. So at the desire of Griflet the king made him knight. Now, said Arthur unto Sir Griflet, since I have made you knight, thou must give me a gift. What ye will, said Griflet. Thou shalt promise me by the faith of thy body, when thou hast justed with the knight at the fountain, whether it fall ye be on foot or on horseback, that right so ye shall come again unto me without making any more debate. I will promise you, said Griflet, as you desire. Then took Griflet his horse in great haste, and dressed his shield, and took a spear in his hand, and so he rode a great wallop till he came to the fountain, and thereby he saw a rich pavilion, and thereby under a cloth stood a fair horse well saddled and bridled, and on a tree a shield of divers colours, and a great spear. Then Griflet smote on the shield with the butt of his spear that the shield fell down to the ground. With that the knight came out of the pavilion and said, Fair knight, why smote ye down my shield? For I will just with you, said Griflet. It is better ye do not, said the knight, for ye are but young, and late made knight, and your might is nothing to mine. As for that, said Griflet, I will just with you. That is me loth, said the knight, but since I must needs I will dress me thereto: of whence be ye? said the knight. Sir, I am of Arthur’s court. So the two knights ran together, that Griflet’s spear all to-shivered, and therewithal he smote Griflet through the shield and the left side, and brake the spear, that the truncheon stack in his body, that horse and knight fell down.

How twelve knights came from Rome and asked truage for this land of Arthur, and how Arthur fought with a knight.

When the knight saw him lie so on the ground he alighted, and was passing heavy, for he wend he had slain him, and then he unlaced his helm and gat him wind, and so with the truncheon he set him on his horse and gat him wind, and so betook him to God, and said he had a mighty heart, and if he might live he would prove a passing good knight. And so Sir Griflet rode to the court, where great dole was made for him. But through good leeches he was healed and saved.

Right so came into the court twelve knights, and were aged men, and they came from the emperor of Rome, and they asked of Arthur truage for this realm, other else the emperor would destroy him and his land. Well, said king Arthur, ye are messagers, therefore may ye say what ye will, other else ye should die therefore. But this is mine answer; I owe the emperor no truage, nor none will I hold him; but on a fair field I shall give him my truage, that shall be with a sharp spear or else with a sharp sword, and that shall not be long, by my father’s soul, Uther Pendragon. And therewith the messagers departed passingly wroth, and king Arthur as wroth, for in evil time came they then, for the king was passingly wroth for the hurt of Sir Griflet. And so he commanded a privyman of his chamber, that or it be day his best 46horse and armour, with all that belongeth unto his person, be without the city or to-morrow day. Right so, or to-morrow day, he met with his man and his horse, and so mounted up, and dressed his shield, and took his spear, and bade his chamberlain tarry there till he came again.

And so Arthur rode a soft pace till it was day, and then was he aware of three churls chasing Merlin, and would have slain him. Then the king rode unto them and bade them, Flee churls! Then were they afeard when they saw a knight, and fled. O Merlin, said Arthur, here haddest thou been slain for all thy crafts, had I not been. Nay, said Merlin, not so, for I could save myself an I would, and thou art more near thy death than I am, for thou goest to the death-ward, and God be not thy friend. So as they went thus talking they came to the fountain, and the rich pavilion there by it. Then king Arthur was ware where sat a knight armed in a chair. Sir knight, said Arthur, for what cause abidest thou here, that there may no knight ride this way but if he just with thee, said the king: I rede thee leave that custom, said Arthur. This custom, said the knight, have I used and will use maugre who saith nay; and who is grieved with my custom let him amend it that will. I will amend it, said Arthur. I shall defend thee, said the knight. Anon he took his horse, and dressed his shield, and took a spear, and they met so hard either in other’s shields that they all to-shivered their spears. Therewith Arthur anon pulled out his sword. Nay, not so, said the knight, it is fairer that we twain run more together with sharp spears. I will well, said Arthur, and I had any more spears. I have enow, said the knight. So there came a squire, and brought two good spears, and Arthur chose one and he another, so they spurred their horses, and came together with all their mights, that either brake their spears to their hands. Then Arthur set hand on his sword. Nay, said the knight, ye shall do better; ye are a passing good juster as ever I met withal, and once for the love of the high order of knighthood let us just once again. I assent me, said Arthur. Anon there were brought two great spears, and every knight gat a spear, and therewith they ran together that Arthur’s spear all to-shivered. But the other knight hit him so hard in midst of the shield that horse and man fell to the earth, and therewith Arthur was eager, and pulled out his sword, and said, I will assay thee, Sir knight, on foot, for I have lost the honour on horseback. I will be on horseback, said the knight. Then was Arthur wroth, and dressed his shield towards him with his sword drawn. When the knight saw that, he alight, for him thought no worship to have a knight at such avail, he to be on horseback, and he on foot, and so he alight and dressed his shield unto Arthur. And there began a strong battle with many great strokes, and so hewed with their swords that the cantels flew in the fields, and much blood they bled both, that all the place there as they fought was over-bled with blood, and thus they fought long, and rested them, and then they went to the battle again, and so hurtled together like two rams that either fell to the earth. So at the last they smote together, that both their swords met even together. But the sword of the knight smote king Arthur’s sword in two pieces, wherefore he was heavy. Then said the knight unto Arthur, Thou art in my danger whether me list to save thee or slay thee, and but thou yield thee as overcome and recreant thou shalt die. As for death, said king Arthur, welcome be it when it cometh; but to yield me unto thee as recreant I had lever die than to be so shamed. And therewithal the king leapt unto Pellinore, and took him by the middle, and threw him down, and rased off his helmet. When the knight felt that he was adread, for he was a passing big man of might, and anon he brought Arthur under him, and rased off his helm, and would have smitten off his head.

How Merlin saved Arthur’s life, and threw an enchantment upon king Pellinore, and made him to sleep.

Therewithal came Merlin, and said, Knight, hold thy hand, for and thou slay that knight thou puttest this realm in the greatest damage that ever was realm: for this knight is a man of more worship than thou wotest of. Why, who is he? said the knight. It is king Arthur. Then would he have slain him for dread of his wrath, and heaved up his sword, and therewith Merlin cast an enchantment to the knight, that he fell to the earth in a great sleep. Then Merlin took up king Arthur, and rode forth on the knight’s horse. Alas, said Arthur, what hast thou done, Merlin? hast thou slain this good knight by thy crafts? There lived not so worshipful a knight as he was; I had lever than the stint of my land a year that he were onlive. Care ye not, said Merlin, for he is wholer than ye, for he is but on sleep, and will awake within three hours. I told you, said Merlin, what a knight he was; here had ye be slain had I not been. Also there liveth not a bigger knight than he is one, and he shall hereafter do you right good service, and his name is Pellinore, and he shall have two sons that shall be passing good men; save one, they shall have no fellow of prowess and of good living; and their names shall be Percivale of Wales and Lamerake of Wales: and he shall tell you the name of your sister’s son that shall be the destruction of all this realm.

How Arthur by the mean of Merlin gat Excalibur his sword of the Lady of the lake.

Right so the king and he departed, and went until an hermit that was a good man and a great leach. So the hermit searched all his wounds and gave him good salves; so the king was there three days, and then were his wounds well amended that he might ride and go, and so departed. And as they rode, Arthur said, I have no sword. No force, said Merlin, hereby is a sword that shall be yours and I may. So they rode till they came to a lake, the which was a fair water and broad, and in the midst of the lake Arthur was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that hand. Lo, said Merlin, yonder is that sword that I spake of. With that they saw a damsel going upon the lake: What damsel is that? said Arthur. That is the Lady of the lake, said Merlin; and within that lake is a rock, and therein is as fair a place as any on earth, and richly beseen, and this damsel will come to you anon, and then speak ye fair to her that she will give you that sword. Anon withal came the damsel unto Arthur and saluted him, and he her again. Damsel, said Arthur, what sword is that, that yonder the arm holdeth above the water? I would it were mine, for I have no sword. Sir Arthur king, said the damsel, that sword is mine, and if ye will give me a gift when I ask it you, ye shall have it. By my faith, said Arthur, I will give you what gift ye will ask. Well, said the damsel, go ye into yonder barge and row yourself to the sword, and take it and the scabbard with you, and I will ask my gift when I see my time. So Sir Arthur and Merlin alight, and tied their horses to two trees, and so they went into the ship, and when they came to the sword that the hand held, Sir Arthur took it up by the handles, and took it with him. And the arm and the hand went under the water; and so they came unto the land and rode forth. And then Sir Arthur saw a rich pavilion: What signifieth yonder pavilion? It is the knight’s pavilion, said Merlin, that ye fought with last, Sir Pellinore, but he is out, he is not there; he hath ado with a knight of yours, that hight Egglame, and they have fought together, but at the last Egglame fled, and else he had been dead, and he hath chased him 48even to Carlion, and we shall meet with him anon in the high way. That is well said, said Arthur, now have I a sword, now will I wage battle with him and be avenged on him. Sir, ye shall not so, said Merlin, for the knight is weary of fighting and chasing, so that ye shall have no worship to have ado with him; also he will not lightly be matched of one knight living; and therefore it is my counsel, let him pass, for he shall do you good service in short time, and his sons after his days. Also ye shall see that day in short space, ye shall be right glad to give him your sister to wed. When I see him, I will do as ye advise me, said Arthur. Then Sir Arthur looked on the sword, and liked it passing well. Whether liketh you better, said Merlin, the sword or the scabbard? Me liketh better the sword, said Arthur. Ye are more unwise, said Merlin, for the scabbard is worth ten of the sword, for while ye have the scabbard upon you ye shall never lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded, therefore keep well the scabbard always with you. So they rode unto Carlion, and by the way they met with Sir Pellinore; but Merlin had done such a craft that Pellinore saw not Arthur, and he passed by without any words. I marvel, said Arthur, that the knight would not speak. Sir, said Merlin, he saw you not, for and he had seen you ye had not lightly departed. So they came unto Carlion, whereof his knights were passing glad. And when they heard of his adventures they marvelled that he would jeopard his person so alone. But all men of worship said it was merry to be under such a chieftain that would put his person in adventure as other poor knights did.

How tidings came to Arthur that king Ryons had overcome eleven kings, and how he desired Arthur’s beard to trim his mantle.

This meanwhile came a messager from king Ryons of North Wales, and king he was of all Ireland, and of many Isles. And this was his message, greeting well king Arthur in this manner wise, saying that king Ryons had discomfited and overcome eleven kings, and every each of them did him homage, and that was this—they gave him their beards clean flayed off, as much as there was; wherefore the messager came for king Arthur’s beard. For king Ryons had trimmed a mantle with kings’ beards, and there lacked one place of the mantle, wherefore he sent for his beard, or else he would enter into his lands, and burn and slay, and never leave till he have the head and the beard. Well, said Arthur, thou hast said thy message, the which is the most villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent unto a king: also thou mayest see my beard is full young yet to make a trimming of it. But tell thou thy king this: I owe him none homage, nor none of mine elders; but or it be long he shall do me homage on both his knees, or else he shall lose his head, by the faith of my body, for this is the most shamefulest message that ever I heard speak of. I see well thy king met never yet with worshipful man, but tell him I will have his head without he do me homage. Then the messager departed. Now is there any here, said Arthur, that knoweth king Ryons? Then answered a knight that hight Naram, Sir, I know the king well; he is a passing good man of his body as few be living, and a passing proud man; and, Sir, doubt ye not he will make war on you with a mighty puissance. Well, said Arthur, I shall ordain for him in short time.

How all the children were sent for that were born on May-day, and how Mordred was saved.

Then king Arthur let send for all the children born on May-day of lords and ladies, for Merlin told king Arthur that he that should destroy him should be born on May-day, wherefore he sent for them 49all upon pain of death. And so there were found many lords’ sons, and all were sent unto the king, and so was Mordred sent by king Lot’s wife, and all were put in a ship to the sea, and some were four weeks old, and some less. And so by fortune the ship drove unto a castle, and was all to-riven, and destroyed the most part, save that Mordred was cast up, and a good man found him, and nourished him till he was fourteen year old, and then he brought him to the court, as it rehearseth afterward toward the end of the Death of Arthur. So many lords and barons of this realm were displeased, for their children were so lost, and many put the blame on Merlin more than on Arthur; so what for dread and for love they held their peace. But when the messager came to king Ryons then was he wood out of measure, and purveyed him for a great host, as it rehearseth after in the book of Balin le Savage that followeth next after, how by adventure Balin gat the sword.

Explicit liber primus. Incipit liber secundus.

Book the Second.
Of a damsel which came girt with a sword for to find a man of such virtue to draw it out of the scabbard.

After the death of Uther Pendragon reigned Arthur his son, the which had great war in his days for to get all England into his hand. For there were many kings within the realm of England, and in Wales, Scotland, and Cornwall. So it befel on a time when king Arthur was at London, there came a knight and told the king tidings how that the king Ryons of North Wales had reared a great number of people, and were entered into the land, and burnt and slew the king’s true liege people. If this be true, said Arthur, it were great shame unto mine estate but that he were mightily withstood. It is truth, said the knight, for I saw the host myself. Well, said the king, let make a cry, that all the lords, knights, and gentlemen of arms, should draw unto a castle, called Camelot in those days, and there the king would let make a council general, and a great justs.

So when the king was come thither with all his baronage, and lodged as they seemed best, there was come a damsel the which was sent on message from the great lady Lile of Avelion. And when she came before king Arthur, she told from whom she came, and how she was sent on message unto him for these causes. Then she let her mantle fall that was richly furred; and then was she girt with a noble sword, whereof the king had marvel, and said, Damsel, for what cause are ye girt with that sword? it beseemeth you not. Now shall I tell you, said the damsel: this sword that I am girt withal doth me great sorrow and cumberance, for I may not be delivered of this sword but by a knight, but he must be a passing good man of his hands and of his deeds, and without villainy or treachery, and without treason. And if I may find such a knight that hath all these virtues, he may draw out this sword out of the sheath. For I have been at king Ryons’; it was told me there were passing good knights, and he and all his knights have assayed it, and none can speed. This is a great marvel, said Arthur; if this be sooth, I will myself assay to draw out the sword, not presuming upon myself that I am the best knight, but that 50I will begin to draw at your sword in giving example to all the barons, that they shall assay every one after other when I have assayed it. Then Arthur took the sword by the sheath and by the girdle, and pulled at it eagerly, but the sword would not out. Sir, said the damsel, ye need not to pull half so hard, for he that shall pull it out, shall do it with little might. Ye say well, said Arthur: now assay ye, all my barons, but beware ye be not defiled with shame, treachery, nor guile. Then it will not avail, said the damsel, for he must be a clean knight without villainy, and of a gentle stock of father side and mother side. Most of all the barons of the Round Table that were there at that time assayed all by row, but there might none speed; wherefore the damsel made great sorrow out of measure, and said, Alas! I wend in this court had been the best knights, without treachery or treason. By my faith, saith Arthur, here are good knights as I deem any been in the world, but their grace is not to help you, wherefore I am displeased.

How Balin, arrayed like a poor knight, pulled out the sword, which afterward was cause of his death.

Then fell it so that time there was a poor knight with king Arthur, that had been prisoner with him half a year and more, for slaying of a knight the which was cousin unto king Arthur. The name of this knight was called Balin, and by good means of the barons he was delivered out of prison, for he was a good man named of his body, and he was born in Northumberland. And so he went privily into the court, and saw this adventure, whereof it raised his heart, and he would assay it as other knights did, but for he was poor and poorly arrayed he put him not far in press; but in his heart he was fully assured to do as well, if his grace happed him, as any knight that there was. And as the damsel took her leave of Arthur and of all the barons, so departing, this knight Balin called unto her and said, Damsel, I pray you of your courtesy suffer me as well to assay as these lords; though that I be so poorly clothed, in mine heart me seemeth I am fully assured as some of these other, and me seemeth in my heart to speed right well. The damsel beheld the poor knight, and saw he was a likely man, but for of his poor arrayment she thought he should be of no worship without villainy or treachery. And then she said unto the knight, Sir, it needeth not to put me to more pain or labour, for it seemeth not you to speed there as other have failed. Ah, fair damsel, said Balin, worthiness and good qualities and good deeds are not all only in arrayment, but manhood and worship is hid within man’s person, and many a worshipful knight is not known unto all people, and therefore worship and hardiness is not in arrayment. Ye say sooth, said the damsel, therefore ye shall assay to do what ye may. Then Balin took the sword by the girdle and sheath and drew it out easily, and when he looked on the sword it pleased him much. Then had the king and all the barons great marvel that Balin had done that adventure, and many knights had great despite of Balin. Certes, said the damsel, this is a passing good knight, and the best that ever I found, and most of worship without treason, treachery, or villainy, and many marvels shall he do. Now, gentle and courteous knight, give me the sword again. Nay, said Balin, for this sword will I keep, but it be taken from me by force. Well, said the damsel, ye are not wise to keep the sword from me, for ye shall slay with the sword the best friend that ye have, and the man that ye most love in the world, and the sword shall be your destruction. I shall take the adventure, said Balin, that God will ordain me, but the sword ye shall not have at this time, by the faith of my body. Ye shall repent it within short time, said the damsel, for I would have the sword more for your avail than for mine, for I am passing heavy for your sake; for ye will not believe that sword 51shall be your destruction, and that is great pity. With that the damsel departed, making great sorrow.

Anon after Balin sent for his horse and his armour, and so would depart from the court, and took his leave of king Arthur. Nay, said the king, I suppose ye will not depart so lightly from this fellowship. I suppose that ye are displeased that I have shewed you unkindness; blame me the less, for I was misinformed against you, but I wend you had not been such a knight as ye are of worship and prowess, and if ye will abide in this court among my fellowship, I shall so advance you as ye shall be pleased. God thank your highness, said Balin, for your bounty and highness may no man praise half to the value; but at this time I must needs depart, beseeching you alway of your good grace. Truly, said the king, I am right wroth for your departing: I pray you, fair knight, that ye tarry not long, and ye shall be right welcome to me and to my barons, and I shall amend all amiss that I have done against you. God thank your great lordship, said Balin, and therewith made him ready to depart. Then the most part of the knights of the Round Table said that Balin did not this adventure all only by might, but by witchcraft.

How the Lady of the lake demanded the knight’s head that had won the sword, or the maiden’s head.

The meanwhile that this knight was making him ready to depart, there came into the court a lady that hight the Lady of the lake. And she came on horseback, richly beseen, and saluted king Arthur; and there asked him a gift that he promised her when she gave him the sword. That is sooth, said Arthur, a gift I promised you, but I have forgotten the name of my sword that ye gave me. The name of it, said the lady, is Excalibur, that is as much to say as Cut-steel. Ye say well, said the king, ask what ye will and ye shall have it, and it lie in my power to give it. Well, said the lady, I ask the head of the knight that hath won the sword, or else the damsel’s head that brought it; I take no force though I have both their heads, for he slew my brother, a good knight and a true, and that gentlewoman was causer of my father’s death. Truly, said king Arthur, I may not grant neither of their heads with my worship, therefore ask what ye will else, and I shall fulfil your desire. I will ask none other thing, said the lady. When Balin was ready to depart he saw the Lady of the lake that by her means had slain Balin’s mother, and he had sought her three years, and when it was told him that she asked his head of king Arthur he went to her straight and said, Evil be you found, ye would have my head and therefore ye shall lose yours. And with his sword lightly he smote off her head before king Arthur. Alas! for shame, said Arthur, why have you done so? ye have shamed me and all my court, for this was a lady that I was beholden to, and hither she came under my safe conduct; I shall never forgive you that trespass. Sir, said Balin, me forthinketh of your displeasure, for this same lady was the untruest lady living, and by enchantment and sorcery she hath been the destroyer of many good knights, and she was causer that my mother was burnt through her falsehood and treachery. What cause so ever ye had, said Arthur, ye should have forborne her in my presence; therefore, think not the contrary, ye shall repent it, for such another despite had I never in my court: therefore withdraw you out of my court in all haste that ye may. Then Balin took up the head of the lady, and bare it with him to his hostry, and there he met with his squire, that was sorry he had displeased king Arthur, and so they rode forth out of the town. Now, said Balin, we must part; take thou this head and bear it to my friends, and tell them how I have sped, and tell my friends in Northumberland that my most foe is dead. Also tell them how I am out of prison, and also 52what adventure befel me at the getting of this sword. Alas, said the squire, ye are greatly to blame for to displease king Arthur. As for that, said Balin, I will hie me in all the haste that I may, to meet with king Ryons and destroy him, or else to die therefore; and if it may hap me to win him, then will king Arthur be my good and gracious lord. Where shall I meet with you? said the squire. In king Arthur’s court, said Balin. So his squire and he departed at that time. Then king Arthur and all the court made great dole, and had shame of the death of the Lady of the lake. Then the king buried her richly.

How Merlin told the adventure of this damsel.

At that time there was a knight the which was the king’s son of Ireland, and his name was Lanceor, the which was an orgulous knight, and counted himself one of the best of the court, and he had great despite at Balin for the achieving of the sword, that any should be accounted more hardy, or of more prowess; and he asked king Arthur if he would give him leave to ride after Balin, and to revenge the despite that he had done. Do your best, said Arthur, I am right wroth with Balin, I would he were quit of the despite that he hath done to me and to my court. Then this Lanceor went to his hostry to make him ready. In the meanwhile came Merlin unto the court of king Arthur, and there was told him the adventure of the sword, and the death of the Lady of the lake. Now shall I say you, said Merlin, this same damsel that here standeth, that brought the sword unto your court, I shall tell you the cause of her coming,—she was the falsest damsel that liveth. Say not so, said they. She hath a brother, a passing good knight of prowess and a full true man, and this damsel loved another knight that held her to paramour, and this good knight her brother met with the knight that held her to paramour, and slew him by force of his hands. When this false damsel understood this she went to the lady Lile of Avelion, and besought her of help, to be avenged on her own brother. And so this lady Lile of Avelion took her this sword, that she brought with her, and told there should no man pull it out of the sheath but if he be one of the best knights of this realm, and he should be hardy and full of prowess, and with that sword he should slay her brother. This was the cause that the damsel came into this court. I know it as well as ye. Would she had not come into this court, but she came never in fellowship of worship to do good, but alway great harm. And that knight that hath achieved the sword shall be destroyed by that sword, for the which will be great damage, for there liveth not a knight of more prowess than he is, and he shall do unto you, my lord Arthur, great honour and kindness, and it is great pity he shall not endure but a while, for of his strength and hardiness I know not his match living.

How Balin was pursued by Sir Lanceor, knight of Ireland, and how he justed and slew him.

So the knight of Ireland armed him at all points, and dressed his shield on his shoulder, and mounted upon horseback, and took his spear in his hand, and rode after a great pace as much as his horse might go, and within a little space on a mountain he had a sight of Balin, and with a loud voice he cried, Abide knight, for ye shall abide whether ye will or nill, and the shield that is tofore you shall not help. When Balin heard the noise he turned his horse fiercely, and said, Fair knight what will ye with me, will ye just with me? Yea, said the Irish knight, therefore come I after you. Peradventure, said Balin, it had been better to have holden you at home, for many a man weneth to put his enemy to a rebuke, and oft it falleth to himself. Of what court be ye sent from? said Balin. I am come 53from the court of king Arthur, said the knight of Ireland, that come hither for to revenge the despite ye did this day to king Arthur and to his court. Well, said Balin, I see well I must have ado with you, that me forthinketh for to grieve king Arthur, or any of his court; and your quarrel is full simple, said Balin, unto me, for the lady that is dead did me great damage, and else would I have been loth as any knight that liveth for to slay a lady. Make you ready, said the knight Lanceor, and dress you unto me, for that one shall abide in the field. Then they took their spears, and came together as much as their horses might drive, and the Irish knight smote Balin on the shield, that all went shivers of his spear, and Balin hit him through the shield, and the hauberk perished, and so pierced through his body and the horse croup, and anon turned his horse fiercely and drew out his sword, and wist not that he had slain him, and then he saw him lie as a dead corpse.

How a damsel, which was love to Lanceor, slew herself for love; and how Balin met with his brother Balan.

Then he looked by him, and was ware of a damsel that came riding full fast as the horse might ride, on a fair palfrey. And when she espied that Lanceor was slain she made sorrow out of measure, and said, O Balin, two bodies thou hast slain and one heart, and two hearts in one body, and two souls thou hast lost. And therewith she took the sword from her love that lay dead, and fell to the ground in a swoon. And when she arose she made great dole out of measure, the which sorrow grieved Balin passingly sore, and he went unto her for to have taken the sword out of her hand, but she held it so fast he might not take it out of her hand unless he should have hurt her, and suddenly she set the pommel to the ground, and rove herself through the body. When Balin espied her deeds, he was passing heavy in his heart, and ashamed that so fair a damsel had destroyed herself for the love of his death. Alas, said Balin, me repenteth sore the death of this knight for the love of this damsel, for there was much true love betwixt them both. And for sorrow he might no longer hold him, but turned his horse and looked towards a great forest, and there he was ware, by the arms, of his brother Balan. And when they were met they put off their helms and kissed together, and wept for joy and pity. Then Balan said, I little wend to have met with you at this sudden adventure; I am right glad of your deliverance out of your dolorous prisonment, for a man told me in the castle of Four Stones that ye were delivered, and that man had seen you in the court of king Arthur, and therefore I came hither into this country, for here I supposed to find you. Anon the knight Balin told his brother of his adventure of the sword, and of the death of the Lady of the lake, and how king Arthur was displeased with him: Wherefore he sent this knight after me that lieth here dead; and the death of this damsel grieveth me sore. So doth it me, said Balan, but ye must take the adventure that God will ordain you. Truly, said Balin, I am right heavy that my lord Arthur is displeased with me, for he is the most worshipful knight that reigneth now on earth, and his love I will get or else I will put my life in adventure; for the king Ryons lieth at a siege at the castle Terrabil, and thither will we draw in all haste, to prove our worship and prowess upon him. I will well, said Balan, that we do, and we will help each other as brethren ought to do.

How a dwarf reproved Balin for the death of Lanceor, and how king Mark of Cornwall found them, and made a tomb over them.

Now go we hence, said Balin, and well be we met. The meanwhile as they talked there came a dwarf from the city of Camelot on horseback, as 54much as he might, and found the dead bodies, wherefore he made great dole, and pulled out his hair for sorrow, and said, Which of you knights have done this deed? Whereby askest thou it, said Balan. For I would wit it, said the dwarf. It was I, said Balin, that slew this knight in my defence, for hither came he to chase me, and either I must slay him or he me; and this damsel slew herself for his love, which repenteth me, and for her sake I shall owe all women the better love. Alas, said the dwarf, thou hast done great damage unto thyself, for this knight that is here dead was one of the most valiantest men that lived, and trust well, Balin, the kin of this knight will chase you through the world till they have slain you. As for that, said Balin, I fear not greatly, but I am right heavy that I have displeased my lord king Arthur for the death of this knight. So as they talked together there came a king of Cornwall riding, the which hight king Mark. And when he saw these two bodies dead, and understood how they were dead by the two knights above said, then made the king great sorrow for the true love that was betwixt them, and said, I will not depart till I have on this earth made a tomb. And there he pight his pavilions, and sought through all the country to find a tomb, and in a church they found one was fair and rich, and then the king let put them both in the earth, and put the tomb upon them, and wrote the names of them both on the tomb:—How here lieth Lanceor the king’s son of Ireland that at his own request was slain by the hands of Balin, and how his lady Colombe slew herself with her love’s sword for dole and sorrow.

How Merlin prophesied that two the best knights of the world should fight there, which were Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram.

The meanwhile as this was adoing, in came Merlin to king Mark, and seeing all his doing said, Here shall be in this same place the greatest battle betwixt two knights that was or ever shall be, and the truest lovers, and yet none of them shall slay other. And there Merlin wrote their names upon the tomb with letters of gold that should fight in that place, whose names were Launcelot de Lake, and Tristram. Thou art a marvellous man, said king Mark unto Merlin, that speakest of such marvels, thou art a rude man and an unlikely to tell of such deeds; what is thy name? said king Mark. At this time, said Merlin, I will not tell, but at that time when Sir Tristram is taken with his sovereign lady, then ye shall hear and know my name, and at that time ye shall hear tidings that shall not please you. Then said Merlin to Balin, Thou hast done thyself great hurt, because thou savedst not this lady that slew herself, that might have saved her and thou wouldest. By the faith of my body, said Balin, I might not save her, for she slew herself suddenly. Me repenteth, said Merlin, because of the death of that lady thou shalt strike a stroke the most dolorous that ever man struck, except the stroke of our Lord, for thou shalt hurt the truest knight and the man of most worship that now liveth, and through that stroke three kingdoms shall be in great poverty, misery, and wretchedness, twelve year, and the knight shall not be whole of that wound many years. Then Merlin took his leave of Balin. And Balin said, If I wist it were sooth that ye say, I should do such a perilous deed as that I would slay myself to make thee a liar. Therewith Merlin vanished away suddenly. And then Balin and his brother took their leave of king Mark. First, said the king, tell me your name. Sir, said Balan, ye may see he beareth two swords, thereby ye may call him the knight with the two swords. And so departed king Mark unto Camelot to king Arthur, and Balin took the way to king Ryons: and as they rode together they met with Merlin disguised, but they knew him not. Whither 55ride you? said Merlin. We have little to do, said the two knights, to tell thee: But what is thy name? said Balin. At this time, said Merlin, I will not tell it thee. It is evil seen, said the two knights, that thou art a true man that thou wilt not tell thy name. As for that, said Merlin, be it as it be may, I can tell you wherefore ye ride this way, for to meet king Ryons, but it will not avail you without ye have my counsel. Ah, said Balin, ye are Merlin: we will be ruled by your counsel. Come on, said Merlin, ye shall have great worship, and look that ye do knightly, for ye shall have great need. As for that, said Balin, dread you not, we will do what we may.

How Balin and his brother by the counsel of Merlin took king Ryons, and brought him to king Arthur.

Then Merlin lodged them in a wood among leaves beside the highway, and took off the bridles of their horses and put them to grass, and laid them down to rest them till it was nigh midnight. Then Merlin bad them rise and make them ready, for the king was nigh them, that was stolen away from his host with a threescore horses of his best knights, and twenty of them rode tofore, to warn the lady De Vance that the king was coming. Which is the king? said Balin. Abide, said Merlin, here in a straight way ye shall meet with him; and therewith he shewed Balin and his brother where he rode. Anon Balin and his brother met with the king, and smote him down, and wounded him fiercely, and laid him to the ground, and there they slew on the right hand and the left hand, and slew more than forty of his men; and the remnant fled. Then went they again to king Ryons, and would have slain him had he not yielded him unto their grace. Then said he thus: Knights full of prowess, slay me not, for by my life ye may win, and by my death ye shall win nothing. Then said these two knights, Ye say sooth and truth; and so laid him on an horse-litter. With that Merlin was vanished, and came to king Arthur, aforehand, and told him how his most enemy was taken and discomfited. By whom? said king Arthur. By two knights, said Merlin, that would please your lordship, and to-morrow ye shall know what knights they are. Anon after came the knight with the two swords, and Balan his brother, and brought with them king Ryons of North Wales, and there delivered him to the porters, and charged them with him; and so they two returned again in the dawning of the day. King Arthur came then to king Ryons and said, Sir king ye are welcome: by what adventure come ye hither? Sir, said king Ryons, I came hither by an hard adventure. Who won you? said king Arthur. Sir, said the king, the knight with the two swords and his brother, which are two marvellous knights of prowess. I know them not, said Arthur, but much I am beholden to them. Ah, said Merlin, I shall tell you, it is Balin that achieved the sword, and his brother Balan, a good knight, there liveth not a better of prowess, and of worthiness; and it shall be the greatest dole of him that ever I knew of knight, for he shall not long endure. Alas, said king Arthur, that is great pity, for I am much beholden unto him, and I have ill deserved it unto him for his kindness. Nay, said Merlin, he shall do much more for you, and that shall ye know in haste. But, Sir, are ye purveyed? said Merlin; for to-morn the host of Nero, king Ryons’s brother, will set on you or noon with a great host, and therefore make you ready, for I will depart from you.

How king Arthur had a battle against Nero and king Lot of Orkney, and how king Lot was deceived by Merlin, and how twelve kings were slain.

Then king Arthur made ready his host in ten battles, and Nero was ready in the field afore the castle 56Terrabil with a great host, for he had ten battles, with many more people than Arthur had. Then Nero had the vaward with the most party of his people: and Merlin came to king Lot of the Isle of Orkney, and held him with a tale of prophecy till Nero and his people were destroyed. And there Sir Kay the seneschal did passingly well, that the days of his life the worship went never from him. And Sir Hervis de Revel did marvellous deeds with king Arthur, and king Arthur slew that day twenty knights and maimed forty. At that time came in the knight with the two swords, and his brother Balan, but they two did so marvellously that the king and all the knights marvelled of them, and all they that beheld them said they were sent from heaven as angels, or devils from hell: and king Arthur said himself they were the best knights that ever he saw, for they gave such strokes that all men had wonder of them. In the meanwhile came one to king Lot, and told him while he tarried there Nero was destroyed and slain with all his people. Alas, said king Lot, I am ashamed, for by my default there is many a worshipful man slain, for and we had been together there had been none host under the heaven that had been able for to have matched with us: this deceiver with his prophecy hath mocked me. All that did Merlin, for he knew well that if king Lot had been with his body there at the first battle, king Arthur had been slain and all his people destroyed. And well Merlin knew that one of the kings should be dead that day; and loth was Merlin that any of them both should be slain, but of the twain he had lever king Lot had been slain than king Arthur.

Now what is best to do? said king Lot of Orkney, whether is me better to treat with king Arthur or to fight, for the greater part of our people are slain and destroyed. Sir, said a knight, set on Arthur, for they are weary and for-foughten, and we be fresh. As for me, said king Lot, I would that every knight would do his part as I would do mine. And then they advanced banners and smote together, and all to-shivered their spears; and Arthur’s knights, with the help of the knight with the two swords and his brother Balan, put king Lot and his host to the worse. But alway king Lot held him in the foremost front, and did marvellous deeds of arms, for all his host was borne up by his hands, for he abode all knights. Alas, he might not endure, the which was great pity, that so worthy a knight as he was should be overmatched, that of late time afore had been a knight of king Arthur’s, and wedded the sister of king Arthur, and for the wrong king Arthur did him therefore king Lot held against Arthur. So there was a knight that was called the knight with the strange beast, and at that time his right name was called Pellinore, the which was a good man of prowess, and he smote a mighty stroke at king Lot as he fought with all his enemies, and he failed of his stroke, and he smote the horse’s neck, that he fell to the ground with king Lot; and therewith anon Sir Pellinore smote him a great stroke through the helm and head unto the brows. And then all the host of Orkney fled for the death of king Lot; and there were slain many mothers’ sons. But king Pellinore bare the blame of the death of king Lot, wherefore Sir Gawaine revenged the death of his father the tenth year after he was made knight, and slew king Pellinore with his own hands. Also there were slain at that battle twelve kings on the side of king Lot with Nero, and all were buried in the church of Saint Stephen’s, in Camelot; and the remnant of knights and of other were buried in a great rock.

Of the interment of twelve kings, and of the prophecy of Merlin, and how Balin should give the dolorous stroke.

So at the interment came king Lot’s wife Morgause, with her four sons, Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth. Also there came thither king 57Uriens, Sir Ewaine’s father, and Morgan le Fay his wife, that was king Arthur’s sister. All these came to the interment. But of all these twelve kings king Arthur let make the tomb of king Lot passing richly, and made his tomb by his own; and then king Arthur let make twelve images of laton and copper, and over-gilt it with gold, in the sign of twelve kings, and each one of them held a taper of wax that burnt day and night: and king Arthur was made in sign of a figure standing above them with a sword drawn in his hand: and all the twelve figures had countenance like unto men that were overcome. All this made Merlin by his subtil craft; and there he told the king, When I am dead these tapers shall burn no longer; and soon after the adventures of the Sangreal shall come among you and be achieved. Also he told Arthur how Balin the worshipful knight shall give the dolorous stroke, whereof shall fall great vengeance. O where is Balin, and Balan, and Pellinore? said king Arthur. As for Pellinore, said Merlin, he will meet with you soon: and as for Balin, he will not be long from you: but the other brother will depart; ye shall see him no more. By my faith, said Arthur, they are two marvellous knights, and namely Balin passeth of prowess of any knight that ever I found, for much beholden am I unto him; would that he would abide with me. Sir, said Merlin, look ye keep well the scabbard of Excalibur, for ye shall lose no blood while ye have the scabbard upon you, though ye have as many wounds upon you as ye may have. So after, for great trust Arthur betook the scabbard to Morgan le Fay his sister, and she loved another knight better than her husband king Uriens or king Arthur, and she would have had Arthur her brother slain, and therefore she let make another scabbard like it by enchantment, and gave the scabbard of Excalibur to her love. And the knight’s name was called Accolon, that after had near slain king Arthur. After this Merlin told unto king Arthur of the prophecy that there should be a great battle beside Salisbury, and that Mordred his sister’s son should be against him. Also he told him that Basdemegus was his cousin, and germain unto king Uriens.

How a sorrowful knight came tofore king Arthur, and how Balin fetched him, and how that knight was slain by a knight invisible.

Within a day or two king Arthur was somewhat sick, and he let pitch his pavilion in a meadow, and there he laid him down on a pallet to sleep, but he might have no rest. Right so he heard a great noise of an horse, and therewith the king looked out at the porch of the pavilion, and saw a knight coming even by him making great dole. Abide, fair sir, said Arthur, and tell me wherefore thou makest this sorrow? Ye may little amend me, said the knight, and so passed forth to the castle of Meliot. Anon after there came Balin, and when he saw king Arthur he alight off his horse, and came to the king on foot, and saluted him. By my head, said Arthur, ye be welcome. Sir, right now came riding this way a knight making great mourn, for what cause I cannot tell, wherefore I would desire of you of your courtesy and of your gentleness to fetch again that knight either by force or else by his good-will. I will do more for your lordship than that, said Balin: and so he rode more than a pace, and found the knight with a damsel in a forest, and said, Sir knight, ye must come with me unto king Arthur, for to tell him of your sorrow. That will I not, said the knight, for it will scathe me greatly, and do you none avail. Sir, said Balin, I pray you make you ready, for ye must go with me, or else I must fight with you and bring you by force, and that were me loth to do. Will ye be my warrant, said the knight, and I go with you? Yea, said Balin, or else I will die therefore. And so he made him ready to go with Balin, and left the damsel still. And as they were even 58afore king Arthur’s pavilion there came one invisible, and smote this knight that went with Balin throughout the body with a spear. Alas, said the knight, I am slain under your conduct, with a knight called Garlon: therefore take my horse, that is better than your’s, and ride to the damsel, and follow the quest that I was in as she will lead you, and revenge my death when ye may. That shall I do, said Balin, and that I make a vow unto knighthood. And so he departed from this knight with great sorrow. So king Arthur let bury this knight richly, and made a mention on his tomb how there was slain Herlews le Berbeus, and by whom the treachery was done,—the knight Garlon. But ever the damsel bare the truncheon of the spear with her that Sir Herlews was slain withal.

How Balin and the damsel met with a knight which was in likewise slain, and how the damsel bled for the custom of a castle.

So Balin and the damsel rode into a forest, and there met with a knight that had been on hunting, and that knight asked Balin for what cause he made so great sorrow. Me list not to tell you, said Balin. Now, said the knight, and I were armed as ye be I would fight with you. That should little need, said Balin; I am not afeard to tell you; and told him all the cause, how it was. Ah, said the knight, is this all: here I ensure you by the faith of my body never to depart from you while my life lasteth. And so they went to the hostry and armed them, and so rode forth with Balin. And as they came by an hermitage even by a churchyard, there came the knight Garlon invisible, and smote this knight, Perin de Mountbeliard, through the body with a spear. Alas, said the knight, I am slain by this traitor knight that rideth invisible. Alas, said Balin, it is not the first despite that he hath done me. And there the hermit and Balin buried the knight under a rich stone, and a tomb royal. And on the morn they found letters of gold written, how Sir Gawaine shall revenge his father’s death, king Lot, on the king Pellinore. Anon after this Balin and the damsel rode till they came to a castle, and there Balin alighted, and he and the damsel wend to go into the castle. And anon as Balin came within the castle gate the portcullis fell down at his back, and there fell many men about the damsel, and would have slain her. When Balin saw that, he was sore grieved, for he might not help the damsel. And then he went up into the tower, and lept over the walls into the ditch, and hurt him not; and anon he pulled out his sword, and would have foughten with them. And they all said nay, they would not fight with him, for they did nothing but the old custom of the castle, and told him how their lady was sick, and had lain many years, and she might not be whole, but if she had a dish of silver full of blood of a maid and a king’s daughter; and therefore the custom of this castle is that there shall no damsel pass this way, but that she shall bleed of her blood in a silver dish full. Well, said Balin, she shall bleed as much as she may bleed, but I will not lose the life of her while my life lasteth. And so Balin made her to bleed by her good-will, but her blood helped not the lady. And so he and she rested there all night, and had there right good cheer, and on the morn they passed on their ways. And as it telleth after in the Sangreal, that Sir Percivale’s sister helped that lady with her blood, whereof she died.

How Balin met with that knight named Garlon at a feast, and there he slew him, to have his blood to heal therewith the son of his host.

Then they rode three or four days and never met with adventure, and by hap they were lodged with a gentleman that was a rich man and well at ease. 59And as they sat at their supper, Balin heard one complain grievously by him in a chair. What is this noise? said Balin. Forsooth, said his host, I will tell you. I was but late at a justing, and there I justed with a knight that is brother unto king Pellam, and twice smote I him down; and then he promised to quit me on my best friend, and so he wounded my son, that cannot be whole till I have of that knight’s blood, and he rideth alway invisible, but I know not his name. Ah, said Balin, I know that knight, his name is Garlon, he hath slain two knights of mine in the same manner, therefore I had rather meet with that knight than all the gold in this realm, for the despite he hath done me. Well, said his host, I shall tell you, king Pellam of Listeneise hath made cry in all this country a great feast that shall be within these twenty days, and no knight may come there but if he bring his wife with him, or his love; and that knight, your enemy and mine, ye shall see that day. Then I promise you, said Balin, part of his blood to heal your son withal. We will be forward to-morrow, said his host. So on the morn they rode all three toward Pellam, and they had fifteen days’ journey or they came thither; and that same day began the great feast. And so they alight and stabled their horses, and went into the castle; but Balin’s host might not be let in because he had no lady. Then Balin was well received, and brought unto a chamber and unarmed him, and they brought him robes to his pleasure, and would have had Balin leave his sword behind him. Nay, said Balin, that do I not, for it is the custom of my country a knight alway to keep his weapon with him, and that custom will I keep, or else I will depart as I came. Then they gave him leave to wear his sword, and so he went unto the castle, and was set among knights of worship, and his lady afore him. Soon Balin asked a knight, Is there not a knight in this court whose name is Garlon? Yonder he goeth, said a knight, he with the black face; he is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible. Ah, well, said Balin, is that he? Then Balin advised him long:—If I slay him here I shall not escape, and if I leave him now peradventure I shall never meet with him again at such a good time, and much harm he will do and he live. Therewith this Garlon espied that this Balin beheld him, and then he came and smote Balin on the face with the back of his hand, and said, Knight, why beholdest thou me so? for shame, therefore, eat thy meat, and do that thou came for. Thou sayest sooth, said Balin, this is not the first despite that thou hast done me, and therefore I will do that I came for; and rose up fiercely, and clave his head to the shoulders. Give me the truncheon, said Balin to his lady, wherewith he slew your knight. Anon she gave it him, for alway she bare the truncheon with her; and therewith Balin smote him through the body, and said openly, With that truncheon thou hast slain a good knight, and now it sticketh in thy body. And then Balin called to him his host, saying, Now may ye fetch blood enough to heal your son withal.

How Balin fought with king Pellam, and how his sword brake, and how he gat a spear wherewith he smote the dolorous stroke.

Anon all the knights arose from the table for to set on Balin. And king Pellam himself arose up fiercely, and said, Knight, hast thou slain my brother? thou shalt die therefore or thou depart. Well, said Balin, do it yourself. Yes, said king Pellam, there shall no man have ado with thee but myself, for the love of my brother. Then king Pellam caught in his hand a grim weapon and smote eagerly at Balin, but Balin put the sword betwixt his head and the stroke, and therewith his sword burst in sunder. And when Balin was weaponless he ran into a chamber for to 60seek some weapon, and so from chamber to chamber, and no weapon he could find, and alway king Pellam after him. And at the last he entered into a chamber that was marvellously well dight and richly, and a bed arrayed with cloth of gold, the richest that might be thought, and one lying therein, and thereby stood a table of clean gold, with four pillars of silver that bare up the table, and upon the table stood a marvellous spear, strangely wrought. And when Balin saw that spear he gat it in his hand, and turned him to king Pellam, and smote him passingly sore with that spear, that king Pellam fell down in a swoon, and therewith the castle roof and walls brake and fell to the earth, and Balin fell down so that he might not stir foot nor hand. And so the most part of the castle that was fallen down through that dolorous stroke lay upon Pellam and Balin three days.

How Balin was delivered by Merlin, and saved a knight that would have slain himself for love.

Then Merlin came thither and took up Balin, and gat him a good horse, for his was dead, and bade him ride out of that country. I would have my damsel, said Balin. Lo, said Merlin, where she lieth dead. And king Pellam lay so many years sore wounded, and might never be whole, till Galahad, the haut prince, healed him in the quest of the Sangreal; for in that place was part of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Joseph of Arimathea brought into this land, and there himself lay in that rich bed. And that was the same spear that Longius smote our Lord to the heart; and king Pellam was nigh of Joseph’s kin, and that was the most worshipful man that lived in those days, and great pity it was of his hurt, for that stroke turned to great dole, trouble, and grief.

Then departed Balin from Merlin, and said, In this world we meet never no more. So he rode forth through the fair countries and cities, and found the people dead, slain on every side. And all that were alive cried, O Balin, thou hast caused great damage in these countries; for the dolorous stroke thou gavest unto king Pellam three countries are destroyed, and doubt not but the vengeance will fall on thee at the last. When Balin was past those countries he was passing glad. So he rode eight days or he met with adventure. And at the last he came into a fair forest in a valley, and was ware of a tower, and there beside he saw a great horse of war tied to a tree, and there beside sat a fair knight on the ground and made great mourning; and he was a likely man and a well made. Balin said, God save you, why be ye so heavy? tell me, and I will amend it and I may to my power. Sir knight, said he again, thou doest me great grief, for I was in merry thoughts, and now thou puttest me to more pain. Balin went a little from him, and looked on his horse; then heard Balin him say thus: Ah, fair lady, why have ye broken my promise, for thou promisedst me to meet me here by noon, and I may curse thee that ever ye gave me this sword, for with this sword I slay myself,—and pulled it out; and therewith Balin start unto him, and took him by the hand. Let go my hand, said the knight, or else I shall slay thee. That shall not need, said Balin, for I shall promise you my help to get you your lady, and ye will tell me where she is. What is your name? said the knight. My name is Balin le Savage. Ah, sir, I know you well enough; ye are the knight with the two swords, and the man of most prowess of your hands living. What is your name? said Balin. My name is Garnish of the Mount, a poor man’s son, but by my prowess and hardiness a duke hath made me knight, and gave me lands; his name is duke Hermel, and his daughter is she that I love, and she me as I deemed. How far is she hence? said Balin. But six mile, said the knight. Now ride we hence, said these two knights. So they 61rode more than a pace till they came to a fair castle, well walled and ditched. I will into the castle, said Balin, and look if she be there. So he went in, and searched from chamber to chamber, and found her bed, but she was not there; then Balin looked into a fair little garden, and under a laurel tree he saw her lie upon a quilt of green samite, and a knight with her, and under their heads grass and herbs. When Balin saw her with the foulest knight that ever he saw, and she a fair lady, then Balin went through all the chambers again, and told the knight how he found her, as she had slept fast, and so brought him in the place where she lay fast sleeping.

How that knight slew his love and a knight with her, and after how he slew himself with his own sword, and how Balin rode toward a castle where he lost his life.

And when Garnish beheld her so lying, for pure sorrow his mouth and nose burst out on bleeding, and with his sword he smote off both their heads, and then he made sorrow out of measure and said, Oh Balin, much sorrow hast thou brought unto me, for hadst thou not shewn me that sight I should have passed my sorrow. Forsooth, said Balin, I did it to this intent that it should better thy courage, and that ye might see and know her falsehood, and to cause you to leave love of such a lady: truly I did none other but as I would ye did to me. Alas! said Garnish, now is my sorrow double that I may not endure: now have I slain that I most loved in all my life. And therewith suddenly he rove himself on his own sword unto the hilts. When Balin saw that, he dressed him thenceward, lest folks would say he had slain them, and so he rode forth, and within three days he came by a cross, and thereon were letters of gold written that said, It is not for any knight alone to ride toward this castle. Then saw he an old hoar gentleman coming toward him that said, Balin le Savage, thou passest thy bounds to come this way, therefore turn again and it will avail thee. And he vanished away anon; and so he heard an horn blow as it had been the death of a beast. That blast, said Balin, is blown for me, for I am the prize, yet am I not dead. Anon withal he saw an hundred ladies and many knights, that welcomed him with fair semblance, and made him passing good cheer unto his sight, and led him into the castle, and there was dancing and minstrelsy, and all manner of joy. Then the chief lady of the castle said, Knight with the two swords, ye must have ado with a knight hereby that keepeth an island, for there may no man pass this way but he must just or he pass. That is an unhappy custom, said Balin, that a knight may not pass this way but if he just. Ye shall not have ado but with one knight, said the lady. Well, said Balin, since I shall, thereto am I ready, but travelling men are oft weary, and their horses also; but though my horse be weary my heart is not weary. I would be fain there my death should be. Sir, said a knight to Balin, me thinketh your shield is not good, I will lend you a bigger: therefore I pray you: and so he took the shield that was unknown and left his own, and so rode unto the island, and put him and his horse in a great boat, and when he came on the other side he met with a damsel, and she said, O knight Balin, why have ye left your own shield? alas! ye have put your self in great danger, for by your shield ye should have been known: it is great pity of you as ever was of knight, for of thy prowess and hardiness thou hast no fellow living. Me repenteth, said Balin, that ever I came within this country, but I may not turn now again for shame, and what adventure shall fall to me, be it life or death, I will take the adventure that shall come to me. And then he looked on his armour, and understood he was well armed, and therewith blessed him, and mounted upon his horse.

How Balin met with his brother Balan, and how each of them slew other unknown, till they were wounded to death.

Then afore him he saw come riding out of a castle a knight, and his horse trapped all red, and himself in the same colour. When this knight in the red beheld Balin, him thought it should be his brother Balin because of his two swords, but because he knew not his shield, he deemed it was not he. And so they aventred their spears, and came marvellously fast together, and they smote each other in the shields, but their spears and their course were so big that it bare down horse and man, that they lay both in a swoon. But Balin was bruised sore with the fall of his horse, for he was weary of travel. And Balan was the first that rose on foot and drew his sword, and went toward Balin, and he arose and went against him, but Balan smote Balin first, and he put up his shield, and smote him through the shield and cleft his helm. Then Balin smote him again with that unhappy sword, and well nigh had felled his brother Balan, and so they fought there together till their breaths failed. Then Balin looked up to the castle, and saw the towers stand full of ladies. So they went to battle again, and wounded each other dolefully, and then they breathed oft-times, and so went unto battle, that all the place there as they fought was blood red. And at that time there was none of them both but they had either smitten other seven great wounds, so that the least of them might have been the death of the mightiest giant in this world. Then they went to battle again so marvellously that doubt it was to hear of that battle for the great bloodshedding, and their hauberks unnailed, that naked they were on every side. At the last Balan, the younger brother, withdrew him a little and laid him down. Then said Balin le Savage, What knight art thou? for or now I found never no knight that matched me. My name is, said he, Balan, brother to the good knight Balin. Alas! said Balin, that ever I should see this day. And therewith he fell backward in a swoon. Then Balan went on all four feet and hands, and put off the helm of his brother, and might not know him by the visage it was so full hewen and bled; but when he awoke he said, O Balan, my brother, thou hast slain me and I thee, wherefore all the wide world shall speak of us both. Alas! said Balan, that ever I saw this day, that through mishap I might not know you, for I espied well your two swords, but because ye had another shield I deemed you had been another knight. Alas! said Balin, all that made an unhappy knight in the castle, for he caused me to leave mine own shield to our both’s destruction, and if I might live I would destroy that castle for ill customs. That were well done, said Balan, for I had never grace to depart from them since that I came hither, for here it happed me to slay a knight that kept this island, and since might I never depart, and no more should ye brother, and ye might have slain me as ye have, and escaped yourself with the life. Right so came the lady of the tower with four knights and six ladies and six yeomen unto them, and there she heard how they made their moan either to other, and said, We came both out of one womb, and so shall we lye both in one pit. So Balan prayed the lady of her gentleness, for his true service that she would bury them both in that same place there the battle was done. And she granted them with weeping it should be done richly in the best manner. Now will ye send for a priest, that we may receive our sacrament and receive the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, said the lady, it shall be done. And so she sent for a priest and gave them their rites. Now, said Balin, when we are buried in one tomb, and the mention made over us how two brethren slew each other, there will never good knight nor good man see our tomb but they 63will pray for our souls. And so all the ladies and gentlewomen wept for pity. Then, anon Balan died, but Balin died not till the midnight after, and so were they buried both, and the lady let make a mention of Balan how he was there slain by his brother’s hands, but she knew not Balin’s name.

How Merlin buried them both in one tomb, and of Balin’s sword.

In the morn came Merlin and let write Balin’s name upon the tomb, with letters of gold, That here lieth Balin le Savage, that was the knight with the two swords, and he that smote the dolorous stroke. Also Merlin let make there a bed, that there should never man lye therein but he went out of his wit, yet Launcelot de Lake fordid that bed through his nobleness. And anon after Balin was dead, Merlin took his sword and took off the pommel, and set on another pommel. So Merlin bad a knight that stood afore him to handle that sword, and he assayed, and he might not handle it. Then Merlin laughed. Why laugh ye? said the knight. This is the cause, said Merlin: there shall never man handle this sword but the best knight of the world, and that shall be Sir Launcelot, or else Galahad his son, and Launcelot with this sword shall slay the man that in the world he loved best, that shall be Sir Gawaine. All this he let write in the pommel of the sword. Then Merlin let make a bridge of iron and of steel into that island, and it was but half a foot broad, and there shall never man pass that bridge, nor have hardiness to go over, but if he were a passing good man and a good knight without treachery or villainy. Also the scabbard of Balin’s sword Merlin left it on this side the island that Galahad should find it. Also Merlin let make by his subtilty that Balin’s sword was put in a marble stone standing upright as great as a millstone, and the stone hoved always above the water, and did many years, and so by adventure it swam down the stream to the city of Camelot, that is in English Winchester. And that same day Galahad the haut prince came with king Arthur, and so Galahad brought with him the scabbard, and achieved the sword that was there in the marble stone hoving upon the water. And on Whitsunday he achieved the sword, as it is rehearsed in the book of the Sangreal. Soon after this was done Merlin came to king Arthur and told him of the dolorous stroke that Balin gave to king Pellam, and how Balin and Balan fought together the most marvellous battle that ever was heard of, and how they were buried both in one tomb. Alas! said king Arthur, this is the greatest pity that ever I heard tell of two knights, for in the world I know not such two knights. Thus endeth the tale of Balin and Balan, two brethren born in Northumberland, good knights.

Sequitur iii liber.

The Third Book.
How king Arthur took a wife, and wedded Guenever daughter to Leodegrance, king of the land of Cameliard, with whom he had the Round Table.

In the beginning of Arthur, after he was chosen king by adventure and by grace,—for the most part of the barons knew not that he was Uther Pendragon’s son, but as Merlin made it openly known,—many kings and lords made great war against him for that cause; but well Arthur overcame them all; for the most part of the days of his life he was ruled much by the counsel of Merlin. So it fell on a time king Arthur said unto Merlin, My barons will let me have no rest, but needs I must take a wife, and I will none take but by thy counsel and by thine advice. It is well done, said Merlin, that ye take a wife, for a man of your bounty and nobleness should not be without a wife. Now is there any that ye love more than another? Yea, said king Arthur, I love Guenever, the daughter of king Leodegrance, of the land of Cameliard, which Leodegrance holdeth in his house the Table Round, that ye told he had of my father, Uther. And this damsel is the most valiant and fairest lady that I know living, or yet that ever I could find. Sir, said Merlin, as of her beauty and fairness she is one of the fairest on live. But and ye loved her not so well as ye do, I could find you a damsel of beauty and of goodness that should like you and please you, and your heart were not set; but there as a man’s heart is set, he will be loth to return. That is truth, said king Arthur. But Merlin warned the king covertly that Guenever was not wholesome for him to take to wife, for he warned him that Launcelot should love her, and she him again; and so he turned his tale to the adventures of the Sangreal. Then Merlin desired of the king to have men with him that should enquire of Guenever, and so the king granted him. And Merlin went forth to king Leodegrance of Cameliard, and told him of the desire of the king that he would have unto his wife Guenever his daughter. That is to me, said king Leodegrance, the best tidings that ever I heard, that so worthy a king of prowess and noblesse will wed my daughter. And as for my lands I will give him wist I it might please him, but he hath lands enough, him needeth none, but I shall send him a gift shall please him much more, for I shall give him the Table Round, the which Uther Pendragon gave me, and when it is full complete there is an hundred knights and fifty. And as for an hundred good knights I have myself, but I lack fifty, for so many have been slain in my days. And so king Leodegrance delivered his daughter Guenever unto Merlin, and the Table Round, with the hundred knights, and so they rode freshly, with great royalty, what by water and what by land, till that they came nigh unto London.

How the knights of the Round Table were ordained, and their sieges blessed by the bishop of Canterbury.

When king Arthur heard of the coming of Guenever and the hundred knights with the Table Round, then king Arthur made great joy for their coming, and that rich present, and said openly, This fair lady is passing welcome unto me, for I have loved her long, and therefore there is nothing so lief to me. And these knights with the Round Table please me more than right great riches. And in all haste the 65king let ordain for the marriage and the coronation in the most honourablest wise that could be devised. Now Merlin, said king Arthur, go thou and espy me in all this land fifty knights which be of most prowess and worship. Within short time Merlin had found such knights that should fulfil twenty and eight knights, but no more he could find. Then the bishop of Canterbury was fetched, and he blessed the sieges with great royalty and devotion, and there set the eight and twenty knights in their sieges. And when this was done Merlin said, Fair sirs, ye must all arise and come to king Arthur for to do him homage; he will have the better will to maintain you. And so they arose and did their homage. And when they were gone Merlin found in every siege letters of gold that told the knights’ names that had sitten therein. But two sieges were void. And so anon came young Gawaine, and asked the king a gift. Ask, said the king, and I shall grant it you. Sir, I ask that ye will make me knight that same day ye shall wed fair Guenever. I will do it with a good will, said king Arthur, and do unto you all the worship that I may, for I must by reason you are my nephew, my sister’s son.

How a poor man riding upon a lean mare desired king Arthur to make his son knight.

Forthwithal there came a poor man into the court, and brought with him a fair young man of eighteen year of age, riding upon a lean mare. And the poor man asked all men that he met, Where shall I find king Arthur? Yonder he is, said the knights, wilt thou anything with him? Yea, said the poor man, therefore I came hither. Anon as he came before the king, he saluted him and said: O king Arthur, the flower of all knights and kings, I beseech Jesu save thee: Sir, it was told me that at this time of your marriage ye would give any man the gift that he would ask out, except that were unreasonable. That is truth, said the king, such cries I let make, and that will I hold, so it impair not my realm nor mine estate. Ye say well and graciously, said the poor man: Sir, I ask nothing else but that ye will make my son here a knight. It is a great thing that thou askest of me: what is thy name? said the king to the poor man. Sir, my name is Aries the cowherd. Whether cometh this of thee or of thy son? said the king. Nay Sir, said Aries, this desire cometh of my son and not of me. For I shall tell you I have thirteen sons, and all they will fall to what labour I put them to, and will be right glad to do labour, but this child will do no labour for me, for anything that my wife or I may do, but always he will be shooting or casting darts, and glad for to see battles, and to behold knights; and always day and night he desireth of me to be made a knight. What is thy name? said the king unto the young man. Sir, my name is Tor. The king beheld him fast, and saw he was passingly well visaged and passingly well made of his years. Well, said king Arthur to Aries the cowherd, fetch all thy sons afore me that I may see them. And so the poor man did, and all were shapen much like the poor man: but Tor was not like none of them all in shape nor in countenance, for he was much more than any of them. Now, said king Arthur unto the cowherd, where is the sword that he shall be made knight withal? It is here, said Tor. Take it out of the sheath, said the king, and require me to make you a knight. Then Tor alight off his mare, and pulled out his sword, kneeling, and requiring the king that he would make him knight, and that he might be a knight of the Table Round. As for a knight I will make you; and therewith smote him in the neck with the sword, saying, Be ye a good knight, and so I pray to God so ye may be, and if ye be of prowess and of worthiness ye shall be a knight of the Table Round. Now Merlin, said Arthur, say whether this Tor shall be a good knight or no. Yea, sir, he ought to be a good knight, 66for he is come of as good a man as any is on live, and of king’s blood. How so, sir? said the king. I shall tell you, said Merlin: this poor man, Aries the cowherd, is not his father, he is nothing like to him, for king Pellinore is his father. I suppose nay, said the cowherd. Fetch thy wife afore me, said Merlin, and she shall not say nay. Anon, the wife was fetched, which was a fair house-wife, and there she answered Merlin full womanly. And there she told the king and Merlin that when she was a maid, and went to milk kine, There met with me a stern knight, and half by force he held me, and after that time was born my son Tor, and he took away from me my greyhound that I had that time with me, and said that he would keep the greyhound for my love. Ah, said the cowherd, I wend not this, but I may believe it well, for he had never no taches of me. Sir, said Tor to Merlin, dishonour not my mother. Sir, said Merlin, it is more for your worship than hurt, for your father is a good man and a king, and he may right well advance you and your mother, for ye were begotten or ever she was wedded. That is truth, said the wife. It is the less grief to me, said the cowherd.

How Sir Tor was known for son of king Pellinore, and how Gawaine was made knight.

So on the morn king Pellinore came to the court of king Arthur, which had great joy of him, and told him of Tor, how he was his son, and how he had made him knight at the request of the cowherd. When king Pellinore beheld Tor he pleased him much. So the king made Gawaine knight, but Tor was the first he made at the feast. What is the cause, said king Arthur, that there be two places void in the sieges? Sir, said Merlin, there shall no man sit in those places but they that shall be of most worship. But in the Siege Perilous there shall no man sit therein but one, and if there be any so hardy to do it he shall be destroyed, and he that shall sit there shall have no fellow. And therewith Merlin took king Pellinore by the hand, and in the one hand next the two sieges and the Siege Perilous he said, in open audience, This is your place, and best ye are worthy to sit therein of any that is here. Thereat sat Sir Gawaine in great envy, and told Gaheris his brother, Yonder knight is put to great worship, the which grieveth me sore, for he slew our father king Lot, therefore I will slay him, said Gawaine, with a sword that was sent me that is passing trenchant. Ye shall not so, said Gaheris, at this time; for at this time I am but a squire, and when I am made knight I will be avenged on him; and therefore brother it is best ye suffer till another time, that we may have him out of the court, for and we did so we should trouble this high feast. I will well, said Gawaine, as ye will.

How at the feast of the wedding of king Arthur to Guenever, a white hart came into the hall, and thirty couple hounds, and how a brachet pinched the hart, which was taken away.

Then was the high feast made ready, and the king was wedded at Camelot unto Dame Guenever in the church of Saint Stephen’s, with great solemnity. And as every man was set after his degree, Merlin went to all the knights of the Round Table, and bad them sit still, that none of them remove. For ye shall see a strange and a marvellous adventure. Right so as they sat there came running in a white hart into the hall, and a white brachet next him, and thirty couple of black running hounds came after with a great cry, and the hart went about the Table Round. As he went by other boards, the white brachet bit him by the haunch and pulled out a piece, where through the hart lept a great leap and overthrew a knight that sat at the board side, and therewith the knight arose and took up the brachet, and so went forth out of the hall, and took his horse and rode his way with the brachet. 67Right so anon came in a lady on a white palfrey, and cried aloud to king Arthur, Sir, suffer me not to have this despite, for the brachet was mine that the knight led away. I may not do therewith, said the king. With this there came a knight riding all armed on a great horse, and took the lady away with him with force, and ever she cried and made great dole. When she was gone the king was glad, for she made such a noise. Nay, said Merlin, ye may not leave these adventures so lightly, for these adventures must be brought again or else it would be disworship to you and to your feast. I will, said the king, that all be done by your advice. Then, said Merlin, let call Sir Gawaine, for he must bring again the white hart. Also, sir, ye must let call Sir Tor, for he must bring again the brachet and the knight, or else slay him. Also let call king Pellinore, for he must bring again the lady and the knight, or else slay him. And these three knights shall do marvellous adventures or they come again. Then were they called all three as it rehearseth afore, and every each of them took his charge, and armed them surely. But Sir Gawaine had the first request, and therefore we will begin at him.

How Sir Gawaine rode for to fetch again the hart, and how two brethren fought each against other for the hart.

Sir Gawaine rode more than a pace, and Gaheris his brother rode with him instead of a squire, to do him service. So as they rode they saw two knights fight on horseback passing sore, so Sir Gawaine and his brother rode betwixt them, and asked them for what cause they fought so. The one knight answered and said: We fight for a simple matter, for we two be two brethren, born and begotten of one man and of one woman. Alas! said Sir Gawaine, why do ye so? Sir, said the elder, there came a white hart this way this day, and many hounds chased him, and a white brachet was alway next him, and we understood it was adventure made for the high feast of king Arthur, and therefore I would have gone after to have won me worship; and here my younger brother said he would go after the hart, for he was a better knight than I; and for this cause we fell at debate, and so we thought to prove which of us both was better knight. This is a simple cause, said Sir Gawaine; strange men ye should debate withal, and not brother with brother; therefore but if ye will do by my counsel I will have ado with you—that is, ye shall yield you unto me, and that ye go unto king Arthur and yield you unto his grace. Sir knight, said the two brethren, we are for-foughten, and much blood have we lost through our wilfulness, and therefore we would be loth to have ado with you. Then do as I will have you, said Sir Gawaine. We will agree to fulfil your will; but by whom shall we say that we be thither sent? Ye may say, by the knight that followeth the quest of the hart that was white. Now what is your name? said Sir Gawaine. Sorlouse of the Forest, said the elder. And my name is, said the younger, Brian of the Forest. And so they departed and went to the king’s court, and Sir Gawaine on his quest. And as Gawaine followed the hart by the cry of the hounds, even afore him there was a great river, and the hart swam over; and as Sir Gawaine would follow after there stood a knight over the other side, and said, Sir knight, come not over after this hart, but if thou wilt just with me. I will not fail as for that, said Sir Gawaine, to follow the quest that I am in, and so made his horse to swim over the water, and anon they gat their spears and ran together full hard, but Sir Gawaine smote him off his horse, and then he turned his horse and bad him yield him. Nay, said the knight, not so, though thou have the better of me on horseback: I pray thee, valiant knight, alight afoot, and match we together with swords. What is your name? said Sir Gawaine. Allardin of the Isles, said the other. Then either dressed their 68shields and smote together, but Sir Gawaine smote him so hard through the helm that it went to the brains, and the knight fell down dead. Ah! said Gaheris, that was a mighty stroke of a young knight.

How the hart was chased into a castle, and there slain, and how Gawaine slew a lady.

Then Gawaine and Gaheris rode more than a pace after the white hart, and let slip at the hart three couple of greyhounds, and so they chased the hart into a castle, and in the chief place of the castle they slew the hart: Sir Gawaine and Gaheris followed after. Right so there came a knight out of a chamber with a sword drawn in his hand and slew two of the greyhounds, even in the sight of Sir Gawaine, and the remnant he chased them with his sword out of the castle. And when he came again, he said, O my white hart, me repenteth that thou art dead, for my sovereign lady gave thee to me, and evil have I kept thee, and thy death shall be dear bought and I live. And anon he went into his chamber and armed him, and came out fiercely, and there met he with Sir Gawaine. Why have ye slain my hounds, said Sir Gawaine, for they did but their kind, and lever I had ye had wroken your anger upon me than upon a dumb beast. Thou sayst truth, said the knight, I have avenged me on thy hounds, and so I will on thee or thou go. Then Sir Gawaine alight afoot, and dressed his shield, and they stroke together mightily, and clave their shields, and stoned their helms, and brake their hauberks that the blood ran down to their feet. At the last Sir Gawaine smote the knight so hard that he fell to the earth; and then he cried mercy and yielded him, and besought him as he was a knight and gentleman to save his life. Thou shalt die, said Sir Gawaine, for slaying of my hounds. I will make amends, said the knight, unto my power. Sir Gawaine would no mercy have, but unlaced his helm to have striken off his head; right so came his lady out of a chamber and fell over him, and so he smote off her head by misadventure. Alas! said Gaheris, that is foul and shamefully done; that shame shall never from you. Also, ye should give mercy unto them that ask mercy; for a knight without mercy is without worship. Sir Gawaine was so astonied at the death of this fair lady that he wist not what he did, and said unto the knight, Arise, I will give thee mercy. Nay, nay, said the knight, I care for no mercy now, for thou hast slain my love and my lady that I loved best of all earthly things. Me repenteth it, said Sir Gawaine, for I thought to strike unto thee. But now thou shalt go unto king Arthur, and tell him of thine adventures, and how thou art overcome by the knight that went in the quest of the white hart. I take no force, said the knight, whether I live or die. But so for dread of death he swore to go unto king Arthur: and he made him to bear one greyhound before him on his horse, and another behind him. What is your name, said Sir Gawaine, or we part? My name is, said the knight, Ablamor of the Marsh. So he departed toward Camelot.

How four knights fought against Sir Gawaine and Gaheris, and how they were overcome, and their lives saved at the request of four ladies.

And Sir Gawaine went into the castle, and made him ready to lie there all night, and would have unarmed him. What will ye do? said Gaheris, will ye unarm you in this country? ye may think ye have many enemies here. They had not sooner said that word but there came four knights well armed, and assailed Sir Gawaine hard, and said unto him, Thou new made knight, thou hast shamed thy knighthood, for a knight without mercy is dishonoured. Also thou hast slain a fair lady to thy great shame to the world’s end, and doubt thou not thou shalt have great need of 69mercy or thou depart from us. And therewith one of them smote Sir Gawaine a great stroke, that nigh he fell to the earth, and Gaheris smote him again sore, and so they were on the one side and on the other, that Sir Gawaine and Gaheris were in jeopardy of their lives; and one with a bow, an archer, smote Sir Gawaine through the arm that it grieved him wonderly sore. And as they should have been slain, there came four ladies and besought the knights of grace for Sir Gawaine. And goodly at the request of the ladies they gave Sir Gawaine and Gaheris their lives, and made them to yield them as prisoners. Then Gawaine and Gaheris made great dole. Alas! said Sir Gawaine, mine arm grieveth me sore, I am like to be maimed; and so made his complaint piteously. Early on the morrow there came to Sir Gawaine one of the four ladies that had heard all his complaint, and said, Sir knight, what cheer? Not good, said he. It is your own default, said the lady, for ye have done a passing foul deed in the slaying of the lady, the which will be great villainly unto you. But be ye not of king Arthur’s kin? said the lady. Yes, truly, said Sir Gawaine. What is your name? said the lady, ye must tell it me or ye pass. My name is Gawaine, the king Lot of Orkney’s son, and my mother is king Arthur’s sister. Ah, then are ye nephew unto king Arthur, said the lady, and I shall so speak for you that ye shall have conduct to go to king Arthur for his love. And so she departed and told the four knights how their prisoner was king Arthur’s nephew, and his name is Sir Gawaine, king Lot’s son of Orkney. And they gave him the hart’s head, because it was in his quest. Then anon they delivered Sir Gawaine under this promise, that he should bare the dead lady with him in this manner: the head of her was hanged about his neck, and the whole body of her lay before him on his horse mane. Right so rode he forth unto Camelot. And anon as he was come, Merlin desired of king Arthur that Sir Gawaine should be sworn to tell of all his adventures, and how he slew the lady, and how he would give no mercy unto the knight, where through the lady was slain. Then the king and the queen were greatly displeased with Sir Gawaine for the slaying of the lady. And there by ordinance of the queen there was set a quest of ladies on Sir Gawaine, and they judged him for ever while he lived to be with all ladies, and to fight for their quarrels; and that ever he should be courteous, and never to refuse mercy to him that asketh mercy. Thus was Gawaine sworn upon the four Evangelists that he should never be against lady nor gentlewoman, but if he fought for a lady and his adversary fought for another. And thus endeth the adventure of Sir Gawaine, that he did at the marriage of king Arthur. Amen.

How Sir Tor rode after the knight with the brachet, and of his adventure by the way.

When Sir Tor was ready he mounted upon his horse’s back, and rode after the knight with the brachet. So as he rode he met with a dwarf suddenly that smote his horse on the head with a staff, that he went backward his spear’s length. Why dost thou so? said Sir Tor. For thou shalt not pass this way, but if thou just with yonder knights of the pavilions. Then was Sir Tor ware where two pavilions were, and great spears stood out, and two shields hung on trees by the pavilions. I may not tarry, said Sir Tor, for I am in a quest that I must needs follow. Thou shalt not pass, said the dwarf; and therewithal he blew his horn. Then there came one armed on horseback, and dressed his shield, and came fast toward Tor, and he dressed him against him, and so ran together that Sir Tor bare him from his horse. And anon the knight yielded him to his mercy: But, sir, I have a fellow in yonder pavilion that will have ado with you anon. He shall be welcome, said Sir Tor. Then was he ware of another 70knight coming with great force, and each of them dressed to other that marvel it was to see: but the knight smote Sir Tor a great stroke in the midst of the shield that his spear all to-shivered, and Sir Tor smote him through the shield so low that it went through the side of the knight, but the stroke slew him not. And therewith Sir Tor alight and smote him on the helm a great stroke, and therewith the knight yielded him, and besought him of mercy. I will well, said Sir Tor; but thou and thy fellow must go unto king Arthur, and yield you prisoners unto him. By whom shall we say are we thither sent? Ye shall say by the knight that went in the quest of the knight that went with the brachet. Now what be your two names? said Sir Tor. My name is, said the one, Sir Felot of Langduk. And my name is, said the other, Sir Petipase of Winchelsea. Now go ye forth, said Sir Tor, and God speed you and me. Then came the dwarf and said unto Sir Tor: I pray you give me a gift. I will well, said Sir Tor: ask. I ask no more, said the dwarf, but that ye will suffer me to do you service, for I will serve no more recreant knights. Take an horse, said Sir Tor, and ride on with me. I wot ye ride after the knight with the white brachet, and I shall bring you where he is, said the dwarf. And so they rode throughout a forest, and at the last they were ware of two pavilions even by a priory, with two shields, and the one shield was renewed with white, and the other shield was red.

How Sir Tor found the brachet with a lady, and how a knight assailed him for the said brachet.

Therewith Sir Tor alighted and gave the dwarf his glaive, and so came to the white pavilion, and saw three damsels lie in it on one pallet sleeping. And so he went to the other pavilion, and there he found a lady lying sleeping therein. But there was the white brachet, that bayed at her fast, and therewith the lady awoke and went out of the pavilion, and all her damsels. But anon as Sir Tor espied the white brachet he took her by force, and took her to the dwarf. What, will ye so, said the lady, take my brachet from me? Yea, said Sir Tor, this brachet have I sought from king Arthur’s court hither. Well, said the lady, knight, ye shall not go far with her but that ye shall be met, and grieved. I shall abide what adventure that cometh, by the grace of God, and so mounted upon his horse and passed on his way toward Camelot; but it was so near night he might not pass but little farther. Know ye any lodging? said Tor. I know none, said the dwarf, but here beside is an hermitage, and there ye must take lodging as ye find. And within awhile they came to the hermitage and took lodging; and was there grass, oats, and bread, for their horses; soon it was sped, and full hard was their supper; but there they rested them all the night till on the morn, and heard a mass devoutly, and took their leave of the hermit, and Sir Tor prayed the hermit to pray for him. He said he would, and betook him to God: and so he mounted on horseback, and rode towards Camelot a long while. With that they heard a knight call loud that came after them, and he said, Knight, abide and yield my brachet that thou tookest from my lady. Sir Tor returned again and beheld him how he was a seemly knight and well horsed, and well armed at all points; then Sir Tor dressed his shield, and took his spear in his hands, and the other came fiercely upon him and smote both horse and man to the earth. Anon they arose lightly and drew their swords as eagerly as lions, and put their shields afore them, and smote through the shields, and the cantels fell off of both parts. Also they hewed their helms, that the hot blood ran out, and the thick mails of their hauberks they carved and rove in sunder, that the hot blood ran to the earth, and both they had many wounds and were passing weary. But Sir Tor espied that 71the other knight fainted, and then he sued fast upon him, and doubled his strokes, and made him go to the earth on the one side. Then Sir Tor bad him yield him. That will I not, said Abelleus, while my life lasteth and the soul is within my body, unless that thou wilt give me the brachet. That will I not do, said Sir Tor, for it was my quest to bring again thy brachet, thee, or both.

How Sir Tor overcame the knight, and how he lost his head at the request of a lady.

With that came a damsel riding on a palfrey as fast as she might drive and cried with a loud voice unto Sir Tor. What will ye with me? said Sir Tor. I beseech thee, said the damsel, for king Arthur’s love, give me a gift; I require thee, gentle knight, as thou art a gentleman. Now, said Sir Tor, ask a gift, and I will give it you. Gramercy, said the damsel. Now, I ask the head of the false knight Abelleus, for he is the most outrageous knight that liveth, and the greatest murderer. I am loth, said Sir Tor, of that gift I have given you; let him make amends in that he hath trespassed unto you. Now, said the damsel, he may not, for he slew mine own brother afore mine own eyes, that was a better knight than he, and he had had grace; and I kneeled half an hour afore him in the mire for to save my brother’s life, that had done him no damage, but fought with him by adventure of arms, and so for all that I could do he struck off his head; wherefore, I require thee, as thou art a true knight, to give me my gift, or else I shall shame thee in all the court of king Arthur; for he is the falsest knight living, and a great destroyer of good knights. Then when Abelleus heard this, he was more afeard, and yielded him and asked mercy. I may not now, said Sir Tor, but if I should be found false of my promise, for while I would have taken you to mercy ye would none ask, but if ye had the brachet again that was my quest. And therewith he took off his helm, and he arose and fled, and Sir Tor after him, and smote off his head quite. Now, sir, said the damsel, it is near night; I pray you come and lodge with me here at my place, it is here fast by. I will well, said Sir Tor; for his horse and he had fared evil since they departed from Camelot, and so he rode with her, and had passing good cheer with her; and she had a passing fair old knight to her husband that made him passing good cheer, and well eased both his horse and him. And on the morn he heard his mass, and brake his fast, and took his leave of the knight and of the lady, that besought him to tell them his name. Truly, he said, my name is Sir Tor, that late was made knight, and this was the first quest of arms that ever I did, to bring again that this knight Abelleus took away from king Arthur’s court. O fair knight, said the lady and her husband, and ye come here in our marches, come and see our poor lodging, and it shall be always at your commandment. So Sir Tor departed, and came to Camelot on the third day by noon. And the king and the queen and all the court was passing fain of his coming, and made great joy that he was come again; for he went from the court with little succour, but as king Pellinore his father gave him an old courser, and king Arthur gave him armour and a sword, and else had he none other succour, but rode so forth himself alone. And then the king and the queen by Merlin’s advice made him to swear to tell of his adventures, and so he told and made proofs of his deeds as it is afore rehearsed, wherefore the king and the queen made great joy. Nay, nay, said Merlin, these be but jests to that he shall do; he shall prove a noble knight of prowess, as good as any is living, and gentle and courteous, and of good parts, and passing true of his promise, and never shall outrage. Where through Merlin’s words king Arthur gave him an earldom of lands that fell 72unto him. And here endeth the quest of Sir Tor, king Pellinore’s son.

How king Pellinore rode after the lady and the knight that led her away, and how a lady desired help of him, and how he fought with two knights for that lady, of whom he slew the one at the first stroke.

Then king Pellinore armed him and mounted upon his horse, and rode more than a pace after the lady that the knight led away. And as he rode in a forest, he saw in a valley a damsel sit by a well, and a wounded knight in her arms, and Pellinore saluted her. And when she was ware of him, she cried over loud, Help me knight, for Christ’s sake, king Pellinore! And he would not tarry he was so eager in his quest, and ever she cried an hundred times after help. When she saw he would not abide, she prayed unto God to send him as much need of help as she had, and that he might feel it or he died. So as the book telleth, the knight died that there was wounded, wherefore the lady for pure sorrow slew herself with his sword. As king Pellinore rode in that valley he met with a poor man, a labourer: Sawest thou not, said Pellinore, a knight riding and leading away a lady? Yea, said the poor man, I saw that knight, and the lady that made great dole. And yonder beneath in a valley there shall ye see two pavilions, and one of the knights of the pavilions challenged that lady of that knight, and said she was his cousin near, wherefore he should lead her no farther. And so they waged battle in that quarrel; the one said he would have her by force, and the other said he would have the rule of her because he was her kinsman, and would lead her to her kin. For this quarrel I left them fighting, and if ye will ride a pace ye shall find them fighting, and the lady was beleft with the two squires in the pavilions. I thank thee, said king Pellinore. Then he rode a wallop till that he had a sight of the two pavilions, and the two knights fighting. Anon he rode unto the pavilions, and saw the lady that was his quest, and said, Fair lady, ye must go with me unto the court of king Arthur. Sir knight, said the two squires that were with her, yonder are two knights that fight for this lady, go thither and depart them, and be agreed with them, and then ye may have her at your pleasure. Ye say well, said king Pellinore. And anon he rode betwixt them, and departed them, and asked them the cause why that they fought. Sir knight, said the one, I shall tell you. This lady is my kinswoman nigh, mine aunt’s daughter, and when I heard her complain that she was with him maugre her head, I waged battle to fight with him. Sir knight, said the other, whose name was Hontzlake of Wentland, and this lady I gat by my prowess of arms this day at Arthur’s court. That is untruly said, said king Pellinore, for ye came in suddenly there as we were at the high feast, and took away this lady or any man might him ready, and therefore it was my quest for to bring her again and you both, or else the one of us to abide in the field; therefore the lady shall go with me, or I will die for it, for I have promised it king Arthur. And therefore fight ye no more, for none of you shall have no part of her at this time, and if ye list to fight for her, fight with me, and I will defend her. Well, said the knights, make you ready, and we shall assail you with all our power. And as king Pellinore would have put his horse from them, Sir Hontzlake rove his horse through with a sword, and said: Now art thou on foot as well we are. When king Pellinore espied that his horse was slain, lightly he leapt from his horse and pulled out his sword, and put his shield afore him, and said: Knight, keep well thy head, for thou shalt have a buffet for the slaying of my horse. So king Pellinore gave him such a stroke upon the helm that he clave the head down to the chin, that he fell to the earth dead.

How king Pellinore gat the lady and brought her to Camelot to the court of king Arthur.

And then he turned him to the other knight that was sore wounded. But when he saw the other’s buffet he would not fight, but kneeled down and said, Take my cousin, the lady, with you at your request, and I require you, as ye be a true knight, put her to no shame nor villainy. What, said king Pellinore, will ye not fight for her? No, sir, said the knight. I will not fight with such a knight of prowess as ye be. Well, said Pellinore, ye say well, I promise you she shall have no villainy by me, as I am true knight; but now me lacketh an horse, said Pellinore, but I will have Hontzlake’s horse. Ye shall not need, said the knight, for I shall give you such a horse as shall please you, so that ye will lodge with me, for it is near night. I will well, said king Pellinore, abide with you all night. And there he had with him right good cheer, and fared of the best with passing good wine, and had merry rest that night. And on the morrow he heard a mass, and dined: and then was brought him a fair bay courser, and king Pellinore’s saddle set upon him. Now, what shall I call you? said the knight, inasmuch as ye have my cousin at your desire of your quest. Sir, I shall tell you; my name is king Pellinore, of the Isles, and knight of the Table Round. Now I am glad, said the knight, that such a noble man shall have the rule of my cousin. What is now your name? said Pellinore, I pray you tell me. Sir, my name is Sir Meliot of Logurs, and this lady my cousin, hight Nimue, and the knight that was in the other pavilion is my sworn brother, a passing good knight, and his name is Brian of the Isles, and he is full loth to do wrong, and full loth to fight with any man, but if he be sore sought on, so that for shame he may not leave it. It is marvel, said Pellinore, that he will not have ado with me. Sir, he will not have ado with no man but if it be at his request. Bring him to the court, said Pellinore, one of these days. Sir, we will come together. And ye shall be welcome, said king Pellinore, to the court of king Arthur, and greatly allowed for your coming. And so he departed with the lady, and brought her to Camelot. So as they rode in a valley it was full of stones, and there the lady’s horse stumbled and threw her down, wherewith her arm was sore bruised, and near she swooned for pain. Alas! sir, said the lady, mine arm is out of joint, where through I must needs rest me. Ye shall well, said king Pellinore. And so he alighted under a fair tree where was fair grass, and he put his horse thereto, and so laid him under the tree and slept till it was nigh night. And when he awoke he would have ridden. Sir, said the lady, it is so dark that ye may as well ride backward as forward. So they abode still and made there their lodging. Then Sir Pellinore put off his armour; then a little afore midnight they heard the trotting of an horse. Be ye still, said king Pellinore, for we shall hear of some adventure.

How on the way king Pellinore heard two knights, as he lay by night in a valley, and of other adventures.

And therewith he armed him. So right even afore him there met two knights, the one came from Camelot and the other from the north, and either saluted other. What tidings at Camelot? said the one. By my head, said the other, there have I been, and espied the court of king Arthur, and there is such a fellowship they may never be broken, and well nigh all the world holdeth with Arthur, for there is the flower of chivalry. Now for this cause I am riding into the north to tell our chieftains of the fellowship that is withholden with king Arthur. As for that, said the other knight, I have brought a remedy with me, that is the greatest 74poison that ever ye heard speak of, and to Camelot will I with it, for we have a friend right nigh king Arthur, and well cherished, that shall poison king Arthur, for so he hath promised our chieftains, and received great gifts for to do it. Beware, said the other knight, of Merlin, for he knoweth all things by the devil’s craft. Therefore will I not let it, said the knight. And so they departed in sunder. Anon after Pellinore made him ready, and his lady, and rode toward Camelot. And as they came by the well there as the wounded knight was and the lady, there he found the knight, and the lady eaten with lions or wild beasts all save the head, wherefore he made great sorrow, and wept passing sore, and said: Alas, her life might I have saved, but I was so fierce in my quest therefore I would not abide. Wherefore make ye such dole, said the lady. I wot not, said Pellinore, but my heart mourneth sore for the death of her, for she was a passing fair lady and a young. Now will ye do by mine advice, said the lady, take this knight and let him be buried in an hermitage, and then take the lady’s head and bear it with you unto Arthur. So king Pellinore took this dead knight on his shoulders and brought him to the hermitage, and charged the hermit with the corpse, that service should be done for the soul; and take his harness for your pain. It shall be done, said the hermit, as I will answer unto God.

How when king Pellinore was come to Camelot he was sworn upon a book to tell truth of his quest.

And therewith they departed and came there as the head of the lady lay with a fair yellow hair, that grieved king Pellinore passingly sore when he looked on it, for much he cast his heart on the visage. And so by noon they came to Camelot. And the king and the queen were passing fain of his coming to the court. And there he was made to swear upon the four Evangelists to tell the truth of his quest from the one to the other. Ah, Sir Pellinore, said queen Guenever, ye were greatly to blame that ye saved not this lady’s life. Madam, said Pellinore, ye were greatly to blame and ye would not save your own life and ye might; but saving your pleasure, I was so furious in my quest that I would not abide, and that repenteth me, and shall the days of my life. Truly, said Merlin, ye ought sore to repent it, for the lady was your own daughter, and that knight that was dead was her love, and should have wedded her, and he was a right good knight of a young man, and would have proved a good man, and to this court was he coming, and his name was Sir Miles of the lands, and a knight came behind him and slew him with a spear, and his name is Loraine le Savage, a false knight and a coward; and she for great sorrow and dole slew herself with his sword, and her name was Eleine. And because ye would not abide and help her, ye shall see your best friend fail you when ye be in the greatest distress that ever ye were or shall be. And that penance God hath ordained you for that deed, that he that ye shall most trust to of any man alive, he shall leave you there as ye shall be slain. Me forthinketh, said king Pellinore, that this shall betide, but God may well fordo destiny.

Thus when the quest was done of the white hart, the which followed Sir Gawaine; and the quest of the brachet followed of Sir Tor, Pellinore’s son; and the quest of the lady that the knight took away, the which king Pellinore at that time followed; then the king stablished all his knights, and them that were of lands not rich he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrage, nor murder, and always to flee treason. Also, by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of king Arthur for evermore; and alway to do ladies, damsels, and gentlewomen succour upon pain of death. Also, that no 75man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, nor for world’s goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.

Explicit the weddynge of kynge Arthur. Sequitur quartus liber.

The Fourth Book.
How Merlin was assotted and doted on one of the ladies of the lake, and how he was shut in a rock under a stone, and there died.

So after these quests of Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor, and king Pellinore, it fell so that Merlin fell in a dotage on the damsel that king Pellinore brought to court, and she was one of the damsels of the lake, that hight Nimue. But Merlin would let her have no rest, but always he would be with her. And ever she made Merlin good cheer till she had learned of him all manner thing that she desired; and he was assotted upon her that he might not be from her. So on a time he told king Arthur that he should not dure long, but for all his crafts he should be put in the earth quick, and so he told the king many things that should befall, but always he warned the king to keep well his sword and the scabbard, for he told him how the sword and the scabbard should be stolen by a woman from him that he most trusted. Also he told king Arthur that he should miss him:—Yet had ye lever than all your lands to have me again. Ah, said the king, since ye know of your adventure, purvey for it, and put away by your crafts that misadventure. Nay, said Merlin, it will not be. So he departed from the king. And within awhile the damsel of the lake departed, and Merlin went with her evermore wheresoever she went. And oft times Merlin would have had her privily away by his subtle crafts: then she made him to swear that he should never do none enchantment upon her if he would have his will. And so he sware: so she and Merlin went over the sea unto the land of Benwick, where as king Ban was king that had great war against king Claudas, and there Merlin spake with king Ban’s wife, a fair lady and a good, and her name was Elaine, and there he saw young Launcelot. There the queen made great sorrow for the mortal war that king Claudas made on her lord and on her lands. Take none heaviness, said Merlin, for this same child within this twenty year shall revenge you on king Claudas, that all christendom shall speak of it: and this same child shall be the man of most worship of the world, and his first name is Galahad, that know I well, said Merlin, and since ye have confirmed him, Launcelot. That is truth, said the queen, his first name was Galahad. O, Merlin, said the queen, shall I live to see my son such a man of prowess? Yea, lady, on my peril ye shall see it, and live many winters after. And so, soon after the lady and Merlin departed; and by the way Merlin shewed her many wonders, and came into Cornwall. And always Merlin lay about the lady to have her love, and she was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of him, for she was afeard of him because he was a devil’s son, and she could not put him away by no means.

And so on a time it happed that Merlin shewed to her in a rock whereas 76was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, that went under a great stone. So by her subtle working, she made Merlin to go under that stone to let her wit of the marvels there, but she wrought so there for him that he came never out for all the craft that he could do. And so she departed and left Merlin.

How five kings came into this land to war against king Arthur, and what counsel Arthur had against them.

And as king Arthur rode to Camelot, and held there a great feast with mirth and joy, so soon after he returned unto Cardoile, and there came unto Arthur new tidings that the king of Denmark, and the king of Ireland that was his brother, and the king of the Vale, and the king of Soleise, and the king of the Isle of Longtainse, all these five kings with a great host were entered into the land of king Arthur, and burnt and slew clean afore them both cities and castles, that it was pity to hear. Alas, said Arthur, yet had I never rest one month since I was crowned king of this land. Now shall I never rest till I meet with those kings in a fair field, that I make mine avow; for my true liege people shall not be destroyed in my default, go with me who will, and abide who that will. Then the king let write unto king Pellinore, and prayed him in all haste to make him ready with such people as he might lightliest rear, and hie him after in all haste. All the barons were privily wroth that the king would depart so suddenly: but the king by no mean would abide, but made writing unto them that were not there, and had them hie after him, such as were not at that time in the court. Then the king came to queen Guenever, and said, Lady, make you ready, for ye shall go with me, for I may not long miss you, ye shall cause me to be the more hardy, what adventure so befall me: I will not wit my lady to be in no jeopardy. Sir, said she, I am at your commandment, and shall be ready what time so ye be ready. So on the morn the king and the queen departed with such fellowship as they had, and came into the north into a forest beside Humber, and there lodged them. When the word and tiding came to the five kings above said, that king Arthur was beside Humber in a forest, there was a knight, brother unto one of the five kings, that gave them this counsel: Ye know well that Sir Arthur hath the flower of chivalry of the world with him, as it is proved by the great battle he did with the eleven kings; and therefore hie unto him night and day till that we be nigh him, for the longer he tarrieth the bigger he is, and we ever the weaker; and he is so courageous of himself, that he is come to the field with little people, and therefore let us set upon him or day, and we shall slay down of his knights there shall none escape.

How king Arthur had ado with them and overthrew them, and slew the five kings, and made the remnant to flee.

Unto this counsel these five kings assented, and so they passed forth with their host through North Wales, and came upon Arthur by night, and set upon his host as the king and his knights were in their pavilions. King Arthur was unarmed, and had laid him to rest with his queen Guenever. Sir, said Sir Kay, it is not good we be unarmed: we shall have no need, said Sir Gawaine and Sir Griflet, that lay in a little pavilion by the king. With that they heard a great noise, and many cried treason, treason! Alas, said king Arthur, we are betrayed! Unto arms, fellows! then he cried. So they were armed anon at all points. Then came there a wounded knight unto the king, and said, Sir, save yourself and my lady the queen, for our host is destroyed, and much people of ours slain. So anon the king and the queen and the three knights took their horses, and rode toward Humber to pass over it, and the water was so rough that they were 77afeard to pass over. Now may ye choose, said king Arthur, whether ye will abide and take the adventure on this side, for and ye be taken they will slay you. It were me lever, said the queen, to die in the water than to fall in your enemies’ hands, and there be slain. And as they stood so talking, Sir Kay saw the five kings coming on horseback by themselves alone, with their spears in their hands even toward them. Lo, said Sir Kay, yonder be the five kings, let us go to them and match them. That were folly, said Sir Gawaine, for we are but four and they be five. That is truth, said Sir Griflet. No force, said Sir Kay, I will undertake for two of them, and then may ye three undertake for the other three. And therewithal Sir Kay let his horse run as fast as he might, and struck one of them through the shield and the body a fathom, that the king fell to the earth stark dead. That saw Sir Gawaine and ran unto another king so hard that he smote him through the body. And therewithal king Arthur ran to another, and smote him through the body with a spear, that he fell to the earth dead. Then Sir Griflet ran unto the fourth king, and gave him such a fall that his neck brake. Anon Sir Kay ran unto the fifth king, and smote him so hard on the helm that the stroke clave the helm and the head to the earth. That was well stricken, said king Arthur, and worshipfully hast thou holden thy promise, therefore I shall honour thee while that I live. And therewithal they set the queen in a barge into Humber, but always queen Guenever praised Sir Kay for his deeds, and said, What lady that ye love, and she love you not again, she were greatly to blame; and among ladies, said the queen, I shall bear your noble fame, for ye spake a great word, and fulfilled it worshipfully. And therewith the queen departed. Then the king and the three knights rode into the forest, for there they supposed to hear of them that were escaped; and there king Arthur found the most part of his people, and told them all how the five kings were dead.—And therefore let us hold us together till it be day, and when their host have espied that their chieftains be slain, they will make such dole that they shall no more help themselves. And right so as the king said, so it was; for when they found the five kings dead, they made such dole that they fell from their horses. Therewithal came king Arthur but with a few people, and slew on the left hand and on the right hand, that well nigh there escaped no man, but all were slain to the number of thirty thousand. And when the battle was all ended, the king kneeled down and thanked God meekly. And then he sent for the queen, and soon she was come, and she made great joy of the overcoming of that battle.

How the battle was finished or king Pellinore came, and how king Arthur founded an abbey where the battle was.

Therewithal came one to king Arthur, and told him that king Pellinore was within three mile with a great host; and he said, Go unto him, and let him understand how we have sped. So within awhile king Pellinore came with a great host, and saluted the people and the king: and there was great joy made on every side. Then the king let search how much people of his party there was slain: and there were found but little past two hundred men slain, and eight knights of the Table Round in their pavilions. Then the king let rear and devise in the same place there as the battle was done a fair abbey, and endowed it with great livelihood, and let call it the Abbey of La Beale Adventure. But when some of them came into their countries whereof the five kings were kings, and told them how they were slain, there was made great dole. And when all king Arthur’s enemies, as the king of North Wales, and the kings of the North, wist of the battle they were passing heavy. And so the king returned to Camelot in haste. And when he was come to Camelot he called king 78Pellinore unto him, and said, Ye understand well, that we have lost eight knights of the best of the Table Round, and by your advice we will choose eight again of the best we may find in this court. Sir, said Pellinore, I shall counsel you after my conceit the best; there are in your court full noble knights both of old and young, and therefore by mine advice ye shall choose half of the old and half of the young. Which be the old? said king Arthur. Sir, said king Pellinore, me seemeth that king Uriens that hath wedded your sister Morgan le Fay, and the king of the Lake, and Sir Hervise de Revel, a noble knight, and Sir Galagars the fourth. This is well devised, said king Arthur, and right so shall it be. Now, which are the four young knights? said Arthur. Sir, said Pellinore, the first is Sir Gawaine your nephew, that is as good a knight of his time as any is in this land; and the second, as me seemeth, is Sir Griflet le Fise de Dieu, that is a good knight, and full desirous in arms, and who may see him live he shall prove a good knight; and the third as me seemeth is well to be one of the knights of the Round Table, Sir Kay the seneschal, for many times he hath done full worshipfully, and now at your last battle he did full honourably for to undertake to slay two kings. By my head, said king Arthur, he is best worthy to be a knight of the Round Table of any that ye have rehearsed, and he had done no more prowess in his life days.

How Sir Tor was made knight of the Round Table, and how Bagdemagus was displeased.

Now, said king Pellinore, I shall put to you two knights, and ye shall choose which is most worthy, that is Sir Bagdemagus, and Sir Tor, my son. But because Sir Tor is my son I may not praise him, but else, and he were not my son, I durst say that of his age there is not in this land a better knight then he is, nor of better conditions, and loth to do any wrong, and loth to take any wrong. By my head, said Arthur, he is a passing good knight, as any ye spake of this day, that wot I well, said the king, for I have seen him proved, but he saith little, and he doth much more, for I know none in all this court, and he were as well born on his mother’s side as he is on your side, that is like him of prowess and of might; and therefore I will have him at this time, and leave Sir Bagdemagus till another time. So when they were so chosen by the assent of all the barons, so were there found in their sieges every knight’s names that here are rehearsed. And so were they set in their sieges, whereof Sir Bagdemagus was wonderly wroth, that Sir Tor was advanced afore him, and therefore suddenly he departed from the court, and took his squire with him, and rode long in a forest till they came to a cross, and there alight and said his prayers devoutly. The meanwhile his squire found written upon the cross, that Bagdemagus should never return unto the court again till he had won a knight’s body of the Round Table, body for body. Lo, sir, said his squire, here I find writing of you, therefore I counsel you return again to the court. That shall I never, said Bagdemagus, till men speak of me great worship, and that I be worthy to be a knight of the Round Table. And so he rode forth. And there by the way he found a branch of an holy herb that was the sign of the Sangreal, and no knight found such tokens but he were a good liver. So as Sir Bagdemagus rode to see many adventures, it happed him to come to the rock there as the lady of the lake had put Merlin under a stone, and there he heard him make great dole; whereof Sir Bagdemagus would have holpen him, and went unto the great stone, and it was so heavy that an hundred men might not lift it up. When Merlin wist he was there, he bad leave his labour, for all was in vain, for he might never be holpen but by her that put him there. And so Sir Bagdemagus departed, and did many adventures, and proved after a full good knight, and came again to 79the court, and was made knight of the Round Table. So on the morn there fell new tidings and other adventures.

How king Arthur, king Uriens, and Sir Accolon of Gaul chased an hart, and of their marvellous adventures.

Then it befel that Arthur and many of his knights rode on hunting into a great forest, and it happed king Arthur, king Uriens, and Sir Accolon of Gaul followed a great hart, for they three were well horsed, and so they chased so fast that within awhile they three were then ten mile from their fellowship. And at the last they chased so sore that they slew their horses underneath them. Then were they all three on foot, and ever they saw the hart afore them passing weary and enbushed. What will ye do? said king Arthur, we are hard bested. Let us go on foot, said king Uriens, till we may meet with some lodging. Then were they ware of the hart that lay on a great water bank, and a brachet biting on his throat, and more other hounds came after. Then king Arthur blew the prise and dight the hart. Then the king looked about the world, and saw afore him in a great water a little ship, all apparelled with silk down to the water, and the ship came right unto them, and landed on the sands. Then Arthur went to the bank and looked in, and saw none earthly creature therein. Sirs, said the king, come thence, and let us see what is in this ship. So they went in all three, and found it richly behanged with cloth of silk. By then it was dark night, and there suddenly were about them an hundred torches set upon all the sides of the ship boards, and it gave great light; and therewithal there came out twelve fair damsels and saluted king Arthur on their knees, and called him by his name, and said he was right welcome, and such cheer as they had he should have of the best. The king thanked them fair. Therewithal they led the king and his two fellows into a fair chamber, and there was a cloth laid richly beseen of all that longed unto a table, and there were they served of all wines and meats that they could think; of that the king had great marvel, for he fared never better in his life as for one supper. And so when they had supped at their leisure, king Arthur was led into a chamber, a richer beseen chamber saw he never none; and so was king Uriens served, and led into such another chamber; and Sir Accolon was led into the third chamber, passing richly and well beseen: and so were they laid in their beds easily. And anon they fell on sleep, and slept marvellously sore all that night. And on the morrow king Uriens was in Camelot with his wife, Morgan le Fay. And when he awoke he had great marvel how he came there, for on the even afore he was two days’ journey from Camelot. And when king Arthur awoke he found himself in a dark prison, hearing about him many complaints of woful knights.

How Arthur took upon him to fight to be delivered out of prison, and also for to deliver twenty knights that were in prison.

What are ye that so complain? said king Arthur. We be here twenty knights prisoners, said they, and some of us have lain here seven year, and some more and some less. For what cause? said Arthur. We shall tell you, said the knights; This lord of this castle his name is Sir Damas, and he is the falsest knight that liveth, and full of treason, and a very coward as any liveth, and he hath a younger brother, a good knight of prowess, his name is Sir Ontzlake, and this traitor Damas, the elder brother, will give him no part of his livelihood but as Sir Ontzlake keepeth through prowess of his hands, and so he keepeth from him a full fair manor and a rich, and therein Sir Ontzlake dwelleth worshipfully and is well beloved of all people. And this Sir Damas our master is as evil 80beloved, for he is without mercy, and he is a coward, and great war hath been betwixt them both, but Ontzlake hath ever the better, and ever he proffereth Sir Damas to fight for the livelihood, body for body; but if he will not do it to find a knight to fight for him. Unto that Sir Damas hath granted to find a knight, but he is so evil beloved and hated, that there is never a knight will fight for him. And when Damas saw this, that there was never a knight would fight for him, he hath daily lain await with many knights with him and taken all the knights in this country to see and espy their adventures: he hath taken them by force and brought them to his prison. And so he took us severally as we rode on our adventures, and many good knights have died in this prison for hunger, to the number of eighteen knights: and if any of us all that here is or hath been, would have fought with his brother Ontzlake he would have delivered us, but for because this Damas is so false and so full of treason, we would never fight for him to die for it. And we be so lean with hunger that hardly we may stand on our feet. God deliver you for his mercy, said Arthur. Anon therewithal there came a damsel unto Arthur, and asked him, What cheer? I cannot say, said he. Sir, said she, and ye will fight for my lord, ye shall be delivered out of prison, and else ye escape never with life. Now, said Arthur, that is hard, yet had I lever to fight with a knight than to die in prison: with this, said Arthur, that I may be delivered and all these prisoners I will do the battle. Yes, said the damsel. I am ready, said Arthur, and I had horse and armour. Ye shall lack none, said the damsel. Me seemeth, damsel, that I should have seen you in the court of Arthur. Nay, said the damsel, I came never there, I am the lord’s daughter of this castle. Yet was she false, for she was one of the damsels of Morgan le Fay. Anon she went unto Sir Damas, and told him how he would do battle for him, and so he sent for Arthur. And when he came he was well coloured, and well made of his limbs, that all knights that saw him said it were pity that such a knight should die in prison. So Sir Damas and he were agreed that he should fight for him upon this covenant, that all other knights should be delivered; and unto that was Sir Damas sworn unto Arthur, and also to do the battle to the uttermost. And with that all the twenty knights were brought out of the dark prison into the hall and delivered. And so they all abode to see the battle.

How Accolon found himself by a well, and he took upon him to do battle against Arthur.

Now turn we unto Accolon of Gaul, that when he awoke he found himself by a deep well side, within half a foot, in great peril of death. And there came out of that fountain a pipe of silver, and out of that pipe ran water all on high in a stone of marble. When Sir Accolon saw this he blessed him and said: Jesu save my lord king Arthur, and king Uriens, for these damsels in this ship have betrayed us. They were devils and no women, and if I may escape this misadventure, I shall destroy all where I may find these false damsels that use enchantments.

Right with that there came a dwarf with a great mouth and a flat nose, and saluted Sir Accolon, and said how he came from queen Morgan le Fay; and she greeteth you well, and biddeth you be of strong heart, for ye shall fight to morn with a knight at the hour of prime, and therefore she hath sent you here Excalibur Arthur’s sword, and the scabbard, and she biddeth you as ye love her, that ye do the battle to the uttermost without any mercy, like as ye had promised her when ye spake together in private: and what damsel that bringeth her the knight’s head that ye shall fight withal, she will make her a queen. Now I understand you well, said Accolon: I shall hold that I have 81promised her, now I have the sword: when saw ye my lady queen Morgan le Fay? Right late, said the dwarf. Then Accolon took him in his arms, and said, Recommend me unto my lady queen, and tell her all shall be done that I have promised her, and else I will die for it. Now I suppose, said Accolon, she hath made all these crafts and enchantments for this battle. Ye may well believe it, said the dwarf. Right so there came a knight and a lady with six squires, and saluted Sir Accolon and prayed him for to arise, and come and rest him at his manor. And so Accolon mounted upon a void horse, and went with the knight unto a fair manor by a priory, and there he had passing good cheer. Then Sir Damas sent unto his brother Sir Ontzlake, and bade make him ready by to morn at the hour of prime, and to be in the field to fight with a good knight, for he had found a good knight that was ready to do battle at all points. When this word came unto Sir Ontzlake he was passing heavy, for he was wounded a little tofore through both his thighs with a spear, and made great dole: but as he was wounded he would have taken the battle on hand. So it happed at that time, by the means of Morgan le Fay, Accolon was with Sir Ontzlake lodged; and when he heard of that battle, and how Ontzlake was wounded, he said he would fight for him, because Morgan le Fay had sent him Excalibur and the sheath for to fight with the knight on the morn; this was the cause Sir Accolon took the battle on hand. Then Sir Ontzlake was passing glad, and thanked Sir Accolon with all his heart that he would do so much for him. And therewithal Sir Ontzlake sent word unto his brother Sir Damas that he had a knight that for him should be ready in the field by the hour of prime. So on the morn Sir Arthur was armed and well horsed, and asked Sir Damas, When shall we to the field? Sir, said Sir Damas, ye shall hear mass; and so Arthur heard a mass. And when mass was done there came a squire on a great horse, and asked Sir Damas if his knight were ready, for our knight is ready in the field. Then Sir Arthur mounted upon horseback, and there were all the knights and commons of that country; and so by all advices there were chosen twelve good men of the country for to wait upon the two knights. And right as Arthur was upon horseback there came a damsel from Morgan le Fay, and brought unto Sir Arthur a sword like unto Excalibur, and the scabbard, and said unto Arthur, Morgan le Fay sendeth you here your sword for great love. And he thanked her, and wend it had been so, but she was false, for the sword and the scabbard was counterfeit, and brittle, and false.

Of the battle between king Arthur and Accolon.

And then they dressed them on both parts of the field, and let their horses run so fast that either smote other in the midst of the shield with their spears’ head, that both horse and man went to the earth; and then they started up both, and pulled out their swords. The mean while that they were thus at the battle, came the damsel of the lake into the field, that put Merlin under the stone, and she came thither for love of king Arthur, for she knew how Morgan le Fay had so ordained that king Arthur should have been slain that day, and therefore she came to save his life. And so they went eagerly to the battle, and gave many great strokes. But alway king Arthur’s sword bit not like Accolon’s sword, but for the most part every stroke that Accolon gave wounded he sore Arthur, that it was marvel he stood; and alway his blood fell from him fast. When Arthur beheld the ground so sore be-bled he was dismayed, and then he deemed treason, that his sword was changed; for his sword bit not steel as it was wont to do, therefore he dread him sore to be dead, for ever him seemed that the sword in Accolon’s hand was Excalibur, for at every stroke that Sir Accolon struck he drew blood on Arthur. Now 82knight, said Accolon unto Arthur, keep thee well from me: but Arthur answered not again, and gave him such a buffet on the helm that he made him to stoop, nigh falling down to the earth. Then Sir Accolon withdrew him a little, and came on with Excalibur on high, and smote Sir Arthur such a buffet that he fell nigh to the earth. Then were they wroth both, and gave each other many sore strokes, but always Sir Arthur lost so much blood that it was marvel he stood on his feet, but he was so full of knighthood that knightly he endured the pain. And Sir Accolon lost not a deal of blood, therefore he waxed passing light, and Sir Arthur was passing feeble, and wend verily to have died; but for all that he made countenance as though he might endure, and held Accolon as short as he might. But Accolon was so bold because of Excalibur that he waxed passing hardy. But all men that beheld him said they never saw knight fight so well as Arthur did, considering the blood that he bled. So was all the people sorry for him, but the two brethren would not accord; then always they fought together as fierce knights, and Sir Arthur withdrew him a little for to rest him, and Sir Accolon called him to battle, and said, It is no time for me to suffer thee to rest. And therewith he came fiercely upon Arthur, and Sir Arthur was wroth for the blood that he had lost, and smote Accolon on high upon the helm so mightily that he made him nigh to fall to the earth; and therewith Arthur’s sword brast at the cross, and fell in the grass among the blood, and the pommel and the sure handles he held in his hands. When Sir Arthur saw that, he was in great fear to die, but always he held up his shield, and lost no ground, nor bated no cheer.

How king Arthur’s sword that he fought with brake, and how he recovered of Accolon his own sword Excalibur, and overcame his enemy.

Then Sir Accolon began with words of treason, and said, Knight, thou art overcome, and mayest not endure, and also thou art weaponless, and thou hast lost much of thy blood, and I am full loth to slay thee, therefore yield thee to me as recreant. Nay, said Sir Arthur, I may not so, for I have promised to do the battle to the uttermost by the faith of my body while me lasteth the life, and therefore I had lever to die with honour than to live with shame; and if it were possible for me to die an hundred times I had lever to die so oft than yield me to thee; for though I lack weapon I shall lack no worship, and if thou slay me weaponless that shall be thy shame. Well, said Accolon, as for the shame I will not spare: now keep thee from me, for thou art but a dead man. And therewith Accolon gave him such a stroke that he fell nigh to the earth, and would have had Arthur to have cried him mercy. But Sir Arthur pressed unto Accolon with his shield, and gave him with the pommel in his hand such a buffet that he went three strides aback. When the damsel of the lake beheld Arthur, how full of prowess his body was, and the false treason that was wrought for him to have had him slain, she had great pity that so good a knight and such a man of worship should be destroyed. And at the next stroke Sir Accolon struck him such a stroke, that by the damsel’s enchantment the sword Excalibur fell out of Accolon’s hand to the earth; and therewithal Sir Arthur lightly leapt to it, and got it in his hand, and forthwithal he knew that it was his sword Excalibur, and said, Thou hast been from me all too long, and much damage hast thou done me. And therewith he espied the scabbard hanging by his side, and suddenly he start to him, and pulled the scabbard from him, and anon threw it from him as far as he might throw it. O knight, said Arthur, this day hast thou done me great damage with this sword; now are ye come unto your death, for I shall not warrant you but ye shall as well be rewarded with this sword or ever we depart, as thou hast 83rewarded me, for much pain have ye made me to endure, and much blood have I lost. And therewith Sir Arthur rushed on him with all his might and pulled him to the earth, and then rushed off his helm, and gave him such a buffet on the head that the blood came out at his ears, his nose, and his mouth. Now will I slay thee, said Arthur. Slay me ye may well, said Accolon, and it please you, for ye are the best knight that ever I found, and I see well that God is with you: but for I promised to do this battle to the uttermost, said Accolon, and never to be recreant while I lived, therefore shall I never yield me with my mouth, but God do with my body what he will. Then Sir Arthur remembered him, and thought he should have seen this knight. Now tell me, said Arthur, or I will slay thee, of what country art thou, and of what court? Sir knight, said Sir Accolon, I am of the court of king Arthur, and my name is Accolon of Gaul. Then was Arthur more dismayed than he was beforehand; for then he remembered him of his sister Morgan le Fay, and of the enchantment of the ship. O Sir knight, said he, I pray you tell me who gave you this sword, and by whom ye had it.

How Accolon confessed the treason of Morgan le Fay, king Arthur’s sister, and how she would have done slay him.

Then Sir Accolon bethought him, and said, Woe worth this sword, for by it have I gotten my death. It may well be, said the king. Now Sir, said Sir Accolon, I will tell you: This sword hath been in my keeping the most part of this twelvemonth, and Morgan le Fay, king Uriens’ wife, sent it me yesterday by a dwarf, to this intent that I should slay king Arthur her brother. For ye shall understand king Arthur is the man in the world that she most hateth, because he is most of worship and of prowess of any of her blood. Also, she loveth me out of measure as paramour, and I her again. And if she might bring about to slay Arthur by her crafts, she would slay her husband king Uriens lightly, and then had she me devised to be king in this land, and so to reign, and she to be my queen; but that is now done, said Sir Accolon, for I am sure of my death. Well, said king Arthur, I feel by you ye would have been king in this land. It had been great damage for to have destroyed your lord, said Arthur. It is truth, said Sir Accolon, but now I have told you truth, wherefore I pray you tell me of whence ye are, and of what court? O Accolon, said king Arthur, now I let thee wit that I am king Arthur to whom thou hast done great damage. When Accolon heard that he cried aloud, Fair sweet lord, have mercy on me, for I knew you not. O Sir Accolon, said king Arthur, mercy shalt thou have, because I feel by thy words at this time thou knewest not my person. But I understand well by thy words that thou hast agreed to the death of my person, and therefore thou art a traitor; but I blame thee the less, for my sister Morgan le Fay by her false crafts made thee to agree and consent to her false lusts, but I shall be sore avenged upon her and I live, that all Christendom shall speak of it. God knoweth I have honoured her and worshipped her more than all my kin, and more have I trusted her than mine own wife, and all my kin after. Then Sir Arthur called the keepers of the field, and said, Sirs, come hither, for here are we two knights that have fought unto a great damage unto us both, and like each one of us to have slain other, if it had happed so; and had any of us known other, here had been no battle, nor stroke stricken. Then all aloud cried Sir Accolon unto all the knights and men that were then there gathered together, and said to them in this manner: O lords, this noble knight that I have fought withal, the which me sore repenteth, is the most man of prowess, of manhood, and of worship 84in the world, for it is himself king Arthur, our alther liege lord, and with mishap and with misadventure have I done this battle with the king and lord that I am holden withal.

How Arthur accorded the two brethren, and delivered the twenty knights, and how Sir Accolon died.

Then all the people fell down on their knees, and cried king Arthur mercy. Mercy shall ye have, said Arthur: here may ye see what adventures befall oft time of errant knights, how that I have fought with a knight of mine own unto my great damage and his both. But sirs, because I am sore hurt, and he both, and I had great need of a little rest, ye shall understand the opinion betwixt you two brethren: As to thee, Sir Damas, for whom I have been champion, and won the field of this knight, yet will I judge because ye Sir Damas are called an orgulous knight, and full of villainy, and not worth of prowess of your deeds, therefore I will that ye give unto your brother all the whole manor with the appurtenance, under this form, that Sir Ontzlake hold the manor of you, and yearly to give you a palfrey to ride upon, for that will become you better to ride on than upon a courser. Also I charge thee, Sir Damas, upon pain of death, that thou never distress no knights errant that ride on their adventure. And also that thou restore these twenty knights that thou hast long kept prisoners of all their harness that they be content for, and if any of them come to my court and complain of thee, by my head thou shalt die therefore. Also, Sir Ontzlake, as to you, because ye are named a good knight, and full of prowess, and true and gentle in all your deeds, this shall be your charge: I will give you that in all goodly haste ye come unto me and my court, and ye shall be a knight of mine, and if your deeds be thereafter I shall so prefer you, by the grace of God, that ye shall in short time be in ease for to live as worshipfully as your brother Sir Damas.—God thank your largeness of your goodness and of your bounty, and I shall be from henceforth at all times at your commandment: for, Sir, said Sir Ontzlake, I was hurt but late with an adventurous knight through both my thighs, which grieved me sore, and else had I done this battle with you. Would, said Arthur, it had been so, for then had not I been hurt as I am. I shall tell you the cause why: for I had not been hurt as I am had not it been mine own sword that was stolen from me by treason; and this battle was ordained aforehand to have slain me, and so it was brought to the purpose by false treason, and by false enchantment. Alas, said Sir Ontzlake, that is great pity, that ever so noble a man as ye are of your deeds and prowess, that any man or woman might find in their hearts to work any treason against you. I shall reward them, said Arthur, in short time by the grace of God. Now tell me, said Arthur, how far am I from Camelot? Sir, ye are two days’ journey therefrom. I would fain be at some place of worship, said Sir Arthur, that I might rest me. Sir, said Sir Ontzlake, hereby is a rich abbey of your elders’ foundation, of Nuns, but three mile hence. So the king took his leave of all the people, and mounted upon horseback, and Sir Accolon with him. And when they were come to the abbey, he let fetch leeches and search his wounds and Accolon’s both, but Sir Accolon died within four days, for he had bled so much blood that he might not live, but king Arthur was well recovered. So when Accolon was dead he let send him on an horse-bier with six knights unto Camelot, and said, Bear him to my sister Morgan le Fay, and say that I send her him to a present, and tell her that I have my sword Excalibur, and the scabbard. So they departed with the body.

How Morgan would have slain Sir Uriens her husband, and how Sir Uwaine her son saved him.

The mean while Morgan le Fay had wend king Arthur had been dead. So on a day she espied king Uriens lay in his bed sleeping, then she called unto her a maiden of her counsel, and said: Go fetch me my lord’s sword, for I saw never better time to slay him than now. O Madam, said the damsel, and ye slay my lord, ye can never escape. Care not you, said Morgan le Fay, for now I see my time in the which it is best to do it, and therefore hie thee fast, and fetch me the sword. Then the damsel departed, and found Sir Uwaine sleeping upon a bed in another chamber, so she went unto Sir Uwaine, and awaked him, and bad him, Arise, and wait on my lady your mother, for she will slay the king your father sleeping in his bed, for I go to fetch his sword. Well, said Sir Uwaine, go on your way, and let me deal. Anon the damsel brought Morgan the sword with quaking hands, and she lightly took the sword, and pulled it out, and went boldly unto the bed-side, and awaited how and where she might slay him best. And as she lift up the sword to smite, Sir Uwaine lept unto his mother, and caught her by the hand, and said, Ah, fiend, what wilt thou do? And thou wert not my mother, with this sword I should smite off thy head. Ah, said Sir Uwaine, men say that Merlin was begotten of a devil, but I may say an earthly devil bare me. Oh fair son Uwaine, have mercy upon me; I was tempted with a devil, wherefore I cry thee mercy; I will never more do so; and save my worship and discover me not. On this covenant, said Sir Uwaine, I will forgive it you, so ye will never be about to do such deeds. Nay, son, said she, and that I make you assurance.

How queen Morgan le Fay made great sorrow for the death of Accolon, and how she stole away the scabbard from Arthur.

Then came tidings unto Morgan le Fay that Accolon was dead, and his body brought unto the church, and how king Arthur had his sword again. But when queen Morgan wist that Accolon was dead she was so sorrowful that near her heart to burst. But because she would not it were known, outward she kept her countenance, and made no semblance of sorrow. But well she wist, and she abode till her brother Arthur came thither, there should no gold go for her life.

Then she went unto queen Guenever, and asked her leave to ride into the country. Ye may abide, said queen Guenever, till your brother the king come home. I may not, said Morgan le Fay, for I have such hasty tidings that I may not tarry. Well, said Guenever, ye may depart when ye will. So early on the morn, or it was day, she took her horse and rode all that day, and most part of the night, and on the morn by noon she came to the same abbey of nuns, whereas lay king Arthur, and she, knowing he was there, asked where he was: and they answered how he had laid him in his bed to sleep, for he had had but little rest these three nights. Well, said she, I charge you that none of you awake him till I do. And then she alight off her horse, and thought for to steal away Excalibur his sword, and so she went straight unto his chamber, and no man durst disobey her commandment, and there she found Arthur asleep in his bed, and Excalibur in his right hand naked. When she saw that, she was passing heavy that she might not come by the sword without she had awaked him, and then she wist well she had been dead. Then she took the scabbard, and went her way on horseback. When the king awoke and missed his scabbard, he was wroth, and he asked who had been there, and they said his sister queen Morgan had been there, and had put the scabbard under her mantle, and was gone. Alas, said Arthur, falsely have ye watched me. Sir, said they all, we durst not disobey your sister’s commandment. Ah, said 86the king, let fetch the best horse that may be found, and bid Sir Ontzlake arm him in all haste, and take another good horse and ride with me. So anon the king and Ontzlake were well armed, and rode after this lady; and so they came by a cross, and found a cowherd, and they asked the poor man if there came any lady late riding that way. Sir, said this poor man, right late came a lady riding with a forty horses, and to yonder forest she rode. Then they spurred their horses and followed fast, and within awhile Arthur had a sight of Morgan le Fay; then he chased as fast as he might. When she espied him following her, she rode a greater pace through the forest till she came to a plain. And when she saw she might not escape, she rode unto a lake thereby, and said, Whatsoever becometh of me, my brother shall not have this scabbard. And then she let throw the scabbard in the deepest of the water, so it sank, for it was heavy of gold and precious stones. Then she rode into a valley where many great stones were, and when she saw that she must be overtaken, she shaped herself, horse and man, by enchantment, unto a great marble stone. Anon withal came Sir Arthur and Sir Ontzlake, whereas the king might not know his sister and her men, and one knight from another. Ah, said the king, here may ye see the vengeance of God, and now am I sorry that this misadventure is befallen. And then he looked for the scabbard, but it would not be found. So he returned to the abbey there he came from. So when Arthur was gone she turned all into the likeness as she and they were before, and said, Sirs, now may we go where we will.

How Morgan le Fay saved a knight that should have been drowned, and how king Arthur returned home again.

Then said Morgan, Saw ye Arthur my brother? Yea, said her knights, right well, and that ye should have found and we might have stirred from one stead, for by his warlike countenance he would have caused us to have fled. I believe you, said Morgan. Anon after as she rode she met a knight leading another knight on his horse before him, bound hand and foot blindfold, to have drowned him in a fountain. When she saw this knight so bound, she asked him. What will ye do with that knight? Lady, said he, I will drown him. For what cause? she asked. For I found him with my wife, and she shall have the same death anon. That were pity, said Morgan le Fay: now what say ye, knight, is it truth that he saith of you? she said to the knight that should be drowned. Nay truly, madam, he saith not right of me. Of whence be ye? said Morgan le Fay, and of what country? I am of the court of king Arthur, and my name is Manassen, cousin unto Accolon of Gaul. Ye say well, said she, and for the love of him ye shall be delivered, and ye shall have your adversary in the same case ye be in. So Manassen was loosed and the other knight bound. And anon Manassen unarmed him, and armed himself in his harness, and so mounted on horseback, and the knight afore him, and so threw him into the fountain and drowned him. And then he rode unto Morgan again, and asked her if she would anything unto king Arthur. Tell him that I rescued thee not for the love of him but for the love of Accolon, and tell him I fear him not while I can make me and them that be with me in likeness of stones; and let him wit I can do much more when I see my time. And so she departed into the country of Gore, and there was she richly received, and made her castles and towns passing strong, for always she drad much king Arthur. When the king had well rested him at the abbey he rode unto Camelot, and found his queen and his barons right glad of his coming. And when they heard of his strange adventures as is afore rehearsed, they all had marvel of the falsehood of Morgan le Fay: many 87knights wished her burnt. Then came Manassen to the court and told the king of his adventure. Well, said the king, she is a kind sister, I shall so be avenged on her and I live, that all christendom shall speak of it. So on the morn there came a damsel from Morgan to the king, and she brought with her the richest mantle that ever was seen in that court, for it was set as full of precious stones as one might stand by another, and there were the richest stones that ever the king saw. And the damsel said, Your sister sendeth you this mantle, and desireth that ye should take this gift of her, and in what thing she hath offended you she will amend it at your own pleasure. When the king beheld this mantle it pleased him much, but he said but little.

How the damsel of the lake saved king Arthur from a mantle which should have burnt him.

With that came the damsel of the lake unto the king, and said, Sir, I must speak with you in private. Say on, said the king, what ye will. Sir, said the damsel, put not on you this mantle till ye have seen more, and in no wise let it not come on you, nor on no knight of yours, till ye command the bringer thereof to put it upon her. Well, said king Arthur, it shall be done as ye counsel me. And then he said unto the damsel that came from his sister, Damsel, this mantle that ye have brought me I will see it upon you. Sir, said she, it will not beseem me to wear a king’s garment. By my head, said Arthur, ye shall wear it or it come on my back, or any man’s that here is. And so the king made it to be put upon her, and forthwithal she fell down dead, and never more spake word after, and burnt to coals. Then was the king wonderly wroth, more than he was toforehand, and said unto king Uriens, My sister your wife is alway about to betray me, and well I wot either ye, or my nephew your son, is of counsel with her to have me destroyed; but as for you, said the king to king Uriens, I deem not greatly that ye be of her counsel, for Accolon confessed to me by his own mouth, that she would have destroyed you as well as me, therefore I hold you excused; but as for your son Sir Uwaine, I hold him suspected, therefore I charge you put him out of my court. So Sir Uwaine was discharged. And when Sir Gawaine wist that, he made him ready to go with him, and said: Who so banisheth my cousin german shall banish me. So they two departed and rode into a great forest. And so they came to an abbey of monks, and there were well lodged. But when the king wist that Sir Gawaine was departed from the court there was made great sorrow among all the estates. Now, said Gaheris, Gawaine’s brother, we have lost two good knights for the love of one. So on the morn they heard their masses in the abbey, and so they rode forth till they came to a great forest; then was Sir Gawaine ware in a valley by a turret, of twelve fair damsels, and two knights armed on great horses, and the damsels went to and fro by a tree. And then was Sir Gawaine ware how there hung a white shield on that tree, and ever as the damsels came by it they spit upon it, and some threw mire upon the shield.

How Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine met with twelve fair damsels, and how they complained on Sir Marhaus.

Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine went and saluted them, and asked why they did that despite to the shield. Sirs, said the damsels, we shall tell you. There is a knight in this country that owneth this white shield, and he is a passing good man of his hands, but he hateth all ladies and gentlewomen, and therefore we do all this despite to the shield. I shall say you, said Sir Gawaine, it beseemeth evil a good knight to despise all ladies and gentlewomen, and peradventure though he hate you he hath some cause, and peradventure he 88loveth in some other places ladies and gentlewomen, and to be loved again, and he be such a man of prowess as ye speak of. Now what is his name? Sir, said they, his name is Marhaus, the king’s son of Ireland. I know him well, said Sir Uwaine, he is a passing good knight as any is on live, for I saw him once proved at a justs where many knights were gathered, and that time there might no man withstand him. Ah! said Sir Gawaine, damsels, methinketh ye are to blame, for it is to suppose he that hung that shield there he will not be long therefrom, and then may those knights match him on horseback, and that is more your worship than thus; for I will abide no longer to see a knight’s shield dishonoured. And therewith Sir Uwaine and Gawaine departed a little from them, and then were they ware where Sir Marhaus came riding on a great horse straight towards them. And when the twelve damsels saw Sir Marhaus they fled into the turret as they were wild, so that some of them fell by the way. Then the one of the knights of the tower dressed his shield, and said on high, Sir Marhaus, defend thee. And so they ran together that the knight brake his spear on Marhaus, and Sir Marhaus smote him so hard that he brake his neck and the horse’s back. That saw the other knight of the turret, and dressed him toward Marhaus, and they met so eagerly together that the knight of the turret was soon smitten down, horse and man, stark dead.

How Sir Marhaus justed with Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, and overthrew them both.

And then Sir Marhaus rode unto his shield, and saw how it was defouled, and said, Of this despite I am a part avenged, but for her love that gave me this white shield I shall wear thee, and hang mine where thou wast: and so he hanged it about his neck. Then he rode straight unto Sir Gawaine and to Sir Uwaine, and asked them what they did there. They answered him that they came from king Arthur’s court for to see adventures. Well, said Marhaus, here am I ready, an adventurous knight that will fulfil any adventure that ye will desire. And so departed from them to fetch his range. Let him go, said Sir Uwaine unto Sir Gawaine, for he is a passing good knight as any is living: I would not by my will that any of us were matched with him. Nay, said Sir Gawaine, not so; it were shame to us were he not assayed, were he never so good a knight. Well, said Sir Uwaine, I will assay him afore you, for I am more weaker than ye, and if he smite me down then may ye revenge me. So these two knights came together with great random, that Sir Uwaine smote Sir Marhaus that his spear brast in pieces on the shield, and Sir Marhaus smote him so sore that horse and man he bare to the earth, and hurt Sir Uwaine on the left side. Then Sir Marhaus turned his horse and rode toward Gawaine with his spear. And when Sir Gawaine saw that, he dressed his shield, and they aventred their spears, and they came together with all the might of their horses, that either knight smote other so hard in the midst of their shields, but Sir Gawaine’s spear brake, but Sir Marhaus’s spear held; and therewith Sir Gawaine and his horse rushed down to the earth. And lightly Sir Gawaine rose upon his feet, and pulled out his sword, and dressed him toward Sir Marhaus on foot. And Sir Marhaus saw that, and pulled out his sword, and began to come to Sir Gawaine on horseback. Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, alight on foot, or else I will slay thy horse. Gramercy, said Sir Marhaus, of your gentleness, ye teach me courtesy, for it is not for one knight to be on foot and the other on horseback. And therewith Sir Marhaus set his spear against a tree and alighted, and tied his horse to a tree, and dressed his shield, and either came unto other eagerly, and smote together with their swords that their shields flew in cantels, and they bruised their helms and their hauberks, and 89wounded either other. But Sir Gawaine, fro it passed nine of the clock waxed ever stronger and stronger, till it came to the hour of noon, and thrice his might was increased. All this espied Sir Marhaus, and had great wonder how his might increased, and so they wounded other passing sore. And then when it was past noon, and when it drew toward even-song, Sir Gawaine’s strength feebled and waxed passing faint, that unnethes he might dure any longer, and Sir Marhaus was then bigger and bigger. Sir knight, said Sir Marhaus, I have well felt that ye are a passing good knight, and a marvellous man of might as ever I felt any, while it lasteth, and our quarrels are not great, and therefore it were pity to do you hurt, for I feel ye are passing feeble. Ah, said Sir Gawaine, gentle knight, ye say the word that I should say. And therewith they took off their helms and either kissed other, and there they swore together either to love other as brethren. And Sir Marhaus prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night. And so they took their horses and rode toward Sir Marhaus’s house. And as they rode by the way, Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, I have marvel that so valiant a man as ye be love no ladies nor damsels. Sir, said Sir Marhaus, they name me wrongfully those that give me that name, but well I wot it be the damsels of the turret that so name me, and other such as they be. Now shall I tell you for what cause I hate them. For they be sorceresses and enchanters many of them, and be a knight never so good of his body and full of prowess as man may be, they will make him a stark coward to have the better of him, and this is the principal cause that I hate them; and to all good ladies and gentlewomen I owe my service as a knight ought to do. As the book rehearseth in French, there were many knights that overmatched Sir Gawaine, for all the thrice-might that he had: Sir Launcelot de Lake, Sir Tristram, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Percivale, Sir Pelleas, and Sir Marhaus, these six knights had the better of Sir Gawaine. Then within a little while they came to Sir Marhaus’s place, which was in a little priory, and there they alight, and ladies and damsels unarmed them and hastily looked to their hurts, for they were all three hurt. And so they had all three good lodging with Sir Marhaus, and good cheer: for when he wist that they were king Arthur’s sister’s sons, he made them all the cheer that lay in his power. And so they sojourned there a seven nights, and were well eased of their wounds, and at the last departed. Now, said Sir Marhaus, we will not part so lightly, for I will bring you through the forest: and rode day by day well a seven days or they found any adventure. At the last they came into a great forest, that was named the country and forest of Arroy, and the country of strange adventures. In this country, said Sir Marhaus, came never knight since it was christened, but he found strange adventures. And so they rode and came into a deep valley full of stones, and thereby they saw a fair stream of water; above thereby was the head of the stream, a fair fountain, and three damsels sitting thereby. And then they rode to them, and either saluted other, and the eldest had a garland of gold about her head, and she was threescore winter of age or more, and her hair was white under the garland. The second damsel was of thirty winter of age, with a circlet of gold about her head. The third damsel was but fifteen year of age, and a garland of flowers about her head. When these knights had so beheld them, they asked them the cause why they sat at that fountain. We be here, said the damsels, for this cause, if we may see any errant knights, to teach them unto strange adventures, and ye be three knights that seek adventures, and we be three damsels, and therefore each one of you must choose one of us. And when ye have done so we will lead you unto three high ways, and there each of you shall choose a way, and his damsel with him. And this day twelvemonth ye must meet here again, and God send 90you your lives, and thereto ye must plight your troth. This is well said, said Sir Marhaus.

How Sir Marhaus, Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine met three damsels, and each of them took one.

Now shall every each of us choose a damsel. I shall tell you, said Sir Uwaine: I am the youngest and most weakest of you both, therefore I will have the eldest damsel, for she hath seen much and can help me best when I have need, for I have most need of help of you both. Now, said Sir Marhaus, I will have the damsel of thirty winter age, for she fallest best to me. Well, said Sir Gawaine, I thank you, for ye have left me the youngest and the fairest, and she is most liefest to me. Then every damsel took her knight by the reins of his bridle, and brought them to the three ways, and there was their oath made to meet at the fountain that day twelvemonth and they were living, and so they kissed and departed, and every each knight set his lady behind him. And Sir Uwaine took the way that lay west, and Sir Marhaus took the way that lay south, and Sir Gawaine took the way that lay north.

Now will we begin at Sir Gawaine that held that way till he came unto a fair manor, where dwelled an old knight and a good householder, and there Sir Gawaine asked the knight if he knew any adventures in that country. I shall shew you some to-morn, said the old knight, and that marvellous. So on the morn they rode into the forest of adventures till they came to a lawn, and thereby they found a cross, and as they stood and hoved there came by them the fairest knight and the seemliest man that ever they saw, making the greatest dole that ever man made. And then he was ware of Sir Gawaine, and saluted him, and prayed God to send him much worship. As to that, said Sir Gawaine, Gramercy! Also, I pray to God that he send you honour and worship. Ah, said the knight, I may lay that aside, for sorrow and shame cometh to me after worship.

How a knight and a dwarf strove for a lady.

And therewith he passed unto the one side of the lawn. And on the other side Sir Gawaine saw ten knights that hoved still, and made them ready with their shields and spears against that one knight that came by Sir Gawaine. Then this one knight aventred a great spear, and one of the ten knights encountered with him, but this woful knight smote him so hard that he fell over his horse tail. So this same dolorous knight served them all, that at the least way he smote down horse and man, and all he did with one spear. And so when they were all ten on foot they went to that one knight, and he stood stone still, and suffered them to pull him down off his horse, and bound him hand and foot, and tied him under the horse belly, and so led him with them. Oh, said Sir Gawaine, this is a doleful sight, to see the yonder knight so to be entreated, and it seemeth by the knight that he suffereth them to bind him so, for he maketh no resistance. No, said his host, that is truth, for and he would they all were too weak so to do him. Sir, said the damsel unto Sir Gawaine, me seemeth it were your worship to help that dolorous knight, for me thinketh he is one of the best knights that ever I saw. I would do for him, said Sir Gawaine, but it seemeth that he will have no help. Then said the damsel, me seemeth ye have no lust to help him. Thus as they talked they saw a knight on that other side of the lawn, all armed save the head. And on the other side there came a dwarf on horseback all armed save the head, with a great mouth and a short nose. And when the dwarf came nigh he said, Where is the lady should meet us here? and therewithal she came forth out of the wood. And then they began to strive for the lady; for the knight said he would have her, 91and the dwarf said he would have her. Will we do well? said the dwarf; yonder is a knight at the cross, let us put it both upon him, and as he deemeth so shall it be. I will well, said the knight; and so they went all three unto Sir Gawaine, and told him wherefore they strove. Well sirs, said he, will ye put the matter into my hand? Yea, they said both. Now, damsel, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall stand betwixt them both, and whether ye list better to go to, he shall have you. And when she was set between them both she left the knight and went to the dwarf. And the dwarf took her and went his way singing, and the knight went his way with great mourning. Then came there two knights all armed, and cried on high, Sir Gawaine, knight of king Arthur, make thee ready in all haste and just with me. So they ran together that either fell down. And then on foot they drew their swords and did full actually. In the meanwhile the other knight went to the damsel and asked her why she abode with that knight, and if ye would abide with me, I will be your faithful knight. And with you will I be, said the damsel, for with Sir Gawaine I may not find in mine heart to be with him: for now here was one knight discomfited ten knights, and at the last he was cowardly led away; and therefore let us two go our way whilst they fight. And Sir Gawaine fought with that other knight long, but at the last they accorded both. And then the knight prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night. So as Sir Gawaine went with this knight he asked him, What knight is he in this country that smote down the ten knights? For when he had done so manfully, he suffered them to bind him hand and foot, and so led him away. Ah! said the knight, that is the best knight I trow in the world, and the most man of prowess, and he hath been served so as he was even more than ten times, and his name hight Sir Pelleas, and he loveth a great lady in this country, and her name is Ettard. And so when he loved her there was cried in this country a great justs three days: and all the knights of this country were there and gentlewomen; and who that proved him the best knight should have a passing good sword and a circlet of gold, and the circlet the knight should give it to the fairest lady that was at the justs. And this knight, Sir Pelleas, was the best knight that was there, and there were five hundred knights, but there was never man that ever Sir Pelleas met withal, but he struck him down, or else from his horse. And every day of three days he struck down twenty knights, therefore they gave him the prize. And forthwithal he went there as the lady Ettard was, and gave her the circlet, and said openly she was the fairest lady that there was, and that would he prove upon any knight that would say nay.

How king Pelleas suffered himself to be taken prisoner because he would have a sight of his lady, and how Sir Gawaine promised him for to get to him the love of his lady.

And so he chose her for his sovereign lady, and never to love other but her. But she was so proud that she had scorn of him, and said she would never love him, though he would die for her. Wherefore all ladies and gentlewomen had scorn of her that she was so proud, for there were fairer than she, and there was none that was there but and Sir Pelleas would have proffered them love, they would have loved him for his noble prowess. And so this knight promised the lady Ettard to follow her into this country, and never to leave her till she loved him. And thus he is here the most part nigh her, and lodged by a priory, and every week she sendeth knights to fight with him. And when he hath put them to the worse, then will he suffer them wilfully to take him prisoner, because he would have a sight of this lady. And alway she doth him great despite, for sometimes she maketh 92her knights to tie him to his horse tail, and some to bind him under the horse belly. Thus in the most shamefullest wise that she can think he is brought to her. And all she doth it for to cause him to leave this country, and to leave his loving. But all this cannot make him to leave, for and he would have fought on foot he might have had the better of the ten knights as well on foot as on horseback. Alas! said Sir Gawaine, it is great pity of him, and after this night I will seek him to-morrow in this forest, to do him all the help that I can. So on the morn Sir Gawaine took his leave of his host Sir Carados, and rode into the forest. And at the last he met with Sir Pelleas making great moan out of measure, so each of them saluted other, and asked him why he made such sorrow. And as it is above rehearsed, Sir Pelleas told Sir Gawaine: But alway I suffer her knights to fare so with me as ye saw yesterday, in trust at the last to win her love, for she knoweth well all her knights should not lightly win me and me list to fight with them to the uttermost. Wherefore I loved her not so sore I had lever die an hundred times, and I might die so oft, rather than I would suffer that despite; but I trust she will have pity upon me at the last, for love causeth many a good knight to suffer to have his intent, but, alas! I am unfortunate. And therewith he made so great dole and sorrow that unnethe he might hold him on horseback. Now, said Sir Gawaine, leave your mourning, and I shall promise you by the faith of my body, to do all that lieth in my power to get you the love of your lady, and thereto I will plight you my troth. Ah, said Sir Pelleas, of what court are ye? tell me, I pray you, my good friend. And then Sir Gawaine said, I am of the court of king Arthur, and his sister’s son, and king Lot of Orkney was my father, and my name is Sir Gawaine. And then he said, My name is Sir Pelleas, born in the Isles, and of many isles I am lord, and never have I loved lady nor damsel till now in an unhappy time; and Sir knight, since ye are so nigh cousin unto king Arthur, and a king’s son, therefore betray me not but help me, for I may never come by her but by some good knight, for she is in a strong castle here fast by within this four mile, and over all this country she is lady of. And so I may never come to her presence but as I suffer her knights to take me, and but if I did so that I might have a sight of her, I had been dead long or this time, and yet fair word had I never of her, but when I am brought tofore her she rebuketh me in the foulest manner. And then they take my horse and harness, and put me out of the gates, and she will not suffer me to eat nor drink, and always I offer me to be her prisoner, but that she will not suffer me, for I would desire no more what pains soever I had, so that I might have a sight of her daily. Well, said Sir Gawaine, all this shall I amend, and ye will do as I shall devise. I will have your horse and your armour, and so will I ride to her castle, and tell her that I have slain you, and so shall I come within her to cause her to cherish me, and then shall I do my true part that ye shall not fail to have the love of her.

How Sir Gawaine came to the lady Ettard, and how Sir Pelleas found them sleeping.

And therewith Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir Pelleas to be true and faithful unto him. So each one plight their troth to other, and so they changed horses and harness, and Sir Gawaine departed and came to the castle whereas stood the pavilions of this lady without the gate. And as soon as Ettard had espied Sir Gawaine she fled in toward the castle. Sir Gawaine spake on high, and bad her abide, for he was not Sir Pelleas: I am another knight that hath slain Sir Pelleas. Do off your helm, said the lady Ettard, that I may see your visage. And so when she saw that it was not Sir Pelleas she made him alight, and led him unto her castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had slain Sir Pelleas. And 93he said her yea, and told her his name was Sir Gawaine of the court of king Arthur, and his sister’s son. Truly, said she, that is great pity, for he was a passing good knight of his body, but of all men on live I hated him most, for I could never be quit of him. And for ye have slain him I shall be your lady, and to do anything that may please you. So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer. Then Sir Gawaine said that he loved a lady, and by no mean she would love him. She is to blame, said Ettard, and she will not love you, for ye that be so well born a man, and such a man of prowess, there is no lady in the world too good for you. Will ye, said Sir Gawaine, promise me to do all that ye may, by the faith of your body, to get me the love of my lady? Yea, sir, said she, and that I promise you by the faith of my body. Now, said Sir Gawaine, it is yourself that I love so well, therefore I pray you hold your promise. I may not choose, said the lady Ettard, but if I should be forsworn. And so she granted him to fulfil all his desire.

So it was then in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine went out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and in another pavilion she laid her damsels, and in the third pavilion she laid part of her knights, for then she had no dread of Sir Pelleas. And there Sir Gawaine abode with her in that pavilion two days and two nights. And on the third day in the morning early Sir Pelleas armed him, for he had never slept since Sir Gawaine departed from him. For Sir Gawaine had promised him, by the faith of his body, to come to him unto his pavilion by that priory within the space of a day and a night. Then Sir Pelleas mounted upon horseback, and came to the pavilions that stood without the castle, and found in the first pavilion three knights in three beds, and three squires lying at their feet. Then went he to the second pavilion and found four gentlewomen lying in four beds. And then he went to the third pavilion and found Sir Gawaine with his lady Ettard, and when he saw that his heart well nigh burst for sorrow, and said: Alas! that ever a knight should be found so false. And then he took his horse, and might not abide no longer for pure sorrow. And when he had ridden nigh half a mile, he turned again and thought to slay them both: and when he saw them both sleeping fast, unnethe he might hold him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself, Though this knight be never so false I will never slay him sleeping; for I will never destroy the high order of knighthood. And therewith he departed again. And or he had ridden half a mile he returned again, and thought then to slay them both, making the greatest sorrow that ever man made. And when he came to the pavilions he tied his horse to a tree, and pulled out his sword naked in his hand, and went to them there as they lay, and yet he thought it were shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the naked sword overthwart both their throats, and so took his horse and rode his way. And when Sir Pelleas came to his pavilions he told his knights and his squires how he had sped, and said thus to them: For your true and good service ye have done me I shall give you all my goods, for I will go unto my bed, and never arise until I am dead. And when that I am dead I charge you that ye take the heart out of my body and bear it her betwixt two silver dishes, and tell her how I saw her with the false knight Sir Gawaine. Right so Sir Pelleas unarmed himself and went unto his bed, making marvellous dole and sorrow.

Then Sir Gawaine and Ettard awoke out of their sleep, and found the naked sword overthwart their throats. Then she knew well it was Sir Pelleas’ sword. Alas! said she to Sir Gawaine, ye have betrayed me and Sir Pelleas both, for ye told me ye had slain him, and now I know well it is not so, he is on live. And if Sir Pelleas had been as uncourteous to you as ye have been to him, ye had been a dead knight: but ye have deceived me and betrayed me falsely, that all ladies and damsels may beware 94by you and me. And therewith Sir Gawaine made him ready and went into the forest. So it happed then that the damsel of the lake Nimue met with a knight of Sir Pelleas, that went on his foot in the forest making great dole, and she asked him the cause. And so the woful knight told her how that his master and lord was betrayed through a knight and a lady, and how he will never arise out of his bed till he be dead. Bring me to him, said she, anon, and I will warrant his life, he shall not die for love, and she that hath caused him so to love she shall be in as evil plight as he is or it be long, for it is no joy of such a proud lady that will have no mercy of such a valiant knight. Anon that knight brought her unto him. And when she saw him lie in his bed, she thought she saw never so likely a knight: and therewith she threw an enchantment upon him, and he fell on sleep. And therewhile she rode unto the lady Ettard, and charged no man to awake him till she came again. So within two hours she brought the lady Ettard thither, and both ladies found him on sleep. Lo, said the damsel of the lake, ye ought to be ashamed for to murder such a knight. And therewith she threw such an enchantment upon her that she loved him sore, that well nigh she was out of her mind. Alas! said the lady Ettard, how is it befallen unto me that I love now him that I have most hated of any men alive. That is the righteous judgment of God, said the damsel. And then anon Sir Pelleas awaked, and looked upon Ettard. And when he saw her he knew her, and then he hated her more than any woman alive, and said: Away traitress, come never in my sight. And when she heard him say so, she wept and made great sorrow out of measure.

How Sir Pelleas loved no more Ettard by means of the damsel of the lake, whom he loved ever after.

Sir knight Pelleas, said the damsel of the lake, take your horse and come forth with me out of this country, and ye shall love a lady that shall love you. I will well, said Sir Pelleas, for this lady Ettard hath done me great despite and shame. And there he told her the beginning and ending, and how he had purposed never to have arisen till that he had been dead,—and now I hate her as much as ever I loved her. Thank me, said the damsel of the lake. Anon Sir Pelleas armed him, and took his horse, and commanded his men to bring after his pavilions and his stuff where the damsel of the lake would assign. So the lady Ettard died for sorrow, and the damsel of the lake rejoiced Sir Pelleas, and loved together during their life days.

How Sir Marhaus rode with the damsel, and how he came to the duke of the South Marches.

Now turn we unto Sir Marhaus that rode with the damsel of thirty winter of age southward. And so they came into a deep forest, and by fortune they were nighted, and rode long in a deep way, and at the last they came into a courtelage, and there they asked harbour. But the man of the courtelage would not lodge them for no treaty that they could treat. But thus much the good man said: And ye will take the adventure of your lodging, I shall bring you there ye shall be lodged. What adventure is that that I shall have for my lodging? said Sir Marhaus. Ye shall wit when ye come there, said the good man. Sir, what adventure so it be bring me thither, I pray thee, said Sir Marhaus, for I am weary, my damsel and my horse. So the good man went and opened the gate, and within an hour he brought him unto a fair castle. And then the poor man called the porter, and anon he was let into the castle, and so told the lord how he brought him a knight errant and a damsel that would be lodged with him. Let him in, said the lord, it may happen he shall repent that they took their lodging here. 95So Sir Marhaus was let in with torch light, and there was a goodly sight of young men that welcomed him. And then his horse was led into the stable, and he and the damsel were brought into the hall, and there stood a mighty duke, and many goodly men about him. Then this lord asked him what he hight, and from whence he came, and with whom he dwelt. Sir, said he, I am a knight of king Arthur’s, and knight of the Table Round, and my name is Sir Marhaus, and born I am in Ireland. And then said the duke to him, That me sore repenteth: the cause is this: for I love not thy lord, nor none of thy fellows of the Table Round, and therefore ease thyself this night as well as thou mayest, for as to-morn I and my six sons shall match with you. Is there no remedy but that I must have ado with you and your six sons at once? said Sir Marhaus. No, said the duke, for this cause I made mine avow, for Sir Gawaine slew my seven sons in a recounter, therefore I made mine avow that there should never knight of king Arthur’s court lodge with me, or come there as I might have ado with him, but that I would have a revenging of my sons’ death. What is your name? said Sir Marhaus; I require you tell me, and it please you. Wit ye well that I am the duke of South Marches. Ah, said Sir Marhaus, I have heard say that ye have been a long time a great foe unto my lord Arthur and to his knights. That shall ye feel to-morn, said the duke. Shall I have ado with you? said Sir Marhaus. Yea, said the duke, thereof shalt thou not choose, and therefore take you to your chamber, and ye shall have all that to you belongeth. So Sir Marhaus departed, and was led to a chamber, and his damsel was led unto her chamber. And on the morn the duke sent unto Sir Marhaus, and bad make him ready. And so Sir Marhaus arose and armed him, and then there was a mass sung afore him, and he brake his fast, and so mounted on horseback in the court of the castle, there they should do the battle. So there was the duke already on horseback, clean armed, and his six sons by him, and every each had a spear in his hand, and so they encountered, where as the duke and his two sons brake their spears upon him, but Sir Marhaus held up his spear and touched none of them.

How Sir Marhaus fought with the duke and his six sons, and made them to yield them.

Then came the four sons by couples, and two of them brake their spears, and so did the other two. And all this while Sir Marhaus touched them not. Then Sir Marhaus ran to the duke, and smote him with his spear that horse and man fell to the earth. And so he served his sons. And then Sir Marhaus alight down, and bad the duke yield him or else he would slay him. And then some of his sons recovered, and would have set upon Sir Marhaus. Then Sir Marhaus said to the duke, Cease thy sons, or else I will do the uttermost to you all. When the duke saw he might not escape the death, he cried to his sons, and charged them to yield them to Sir Marhaus. And they kneeled all down and put the pommels of their swords to the knight, and so he received them. And then they holp up their father, and so by their common assent promised unto Sir Marhaus never to be foes unto king Arthur, and thereupon at Whitsuntide after, to come he and his sons, and put them in the king’s grace. Then Sir Marhaus departed, and within two days his damsel brought him where as was a great tournament that the lady de Vawse had cried. And who that did best should have a rich circlet of gold worth a thousand besaunts. And there Sir Marhaus did so nobly that he was renowned, and had some time down forty knights, and so the circlet of gold was rewarded him. Then he departed from thence with great worship. And so within seven nights the damsel brought him to an earl’s place, his name was the earl Fergus, 96that after was Sir Tristram’s knight. And this earl was but a young man, and late come into his lands, and there was a giant fast by him that hight Taulurd, and he had another brother in Cornwall that hight Taulas, that Sir Tristram slew when he was out of his mind. So this earl made his complaint unto Sir Marhaus, that there was a giant by him that destroyed all his lands, and how he durst nowhere ride nor go for him. Sir, said the knight, whether useth he to fight on horseback or on foot? Nay, said the earl, there may no horse bear him. Well, said Sir Marhaus, then will I fight with him on foot. So on the morn Sir Marhaus prayed the earl that one of his men might bring him whereas the giant was, and so he was, for he saw him sit under a tree of holly, and many clubs of iron and gisarms about him. So this knight dressed him to the giant, putting his shield afore him, and the giant took an iron club in his hand, and at the first stroke he clave Sir Marhaus’s shield in two pieces. And there he was in great peril, for the giant was a wily fighter, but at the last Sir Marhaus smote off his right arm above the elbow. Then the giant fled, and the knight after him, and so he drove him into a water, but the giant was so high that he might not wade after him. And then Sir Marhaus made the earl Fergus’s man to fetch him stones, and with those stones the knight gave the giant many sore knocks, till at the last he made him fall down into the water, and so was he there dead. Then Sir Marhaus went unto the giant’s castle, and there he delivered twenty-four ladies and twelve knights out of the giant’s prison, and there he had great riches without number, so that the days of his life he was never poor man. Then he returned to the earl Fergus, the which thanked him greatly and would have given him half his lands, but he would none take. So Sir Marhaus dwelled with the earl nigh half a year, for he was sore bruised with the giant, and at the last he took his leave. And as he rode by the way, he met with Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, and so by adventure he met with four knights of king Arthur’s court, the first was Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir Osanna, Sir Dodinas le Savage, and Sir Felot of Listinoise; and there Sir Marhaus with one spear smote down these four knights, and hurt them sore. So he departed to meet at his day afore set.

How Sir Uwaine rode with the damsel of threescore years of age, and how he got the prize at tourneying.

Now turn we unto Sir Uwaine, that rode westward with his damsel of threescore winter of age, and she brought him there as was a tournament nigh the march of Wales. And at that tournament Sir Uwaine smote down thirty knights, therefore was given him the prize, and that was a gerfalcon and a white steed trapped with cloth of gold. So then Sir Uwaine did many strange adventures by the means of the old damsel, and so she brought him unto a lady that was called the lady of the Rock, the which was much courteous. So there were in the country two knights that were brethren, and they were called two perilous knights, the one hight Sir Edward of the Red Castle, and the other hight Sir Hue of the Red Castle. And these two brethren had disherited the lady of the Rock of a barony of lands by their extortion. And as this knight was lodged with this lady, she made her complaint to him of these two knights. Madam, said Sir Uwaine, they are to blame, for they do against the high order of knighthood and the oath that they made; and if it like you I will speak with them, because I am a knight of king Arthur’s, and I will entreat them with fairness; and if they will not, I shall do battle with them, and in the defence of your right. Gramercy! said the lady, and there as I may not acquit you, God shall. So on the morn the two knights were sent for, that they should come hither to speak with the lady of the Rock. And wit ye well they 97failed not, for they came with an hundred horse. But when this lady saw them in this manner so big, she would not suffer Sir Uwaine to go out to them upon no surety nor for no fair language, but she made him speak with them over a tower. But finally these two brethren would not be entreated, and answered that they would keep that they had. Well, said Sir Uwaine, then will I fight with one of you, and prove that ye do this lady wrong. That will we not, said they, for and we do battle we two will fight with one knight at once, and therefore if ye will fight so we will be ready at what hour ye will assign. And if ye win us in battle the lady shall have her lands again. Ye say well, said Sir Uwaine, therefore make you ready, so that ye be here tomorn in the defence of the lady’s right.

How Sir Uwaine fought with two knights, and overcame them.

So was there agreement made on both parties, that no treason should be wrought on neither party. So then the knights departed and made them ready. And that night Sir Uwaine had great cheer. And on the morn he arose early and heard mass, and brake his fast, and so he rode unto the plain without the gates, where hoved the two brethren abiding him. So they rode together passing sore, that Sir Edward and Sir Hue brake their spears upon Sir Uwaine. And Sir Uwaine smote Sir Edward that he fell over his horse, and yet his spear brast not. And then he spurred his horse and came upon Sir Hue, and overthrew him; but they soon recovered and dressed their shields and drew their swords, and bad Sir Uwaine alight and do his battle to the uttermost. Then Sir Uwaine avoided his horse suddenly, and put his shield afore him and drew his sword, and so they dressed together, and either gave other such strokes, and there these two brethren wounded Sir Uwaine passing grievously, that the lady of the Rock wend he should have died. And thus they fought together five hours as men enraged out of reason. And at the last Sir Uwaine smote Sir Edward upon the helm such a stroke that his sword carved unto his collarbone, and then Sir Hue abated his courage. But Sir Uwaine pressed fast to have slain him. That saw Sir Hue: he kneeled down and yielded him to Sir Uwaine. And he of his gentleness received his sword, and took him by the hand and went into the castle together. Then the lady of the Rock was passing glad, and the other brother made great sorrow for his brother’s death. Then the lady was restored of all her lands, and Sir Hue was commanded to be at the court of king Arthur at the next feast of Pentecost. So Sir Uwaine dwelt with the lady nigh half a year, for it was long or he might be whole of his great hurts. And so when it drew nigh the term-day that Sir Gawaine, Sir Marhaus, and Sir Uwaine should meet at the cross way, then every knight drew him thither to hold his promise that they had made. And Sir Marhaus and Sir Uwaine brought their damsels with them, but Sir Gawaine had lost his damsel, as it is afore rehearsed.

How at the year’s end all three knights with their three damsels met at the fountain.

Right so at the twelvemonth’s end they met all three knights at the fountain, and their damsels. But the damsel that Sir Gawaine had could say but little worship of him. So they departed from the damsels and rode through a great forest, and there they met with a messager that came from king Arthur, that had sought them well nigh a twelvemonth throughout all England, Wales, and Scotland, and charged if ever he might find Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, to bring them to the court again. And then were they all glad. And so prayed they Sir 98Marhaus to ride with them to the king’s court. And so within twelve days they came to Camelot; and the king was passing glad of their coming, and so was all the court. Then the king made them to swear upon a book to tell him all their adventures that had befallen them that twelvemonth, and so they did. And there was Sir Marhaus well known; for there were knights that he had matched aforetime, and he was named one of the best knights living. Against the feast of Pentecost came the damsel of the lake, and brought with her Sir Pelleas. And at that high feast there was great justing of knights, and of all the knights that were at that justs Sir Pelleas had the prize, and Sir Marhaus was named the next; but Sir Pelleas was so strong that there might but few knights sit him a buffet with a spear. And at that next feast Sir Pelleas and Sir Marhaus were made knights of the Table Round, for there were two sieges void, for two knights were slain that twelvemonth; and great joy had king Arthur of Sir Pelleas and of Sir Marhaus. But Pelleas loved never after Sir Gawaine, but as he spared him for the love of king Arthur. But ofttimes at justs and tournaments Sir Pelleas quit Sir Gawaine, for so it rehearseth in the book of French. So Sir Tristram many days after fought with Sir Marhaus in an island, and there they did a great battle, but at the last Sir Tristram slew him. So Sir Tristram was wounded that hardly he might recover, and lay at a nunnery half a year. And Sir Pelleas was a worshipful knight, and was one of the four that achieved the Sangreal. And the damsel of the lake made by her means that never he had ado with Sir Launcelot de Lake, for where Sir Launcelot was at any justs or any tournament she would not suffer him to be there that day, but if it were on the side of Sir Launcelot.

Explicit liber quartus. Incipit liber quintus.

The Fifth Book.
How twelve aged ambassadors of Rome came to king Arthur to demand truage for Britain.

When king Arthur had after long war rested, and held a royal feast and Table Round with his allies of kings, princes, and noble knights all of the Round Table, there came into his hall, he sitting in his throne royal, twelve ancient men, bearing each of them a branch of olive in token that they came as ambassadors and messagers from the emperor Lucius, which was called at that time Dictator or Procuror of the Public Weal of Rome. Which said messagers, after their entering and coming into the presence of king Arthur, did to him their obeisance in making to him reverence, and said to him in this wise: The high and mighty emperor Lucius sendeth to the king of Britain greeting, commanding thee to acknowledge him for thy lord, and to send him the truage due of this realm unto the empire, which thy father and other tofore thy predecessors have paid as is of record, and thou as rebel not knowing him as thy sovereign, withholdest and retainest contrary to the statutes and decrees made by the noble and worthy Julius Cesar, conqueror of this realm, and first emperor of Rome. And if thou refuse his demand and commandment, know thou for certain 99that he shall make strong war against thee, thy realms and lands, and shall chastise thee and thy subjects, that it shall be ensample perpetual unto all kings and princes for to deny their truage unto that noble empire which domineth upon the universal world. Then when they had shewed the effect of their message, the king commanded them to withdraw them, and said he should take advice of council, and give to them an answer. Then some of the young knights hearing this their message would have run on them to have slain them, saying that it was a rebuke unto all the knights there being present to suffer them to say so to the king. And anon the king commanded that none of them upon pain of death to missay them, nor do them any harm, and commanded a knight to bring them to their lodging, and see that they have all that is necessary and requisite for them with the best cheer, and that no dainty be spared, for the Romans be great lords, and though their message please me not, nor my court, yet I must remember mine honour. After this the king let call all his lords and knights of the Round Table to council upon this matter, and desired them to say their advice. Then Sir Cador of Cornwall spake first, and said, Sir, this message liketh me well, for we have many days rested us and have been idle, and now I hope ye shall make sharp war on the Romans, where I doubt not we shall get honour. I believe well, said Arthur, that this matter pleaseth thee well, but these answers may not be answered, for the demand grieveth me sore; for truly I will never pay no truage to Rome, wherefore I pray you to counsel me. I have understood that Belinus and Brenius, kings of Britain, have had the empire in their hands many days, and also Constantine the son of queen Heleine, which is an open evidence that we owe no tribute to Rome, but of right we that be descended of them have right to claim the title of the empire.

How the kings and lords promised to king Arthur aid and help against the Romans.

Then answered king Anguish of Scotland, Sir, ye ought of right to be above all other kings, for unto you is none like nor pareil in all Christendom, of knighthood ne of dignity, and I counsel you never to obey the Romans, for when they reigned on us they distressed our elders, and put this land to great extortions and tallages, wherefore I make here mine avow to avenge me on them; and for to strengthen your quarrel I shall furnish twenty thousand good men of war, and wage them on my costs, which shall await on you with myself, when it shall please you. And the king of Little Britain granted him to the same thirty thousand; wherefore king Arthur thanked them. And then every man agreed to make war, and to aid after their power; that is to wit, the lord of West Wales promised to bring thirty thousand men, and Sir Uwaine, Sir Ider his son, with their cousins, promised to bring thirty thousand. Then Sir Launcelot with all other promised in likewise every man a great multitude. And when king Arthur understood their courages and good wills he thanked them heartily, and after let call the ambassadors to hear their answer. And in presence of all his lords and knights he said to them in this wise: I will that ye return unto your lord and Procuror of the Common Weal for the Romans, and say to him, Of his demand and commandment I set nothing, and that I know of no truage, ne tribute, that I owe to him, ne to none earthly prince, Christian ne heathen; but I pretend to have and occupy the sovereignty of the empire, wherein I am entitled by the right of my predecessors, sometime kings of this land; and say to him that I am deliberated, and fully concluded, to go with mine army with strength and power unto Rome by the grace of God to take possession in the empire, and subdue them that be rebel. Wherefore I command 100him, and all them of Rome, that incontinent they make to me their homage, and to acknowledge me for their emperor and governor, upon pain that shall ensue. And then he commanded his treasurer to give them great and large gifts, and to pay all their expenses, and assigned Sir Cador to convey them out of the land. And so they took their leave and departed, and took their shipping at Sandwich, and passed forth by Flanders, Almain, the mountains, and all Italy, until they came unto Lucius. And after the reverence made, they made relation of their answer, like as ye tofore have heard. When the emperor Lucius had well understood their credence, he was sore moved as he had been all enraged, and said: I had supposed that Arthur would have obeyed to my commandment, and have served you himself, as him well beseemed or any other king to do. O sir, said one of the senators, let be such vain words, for we let you wit that I and my fellows were full sore afeard to behold his countenance; I fear me ye have made a rod for yourself, for he intendeth to be lord of this empire, which sore is to be doubted if he come, for he is all another man than ye ween, and holdeth the most noble court of the world; all other kings ne princes may not compare unto his noble maintenance. On new year’s day we saw him in his estate, which was the royalest that ever we saw, for he was served at his table with nine kings and the noblest fellowship of other princes, lords, and knights, that be in the world, and every knight approved and like a lord, and holdeth Table Round: and in his person the most manly man that liveth, and is like to conquer all the world, for unto his courage it is too little: wherefore I advise you to keep well your marches and straits in the mountains; for certainly he is a lord to be doubted. Well, said Lucius, before Easter I suppose to pass the mountains and so forth into France, and there bereave him his lands with Genoese and other mighty warriors of Tuscany and Lombardy. And I shall send for them all that be subjects and allied to the empire of Rome to come to mine aid. And forthwith sent old wise knights unto these countries following: first, to Ambage and Arrage, to Alisandrie, to Inde, to Hermonie where as the river of Euphrates runneth into Asia, to Affrike, and Europe the large, to Ertaine and Elamie, to Arabie, Egypt, and to Damaske, to Damiete and Cayer, to Capadoce, to Tarce, Turkey, Pounce, and Pampoille, to Surrie, and Galacie. And all these were subject to Rome, and many more, as Greece, Cyprus, Macedone, Calabre, Cateland, Portingale, with many thousands of Spaniards. Thus all these kings, dukes, and admirals assembled about Rome with sixteen kings at once, with great multitude of people. When the emperor understood their coming, he made ready his Romans and all the people between him and Flanders. Also he had gotten with him fifty giants which had been born of fiends; and they were ordained to guard his person, and to break the front of the battle of king Arthur.

And thus he departed from Rome, and came down the mountains for to destroy the lands that king Arthur had conquered, and came to Cologne, and besieged a castle thereby, and won it soon, and stuffed it with two hundred Saracens or infidels, and after destroyed many fair countries which Arthur had won of king Claudas. And thus Lucius came with all his host which were spread out threescore mile in breadth, and commanded them to meet with him in Burgoyne, for he purposed to destroy the realm of Little Britain.

How king Arthur held a parliament at York, and how he ordained how the realm should be governed in his absence.

Now leave we of Lucius the emperor, and speak we of king Arthur, that commanded all them of his retinue to be ready at the utas of Hilary for to hold a parliament at York. And at 101that parliament was concluded to arrest all the navy of the land, and to be ready within fifteen days at Sandwich; and there he shewed to his army how he purposed to conquer the empire which he ought to have of right. And there he ordained two governors of this realm, that is to say, Sir Bawdwin of Britain, for to counsel to the best, and Sir Constantine, son to Sir Cador of Cornwall, which after the death of Arthur was king of this realm. And in the presence of all his lords he resigned the rule of the realm and Guenever his queen unto them, wherefore Sir Launcelot was wroth, for he left Sir Tristram with king Mark for the love of Beale Isould. Then the queen Guenever made great sorrow for the departing of her lord and other, and swooned in such wise that the ladies bare her into her chamber. Thus the king with his great army departed, leaving the queen and realm in the governance of Sir Bawdwin and Constantine. And when he was on his horse he said with an high voice, If I die in this journey, I will that Sir Constantine be mine heir and king crowned of this realm as next of my blood. And after departed and entered into the sea at Sandwich with all his army, with a great multitude of ships, galleys, cogges, and dromons, sailing on the sea.

How king Arthur being shipped and lying in his cabin had a marvellous dream, and of the exposition thereof.

And as the king lay in his cabin in the ship, he fell in a slumbering, and dreamed a marvellous dream: him seemed that a dreadful dragon did drown much of his people, and he came flying out of the west, and his head was enamelled with azure, and his shoulders shone as gold, his belly like mails of a marvellous hue, his tail full of tatters, his feet full of fine sable, and his claws like fine gold; and an hideous flame of fire flew out of his mouth, like as the land and water had flamed all of fire. After him seemed there came out of the orient a grimly boar all black in a cloud, and his paws as big as a post; he was rugged looking roughly, he was the foulest beast that ever man saw, he roared and romed so hideously that it were marvel to hear. Then the dreadful dragon advanced him, and came in the wind like a falcon, giving great strokes on the boar, and the boar hit him again with his grisly tusks that his breast was all bloody, and that the hot blood made all the sea red of his blood. Then the dragon flew away all on an height, and came down with such a swough, and smote the boar on the ridge, which was ten foot large from the head to the tail, and smote the boar all to powder, both flesh and bones, that it flittered all abroad on the sea. And therewith the king awoke anon and was sore abashed of this dream; and sent anon for a wise philosopher, commanding to tell him the signification of his dream. Sir, said the philosopher, the dragon that thou dreamedst of betokeneth thine own person that sailest here, and the colour of his wings be thy realms that thou hast won, and his tail which is all to-tattered signifieth the noble knights of the Round Table. And the boar that the dragon slew coming from the clouds, betokeneth some tyrant that tormenteth the people, or else thou art like to fight with some giant thyself, being horrible and abominable, whose peer ye saw never in your days; wherefore of this dreadful dream doubt thee nothing, but as a conqueror come forth thyself. Then after this soon they had sight of land, and sailed till they arrived at Barflete in Flanders, and when they were there he found many of his great lords ready as they had been commanded to await upon him.

How a man of the country told to him of a marvellous giant, and how he fought and conquered him.

Then came to him an husbandman of the country, and told him how there 102was in the country of Constantine, beside Britany, a great tyrant which had slain, murdered, and devoured much people of the country, and had been sustained seven year with the children of the commons of that land, insomuch, that all the children be all slain and destroyed, and now late he hath taken the duchess of Britany as she rode with her train, and hath led her to his lodging which is in a mountain, for to keep her to her life’s end; and many people followed her, more than five hundred, but all they might not rescue her, but they left her shrieking and crying lamentably, wherefore I suppose that he hath slain her. She was wife unto thy cousin Sir Howell, whom we call full nigh of thy blood. Now as thou art a rightful king have pity on this lady, and revenge us all as thou art a noble conqueror. Alas! said king Arthur, this is a great mischief, I had lever than the best realm that I have that I had been a furlong way tofore him, for to have rescued that lady. Now fellow, said king Arthur, canst thou bring me there as this giant haunteth? Yea, Sir, said the good man, lo yonder where as thou seest those two great fires, there thou shalt find him, and more treasure than I suppose is in all France. When the king had understood this piteous case he returned into his tent.

Then he called unto him Sir Kay and Sir Bedivere, and commanded them secretly to make ready horse and harness for himself and them twain, for after even-song he would ride on pilgrimage with them two only unto Saint Michael’s mount. And then anon he made him ready and armed him at all points, and took his horse and his shield. And so they three departed thence, and rode forth as fast as ever they might till that they came unto the foot of that mount. And there they alighted, and the king commanded them to tarry there, for he would himself go up into that mount. And so he ascended up into that hill till he came to a great fire, and there he found a careful widow wringing her hands and making great sorrow, sitting by a grave new made. And then king Arthur saluted her, and demanded of her wherefore she made such lamentation: to whom she answered and said, Sir knight, speak soft, for yonder is a devil: if he hear thee speak he will come and destroy thee; I hold thee unhappy; what dost thou here in this mountain? for if ye were such fifty as ye be, ye were not able to make resistance against this devil: here lieth a duchess dead, the which was the fairest of all the world, wife to Sir Howell duke of Britany; he hath murdered her. Dame, said the king, I come from the noble conqueror king Arthur, for to treat with that tyrant for his liege people. Fie upon such treaties, said the widow, he setteth not by the king, nor by no man else. But and if thou have brought Arthur’s wife, dame Guenever, he shall be gladder than thou hadst given to him half France. Beware, approach him not too nigh, for he hath vanquished fifteen kings, and hath made him a coat full of precious stones, embroidered with their beards, which they sent him to have his love for salvation of their people at this last Christmas. And if thou wilt, speak with him at yonder great fire at supper. Well, said Arthur, I will accomplish my message for all your fearful words; and went forth by the crest of that hill, and saw where he sat at supper gnawing on a limb of a man, baking his broad limbs by the fire, and three fair damsels turning three spits, whereon were broached twelve young children late born, like young birds. When king Arthur beheld that piteous sight he had great compassion on them so that his heart bled for sorrow, and hailed him saying in this wise: He that all the world wieldeth, give thee short life and shameful death, and the devil have thy soul! Why hast thou murdered these young innocent children, and murdered this duchess? Therefore arise and dress thee, thou glutton; for this day shalt thou die of my hand. Then the glutton anon start up and took a great club in his hand, and smote at the king that his coronal 103fell to the earth. And the king hit him again that he carved his belly that his entrails fell down to the ground. Then the giant threw away his club, and caught the king in his arms that he crushed his ribs. Then the three maidens kneeled down and called to Christ for help and comfort of Arthur. And then Arthur weltered and wrung that he was other while under and another time above. And so weltering and wallowing they rolled down the hill till they came to the sea mark, and ever as they so weltered Arthur smote him with his dagger, and it fortuned they came to the place here as the two knights were and kept Arthur’s horse. Then when they saw the king fast in the giant’s arms they came and loosed him. And then the king commanded Sir Kay to smite off the giant’s head, and to set it upon a truncheon of a spear and bear it to Sir Howell, and tell him that his enemy was slain, and after let this head be bound to a barbican that all the people may see and behold it; and go ye two up to the mountain and fetch me my shield, my sword, and the club of iron. And as for the treasure take ye it, for ye shall find there goods out of number. So I have the kirtle and the club I desire no more. This was the fiercest giant that ever I met with, save one in the mount of Arabe which I overcame, but this was greater and fiercer. Then the knights fetched the club and the kirtle, and some of the treasure they took to themselves, and returned again to the host. And anon this was known through all the country, wherefore the people came and thanked the king. And he said again, Give the thanks to God, and part the goods among you. And after that, king Arthur said and commanded his cousin Howell that he should ordain for a church to be builded on the same hill, in the worship of Saint Michael. And on the morn the king removed with his great battle and came into Champayne, and in a valley, and there they pight their tents. And the king being set at his dinner, there came in two messagers, of whom the one was marshal of France, and said to the king that the emperor was entered into France and had destroyed a great part, and was in Burgoyne, and had destroyed and made great slaughter of people, and burnt towns and boroughs; wherefore, if thou come not hastily, they must yield up their bodies and goods.

How king Arthur sent Sir Gawaine and others to Lucius, and how they were assailed and escaped with worship.

Then the king did do call Sir Gawaine, Sir Bors, Sir Lionel, and Sir Bedivere, and commanded them to go straight to Sir Lucius, and say ye to him that hastily he remove out of my land. And if he will not, bid him make him ready to battle, and not distress the poor people. Then anon these noble knights dressed them to horseback. And when they came to the green wood, they saw many pavilions set in a meadow, of silk of divers colours, beside a river, and the emperor’s pavilion was in the middle with an eagle displayed above. To the which tent our knights rode toward, and ordained Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors to do the message, and left in a bushment Sir Lionel and Sir Bedivere. And then Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors did their message, and commanded Lucius in Arthur’s name to avoid his land, or shortly to address him to battle. To whom Lucius answered and said: Ye shall return to your lord and say ye to him, that I shall subdue him and all his lands. Then Sir Gawaine was wroth, and said, I had lever than all France fight against thee. And so had I, said Sir Bors, lever than all Britany or Burgoyne. Then a knight named Sir Gainus, high cousin to the emperor, said, Lo, how these Britons be full of pride and boast, and they brag as though they bare up all the world. Then Sir Gawaine was sore grieved with these words, and pulled out his sword and smote off his head. And therewith turned their horses and rode over waters and through woods till they came to their bushment where as 104Sir Lionel and Sir Bedivere were hoving. The Romans followed fast after on horseback and on foot over a champaign unto a wood; then Sir Bors turned his horse and saw a knight come fast on, whom he smote through the body with a spear, that he fell dead down to the earth. Then came Caliburn, one of the strongest of Pavie, and smote down many of Arthur’s knights. And when Sir Bors saw him do so much harm, he addressed toward him, and smote him through the breast, that he fell down dead to the earth. Then Sir Feldenak thought to revenge the death of Gainus upon Sir Gawaine, but Sir Gawaine was ware thereof, and smote him on the head, which stroke stinted not till it came to his breast. And then he returned and came to his fellows in the bushment. And there was a recounter, for the bushment brake on the Romans, and slew and hewed down the Romans, and forced the Romans to flee and return; whom the noble knights chased unto their tents. Then the Romans gathered more people, and also footmen came on, and there was a new battle, and so much people that Sir Bors and Sir Berel were taken. But when Sir Gawaine saw that, he took with him Sir Idrus the good knight, and said he would never see king Arthur but if he rescued them, and pulled out Galatine his good sword, and followed them that led those two knights away, and he smote him that led Sir Bors, and took Sir Bors from him, and delivered him unto his fellows. And Sir Idrus in like wise rescued Sir Berel. Then began the battle to be great, that our knights were in great jeopardy, wherefore Sir Gawaine sent to king Arthur for succour, and that he hie him, for I am sore wounded, and that our prisoners may pay good out of number. And the messager came to the king, and told him his message. And anon the king did do assemble his army, but anon or he departed the prisoners were come, and Sir Gawaine and his fellows gat the field and put the Romans to flight, and after returned and came with their fellowship in such wise that no man of worship was lost of them, save that Sir Gawaine was sore hurt. Then the king did do ransack his wounds, and comforted him. And thus was the beginning of the first day’s fighting of the Britons and Romans. And there were slain of the Romans more than ten thousand, and great joy and mirth was made that night in the host of king Arthur. And on the morn he sent all the prisoners into Paris, under the guard of Sir Launcelot, with many knights, and of Sir Cador.

How Lucius sent certain spies in a bushment for to have taken his knights being prisoners, and how they were letted.

Now turn we to the emperor of Rome which espied that these prisoners should be sent to Paris, and anon he sent to lie in a bushment certain knights and princes with sixty thousand men for to rescue his knights and lords that were prisoners. And so on the morn as Sir Launcelot and Sir Cador, chieftains and governors of all them that conveyed the prisoners, as they should pass through a wood, Sir Launcelot sent certain knights to espy if any were in the woods to let them. And when the said knights came into the wood, anon they espied and saw the great enbushment, and returned and told Sir Launcelot that there lay in await for them threescore thousand Romans. And then Sir Launcelot with such knights as he had, and men of war to the number of ten thousand, put them in array, and met with them, and fought with them manly, and slew and cut to pieces many of the Romans, and slew many knights and admirals of the party of the Romans and Saracens: there was slain the king of Lyly and three great lords, Alakuke, Herawd, and Heringdale. But Sir Launcelot fought so nobly that no man might endure a stroke of his hand, but where he came he shewed his prowess and might, for he slew down right on every side. And the Romans and Saracens 105fled from him as the sheep from the wolf or from the lion, and put them all that abode alive to flight. And so long they fought that tidings came to king Arthur, and anon he made him ready and came to the battle, and saw his knights how they had vanquished the battle: he embraced them knight by knight in his arms, and said: Ye be worthy to bear all your honour and worship, there was never king save myself that had so noble knights. Sir, said Cador, there was none of us failed other, but of the prowess and manhood of Sir Launcelot were more than wonder to tell, and also of his cousins which did this day many noble feats of war. And also Sir Cador told who of his knights were slain, as Sir Berel and other Sir Moris and Sir Maurel, two good knights. Then the king wept, and dried his eyes with a kerchief, and said, Your courage had near hand destroyed you, for though ye had returned again ye had lost no worship; for I call it folly, knights to abide when they be over-matched. Nay, said Sir Launcelot and the other, for once shamed may never be recovered.

How a senator told to Lucius of their discomfiture, and also of the great battle between Arthur and Lucius.

Now leave we king Arthur and his noble knights which had won the field, and had brought their prisoners to Paris, and speak we of a senator which escaped from the battle, and came to Lucius the emperor, and said to him, Sir emperor, I advise thee to withdraw thee: what doest thou here? thou shalt win nothing in these marches but great strokes out of all measure. For this day one of Arthur’s knights was worth in the battle an hundred of ours. Fie on thee, said Lucius, thou speakest cowardly, for thy words grieve me more than all the loss that I had this day. And anon he sent forth a king, which hight Sir Leomie, with a great army, and bad him hie him fast tofore, and he would follow hastily after. King Arthur was warned privily, and sent his people to Sessoyne, and took up the towns and castles from the Romans. Then the king commanded Sir Cador to take the rereward, and to take with him certain knights of the Round Table,—and Sir Launcelot, Sir Bors, Sir Kay, Sir Marrok, with Sir Marhaus, shall await on our person. Thus king Arthur distributed his host in divers parts, to the end that his enemies should not escape. When the emperor was entered into the vale of Sessoyne, he might see where king Arthur was embattled and his banner displayed: and he was beset round about with his enemies, that needs he must fight or yield him, for he might not flee, but said openly unto the Romans, Sirs, I admonish you that this day ye fight and acquit you as men, and remember how Rome domineth, and is chief and head over all the earth and universal world, and suffer not these Britons this day to abide against us. And therewith he did command his trumpets blow the bloody sounds, in such wise that the ground trembled and shook. Then the battles approached, and shove and shouted on both sides, and great strokes were smitten on both sides, many men overthrown, hurt, and slain; and great valiances, prowesses, and feats of war were that day shewed, which were over long to recount the noble feats of every man, for they should contain a whole volume. But in especial king Arthur rode in the battle, exhorting his knights to do well, and himself did as nobly with his hands as was possible a man to do; he drew out Excalibur his sword, and awaited ever where as the Romans were thickest and most grieved his people; and anon he addressed him on that part, and hewed and slew down right, and rescued his people, and he slew a great giant named Galapas, which was a man of an huge quantity and height, he shorted him and smote off both his legs by the knees, saying, Now art thou better of a size to deal with than thou were; and after smote off his head. There Sir Gawaine 106fought nobly, and slew three admirals in that battle. And so did all the knights of the Round Table. Thus the battle between king Arthur and Lucius the emperor endured long. Lucius had on his side many Saracens which were slain. And thus the battle was great, and oftsides that one party was at a vantage, and anon at a disadvantage, which endured so long till at the last king Arthur espied where Lucius the emperor fought and did wonder with his own hands. And anon he rode to him, and either smote other fiercely: and at the last Lucius smote Arthur thwart the visage, and gave him a large wound. And when king Arthur felt himself hurt anon he smote him again with Excalibur, that it cleft his head from the summit of his head, and stinted not till it came to his breast. And then the emperor fell down dead, and there ended his life. And when it was known that the emperor was slain, anon all the Romans with all their host put them to flight; and king Arthur with all his knights followed the chase, and slew down right all them that they might attain. And thus was the victory given to king Arthur, and the triumph. And there were slain on the part of Lucius more than an hundred thousand. And after, king Arthur did do ransack the dead bodies, and did do bury them that were slain of his retinue, every man according to the state and degree that he was of. And them that were hurt he let the surgeons do search their hurts and wounds, and commanded to spare no salves nor medicines till they were whole.

Then the king rode straight to the place where the emperor Lucius lay dead, and with him he found slain the Sowdan of Surrey, the king of Egypt and the king of Ethiope, which were two noble kings, with seventeen other kings of divers regions, and also sixty senators of Rome, all noble men, whom the noble king Arthur did do balm and gum with many good gums aromatic, and after did do cere them in sixty fold of cered cloth of Sendal, and laid them in chests of lead, because they should not chafe nor savour; and upon all these bodies their shields with their arms and banners were set, to the end they should be known of what country they were. And after, he found three senators that were onlive, to whom he said, For to save your lives I will that ye take these dead bodies, and carry them with you unto great Rome, and present them to the Potestate on my behalf, shewing him my letters, and tell them that I in my person shall hastily be at Rome. And I suppose the Romans shall be ware how they shall demand any tribute of me. And I command you to say when ye shall come to Rome to the Potestate, and all the Council and Senate, that I send to them these dead bodies for the tribute that they have demanded. And if they be not content with these, I shall pay more at my coming, for other tribute owe I none, nor none other will I pay. And me thinketh this sufficeth for Britain, Ireland, and all Almaine, with Germany. And furthermore I charge you to say to them that I command them upon pain of their heads never to demand tribute ne tax of me ne of my lands.

Then with this charge and commandment the three senators aforesaid departed with all the said dead bodies lying, the body of Lucius in a car covered with the arms of the empire all alone, and after alway two bodies of kings in a chariot, and then the bodies of the senators after them, and so went toward Rome, and shewed their legation and message to the Potestate and Senate, recounting the battle done in France, and how the field was lost, and much people and innumerable slain. Wherefore they advised them in no wise to move no more war against that noble conqueror, Arthur;—for his might and prowess is most to be doubted, seeing the noble kings, and great multitude of knights of the Round Table, to whom none earthly prince may compare.

How Arthur, after he had achieved the battle against the Romans, entered into Almaine, and so into Italy.

Now turn we unto king Arthur and his noble knights, which, after the great battle achieved against the Romans, entered into Loraine, Brabant, and Flanders, and thence returned into high Almaine, and so over the mountains into Lombardy, and after into Tuscany, wherein was a city which in no wise would yield themselves nor obey, wherefore king Arthur besieged it, and lay long about it, and gave many assaults to the city. And they within defended them valiantly. Then, on a time, the king called Sir Florence, a knight, and said to him they lacked victual, and not far from hence be great forests and great woods, wherein be many of mine enemies with much cattle: I will that thou make thee ready, and go thither in foraging, and take with thee Sir Gawaine my nephew, Sir Wisshard, Sir Clegis, Sir Cleremond, and the captain of Cardiff, with other, and bring with you all the beasts that ye there can get. And anon these knights made them ready, and rode over holts and hills, through forests and woods, till they came into a fair meadow full of fair flowers and grass. And there they rested them and their horses all that night. And in the springing of the day in the next morn Sir Gawaine took his horse and stole away from his fellows to seek some adventures. And anon he was ware of a man armed, walking his horse easily by a wood’s side, and his shield laced to his shoulder, sitting on a strong courser, without any man saving a page bearing a mighty spear. The knight bare in his shield three griffons of gold in sable carbuncle the chief of silver. When Sir Gawaine espied this gay knight he fewtred his spear, and rode straight to him, and demanded him from whence that he was. That other answered and said he was of Tuscany, and demanded of Sir Gawaine, What profferest thou proud knight so boldly? Here gettest thou no prey: thou mayest prove what thou wilt, for thou shalt be my prisoner or thou depart. Then said Gawaine, Thou vauntest thee greatly, and speakest proud words; I counsel thee for all thy boast that thou make thee ready, and take thy gear to thee, tofore greater grief fall to thee.

Of a battle done by Gawaine against a Saracen, which after was yielden and became Christian.

Then they took their spears, and ran each at other with all the might they had, and smote each other through their shields into their shoulders, wherefore anon they pulled out their swords, and smote great strokes, that the fire sprang out of their helms. Then Sir Gawaine was all abashed, and with Galatine, his good sword, he smote through shield and thick hauberk made of thick mails, and all to-rushed and brake the precious stones, and made him a large wound, that men might see both liver and lung. Then groaned that knight, and addressed him to Sir Gawaine, and with an awk stroke gave him a great wound, and cut a vein, which grieved Sir Gawaine sore, and he bled sore. Then the knight said to Sir Gawaine, Bind thy wound or thy bleeding change, for thou be-bleedest all thy horse and thy fair arms; for all the barbers of Britain can not stanch thy blood; for whosoever is hurt with this blade, he shall never be stanched of bleeding. Then answered Gawaine, It grieveth me but little; thy great words shall not fear me nor lessen my courage, but thou shalt suffer teen and sorrow or we depart: but tell me in haste who may stanch my bleeding? That may I do, said the knight, if I will, and so I will if thou wilt succour and aid me, that I may be christened and believe on God, and thereof I require thee of thy manhood, and it shall be great merit for thy soul. I grant, said Gawaine, so God help me, to accomplish all thy desire: but first tell me 108what thou soughtest here thus alone, and of what land and liegiance thou art. Sir, he said, my name is Priamus, and a great prince is my father, and he hath been rebel unto Rome, and over ridden many of their lands. My father is lineally descended of Alexander and of Hector by right line. And duke Joshua and Maccabæus were of our lineage. I am right inheritor of Alexandria and Africa, and all the out isles, yet will I believe on thy Lord that thou believest on; and for thy labour I shall give thee treasure enough. I was so elate and haughty in my heart, that I thought no man my peer, nor to me semblable. I was sent into this war with sevenscore knights, and now I have encountered with thee which hast given to me of fighting my fill; wherefore sir knight I pray thee to tell me what thou art? I am no knight, said Gawaine, I have been brought up in the guardrobe with the noble king Arthur many years, for to take heed to his armour and his other array, and to point his paltocks that belong to himself. At Yule last he made me yeoman, and gave to me horse and harness and an hundred pound in money: and if fortune be my friend I doubt not but to be well advanced and holpen by my liege lord. Ah, said Priamus, if his knaves be so keen and fierce, his knights be passing good. Now, for the king’s love of heaven, whether thou be a knave or a knight, tell thou me thy name. By heaven, said Sir Gawaine, now will I say thee sooth: my name is Sir Gawaine, and known I am in his court and in his chamber, and one of the knights of the Round Table: he dubbed me a duke with his own hand. Therefore grudge not if this grace is to me fortuned; it is the goodness of God that lent to me my strength. Now am I better pleased, said Priamus, than if thou hadst given me all the province, and Paris the rich. I had lever to have been torn with wild horses, than any varlet had won such praise, or any page or pricker should have had prize on me. But now, sir knight, I warn thee that hereby is a duke of Loraine with all his army, and the noblest men of Dolphine, and lords of Lombardy, with the garrison of Godard, and Saracens of Southland, that numbered sixty thousand of good men of arms; wherefore, but if we hie us hence, it will harm us both, for we be sore hurt, never like to recover. But take heed to my page that he no horn blow, for if he do, there be hoving here fast by an hundred good knights, awaiting on my person, and if they take thee there shall no ransom of gold ne silver acquit thee. Then Sir Gawaine rode over a water for to save him, and the knight followed him, and so rode forth till they came to his fellows which were in the meadow, where they had been all the night. Anon as Sir Wisshard was ware of Sir Gawaine and saw that he was hurt, he ran to him sorrowfully weeping, and demanded of him who had so hurt him. And Gawaine told how he had fought with that man, and each of them had hurt other, and how he had salves to heal them; but I can tell you other tidings, that soon we shall have ado with many enemies. Then Sir Priamus and Sir Gawaine alighted, and let their horses graze in the meadow, and unarmed them, and then the blood ran freshly from their wounds. And Priamus took from his page a phial full of the four waters that came out of Paradise, and with certain balm anointed their wounds, and washed them with that water, and within an hour after they were both as whole as ever they were. And then with a trumpet were they all assembled to council, and there Priamus told unto them what lords and knights had sworn to rescue him, and that without fail they should be assailed with many thousands, wherefore he counselled them to withdraw them. Then Sir Gawaine said, it were great shame to them to avoid without any strokes; wherefore I advise to take our arms, and to make us ready to meet with these Saracens and misbelieving men, and with the help of God we shall overthrow them, and have a fair day on them. And Sir 109Florence shall abide still in this field to keep the post as a noble knight, and we shall not forsake yonder fellows. Now, said Priamus, cease your words, for I warn you ye shall find in yonder woods many perilous knights: they will put forth beasts to call you on: they be out of number, and ye are not past seven hundred, which be over few to fight with so many. Nevertheless, said Sir Gawaine, we shall once encounter them and see what they can do, and the best shall have the victory.

How the Saracens came out of a wood for to rescue their beasts, and of a great battle.

Then Sir Florence called to him Sir Floridas with an hundred knights, and drove forth the herd of beasts. Then followed him seven hundred men of arms, and Sir Ferant of Spain on a fair steed came springing out of the woods, and came to Sir Florence, and asked him why he fled. Then Sir Florence took his spear, and rode against him, and smote him in the forehead and brake his neck bone. Then all the other were moved, and thought to avenge the death of Sir Ferant, and smote in among them, and there was great fight, and many slain and laid down to ground, and Sir Florence with his hundred knights always kept the post, and fought manly. Then when Priamus the good knight perceived the great fight, he went to Sir Gawaine and bad him that he should go and succour his fellowship, which were sore bested with their enemies. Sir, grieve you not, said Sir Gawaine, for their honour shall be theirs: I shall not once move my horse to themward but if I see more than there be, for they be strong enough to match them. And with that he saw an earl called Sir Ethelwold and the duke of Dutchmen come leaping out of a wood, with many thousands, and Priamus’s knights, and came straight unto the battle. Then Sir Gawaine comforted his knights, and bad them not be abashed, for all shall be ours. Then they began to gallop, and met with their enemies: there were men slain and overthrown on every side. Then thrust in among them the knights of the Table Round, and smote down to the earth all them that withstood them, insomuch that they made them to recoil and flee. Truly, said Sir Gawaine, this gladdeth my heart, for now be they less in number by twenty thousand. Then entered into the battle Jubance a giant, and fought and slew downright, and distressed many of our knights, among whom was slain Sir Gherard, a knight of Wales. Then our knights took heart to them, and slew many Saracens. And then came in Sir Priamus with his pennon, and rode with the knights of the Round Table, and fought so manfully that many of their enemies lost their lives. And there Sir Priamus slew the Marquis of Moises land. And Sir Gawaine with his fellows so quit them that they had the field, but in that fight was Sir Chestelaine, a child and ward of Sir Gawaine, slain, wherefore was much sorrow made, and his death was soon avenged. Thus was the battle ended, and many lords of Lombardy and Saracens left dead in the field.

Then Sir Florence and Sir Gawaine harboured surely their people, and took great plenty of cattle, of gold and silver and great treasure and riches, and returned unto king Arthur, which lay still at the siege. And when they came to the king they presented their prisoners, and recounted their adventures, and how they had vanquished their enemies.

How Sir Gawaine returned to king Arthur with his prisoners, and how the king won a city, and how he was crowned emperor.

Now thanked be God, said the noble king Arthur. But what manner man is he that standeth by himself? he seemeth no prisoner. Sir, said Gawaine, this is a good man of arms; he hath matched me, but he is yielden unto God and to me for to become Christian: had not 110he been we should never have returned, wherefore I pray you that he may be baptized, for their liveth not a nobler man nor better knight of his hands. Then the king let him anon be christened, and did do call him his first name Priamus, and made him a duke and knight of the Table Round. And then anon the king let do cry assault to the city, and there was rearing of ladders, breaking of walls, and the ditch filled, that men with little pain might enter into the city. Then came out a duchess, and Clarisin the countess, with many ladies and damsels, and kneeling before king Arthur required him for the love of God to receive the city and not to take it by assault, for then should many guiltless be slain. Then the king availed his visor with a meek and noble countenance, and said, Madam, there shall none of my subjects misdo you nor your maidens, nor to none that to you belong, but the duke shall abide my judgment. Then anon the king commanded to leave the assault; and anon the duke’s eldest son brought out the keys, and kneeling, delivered them to the king, and besought him of grace: and the king seized the town by assent of his lords, and took the duke and sent him to Dover, there for to abide prisoner the term of his life, and assigned certain rents for the dower of the duchess and for her children. Then he made lords to rule those lands, and laws, as a lord ought to do in his own country. And after he took his journey toward Rome, and sent Sir Floris and Sir Floridas tofore with five hundred men of arms, and they came to the city of Urbine, and laid there a bushment as them seemed most best for them, and rode tofore the town, where anon issued out much people and skirmished with the fore riders. Then brake out the bushment, and won the bridge, and after the town, and set upon the walls the king’s banner. Then came the king upon a hill, and saw the city and his banner on the walls, by the which he knew that the city was won. And anon he sent and commanded that none of his liege men should misuse no lady, wife, nor maid: and when he came into the city he passed to the castle, and comforted them that were in sorrow, and ordained there a captain, a knight of his own country. And when they of Milan heard that the same city was won, they sent to king Arthur great sums of money, and besought him as their lord to have pity on them, promising to be his subjects for ever, and yield to him homage and fealty for the lands of Pleasance and Pavia, Petersaint, and the port of Tremble, and to give him yearly a million of gold all his lifetime. Then he rideth into Tuscany, and winneth towns and castles, and wasted all in his way that to him will not obey, and so to Spolute and Viterbe: and from thence he rode into the vale of Vicecount among the vines. And from thence he sent to the senators to wit whether they would know him for their lord. But soon after on a Saturday came unto king Arthur all the senators that were left on live, and the noblest cardinals that then dwelled in Rome, and prayed him of peace, and proffered him full large, and besought him as governor to give licence for six weeks, for to assemble together all the Romans, and then to crown him emperor with crism, as it belongeth to so high a state. I assent, said the king, like as ye have devised, and at Christmas there to be crowned, and to hold my Round Table with my knights as me liketh. And then the senators made things ready for his enthronization. And at the day appointed, as the romance telleth, he came into Rome, and was crowned emperor by the Pope’s hand with all the royalty that could be made, and sojourned there a time, and established all his lands from Rome unto France, and gave lands and realms unto his servants and knights, to every each after his desert, in such wise that none complained, rich nor poor. And he gave to Sir Priamus the duchy of Loraine; and he thanked him, and said that he would serve him the days of his life: and after made dukes and earls, and 111made every man rich. Then after this all his knights and lords and all the great men of estate assembled them afore him, and said: Blessed be God, your war is finished, and your conquest achieved, insomuch that we know none so great nor mighty that dare make war against you: wherefore we beseech you to return homeward and give us licence to go home to our wives, from whom we have been long, and to rest us, for your journey is finished with honour and worship. Then said the king, Ye say truth, and for to tempt God it is no wisdom, and therefore make you ready and return we into England. Then was there trussing of harness and baggage, and great carriage. And after licence given, he returned and commanded that no man in pain of death should rob nor take victual, nor other thing by the way, but that he should pay therefore. And thus he came over the sea, and landed at Sandwich, against whom queen Guenever his wife came and met him: and he was nobly received of all his commons in every city and burgh, and great gifts presented to him at his home coming, to welcome him with.

Thus endeth the fyfthe booke of the conqueste that kynge Arthur hadde ageynste Lucius the Emperoure of Rome, and here foloweth the syxth book, which is of syr Launcelot du lake.

The Sixth Book.
How Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel departed from the court for to seek adventures, and how Sir Lionel left him sleeping, and was taken.

Soon after that king Arthur was come from Rome into England, then all the knights of the Table Round resorted unto the king, and made many justs and tournaments; and some there were that were but knights which increased so in arms and worship that they passed all their fellows in prowess and noble deeds, and that was well proved on many. But in especial it was proved on Sir Launcelot du Lake; for in all tournaments and justs and deeds of arms, both for life and death, he passed all other knights, and at no time he was never overcome but if it were by treason or enchantment. So Sir Launcelot increased so marvellously in worship and honour; therefore he is the first knight that the French book maketh mention of after king Arthur came from Rome. Wherefore queen Guenever had him in great favour above all other knights, and in certain he loved the queen again above all other ladies and damsels all his life, and for her he did many deeds of arms, and saved her from the fire through his noble chivalry. Thus Sir Launcelot rested him long with play and game. And then he thought himself to prove himself in strange adventures: then he bad his nephew Sir Lionel for to make him ready, for we two will seek adventures. So they mounted on their horses, armed at all rights, and rode into a deep forest, and so into a deep plain. And then the weather was hot about noon, and Sir Launcelot had great lust to sleep. Then Sir Lionel espied a great apple tree that stood by an hedge, and said, Brother, yonder is a fair shadow, there may we rest us and our horses. It is well said, fair brother, said Sir Launcelot, for this seven year I was not so sleepy as I am now. And so they there alighted, and tied their 112horses unto sundry trees, and so Sir Launcelot laid him down under an apple tree, and his helm he laid under his head. And Sir Lionel waked while he slept. So Sir Launcelot was asleep passing fast. And in the meanwhile there came three knights riding, as fast fleeing as ever they might ride. And there followed them three but one knight. And when Sir Lionel saw him, him thought he saw never so great a knight nor so well faring a man, neither so well apparelled unto all rights. So within a while this strong knight had overtaken one of these knights, and there he smote him to the cold earth that he lay still. And then he rode unto the second knight, and smote him so that man and horse fell down. And then straight to the third knight he rode, and he smote him behind his horse tail a spear’s length. And then he alight down, and reined his horse on the bridle, and bound all the three knights fast with the reins of their own bridles. When Sir Lionel saw him do thus, he thought to assay him, and made him ready, and stilly and privily he took his horse, and thought not for to awake Sir Launcelot. And when he was mounted upon his horse he overtook this strong knight and bad him turn: and the other smote Sir Lionel so hard that horse and man he bare to the earth, and so he alight down and bound him fast, and threw him overthwart his own horse, and so he served them all four, and rode with them away to his own castle. And when he came there, he made unarm them, and beat them with thorns all naked, and after put them in a deep prison where there were many more knights that made great dolour.

How Sir Ector followed for to seek Sir Launcelot, and how he was taken by Sir Turquine.

When Sir Ector de Maris wist that Sir Launcelot was past out of the court to seek adventures he was wroth with himself, and made him ready to seek Sir Launcelot, and as he had ridden long in a great forest, he met with a man that was like a forester. Fair fellow, said Sir Ector, knowest thou in this country any adventures that be here nigh hand? Sir, said the forester, this country know I well, and hereby within this mile is a strong manor, and well dyked, and by that manor, on the left hand, there is a fair ford for horses to drink of, and over that ford there groweth a fair tree, and thereon hangeth many fair shields that wielded sometime good knights: and at the hole of the tree hangeth a bason of copper and laton, and strike upon that bason with the butt of thy spear thrice, and soon after thou shalt hear new tidings, and else hast thou the fairest grace that many a year had ever knight that passed through this forest. Gramercy, said Sir Ector, and departed and came to the tree, and saw many fair shields, and among them he saw his brother’s shield, Sir Lionel, and many more that he knew that were his fellows of the Round Table, the which grieved his heart, and he promised to revenge his brother. Then anon Sir Ector beat on the bason as he were wood, and then he gave his horse drink at the ford: and there came a knight behind him and bad him come out of the water and make him ready; and Sir Ector anon turned him shortly, and in fewter cast his spear, and smote the other knight a great buffet that his horse turned twice about. This was well done, said the strong knight, and knightly thou hast stricken me: and therewith he rushed his horse on Sir Ector and caught him under his right arm, and bare him clean out of the saddle, and rode with him away into his own hall, and threw him down in the midst of the floor. The name of this knight was Sir Turquine. Then he said unto Sir Ector, For thou hast done this day more unto me than any knight did these twelve years, now will I grant thee thy life, so thou wilt be sworn to be my prisoner all thy life days. Nay, said Sir Ector, that will I never promise 113thee, but that I will do mine advantage. That me repenteth, said Sir Turquine. And then he made to unarm him, and beat him with thorns all naked, and after put him down in a deep dungeon, where he knew many of his fellows. But when Sir Ector saw Sir Lionel, then made he great sorrow. Alas, brother, said Sir Ector, where is my brother Sir Launcelot? Fair brother, I left him on sleep when that I from him went, under an apple tree, and what is become of him I cannot tell you. Alas, said the knights, but Sir Launcelot help us we may never be delivered, for we know now no knight that is able to match our master Turquine.

How four queens found Sir Launcelot sleeping, and how by enchantment he was taken and led into a castle.

Now leave we these knights prisoners, and speak we of Sir Launcelot du Lake that lieth under the apple tree sleeping. Even about the noon there came by him four queens of great estate; and, for the heat of the sun should not annoy them, there rode four knights about them and bare a cloth of green silk on four spears, betwixt them and the sun, and the queens rode on four white mules.

Thus as they rode they heard by them a great horse grimly neigh, and then were they ware of a sleeping knight that lay all armed under an apple tree; anon as these queens looked on his face they knew that it was Sir Launcelot. Then they began for to strive for that knight; every one said she would have him to her love. We shall not strive, said Morgan le Fay, that was king Arthur’s sister; I shall put an enchantment upon him that he shall not awake in six hours, and then I will lead him away unto my castle, and when he is surely within my hold I shall take the enchantment from him, and then let him choose which of us he will have for his love. So this enchantment was cast upon Sir Launcelot, and then they laid him upon his shield, and bare him so on horseback betwixt two knights, and brought him unto the castle Chariot, and there they laid him in a chamber cold, and at night they sent unto him a fair damsel with his supper ready dight. By that the enchantment was past, and when she came she saluted him, and asked him what cheer? I cannot say, fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, for I wot not how I came into this castle but it be by an enchantment. Sir, said she, ye must make good cheer, and if ye be such a knight as is said ye be, I shall tell you more tomorn by prime of the day. Gramercy, fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, of your good will I require you. And so she departed. And there he lay all that night without comfort of any body.

And on the morn early came these four queens, passingly well beseen, all they bidding him good morn, and he them again. Sir knight, the four queens said, thou must understand thou art our prisoner, and we here know thee well, that thou art Sir Launcelot du Lake, king Ban’s son. And truly we understand your worthiness that thou art the noblest knight living; and, as we know well, there can no lady have thy love but one, and that is queen Guenever, and now thou shalt lose her for ever, and she thee, and therefore thee behoveth now to choose one of us four. I am the queen Morgan le Fay, queen of the land of Gore, and here is the queen of Northgalis, and the queen of Eastland, and the queen of the Out Isles; now choose ye one of us which thou wilt have to thy love for thou mayst not choose or else in this prison to die. This is an hard case, said Sir Launcelot, that either I must die or else choose one of you, yet had I lever to die in this prison with worship, than to have one of you to my love maugre my head. And therefore ye be answered, for I will have none of you, for ye be false enchantresses. And as for my lady dame Guenever, were I at my liberty as I was, I would prove it on you or upon yours, that she is the truest lady unto her lord living. Well, said the queens, is this your answer, that you 114will refuse us? Yea, on my life, said Sir Launcelot, refused ye be of me. So they departed and left him there alone that made great sorrow.

How Sir Launcelot was delivered by the mean of a damsel.

Right so at the noon came the damsel unto him with his dinner, and asked him what cheer? Truly, fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, in my life days never so ill. Sir, she said, that me repenteth, but and ye will be ruled by me I shall help you out of this distress, and ye shall have no shame nor villainy, so that ye hold me a promise. Fair damsel I will grant you, and sore I am of these queens sorceresses afeard, for they have destroyed many a good knight. Sir, said she, that is sooth, and for the renown and bounty they hear of you they would have your love, and, sir, they say your name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, the flower of knights, and they be passing wroth with you that ye have refused them. But sir, and ye would promise me for to help my father on Tuesday next coming, that hath made a tournament betwixt him and the king of Northgalis, (for the last Tuesday past my father lost the field through three knights of king Arthur’s court,) and if ye will be there upon Tuesday next coming and help my father, tomorn ere prime, by the grace of God, I shall deliver you clean. Fair maiden, said Sir Launcelot, tell me what is your father’s name, and then shall I give you an answer. Sir knight, she said, my father is king Bagdemagus, that was foul rebuked at the last tournament. I know your father well, said Sir Launcelot, for a noble king, and a good knight, and by the faith of my body, ye shall have my body ready to do your father and you service at that day. Sir, she said, gramercy, and to-morn await ye be ready betimes, and I shall be she that shall deliver you, and take you your armour and your horse, shield and spear: and hereby, within this ten mile, is an abbey of white monks, there I pray you that ye me abide, and thither shall I bring my father unto you. All this shall be done, said Sir Launcelot, as I am true knight. And so she departed, and came on the morn early, and found him ready. Then she brought him out of twelve locks, and brought him unto his armour, and when he was armed clean, she brought him until his own horse, and lightly he saddled him, and took a great spear in his hand, and so rode forth, and said, Fair damsel I shall not fail you by the grace of God. And so he rode into a great forest all that day, and never could find no high way, and so the night fell on him, and then was he ware in a valley of a pavilion of red sendal. By my faith, said Sir Launcelot, in that pavilion will I lodge all this night. And so there he alight down, and tied his horse to the pavilion, and there he unarmed him, and there he found a bed, and laid him therein and he fell on sleep heavily.

How a knight found Sir Launcelot lying in his bed, and how Sir Launcelot fought with the knight.

Then within an hour there came the knight to whom belonged the pavilion, and so he laid him down beside Sir Launcelot. And when Sir Launcelot felt him, he started out of the bed lightly, and the other knight after him, and either of them gat their swords in their hands, and out at the pavilion door went the knight of the pavilion, and Sir Launcelot followed him, and there, by a little slake, Sir Launcelot wounded him sore nigh unto the death. And then he yielded him unto Sir Launcelot, and so he granted him, so that he would tell him why he came into the bed. Sir, said the knight, the pavilion is mine own, and there this night would I have slept, and now I am likely to die of this wound. That me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot, of your hurt; but I was adread of treason, for I was late beguiled; and therefore come on your way 115into your pavilion, and take your rest, and as I suppose I shall stanch your blood. So they went both into the pavilion, and anon Sir Launcelot stanched his blood.

Therewithal came the knight’s lady, which was a passing fair lady. And when she espied that her lord Belleus was so sore wounded, she cried out on Sir Launcelot, and made great dole out of measure. Peace my lady and my love, said Belleus, for this knight is a good man, and a knight adventurous; and there he told her all the cause how he was wounded; and when that I yielded me unto him, he left me goodly and hath stanched my blood. Sir, said the lady, I require thee tell me what knight ye be, and what is your name? Fair lady, said he, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. So me thought ever by your speech, said the lady, for I have seen you oft or this, and I know you better than ye ween. But now and ye would promise me of your courtesy, for the harms that ye have done to me and to my lord Belleus, that when he cometh unto Arthur’s court for to cause him to be made knight of the Round Table, for he is a passing good man of arms, and a mighty lord of lands of many out isles. Fair lady, said Sir Launcelot, let him come unto the court the next high feast, and look that ye come with him, and I shall do my power, and ye prove you doughty of your hands, that ye shall have your desire. So thus within awhile as they thus talked, the night passed, and the day shone, and then Sir Launcelot armed him, and took his horse, and they taught him to the abbey, and thither he rode within the space of two hours.

How Sir Launcelot was received of king Bagdemagus’s daughter, and he made his complaint to her father.

And soon as Sir Launcelot came within the abbey yard the daughter of king Bagdemagus heard a great horse go on the pavement. And she then arose and went unto a window, and there she saw Sir Launcelot, and anon she made men fast to take his horse from him and let lead him into a stable, and himself was led into a fair chamber, and unarmed him, and the lady sent him a long gown, and anon she came herself. And then she made Launcelot passing good cheer, and she said he was the knight in the world was most welcome to her. Then in all haste she sent for her father Bagdemagus that was within twelve mile of that abbey, and afore even he came with a fair fellowship of knights with him. And when the king was alight off his horse he went straight unto Sir Launcelot’s chamber, and there he found his daughter, and then the king embraced Sir Launcelot in his arms, and either made other good cheer. Anon Sir Launcelot made his complaint unto the king how he was betrayed, and how his brother Sir Lionel was departed from him he wist not where, and how his daughter had delivered him out of prison,—therefore while I live I shall do her service and all her kindred. Then am I sure of your help, said the king, on Tuesday next coming. Yea, sir, said Sir Launcelot, I shall not fail you, for so I have promised my lady your daughter. But sir, what knights been they of my lord Arthur’s, that were with the king of Northgalis? And the king said it was Sir Mador de la Porte, and Sir Mordred, and Sir Gahalatine, that all for-fared my knights, for against them three I nor my knights might bear no strength. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, as I hear say that the tournament shall be within this three mile of this abbey, ye shall send unto me three knights of yours such as ye trust, and look that the three knights have all white shields, and I also, and no painture on the shields, and we four will come out of a little wood in the midst of both parties, and we shall fall in the front of our enemies and grieve them that we may; and thus shall I not be known what knight I am. So they took their rest that night, and this was on the Sunday. And so the king departed, and 116sent unto Sir Launcelot three knights, with the four white shields.

And on the Tuesday they lodged them in a little leaved wood beside there the tournament should be. And there were scaffolds and holes that lords and ladies might behold and to give the prize. Then came into the field the king of Northgalis with eightscore helms. And then the three knights of Arthur stood by themselves. Then came into the field king Bagdemagus with fourscore of helms. And then they fewtred their spears, and came together with a great dash, and there were slain of knights, at the first recounter, twelve of king Bagdemagus’s party, and six of the king of Northgalis’ party, and king Bagdemagus’s party was far set aback.

How Sir Launcelot behaved him in a tournament, and how he met with Sir Turquine leading away Sir Gaheris.

With that came Sir Launcelot du Lake, and he thrust in with his spear in the thickest of the press, and there he smote down with one spear five knights, and of four of them he brake their backs. And in that throng he smote down the king of Northgalis, and brake his thigh in that fall. All this doing of Sir Launcelot saw the three knights of Arthur. Yonder is a shrewd guest, said Sir Mador de la Porte, therefore have here once at him. So they encountered, and Sir Launcelot bare him down horse and man, so that his shoulder went out of joint. Now befalleth it to me to just, said Mordred, for Sir Mador hath a sore fall. Sir Launcelot was ware of him, and gat a great spear in his hand, and met him, and Sir Mordred brake a spear upon him, and Sir Launcelot gave him such a buffet that the bow of his saddle brake, and so he flew over his horse tail, that his helm went into the earth a foot and more, that nigh his neck was broken, and there he lay long in a swoon. Then came in Sir Gahalatine with a spear, and Launcelot against him, with all their strength that they might drive, that both their spears to-brast even to their hands, and then they flung out with their swords, and gave many a grim stroke. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth out of measure, and then he smote Sir Gahalatine on the helm, that his nose burst out on blood, and ears and mouth both, and therewith his head hung low. And therewith his horse ran away with him, and he fell down to the earth.

Anon therewithal Sir Launcelot gat a great spear in his hand, and, or ever that great spear brake, he bare down to the earth sixteen knights, some horse and man, and some the man and not the horse, and there was none but that he hit surely he bare none arms that day. And then he gat another great spear, and smote down twelve knights, and the most part of them never throve after. And then the knights of the king of Northgalis would just no more, and there the prize was given unto king Bagdemagus. So either party departed unto his own place, and Sir Launcelot rode forth with king Bagdemagus unto his castle, and there he had passing good cheer both with the king and with his daughter, and they proffered him great gifts. And on the morn he took his leave, and told king Bagdemagus that he would go and seek his brother Sir Lionel, that went from him when that he slept. So he took his horse, and betaught them all to God. And there he said unto the king’s daughter. If ye have need any time of my service, I pray you let me have knowledge, and I shall not fail you, as I am true knight.

And so Sir Launcelot departed, and by adventure he came into the same forest where he was taken sleeping. And in the midst of an highway he met a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and there either saluted other. Fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, know ye in this country any adventures? Sir knight, said that damsel, here are adventures near hand, and thou durst prove them. Why should I not prove adventures? said Sir Launcelot; for that cause came 117I hither. Well, said she, thou seemest well to be a good knight, and if thou dare meet with a good knight, I shall bring thee where is the best knight and the mightiest that ever thou found, so thou wilt tell me what is thy name, and what knight thou art. Damsel, as for to tell thee my name, I take no great force: truly, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Sir, thou beseemest well, here be adventures by that fall for thee, for hereby dwelleth a knight that will not be overmatched for no man that I know, unless ye overmatch him, and his name is Sir Turquine. And, as I understand, he hath in his prison of Arthur’s court good knights threescore and four that he hath won with his own hands. But when ye have done that day’s work ye shall promise me as ye are a true knight for to go with me, and to help me and other damsels that are distressed daily with a false knight. All your intent, damsel, and desire I will fulfil, so ye will bring me unto this knight. Now, fair knight, come on your way. And so she brought him unto the ford, and unto the tree where hung the basin. So Sir Launcelot let his horse drink, and then he beat on the basin with the butt of his spear so hard with all his might till the bottom fell out, and long he did so, but he saw nothing. Then he rode endlong the gates of that manor nigh half an hour. And then was he ware of a great knight that drove an horse afore him, and overthwart the horse there lay an armed knight bound. And ever as they came near and near, Sir Launcelot thought he should know him; then Sir Launcelot was ware that it was Sir Gaheris, Gawaine’s brother, a knight of the Table Round. Now fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, I see yonder cometh a knight fast bound that is a fellow of mine, and brother he is unto Sir Gawaine. And at the first beginning I promise you, by the leave of God, to rescue that knight; and unless his master sit better in the saddle I shall deliver all the prisoners that he hath out of danger, for I am sure that he hath two brethren of mine prisoners with him. By that time that either had seen other they gripped their spears unto them. Now fair knight, said Sir Launcelot, put that wounded knight off the horse, and let him rest awhile, and let us two prove our strengths. For as it is informed me, thou doest and hast done great despite and shame unto knights of the Round Table, and therefore now defend thee. And thou be of the Table Round, said Turquine, I defy thee and all thy fellowship. That is over much said, said Sir Launcelot.

How Sir Launcelot and Sir Turquine fought together.

And then they put their spears in the rests, and came together with their horses as fast as they might run, and either smote other in the midst of their shields, that both their horses’ backs brast under them, and the knights were both astonied, and as soon as they might avoid their horses they took their shields afore them, and drew out their swords, and came together eagerly, and either gave other many strong strokes, for there might neither shields nor harness hold their strokes. And so within awhile they had both grimly wounds, and bled passing grievously. Thus they fared two hours or more, trasing and rasing either other where they might hit any bare place. Then at the last they were breathless both, and stood leaning on their swords. Now fellow, said Sir Turquine, hold thy hand awhile, and tell me what I shall ask thee. Say on. Then Turquine said, Thou art the biggest man that ever I met withal, and the best breathed, and like one knight that I hate above all other knights; so be it that thou be not he I will lightly accord with thee, and for thy love I will deliver all the prisoners that I have, that is threescore and four, so thou wilt tell me thy name. And thou and I we will be fellows together, and never to fail the while that I live. It is well said, said Sir Launcelot, but sithen it is so 118that I may have thy friendship, what knight is he that thou so hatest above all other? Faithfully, said Sir Turquine, his name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, for he slew my brother Sir Carados at the dolorous tower, that was one of the best knights on live; and therefore him I except of knights, for may I once meet with him the one of us shall make an end of other, I make mine avow. And for Sir Launcelot’s sake I have slain an hundred good knights, and as many I have maimed all utterly that they might never after help themselves, and many have died in prison, and yet I have threescore and four, and all shall be delivered, so thou wilt tell me thy name, so it be that thou be not Sir Launcelot.

Now see I well, said Sir Launcelot, that such a man I might be that I might have peace; and such a man I might be that there should be war mortal betwixt us: and now sir knight, at thy request I will that thou wit and know that I am Launcelot du Lake, king Ban’s son of Benwick, and very knight of the Table Round. And now I defy thee, do thy best. Ah, said Turquine, Launcelot, thou art unto me most welcome that ever was knight, for we shall never part till the one of us be dead. Then they hurtled together as two wild bulls, rashing and lashing with their shields and swords that sometimes they fell both over their noses. Thus they fought still two hours and more, and never would have rest, and Sir Turquine gave Sir Launcelot many wounds that all the ground there as they fought was all bespeckled with blood.

How Sir Turquine was slain, and how Sir Launcelot bade Sir Gaheris deliver all the prisoners.

Then at the last Sir Turquine waxed faint, and gave somewhat aback, and bare his shield low for weariness. That espied Sir Launcelot and lept upon him fiercely and got him by the beaver of his helmet, and plucked him down on his knees, and anon he rased off his helm, and smote his neck in sunder. And when Sir Launcelot had done this he went unto the damsel and said, Damsel, I am ready to go with you where ye will have me, but I have no horse. Fair sir, said she, take this wounded knight’s horse, and send him into this manor, and command him to deliver all the prisoners. So Sir Launcelot went unto Gaheris, and prayed him not to be aggrieved for to lend him his horse. Nay, fair lord, said Sir Gaheris, I will that ye take my horse at your own commandment, for ye have both saved me and my horse, and this day I say ye are the best knight in the world, for ye have slain this day in my sight the mightiest man and the best knight, except you, that ever I saw; and sir, said Sir Gaheris, I pray you tell me your name? Sir, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, that ought to help you of right for king Arthur’s sake, and in especial for my lord Sir Gawaine’s sake, your own dear brother; and when that ye come within yonder manor I am sure ye shall find there many knights of the Round Table, for I have seen many of their shields that I know on yonder tree. There is Kay’s shield, and Sir Brandel’s shield, and Sir Marhaus’ shield, and Sir Galind’s shield, and Sir Brian Listonoise’s shield, and Sir Aliduke’s shield, with many more that I am not now advised of, and also my two brethren’s shields, Sir Ector de Maris and Sir Lionel: wherefore I pray you greet them all from me, and say that I bid them take there such stuff as they find, and that in any wise my brethren go unto the court and abide me there till that I come, for by the feast of Pentecost I cast me to be there, for at this time I must ride with this damsel for to save my promise. And so he departed from Gaheris, and Sir Gaheris went into the manor, and there he found a yeoman porter keeping there many keys. Anon withal Sir Gaheris threw the porter 119unto the ground, and took the keys from him, and hastily he opened the prison door, and there he let out all the prisoners, and every man loosed other of their bonds. And when they saw Sir Gaheris, all they thanked him, for they wend that he was wounded. Not so, said Gaheris, it was Launcelot that slew him worshipfully with his own hands, I saw it with mine own eyes. And he greeteth you all well, and prayeth you to haste you to the court, and as unto Sir Lionel and Ector de Maris, he prayeth you to abide him at the court. That shall we not do, said his brethren, we will find him and we may live. So shall I, said Sir Kay, find him or I come at the court, as I am true knight. Then all those knights sought the house where as the armour was, and then they armed them, and every knight found his own horse, and all that belonged unto him. And when ever this was done, there came a forester with four horses laden with fat venison. Anon Sir Kay said, Here is good meat for us for one meal, for we had not many a day no good repast. And so that venison was roasted, baked, and sodden, and so after supper some abode there all that night, but Sir Lionel and Ector de Maris and Sir Kay rode after Sir Launcelot to find him if they might.

How Sir Launcelot rode with the damsel and slew a knight that distressed all ladies, and also a villain that kept a bridge.

Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot that rode with the damsel in a fair high way. Sir, said the damsel, here by this way haunteth a knight that distresseth all ladies and gentlewomen, and at the least he robbeth them or ill-useth them. What, said Sir Launcelot, is he a thief and a knight, and a ravisher of women? He doth shame unto the order of knighthood and contrary to his oath, it is pity that he liveth. But fair damsel ye shall ride on afore yourself, and I will keep myself in covert, and if that he trouble you or distress you, I shall be your rescue, and learn him to be ruled as a knight. So the maid rode on by the way a soft ambling pace. And within awhile came out that knight on horseback out of the wood, and his page with him, and there he put the damsel from her horse, and then she cried. With that came Launcelot as fast as he might, till he came to that knight, saying, Oh thou false knight and traitor unto knighthood, who did learn thee to distress ladies and gentlewomen? When the knight saw Sir Launcelot thus rebuking him, he answered not, but drew his sword and rode unto Sir Launcelot. And Sir Launcelot threw his spear from him, and drew out his sword, and strake him such a buffet on the helmet that he clave his head and neck unto the throat. Now hast thou thy payment that long thou hast deserved. That is truth, said the damsel, for like as Turquine watched to destroy knights, so did this knight attend to destroy and distress ladies, damsels, and gentlewomen, and his name was Sir Peris de Forest Savage. Now damsel, said Sir Launcelot, will ye any more service of me? Nay sir, she said, at this time; but Almighty Jesu preserve you wheresoever ye ride or go, for the courtiest knight thou art and meekest unto all ladies and gentlewomen that now liveth. But one thing, sir knight, me thinketh ye lack, ye that are a knight wifeless, that ye will not love some maiden or gentlewoman, for I could never hear say that ever ye loved any of no manner degree, and that is great pity; but it is noised that ye love queen Guenever, and that she hath ordained by enchantment that ye shall never love none other but her, nor none other damsel nor lady shall rejoice you; wherefore many in this land, of high estate and low, make great sorrow. Fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, I may not warn people to speak of me what it pleaseth them: but for to be a wedded man I think it not, for then I must couch with her, and leave arms and tournaments, battles 120and adventures. And as for to say for to take my pleasance with paramours, that will I refuse in principal for dread of God. For knights that be adulterous, or wanton, shall not be happy nor fortunate unto the wars, for either they shall be overcome with a simpler knight than they be themselves, or else they shall by mishap and their cursedness slay better men than they be themselves; and who that so useth shall be unhappy, and all thing is unhappy that is about them. And so Sir Launcelot and she departed.

And then he rode in a deep forest two days and more, and had strait lodging. So on the third day he rode over a long bridge, and there start upon him suddenly a passing foul churl, and he smote his horse on the nose that he turned about, and asked him why he rode over that bridge without his licence. Why should I not ride this way? said Sir Launcelot, I may not ride beside. Thou shalt not choose, said the churl, and lashed at him with a great club shod with iron. Then Sir Launcelot drew his sword, and put the stroke aback, and clave his head unto the breast. At the end of the bridge was a fair village, and all the people men and women cried on Sir Launcelot, and said, A worse deed diddest thou never for thyself, for thou hast slain the chief porter of our castle. Sir Launcelot let them say what they would, and straight he went into the castle; and when he came into the castle he alight, and tied his horse to a ring on the wall; and there he saw a fair green court, and thither he dressed himself, for there him thought was a fair place to fight in. So he looked about, and saw much people in doors and windows, that said, Fair knight thou art unhappy.

How Sir Launcelot slew two giants, and made a castle free.

Anon withal came there upon him two great giants, well armed all save the heads, with two horrible clubs in their hands. Sir Launcelot put his shield afore him, and put the stroke away of the one giant, and with his sword he clave his head asunder. When his fellow saw that, he ran away as he were wood, for fear of the horrible strokes, and Sir Launcelot after him with all his might, and smote him on the shoulder, and clave him to the middle. Then Sir Launcelot went into the hall, and there came afore him threescore ladies and damsels, and all kneeled unto him, and thanked God and him of their deliverance. For, sir, said they, the most part of us have been here this seven year their prisoners, and we have worked all manner of silk works for our meat, and we are all great gentlewomen born, and blessed be the time, knight, that ever thou wert born; for thou hast done the most worship that ever did knight in the world, that will we bear record, and we all pray you to tell us your name, that we may tell our friends who delivered us out of prison. Fair damsels, he said, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Ah, sir, said they all, well mayest thou be he, for else save yourself, as we deemed, there might never knight have the better of these two giants, for many fair knights have assayed it, and here have ended, and many times have we wished after you, and these two giants dread never knight but you. Now may ye say, said Sir Launcelot, unto your friends, how and who hath delivered you, and greet them all from me, and if that I come in any of your marches, shew me such cheer as ye have cause; and what treasure that there is in this castle I give it you for a reward for your grievance: and the lord that is the owner of this castle I would that he received it as is right. Fair sir, said they, the name of this castle is Tintagil, and a duke owned it some time that had wedded fair Igraine, and after wedded her Uther Pendragon and gat on her Arthur. Well, said Sir Launcelot, I understand to whom this castle belongeth. And so he departed from them and betaught them unto God. And then 121he mounted upon his horse, and rode into many strange and wild countries and through many waters and valleys, and evil was he lodged. And at the last by fortune him happened against a night to come to a fair courtelage, and therein he found an old gentlewoman that lodged him with a good will, and there he had good cheer for him and his horse. And when time was, his host brought him into a fair garret over the gate to his bed. There Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on sleep. So soon after there came one on horseback, and knocked at the gate in great haste. And when Sir Launcelot heard this he arose up, and looked out at the window, and saw by the moon-light three knights came riding after that one man, and all three lashed on him at once with swords, and that one knight turned on them knightly again and defended him. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, yonder one knight shall I help, for it were shame for me to see three knights on one, and if he be slain I am partner of his death. And therewith he took his harness and went out at a window by a sheet down to the four knights, and then Sir Launcelot said on high, Turn you knights unto me, and leave your fighting with that knight. And then they all three left Sir Kay, and turned unto Sir Launcelot, and there began great battle, for they alight all three, and strake many great strokes at Sir Launcelot, and assailed him on every side. Then Sir Kay dressed him for to have holpen Sir Launcelot. Nay, sir, said he, I will none of your help, therefore as ye will have my help let me alone with them. Sir Kay for the pleasure of the knight suffered him for to do his will, and so stood aside. And then anon within six strokes Sir Launcelot had stricken them to the earth.

And then they all three cried, Sir knight, we yield us unto you as man of might matchless. As to that, said Sir Launcelot, I will not take your yielding unto me, but so that ye yield you unto Sir Kay the seneschal, on that covenant I will save your lives and else not. Fair knight, said they, that were we loth to do; for as for Sir Kay we chased him hither, and had overcome him had not ye been; therefore to yield us unto him it were no reason. Well, as to that, said Sir Launcelot, advise you well, for ye may choose whether ye will die or live, for and ye be yielden it shall be unto Sir Kay. Fair knight, then they said, in saving our lives we will do as thou commandest us. Then shall ye, said Sir Launcelot, on Whitsunday next coming go unto the court of king Arthur, and there shall ye yield you unto queen Guenever, and put you all three in her grace and mercy, and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to be her prisoners. Sir, they said, it shall done by the faith of our bodies, and we be living. And there they swore, every knight upon his sword. And so Sir Launcelot suffered them so to depart. And then Sir Launcelot knocked at the gate with the pommel of his sword, and with that came his host, and in they entered, Sir Kay and he. Sir, said his host, I wend ye had been in your bed. So I was, said Sir Launcelot, but I arose and lept out at my window for to help an old fellow of mine. And so when they came nigh the light Sir Kay knew well that it was Sir Launcelot, and therewith he kneeled down and thanked him of all his kindness that he hath holpen him twice from the death. Sir, he said, I have done nothing but that I ought to do, and ye are welcome, and here shall ye repose you and take your rest. So when Sir Kay was unarmed he asked after meat, so there was meat fetched him, and he ate strongly. And when he had supped they went to their beds, and were lodged together in one bed. On the morn Sir Launcelot arose early, and left Sir Kay sleeping: and Sir Launcelot took Sir Kay’s armour and his shield and armed him: and so he went to the stable and took his horse, and took his leave of his host, and so he departed. Then soon after arose Sir Kay and missed Sir Launcelot: and then he espied that he had 122his armour and his horse. Now by my faith I know well that he will grieve some of the court of king Arthur: for on him knights will be bold, and deem that it is I, and that will beguile them: and because of his armour and shield I am sure I shall ride in peace. And then soon after departed Sir Kay, and thanked his host.

How Sir Launcelot rode disguised in Sir Kay’s harness, and how he smote down a knight.

Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot that had ridden long in a great forest, and at the last he came into a low country full of fair rivers and meadows. And afore him he saw a long bridge, and three pavilions stood thereon of silk and sandal of divers hue. And without the pavilions hung three white shields on truncheons of spears, and great long spears stood upright by the pavilions, and at every pavilion’s door stood three fresh squires, and so Sir Launcelot passed by them, and spake no word. When he was past the three knights said that it was the proud Kay, he weeneth no knight so good as he, and the contrary is ofttime proved. By my faith, said one of the knights, his name was Sir Gaunter, I will ride after him and assay him for all his pride, and ye may behold how that I speed. So this knight, Sir Gaunter, armed him, and hung his shield upon his shoulder and mounted upon a great horse, and gat his spear in his hand, and galloped after Sir Launcelot. And when he came nigh him, he cried, Abide thou proud knight Sir Kay, for thou shalt not pass quit. So Sir Launcelot turned him, and either fewtred their spears, and came together with all their mights, and Sir Gaunter’s spear brake, but Sir Launcelot smote him down, horse and man. And when Sir Gaunter was at the earth his brethren said each one to other, Yonder knight is not Sir Kay, for he is bigger than he. I dare lay my head, said Sir Gilmere, yonder knight hath slain Sir Kay and hath taken his horse and harness. Whether it be so or no, said Sir Raynold the third brother, let us now go mount upon our horses and rescue our brother Sir Gaunter upon pain of death. We all shall have work enough to match that knight, for ever me seemeth by his person it is Sir Launcelot, or Sir Tristam, or Sir Pelleas the good knight. Then anon they took their horses and overtook Sir Launcelot, and Sir Gilmere put forth his spear and ran to Sir Launcelot and Sir Launcelot smote him down that he lay in a swoon. Sir knight, said Sir Raynold, thou art a strong man, and, as I suppose, thou hast slain my two brethren, for the which riseth my heart sore against thee; and if I might with my worship I would not have ado with thee, but needs I must take part as they do; and therefore knight, he said, keep thyself. And so they hurtled together with all their mights, and all to-shivered both their spears. And then they drew their swords and lashed together eagerly. Anon therewith arose Sir Gaunter, and came unto his brother Sir Gilmere, and bad him arise and help we our brother Sir Raynold, that yonder marvellously matcheth yonder good knight. Therewithal they lept on their horses, and hurtled unto Sir Launcelot. And when he saw them come, he smote a sore stroke unto Sir Raynold, that he fell off his horse to the ground, and then he struck to the other two brethren, and at two strokes he strake them down to the earth. With that Sir Raynold began to start up with his head all bloody, and came straight unto Sir Launcelot. Now let be, said Sir Launcelot, I was not far from thee when thou wert made knight, Sir Raynold, and also I know thou art a good knight, and loth I were to slay thee. Gramercy, said Sir Raynold, as for your goodness; and I dare say as for me and my brethren, we will not be loth to yield us unto you, with that we knew your name; for well we know ye are not Sir Kay. As for that be it as it may, for ye shall yield you unto dame Guenever, and look that ye be with her on Whitsunday, and yield you unto her 123as prisoners, and say that Sir Kay sent you unto her. Then they swore it should be done. And so passed forth Sir Launcelot, and each one of the brethren helped each other as well as they might.

How Sir Launcelot justed against four knights of the Round Table, and overthrew them.

So Sir Launcelot rode into a deep forest, and there by in a slade he saw four knights hoving under an oak, and they were of Arthur’s court; one was Sagramour le Desirous, and Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine. Anon as these four knights had espied Sir Launcelot they wend by his arms it had been Sir Kay. Now by my faith, said Sir Sagramour, I will prove Sir Kay’s might, and gat his spear in his hand, and came toward Sir Launcelot. Therewith Sir Launcelot was ware, and knew him well, and fewtred his spear against him, and smote Sir Sagramour so sore that horse and man fell both to the earth. Lo, my fellows, said Sir Ector, yonder ye may see what a buffet he hath; that knight is much bigger than ever was Sir Kay. Now shall ye see what I may do to him. So Sir Ector gat his spear in his hand and galloped toward Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot smote him through the shield and shoulder that horse and man went to the earth, and ever his spear held. By my faith, said Sir Uwaine, yonder is a strong knight, and I am sure he hath slain Sir Kay; and I see by his great strength it will be hard to match him. And therewithal Sir Uwaine gat his spear in his hand and rode toward Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot knew him well, and so he met him on the plain and gave him such a buffet that he was astonied, that long he wist not where he was. Now see I well, said Sir Gawaine, I must encounter with that knight. Then he dressed his shield and gat a good spear in his hand, and Sir Launcelot knew him well, and then they let run their horses with all their mights, and either knight smote other in midst of the shield. But Sir Gawaine’s spear to-brast, and Sir Launcelot charged so sore upon him that his horse reversed up so down. And much sorrow had Sir Gawaine to avoid his horse, and so Sir Launcelot passed on a pace, and smiled, and said, God give him joy that this spear made, for there came never a better in my hand. Then the four knights went each one to other, and comforted each other. What say ye by this gest? said Sir Gawaine, that one spear hath felled us four. We command him unto the devil, they said all, for he is a man of great might. Ye may well say it, said Sir Gawaine, that he is a man of might, for I dare lay my head it is Sir Launcelot, I know it by his riding. Let him go, said Sir Gawaine, for when we come to the court then shall we wit. And then had they much sorrow to get their horses again.

How Sir Launcelot followed a brachet into a castle where he found a dead knight, and how he after was required of a damsel to heal her brother.

Now leave we there and speak of Sir Launcelot that rode a great while in a deep forest, where he saw a black brachet, seeking in manner as it had been in the track of an hurt deer, and therewith he rode after the brachet, and he saw lie on the ground a large track of blood. And then Sir Launcelot rode after. And ever the brachet looked behind her, and so she went through a great marsh, and ever Sir Launcelot followed. And then was he ware of an old manor, and thither ran the brachet, and so over the bridge. So Sir Launcelot rode over that bridge that was old and feeble; and when he came in midst of a great hall, there he saw lie a dead knight that was a seemly man, and that brachet licked his wounds. And therewithal came out a lady weeping 124and wringing her hands, and she said, Oh knight, too much sorrow hast thou brought me. Why say ye so? said Sir Launcelot, I did never this knight no harm, for hither by track of blood this brachet brought me; and therefore fair lady be not displeased with me, for I am full sore aggrieved of your grievance. Truly sir, she said, I trow it be not ye that have slain my husband, for he that did that deed is sore wounded, and he is never likely to recover, that shall I ensure him. What was your husband’s name? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said she, his name was called Sir Gilbert, one of the best knights of the world, and he that hath slain him I know not his name. Now God send you better comfort, said Sir Launcelot. And so he departed and went into the forest again, and there he met with a damsel, the which knew him well, and she said aloud, Well be ye found, my lord; and now I require thee on thy knighthood help my brother that is sore wounded, and never stinteth bleeding, for this day fought he with Sir Gilbert and slew him in plain battle, and there was my brother sore wounded, and there is a lady a sorceress that dwelleth in a castle here beside, and this day she told me my brother’s wounds should never be whole till I could find a knight that would go into the chapel perilous, and there he should find a sword and a bloody cloth that the wounded knight was lapped in, and a piece of that cloth and sword should heal my brother’s wounds, so that his wounds were searched with the sword and the cloth. This is a marvellous thing, said Sir Launcelot, but what is your brother’s name? Sir, said she, his name is Sir Meliot de Logres. That me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot, for he is a fellow of the Table Round, and to his help I will do my power. Then, sir, said she, follow even this high way, and it will bring you unto the chapel perilous, and here I shall abide till God send you here again, and but you speed I know no knight living that may achieve that adventure.

How Sir Launcelot came into the chapel perilous, and gat there of a dead corpse a piece of the cloth and a sword.

Right so Sir Launcelot departed, and when he came unto the chapel perilous he alight down, and tied his horse to a little gate. And as soon as he was within the churchyard he saw on the front of the chapel many fair rich shields turned up so down, and many of the shields Sir Launcelot had seen knights bear beforehand. With that he saw by him stand there a thirty great knights, more by a yard than any man that ever he had seen, and all those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot. And when he saw their countenance he dread him sore, and so put his shield afore him, and took his sword in his hand ready unto battle; and they were all armed in black harness, ready with their shields and their swords drawn. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone throughout them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way, and therewith he waxed all bold and entered into the chapel, and then he saw no light but a dim lamp burning, and then was he ware of a corpse covered with a cloth of silk. Then Sir Launcelot stooped down and cut a piece away of that cloth, and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little; there withal he feared. And then he saw a fair sword lie by the dead knight, and that he gat in his hand and hied him out of the chapel. Anon as ever he was in the chapel-yard all the knights spake to him with a grimly voice, and said, Knight, Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die. Whether I live or die, said Sir Launcelot, will no great word get it again, therefore fight for it and ye list. Then right so he passed throughout them, and beyond the chapel-yard there met him a fair damsel, and said, Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it. I leave it not, said Sir Launcelot, for no 125entreaties. No, said she, and thou didst leave that sword queen Guenever should ye never see. Then were I a fool and I would leave this sword, said Sir Launcelot. Now gentle knight, said the damsel, I require thee to kiss me but once. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, that God me forbid. Well sir, said she, and thou haddest kissed me thy life days had been done, but now alas, she said, I have lost all my labour, for I ordained this chapel for thy sake, and for Sir Gawaine. And once I had Sir Gawaine within my power, and at that time he fought with that knight that lieth there dead in yonder chapel, Sir Gilbert, and at that time he smote off the left hand of Sir Gilbert. And Sir Launcelot now I tell thee, I have loved thee this seven year, but there may no woman have thy love but queen Guenever. But since I may not rejoice thee to have thy body alive, I had kept no more joy in this world but to have thy body dead. Then would I have balmed it and preserved it, and so have kept it my life days, and daily I should have kissed thee in despite of queen Guenever. Ye say well, said Sir Launcelot, God preserve me from your subtil crafts. And therewithal he took his horse and so departed from her. And as the book saith, when Sir Launcelot was departed she took such sorrow that she died within a fourteen night, and her name was Hellawes the sorceress, lady of the castle Nigramous. Anon Sir Launcelot met with the damsel, Sir Meliot’s sister. And when she saw him she clapped her hands and wept for joy, and then they rode unto a castle thereby, where Sir Meliot lay. And anon as Sir Launcelot saw him he knew him, but he was pale as the earth for bleeding. When Sir Meliot saw Sir Launcelot, he kneeled upon his knees and cried on high: O lord Sir Launcelot help me! Anon Sir Launcelot leapt unto him, and touched his wounds with Sir Gilbert’s sword, and then he wiped his wounds with a part of the bloody cloth that Sir Gilbert was wrapped in, and anon a wholer man in his life was he never. And then there was great joy between them, and they made Sir Launcelot all the cheer that they might, and so on the morn Sir Launcelot took his leave, and bad Sir Meliot hie him to the court of my lord Arthur, for it draweth nigh to the feast of Pentecost, and there, by the grace of God, ye shall find me. And therewith they departed.

How Sir Launcelot at the request of a lady recovered a falcon, by which he was deceived.

And so Sir Launcelot rode through many strange countries, over marshes and valleys, till by fortune he came to a fair castle, and as he passed beyond the castle him thought he heard two bells ring. And then was he ware of a falcon came flying over his head toward an high elm, and long lines about her feet, and as she flew unto the elm to take her perch, the lines overcast about a bough. And when she would have taken her flight she hung by the legs fast, and Sir Launcelot saw how she hung, and beheld the fair falcon perigot, and he was sorry for her. The meanwhile came a lady out of the castle, and cried on high, O Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art flower of all knights help me to get my hawk, for and my hawk be lost my lord will destroy me; for I kept the hawk and she slipt from me, and if my lord my husband wit it, he is so hasty that he will slay me. What is your lord’s name? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, she said, his name is Sir Phelot, a knight that longeth unto the king of Northgalis. Well, fair lady, since that ye know my name, and require me of knighthood to help you, I will do what I may to get your hawk, and yet truly I am an ill climber, and the tree is passing high, and few boughs to help me withal. And therewith Sir Launcelot alight, and tied his horse to the same tree, and prayed the lady to unarm him. And so when he was unarmed, he put off all his clothes unto his shirt and breeches, and with might 126and force he climbed up to the falcon, and tied the lines to a great rotten branch, and threw the hawk down and it withal. Anon the lady gat the hawk in her hand, and therewithal came out Sir Phelot out of the groves suddenly, that was her husband, all armed, and with his naked sword in his hand, and said, O knight, Launcelot, now have I found thee as I would: and stood at the bole of the tree to slay him. Ah lady, said Sir Launcelot, why have ye betrayed me? She hath done, said Sir Phelot, but as I commanded her, and therefore there is none other boot but thine hour is come that thou must die. That were shame unto thee, said Sir Launcelot, thou an armed knight to slay a naked man by treason. Thou gettest none other grace, said Sir Phelot, and therefore help thyself and thou canst. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, that shall be thy shame, but since thou wilt do none other, take mine harness with thee, and hang my sword upon a bough that I may get it, and then do thy best to slay me and thou canst. Nay, nay, said Sir Phelot, for I know thee better than thou weenest, therefore thou gettest no weapon and I may keep you therefro. Alas, said Sir Launcelot, that ever knight should die weaponless. And therewith he awaited above him and under him, and over his head he saw a rounspik, a big bough leafless, and therewith he brake it off by the body; and then he came lower, and awaited how his own horse stood, and suddenly he lept on the farther side of the horse from the knight. And then Sir Phelot lashed at him eagerly, weening to have slain him; but Sir Launcelot put away the stroke with the rounspik, and therewith he smote him on the one side of the head, that he fell down in a swoon to the ground. So then Sir Launcelot took his sword out of his hand, and struck his neck from the body. Then cried the lady, Alas, why hast thou slain my husband? I am not causer, said Sir Launcelot, for with falsehood ye would have had slain me with treason, and now it is fallen on you both. And then she swooned as though she would die. And therewithal Sir Launcelot gat all his armour as well as he might, and put it upon him, for dread of more resort, for he dread that the knight’s castle was so nigh. And so soon as he might he took his horse and departed, and thanked God that he had escaped that adventure.

How Sir Launcelot overtook a knight which chased his wife to have slain her, and how he said to him.

So Sir Launcelot rode many wild ways, throughout marshes and many wild ways. And as he rode in a valley he saw a knight chasing a lady with a naked sword to have slain her. And by fortune, as this knight should have slain this lady, she cried on Sir Launcelot and prayed him to rescue her. When Sir Launcelot saw that mischief he took his horse and rode between them, saying, Knight, fie for shame, why wilt thou slay this lady? thou dost shame unto thee and all knights. What hast thou to do betwixt me and my wife? said the knight; I will slay her, maugre thy head. That shall ye not, said Sir Launcelot, for rather we two will have ado together. Sir Launcelot, said the knight, thou doest not thy part, for this lady hath betrayed me. It is not so, said the lady, truly he saith wrong on me, and because I love and cherish my cousin german, he is jealous betwixt him and me, and as I shall answer to God, there was never sin betwixt us. But, sir, said the lady, as thou art called the worshipfullest knight of the world, I require thee of true knighthood keep me and save me, for whatsoever ye say he will slay me, for he is without mercy. Have ye no doubt, said Launcelot, it shall not lie in his power. Sir, said the knight, in your sight I will be ruled as ye will have me. And so Sir Launcelot rode on the one side and she on the other: he had not ridden but a while but the knight bad Sir Launcelot turn him and look behind him and said, 127Sir, yonder come men of arms after us riding. And so Sir Launcelot turned him, and thought no treason. And therewith was the knight and the lady on one side, and suddenly he swapped off his lady’s head. And when Sir Launcelot had espied him what he had done, he said, and called him, Traitor thou hast shamed me for ever. And suddenly Sir Launcelot alight off his horse, and pulled out his sword to slay him. And therewithal he fell flat to the earth, and gripped Sir Launcelot by the thighs, and cried mercy. Fie on thee said Sir Launcelot, thou shameful knight, thou mayest have no mercy, and therefore arise and fight with me. Nay, said the knight, I will never arise till ye grant me mercy. Now will I proffer thee fair, said Launcelot: I will unarm me unto my shirt, and will have nothing upon me but my shirt, and my sword in my hand, and if thou canst slay me quit be thou for ever. Nay, sir, said Pedivere, that will I never. Well, said Sir Launcelot, take this lady and the head, and bear it upon thee, and here shalt thou swear upon my sword to bear it alway upon thy back, and never to rest till thou come to queen Guenever. Sir, said he, that will I do, by the faith of my body. Now, said Launcelot, tell me what is your name. Sir, my name is Pedivere. In a shameful hour wert thou born, said Launcelot. So Pedivere departed with the dead lady and the head, and found the queen with king Arthur at Winchester, and there he told all the truth. Sir knight, said the queen, this is an horrible deed and a shameful, and a great rebuke unto Sir Launcelot: but notwithstanding his worship is not known in divers countries. But this shall I give you in penance: make ye as good skift as ye can, ye shall bear this lady with you on horseback unto the Pope of Rome, and of him receive your penance for your foul deeds, and ye shall never rest one night there as ye do another, and if ye go to any bed the dead body shall lie with you. This oath there he made, and so departed, and as it telleth in the French book, when he came to Rome the Pope bad him go again to queen Guenever, and in Rome was his lady buried by the Pope’s commandment. And after this Sir Pedivere fell to great goodness, and was an holy man and an hermit.

How Sir Launcelot came to king Arthur’s court, and how there were recounted all his noble feats and acts.

Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, that came home two days afore the feast of Pentecost. And the king and all the court were passing fain of his coming. And when Sir Gawaine, Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramour, Sir Ector de Maris, saw Sir Launcelot in Kay’s armour, then they wist well it was he that smote them down all with one spear. Then there was laughing and smiling among them. And ever now and now came all the knights home that Sir Turquine had prisoners, and they all honoured and worshipped Sir Launcelot. When Sir Gaheris heard them speak, he said, I saw all the battle from the beginning to the ending, and there he told king Arthur all how it was, and how Sir Turquine was the strongest knight that ever he saw except Sir Launcelot: there were many knights bear him record, nigh threescore. Then Sir Kay told the king how Sir Launcelot had rescued him when he should have been slain, and how he made the knights yield them to me, and not to him. And there they were, all three, and bare record. And by my faith, said Sir Kay, because Sir Launcelot took my harness and left me his I rode in good peace, and no man would have ado with me. Anon therewithal came the three knights that fought with Sir Launcelot at the long bridge, and there they yielded them unto Sir Kay, and Sir Kay forsook them and said he fought never with them: But I shall ease your hearts, said Sir Kay, yonder is Sir Launcelot that overcame you. When they wist that, they were 128glad. And then Sir Meliot de Logres came home, and told king Arthur how Sir Launcelot had saved him from the death. And all his deeds were known, how four queens, sorceresses, had him in prison, and how he was delivered by king Bagdemagus’s daughter. Also there were told all the great deeds of arms that Sir Launcelot did betwixt the two kings, that is to say, the king of Northgalis and king Bagdemagus. All the truth Sir Gahalantine did tell, and Sir Mador de la Porte, and Sir Mordred, for they were at that same tournament. Then came in the lady that knew Sir Launcelot when that he wounded Sir Belleus at the pavilion. And there, at the request of Sir Launcelot, Sir Belleus was made knight of the Round Table.

And so at that time Sir Launcelot had the greatest name of any knight of the world, and most he was honoured of high and low.

Explicit the noble tale of syr Launcelot du lake, whiche is the vi. book. Here foloweth the tale of syr Gareth of Orkeney, that was called Beaumayns by syr kay, and is the seventh book.

The Seventh Book.
How Beaumains came to king Arthur’s court and demanded three petitions of king Arthur.

When Arthur held his Round Table most fully, it fortuned that he commanded that the high feast of Pentecost should be holden at a city and a castle, the which in those days was called Kink-Kenadon, upon the sands that marched nigh Wales. So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost, in especial afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel. And for that custom all manner of strange adventures came before Arthur as at that feast before all other feasts. And so Sir Gawaine, a little tofore noon of the day of Pentecost, espied at a window three men upon horseback, and a dwarf on foot. And so the three men alight and the dwarf kept their horses, and one of the three men was higher than the other twain by a foot and a half. Then Sir Gawaine went unto the king and said, Sir, go to your meat, for here at the hand come strange adventures. So Arthur went unto his meat with many other kings. And there were all the knights of the Round Table, save those that were prisoners or slain at a recounter. Then at the high feast evermore they should be fulfilled the whole number of an hundred and fifty, for then was the Round Table fully complished. Right so came into the hall two men well beseen and richly, and upon their shoulders there leaned the goodliest young man and the fairest that ever they all saw, and he was large and long and broad in the shoulders, and well visaged, and the fairest and the largest handed that ever man saw, but he fared as though he might not go nor bear himself, but if he leaned upon their shoulders. Anon as Arthur saw him there was made peace and room, and right so they went with him unto the high dais, without saying of any words. Then this much young man pulled him aback, and easily stretched up straight, saying, King Arthur, God you bless, and all your fair fellowship, and in especial the fellowship of the Table Round. And for this cause I am come 129hither, to pray you and require you to give me three gifts, and they shall not be unreasonably asked, but that ye may worshipfully and honourably grant them me, and to you no great hurt nor loss. And the first done and gift I will ask now, and the other two gifts I will ask this day twelvemonth wheresoever ye hold your high feast. Now ask, said Arthur, and ye shall have your asking. Now sir, this is my petition for this feast, that ye will give me meat and drink sufficiently for this twelvemonth, and at that day I will ask mine other two gifts. My fair son, said Arthur, ask better, I counsel thee, for this is but a simple asking, for my heart giveth me to thee greatly that thou art come of men of worship, and greatly my conceit faileth me but thou shalt prove a man of right great worship. Sir, said he, thereof be as it may, I have asked that I will ask. Well, said the king, ye shall have meat and drink enough, I never defended that none, neither my friend nor my foe. But what is thy name I would wit? I cannot tell you, said he. That is marvel, said the king, that thou knowest not thy name, and thou art the goodliest young man that ever I saw. Then the king betook him to Sir Kay, the steward, and charged him that he should give him of all manner of meats and drinks of the best, and also that he had all manner of finding as though he were a lord’s son. That shall little need, said Sir Kay, to do such cost upon him; for I dare undertake he is a villain born, and never will make man, for and he had come of gentlemen he would have asked of you horse and armour, but such as he is, so he asketh. And since he hath no name, I shall give him a name that shall be Beaumains, that is Fair-hands, and into the kitchen I shall bring him, and there he shall have fat browis every day, that he shall be as fat by the twelvemonth’s end as a pork hog. Right so the two men departed, and beleft him to Sir Kay, that scorned him and mocked him.

How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine were wroth because Sir Kay mocked Beaumains, and of a damsel which desired a knight for to fight for a lady.

Thereat was Sir Gawaine wroth, and in especial Sir Launcelot bad Sir Kay leave his mocking, for I dare lay my head he shall prove a man of great worship. Let be, said Sir Kay, it may not be, by no reason, for as he is so hath he asked. Beware, said Sir Launcelot, so ye gave the good knight Brewnor, Sir Dinadan’s brother, a name, and ye called him La Cote Male Taile, and that turned you to anger afterward. As for that, said Sir Kay, this shall never prove none such; for Sir Brewnor desired ever worship, and this desireth bread and drink, and broth; upon pain of my life he was fostered up in some abbey, and, howsoever it was, they failed meat and drink, and so hither he is come for his sustenance. And so Sir Kay bad get him a place and sit down to meat, so Beaumains went to the hall door, and set him down among boys and lads, and there he eat sadly. And then Sir Launcelot after meat bad him come to his chamber, and there he should have meat and drink enough. And so did Sir Gawaine: but he refused them all; he would do none other but as Sir Kay commanded him, for no proffer. But as touching Sir Gawaine, he had reason to proffer him lodging, meat, and drink, for that proffer came of his blood, for he was nearer kin to him than he wist. But that as Sir Launcelot did was of his great gentleness and courtesy. So thus he was put into the kitchen, and lay nightly as the boys of the kitchen did. And so he endured all that twelvemonth, and never displeased man nor child, but always he was meek and mild. But ever when that he saw any justing of knights, that would he see and he might. And ever Sir Launcelot would give him gold to spend, and clothes, and so did Sir Gawaine. And where were any masteries done thereat would he be, and there might none cast 130bar nor stone to him by two yards. Then would Sir Kay say, How liketh you my boy of the kitchen? So it passed on till the feast of Whitsuntide. And at that time the king held it at Carlion in the most royalest wise that might be, like as he did yearly.

But the king would no meat eat upon the Whitsunday until he heard some adventures. Then came there a squire to the king and said, Sir, ye may go to your meat, for here cometh a damsel with some strange adventures. Then was the king glad, and set him down. Right so there came a damsel into the hall, and saluted the king, and prayed him of succour. For whom, said the king, what is the adventure? Sir, she said, I have a lady of great worship and renown, and she is besieged with a tyrant, so that she may not out of her castle. And because here are called the noblest knights of the world, I come to you to pray you of succour. What highteth your lady, and where dwelleth she? and who is he, and what is his name, that hath besieged her? Sir king, she said, as for my lady’s name that shall not ye know for me as at this time, but I let you wit she is a lady of great worship, and of great lands. And as for the tyrant that besiegeth her and destroyeth her lands, he is called the red knight of the red lawns. I know him not, said the king. Sir, said Sir Gawaine, I know him well, for he is one of the perilousest knights of the world: men say that he hath seven men’s strength, and from him I escaped once full hard with my life. Fair damsel, said the king, there be knights here would do their power to rescue your lady, but because ye will not tell her name, nor where she dwelleth, therefore none of my knights that be here now shall go with you by my will. Then must I speak further, said the damsel.

How Beaumains desired the battle, and how it was granted to him, and how he desired to be made knight of Sir Launcelot.

With these words came before the king Beaumains, while the damsel was there, and thus he said: Sir king, God thank you, I have been these twelvemonth in your kitchen, and have had my full sustenance, and now I will ask my two gifts that be behind. Ask upon my peril, said the king. Sir, this shall be my two gifts. First, that ye will grant me to have this adventure of the damsel, for it belongeth unto me. Thou shalt have it, said the king, I grant it thee. Then, sir, this is the other gift, that ye shall bid Launcelot du Lake make me knight, for of him I will be made knight, and else of none. And when I am past, I pray you let him ride after me, and make me knight when I require him. All this shall be done, said the king. Fie on thee, said the damsel, shall I have none but one that is your kitchen page. Then was she wroth, and took her horse and departed.

And with that there came one to Beaumains, and told him that his horse and armour was come for him, and there was the dwarf come with all thing that him needed in the richest manner. Thereat all the court had much marvel from whence came all that gear. So when he was armed there was none but few so goodly a man as he was. And right so he came into the hall and took his leave of king Arthur and Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot, and prayed that he would hie after him. And so departed and rode after the damsel.

How Beaumains departed, and how he gat of Sir Kay a spear and a shield, and how he justed and fought with Sir Launcelot.

But there went many after to behold how well he was horsed and trapped in cloth of gold, but he had neither shield nor spear. Then Sir Kay said all openly in the hall, I will ride after my boy in the kitchen, to wit whether he will know me for his better. Said Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine, Yet abide 131at home. So Sir Kay made him ready and took his horse and his spear and rode after him. And right as Beaumains overtook the damsel, right so came Sir Kay, and said, Beaumains, what sir know ye not me? Then he turned his horse and knew it was Sir Kay, that had done him all the despite as ye have heard afore. Yea, said Beaumains, I know you for an ungentle knight of the court, and therefore beware of me. Therewith Sir Kay put his spear in the rest, and ran straight upon him, and Beaumains came as fast upon him with his sword in his hand; and so he put away his spear with his sword, and with a foin thrust him through the side, that Sir Kay fell down as he had been dead, and he alight down and took Sir Kay’s shield and his spear, and start upon his own horse and rode his way. All that saw Sir Launcelot, and so did the damsel. And then he bad his dwarf start upon Sir Kay’s horse, and so he did. By that Sir Launcelot was come. Then he proffered Sir Launcelot to just, and either made them ready, and came together so fiercely that either bare down other to the earth, and sore were they bruised. Then Sir Launcelot arose and helped him from his horse. And then Beaumains threw his shield from him, and proffered to fight with Sir Launcelot on foot, and so they rushed together like boars, tracing, racing, and foining, to the mountenance of an hour, and Sir Launcelot felt him so big that he marvelled of his strength, for he fought more like a giant than a knight, and that his fighting was durable and passing perilous. For Sir Launcelot had so much ado with him that he dread himself to be shamed, and said, Beaumains, fight not so sore, your quarrel and mine is not so great but we may leave off. Truly, that is truth, said Beaumains, but it doth me good to feel your might, and yet, my lord, I shewed not the utterance.

How Beaumains told to Sir Launcelot his name, and how he was dubbed knight of Sir Launcelot, and after overtook the damsel.

Well, said Sir Launcelot, for I promise you by the faith of my body I had as much to do as I might to save myself from you unshamed, and therefore have ye no doubt of none earthly knight. Hope ye so that I may any while stand a proved knight? said Beaumains. Yea, said Launcelot, do ye as ye have done, and I shall be your warrant. Then, I pray you, said Beaumains, give me the order of knighthood. Then must ye tell me your name, said Launcelot, and of what kin ye be born. Sir, so that ye will not discover me I shall, said Beaumains. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, and that I promise you by the faith of my body, until it be openly known. Then, Sir, he said, my name is Gareth, and brother unto Sir Gawaine, of father and mother. Ah! Sir, said Launcelot, I am more gladder of you than I was, for ever me thought ye should be of great blood, and that ye came not to the court neither for meat nor for drink. And then Sir Launcelot gave him the order of knighthood. And then Sir Gareth prayed him for to depart, and let him go. So Sir Launcelot departed from him and came to Sir Kay, and made him to be borne home upon his shield, and so he was healed hard with the life, and all men scorned Sir Kay, and in especial Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot said it was not his part to rebuke no young man, for full little knew he of what birth he is come, and for what cause he came to this court. And so we leave off Sir Kay and turn we unto Beaumains. When he had overtaken the damsel anon she said, What doest thou here? thou stinkest all of the kitchen, thy clothes be foul of the grease and tallow that thou gainedst in king Arthur’s kitchen; weenest thou, said she, that I allow thee for yonder knight that thou killedst? Nay truly, for thou slewest him unhappily 132and cowardly, therefore turn again foul kitchen page. I know thee well, for Sir Kay named thee Beaumains; what art thou but a lubber and a turner of spits, and a ladle washer? Damsel, said Beaumains, say to me what ye will, I will not go from you whatsoever ye say, for I have undertaken to king Arthur for to achieve your adventure, and so shall I finish it to the end, or I shall die therefore. Fie on thee, kitchen knave, wilt thou finish mine adventure? thou shalt anon be met withall, that thou wouldest not for all the broth that ever thou suppedst once look him in the face. I shall assay, said Beaumains. So thus as they rode in the wood, there came a man flying all that ever he might. Whither wilt thou? said Beaumains. O lord, he said, help me, for hereby in a slade are six thieves, that have taken my lord and bound him, so I am afeard lest they will slay him. Bring me thither, said Sir Beaumains. And so they rode together until they came there as was the knight bound, and then he rode unto them and struck one unto the death, and then another, and at the third stroke he slew the third thief: and then the other three fled. And he rode after them, and he overtook them, and then those three thieves turned again and assailed Beaumains hard, but at the last he slew them, and returned and unbound the knight. And the knight thanked him, and prayed him to ride with him to his castle there a little beside, and he should worshipfully reward him for his good deeds. Sir, said Beaumains, I will no reward have, I was this day made knight of noble Sir Launcelot, and therefore I will no reward have, but God reward me. And also I must follow this damsel. And when he came nigh her, she bad him ride from her, for thou smellest all of the kitchen; weenest thou that I have joy of thee? for all this deed thou hast done, is but mishapped thee; but thou shalt see a sight that shall make thee turn again, and that lightly. Then the same knight which was rescued of the thieves rode after that damsel, and prayed her to lodge with him all that night. And because it was near night the damsel rode with him to his castle, and there they had great cheer. And at supper the knight set Sir Beaumains afore the damsel. Fie, fie, said she, sir knight, ye are uncourteous to set a kitchen page afore me, him beseemeth better to stick a swine than to sit afore a damsel of high parentage. Then the knight was ashamed at her words, and took him up and set him at a side board, and set himself afore him. And so all that night they had good cheer and merry rest.

How Sir Beaumains fought and slew two knights at a passage.

And on the morn the damsel and he took their leave and thanked the knight, and so departed, and rode on their way until they came to a great forest. And there was a great river and but one passage, and there were ready two knights on the further side, to let them the passage. What sayest thou, said the damsel, wilt thou match yonder knights, or turn again? Nay, said Sir Beaumains, I will not turn again and they were six more. And therewithal he rushed into the water, and in the midst of the water either brake their spears upon other to their hands, and then they drew their swords and smote eagerly at other. And at the last Sir Beaumains smote the other upon the helm that his head stonied, and therewithal he fell down in the water, and there was he drowned. And then he spurred his horse upon the land, where the other knight fell upon him and brake his spear, and so they drew their swords and fought long together. At the last Sir Beaumains clave his helm and his head down to the shoulders: and so he rode unto the damsel, and bade her ride forth on her way. Alas, she said, that ever a kitchen page should have that fortune to destroy such two doughty knights; thou weenest thou hast done doughtily; that is not so, for the first knight his horse stumbled, 133and there he was drowned in the water, and never it was by thy force nor by thy might. And the last knight by mishap thou camest behind him and mishappily thou slewest him. Damsel, said Beaumains, ye may say what ye will, but with whomsoever I have ado withall I trust to God to serve him or he depart, and therefore I reck not what ye say, so that I may win your lady. Fie, fie, foul kitchen knave, thou shalt see knights that shall abate thy boast. Fair damsel, give me goodly language, and then my care is past, for what knights soever they be I care not, nor I doubt them not. Also, said she, I say it for thine avail, yet mayest thou turn again with thy worship, for and thou follow me thou art but slain, for I see all that ever thou dost is but by misadventure, and not by prowess of thy hands. Well, damsel, ye may say what ye will, but wheresoever ye go I will follow you. So this Beaumains rode with that lady till even-song time, and ever she chid him, and would not rest. And then they came to a black lawn, and there was a black hawthorn, and thereon hung a black banner, and on the other side there hung a black shield, and by it stood a black spear great and long, and a great black horse covered with silk, and a black stone fast by.

How Sir Beaumains fought with the knight of the black lawns, and fought with him till he fell down and died.

There sat a knight all armed in black harness, and his name was the knight of the black lawn. Then the damsel, when she saw that knight, she bade him flee down the valley, for his horse was not saddled. Gramercy, said Beaumains, for always ye would have me a coward. With that the black knight, when she came nigh him, spake and said, Damsel, have ye brought this knight of king Arthur to be your champion? Nay, fair knight, said she, this is but a kitchen knave, that was fed in king Arthur’s kitchen for alms. Why cometh he, said the knight, in such array? it is shame that he beareth you company. Sir, I cannot be delivered of him, said she, for with me he rideth maugre mine head; would that ye should put him from me, or else to slay him and ye may, for he is an unhappy knave, and unhappily he hath done this day; through mishap I saw him slay two knights at the passage of the water, and other deeds he did before right marvellous, and through unhappiness. That marvelleth me, said the black knight, that any man that is of worship will have ado with him. They know him not, said the damsel, and because he rideth with me they think he is some man of worship born. That may be, said the black knight, how be it as ye say that he be no man of worship, he is a full likely person, and full like to be a strong man; but thus much shall I grant you, said the black knight, I shall put him down upon one foot, and his horse and his harness he shall leave with me, for it were shame to me to do him any more harm. When Sir Beaumains heard him say thus, he said, Sir knight, thou art full liberal of my horse and my harness. I let thee wit it cost thee nought, and whether it liketh thee or not this lawn will I pass, maugre thine head, and horse nor harness gettest thou none of me, but if thou win them with thy hands; and therefore let see what thou canst do. Sayest thou that, said the black knight, now yield thy lady from thee, for it beseemeth never a kitchen page to ride with such a lady. Thou liest, said Beaumains, I am a gentleman born, and of more high lineage than thou, and that will I prove on thy body. Then in great wrath they departed with their horses, and came together as it had been the thunder; and the black knight’s spear brake, and Beaumains thrust him through both his sides, and therewith his spear brake, and the truncheon left still in his side. But nevertheless the black knight drew his sword and smote many eager strokes and of great might, and hurt Beaumains full sore. But at the last the black knight within an hour and a half he 134fell down off his horse in a swoon, and there he died. And then Beaumains saw him so well horsed and armed, then he alight down, and armed him in his armour, and so took his horse, and rode after the damsel. When she saw him come nigh, she said, Away, kitchen knave, out of the wind, for the smell of thy foul clothes grieveth me. Alas, she said, that ever such a knave as thou art should by mishap slay so good a knight as thou hast done, but all this is thine unhappiness. But hereby is one shall pay thee all thy payment, and therefore yet I counsel thee, flee. It may happen me, said Beaumains, to be beaten or slain, but I warn you, fair damsel, I will not flee away nor leave your company for all that ye can say, for ever ye say that they will kill me or beat me, but how soever it happeneth I escape, and they lie on the ground. And therefore it were as good for you to hold you still, thus all day rebuking me, for away will I not till I see the uttermost of this journey, or else I will be slain or truly beaten; therefore ride on your way, for follow you I will whatsoever happen.

How the brother of the knight that was slain met with Beaumains, and fought with Beaumains till he was yielden.

Thus as they rode together, they saw a knight come driving by them all in green, both his horse and his harness; and when he came nigh the damsel he asked her, Is that my brother the black knight that ye have brought with you? Nay, nay, said she, this unhappy kitchen knave hath slain your brother through unhappiness. Alas, said the green knight, that is great pity that so noble a knight as he was should so unhappily be slain, and namely of a knave’s hand, as ye say that he is. Ah! traitor, said the green knight, thou shalt die for slaying of my brother, he was a full noble knight, and his name was Sir Percard. I defy thee, said Beaumains, for I let thee wit I slew him knightly, and not shamefully. Therewithall the green knight rode unto an horn that was green, and it hung upon a thorn, and there he blew three deadly notes, and there came two damsels and armed him lightly. And then took he a great horse, and a green shield and a green spear. And then they ran together with all their mights, and brake their spears unto their hands. And then they drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, and either of them wounded other full ill. And at the last at an overthwart Beaumains’ horse struck the green knight’s horse upon the side, he fell to the earth. And then the green knight avoided his horse lightly, and dressed him upon foot. That saw Beaumains, and therewithal he alight, and they rushed together like two mighty champions a long while, and sore they bled both. With that came the damsel and said, My lord the green knight, why for shame stand ye so long fighting with the kitchen knave? Alas, it is shame that ever ye were made knight, to see such a lad match such a knight, as the weed overgrew the corn. Therewith the green knight was ashamed, and therewithal he gave a great stroke of might, and clave his shield through. When Beaumains saw his shield cloven asunder he was a little ashamed of that stroke, and of her language; and then he gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell on his knees: and so suddenly Beaumains pulled him upon the ground groveling. And then the green knight cried him mercy, and yielded him unto Sir Beaumains, and prayed him to slay him not. All is in vain, said Beaumains, for thou shalt die, but if this damsel that came with me pray me to save thy life. And therewithal he unlaced his helm, like as he would slay him. Fie upon thee, false kitchen page, I will never pray thee to save his life, for I never will be so much in thy danger. Then shall he die, said Beaumains. Not so hardy thou foul knave, said the damsel, that thou slay him. Alas, said the green knight, suffer me not to die, for a fair word may save me. Fair knight, 135said the green knight, save my life, and I will forgive thee the death of my brother, and for ever to become thy man, and thirty knights that hold of me for ever shall do you service. In the devil’s name, said the damsel, that such a foul kitchen knave should have thee and thirty knights’ service. Sir knight, said Beaumains, all this availeth thee not, but if my damsel speak with me for thy life. And therewithal he made a semblant to slay him. Let be, said the damsel, thou foul knave, slay him not, for and thou do thou shalt repent it. Damsel, said Beaumains, your charge is to me a pleasure, and at your commandment his life shall be saved, and else not. Then he said, Sir knight with the green arms, I release thee quit at this damsel’s request, for I will not make her wroth; I will fulfill all that she chargeth me. And then the green knight kneeled down, and did him homage with his sword. Then said the damsel, Me repenteth, green knight, of your damage, and of your brother’s death the black knight, for of your help I had great need, for I dread me sore to pass this forest. Nay, dread you not, said the green knight, for ye shall lodge with me this night, and to morn I shall help you through this forest. So they took their horses and rode to his manor, which was fast there beside.

How the damsel ever rebuked Sir Beaumains, and would not suffer him to sit at her table, but called him kitchen boy.

And ever she rebuked Beaumains, and would not suffer him to sit at her table, but as the green knight took him and sat him at a side table. Marvel me thinketh, said the green knight to the damsel, why ye rebuke this noble knight as ye do, for I warn you, damsel, he is a full noble knight, and I know no knight is able to match him, therefore ye do great wrong to rebuke him, for he shall do you right good service, for whatsoever he maketh himself ye shall prove at the end that he is come of a noble blood, and of king’s lineage. Fie, fie, said the damsel, it is shame for you to say of him such worship. Truly, said the green knight, it were shame for me to say of him any disworship, for he hath proved himself a better knight than I am, yet have I met with many knights in my days, and never or this time have I found no knight his match. And so that night they went unto rest, and all that night the green knight commanded thirty knights privily to watch Beaumains, for to keep him from all treason. And so on the morn they all arose, and heard their mass and brake their fast, and then they took their horses and rode on their way, and the green knight conveyed them through the forest, and there the green knight said, My lord Beaumains, I and these thirty knights shall be alway at your summons, both early and late, at your calling, and where that ever ye will send us. It is well said, said Beaumains; when that I call upon you ye must yield you unto king Arthur and all your knights. If that ye so command us, we shall be ready at all times, said the green knight. Fie, fie upon thee, said the damsel, that any good knights should be obedient unto a kitchen knave. So then departed the green knight and the damsel. And then she said unto Beaumains, Why followest thou me thou kitchen boy, cast away thy shield and thy spear and flee away, yet I counsel thee betimes or thou shalt say right soon, Alas! For were thou as wight as ever was Wade, or Launcelot, Tristram, or the good knight Sir Lamorake, thou shalt not pass a pass here, that is called the pass perilous. Damsel, said Beaumains, who is afeard let him flee, for it were shame to turn again since I have ridden so long with you. Well, said the damsel, ye shall soon, whether ye will or not.

How the third brother, called the red knight, justed and fought against Beaumains, and how Beaumains overcame him.

So within a while they saw a tower as white as any snow, well matchcold all 136about, and double diked. And over the tower-gate there hung a fifty shields of divers colours; and under that tower there was a fair meadow. And therein were many knights and squires to behold scaffolds and pavilions, for there upon the morn should be a great tournament; and the lord of the tower was in his castle, and looked out at a window, and saw a damsel, a dwarf, and a knight armed at all points. By my faith, said the lord, with that knight will I just, for I see that he is a knight errant. And so he armed him, and horsed him hastily. And when he was on horseback with his shield and his spear, it was all red, both his horse and his harness, and all that to him belonged. And when that he came nigh him he wend it had been his brother the black knight. And then he cried aloud, Brother what do ye in these marches? Nay, nay, said the damsel, it is not he; this is but a kitchen knave, that was brought up for alms in king Arthur’s court. Nevertheless, said the red knight, I will speak with him or he depart. Ah, said the damsel, this knave hath killed thy brother, and Sir Kay named him Beaumains, and this horse and harness was thy brother’s the black knight. Also I saw thy brother the green knight overcome of his hands. Now may ye be revenged upon him, for I may never be quit of him.

With this either knight departed in sunder, and they came together with all their might, and either of their horses fell to the earth, and they avoided their horses, and put their shields afore them, and drew their swords, and either gave other sad strokes, now here, now there, racing, tracing, foining, and hurling like two boars, the space of two hours. And then she cried on high to the red knight, Alas, thou noble red knight, think what worship hath followed thee, let never a kitchen knave endure thee so long as he doth. Then the red knight waxed wroth, and doubled his strokes, and hurt Beaumains wonderly sore, that the blood ran down to the ground, that it was wonder to see that strong battle. Yet at the last Sir Beaumains strake him to the earth, and as he would have slain the red knight he cried mercy, saying, Noble knight slay me not, and I shall yield me to thee with fifty knights with me that be at my commandment. And I forgive thee all the despite that thou hast done to me, and the death of my brother the black knight. All this availeth not, said Sir Beaumains, but if my damsel pray me to save thy life. And therewith he made semblant to strike off his head. Let be, thou Beaumains, slay him not, for he is a noble knight, and not so hardy upon thine head but thou save him. Then Beaumains bad the red knight stand up, and thank the damsel now of thy life. Then the red knight prayed him to see his castle, and to be there all night. So the damsel then granted him, and there they had merry cheer. But always the damsel spake many foul words unto Beaumains, whereof the red knight had great marvel, and all that night the red knight made threescore knights to watch Beaumains, that he should have no shame nor villainy. And upon the morn they heard mass, and dined, and the red knight came before Beaumains with his threescore knights, and there he proffered him his homage and fealty at all times, he and his knights to do him service. I thank you, said Beaumains, but this ye shall grant me when I call upon you, to come afore my lord king Arthur and yield you unto him to be his knights. Sir, said the red knight, I will be ready and my fellowship at your summons. So Sir Beaumains departed and the damsel, and ever she rode chiding him in the foullest manner.

How Sir Beaumains suffered great rebukes of the damsel, and he suffered it patiently.

Damsel, said Beaumains, ye are uncourteous so to rebuke me as ye do, for me seemeth I have done you good service, and ever ye threaten me I shall be 137beaten with knights that we meet, but ever for all your boast they lie in the dust or in the mire, and therefore I pray you rebuke me no more: and when ye see me beaten or yielden as recreant, then may ye bid me go from you shamefully, but first I let you wit I will not depart from you, for I were worse than a fool and I would depart from you all the while that I win worship. Well, said she, right soon there shall meet a knight shall pay thee all thy wages, for he is the most man of worship of the world, except king Arthur. I will well, said Beaumains; the more he is of worship the more shall be my worship to have ado with him. Then anon they were ware where was before them a city rich and fair. And betwixt them and the city a mile and a half, there was a fair meadow that seemed new mown, and therein were many pavilions fair to behold. Lo, said the damsel, yonder is a lord that owneth yonder city, and his custom is when the weather is fair to lie in this meadow to just and tourney; and ever there be about him five hundred knights and gentlemen of arms, and there be all manner of games that any gentleman can devise. That goodly lord, said Beaumains, would I fain see. Thou shalt see him time enough, said the damsel. And so as she rode near she espied the pavilion where he was. Lo, said she, seest thou yonder pavilion, that is all of the colour of Inde, and all manner of thing that there is about, men and women, and horses trapped, shields and spears, all of the colour of Inde, and his name is Sir Persant of Inde, the most lordliest knight that ever thou lookedest on. It may well be, said Beaumains, but be he never so stout a knight, in this field I shall abide till that I see him under his shield. Ah fool, said she, thou were better flee betimes. Why, said Beaumains, and he be such a knight as ye make him, he will not set upon me with all his men, or with his five hundred knights. For and there come no more but one at once, I shall him not fail whilst my life lasteth. Fie, fie, said the damsel, that ever such a dirty knave should blow such a boast. Damsel, he said, ye are to blame so to rebuke me, for I had lever do five battles than so to be rebuked; let him come, and then let him do his worst. Sir, she said, I marvel what thou art, and of what kin thou art come: boldly thou speakest, and boldly thou hast done, that have I seen: therefore I pray thee save thyself and thou mayest, for thy horse and thou have had great travail, and I dread we dwell over long from the siege, for it is but hence seven mile, and all perilous passages we are past, save all only this passage, and here I dread me sore lest ye shall catch some hurt, therefore I would ye were hence, that ye were not bruised nor hurt with this strong knight. But I let you wit this Sir Persant of Inde is nothing of might nor strength unto the knight that laid the siege about my lady. As for that, said Sir Beaumains, be it as it may; for since I am come so nigh this knight I will prove his might or I depart from him, and else I shall be shamed and I now withdraw me from him. And therefore, damsel, have ye no doubt by the grace of God I shall so deal with this knight, that within two hours after noon I shall deliver him, and then shall we come to the siege by day light. Oh mercy, marvel have I, said the damsel, what manner a man ye be, for it may never be otherwise but that ye be come of a noble blood, for so foul and shamefully did never woman rule a knight as I have done you, and ever courteously ye have suffered me, and that came never but of a gentle blood.

Damsel, said Beaumains, a knight may little do that may not suffer a damsel; for whatsoever ye said unto me I took none heed to your words, for the more ye said the more ye angered me, and my wrath I wreaked upon them that I had ado withal. And therefore all the missaying that ye missayed me furthered me in my battle, and caused me to think to shew and prove myself at the end what I was; for peradventure 138though I had meat in king Arthur’s kitchen, yet I might have had meat enough in other places; but all that I did it for to prove and to assay my friends, and that shall be known another day, and whether that I be a gentleman born or none, I let you wit, fair damsel, I have done you gentleman’s service, and peradventure better service yet will I do or I depart from you. Alas, she said, fair Beaumains, forgive me all that I have missaid or done against thee. With all my heart, said he, I forgive it you, for ye did nothing but as ye should do, for all your evil words pleased me; and damsel, said Beaumains, since it liketh you to say thus fair to me, wit ye well it gladdeth mine heart greatly, and now me seemeth there is no knight living but I am able enough for him.

How Sir Beaumains fought with Sir Persant of Inde, and made him to be yielden.

With this Sir Persant of Inde had espied them as they hoved in the field, and knightly he sent to them whether he came in war or in peace. Say to thy lord, said Beaumains, I take no force, but whether as him list himself. So the messenger went again unto Sir Persant, and told him all his answer. Well, then will I have ado with him to the utterance. And so he purveyed him and rode against him. And Beaumains saw him and made him ready, and there they met with all that ever their horses might run, and brake their spears either in three pieces, and their horses rushed so together that both their horses fell dead to the earth, and lightly they avoided their horses, and put their shields afore them, and drew their swords, and gave many great strokes, that sometime they hurtled together that they fell groveling on the ground. Thus they fought two hours and more, that their shields and their hauberks were all forhewn, and in many places they were wounded. So at the last Sir Beaumains smote him through the side of the body, and then he drew him back here and there, and knightly maintained his battle long time. And at the last, though him loth were, Beaumains smote Sir Persant above upon the helm that he fell groveling to the earth, and then he lept upon him overthwart, and unlaced his helm to have slain him. Then Sir Persant yielded him and asked him mercy. With that came the damsel, and prayed to save his life. I will well, for it were pity that this noble knight should die. Gramercy, said Persant, gentle knight and damsel; for certainly now I wot well it was ye that slew my brother the black knight, at the black thorn; he was a full noble knight, his name was Sir Percard. Also, I am sure that ye are he that won mine other brother the green knight, his name was Sir Pertolepe. Also, ye won my brother the red knight Sir Perimones. And now since ye have won these, this shall I do for to please you; ye shall have homage and fealty of me, and an hundred knights, to be always at your commandment, to go and ride where ye will command us. And so they went unto Sir Persant’s pavilion, and drank the wine and eat spices. And afterward Sir Persant made him to rest upon a bed until supper time, and after supper to bed again. And so we leave him there till on the morn.

Of the goodly communication between Sir Persant and Beaumains, and how he told him that his name was Sir Gareth.

And so on the morn the damsel and Sir Beaumains heard mass and brake their fast, and so took their leave. Fair damsel, said Persant, whitherward are ye away leading this knight? Sir, she said, this knight is going to the siege that besiegeth my sister in the castle dangerous. Ah, ah, said Persant, that is the knight of the red lawn, the which is the most perilous knight that I know now living, and a man that is without mercy, and men say that he hath seven men’s strength. God save you, said he 139to Beaumains, from that knight, for he doth great wrong to that lady, and that is great pity, for she is one of the fairest ladies of the world, and me seemeth that your damsel is her sister. Is not your name Linet? said he. Yea, sir, said she, and my lady my sister’s name is dame Liones. Now shall I tell you, said Sir Persant, this red knight of the red lawn hath lain long at the siege, well nigh this two years, and many times he might have had her and he had would, but he prolongeth the time to this intent for to have Sir Launcelot du Lake to do battle with him, or Sir Tristram, or Sir Lamorak de Galis, or Sir Gawaine: and this is his tarrying so long at the siege. Now, my lord Sir Persant of Inde, said the damsel Linet, I require you that ye will make this gentleman knight, or ever he fight with the red knight. I will with all my heart, said Sir Persant, and it please him to take the order of knighthood of so simple a man as I am. Sir, said Beaumains, I thank you for your good will, for I am better sped, for certainly the noble knight Sir Launcelot made me knight. Ah, said Persant, of a more renowned knight might ye not be made knight. For of all knights he may be called chief of knighthood: and so all the world saith that betwixt three knights is parted clearly knighthood that is Launcelot du Lake, Sir Tristram de Liones, and Sir Lamorak de Galis: these bear now the renown. There be many other knights, as Sir Palamides the Saracen, and Sir Sasere his brother; also Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Blamore de Ganis his brother; also Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Percivale de Galis; these and many more be noble knights, but there be none that pass the three above said; therefore God speed you well, said Sir Persant, for and ye may match the red knight ye shall be called the fourth of the world. Sir, said Beaumains, I would fain be of good fame and of knighthood. And I let you wit I came of good men, for I dare say my father was a noble man, and so that ye will keep it in close, and this damsel, I will tell you of what kin I am. We will not discover you, said they both, till ye command us, by the faith we owe unto God. Truly then, said he, my name is Gareth of Orkney, and king Lot was my father, and my mother is king Arthur’s sister; her name is dame Morgawse, and Sir Gawaine is my brother, and Sir Agravaine, and Sir Gaheris, and I am the youngest of them all. And yet wot not king Arthur nor Sir Gawaine what I am.

How the lady that was besieged had word from her sister how she had brought a knight to fight for her, and what battles he had achieved.

So the book saith that the lady that was besieged had word of her sister’s coming by the dwarf, and a knight with her, and how he had passed all the perilous passages. What manner a man is he? said the lady. He is a noble knight, truly, madam, said the dwarf, and but a young man, but he is as likely a man as ever ye saw any. What is he, said the lady, and of what kin is he come, and of whom was he made knight? Madam, said the dwarf, he is the king’s son of Orkney, but his name I will not tell you as at this time; but wit ye well, of Sir Launcelot was he made knight, for of none other would he be made knight, and Sir Kay named him Beaumains. How escaped he, said the lady, from the brethren of Persant? Madam, he said, as a noble knight should. First, he slew two brethren at a passage of a water. Ah! said she, they were good knights, but they were murderers, the one hight Gherard de Breusse, and that other knight hight Sir Arnold de Breusse. Then, madam, he recountered with the black knight, and slew him in plain battle, and so he took his horse and his armour and fought with the green knight, and wan him in plain battle, and in likewise he served the red knight, and after in the same wise he served the blue knight, and wan him in plain battle. Then, said 140the lady, he hath overcome Sir Persant of Inde, one of the noblest knights of the world. And the dwarf said, He hath won all the four brethren, and slain the black knight. And yet he did more tofore: he overthrew Sir Kay, and left him nigh dead upon the ground; also he did a great battle with Sir Launcelot, and there they departed on even hands: and then Sir Launcelot made him knight. Dwarf, said the lady, I am glad of these tidings, therefore go thou in an hermitage of mine here by, and there shalt thou bear with thee of my wine in two flaggons of silver, they are of two gallons, and also two cast of bread, with fat venison baked, and dainty fowls; and a cup of gold here I deliver thee, that is rich and precious, and bear all this to mine hermitage, and put it in the hermit’s hands. And then go thou unto my sister and greet her well, and command me unto that gentle knight, and pray him to eat and to drink, and make him strong; and say ye him I thank him of his courtesy and goodness, that he would take upon him such labour for me that never did him bounty nor courtesy. Also pray him that he be of good heart and good courage, for he shall meet with a full noble knight, but he is neither of bounty, courtesy, nor gentleness, for he attendeth unto no thing but to murder, and that is the cause I cannot praise him nor love him. So this dwarf departed and came to Sir Persant, where he found the damsel Linet and Sir Beaumains, and there he told them all as ye have heard, and then they took their leave; but Sir Persant took an ambling hackney and conveyed them on their ways and then beleft them to God. And so within a little while they came to that hermitage, and there they drank the wine, and eat the venison and the fowls baken.

And so when they had repasted them well, the dwarf returned again with his vessel unto the castle again, and there met with him the red knight of the red lawns, and asked him from whence that he came, and where he had been. Sir, said the dwarf, I have been with my lady’s sister of this castle, and she hath been at king Arthur’s court, and brought a knight with her. Then I account her travail but lost. For though she had brought with her Sir Launcelot, Sir Tristram, Sir Lamorak, or Sir Gawaine, I would think myself good enough for them all. It may well be, said the dwarf, but this knight hath passed all the perilous passages, and hath slain the black knight, and other two more, and won the green knight, the red knight, and the blue knight. Then is he one of these four that I have afore rehearsed. He is none of those, said the dwarf, but he is a king’s son. What is his name? said the red knight of the red lawn. That will I not tell you, said the dwarf, but Sir Kay upon scorn named him Beaumains. I care not, said the knight, what knight soever he be, for I shall soon deliver him; and if I ever match him he shall have a shameful death, as many other have had. That were pity, said the dwarf, and it is marvel that ye make such shameful war upon noble knights.

How the damsel and Beaumains came to the siege, and came to a sycamore tree, and there Beaumains blew a horn, and then the knight of the red lawns came to fight with him.

Now leave we the knight and the dwarf, and speak we of Beaumains, that all night lay in the hermitage, and upon the morn he and the damsel Linet heard their mass, and brake their fast. And then they took their horses and rode throughout a fair forest, and then they came to a plain, and saw where were many pavilions and tents, and a fair castle, and there was much smoke and great noise. And when they came near the siege Sir Beaumains espied upon great trees, as he rode, how there hung full goodly armed knights by the neck, and their shields about their necks with their swords, and gilt spurs upon their heels, and so there hung nigh a forty 141knights shamefully with full rich arms. Then Sir Beaumains abated his countenance, and said, What meaneth this? Fair Sir, said the damsel, abate not your cheer for all this sight, for ye must encourage yourself, or else ye be all shent, for all these knights came hither to this siege to rescue my sister dame Liones, and when the red knight of the red lawn had overcome them he put them to this shameful death, without mercy and pity. And in the same wise he will serve you but if ye quit you better. Now Jesu defend me, said Sir Beaumains, from such a villainous death and disgrace of arms, for rather than I should so be farewithal, I would rather be slain manly in plain battle. So were ye better, said the damsel; for trust not in him is no courtesy, but all goeth to the death or shameful murder; and that is pity, for he is a full likely man, well made of body, and a full noble knight of prowess, and a lord of great lands and possessions. Truly, said Beaumains, he may well be a good knight, but he useth shameful customs, and it is marvel that he endureth so long, that none of the noble knights of my lord Arthur have not dealt with him. And then they rode to the dikes, and saw them double diked with full warlike walls, and there were lodged many great lords nigh the walls, and there was great noise of minstrelsy, and the sea betid upon the one side of the walls, where were many ships and mariners’ noise, with ‘hale and how.’ And also, there was fast by a sycamore tree, and there hung a horn, the greatest that ever they saw, of an elephant’s bone, and this knight of the red lawn had hanged it up there, that if there came any errant knight he must blow that horn, and then will he make him ready, and come to him to do battle. But Sir, I pray you, said the damsel Linet, blow ye not the horn till it be high noon, for now it is about prime, and now encreaseth his might, that, as men say, he hath seven men’s strength. Ah, fie for shame, fair damsel, say ye never so more to me, for, and he were as good a knight as ever was, I shall never fail him in his most might, for either I will win worship worshipfully, or die knightly in the field. And therewith he spurred his horse straight to the sycamore tree, and blew so the horn eagerly that all the siege and the castle rang thereof. And then there lept out knights out of their tents and pavilions, and they within the castle looked over the walls and out at windows. Then the red knight of the red lawns armed him hastily, and two barons set on his spurs upon his heels, and all was blood-red, his armour, spear, and shield. And an earl buckled his helm upon his head, and then they brought him a red spear and a red steed, and so he rode into a little vale under the castle, that all that were in the castle and at the siege might behold the battle.

How the two knights met together, and of their talking, and how they began their battle.

Sir, said the damsel Linet unto Sir Beaumains, look ye be glad and light, for yonder is your deadly enemy, and at yonder window is my lady my sister, dame Liones. Where? said Beaumains. Yonder, said the damsel, and pointed with her finger. That is truth, said Beaumains. She beseemeth afar the fairest lady that ever I looked upon, and truly, he said, I ask no better quarrel than now for to do battle, for truly she shall be my lady, and for her I will fight. And ever he looked up to the window with glad countenance. And the lady Liones made courtesy to him down to the earth, with holding up both their hands. With that the red knight of the red lawns called to Sir Beaumains, Leave, sir knight, thy looking, and behold me, I counsel thee, for I warn thee well she is my lady, and for her I have done many strong battles. If thou have so done, said Beaumains, me seemeth it was but waste labour, for she loveth none of thy fellowship, and thou to love that loveth not thee, is but great folly. 142For and I understood that she were not glad of my coming I would be advised or I did battle for her. But I understand by the besieging of this castle, she may forbear thy fellowship. And therefore wit thou well, thou red knight of the red lawns, I love her, and will rescue her, or else to die. Sayest thou that, said the red knight, me seemeth thou ought of reason to beware by yonder knights that thou sawest hang upon yonder trees. Fie for shame, said Beaumains, that ever thou shouldest say or do so evil, for in that thou shamest thyself and knighthood, and thou mayest be sure there will no lady love thee that knoweth thy wicked customs. And now thou weenest that the sight of these hanged knights should fear me. Nay truly, not so, that shameful sight causeth me to have courage and hardiness against thee, more than I would have had against thee and thou were a well-ruled knight. Make thee ready, said the red knight of the red lawns, and talk no longer with me. Then Sir Beaumains bad the damsel go from him, and then they put their spears in their rests, and came together with all their might that they had both, and either smote other in the midst of their shields, that the breastplates, horsegirths, and cruppers brast, and fell to the earth both, and the reins of their bridles in their hands, and so they lay a great while sore astonied; and all they that were in the castle and in the siege wend their necks had been broken, and then many a stranger and other said the strange knight was a big man and a noble juster, for or now we saw never no knight match the red knight of the red lawns: thus they said, both within the castle and without. Then lightly they avoided their horses, and put their shields afore them, and drew their swords, and ran together like two fierce lions, and either gave other such buffets upon their helms that they reeled backward both two strides, and then they recovered both, and hewed great pieces of their harness and their shields, that a great part fell into the fields.

How after long fighting Beaumains overcame the knight and would have slain him, but at the request of the lords he saved his life, and made him to yield him to the lady.

And then thus they fought till it was past noon and never would stint till at last they lacked wind both, and then they stood wagging and scattering, panting, blowing and bleeding, that all that beheld them for the most part wept for pity. So when they had rested them a while they went to battle again, tracing, racing, foining, as two boars. And at sometime they took their run as it had been two rams, and hurtled together that sometime they fell groveling to the earth: and at sometime they were so amazed that either took other’s sword in stead of his own.

Thus they endured till even-song time, that there was none that beheld them might know whether was like to win the battle; and their armour was so far hewn that men might see their naked sides, and in other places they were naked, but ever the naked places they did defend. And the red knight was a wily knight of war, and his wily fighting taught Sir Beaumains to be wise; but he abought it full sore ere he did espy his fighting. And thus by assent of them both, they granted either other to rest; and so they set them down upon two mole-hills there beside the fighting place, and either of them unlaced his helm and took the cold wind, for either of their pages was fast by them, to come when they called to unlace their harness and to set them on again at their commandment. And then when Sir Beaumains’ helm was off he looked by to the window, and there he saw the fair lady dame Liones; and she made him such countenance that his heart waxed light and jolly; and therewith he bade the red knight of the red lawns make him ready, and let us do the battle to the utterance. I will well, said the knight. And then they laced up their helms, and their pages avoided, and 143they stept together and fought freshly. But the red knight of the red lawns awaited him, and at an overthwart smote him within the hand, that his sword fell out of his hand: and yet he gave him another buffet on the helm that he fell groveling to the earth, and the red knight fell over him for to hold him down. Then cried the maiden Linet on high, O Sir Beaumains, where is thy courage become! Alas, my lady my sister beholdeth thee, and she sobbeth and weepeth, that maketh mine heart heavy. When Sir Beaumains heard her say so, he started up with a great might and gat him upon his feet, and lightly he lept to his sword and griped it in his hand, and doubled his pace unto the red knight, and there they fought a new battle together. But Sir Beaumains then doubled his strokes, and smote so thick that he smote the sword out of his hand, and then he smote him upon the helm that he fell to the earth, and Sir Beaumains fell upon him, and unlaced his helm to have slain him; and then he yielded him and asked mercy, and said with a loud voice, O noble knight I yield me to thy mercy. Then Sir Beaumains bethought him upon the knights that he had made to be hanged shamefully, and then he said, I may not with my worship save thy life, for the shameful deaths thou hast caused many full good knights to die. Sir, said the red knight of the red lawns, hold your hand and ye shall know the causes why I put them to so shameful a death. Say on, said Sir Beaumains. Sir, I loved once a lady, a fair damsel, and she had her brother slain, and she said it was Sir Launcelot du Lake, or else Sir Gawaine, and she prayed me as that I loved her heartily that I would make her a promise by the faith of my knighthood, for to labour daily in arms until I met with one of them, and all that I might overcome I should put them unto a villainous death; and this is the cause that I have put all these knights to death, and so I ensured her to do all the villainy unto king Arthur’s knights, and that I should take vengeance upon all these knights. And, Sir, now I will thee tell that every day my strength encreaseth till noon, and all this time have I seven men’s strength.

How the knight yielded him, and how Beaumains made him to go unto king Arthur’s court, and to cry Sir Launcelot mercy.

Then came there many earls, and barons, and noble knights, and prayed that knight to save his life, and take him to your prisoner: and all they fell upon their knees and prayed him of mercy, and that he would save his life, and, Sir, they all said, it were fairer of him to take homage and fealty, and let him hold his lands of you, than for to slay him: by his death ye shall have none advantage, and his misdeeds that be done may not be undone; and therefore he shall make amends to all parties, and we all will become your men, and do you homage and fealty. Fair lords, said Beaumains, wit you well I am full loth to slay this knight, nevertheless he hath done passing ill and shamefully. But insomuch all that he did was at a lady’s request I blame him the less, and so for your sake I will release him, that he shall have his life upon this covenant, that he go within the castle and yield him there to the lady, and if she will forgive and quit him, I will well; with this that he make her amends of all the trespass he hath done against her and her lands. And also, when that is done, that ye go unto the court of king Arthur, and there that ye ask Sir Launcelot mercy, and Sir Gawaine, for the evil will ye have had against them. Sir, said the red knight of the red lawns, all this will I do as ye command, and certain assurance and sureties ye shall have. And so then when the assurance was made, he made his homage and fealty, and all those earls and barons with him. And then the maiden Linet came to Sir Beaumains and unarmed him, and searched his wounds, and stinted his blood, and in likewise she 144did to the red knight of the red lawns. And there they sojourned ten days in their tents, and the red knight made his lords and servants to do all the pleasure that they might unto Sir Beaumains. And so within a while the red knight of the red lawns went unto the castle and put him in the lady Liones’ grace, and so she received him upon sufficient surety; so all her hurts were well restored of all that she could complain. And then he departed unto the court of king Arthur, and there openly the red knight of the red lawns put him in the mercy of Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine, and there he told openly how he was overcome and by whom, and also he told all the battles from the beginning unto the ending. Mercy, said king Arthur and Sir Gawaine, we marvel much of what blood he is come, for he is a noble knight. Have ye no marvel, said Sir Launcelot, for ye shall right well wit that he is come of a full noble blood, and as for his might and hardiness there be but few now living that is so mighty as he is, and so noble of prowess. It seemeth by you, said king Arthur, that ye know his name, and from whence he is come, and of what blood he is. I suppose I do so, said Launcelot, or else I would not have given him the order of knighthood; but he gave me such charge at that time that I should never discover him until he required me, or else it be known openly by some other.

How Beaumains came to the lady, and when he came to the castle the gates were closed against him, and of the words that the lady said to him.

Now turn we unto Sir Beaumains, that desired of Linet that he might see her sister his lady. Sir, said she, I would fain ye saw her. Then Sir Beaumains all armed him, and took his horse and his spear, and rode straight unto the castle. And when he came to the gate he found there many men armed, and pulled up the drawbridge and drew the port close. Then marvelled he why they would not suffer him to enter. And then he looked up to the window; and there he saw the fair Liones, that said on high, Go thy way, Sir Beaumains, for as yet thou shalt not have wholly my love, unto the time that thou be called one of the number of the worthy knights. And therefore go labour in worship this twelvemonth, and then thou shalt hear new tidings. Alas, fair lady, said Beaumains, I have not deserved that ye should shew me this strangeness, and I had wend that I should have right good cheer with you, and unto my power I have deserved thank, and well I am sure I have bought your love with part of the best blood within my body. Fair courteous knight, said dame Liones, be not displeased nor over hasty; for wit ye well your great travail nor good love shall not be lost, for I consider your great travail and labour, your bounty and your goodness, as me ought to do. And therefore go on your way, and look that ye be of good comfort, for all shall be for your worship and for the best, and perdy a twelvemonth will soon be done, and trust me, fair knight, I shall be true to you, and never to betray you, but to my death I shall love you and none other. And therewithal she turned her from the window; and Sir Beaumains rode away ward from the castle, making great dole, and so he rode here and there, and wist not where he rode, till it was dark night. And then it happened him to come to a poor man’s house, and there he was harboured all that night. But Sir Beaumains had no rest, but wallowed and writhed for the love of the lady of the castle. And so upon the morrow he took his horse, and rode until underne, and then he came to a broad water, and thereby was a great lodge, and there he alight to sleep, and laid his head upon the shield, and betook his horse to the dwarf, and commanded him to watch all night. Now turn we to the lady of the same castle that thought much upon Beaumains, and then she called unto her Sir Gringamore her brother, and prayed him in all 145manner, as he loved her heartily, that he would ride after Sir Beaumains, and ever have ye wait upon him till ye may find him sleeping, for I am sure in his heaviness he will alight down in some place and lay him down to sleep: and therefore have ye your wait upon him, and in the priviest manner ye can, take his dwarf, and go ye your way with him as fast as ever ye may or Sir Beaumains awake. For my sister Linet telleth me that he can tell of what kindred he is come, and what is his right name. And the mean while I and my sister will ride unto your castle to await when ye bring with you the dwarf. And then when ye have brought him unto your castle I will have him in examination myself: unto the time I know what is his right name and of what kindred he is come, shall I never be merry at my heart. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, all this shall be done after your intent. And so he rode all the other day and the night till that he found Sir Beaumains lying by a water, and his head upon his shield, for to sleep. And then when he saw Sir Beaumains fast on sleep, he came stilly stalking behind the dwarf, and plucked him fast under his arm, and so he rode away with him as fast as ever he might unto his own castle. And this Sir Gringamore’s arms were all black, and that to him belonged. But ever as he rode with the dwarf toward his castle, he cried unto his lord and prayed him of help. And therewith awoke Sir Beaumains, and up he lept lightly, and saw where Sir Gringamore rode his way with the dwarf, and so Sir Gringamore rode out of his sight.

How Sir Beaumains rode after to rescue his dwarf, and came into the castle where he was.

Then Sir Beaumains put on his helm anon, and buckled his shield, and took his horse and rode after him all that ever he might ride, through marshes and fields and great dales, that many times his horse and he plunged over the head in deep mires, for he knew not the way, but took the gainest way in that fury, that many times he was like to perish. And at the last him happened to come to a fair green way, and there he met with a poor man of the country whom he saluted, and asked him whether he met not with a knight upon a black horse and all black harness, and a little dwarf sitting behind him with heavy cheer. Sir, said this poor man, here by me came Sir Gringamore the knight, with such a dwarf mourning as ye say, and therefore I counsel you not follow him, for he is one of the most perilous knights of the world, and his castle is here nigh hand but two mile, therefore we advise you ride not after Sir Gringamore, but if ye owe him good will.

So leave we Sir Beaumains riding toward the castle, and speak we of Sir Gringamore and the dwarf. Anon as the dwarf was come to the castle, dame Liones and dame Linet her sister, asked the dwarf where was his master born, and of what lineage he was come? And but if thou tell me, said dame Liones, thou shalt never escape this castle, but ever here to be prisoner. As for that, said the dwarf, I fear not greatly to tell his name, and of what kin he is come. Wit ye well he is a king’s son, and his mother is sister to king Arthur, and he is brother to the good knight Sir Gawaine, and his name is Sir Gareth of Orkney. And now I have told you his right name, I pray you, fair lady, let me go to my lord again, for he will never out of this country until that he have me again. And if he be angry he will do much harm or that he be stint, and work you wrack in this country. As for that threatening, said Sir Gringamore, be it as it be may, we will go to dinner. And so they washed and went to meat, and made them merry and well at ease, and because the lady Liones of the castle was there they made great joy. Truly madam, said Linet unto her sister, well may he be a king’s son, for he hath many good taches on him, for he is courteous and mild, and the most suffering 146man that ever I met withall. For I dare say there was never gentlewoman reviled man in so foul manner as I have rebuked him; and at all times he gave me goodly and meek answers again. And as they sat thus talking, there came Sir Gareth in at the gate with an angry countenance, and his sword drawn in his hand, and cried aloud that all the castle might hear it, saying, Thou traitor Sir Gringamore, deliver me my dwarf again, or by the faith that I owe to the order of knighthood, I shall do thee all the harm that I can. Then Sir Gringamore looked out at a window and said, Sir Gareth of Orkney, leave thy boasting words, for thou gettest not thy dwarf again. Thou coward knight, said Sir Gareth, bring him with thee, and come and do battle with me, and win him and take him. So will I do, said Sir Gringamore, and me list, but for all thy great words thou gettest him not. Ah! fair brother, said dame Liones, I would he had his dwarf again, for I would he were not wroth, for now he hath told me all my desire I keep no more of the dwarf. And also, brother, he hath done much for me, and delivered me from the red knight of the red lawns, and therefore, brother, I owe him my service afore all knights living. And wit ye well that I love him before all other, and full fain I would speak with him. But in no wise I would that he wist what I were, but that I were another strange lady. Well, said Sir Gringamore, since I know now your will, I will obey now unto him. And right therewithall he went down unto Sir Gareth, and said, Sir, I cry you mercy, and all that I have misdone I will amend it at your will. And therefore I pray you that ye would alight, and take such cheer as I can make you in this castle. Shall I have my dwarf? said Sir Gareth. Yea, sir, and all the pleasure that I can make you; for as soon as your dwarf told me what ye were, and of what blood ye are come, and what noble deeds ye have done in these marches, then I repented of my deeds. And then Sir Gareth alight, and there came his dwarf and took his horse. O my fellow, said Sir Gareth, I have had many adventures for thy sake. And so Sir Gringamore took him by the hand, and led him into the hall where his own wife was.

How Sir Gareth, otherwise called Beaumains, came to the presence of his lady, and how they took acquaintance, and of their love.

And then came forth dame Liones arrayed like a princess, and there she made him passing good cheer, and he her again. And they had goodly language and lovely countenance together. And Sir Gareth thought many times, Would that the lady of the castle perilous were so fair as she was. There were all manner of games and plays of dancing and singing. And ever the more Sir Gareth beheld that lady, the more he loved her, and so he burned in love that he was past himself in his reason. And forth toward night they went unto supper, and Sir Gareth might not eat for his love was so hot, that he wist not where he was. All these looks espied Sir Gringamore, and then after supper he called his sister dame Liones unto a chamber and said, Fair sister, I have well espied your countenance between you and this knight, and I will, sister, that ye wit he is a full noble knight, and if ye can make him to abide here I will do to him all the pleasure that I can, for and ye were better than ye are, ye were well bestowed upon him. Fair brother, said dame Liones, I understand well that the knight is good, and come he is of a noble house. Notwithstanding I will assay him better, how be it I am most beholding to him of any earthly man, for he hath had great labour for my love, and passed many a dangerous passage. Right so Sir Gringamore went unto Sir Gareth and said, Sir, make ye good cheer, for ye shall have none other cause, for this lady my sister is yours at all times, her worship saved, for wit ye well she loveth you as well as ye do 147her, and better if better may be. And I wist that, said Sir Gareth, there lived not a gladder man than I would be. Upon my worship, said Sir Gringamore, trust unto my promise; and as long as it liketh you ye shall sojourn with me, and this lady shall be with us daily and nightly to make you all the cheer that she can. I will well, said Sir Gareth, for I have promised to be nigh this country this twelvemonth. And well I am sure king Arthur and other noble knights will find me where that I am within this twelvemonth. For I shall be sought and found, if that I be on live. And then the noble knight Sir Gareth went unto the dame Liones, which he then much loved, and kissed her many times, and either made great joy of other. And there she promised him her love, certainly to love him and none other the days of her life. Then this lady, dame Liones, by the assent of her brother, told Sir Gareth all the truth what she was, and how she was the same lady that he did battle for, and how she was lady of the castle perilous. And there she told him how she caused her brother to take away his dwarf.

How, at night, came an armed knight and fought with Sir Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the knight’s head.

For this cause, to know the certainty what was your name, and of what kin ye were come. And then she let fetch before him Linet the damsel, which had ridden with him many dreary ways. Then was Sir Gareth more gladder than he was tofore. And then they troth plight each other to love, and never to fail while their life lasted. And at after supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady should go unto his rest. But Sir Gareth said plainly that he would go no further than the hall, for in such places, he said, was convenient for an errant knight to take his rest in. And so there were ordained great couches, and thereon feather beds, and there laid him down to sleep. And within awhile he looked afore him and perceived and saw come an armed knight, with many lights about him. And this knight had a long battle-axe in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him. When Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he lept out of his bed, and gat in his hand his sword, and lept straight toward that knight. And when the knight saw Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon him, he smote him with a thrust through the thick of the thigh, that the wound was a shaftmon broad, and had cut a-two many veins and sinews. And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the helm such a buffet that he fell groveling, and then he lept over him, and unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from the body. And then he bled so fast that he might not stand, but so he laid him down upon his bed, and there he swooned, and lay as he had been dead. Then dame Liones found him, and cried aloud, that her brother Sir Gringamore heard and came down. And when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully wounded, he was sore displeased, and said, I am shamed that this noble knight is thus honoured. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, How may this be that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded? Brother, said dame Liones, I cannot tell you, for it was not done by me, nor by mine assent. For he is my lord, and I am his, and he must be my husband, therefore, brother, I will that ye wit I shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the pleasure that I can. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will that ye wit it, and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by me nor by mine assent that this unhappy deed was done. And there they stanched his bleeding as well as they might. And great sorrow made Sir Gringamore and dame Liones. And forthwithal came dame Linet and took up the head in the sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment there as it was smitten off, and in the same wise she did to the other part there as the head stuck, and 148then she set it together, and it stuck as fast as ever it did. And the knight arose lightly up, and the damsel Linet put him in her chamber. All this saw Sir Gringamore and dame Liones, and so did Sir Gareth, and well he espied that it was the damsel Linet that rode with him through the perilous passages. Ah well, damsel, said Sir Gareth, I wend ye would not have done as ye have done. My lord Gareth, said the damsel Linet, all that I have done I will avow, and all that I have done shall be for your honour and worship, and to us all. And so within a while, Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and jocund, and sang, danced, and gamed. And at night, because he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his sword nigh his bed side.

How the said knight came again the next night, and was beheaded again. And how at the feast of Pentecost all the knights that Sir Gareth had overcome came and yielded them to king Arthur.

Right as soon as Sir Gareth was in his bed he espied an armed knight coming toward the bed, and therewith he leaped lightly out, and they hurtled together with great ire and malice all about the hall, and there was great light as it had been the number of twenty torches both before and behind, so that Sir Gareth strained him so that his old wound burst out again bleeding, but he was hot and courageous, and took no keep, but with his great force he struck down that knight, and voided his helm and struck off his head. Then he hewed the head in an hundred pieces. And when he had done so, he took up all those pieces and threw them out at a window into the ditches of the castle; and by this done he was so faint that scarcely he might stand for bleeding. And then he fell in a deadly swoon in the floor. And then dame Liones found him, and cried so that Sir Gringamore heard. And when he came and found Sir Gareth in that plight, he made great sorrow, and there he awaked Sir Gareth, and gave him a drink that relieved him wonderly well, but the sorrow that dame Liones made there may no tongue tell, for she so fared with herself as she would have died. Right so came this damsel Linet before them all, and she had fetched all the gobbets of the head that Sir Gareth had thrown out at a window, and there she anointed them as she had done tofore, and set them together again. Well, damsel Linet, said Sir Gareth, I have not deserved all this despite that ye do unto me. Sir knight, she said, I have nothing done but I will avow, and all that I have done shall be to your worship and to us all. And then was Sir Gareth stanched of his bleeding. But the leeches said that there was no man that bare the life should heal him throughout of his wound, but if they healed him that caused that stroke by enchantment.

So leave we Sir Gareth there with Sir Gringamore and his sisters, and turn we unto king Arthur, that at the next feast of Pentecost held his feast, and there came the green knight with fifty knights, and yielded them all unto king Arthur. And so there came the red knight, his brother, and yielded him to king Arthur, and threescore knights with him. Also there came the blue knight, brother to them, with an hundred knights, and yielded them unto king Arthur. And the green knight’s name was Pertolepe, and the red knight’s name was Perimones, and the blue knight’s name was Sir Persant of Inde. These three brethren told king Arthur how they were overcome by a knight that a damsel had with her, and called him Beaumains. By my faith, said the king, I marvel what knight he is, and of what lineage he is come; he was with me a twelvemonth, and poorly and shamefully he was fostered, and Sir Kay in scorn named him Beaumains. So right as the king stood so talking with these three brethren there came Sir Launcelot du Lake, and told the king that there was come a goodly lord with six hundred knights with him. Then the king went out of Carlion, for 149there was the least, and there came to him this lord, and saluted the king in a goodly manner. What will ye? said king Arthur, and what is your errand? Sir, he said, my name is the red knight of the red lawns, but my name is Sir Ironside, and, sir, wit ye well here I am sent to you of a knight that is called Beaumains, for he won me in plain battle, hand for hand, and so did never no knight but he that ever had the better of me this thirty winter, the which commanded to yield me to you at your will. Ye are welcome, said the king, for ye have been long a great foe to me and to my court, and now I trust I shall so entreat you that ye shall be my friend. Sir, both I and these six hundred knights shall always be at your summons to do you service as may lie in our powers. Truly, said king Arthur, I am much beholding unto that knight that hath so put his body in devoir to worship me and my court. And as to thee, Ironside, that art called the red knight of the red lawns, thou art called a perilous knight. And if thou wilt hold of me I shall worship thee and make thee knight of the Table Round: but then thou must be no more a murderer. Sir, as to that I have promised unto Sir Beaumains never more to use such customs, for all the shameful customs that I used I did at the request of a lady that I loved; and therefore I must go unto Sir Launcelot, and unto Sir Gawaine, and ask them forgiveness of the evil will I had unto them, for all that I put to death was all only for the love of Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine. They be here now, said the king, afore thee, now may ye say to them what ye will. And then he kneeled down unto Sir Launcelot and to Sir Gawaine, and prayed them of forgiveness of his enmity that ever he had against them.

How king Arthur pardoned them, and demanded of them where Sir Gareth was.

Then goodly they said all at once, God forgive you, and we do, and pray you that ye will tell us where we may find Sir Beaumains. Fair lords, said Sir Ironside, I cannot tell you, for it is full hard to find him, for all such young knights as he is one, when they be in their adventures be never abiding in one place. But to say the worship that the red knight of the red lawns and Sir Persant and his brothers said of Beaumains it was marvel to hear. Well, my fair lords, said king Arthur, wit you well I shall do you honour for the love of Sir Beaumains, and as soon as ever I meet with him I shall make you all upon one day knights of the Table Round. And as to thee, Sir Persant of Inde, thou hast ever been called a full noble knight, and so have ever been thy three brethren called. But I marvel, said the king, that I hear not of the black knight your brother, he was a full noble knight. Sir, said Pertolepe the green knight, Sir Beaumains slew him in a recounter with his spear, his name was Sir Percard. That was great pity, said the king, and so said many knights. For these four brethren were full well known in the court of king Arthur for noble knights, for long time they had holden war against the knights of the Table Round. Then said Pertolepe the green knight unto the king: At a passage of the water of Mortaise there encountered Sir Beaumains with two brethren that ever for the most part kept that passage, and they were two deadly knights, and there he slew the eldest brother in the water, and smote him upon the head such a buffet that he fell down in the water and there he was drowned, and his name was Gherard le Breusse: and after he slew the other brother upon the land, and his name was Sir Arnold le Breusse.

How the queen of Orkney came to this feast of Pentecost, and Sir Gawaine and his brethren came to ask her blessing.

So then the king and they went to meat, and were served in the best manner. And as they sat at the meat, there 150came in the queen of Orkney, with ladies and knights a great number. And then Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine and Gaheris arose and went to her, and saluted her upon their knees and asked her blessing: for in fifteen year they had not seen her. Then she spake on high to her brother king Arthur: Where have ye done my young son Sir Gareth. He was here amongst you a twelvemonth, and ye made a kitchen knave of him, the which is shame to you all. Alas, where have ye done my dear son that was my joy and bliss? Oh dear mother, said Sir Gawaine, I knew him not. Nor I, said the king, that now me repenteth, but thanked be God he is proved a worshipful knight as any is now living of his years, and I shall never be glad till I may find him. Ah brother, said the queen unto king Arthur, and to Sir Gawaine, and to all her sons, ye did yourself great shame when ye amongst you kept my son Gareth in the kitchen and fed him like a poor hog. Fair sister, said king Arthur, ye shall right well wit I knew him not, nor no more did Sir Gawaine nor his brethren. But since it is so that he is thus gone from us all, we must shape a remedy to find him. Also, sister, me seemeth ye might have done me to wit of his coming, and then, and I had not done well to him, ye might have blamed me. For when he came to this court he came leaning upon two men’s shoulders, as though he might not have gone. And then he asked me three gifts, and one he asked the same day, that was that I would give him meat enough that twelvemonth. And the other two gifts he asked that day a twelvemonth, and that was that he might have the adventure of the damsel Linet, and the third was that Sir Launcelot should make him knight when he desired him. And so I granted him all his desire, and many in this court marvelled that he desired his sustenance for a twelvemonth, and thereby we deemed many of us that he was not come of a noble house. Sir, said the queen of Orkney unto king Arthur her brother, wit you well that I sent him unto you right well armed and horsed, and worshipfully beseen of his body, and gold and silver plenty to spend. It may be, said the king, but thereof saw we none, save that same day as he departed from us, knights told me that there came a dwarf hither suddenly, and brought him armour and a good horse, full well and richly beseen, and thereat we had all marvel from whence that riches came, that we deemed all that he was come of men of worship. Brother, said the queen, all that ye say I believe, for ever since he was grown he was marvellously witted: and ever he was faithful and true of his promise. But I marvel, said she, that Sir Kay did mock him and scorn him, and gave him that name Beaumains: yet Sir Kay, said the queen, named him more righteously than he wend; for I dare say, and he be on live, he is as fair an handed man and well disposed as any is living. Sister, said Arthur, let this language be still, and by the grace of God he shall be found and he be within these seven realms, and let all this pass, and be merry, for he is proved to be a man of worship, and that is my joy.

How king Arthur sent for the lady Liones, and how she let cry a tourney at her castle, where as came many knights.

Then said Sir Gawaine and his brethren unto Arthur, Sir, and ye will give us leave we will go and seek our brother. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, that shall ye not need, and so said Sir Baudwin of Britain: for as by our advice the king shall send unto dame Liones a messager, and pray her that she will come to the court in all the haste that she may, and doubt ye not she will come, and then she may give you best counsel where ye shall find him. This is well said of you, said the king. So then goodly letters were made, and the messager sent forth, that night and day he went till he came unto the castle perilous. And then the lady dame Liones was sent for there as she 151was with Sir Gringamore her brother and Sir Gareth. And when she understood this message, she bad him ride on his way unto king Arthur, and she would come after in all goodly haste. Then when she came to Sir Gringamore and to Sir Gareth, she told them all how king Arthur had sent for her. That is because of me, said Sir Gareth. Now advise me, said dame Liones, what shall I say, and in what manner I shall rule me. My lady and my love, said Sir Gareth, I pray you in no manner of wise be ye aknown where I am, but well I wot my mother is there and all my brethren, and they will take upon them to seek me; and I wot well that they do. But this, madam, I would ye said and advised the king, when he questioneth with you of me: then may ye say, this is your advice, that, and it like his good grace, ye will do make a cry against the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, that what knight there proveth him best, he shall weld you and all your land. And if so be that he be a wedded man, that his wife shall have the degree and a coronal of gold, beset with stones of virtue to the value of a thousand pound, and a white jerfalcon.

So dame Liones departed and came to king Arthur, where she was nobly received, and there she was sore questioned of the king, and of the queen of Orkney. And she answered, where Sir Gareth was she could not tell. But thus much she said unto Arthur; Sir, I will let cry a tournament, that shall be done before my castle at the Assumption of our Lady, and the cry shall be this, that you my lord Arthur shall be there and your knights, and I will purvey that my knights shall be against yours: and then I am sure ye shall hear of Sir Gareth. This is well advised, said king Arthur: and so she departed. And the king and she made great provision for that tournament. When dame Liones was come to the Isle of Avilion, that was the same isle there as her brother Sir Gringamore dwelt, then she told him all how she had done, and what promise she had made to king Arthur. Alas, said Sir Gareth, I have been so wounded by mishap sithen I came into this castle, that I shall not be able to do at that tournament like a knight, for I was never thoroughly whole since I was hurt. Be ye of good cheer, said the damsel Linet, for I undertake within these fifteen days for to make you whole, and as lusty as ever ye were. And then she laid an ointment and a salve to him as it pleased her, that he was never so fresh nor so lusty. Then said the damsel Linet: Send you unto Sir Persant of Inde, and summon him and his knights to be here with you as they have promised. Also, that ye send unto Sir Ironside, that is the red knight of the red lawns, and charge him that he be ready with you with his whole sum of knights, and then shall ye be able to match with king Arthur and his knights. So this was done, and all knights were sent for unto the castle perilous. And then the red knight answered and said unto dame Liones, and to Sir Gareth, Madam, and my lord Sir Gareth, ye shall understand that I have been at the court of king Arthur, and Sir Persant of Inde and his brethren, and there we have done our homage as ye commanded us. Also, Sir Ironside said, I have taken upon me with Sir Persant of Inde and his brethren to hold party against my lord Sir Launcelot and the knights of that court. And this have I done for the love of my lady dame Liones, and you my lord Sir Gareth. Ye have well done, said Sir Gareth. But wit you well ye shall be full sore matched with the most noble knights of the world, therefore we must purvey us of good knights, where we may get them. That is well said, said Sir Persant, and worshipfully. And so the cry was made in England, Wales, and Scotland, Ireland, and Cornwall, and in all the out isles, and in Britany, and in many countries; that at the feast of the Assumption of our Lady next coming, men should come to the castle perilous, beside the Isle of 152Avilion, and there all the knights that there came should have the choice whether them list to be on the one party with the knights of the castle, or on the other party with king Arthur. And two months was to the day that the tournament should be. And so there came many good knights that were at large, and held them for the most part against king Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, and came on the side of them of the castle. For Sir Epinogrus was the first, and he was the king’s son of Northumberland, and Sir Palamides the Saracen was another, and Sir Safere his brother, and Sir Sagwarides his brother, but they were christened, and Sir Malegrine another, and Sir Brian de les Isles, a noble knight, and Sir Grummore Gummursum, a good knight of Scotland, and Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, a noble knight, and Sir Turquin his brother, and Sir Arnold and Sir Gauter, two brethren, good knights of Cornwall: there came Sir Tristram de Liones, and with him Sir Dinadan the seneschal and Sir Sadok; but this Sir Tristram was not at that time knight of the Table Round, but he was one of the best knights of the world. And so all these noble knights accompanied them with the lady of the castle, and with the red knight of the red lawns, but as for Sir Gareth, he would not take upon him more but as other mean knights.

How king Arthur went to the tournament with his knights, and how the lady received him worshipfully, and how the knights encountered.

And then there came with king Arthur Sir Gawaine, Agravaine and Gaheris, his brethren. And then his nephews Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, and Sir Aglovale, Sir Tor, Sir Percivale de Galis, and Sir Lamorak de Galis. Then came Sir Launcelot du Lake with his brethren, nephews, and cousins, as Sir Lionel, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Galihodin, Sir Galihud, and many more of Sir Launcelot’s blood; and Sir Dinadan, Sir La Cote Male Taile his brother, a good knight, and Sir Sagramore, a good knight; and all the most part of the Round Table. Also there came with king Arthur these knights, the king of Ireland, king Agwisaunce, and the king of Scotland, king Carados, and king Uriens of the land of Gore, and king Bagdemagus, and his son Sir Meliaganus, and Sir Galahault the noble prince. All these kings, princes, earls, barons, and other noble knights, as Sir Brandiles, Sir Uwaine les Avoutres, and Sir Kay, Sir Bedivere, Sir Meliot de Logris, Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, Sir Godelake. All these came with king Arthur, and many more that cannot be rehearsed.

Now leave we of these kings and knights, and let us speak of the great array that was made within the castle and about the castle for both parties. The lady dame Liones ordained great array upon her part for her noble knights, for all manner of lodging and victual that came by land and by water, that there lacked nothing for her party, nor for the other, but there was plenty to be had for gold and silver for king Arthur and his knights. And then there came the harbingers from king Arthur, for to harbour him and his kings, dukes, earls, barons, and knights. And then Sir Gareth prayed dame Liones, and the red knight of the red lawns, and Sir Persant and his brother, and Sir Gringamore, that in no wise there should none of them tell his name, and make no more of him than of the least knight that there was; for he said, I will not be known of neither more nor less, neither at the beginning neither at the ending.

Then dame Liones said unto Sir Gareth, Sir, I will lend you a ring, but I would pray you as ye love me heartily let me have it again when the tournament is done, for that ring increaseth my beauty much more than it is of itself. And the virtue of my ring is that that is green it will turn to red, and that is red it will turn in likeness to green, and that is blue it will turn to likeness of white, 153and that is white it will turn in likeness to blue, and so it will do of all manner of colours. Also, who that beareth my ring shall lose no blood, and for great love I will give you this ring. Gramercy, said Sir Gareth, mine own lady, for this ring is passing meet for me, for it will turn all manner of likeness that I am in, and that shall cause me that I shall not be known. Then Sir Gringamore gave Sir Gareth a bay courser that was a passing good horse: also he gave him good armour and sure, and a noble sword that some time Sir Gringamore’s father won upon an heathen tyrant. And so thus every knight made him ready to that tournament. And king Arthur was come two days tofore the Assumption of our Lady. And there was all manner of royalty of all minstrelsy that might be found. Also there came queen Guenever, and the queen of Orkney, Sir Gareth’s mother. And upon the Assumption day, when mass and matins was done, there were heralds with trumpets commanded to blow to the field. And so there came out Sir Epinogrus, the king’s son of Northumberland, from the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and either of them brake their spears to their hands. And then came in Sir Palamides out of the castle, and there encountered with him Gawaine, and either of them smote other so hard that both the good knights and their horses fell to the earth. And then knights of either party rescued their knights. And then came in Sir Safere and Sir Sagwarides, brethren unto Sir Palamides, and there encountered Sir Agravaine with Sir Safere, and Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Sagwarides. So Sir Safere smote down Agravaine, Sir Gawaine’s brother, and Sir Segwarides, Sir Safere’s brother, smote down Sir Gaheris. And Sir Malgrine, a knight of the castle, encountered with Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, and there Sir Uwaine gave Sir Malgrine a fall, that he had almost broken his neck.

How the knights bare them in battle.

Then Sir Brian de les Isles, and Grummore Grummorsum, knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Aglovale and Sir Tor, and Sir Tor smote down Sir Grummore Grummorsum to the earth. Then came in Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, and Sir Turquine, knights of the castle, and there encountered with them Sir Percivale de Galis and Sir Lamorak de Galis, that were two brethren, and there encountered Sir Percivale with Sir Carados, and either brake their spears unto their hands, and then Sir Turquine with Sir Lamorak, and either of them smote down other, horse and all, to the earth, and either parties rescued other and horsed them again. And Sir Arnold, and Sir Gauter, knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Brandiles and Sir Kay, and these four knights encountered mightily, and brake their spears to their hands. Then came in Sir Tristram, and Sir Saduk, and Sir Dinas, knights of the castle, and there encountered Sir Tristram with Sir Bedivere, and there Sir Bedivere was smitten to the earth, both horse and man: and Sir Saduk encountered with Sir Petipase, and there Sir Saduk was overthrown. And there Uwaine les Avoutres smote down Sir Dinas the seneschal. Then came in Sir Persant of Inde, a knight of the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Launcelot du Lake, and there he smote Sir Persant, horse and man, to the earth. Then came Sir Pertolope from the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Lionel, and there Sir Pertolope the green knight smote down Sir Lionel, brother to Sir Launcelot. All this as marked by noble heralds, who bare him best, and their names. And then came into the field Sir Perimones the red knight, Sir Persant’s brother, that was a knight of the castle, and he encountered with Sir Ector de Maris, and either smote other so hard that both their horses and they fell to the earth. And then came in the red knight of the red lawns, and Sir Gareth, from the castle, 154and there encountered with them Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Bleoberis, and there the red knight and Sir Bors smote other so hard that their spears brast, and their horses fell groveling to the earth. Then Sir Bleoberis brake his spear upon Sir Gareth, but of that stroke Sir Bleoberis fell to the earth. When Sir Galihodin saw that, he bad Sir Gareth keep him, and Sir Gareth smote him to the earth. Then Sir Galihud gat a spear to avenge his brother, and in the same wise Sir Gareth served him, and Sir Dinadan and his brother La Cote Male Taile, and Sir Sagramor le Desirous, and Sir Dodinas le Savage; all these he bare down with one spear. When king Agwisance of Ireland saw Sir Gareth fare so he marvelled what he might be, that one time seemed green, and another time, at his again coming, he seemed blue. And thus at every course that he rode to and fro he changed his colour, so that there might neither king nor knight have ready cognisance of him. Then Sir Agwisance the king of Ireland encountered with Sir Gareth, and there Sir Gareth smote him from his horse, saddle and all. And then came king Carados of Scotland, and Sir Gareth smote him down, horse and man. And in the same wise he served king Uriens of the land of Gore. And then there came in Sir Bagdemagus, and Sir Gareth smote him down horse and man to the earth. And Bagdemagus’s son Meliganus brake a spear upon Sir Gareth mightily and knightly. And then Sir Galahault the noble prince cried on high, Knight with the many colours, well hast thou justed; now make thee ready that I may just with thee. Sir Gareth heard him, and he gat a great spear, and so they encountered together, and there the prince brake his spear: but Sir Gareth smote him upon the left side of the helm, that he reeled here and there, and he had fallen down had not his men recovered him. Truly, said king Arthur, that knight with the many colours is a good knight. Wherefore the king called unto him Sir Launcelot, and prayed him to encounter with that knight. Sir, said Launcelot, I may well find in my heart for to forbear him as at this time, for he hath had travail enough this day, and when a good knight doth so well upon some day, it is no good knight’s part to let him of his worship, and, namely, when he seeth a knight hath done so great labour: for peradventure, said Sir Launcelot, his quarrel is here this day, and peradventure he is best beloved with this lady of all that be here, for I see well he paineth himself and enforceth him to do great deeds, and therefore, said Sir Launcelot, as for me, this day he shall have the honour; though it lay in my power to put him from it, I would not.

Yet of the said Tournament.

Then when this was done, there was drawing of swords; and then there began a sore tournament. And there did Sir Lamorak marvellous deeds of arms, and betwixt Sir Lamorak and Sir Ironside, that was the red knight of the red lawns, there was a strong battle, and betwixt Sir Palamides and Bleoberis was a strong battle; and Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram met, and there Sir Gawaine had the worst, for he pulled Sir Gawaine from his horse, and there he was long upon foot and defouled. Then came in Sir Launcelot, and he smote Sir Turquine, and he him, and then came Sir Carados his brother, and both at once they assailed him, and he, as the most noblest knight of the world, worshipfully fought with them both, that all men wondered of the nobleness of Sir Launcelot. And then came in Sir Gareth and knew that it was Sir Launcelot that fought with those two perilous knights. And then Sir Gareth came with his good horse and hurtled them in sunder, and no stroke would he smite to Sir Launcelot. That espied Sir Launcelot, and deemed it should be the good knight Sir Gareth; and then Sir Gareth rode here and there, and smote on the right hand and on the 155left hand, that all the folk might well espy where that he rode. And by fortune he met with his brother Sir Gawaine, and there he put Sir Gawaine to the worse, for he put off his helm; and so he served five or six knights of the Round Table, that all men said he put him in the most pain, and best he did his devoir. For when Sir Tristram beheld him how he first justed and after fought so well with a sword, then he rode unto Sir Ironside and to Sir Persant of Inde, and asked them by their faith, What manner a knight is yonder knight that seemeth in so many divers colours; truly, me seemeth, said Tristram, that he putteth himself in great pain, for he never ceaseth. Wot ye not what he is? said Sir Ironside. No, said Sir Tristram. Then shall ye know that this is he that loveth the lady of the castle, and she him again; and this is he that won me when I besieged the lady of this castle, and this is he that won Sir Persant of Inde and his three brethren. What is his name, said Sir Tristram, and of what blood is he come? He was called in the court of king Arthur Beaumains, but his name is Sir Gareth of Orkney, brother to Sir Gawaine. By my head, said Sir Tristram, he is a good knight, and a big man of arms, and if he be young he shall prove a full noble knight. He is but a child, they all said; and of Sir Launcelot he was made knight. Therefore he is mickle the better, said Tristram. And then Sir Tristram, Sir Ironside, Sir Persant, and his brother, rode together for to help Sir Gareth, and then there were given many strong strokes. And then Sir Gareth rode out on the one side to amend his helm. And then said his dwarf, Take me your ring, that ye lose it not while that ye drink. And so when he had drunk, he gat on his helm, and eagerly took his horse and rode into the field, and left his ring with his dwarf, and the dwarf was glad the ring was from him, for then he wist well he should be known. And then when Sir Gareth was in the field, all folks saw him well and plainly that he was in yellow colours, and there he rashed off helms, and pulled down knights, that king Arthur had marvel what knight he was, for the king saw by his hair that it was the same knight.

How Sir Gareth was espied by the heralds, and how he escaped out of the field.

But before he was in so many colours, and now he is but in one colour, that is yellow: now go, said king Arthur unto divers heralds, and ride about him, and espy what manner knight he is, for I have asked of many knights this day that be upon his party, and all say they know him not. And so an herald rode nigh Gareth as he could, and there he saw written about his helm in gold, This helm is Sir Gareth’s of Orkney. Then the herald cried as he were wood, and many heralds with him, This is Sir Gareth of Orkney, in the yellow arms, that all kings and knights of Arthur’s beheld him and awaited, and then they pressed all to behold him: and ever the heralds cried, This is Sir Gareth of Orkney, king Lot’s son. And when Sir Gareth espied that he was discovered, then he doubled his strokes, and smote down Sir Sagramore, and his brother Sir Gawaine. O brother, said Sir Gawaine, I wend ye would not have stricken me. So when he heard him say so, he thrang here and there, and so with great pain he gat out of the press, and there he met with his dwarf. O boy, said Sir Gareth, thou hast beguiled me foul this day that thou kept my ring. Give it me anon again, that I may hide my body withal; and so he took it him. And then they all wist not where he was become; and Sir Gawaine had in manner espied where Sir Gareth rode, and then he rode after with all his might. That espied Sir Gareth, and rode lightly into the forest, that Sir Gawaine wist not where he was become. And when Sir Gareth wist that Sir Gawaine was past, he asked the dwarf of best counsel. Sir, said the dwarf, me seemeth it were best, now that ye are 156escaped from spying, that ye send my lady dame Liones her ring. It is well advised, said Sir Gareth; now have it here, and bear it to her, and say that I recommend me unto her good grace, and say her I will come when I may, and I pray her to be true and faithful to me, as I will be to her. Sir, said the dwarf, it shall be done as ye command: and so he rode his way, and did his errand unto the lady. Then she said, Where is my knight Sir Gareth? Madam, said the dwarf, he bad me say that he would not be long from you. And so lightly the dwarf came again unto Sir Gareth, that would fain have had a lodging, for he had need to be reposed. And then fell there a thunder and a rain, as heaven and earth should go together. And Sir Gareth was not a little weary, for of all that day he had but little rest, neither his horse nor he. So this Sir Gareth rode so long in that forest until the night came. And ever it lightened and thundered, as it had been wood. At the last by fortune he came to a castle, and there he heard the waits upon the walls.

How Sir Gareth came to a castle where he was well lodged, and how he justed with a knight and he slew him.

Then Sir Gareth rode unto the barbican of the castle, and prayed the porter fair to let him into the castle. The porter answered ungoodly again, and said, Thou gettest no lodging here. Fair sir, say not so, for I am a knight of king Arthur’s, and pray the lord or the lady of this castle to give me harbour for the love of king Arthur. Then the porter went unto the duchess, and told her how there was a knight of king Arthur’s would have harbour. Let him in, said the duchess, for I will see that knight, and for king Arthur’s sake he shall not be harbourless. Then she went up into a tower over the gate, with great torch light. When Sir Gareth saw that torch light, he cried on high, Whether thou be lord or lady, giant or champion, I take no force, so that I may have harbour this night, and if it be so that I must needs fight, spare me not to morn when I have rested me, for both I and my horse be weary. Sir knight, said the lady, thou speakest knightly and boldly, but wit thou well that the lord of this castle loveth not king Arthur, nor none of his court, for my lord hath ever been against him, and therefore thou were better not to come within this castle. For and thou come in this night, thou must come in under such form, that wheresoever thou meet my lord, by lane, or by street, thou must yield thee to him as prisoner. Madam, said Sir Gareth, what is your lord, and what is his name? Sir, my lord’s name is the duke de la Rowse. Well, madam, said Sir Gareth, I shall promise you in what place I meet your lord, I shall yield me unto him and to his good grace, with that I understand he will do me no harm: and if I understand that he will, will I release myself and I can with my spear and with my sword. Ye say well, said the duchess, and then she let the draw-bridge down. And so he rode into the hall, and there he alight, and his horse was led into a stable, and in the hall he unarmed him and said, Madam, I will not out of this hall this night; and when it is day-light let see who will have ado with me, he shall find me ready. Then was he set unto supper, and had many good dishes. Then Sir Gareth list well to eat, and knightly he ate his meat, and eagerly; there was many a fair lady by him, and some of them said they never saw a goodlier man, nor so well of eating. Then they made him passing good cheer. And shortly when he had supped, his bed was made there; so he rested him all night. And on the morn he heard mass, and broke his fast, and took his leave at the duchess, and at them all, and thanked her goodly of her lodging, and of his good cheer. And then she asked him his name. Madam, said he, truly, my name is Gareth of Orkney, and some men call me Beaumains. Then knew she well it 157was the same knight that fought for dame Liones. So Sir Gareth departed, and rode up into a mountain, and there met him a knight, his name was Sir Bendelaine, and said to Sir Gareth, Thou shalt not pass this way, for either thou shalt just with me, or be my prisoner. Then will I just, said Sir Gareth. And so they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body, and Sir Bendelaine rode forth to his castle there beside, and there died. So Sir Gareth would have rested him, and he came riding to Bendelaine’s castle. Then his knights and his servants espied that it was he that had slain their lord. Then they armed twenty good men, and came out and assailed Sir Gareth, and so he had no spear, but his sword, and put his shield afore him, and there they brake their spears upon him, and they assailed him passingly sore. But ever Sir Gareth defended him as a knight.

How Sir Gareth fought with a knight that held within his castle thirty ladies, and how he slew him.

So when they saw that they might not overcome him, they rode from him and took their counsel to slay his horse, and so they came in upon Sir Gareth, and with spears they slew his horse, and then they assailed him hard. But when he was on foot there was none that he fought but he gave him such a buffet that he did never recover. So he slew them by one and one till they were but four, and there they fled, and Sir Gareth took a good horse that was one of theirs, and rode his way. Then he rode a great pace till that he came to a castle, and there he heard much mourning of ladies and gentlewomen. So there came by him a page: What noise is this, said Sir Gareth, that I hear within this castle? Sir knight, said the page, here be within this castle thirty ladies, and all they be widows, for here is a knight that waiteth daily upon this castle, and his name is the brown knight without pity, and he is the most perilous knight that now liveth. And, therefore, sir, said the page, I rede you flee. Nay, said Sir Gareth, I will not flee, though thou be afeard of him. And then the page saw where came the brown knight. Lo, said the page, yonder he cometh. Let me deal with him, said Sir Gareth. And when either of other had a sight, they let their horses run, and the brown knight brake his spear, and Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body, that he overthrew him to the ground stark dead. So Sir Gareth rode into the castle, and prayed the ladies that he might repose him. Alas, said the ladies, ye may not be lodged here. Make him good cheer, said the page, for this knight hath slain your enemy. Then they all made him good cheer as lay in their power. But wit ye well they made him good cheer, for they might none otherwise do, for they were but poor. And so on the morn he went to mass, and there he saw the thirty ladies kneel, and lay groveling upon divers tombs making great dole and sorrow. Then Sir Gareth wist well that in the tombs lay their lords. Fair ladies, said Sir Gareth, ye must at the next feast of Pentecost be at the court of king Arthur, and say that I Sir Gareth sent you thither. We shall do this, said the ladies. So he departed, and by fortune he came to a mountain, and there he found a goodly knight that bad him, Abide Sir knight, and just with me. What are ye? said Sir Gareth. My name is, said he, the duke de la Rowse. Ah! Sir, ye are the same knight that I lodged once in your castle, and there I made promise unto your lady that I should yield me unto you. Ah! said the duke, art thou that proud knight that proffered to fight with my knights? therefore make thee ready, for I will have ado with thee. So they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote the duke down from his horse. But the duke lightly avoided his horse, and dressed his shield, and drew his sword, and bad Sir Gareth alight and fight with him. So he did alight, and they did great battle together more than 158an hour, and either hurt other full sore. At the last Sir Gareth gat the duke to the earth, and would have slain him, and then he yielded him to him. Then must ye go, said Sir Gareth, unto Sir Arthur my lord at the next feast, and say that I Sir Gareth of Orkney sent you unto him. It shall be done, said the duke, and I will do to you homage and fealty with an hundred knights with me, and all the days of my life to do you service where ye will command me.

How Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth fought each against other, and how they knew each other by the damsel Linet.

So the duke departed, and Sir Gareth stood there alone, and there he saw an armed knight coming toward him. Then Sir Gareth took the duke’s shield and mounted upon horseback, and so without bidding they ran together as it had been the thunder. And there that knight hurt Sir Gareth under the side with his spear. And then they alight and drew their swords, and gave great strokes, that the blood trailed to the ground. And so they fought two hours. At the last there came the damsel Linet, that some men call the damsel Savage, and she came riding upon an ambling mule, and there she cried all on high, Sir Gawaine, Sir Gawaine, leave thy fighting with thy brother Sir Gareth. And when he heard her say so he threw away his shield and his sword, and ran to Sir Gareth and took him in his arms, and then kneeled down and asked him mercy. What are ye, said Sir Gareth, that right now were so strong and so mighty, and now so suddenly yield you to me? O Gareth, I am your brother Sir Gawaine, that for your sake have had great sorrow and labour. Then Sir Gareth unlaced his helm, and kneeled down to him and asked him mercy. Then they rose both, and embraced either other in their arms, and wept a great while or they might speak, and either of them gave other the prize of the battle. And there were many kind words between them. Alas, my fair brother, said Sir Gawaine, perdy I ought of right to worship you and ye were not my brother, for ye have worshipped king Arthur and all his court, for ye have sent him more worshipful knights this twelvemonth than six the best of the Round Table have done, except Sir Launcelot. Then came the damsel Savage, that was the lady Linet that rode with Sir Gareth so long, and there she did stanch Sir Gareth’s wounds and Sir Gawaine’s. Now what will ye do? said the damsel Savage; me seemeth it were well done that Arthur had tidings of you both, for your horses are so bruised that they may not bear. Now, fair damsel, said Sir Gawaine, I pray you ride unto my lord, mine uncle king Arthur, and tell him what adventure is to me betid here, and I suppose he will not tarry long. Then she took her mule, and lightly she came to king Arthur that was but two miles thence, and when she had told him the tidings, the king bad get him a palfrey. And when he was upon his back he bad the lords and ladies come after who that would: and there was saddling and bridling of queens’ horses, and princes’ horses, and well was him that soonest might be ready. So when the king came there as they were, he saw Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth sit upon a little hill side, and then the king avoided his horse. And when he came nigh Sir Gareth he would have spoken but he might not, and therewith he sank down in a swoon for gladness. And so they start unto their uncle, and required him of his good grace to be of good comfort. Wit ye well the king made great joy, and many a piteous complaint he made unto Sir Gareth, and ever he wept as he had been a child. With that came his mother the queen of Orkney, dame Morgause, and when she saw Sir Gareth readily in the visage, she might not weep, but suddenly fell down in a swoon, and lay there a great while like as she had been dead. And then Sir Gareth recomforted his mother in such a wise that she recovered, and 159made good cheer. Then the king commanded that all manner of knights that were under his obeisance should make their lodging right there for the love of his nephews. And so it was done, and all manner of purveyance purveyed that there lacked nothing that might be gotten of tame nor wild for gold or silver. And then by the means of the damsel Savage Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth were healed of their wounds, and there they sojourned eight days. Then said king Arthur unto the damsel Savage, I marvel that your sister dame Liones cometh not here to me, and in especial that she cometh not to visit her knight, my nephew Sir Gareth, that hath had so much travail for her love. My lord, said the damsel Linet, ye must of your good grace hold her excused, for she knoweth not that my lord Sir Gareth is here. Go then for her, said king Arthur, that we may be appointed what is best to be done, according unto the pleasure of my nephew. Sir, said the damsel, that shall be done, and so she rode unto her sister. And as lightly as she might she made her ready, and she came on the morn with her brother Sir Gringamore, and with her forty knights. And so when she was come, she had all the cheer that might be done, both of the king and of many other kings and queens.

How Sir Gareth acknowledged that they loved each other to king Arthur, and of the appointment of their wedding.

And among all these ladies she was named the fairest and peerless. Then when Sir Gareth saw her, there was many a goodly look and goodly words, that all men of worship had joy to behold them. Then came king Arthur and many other kings, and dame Guenever and the queen of Orkney. And there the king asked his nephew Sir Gareth whether he would have that lady to his wife? My lord, wit you well that I love her above all ladies living. Now, fair lady, said king Arthur, what say ye? Most noble king, said dame Liones, wit you well that my lord Sir Gareth is to me more lever to have and hold as my husband, than any king or prince that is christened, and if I may not have him I promise you I will never have none. For, my lord Arthur, said dame Liones, wit ye well he is my first love, and he shall be the last: and if ye will suffer him to have his will and free choice, I dare say he will have me. That is truth, said Sir Gareth, and I have not you and hold not you as my wife, there shall never lady nor gentlewoman rejoice me. What nephew, said the king, is the wind in that door! for wit ye well I would not for the stint of my crown to be causer to withdraw your hearts, and wit ye well ye cannot love so well but I shall rather increase it than distress it. And also ye shall have my love and my lordship in the uttermost wise that may lie in my power. And in the same wise said Sir Gareth’s mother. Then was there made a provision for the day of marriage, and by the king’s advice it was provided that it should be at Michaelmas following, at Kinkenadon by the sea-side, for there is a plentiful country. And so it was cried in all the places through the realm. And then Sir Gareth sent his summons unto all these knights and ladies that he had won in battle tofore, that they should be at his day of marriage at Kinkenadon by the sands. And then dame Liones and the damsel Linet, with Sir Gringamore, rode to their castle, and a goodly and a rich ring she gave to Sir Gareth, and he gave her another. And king Arthur gave her a rich bee of gold, and so she departed. And king Arthur and his fellowship rode toward Kinkenadon, and Sir Gareth brought his lady on the way, and so came to the king again and rode with him. Oh the great cheer that Sir Launcelot made of Sir Gareth and he of him: for there was never no knight that Sir Gareth loved so well as he did Sir Launcelot, and ever for the most part he would be in Sir Launcelot’s company: for after Sir Gareth had espied Sir Gawaine’s conditions, he 160withdrew himself from his brother Sir Gawaine’s fellowship, for he was vengeable, and where he hated he would be avenged with murder, and that hated Sir Gareth.

Of the great royalty, and what officers were made at the feast of the wedding, and of the justs at the feast.

So it drew fast to Michaelmas, and thither came dame Liones the lady of the castle perilous and her sister dame Linet, with Sir Gringamore their brother with them: for he had the conduct of these ladies. And there they were lodged at the devise of king Arthur. And upon Michaelmas-day the bishop of Canterbury made the wedding betwixt Sir Gareth and the lady Liones with great solemnity. And king Arthur made Gaheris to wed the damsel Savage, that was dame Linet; and king Arthur made Sir Agravaine to wed dame Liones’ niece, a fair lady, her name was dame Laurel. And so when this solemnization was done, then there came in the green knight Sir Pertolope with thirty knights, and there he did homage and fealty unto Sir Gareth, and these knights to hold of him for evermore. Also Sir Pertolope said, I pray you that at this feast I may be your chamberlain. With a good will, said Sir Gareth, sith it liketh you to take so simple an office. Then came in the red knight with threescore knights with him, and did to Sir Gareth homage and fealty, and all those knights to hold of him for evermore, and then this Sir Perimones prayed Sir Gareth to grant him to be his chief butler at that high feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, that ye have this office and it were better. Then came in Sir Persant of Inde with an hundred knights with him, and there he did homage and fealty unto Sir Gareth, and all his knights should do him service, and hold their lands of him for ever; and there he prayed Sir Gareth to make him his sewer chief at the feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, that ye have it and it were better. Then came in the duke de la Rowse with an hundred knights with him, and there he did homage and fealty unto Sir Gareth, and so to hold their lands of him for ever; and he required Sir Gareth that he might serve him of the wine that day at the feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, and it were better. Then came in the red knight of the red lawns, that was Sir Ironside, and he brought with him three hundred knights, and there he did homage and fealty, and all these knights to hold their lands of him for ever, and then he asked Sir Gareth to be his carver. I will well, said Sir Gareth, and it please you. Then came into the court thirty ladies, and all they seemed widows, and those thirty ladies brought with them many fair gentlewomen; and all they kneeled down at once unto king Arthur and to Sir Gareth, and there all those ladies told the king how Sir Gareth had delivered them from the dolorous tower, and slew the brown knight without pity; and therefore we and our heirs for evermore will do homage unto Sir Gareth of Orkney. So then the kings and queens, princes, earls and barons, and many bold knights went unto meat, and well may ye wit that there was all manner of meat plenteously, all manner revels and games, with all manner of minstrelsy that was used in those days. Also there was great justs three days. But the king would not suffer Sir Gareth to just because of his new bride: for as the French book saith that dame Liones desired the king that none that were wedded should just at that feast. So the first day there justed Sir Lamorak de Galis, for he overthrew thirty knights and did passing marvellously deeds of arms. And then king Arthur made Sir Persant of Inde and his two brethren knights of the Round Table, to their lives’ end, and gave them great lands. Also the second day there justed Tristram best, and he overthrew forty knights, and did there marvellous deeds of arms. And there king Arthur made Ironside, that was the red knight of the red lawns, a knight of the Table 161Round unto his life’s end, and gave him great lands. The third day there justed Sir Launcelot du Lake, and he overthrew fifty knights and did many marvellous deeds of arms, that all men wondered on him. And there king Arthur made the duke de la Rowse a knight of the Round Table to his life’s end, and gave him great lands to spend. But when these justs were done, Sir Lamorak and Sir Tristram departed suddenly and would not be known, for the which king Arthur and all the court were sore displeased. And so they held the court forty days with great solemnity. And this Sir Gareth was a noble knight, and a well ruled, and fair languaged.

Thus endeth this tale of syr Gareth of Orkeney that wedded dame Lyones of the castel peryllous. And also syr Gaheris wedded her syster dame Lynet, that was called the damoysel saueage. And syr Agrauayne wedded dame Laurel a fayr lady, and grete and myghty landes with grete rychesse gafe with them kyng Arthur, that ryally they myght lyue tyl their lyues ende.

Here foloweth the viii. book the which is the first book of Sir Tristram de Lyones, & who was his fader & his moder, & hou he was borne and fosteryd. And how he was made knyghte.

The Eighth Book.
How Sir Tristram de Liones was born, and how his mother died at his birth, wherefore she named him Tristram.

It was a king that hight Meliodas, and he was lord and king of the country of Liones, and this king Meliodas was a likely knight as any was that time living. And by fortune he wedded king Mark’s sister of Cornwall; and she was called Elizabeth, that was called both good and fair. And at that time king Arthur reigned, and he was whole king of England, Wales, and Scotland, and of many other realms: howbeit there were many kings that were lords of many countries, but all they held their lands of king Arthur. For in Wales were two kings, and in the north were many kings; and in Cornwall and in the west were two kings; also in Ireland were two or three kings; and all were under the obeisance of king Arthur. So was the king of France, and the king of Britany, and all the lordships unto Rome. And the wife of this king Meliodas was a full meek lady, and well she loved her lord, and he her again, and the time came that she should bear a child, so there was great joy betwixt them. Then was there a lady in that country that had loved king Meliodas long, and by no mean she never could get his love, therefore she let ordain upon a day, as king Meliodas rode on hunting, for he was a great chaser, and there by an enchantment she made him chase an hart by himself alone till that he came to an old castle, and there anon he was taken prisoner by the lady that him loved. When Elizabeth king Meliodas missed, her lord, she was nigh out of her wit, and she took a gentlewoman 162with her, and ran into the forest to seek her lord.

And when she was far in the forest she might no farther, for she began to travail fast of her child. And she had many grimly throws, and her gentlewoman holp her all that she might, and so by miracle of our Lady of heaven she was delivered with great pains. But she had taken such cold for the default of help that deep draughts of death took her, that needs she must die and depart out of this world, there was none other boot. And when this queen Elizabeth saw that there was none other boot, then she made great dole, and said unto her gentlewoman, When ye see my lord king Meliodas recommend me unto him, and tell him what pains I endure here for his love, and how I must die here for his sake, for default of good help, and let him wit that I am full sorry to depart out of this world from him, therefore pray him to be friend to my soul. Now let me see my little child for whom I have had all this sorrow. And when she saw him she said thus: Ah my little son, thou hast murdered thy mother, and therefore I suppose, thou that art a murderer so young, thou art full likely to be a manly man in thine age. And because I shall die of the birth of thee, I charge thee, gentlewoman, that thou beseech my lord king Meliodas, that when he is christened let call him Tristram, that is as much to say as a sorrowful birth. And therewith this queen gave up the ghost and died. Then the gentlewoman laid her under the shadow of a great tree, and then she lapped the child as well as she might for cold. Right so there came the barons, following after the queen, and when they saw that she was dead, and understood none other but the king was destroyed;

How the step-mother of Sir Tristram had ordained poison for to have poisoned Sir Tristram.

Then certain of them would have slain the child, because they would have been lords of the country of Liones. But then through the fair speech of the gentlewoman, and by the means that she made, the most part of the barons would not assent thereto. And then they let carry home the dead queen, and much dole was made for her. Then this meanwhile Merlin delivered king Meliodas out of prison, on the morn after his queen was dead. And so when the king was come home, the most part of the barons made great joy. But the sorrow that the king made for his queen that might no tongue tell. So then the king let inter her richly. And after he let christen his child as his wife had commanded afore her death. And then he let call him Tristram, the sorrowful born child. Then the king Meliodas endured seven years without a wife, and all this time the young Tristram was nourished well. Then it befel that king Meliodas wedded king Howell’s daughter of Britany, and anon she had children of king Meliodas, then was she heavy and wroth that her children should not enjoy the country of Liones, wherefore this queen ordained for to poison young Tristram. So she let poison to be put into a piece of silver in the chamber where as Tristram and her children were together, unto that intent that when Tristram was thirsty he should drink that drink. And so it fell upon a day, the queen’s son, as he was in that chamber, espied the cup with poison, and he wend it had been good drink, and because the child was thirsty, he took the cup with poison and drank freely, and therewithall suddenly the child brast, and was dead. When the queen wist of the death of her son, wit ye well that she was heavy. But yet the king understood nothing of her treason. Notwithstanding the queen would not leave this, but eft she let ordain more poison, and put it in a cup. And by fortune king Meliodas her husband found the cup with wine where was the poison, and he that was much thirsty took the cup for to drink thereout. And as he would have drunken 163thereof, the queen espied him, and then she ran unto him and pulled the cup from him suddenly. The king marvelled why she did so, and remembered him how her son was suddenly slain with poison. And then he took her by the hand, and said, Thou false traitress, thou shalt tell me what manner of drink this is, or else I shall slay thee. And therewith he pulled out his sword, and swore a great oath that he should slay her but if she told him truth. Ah mercy my lord, said she, and I shall tell you all. And then she told him why she would have slain Tristram, because her children should enjoy his land. Well, said king Meliodas, and therefore shall ye have the law. And so she was condemned by the assent of the barons to be burnt, and then was there made a great fire. And right as she was at the fire to take her execution young Tristram kneeled afore king Meliodas, and besought him to give him a boon. I will well, said the king again. Then said young Tristram, Give me the life of thy queen, my step-mother. That is unrightfully asked, said king Meliodas, for thou ought of right to hate her, for she would have slain thee with that poison and she might have had her will; and for thy sake most is my cause that she should die. Sir, said Tristram, as for that, I beseech you of your mercy that ye will forgive it her, and as for my part God forgive it her, and I do, and so much it liked your highness to grant me my boon for God’s love I require you hold your promise. Since it is so, said the king, I will that ye have her life. Then said the king, I give her to you, and go ye to the fire and take her and do with her what ye will. So Sir Tristram went to the fire, and by the commandment of the king delivered her from the death. But after that king Meliodas would never have ado with her as at bed and board. But by the good means of young Tristram he made the king and her accorded. But then the king would not suffer young Tristram to abide no longer in his court.

How Sir Tristram was sent into France, and had one to govern him named Gouvernail, and how he learned to harp, hawk, and hunt.

And then he let ordain a gentleman that was well learned and taught; his name was Gouvernail; and then he sent young Tristram with Gouvernail into France, to learn the language, and nurture, and deeds of arms. And there was Tristram more than seven years. And then when he well could speak the language, and had learned all that he might learn in that country, then he came home to his father king Meliodas again. And so Tristram learned to be an harper passing all other, that there was none such called in no country, and so in harping and on instruments of music he applied him in his youth for to learn. And after as he growed in might and strength he laboured ever in hunting and in hawking, so that never gentleman more, that ever we heard tell of. And as the book saith, he began good measures of blowing of beasts of venery and beasts of chase, and all manner of vermains; and all these terms we have yet of hawking and hunting. And therefore the book of venery, of hawking, and hunting, is called the book of Sir Tristram. Wherefore, as me seemeth, all gentlemen that bear old arms ought of right to honour Sir Tristram for the goodly terms that gentlemen have and use, and shall to the day of doom, that thereby in a manner all men of worship may dissever a gentleman from a yeoman, and from a yeoman a villain. For he that gentle is will draw unto him gentle taches, and to follow the customs of noble gentlemen. Thus Sir Tristram endured in Cornwall until he was big and strong, of the age of nineteen years. And then the king Meliodas had great joy of Sir Tristram, and so had the queen his wife. For ever after in her life, because Sir Tristram saved her from the fire, she did never hate him more after, but loved him ever after, and gave Tristram many 164great gifts; for every estate loved him where that he went.

How Sir Marhaus came out of Ireland for to ask truage of Cornwall, or else he would fight therefore.

Then it befel that king Anguish of Ireland sent to king Mark of Cornwall for his truage, that Cornwall had paid many winters. And all that time king Mark was behind of the truage for seven years. And king Mark and his barons gave unto the messager of Ireland these words and answer, that they would none pay; and bad the messager go unto his king Anguish, and tell him we will pay him no truage, but tell your lord, and he will always have truage of us of Cornwall, bid him send a trusty knight of his land that will fight for his right, and we shall find another for to defend our right. With this answer the messagers departed into Ireland. And when king Anguish understood the answer of the messagers, he was wonderly wroth. And then he called unto him Sir Marhaus, the good knight, that was nobly proved, and a knight of the Table Round. And this Sir Marhaus was brother unto the queen of Ireland. Then the king said thus: Fair brother Sir Marhaus, I pray you go into Cornwall for my sake, and do battle for our truage that of right we ought to have, and whatsoever ye spend ye shall have sufficiently more than ye shall need. Sir, said Marhaus, wit ye well that I shall not be loth to do battle in the right of you and your land with the best knight of the Table Round, for I know them for the most part what be their deeds, and for to advance my deeds and to increase my worship, I will right gladly go unto this journey for our right.

So in all haste there was made purveyance for Sir Marhaus, and he had all things that to him needed, and so he departed out of Ireland, and arrived up in Cornwall, even fast by the castle of Tintagil. And when king Mark understood that he was there arrived to fight for Ireland, then made king Mark great sorrow when he understood that the good and noble knight Sir Marhaus was come. For they knew no knight that durst have ado with him. For at that time Sir Marhaus was called one of the famousest and renowned knights of the world.

And thus Sir Marhaus abode in the sea, and every day he sent unto king Mark for to pay the truage that was behind of seven year, or else to find a knight to fight with him for the truage. This manner of message Sir Marhaus sent daily unto king Mark. Then they of Cornwall let make cries in every place, that what knight would fight for to save the truage of Cornwall he should be rewarded so that he should fare the better the term of his life. Then some of the barons said to king Mark, and counselled him to send to the court of king Arthur for to seek Sir Launcelot du Lake, that was that time named for the marvellousest knight of all the world. Then there were some other barons that counselled the king not to do so, and said that it was labour in vain, because Sir Marhaus was a knight of the Round Table, therefore any of them will be loth to have ado with other, but if it were any knight at his own request would fight disguised and unknown. So the king and all his barons assented that it was no boot to seek any knight of the Round Table. This meanwhile came the language and the noise unto king Meliodas, how that Sir Marhaus abode battle fast by Tintagil, and how king Mark could find no manner knight to fight for him. When young Tristram heard of this he was wroth and sore ashamed that there durst no knight in Cornwall have ado with Sir Marhaus of Ireland.

How Tristram enterprized the battle to fight for the truage of Cornwall, and how he was made knight.

Therewithal Sir Tristram went unto his father king Meliodas, and asked him 165counsel what was best to do for to recover from Cornwall truage. For as me seemeth, said Sir Tristram, it were shame that Sir Marhaus, the queen’s brother of Ireland, should go away, unless that he were fought withall. As for that, said Sir Meliodas, wit ye well son Tristram that Sir Marhaus is called one of the best knights of the world, and knight of the Table Round, and therefore I know no knight in this country that is able to match with him. Alas, said Sir Tristram, that I am not made knight: and if Sir Marhaus should thus depart into Ireland, may I never have worship, and I were made knight I should match him. And sir, said Tristram, I pray you give me leave to ride to king Mark, and so ye be not displeased of king Mark will I be made knight. I will well, said king Meliodas, that ye be ruled as your courage will rule you.

Then Sir Tristram thanked his father much. And then he made him ready to ride into Cornwall. In the meanwhile there came a messager with letters of love from king Faramon of France’s daughter unto Sir Tristram, that were full piteous letters, and in them were written many complaints of love. But Sir Tristram had no joy of her letters, nor regard unto her. Also she sent him a little brachet that was passing fair. But when the king’s daughter understood that Tristram would not love her, as the book saith, she died for sorrow. And then the same squire that brought the letter and the brachet came again unto Sir Tristram as after ye shall hear in the tale. So this young Sir Tristram rode unto his uncle king Mark of Cornwall. And when he came there he heard say that there would no knight fight with Sir Marhaus. Then went Sir Tristram unto his uncle and said, Sir, if ye will give me the order of knighthood I will do battle with Sir Marhaus. What are ye? said the king, and from whence be ye come? Sir, said Tristram, I come from king Meliodas that wedded your sister, and a gentleman wit ye well I am. King Mark beheld Sir Tristram, and saw that he was but a young man of age, but he was passingly well made and big. Fair sir, said the king, what is your name, and where were ye born? Sir, said he again, my name is Tristram, and in the country of Liones was I born. Ye say well, said the king, and if ye will do this battle I shall make you knight. Therefore I come to you, said Sir Tristram, and for none other cause. But then king Mark made him knight. And therewithal anon as he had made him knight, he sent a messager unto Sir Marhaus with letters that said that he had found a young knight ready for to take the battle to the uttermost. It may well be, said Sir Marhaus; but tell unto king Mark that I will not fight with no knight but if he be of blood royal, that is to say either king’s son or queen’s son, born of a prince or princess.

When king Mark understood that, he sent for Sir Tristram de Liones and told him what was the answer of Sir Marhaus. Then said Sir Tristram, Since that he sayeth so, let him wit that I am come of father’s side and mother’s side of as noble blood as he is. For, Sir, now shall ye know that I am king Meliodas’ son, born of your own sister dame Elizabeth, that died in the forest in the birth of me. Yea! said king Mark, ye are welcome fair nephew to me. Then in all the haste the king let horse Sir Tristram and arm him in the best manner that might be had or gotten for gold or silver. And then king Mark sent unto Sir Marhaus, and did him to wit that a better born man than he was himself should fight with him, and his name is Sir Tristram de Liones, gotten of king Meliodas, and born of king Mark’s sister. Then was Sir Marhaus glad and blithe that he should fight with such a gentleman. And so by the assent of king Mark and Sir Marhaus they let ordain that they should fight within an island nigh Sir Marhaus’ ships; and so was Sir Tristram put into a vessel both his horse and he, and all that to him belonged 166both for his body and for his horse. Sir Tristram lacked nothing. And when king Mark and his barons of Cornwall beheld how young Sir Tristram departed with such a carriage to fight for the right of Cornwall, there was neither man nor woman of worship but they wept to see and understand so young a knight to jeopard himself for their right.

How Sir Tristram arrived into the island for to furnish the battle with Sir Marhaus.

So to shorten this tale, when Sir Tristram was arrived within the island he looked to the further side, and there he saw at an anchor six ships nigh to the land, and under the shadow of the ships upon the land there hoved the noble knight Sir Marhaus of Ireland. Then Sir Tristram commanded his servant Gouvernail to bring his horse to the land, and dress his harness at all manner of rights. And then when he had so done he mounted upon his horse; and when he was in his saddle well apparelled, and his shield dressed upon his shoulder, Tristram asked Gouvernail, Where is this knight that I shall have ado withall? Sir, said Gouvernail, see ye him not? I wend ye had seen him, yonder he hoveth under the shadow of his ships upon horseback, with his spear in his hand, and his shield upon his shoulder. That is truth, said the noble knight Sir Tristram, now I see him well enough. Then he commanded his servant Gouvernail to go to his vessel again, and command me unto mine uncle king Mark, and pray him if that I be slain in this battle, for to inter my body as him seemeth best, and as for me let him wit that I will never yield me for cowardice; and if I be slain and flee not, then have they lost no truage for me; and if so be that I flee or yield me as recreant, bid mine uncle never bury me in Christian burials. And upon thy life, said Sir Tristram to Gouvernail, come thou not nigh this island till that thou see me overcome or slain, or else that I win yonder knight. So either departed from other sore weeping.

How Sir Tristram fought against Sir Marhaus and achieved his battle, and how Sir Marhaus fled to his Ship.

And then Sir Marhaus perceived Sir Tristram, and said thus: Young knight Sir Tristram, what doest thou here? Me sore repenteth of thy courage, for wit thou well I have been assayed, and the best knights of this land have been assayed of my hands, and also I have matched with the best knights of the world, and therefore by my counsel return again unto thy vessel. And fair knight, and well proved knight, said Sir Tristram, thou shalt well wit I may not forsake thee in this quarrel, for I am for thy sake made knight. And thou shalt well wit that I am a king’s son, born of a queen, and such promise I have made at mine uncle’s request and mine own seeking, that I shall fight with thee unto the uttermost, and deliver Cornwall from the old truage. And also wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, that this is the greatest cause that thou couragest me to have ado with you, for thou art called one of the most renowned knights of the world, and because of that noise and fame that thou hast, thou givest me courage to have ado with thee, for never yet was I proved with good knight; and since I took the order of knighthood this day I am well pleased that I may have ado with so good a knight as thou art. And now wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, that I cast me to get worship on thy body, and if that I be not proved, I trust I shall be worshipfully proved upon thy body, and to deliver the country of Cornwall from all manner of truage from Ireland for ever. When Sir Marhaus had heard him say what he would, he said then thus again: Fair knight, since it is so that thou casteth to win worship of me, I let thee wit worship mayest thou none lose by me if thou mayest stand me three 167strokes, for I let thee wit for my noble deeds, proved and seen, king Arthur made me knight of the Table Round. Then they began to feuter their spears, and they met so fiercely together that they smote either other down both horse and all. But Sir Marhaus smote Sir Tristram a great wound in the side with his spear, and then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and threw their shields afore them, and then they lashed together as men that were wild and courageous. And when they had stricken so together long, then they left their strokes, and foined at their breathes and visors; and when they saw that that might not prevail them, then they hurtled together like rams to bear either other down. Thus they fought still more than half a day, and either were wounded passing sore, that the blood ran down freshly from them upon the ground. By then Sir Tristram waxed more fresher than Sir Marhaus, and better winded and bigger, and with a mighty stroke he smote Sir Marhaus upon the helm such a buffet, that it went through his helm, and through the coif of steel, and through the brain-pan, and the sword stuck so fast in the helm and in his brain-pan that Sir Tristram pulled thrice at his sword or ever he might pull it out from his head, and there Marhaus fell down on his knees, the edge of Tristram’s sword left in his brain-pan. And suddenly Sir Marhaus rose groveling, and threw his sword and his shield from him, and so ran to his ships and fled his way, and Sir Tristram had ever his shield and his sword. And when Sir Tristram saw Sir Marhaus withdraw him, he said, Ah sir knight of the Round Table, why withdrawest thou thee; thou doest thyself and thy kin great shame, for I am but a young knight, or now I was never proved, and rather than I should withdraw me from thee, I had rather be hewn in an hundred pieces. Sir Marhaus answered no word, but went his way sore groaning. Well sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee thy sword and thy shield shall be mine, and thy shield shall I wear in all places where I ride on mine adventures, and in the sight of king Arthur and all the Round Table.

How Sir Marhaus, after he was arrived in Ireland, died of the stroke that Tristram had given him, and how Tristram was hurt.

Anon Sir Marhaus and his fellowship departed into Ireland. And as soon as he came to the king his brother he let search his wounds. And when his head was searched, a piece of Sir Tristram’s sword was found therein, and might never be had out of his head for no surgeons, and so he died of Sir Tristram’s sword, and that piece of the sword the queen his sister kept it for ever with her, for she thought to be revenged and she might.

Now turn we again unto Sir Tristram, that was sore wounded, and full sore bled, that he might not within a little while when he had taken cold scarcely stir him of his limbs. And then he set him down softly upon a little hill, and bled fast. Then anon came Gouvernail his man with his vessel, and the king and his barons came with procession against him, and when he was come to the land king Mark took him in his arms, and the king and Sir Dinas the Seneschal led Sir Tristram into the castle of Tintagil. And then was he searched in the best manner, and laid in his bed. And when king Mark saw his wounds he wept heartily, and so did all his lords. So God me help, said king Mark, I would not for all my lands that my nephew died. So Sir Tristram lay there a month and more, and ever he was like to die of that stroke that Sir Marhaus smote him first with the spear. For, as the French book saith, the spear’s head was envenomed, that Sir Tristram might not be whole. Then was king Mark and all his barons passing heavy, for they deemed none other but that Sir Tristram should not recover. Then the king let send after all manner 168of leeches and surgeons, both unto men and women, and there was none that would behote him the life. Then came there a lady that was a right wise lady, and she said plainly unto king Mark and to Sir Tristram and to all his barons, that he should never be whole, but if Sir Tristram went in the same country that the venom came from, and in that country should he be holpen or else never. Thus said the lady unto the king. When king Mark understood that, he let purvey for Sir Tristram a fair vessel, well victualled, and therein was put Sir Tristram and Gouvernail with him, and Sir Tristram took his harp with him, and so he was put into the sea to sail into Ireland, and so by good fortune he arrived up in Ireland, even fast by a castle where the king and the queen was; and at his arrival he sat and harped in his bed a merry lay, such one heard they never none in Ireland afore that time. And when it was told the king and the queen of such a knight that was such an harper, anon the king sent for him, and let search his wounds, and then asked him his name. Then he answered, I am of the country of Liones, and my name is Tramtrist, that thus was wounded in a battle as I fought for a lady’s right. Truly, said king Anguish, ye shall have all the help in this land that ye may have here. But I let you wit in Cornwall I had a great loss as ever had king, for there I lost the best knight of the world, his name was Marhaus, a full noble knight, and knight of the Table Round; and there he told Sir Tristram wherefore Sir Marhaus was slain. Sir Tristram made semblant as he had been sorry, and better knew he how it was than the king.

How Sir Tristram was put to the keeping of La Beale Isoud for to be healed of his wound.

Then the king for great favour made Tramtrist to be put in his daughter’s ward and keeping, because she was a noble surgeon. And when she had searched him she found in the bottom of his wound that therein was poison, and so she healed him within a while, and therefore Tramtrist cast great love to La Beale Isoud, for she was at that time the fairest maid and lady of the world. And there Tramtrist learned her to harp, and she began to have a great fancy unto him. And at that time Sir Palamides the Saracen was in that country, and well cherished with the king and the queen. And every day Sir Palamides drew unto La Beale Isoud, and proffered her many gifts, for he loved her passingly well. All that espied Tramtrist, and full well knew he Sir Palamides for a noble knight and a mighty man. And wit ye well Sir Tramtrist had great despite at Sir Palamides, for La Beale Isoud told Tramtrist that Sir Palamides was in will to be christened for her sake. Thus was there great envy betwixt Tramtrist and Sir Palamides. Then it befel that King Anguish let cry a great justs and a great tournament for a lady which was called the lady of the lawns, and she was nigh cousin unto the king. And what man won her, three days after he should wed her, and have all her lands. This cry was made in England, Wales, Scotland, and also in France and in Britany. It befel upon a day La Beale Isoud came unto Sir Tramtrist and told him of this tournament. He answered and said, Fair lady, I am but a feeble knight, and but late I had been dead had not your good ladyship been. Now, fair lady, what would ye I should do in this matter? Well ye wot, my lady, that I may not just. Ah Tramtrist, said La Beale Isoud, why will ye not have ado at that tournament? well I wot Sir Palamides shall be there and to do what he may, and therefore Tramtrist I pray you for to be there, for else Sir Palamides is like to win the degree. Madam, said Tramtrist, as for that it may be so, for he is a proved knight, and I am but a young knight and late made, and the first battle that I did it mishapped me to be sore wounded as ye see. But and I wist ye would be my better lady, at 169that tournament I will be, so that ye will keep my counsel, and let no creature have knowledge that I shall just but yourself, and such as ye will to keep your counsel; my poor person shall I jeopard there for your sake, that peradventure Sir Palamides shall know when that I come. Thereto, said La Beale Isoud, do your best, and as I can, said La Beale Isoud, I shall purvey horse and armour for you at my devise. As ye will so be it, said Sir Tramtrist, I will be at your commandment. So at the day of justs there came Sir Palamides with a black shield, and he overthrew many knights, that all the people had marvel of him. For he put to the worse Sir Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, Bagdemagus, Kay, Dodias le Savage, Sagramore le Desirous, Gumret le Petit, and Griflet le Fise de Dieu. All these the first day Sir Palamides strake down to the earth. And then all manner of knights were adread of Sir Palamides, and many called him the knight with the black shield. So that day Sir Palamides had great worship. Then came king Anguish unto Tramtrist and asked him why he would not just. Sir, said he, I was but late hurt, and as yet I dare not adventure me. Then came there the same squire that was sent from the king’s daughter of France unto Sir Tristram. And when he had espied Sir Tristram he fell flat to his feet. All that espied La Beale Isoud, what courtesy the squire made unto Sir Tristram. And therewith all suddenly Sir Tristram ran unto his squire, whose name was Hebes le Renoumes, and prayed him heartily in no wise to tell his name. Sir, said Hebes, I will not discover your name but if ye command me.

How Sir Tristram won the degree at a tournament in Ireland, and there made Palamides to bear no harness in a year.

Then Sir Tristram asked him what he did in those countries. Sir, he said, I came hither with Sir Gawaine for to be made knight, and if it please you, of your hands that I may be made knight. Await upon me as to-morn, secretly, and in the field I shall make you a knight. Then had La Beale Isoud great suspicion unto Tramtrist that he was some man of worship proved, and therewith she comforted herself, and cast more love unto him than she had done tofore. And so on the morn Sir Palamides made him ready to come into the field as he did the first day. And there he smote down the king with the hundred knights, and the king of Scotland. Then had La Beale Isoud ordained and well arrayed Sir Tramtrist in white horse and harness. And right so she let put him out at a privy postern, and so he came into the field as it had been a bright angel. And anon Sir Palamides espied him, and therewith he feutered a spear unto Sir Tramtrist, and he again unto him. And there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides unto the earth. And then there was a great noise of people: some said Sir Palamides had a fall, some said the knight with the black shield had a fall. And wit you well La Beale Isoud was passing glad. And then Sir Gawaine and his fellows nine had marvel what knight it might be that had smitten down Sir Palamides. Then would there none just with Tramtrist, but all that were there forsook him, most and least. Then Sir Tristram made Hebes a knight, and caused him to put himself forth, and did right well that day. So after Sir Hebes held him with Sir Tristram. And when Sir Palamides had received this fall, wit ye well he was sore ashamed: and as privily as he might he withdrew him out of the field. All that espied Sir Tristram, and lightly he rode after Sir Palamides, and overtook him, and bad him turn, for better he would assay him or ever he departed. Then Sir Palamides turned him, and either lashed at other with their swords. But at the first stroke Sir Tristram smote down Palamides, and gave him such a stroke upon the head that he fell to the earth. So then Tristram bad 170yield him and do his commandment, or else he would slay him. When Sir Palamides beheld his countenance, he dread his buffets so that he granted all his askings. Well said, said Sir Tristram, this shall be your charge. First upon pain of your life that ye forsake my lady La Beale Isoud, and in no manner wise that ye draw not to her. Also this twelvemonth and a day that ye bear none armour nor none harness of war. Now promise me this, or here shalt thou die. Alas, said Palamides, for ever am I ashamed. Then he sware as Sir Tristram had commanded him. Then for despite and anger Sir Palamides cut off his harness and threw them away. And so Sir Tristram turned again to the castle where was La Beale Isoud, and by the way he met with a damsel that asked after Sir Launcelot, that won the Dolorous Gard worshipfully, and this damsel asked Sir Tristram what he was: for it was told her that it was he that smote down Sir Palamides, by whom the ten knights of king Arthur were smitten down. Then the damsel prayed Sir Tristram to tell her what he was, and whether that he were Sir Launcelot du Lake, for she deemed that there was no knight in the world might do such deeds of arms but if it were Launcelot. Fair damsel, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well that I am not Sir Launcelot, for I was never of such prowess, but in God is all, that he may make me as good a knight as the good knight Sir Launcelot. Now, gentle knight, said she, put up thy visor. And when she beheld his visage she thought she saw never a better man’s visage, nor a better faring knight. And then when the damsel knew certainly that he was not Sir Launcelot, then she took her leave and departed from him. And then Sir Tristram rode privily unto the postern where kept him La Beale Isoud, and there she made him good cheer, and thanked God of his good speed. So anon within a while the king and the queen understood that it was Tramtrist that smote down Sir Palamides; then was he much made of more than he was before.

How the queen espied that Sir Tristram had slain her brother Sir Marhaus by his sword, and in what jeopardy he was.

Thus was Sir Tramtrist long there well cherished with the king and the queen, and namely with La Beale Isoud. So upon a day the queen and La Beale Isoud made a bath for Sir Tramtrist, and when he was in his bath the queen and Isoud her daughter roamed up and down in the chamber, and there whiles Gouvernail and Hebes attended upon Tramtrist, and the queen beheld his sword there as it lay upon his bed. And then by unhap the queen drew out his sword and beheld it a long while, and both they thought it a passing fair sword, but within a foot and an half of the point there was a great piece thereof out broken of the edge. And when the queen espied that gap in the sword, she remembered her of a piece of a sword that was found in the brain-pan of Sir Marhaus, the good knight that was her brother. Alas, then said she unto her daughter La Beale Isoud, this is the same traitor knight that slew my brother thine uncle. When Isoud heard her say so she was passing sore abashed, for passing well she loved Sir Tramtrist, and full well she knew the cruelness of her mother the queen. Anon therewithal the queen went unto her own chamber and sought her coffer, and there she took out the piece of the sword that was pulled out of Sir Marhaus’ head after that he was dead. And then she ran with that piece of iron to the sword that lay upon the bed. And when she put that piece of steel and iron unto the sword, it was as meet as it might be when it was new broken. And then the queen griped that sword in her hand fiercely, and with all her might she ran straight upon Tramtrist, where he sat in his bath, and there she had rived him through had not Sir Hebes gotten her in his arms, and pulled the sword from her, and else she had thrust 171him through. Then when she was letted of her evil will, she ran to the king Anguish her husband, and said on her knees, Oh my lord, here have ye in your house that traitor knight that slew my brother and your servant, that noble knight Sir Marhaus. Who is that, said king Anguish, and where is he? Sir, she said, it is Sir Tramtrist, the same knight that my daughter healed. Alas, said the king, therefore am I right heavy, for he is a full noble knight as ever I saw in field. But I charge you, said the king to the queen, that ye have not ado with that knight, but let me deal with him. Then the king went into the chamber unto Sir Tramtrist, and then was he gone unto his chamber, and the king found him all ready armed to mount upon his horse. When the king saw him all ready armed to go unto horseback, the king said, Nay, Tramtrist, it will not avail to compare thee against me. But thus much I shall do for my worship and for thy love; in so much as thou art within my court, it were no worship for me to slay thee, therefore upon this condition I will give thee leave to depart from this court in safety, so thou wilt tell me who was thy father, and what is thy name, and if thou slew Sir Marhaus, my brother.

How Sir Tristram departed from the king and La Beale Isoud out of Ireland for to come into Cornwall.

Sir, said Tristram, now I shall tell you all the truth: my father’s name is Meliodas, king of Liones, and my mother hight Elizabeth, that was sister unto king Mark of Cornwall; and my mother died of me in the forest, and because thereof she commanded or she died that when I were christened that they should christen me Tristram, and because I would not be known in this country I turned my name, and let me call Tramtrist; and for the truage of Cornwall I fought for mine uncle’s sake, and for the right of Cornwall that ye had possessed many years. And wit ye well, said Tristram unto the king, I did the battle for the love of mine uncle king Mark, and for the love of the country of Cornwall, and for to increase mine honour. For that same day that I fought with Sir Marhaus I was made knight, and never or then did I no battle with no knight, and from me he went alive, and left his shield and his sword behind. Truly, said the king, I may not say but ye did as a knight should, and it was your part to do for your quarrel, and to increase your worship as a knight should; howbeit I may not maintain you in this country with my worship, unless that I should displease my barons, and my wife, and her kin. Sir, said Tristram, I thank you of your good lordship that I have had with you here, and the great goodness my lady your daughter hath shewed me, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, it may so happen that ye shall win more by my life than by my death, for in the parts of England it may happen I may do you service at some season that ye shall be glad that ever ye shewed me your good lordship. With more I promise you as I am true knight, that in all places I shall be my lady your daughter’s servant and knight in right and in wrong, and I shall never fail her never to do as much as a knight may do. Also I beseech your good grace that I may take my leave at my lady your daughter, and at all the barons and knights. I will well, said the king. Then Sir Tristram went unto La Beale Isoud and took his leave of her. And then he told her all, what he was, and how he had changed his name because he would not be known, and how a lady told him that he should never be whole till he came into this country where the poison was made:—Where through I was near my death, had not your ladyship been. Oh gentle knight, said La Beale Isoud, full wo am I of thy departing, for I saw never man that I owed so good will to. And therewithal she wept heartily. Madam, said Sir Tristram, ye shall understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, son of 172king Meliodas and of his queen. And I promise you faithfully that I shall be all the days of my life your knight. Gramercy, said La Beale Isoud, and I promise you there against that I shall not be married this seven years but by your assent, and to whom that ye will I shall be married, him will I have, and he will have me if ye will consent. And then Sir Tristram gave her a ring and she gave him another, and therewith he departed from her, leaving her making great dole and lamentation. And he straight went unto the court among all the barons, and there he took his leave at most and least, and openly he said among them all, Fair lords, now it is so that I must depart. If there be any man here that I have offended unto, or that any man be with me grieved, let complain him here afore me or that ever I depart, and I shall amend it unto my power. And if there be any that will proffer me wrong, or say of me wrong or shame behind my back, say it now or never, and here is my body to make it good, body against body. And all they stood still, there was not one that would say one word, yet were there some knights that were of the queen’s blood, and of Sir Marhaus’s blood, but they would not meddle with him.

How Sir Tristram and king Mark hurt each other for the love of a knight’s wife.

So Sir Tristram departed, and took the sea, and with good wind he arrived up at Tintagil in Cornwall. And when king Mark was whole in his prosperity there came tidings that Sir Tristram was arrived and whole of his wounds; thereof was king Mark passing glad, and so were all the barons. And when he saw his time, he rode unto his father king Meliodas, and there he had all the cheer that the king and the queen could make him. And then largely king Meliodas and his queen parted of their lands and goods to Sir Tristram. Then by the licence of king Meliodas his father he returned again unto the court of king Mark, and there he lived in great joy long time, until at the last there befel a jealousy and an unkindness between king Mark and Sir Tristram, for they loved both one lady, and she was an earl’s wife, that hight Sir Segwarides. And this lady loved Sir Tristram passing well, and he loved her again, for she was a passing fair lady, and that espied Sir Tristram well. Then king Mark understood that, and was jealous, for king Mark loved her passingly well. So it fell upon a day, this lady sent a dwarf unto Sir Tristram, and bad him say that as he loved her that he would be with her the next day following. Also she charged you that ye come not to her but if ye be well armed, for her lover was called a good knight. Sir Tristram answered to the dwarf, Recommend me unto my lady, and tell her I will not fail but I will be with her the term that she hath set me. And with this answer the dwarf departed. And king Mark espied that the dwarf was with Sir Tristram, upon message from Sir Segwarides’s wife; then king Mark sent for the dwarf. And when he was come he made the dwarf by force to tell him all, why and wherefore that he came on message to Sir Tristram. Now, said king Mark, go where thou wilt, and upon pain of death that thou say no word that thou spakest with me. So the dwarf departed from the king. And that same time that was set betwixt Sir Segwarides’s wife and Sir Tristram, king Mark armed him, and made him ready, and took two knights of his council with him, and so he rode afore, for to abide by the way, to await upon Sir Tristram. And as Sir Tristram came riding upon his way, with his spear in his hand, king Mark came hurtling upon him with his two knights suddenly. And all three smote him with their spears, and king Mark hurt Sir Tristram on the breast right sore; and then Sir Tristram feutered his spear, and smote his uncle king Mark such a stroke that he rashed him to the earth, and bruised him that he lay still in a swoon, and it was long or he might 173move himself; and then he ran to the one knight, and oft to the other, and smote them to the cold earth, that they lay still. And therewithal Sir Tristram rode forth sore wounded to the lady, and found her abiding him at a postern.

How Sir Tristram came to the lady, and how her husband fought with Sir Tristram.

And there she welcomed him fair, and so she let put up his horse in the best wise, and then she unarmed him: and so they supped lightly, and within a while there came one that warned her that her lord was near hand, within a bow draft. So she made Sir Tristram to arise, and so he armed him, and took his horse, and so departed. By then was come Sir Segwarides, and when he found that there had been a knight, Ah, false traitress, then he said, why hast thou betrayed me? And therewithal he swung out a sword, and said, But if thou tell me who hath been here, here thou shalt die. Ah, my lord, mercy, said the lady, and held up her hands, saying, Slay me not, and I shall tell you all who hath been here. Tell anon, said Sir Segwarides, to me all the truth. Anon for dread she said, Here was Sir Tristram with me, and by the way as he came to me ward he was sore wounded. Ah, thou false traitress, said Sir Segwarides, where is he become? Sir, she said, he is armed, and departed on horseback, not yet hence half-a-mile. Ye say well, said Segwarides. Then he armed him lightly, and gat his horse, and rode after Sir Tristram, that rode straightway unto Tintagil. And within a while he overtook Sir Tristram, and then he bad him turn, false traitor knight, and Sir Tristram anon turned him against him. And therewithal Segwarides smote Sir Tristram with a spear that it all to-brast; and then he swung out his sword, and smote fast at Sir Tristram. Sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I counsel you that ye smite no more, howbeit, for the wrongs that I have done you, I will forbear you as long as I may. Nay, said Segwarides, that shall not be, for either thou shalt die or I. Then Sir Tristram drew out his sword, and hurtled his horse unto him fiercely, and through the waist of the body he smote Sir Segwarides that he fell to the earth in a swoon. And so Sir Tristram departed and left him there, and so he rode unto Tintagil, and took his lodging secretly, for he would not be known that he was hurt. Also, Sir Segwarides’s men rode after their master, whom they found lying in the field sore wounded, and brought him home on his shield, and there he lay long or that he were whole, but at the last he recovered. Also king Mark would not be aknown of, that Sir Tristram and he had met that time. And as for Sir Tristram, he wist not that it had been king Mark that had met with him. And so the king’s assistance came to Sir Tristram, to comfort him as he lay sick in his bed. But as long as king Mark lived he loved never Sir Tristram after that: though there was fair speech, love was there none. And thus it passed many weeks and days, and all was forgiven and forgotten. For Sir Segwarides durst not have ado with Sir Tristram, because of his noble prowess, and also because he was nephew unto king Mark, therefore he let it over slip, for he that hath a privy hurt is loth to have a shame outward.

How Sir Bleoberis demanded the fairest lady in king Mark’s court, whom he took away, and how he was fought with.

Then it befel upon a day, that the good knight Bleoberis de Ganis, brother to Blamore de Ganis, and nigh cousin unto the good knight Sir Launcelot du Lake,—this Bleoberis came unto the court of king Mark, and there he asked of king Mark a boon, to give him what gift he would ask in his court. When the king heard him ask so, he marvelled of his asking, but because he was a knight of the Round Table, and 174of a great renown, king Mark granted him his whole asking. Then, said Sir Bleoberis, I will have the fairest lady in your court that me list to choose. I may not say nay, said king Mark; now choose at your adventure. And so Sir Bleoberis did chose Sir Segwarides’s wife, and took her by the hand, and so went his way with her, and so he took his horse and let set her behind his squire, and rode upon his way. When Sir Segwarides heard tell that his lady was gone with a knight of king Arthur’s court, then anon he armed him, and rode after that knight for to rescue his lady. So when Bleoberis was gone with this lady, king Mark and all the court was wroth that she was away. Then were there certain ladies that knew that there was great love between Sir Tristram and her, and also that lady loved Sir Tristram above all other knights. Then there was one lady that rebuked Sir Tristram in the horriblest wise, and called him coward knight, that he would for shame of his knighthood see a lady so shamefully taken away from his uncle’s court. But Sir Tristram answered her thus: Fair lady, it is not my part to have ado in such matters, while her lord and husband is present here. And if it had been that her lord had not been here in this court, then for the worship of this court peradventure I would have been her champion, and if so be Sir Segwarides speed not well, it may happen that I will speak with that good knight or ever he pass from this country. Then within awhile came one of Sir Segwarides’s squires, and told in the court that Sir Segwarides was beaten sore and wounded to the point of death: as he would have rescued his lady Sir Bleoberis overthrew him, and sore hath wounded him. Then was king Mark heavy thereof, and all the court. When Sir Tristram heard of this he was ashamed and sore grieved. And then was he soon armed and on horseback, and Gouvernail his servant bare his shield and spear. And so as Sir Tristram rode fast he met with Sir Andret his cousin, that by the commandment of king Mark was sent to bring forth, and ever it lay in his power two knights of king Arthur’s court, that rode by the country to seek their adventures. When Sir Tristram saw Sir Andret he asked him what tidings. Truly, said Sir Andret, there was never worse with me, for here by the commandment of king Mark I was sent to fetch two knights of king Arthur’s court, and that one beat me and wounded me, and set nought by my message. Fair cousin, said Sir Tristram, ride on your way, and if I may meet them it may happen I shall revenge you. So Sir Andret rode into Cornwall, and Sir Tristram rode after the two knights, the which one hight Sagramore le Desirous, and that other hight Dodinas le Savage.

How Sir Tristram fought with two knights of the Round Table.

Then within awhile Sir Tristram saw them afore him two likely knights. Sir, said Gouvernail unto his master, Sir, I would counsel you not to have ado with them, for they be two proved knights of Arthur’s court. As for that, said Sir Tristram, have ye no doubt but I will have ado with them to encrease my worship, for it is many day sithen I did any deeds of arms. Do as ye list, said Gouvernail. And therewithal anon Sir Tristram asked them from whence they came, and whither they would, and what they did in those marches. Sir Sagramore looked upon Sir Tristram, and had scorn of his words, and asked him again, Fair knight, be ye a knight of Cornwall? Whereby ask ye it? said Sir Tristram. For it is seldom seen, said Sir Sagramore, that ye Cornish knights be valiant men of arms: for within these two hours there met us one of you Cornish knights, and great words he spake, and anon with little might he was laid to the earth. And, as I trow, said Sir Sagramore, ye shall have the same handsel that he had. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it may so happen that I may better withstand than he did, and whether ye will or nill I will have ado with you, because he was my 175cousin that ye beat. And therefore here do your best; and wit ye well but if ye quit you the better here upon this ground one knight of Cornwall shall beat you both. When Sir Dodinas le Savage heard him say so, he gat a spear in his hand, and said, Sir knight, keep well thyself. And then they departed, and came together as it had been thunder. And Sir Dodinas’ spear brast in sunder, but Sir Tristram smote him with a more might, that he smote him clean over the horse croup, that nigh he had broken his neck. When Sir Sagramore saw his fellow have such a fall he marvelled what knight he might be, and he dressed his spear with all his might, and Sir Tristram against him, and they came together as the thunder, and there Sir Tristram smote Sir Sagramore a strong buffet, that he bare his horse and him to the earth, and in the falling he brake his thigh. When this was done Sir Tristram asked them, Fair knights, will ye any more? Be there no bigger knights in the court of king Arthur? It is to you shame to say of us knights of Cornwall dishonour, for it may happen a Cornish knight may match you. That is truth, said Sir Sagramore, that have we well proved; but I require thee, said Sir Sagramore, tell us your right name, by the faith and truth that ye owe to the high order of knighthood. Ye charge me with a great thing, said Sir Tristram, and sithen ye list to wit it, ye shall know and understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, king Meliodas’ son, and nephew unto king Mark. Then were they two knights fain that they had met with Sir Tristram, and so they prayed him to abide in their fellowship. Nay, said Sir Tristram, for I must have ado with one of your fellows, his name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis. God speed you well, said Sir Sagramore and Dodinas. Sir Tristram departed, and rode onward on his way, and then was he ware before him in a valley where rode Sir Bleoberis with Sir Segwarides’s lady, that rode behind his squire upon a palfrey.

How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Bleoberis for a lady, and how the lady was put to choice to whom she would go.

Then Sir Tristram rode more than a pace until that he had overtaken him. Then spake Sir Tristram: Abide, he said, knight of Arthur’s court, bring again that lady, or deliver her to me. I will do neither, said Sir Bleoberis, for I dread no Cornish knight so sore that me list to deliver her. Why, said Sir Tristram, may not a Cornish knight do as well as another knight? This same day two knights of your court, within this three mile met with me, and or ever we departed they found a Cornish knight good enough for them both. What were their names? said Bleoberis. They told me, said Sir Tristram, that the one of them hight Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and the other hight Dodinas le Savage. Ah, said Sir Bleoberis, have ye met with them? Truly they were two good knights, and men of great worship, and if ye have beat them both ye must needs be a good knight: but if it so be that ye have beat them both, yet shall ye not fear me, but ye shall beat me or ever ye have this lady. Then defend you, said Sir Tristram. So they departed and came together like thunder, and either bare other down, horse and all, to the earth. Then they avoided their horses and lashed together eagerly with swords, and mightily, now tracing and traversing on the right hand and on the left hand more than two hours. And sometimes they rushed together with such a might that they lay both groveling on the ground. Then Sir Bleoberis de Ganis start aback, and said thus: Now, gentle good knight, a while hold your hands and let us speak together. Say what ye will, said Sir Tristram, and I will answer you. Sir, said Bleoberis, I would wit of whence ye be, and of whom ye be come, and what is your name? Truly, said Sir Tristram, I fear not to tell you my name: wit ye well I am king Meliodas’ son, and my mother is king Mark’s sister, and my 176name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and king Mark is mine uncle. Truly, said Bleoberis, I am right glad of you, for ye are he that slew Marhaus, knight, hand for hand in an island for the truage of Cornwall; also ye overcame Sir Palamides the good knight at a tournament in an island, where ye beat Sir Gawaine and his nine fellows. Wit ye well, said Sir Tristram, that I am the same knight. Now I have told you my name, tell me yours with good will. Wit ye well that my name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, and my brother hight Sir Blamor de Ganis, that is called a good knight, and we be sister’s children unto my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake, that we call one of the best knights of the world. That is truth, said Sir Tristram; Sir Launcelot is called peerless of courtesy and of knighthood; and for his sake, said Sir Tristram, I will not with my good will fight no more with you, for the great love I have to Sir Launcelot du Lake. In good faith, said Bleoberis, as for me, I will be loth to fight with you. But since ye follow me here to have this lady, I shall proffer you kindness, courtesy, and gentleness, right here upon this ground. This lady shall be betwixt us both, and to whom that she will go, let him have her in peace. I will well, said Tristram, for, as I deem, she will leave you and come to me. Ye shall prove it anon, said Bleoberis.

How the lady forsook Sir Tristram and abode with Sir Bleoberis, and how she desired to go to her husband.

So when she was set betwixt them both, she said these words unto Sir Tristram: Wit ye well, Sir Tristram de Liones, that but late thou was the man in the world that I most loved and trusted, and I wend thou haddest loved me again above all ladies. But when thou sawest this knight lead me away, thou madest no cheer to rescue me, but suffered my lord Sir Segwarides to ride after me, but until that time I wend thou haddest loved me, and therefore now I will leave thee, and never love thee more. And therewithal she went unto Sir Bleoberis. When Sir Tristram saw her do so, he was wonderly wroth with that lady, and ashamed to come to the court. Sir Tristram, said Sir Bleoberis, ye are in the default, for I hear, by this lady’s words, she, before this day, trusted you above all earthly knights, and, as she saith, ye have deceived her; therefore, wit ye well, there may no man hold that will away, and rather than ye should be heartily displeased with me, I would ye had her and she would abide with you. Nay, said the lady, I will never go with him, for he that I loved most I wend he had loved me. And therefore, Sir Tristram, she said, ride as thou came for though thou haddest overcome this knight, as ye were likely, with thee never would I have gone. And I shall pray this knight so fair of his knighthood, that or ever he pass this country he will lead me to the abbey where my lord Sir Segwarides lieth. Truly, said Bleoberis, I let you wit, good knight Sir Tristram, because king Mark gave me the choice of a gift in this court, and so this lady liked me best, notwithstanding she is wedded and hath a lord, and I have fulfilled my quest, she shall be sent unto her husband again, and in especial most for your sake Sir Tristram: and if she would go with you I would ye had her. I thank you, said Sir Tristram, but for her love I shall be ware what manner of lady I shall love or trust. For had her lord Sir Segwarides been away from the court I should have been the first that should have followed you, but since ye have refused me, as I am a true knight I shall her know passingly well that I shall love or trust. And so they took their leave one from the other and departed. And so Sir Tristram rode unto Tintagil, and Sir Bleoberis rode unto the abbey where Sir Segwarides lay sore wounded, and there he delivered his lady and departed as a noble knight. And when Sir Segwarides saw his lady he was greatly comforted. And then she told him that 177Sir Tristram had done great battle with Sir Bleoberis, and caused him to bring her again. These words pleased Sir Segwarides right well, that Sir Tristram would do so much; and so that lady told all the battle unto king Mark betwixt Sir Tristram and Sir Bleoberis.

How King Mark sent Sir Tristram for La Beale Isoud toward Ireland, and how by fortune he arrived into England.

Then when this was done king Mark cast always in his heart how he might destroy Sir Tristram. And then he imagined in himself to send Sir Tristram into Ireland for La Beale Isoud. For Sir Tristram had so praised her beauty and her goodness that king Mark said he would wed her, whereupon he prayed Sir Tristram to take his way into Ireland for him on message. And all this was done to the intent to slay Sir Tristram. Notwithstanding, Sir Tristram would not refuse the message for no danger nor peril that might fall for the pleasure of his uncle, but to go he made him ready in the most goodliest wise that might be devised. For Sir Tristram took with him the most goodliest knights that he might find in the court, and they were arrayed after the guise that was then used in the goodliest manner. So Sir Tristram departed and took the sea with all his fellowship. And anon as he was in the broad sea, a tempest took him and his fellowship and drove them back into the coast of England, and there they arrived fast by Camelot, and full fain they were to take the land. And when they were landed Sir Tristram set up his pavilion upon the land of Camelot, and there he let hang his shield upon the pavilion. And that day came two knights of king Arthur’s, that one was Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Morganor. And they touched the shield and bad him come out of the pavilion for to just, and he would just. Ye shall be answered, said Sir Tristram, and ye will tarry a little while. So he made him ready, and first he smote down Sir Ector de Maris, and after he smote down Sir Morganor, all with one spear, and sore bruised them. And when they lay upon the earth they asked Sir Tristram what he was, and of what country he was knight. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well that I am of Cornwall. Alas, said Sir Ector, now am I ashamed that ever any Cornish knight should overcome me. And then for despite Sir Ector put off his armour from him, and went on foot, and would not ride.

How king Anguish of Ireland was summoned to come unto king Arthur’s court for treason.

Then it fell that Sir Bleoberis and Sir Blamor de Ganis that were brethren, they had summoned the king Anguish of Ireland to come to Arthur’s court, upon pain of forfeiture of king Arthur’s good grace. And if the king of Ireland came not in at the day assigned and set, the king should lose his lands. So by it happened that at the day assigned, king Arthur neither Sir Launcelot might not be there for to give the judgment, for king Arthur was with Sir Launcelot at the castle Joyous Gard. And so king Arthur assigned king Carados and the king of Scots to be there that day as judges. So when the kings were at Camelot king Anguish of Ireland was come to know his accusers. Then was there Blamor de Ganis, and appealed the king of Ireland of treason, that he had slain a cousin of his in his court in Ireland by treason. The king was sore abashed of his accusation, for why? he was come at the summoning of king Arthur, and or that he came at Camelot he wist not wherefore he was sent after. And when the king heard Sir Blamor say his will, he understood full well there was none other remedy but to answer him knightly. For the custom was such in those days, that and any man were appealed of any treason or murder, he should fight body for body, or else to find another knight 178for him. And all manner of murderers in those days were called treason. So when king Anguish understood his accusing he was passing heavy, for he knew Sir Blamor de Ganis that he was a noble knight, and of noble knights come. Then the king of Ireland was simply purveyed of his answer, therefore the judges gave him respite by the third day to give his answer. So the king departed unto his lodging. The mean while there came a lady by Sir Tristram’s pavilion making great dole. What aileth you, said Sir Tristram, that ye make such dole? Ah, fair knight, said the lady, I am ashamed unless that some good knight help me, for a great lady of worship sent by me a fair child and a rich unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, and hereby there met with me a knight and threw me down from my palfrey, and took away the child from me. Well my lady, said Sir Tristram, and for my lord Sir Launcelot’s sake I shall get you that child again, or else I shall be beaten for it. And so Sir Tristram took his horse, and asked the lady which way the knight rode. And then she told him. And he rode after him, and within a mile he overtook that knight. And then Sir Tristram bad him turn and give again the child.

How Sir Tristram rescued a child from a knight, and how Gouvernail told him of king Anguish.

The knight turned his horse, and he made him ready for to fight. And then Sir Tristram smote him with a sword such a buffet that he tumbled to the earth. And then he yielded him unto Sir Tristram. Then come thy way, said Sir Tristram, and bring the child to the lady again. So he took his horse meekly and rode with Sir Tristram, and then by the way Sir Tristram asked him his name. Then he said, My name is Breuse Saunce Pité. So when he had delivered that child to the lady he said, Sir, as in this the child is well remedied. Then Sir Tristram let him go again, that sore repented him after, for he was a great foe unto many good knights of king Arthur’s court. Then when Sir Tristram was in his pavilion, Gouvernail his man came and told him how that king Anguish of Ireland was come thither, and he was put in great distress, and there Gouvernail told Sir Tristram how king Anguish was summoned and appealed of murder. Truly, said Sir Tristram, these be the best tidings that ever came to me this seven year, for now shall the king of Ireland have need of my help, for I dare say there is no knight in this country that is not of Arthur’s court dare do battle with Sir Blamor de Ganis, and for to win the love of the king of Ireland I will take the battle upon me, and therefore Gouvernail bring me, I charge thee, to the king. Then Gouvernail went unto king Anguish of Ireland and saluted him fair. The king welcomed him and asked him what he would. Sir, said Gouvernail, here is a knight near hand that desireth to speak with you: he bad me say he would do you service. What knight is he, said the king. Sir, he said, it is Sir Tristram de Liones, that for your good grace ye shewed him in your lands will reward you in these countries. Come on fellow, said the king, with me anon, and shew me unto Sir Tristram. So the king took a little hackney and but few fellowship with him until he came unto Sir Tristram’s pavilion. And when Sir Tristram saw the king, he ran unto him and would have holden his stirrup. But the king lept from his horse lightly, and either halsed other in arms. My gracious lord, said Sir Tristram, gramercy of your great goodnesses shewed unto me in your marches and lands: and at that time I promised you to do my service and ever it lay in my power. And gentle knight, said the king unto Sir Tristram, now have I great need of you; never had I so great need of no knight’s help. How so, my good lord? said Sir Tristram. I shall tell you, said the king. I am summoned and appealed from my country for the death of a knight that was kin unto the good knight Sir Launcelot, 179wherefore Sir Blamor de Ganis, brother to Sir Bleoberis, hath appealed me to fight with him, other to find a knight in my stead. And well I wot, said the king, these that are come of king Ban’s blood, as Sir Launcelot and these other, are passing good knights, and hard men for to win in battle as any that I know now living. Sir, said Sir Tristram, for the good lordship ye shewed me in Ireland, and for my lady your daughter’s sake, La Beale Isoud, I will take the battle for you upon this condition that ye shall grant me two things: that one is, that ye shall swear to me that ye are in the right, that ye were never consenting to the knight’s death; Sir, then, said Sir Tristram, when that I have done this battle, if God give me grace that I speed, that ye shall give me a reward, what thing reasonable that I will ask of you. Truly, said the king, ye shall have whatsoever ye will ask. It is well said, said Sir Tristram.

How Sir Tristram fought for Sir Anguish and overcame his adversary, and how his adversary would never yield him.

Now make your answer that your champion is ready, for I shall die in your quarrel rather than to be recreant. I have no doubt of you, said the king, that and ye should have ado with Sir Launcelot du Lake. Sir, said Sir Tristram, as for Sir Launcelot, he is called the noblest knight of the world, and wit ye well that the knights of his blood are noble men and dread shame; and as for Sir Bleoberis, brother to Sir Blamor, I have done battle with him, therefore upon my head it is no shame to call him a good knight. It is noised, said the king, that Blamor is the hardier knight. Sir, as for that, let him be, he shall never be refused, and as he were the best knight that now beareth shield or spear. So king Anguish departed unto king Carados and the kings that were that time as judges, and told them that he had found his champion ready. And then by the commandments of the kings Sir Blamor de Ganis and Sir Tristram were sent for, to hear the charge. And when they were come before the judges, there were many kings and knights beheld Sir Tristram, and much speech they had of him because he slew Sir Marhaus the good knight, and because he forjusted Sir Palamides the good knight. So when they had taken their charge they withdrew them for to make them ready to do battle. Then said Sir Bleoberis to his brother Sir Blamor, Fair dear brother, remember of what kin we be come of, and what a man is Sir Launcelot du Lake, neither further nor nearer but brothers’ children, and there was never none of our kin that ever was shamed in battle, and rather suffer death, brother, than to be shamed. Brother, said Blamor, have ye no doubt of me, for I shall never shame none of my blood, how be it I am sure that yonder knight is called a passing good knight, as of his time one of the world, yet shall I never yield me, nor say the loth word: well may he happen to smite me down with his great might of chivalry, but rather shall he slay me than I shall yield me as recreant. God speed you well, said Bleoberis, for ye shall find him the mightiest knight that ever ye had ado withall, for I know him, for I have had ado with him. God me speed, said Blamor de Ganis. And therewith he took his horse at the one end of the lists, and Sir Tristram at the other end of the lists, and so they feutred their spears and came together as it had been thunder, and there Sir Tristram through great might smote down Sir Blamor and his horse to the earth. Then anon Sir Blamor avoided his horse, and pulled out his sword and threw his shield afore him, and bad Sir Tristram alight; for though an horse hath failed me, I trust the earth will not fail me. And then Sir Tristram alight and dressed him unto battle, and there they lashed together strongly as racing and tracing, foining and dashing many sad strokes, that the kings and knights had great wonder 180that they might stand, for ever they fought like wood men, so that there were never knights seen fight more fiercely than they did, for Sir Blamor was so hasty that he would have no rest, that all men wondered that they had breath to stand on their feet; and all the place was bloody that they fought in. And at the last, Sir Tristram smote Sir Blamor such a buffet upon the helm that he there fell down upon his side, and Sir Tristram stood and beheld him.

How Sir Blamor desired Tristram to slay him, and how Sir Tristram spared him, and how they took appointment.

Then when Sir Blamor might speak, he said thus: Sir Tristram de Liones, I require thee, as thou art a noble knight, and the best knight that ever I found, that thou wilt slay me out, for I would not live to be made lord of all the earth, for I had lever die with worship than live with shame; and needs, Sir Tristram, thou must slay me, or else thou shalt never win the field, for I will never say the loth word. And therefore if thou dare slay me, slay me I require thee. When Sir Tristram heard him say so knightly, he wist not what to do with him; he remembering him of both parties; of what blood he was come, and for Sir Launcelot’s sake he would be full loth to slay him, and in the other party in no wise he might not choose but he must make him to say the loth word, or else to slay him. Then Sir Tristram start aback, and went to the kings that were judges, and there he kneeled down before them, and besought them for their worships, and for king Arthur’s, and Sir Launcelot’s sake, that they would take this matter in their hands. For my fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it were shame and pity that this noble knight that yonder lieth should be slain, for ye hear well shamed will he not be, and I pray to God that he never be slain nor shamed for me. And as for the king for whom I fight for, I shall require him, as I am his true champion and true knight in this field, that he will have mercy upon this good knight. Truly, said king Anguish to Sir Tristram, I will for your sake be ruled as ye will have me. For I know you for my true knight. And therefore I will heartily pray the kings that be here as judges to take it in their hands. And the kings that were judges called Sir Bleoberis to them, and asked him his advice. My lords, said Bleoberis, though my brother be beaten, and hath the worse through might of arms, I dare say, though Sir Tristram hath beaten his body he hath not beaten his heart, and I thank God, he is not shamed this day. And rather than he should be shamed I require you, said Bleoberis, let Sir Tristram slay him out. It shall not be so, said the kings, for his part adversary, both the king and the champion, have pity of Sir Blamor’s knighthood. My lords, said Bleoberis, I will right well as ye will.

Then the kings called the king of Ireland, and found him good and treatable. And then, by all their advices, Sir Tristram and Sir Bleoberis took up Sir Blamor, and the two brethren were accorded with king Anguish, and kissed and made friends for ever. And then Sir Blamor and Sir Tristram kissed together, and there they made their oaths that they would never none of them two brethren fight with Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram made the same oath. And for that gentle battle all the blood of Sir Launcelot loved Sir Tristram for ever.

Then king Anguish and Sir Tristram took their leave, and sailed into Ireland with great nobleness and joy. So when they were in Ireland the king let make it known throughout all the land, how and in what manner Sir Tristram had done for him. Then the queen and all that there were made the most of him that they might. But the joy that La Beale Isoud made of Sir Tristram there might no tongue tell, for of men earthly she loved him most.

How Sir Tristram demanded La Beale Isoud for king Mark, and how Sir Tristram and Isoud drank the love drink.

Then upon a day king Anguish asked Sir Tristram why he asked not his boon, for whatsoever he had promised him he should have it without fail. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now is it time, this is all that I will desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud your daughter, not for myself, but for mine uncle king Mark, that shall have her to wife, for so have I promised him. Alas, said the king, I had lever than all the land that I have ye would wed her yourself. Sir, and I did, then were I shamed for ever in this world, and false of my promise. Therefore, said Sir Tristram, I pray you hold your promise that ye promised me, for this is my desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud to go with me into Cornwall, for to be wedded to king Mark mine uncle. As for that, said king Anguish, ye shall have her with you, to do with her what it please you, that is for to say if that ye list to wed her yourself, that is to me levest: and if ye will give her unto king Mark your uncle, that is in your choice.

So to make a short conclusion, La Beale Isoud was made ready to go with Sir Tristram, and dame Bragwaine went with her for her chief gentlewoman, with many other. Then the queen, Isoud’s mother, gave to her and dame Bragwaine, her daughter’s gentlewoman, and unto Gouvernail, a drink, and charged them that what day king Mark should wed, that same day they should give him that drink, so that king Mark should drink to La Beale Isoud; and then, said the queen, I undertake either shall love other the days of their life. So this drink was given unto dame Bragwaine and unto Gouvernail. And then anon Sir Tristram took the sea and La Beale Isoud; and when they were in their cabin, it happed so that they were thirsty, and they saw a little flacket of gold stand by them, and it seemed by the colour and the taste that it was noble wine. Then Sir Tristram took the flacket in his hand, and said, Madam Isoud, here is the best drink that ever ye drank, that dame Bragwaine your maiden, and Gouvernail my servant, have kept for themselves. Then they laughed and made good cheer, and either drank to other freely, and they thought never drink that ever they drank to other was so sweet nor so good. But by that their drink was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that never their love departed for weal neither for woe. And thus it happed the love first betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, the which love never departed the days of their life. So then they sailed till by fortune they came nigh a castle that hight Pluere, and thereby arrived for to repose them, weening to them to have had good harbourage. But anon as Sir Tristram was within the castle they were taken prisoners, for the custom of the castle was such, who that rode by that castle, and brought any lady, he must needs fight with the lord, that hight Breunor. And if it were so that Breunor wan the field, then the knight stranger and his lady he put to death, what that ever they were; and if it were so that the strange knight wan the field of Sir Breunor, then should he die and his lady both. This custom was used many winters, for it was called the Castle Pluere, that is to say the weeping castle.

How Sir Tristram and Isoud were in prison, and how he fought for her beauty, and smote off another lady’s head.

Thus as Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud were in prison, it happed a knight and a lady came unto them where they were, to cheer them. I have marvel, said Tristram unto the knight and the lady, what is the cause 182the lord of this castle holdeth us in prison: it was never the custom of no place of worship that ever I came in, that when a knight and a lady asked harbour, and they to receive them, and after to destroy them that be his guests. Sir, said the knight, this is the old custom of this castle, that when a knight cometh here, he must needs fight with our lord, and he that is the weaker must lose his head. And when that is done, if his lady that he bringeth be fouler than our lord’s wife, she must lose her head: and if she be fairer proved than is our lady, then shall the lady of this castle lose her head. Now, said Sir Tristram, this is a foul custom and a shameful. But one advantage have I, said Sir Tristram, I have a lady is fair enough, fairer saw I never in all my life days, and I doubt not for lack of beauty she shall not lose her head, and rather than I should lose my head I will fight for it on a fair field. Wherefore, sir knight, I pray you tell your lord that I will be ready as to-morn with my lady, and myself to battle, if it be so I may have my horse and mine armour. Sir, said that knight, I undertake that your desire shall be sped right well.

And then he said, Take your rest, and look that ye be up by times to make you ready and your lady, for ye shall want no thing that you behoveth. And therewith he departed, and on the morn betimes that same knight came to Sir Tristram and fetched him out and his lady, and brought him horse and armour that was his own, and bad him make him ready to the field, for all the estates and commons of that lordship were there ready to behold that battle and judgment. Then came Sir Breunor, the lord of that castle, with his lady in his hand muffled, and asked Sir Tristram where was his lady:—For and thy lady be fairer than mine, with thy sword smite off my lady’s head, and if my lady be fairer than thine, with my sword I must strike off her head. And if I may win thee, yet shall thy lady be mine, and thou shalt lose thy head. Sir, said Tristram, this is a foul custom and horrible; and rather than my lady should lose her head, yet had I lever lose my head. Nay, nay, said Sir Breunor, the ladies shall be first shewed together, and the one shall have her judgment. Nay, I will not so, said Sir Tristram, for here is none that will give righteous judgment. But I doubt not, said Sir Tristram, my lady is fairer than thine, and that will I prove and make good with my hand. And whosoever he be that will say the contrary I will prove it on his head. And therewith Sir Tristram shewed La Beale Isoud, and turned her thrice about with his naked sword in his hand. And when Sir Breunor saw that, he did the same wise turn his lady. But when Sir Breunor beheld La Beale Isoud, him thought he never saw a fairer lady, and then he dread his lady’s head should be off. And so all the people that were there present gave judgment that La Beale Isoud was the fairer lady, and the better made. How now, said Sir Tristram, me seemeth it were pity that my lady should lose her head, but because that thou and she of long time have used this wicked custom, and by you both there have many good knights and ladies been destroyed, for that cause it were no loss to destroy you both. Truly, said Sir Breunor, for to say the sooth, thy lady is fairer than mine, and that me sore repenteth. And so I hear the people privily say; for of all women I saw none so fair, and therefore if thou wilt slay my lady, I doubt not but I shall slay thee and have thy lady. Thou shalt win her, said Sir Tristram, as dear as ever knight won lady, and because of thine own judgment, as thou wouldest have done to my lady if that she had been fouler, and because of the evil custom, give me thy lady, said Tristram. And therewithall Sir Tristram strode unto him and took his lady from him, and with an awk stroke he smote off her head clean. Well knight, said Sir Breunor, now hast thou done me a despite.

How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Breunor, and at the last smote off his head.

Now take thy horse: since I am ladyless I will win thy lady and I may. Then they took their horses and came together as it had been the thunder; and Sir Tristram smote Sir Breunor clean from his horse, and lightly he rose up; and as Sir Tristram came again by him he thrust his horse throughout both the shoulders, that his horse hurled here and there and fell dead to the ground. And ever Sir Breunor ran after to have slain Sir Tristram, but Sir Tristram was light and nimble and voided his horse lightly. And or ever Sir Tristram might dress his shield and his sword, the other gave him three or four sad strokes. Then they rushed together like two boars, tracing and traversing mightily and wisely as two noble knights. For this Sir Breunor was a proved knight, and had been, or then, the death of many good knights, that it was pity that he had so long endured. Thus they fought, hurling here and there nigh two hours, and either were wounded sore. Then at the last Sir Breunor rushed upon Sir Tristram, and took him in his arms, for he trusted much in his strength. Then was Sir Tristram called the strongest and the highest knight of the world, for he was called bigger than Sir Launcelot, but Sir Launcelot was better breathed. So anon Sir Tristram thrust Sir Breunor down groveling, and then he unlaced his helm and strake off his head. And then all they that longed to the castle came to him and did him homage and fealty, praying him that he would abide there still a little while to fordo that foul custom. Sir Tristram granted thereto. The meanwhile one of the knights of the castle rode unto Sir Galahad, the haut prince, the which was Sir Breunor’s son, which was a noble knight, and told him what misadventure his father had and his mother.

How Sir Galahad fought with Sir Tristram, and how Sir Tristram yielded him and promised to fellowship with Launcelot.

Then came Sir Galahad and the king with the hundred knights with him, and this Sir Galahad proffered to fight with Sir Tristram hand for hand. And so they made them ready to go unto battle on horseback with great courage. Then Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram met together so hard that either bare other down, horse and all, to the earth. And then they avoided their horses as noble knights, and dressed their shields and drew their swords with ire and rancour, and they lashed together many sad strokes, and one while striking, another while foining, tracing and traversing as noble knights, thus they fought long, near half a day, and either were sore wounded. At the last Sir Tristram waxed light and big, and doubled his strokes, and drove Sir Galahad aback on the one side and on the other, so that he was like to have been slain. With that came the king with the hundred knights, and all that fellowship went fiercely upon Sir Tristram. When Sir Tristram saw them coming upon him, then he wist well he might not endure. Then as a wise knight of war, he said to Sir Galahad the haut prince, Sir, ye shew to me no knighthood, for to suffer all your men to have ado with me all at once, and as me seemeth ye be a noble knight of your hands, it is a great shame to you. Truly, said Sir Galahad, there is none other way but thou must yield thee to me, other else to die, said Sir Galahad to Sir Tristram. I will rather yield me to you than die, for that is more for the might of your men than for the might of your hands. And therewith Sir Tristram took his own sword by the point, and put the pommel in the hand of Sir Galahad. Therewithall came the king with the hundred knights, and hard began to assail Sir Tristram. Let be, said Sir Galahad, be 184ye not so hardy to touch him, for I have given this knight his life. That is your shame, said the king with the hundred knights; hath he not slain your father and your mother? As for that, said Sir Galahad, I may not blame him greatly, for my father had him in prison, and enforced him to do battle with him, and my father had such a custom, that was a shameful custom, that what knight came there to ask harbour, his lady must needs die but if she were fairer than my mother, and if my father overcame that knight he must needs die. This was a shameful custom and usage, a knight for his harbour asking to have such harbourage. And for this custom I would never draw about him. Truly, said the king, this was a shameful custom. Yea, said Sir Galahad, so seemed me, and me seemed it had been great pity that this knight should have been slain, for I dare say he is the noblest man that beareth life, but if it were Sir Launcelot du Lake. Now fair knight, said Sir Galahad, I require thee tell me thy name, and of whence thou art, and whither thou wilt. Sir, he said, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and from king Mark of Cornwall I was sent on message unto king Anguish of Ireland, for to fetch his daughter to be his wife, and here she is ready to go with me into Cornwall, and her name is La Beale Isoud. And Sir Tristram, said Sir Galahad the haut prince, well be ye found in these marches, and so ye will promise me to go unto Sir Launcelot du Lake and accompany with him, ye shall go where ye will, and your fair lady with you. And I shall promise you never in all my days shall such customs be used in this castle as have been used. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now I let you wit I wend ye had been Sir Launcelot du Lake when I saw you first, and, therefore I dread you the more; and Sir, I promise you, said Sir Tristram, as soon as I may I will see Sir Launcelot and enfellowship me with him, for of all the knights of the world I most desire his fellowship.

How Sir Launcelot met with Sir Carados bearing away Sir Gawaine, and of the rescue of Sir Gawaine.

And then Sir Tristram took his leave when he saw his time, and took the sea. And in the mean while word came unto Sir Launcelot and to Sir Tristram that Sir Carados the mighty king, that was made like a giant, had fought with Sir Gawaine, and gave him such strokes that he swooned in his saddle, and after that he took him by the collar and pulled him out of his saddle, and fast bound him to the saddle bow, and so rode his way with him towards his castle. And as he rode, by fortune Sir Launcelot met with Sir Carados, and anon he knew Sir Gawaine that lay bound after him. Ah, said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Gawaine, how stands it with you? Never so hard, said Sir Gawaine, unless that ye help me, for without ye rescue me I know no knight that may, but either you or Sir Tristram. Wherefore Sir Launcelot was heavy of Sir Gawaine’s words. And then Sir Launcelot bad Sir Carados, Lay down that knight, and fight with me. Thou art but a fool, said Sir Carados, for I will serve you in the same wise. As for that, said Sir Launcelot, spare me not, for I warn thee I will not spare thee. And then he bound Sir Gawaine hand and foot, and so threw him to the ground. And then he gat his spear of his Squire and departed from Sir Launcelot to fetch his course. And so either met with other, and brake their spears to their hands, and then they pulled out swords and hurtled together on horseback more than an hour. And at the last Sir Launcelot smote Sir Carados such a buffet upon the helm that it perched his brain-pan. So then Sir Launcelot took Sir Carados by the collar and pulled him under his horse feet, and then he alight and pulled off his helm and strake off his head. And then Sir Launcelot unbound Sir Gawaine. So this same tale was told to Sir Galahad and to Sir Tristram:—here 185may ye hear the nobleness that followeth Sir Launcelot. Alas, said Sir Tristram, and I had not this message in hand with this fair lady, truly I would never stint or I had found Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud went to the sea and came into Cornwall, and there all the barons met them.

Of the wedding of king Mark to La Beale Isoud, and of Bragwaine her maid, and of Palamides.

And anon they were richly wedded with great nobley. But ever, as the French book saith, Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud loved ever together.

Then was there great justs and great tourneying, and many lords and ladies were at that feast, and Sir Tristram was most praised of all other. Thus dured the feast long, and after the feast was done, within a little while after, by the assent of two ladies that were with queen Isoud, they ordained for hate and envy to destroy dame Bragwaine, that was maiden and lady unto La Beale Isoud, and she was sent into the forest for to fetch herbs, and there she was met, and bound feet and hand to a tree, and so she was bounden three days. And by fortune Sir Palamides found dame Bragwaine and there he delivered her from the death, and brought her to a nunnery there beside to be recovered. When Isoud the queen missed her maiden wit ye well she was right heavy as ever was any queen, for of all earthly women she loved her best, the cause was for she came with her out of her country.

And so upon a day the queen Isoud walked into the forest to put away her thoughts, and there she went herself unto a well and made great moan. And suddenly there came Sir Palamides to her, and had heard all her complaint, and said, Madame Isoud, and if ye will grant me my boon I shall bring to you dame Bragwaine safe and sound. And the queen was so glad of his proffer that suddenly unadvised she granted all his asking. Well madam, said Sir Palamides, I trust to your promise, and if ye will abide here half an hour I shall bring her to you. I shall abide you, said La Beale Isoud. Then Sir Palamides rode forth his way to that nunnery, and lightly he came again with dame Bragwaine; but by her good will she would not have come again, because for love of the queen she stood in adventure of her life. Notwithstanding, half against her will, she went with Sir Palamides unto the queen. And when the queen saw her she was passing glad. Now madam, said Palamides, remember upon your promise, for I have fulfilled my promise. Sir Palamides, said the queen, I wot not what is your desire, but I will that ye wit howbeit I promised you largely I thought none evil, nor I warn you none ill will I do. Madam, said Sir Palamides, as at this time ye shall not know my desire, but before my lord your husband there shall ye know that I will have my desire that ye have promised me. And therewith the queen departed and rode home to the king, and Sir Palamides rode after her. And when Sir Palamides came before the king he said, Sir king, I require you as ye be a righteous king, that ye will judge me the right. Tell me the cause, said the king, and ye shall have right.

How Palamides demanded queen Isoud, and how Lambegus rode after to rescue her, and of the escape of Isoud.

Sir, said Palamides, I promised your queen Isoud to bring again dame Bragwaine that she had lost, upon this covenant, that she should grant me a boon that I would ask, and without grudging other advisement she granted me. What say ye, my lady? said the king. It is truly as he saith, said the queen, to say the sooth I promised him his asking for love and joy that I had to see her. Well madam, said the king, and if ye were hasty to grant him what boon he would ask, I will well that ye perform your promise. Then said Sir Palamides, I will that ye wit that I will have your 186queen to lead her and govern her where as me list. Therewith the king stood still, and bethought him of Sir Tristram, and deemed that he would rescue her. And then hastily the king answered, Take her with the adventures that shall fall of it, for Sir Palamides as I suppose thou wilt not keep her no while. As for that, said Sir Palamides, I dare right well abide the adventure. And so to make short tale, Sir Palamides took her by the hand and said, Madam, grudge not to go with me, for I desire nothing but your own promise. As for that, said the queen, I fear not greatly to go with thee, howbeit thou hast me at advantage upon my promise. For I doubt not I shall be worshipfully rescued from thee. As for that, said Sir Palamides, be it as it be may. So queen Isoud was set behind Palamides, and rode his way. Anon the king sent after Sir Tristram, but in no wise he could be found, for he was in the forest an hunting; for that was always his custom, but if he used arms, to chase and to hunt in the forests. Alas, said the king, now I am shamed for ever, that by mine own assent my lady and my queen shall be devoured. Then came forth a knight, his name was Lambegus, and he was a knight of Sir Tristram. My lord, said this knight, sith ye have trust in my lord Sir Tristram, wit ye well for his sake I will ride after your queen and rescue her, or else I shall be beaten. Gramercy, said the king, and I live, Sir Lambegus, I shall deserve it. And then Sir Lambegus armed him, and rode after as fast as he might. And then within awhile he overtook Sir Palamides: and then Sir Palamides left the queen. What art thou? said Sir Palamides, art thou Tristram? Nay, he said, I am his servant, and my name is Sir Lambegus. That me repenteth, said Sir Palamides, I had lever thou hadst been Sir Tristram. I believe you well, said Sir Lambegus, but when thou meetest with Sir Tristram thou shalt have thy hands full. And then they hurtled together and all to-brast their spears, and then they pulled out their swords and hewed on helms and hauberks. At the last Sir Palamides gave Sir Lambegus such a wound that he fell down like a dead knight to the earth. Then he looked after La Beale Isoud, and then she was gone he nist where. Wit ye well Sir Palamides was never so heavy. So the queen ran into the forest, and there she found a well, and therein she had thought to have drowned herself. And as good fortune would, there came a knight to her that had a castle thereby, his name was Sir Adtherp. And when he found the queen in that mischief he rescued her, and brought her to his castle. And when he wist what she was, he armed him and took his horse, and said he would be avenged upon Palamides, and so he rode till he met with him, and there Sir Palamides wounded him sore, and by force he made him to tell him the cause why he did battle with him, and how he had led the queen unto his castle. Now bring me there, said Palamides, or thou shalt die of my hands. Sir, said Sir Adtherp, I am so wounded I may not follow, but ride you this way, and it shall bring you into my castle, and there within is the queen. And then Sir Palamides rode still till he came to the castle, and at a window La Beale Isoud saw Sir Palamides, then she made the gates to be shut strongly. And when he saw he might not come within the castle, he put off his bridle and his saddle, and put his horse to pasture, and set himself down at the gate like a man that was out of his wit that recked not of himself.

How Sir Tristram rode after Palamides, and how he found him and fought with him, and by the mean of Isoud the battle ceased.

Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that when he was come home and wist La Beale Isoud was gone with Sir Palamides, wit ye well he was wroth out of measure. Alas, said Sir Tristram, I am this day shamed. Then he cried to Gouvernail 187his man, Haste thee that I were armed and on horseback, for well I wot Lambegus hath no might nor strength to withstand Sir Palamides; alas, that I had not been in his stead. So anon as he was armed and horsed Sir Tristram and Gouvernail rode after into the forest, and within a while he found his knight Lambegus almost wounded to the death, and Sir Tristram bare him to a forester, and charged him to keep him well. And then he rode forth, and there he found Sir Adtherp sore wounded, and he told him how the queen would have drowned herself and he had not been, and how for her sake and love he had taken upon him to do battle with Sir Palamides. Where is my lady? said Sir Tristram. Sir, said the knight, she is sure enough within my castle, and she can hold her within it. Gramercy, said Sir Tristram, of thy great goodness. And so he rode till he came nigh to that castle, and then Sir Tristram saw where Sir Palamides sat at the gate sleeping, and his horse pastured fast afore him. Now go thou Gouvernail, said Sir Tristram, and bid him awake and make him ready. So Gouvernail rode unto him and said, Sir Palamides, arise and take to thee thine harness. But he was in such a study that he heard not what Gouvernail said. So Gouvernail came again and told Sir Tristram that he slept, or else he was mad. Go thou again, said Sir Tristram, and bid him arise, and tell him that I am here his mortal foe. So Gouvernail rode again and put upon him the butt of his spear, and said, Sir Palamides make thee ready, for wit ye well Sir Tristram hoveth yonder, and sendeth thee word he is thy mortal foe. And therewithal Sir Palamides arose stilly without words, and gat his horse and saddled him and bridled him, and lightly he lept upon him, and gat his spear in his hand, and either feutred their spears, and hurtled fast together; and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides over his horse tail. Then lightly Sir Palamides put his shield afore him and drew his sword, and there began strong battle on both parties, for both they fought for the love of one lady, and ever she lay on the walls and beheld them how they fought out of measure, and either were wounded passing sore, but Palamides was much sorer wounded. Thus they fought tracing and traversing more than two hours, that well nigh for dole and sorrow La Beale Isoud swooned. Alas, said she, that one I loved and yet do, and the other I love not, yet it were great pity that I should see Sir Palamides slain, for well I know by that time the end be done Sir Palamides is but a dead knight, and because he is not christened I would be loth that he should die a Saracen. And therewithal she came down and besought Sir Tristram to fight no more. Ah madam, said he, what mean you? will ye have me shamed? Well ye know I will be ruled by you. I will not your dishonour, said La Beale Isoud, but I would that ye would for my sake spare this unhappy Saracen Palamides. Madam, said Sir Tristram, I will leave fighting at this time for your sake.

Then she said to Sir Palamides: This shall be your charge, that thou shalt go out of this country while I am therein. I will obey your commandment, said Sir Palamides, the which is sore against my will. Then take thy way, said La Beale Isoud, unto the court of king Arthur, and there recommend me unto queen Guenever, and tell her that I send her word that there be within the land but four lovers, that is Sir Launcelot du Lake and queen Guenever, and Sir Tristram de Liones and queen Isoud.

How Sir Tristram brought queen Isoud home, and of the debate of king Mark and Sir Tristram.

And so Sir Palamides departed with great heaviness. And Sir Tristram took the queen and brought her again to king Mark, and then was there made great joy of her home coming. Who was cherished but Sir Tristram! Then Sir Tristram let fetch Sir Lambegus his 188knight from the forester’s house, and it was long or he was whole, but at the last he was well recovered. Thus they lived with joy and play a long while. But ever Sir Andred, that was nigh cousin unto Sir Tristram, lay in a watch to wait betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, for to take them and slander them. So upon a day Sir Tristram talked with La Beale Isoud in a window, and that espied Sir Andred, and told it to the king. Then king Mark took a sword in his hand and came to Sir Tristram, and called him false traitor, and would have stricken him. But Sir Tristram was nigh him, and ran under his sword, and took it out of his hand. And then the king cried, Where are my knights and my men? I charge you slay this traitor. But at that time there was not one would move for his words. When Sir Tristram saw there was not one would be against him, he shook the sword to the king, and made countenance as though he would have stricken him. And then king Mark fled, and Sir Tristram followed him, and smote upon him five or six strokes flatling on the neck that he made him to fall upon the nose. And then Sir Tristram went his way and armed him, and took his horse and his man, and so he rode into that forest. And there upon a day Sir Tristram met with two brethren that were knights with king Mark, and there he strake off the head of the one, and wounded the other to the death, and he made him to bear his brother’s head in his helm unto the king, and thirty more there he wounded. And when that knight came before the king to say his message, he there died afore the king and the queen. Then king Mark called his council unto him and asked advice of his barons what was best to do with Sir Tristram. Sir, said the barons, in especial Sir Dinas the seneschal, Sir, we will give you counsel for to send for Sir Tristram, for we will that ye wit many men will hold with Sir Tristram and he were hard bested. And sir, said Sir Dinas, ye shall understand that Sir Tristram is called peerless and matchless of any christian knight, and of his might and his hardiness we knew none so good a knight, but if it be Sir Launcelot du Lake. And if he depart from your court and go to king Arthur’s court, wit ye well he will get him such friends there that he will not set by your malice. And therefore, sir, I counsel you to take him to your grace. I will well, said the king, that he be sent for, that we may be friends. Then the barons sent for Sir Tristram under a safe conduct. And so when Sir Tristram came to the king, he was welcome, and no rehearsal was made, and there was game and play. And then the king and the queen went on hunting, and Sir Tristram.

How Sir Lamorak justed with thirty knights, and Sir Tristram at request of king Mark smote his horse down.

The king and the queen made their pavilions and their tents in that forest beside a river, and there was daily hunting and justing, for there were ever thirty knights ready to just unto all them that came in at that time. And there by fortune came Sir Lamorak de Galis and Sir Driant, and there Sir Driant justed right well, but at the last he had a fall. Then Sir Lamorak proffered to just. And when he began he fared so with the thirty knights that there was not one of them but that he gave him a fall, and some of them were sore hurt. I marvel, said king Mark, what knight he is that doth such deeds of arms. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I know him for a noble knight as few now be living, and his name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. It were great shame, said the king, that he should go thus away, unless that some of you met with him better. Sir, said Sir Tristram, me seemeth it were no worship for a noble man for to have ado with him; and for because at this time he hath done overmuch for any mean knight living, therefore, as me seemeth, it were great shame and villainy to tempt him any more at this time, insomuch as 189he and his horse are weary both; for the deeds of arms that he hath done this day, and they be well considered, were enough for Sir Launcelot du Lake.

As for that, said king Mark, I require you as ye love me and my lady the queen La Beale Isoud, take your arms and just with Sir Lamorak de Galis. Sir, said Sir Tristram, ye bid me do a thing that is against knighthood, and well I can deem that I shall give him a fall, for it is no mastery, for my horse and I be fresh both, and so is not his horse and he; and wit ye well that he will take it for great unkindness, for ever one good is loth to take another at disadvantage. But because I will not displease you, as ye require me so will I do, and obey your commandment. And so Sir Tristram armed him anon and took his horse, and put him forth, and there Sir Lamorak met him mightily, and what with the might of his own spear, and of Sir Tristram’s spear, Sir Lamorak’s horse fell to the earth, and he sitting in the saddle. Then anon as lightly as he might he avoided the saddle and his horse, and put his shield afore him, and drew his sword. And then he bad Sir Tristram, Alight, thou knight, and thou darest. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will no more have ado with thee, for I have done to thee overmuch unto my dishonour, and to thy worship. As for that, said Sir Lamorak, I can thee no thank: since thou hast forjusted me on horseback, I require thee, and I beseech thee, and thou be Sir Tristram, fight with me on foot. I will not so, said Sir Tristram; and wit ye well my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and well I know ye be Sir Lamorak de Galis, and this that I have done to you was against my will, but I was required thereto; but to say that I will do at your request as at this time, I will have no more ado with you, for me shameth of that I have done. As for the shame, said Sir Lamorak, on thy part or on mine, bear thou it and thou wilt, for though a mare’s son hath failed me, now a queen’s son shall not fail thee; and therefore, and thou be such a knight as men call thee, I require thee, alight, and fight with me. Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, I understand your heart is great, and cause why ye have, to say the sooth: for it would grieve me and any knight should keep himself fresh and then to strike down a weary knight, for that knight nor horse was never formed that alway might stand or endure. And therefore, said Sir Tristram, I will not have ado with you, for me forthinketh of that I have done. As for that, said Sir Lamorak, I shall quit you and ever I see my time.

How Sir Lamorak sent an horn to king Mark in despite of Sir Tristram, and how Sir Tristram was driven into a chapel.

So he departed from him with Sir Driant, and by the way they met with a knight that was sent from Morgan le Fay unto king Arthur, and this knight had a fair horn harnessed with gold, and the horn had such a virtue that there might no lady nor gentlewoman drink of that horn but if she were true to her husband, and if she were false she should spill all the drink, and if she were true to her lord she might drink peaceably. And because of queen Guenever, and in the despite of Sir Launcelot, this horn was sent unto king Arthur, and by force Sir Lamorak made that knight to tell all the cause why he bare that horn. Now shalt thou bear this horn, said Lamorak unto king Mark, or else choose thou to die for it. For I tell thee plainly, in despite and reproof of Sir Tristram thou shalt bear that horn unto king Mark his uncle, and say thou to him that I sent it him for to assay his lady, and if she be true to him he shall prove her. So the knight went his way unto king Mark, and brought him that rich horn, and said that Sir Lamorak sent it him, and thereto he told him the virtue of that horn. Then the king made queen Isoud to drink thereof, and an hundred ladies, and there were but 190four ladies of all those that drank clean. Alas, said king Mark, this is a great despite; and sware a great oath that she should be burnt, and the other ladies. Then the barons gathered them together, and said plainly, they would not have those ladies burnt for an horn made by sorcery, that came from as false a sorceress and witch as then was living. For that horn did never good, but caused strife and debate, and always in her days she had been an enemy to all true lovers. So there were many knights made their avow, if ever they met with Morgan le Fay that they would shew her short courtesy. Also Sir Tristram was passing wroth that Sir Lamorak sent that horn unto king Mark, for well he knew that it was done in the despite of him; and therefore he thought to quit Sir Lamorak. Then, always, Sir Tristram used to go to queen Isoud when he might, and ever Sir Andred his cousin watched him night and day, for to take him with La Beale Isoud. And so, upon a day, Sir Andred his cousin espied the hour and the time when Sir Tristram went to his lady. And then Sir Andred gat unto him twelve knights, and he set upon Sir Tristram secretly and suddenly, and there Sir Tristram was taken with La Beale Isoud, and then was he bound hand and foot, and so was he kept until the next day. And then by assent of king Mark, and of Sir Andred, and of some of the barons, Sir Tristram was led unto a chapel which stood upon the sea rocks, there for to take his judgment; and so he was led bound with forty knights. And when Sir Tristram saw there was none other remedy but needs that he must die, then said he, Fair lords, remember what I have done for the country of Cornwall, and in what jeopardy I have been in for the weal of you all. For when I fought for the truage of Cornwall with Sir Marhaus the good knight, I was promised for to be better rewarded, when ye all refused to take the battle; therefore, as ye be good gentle knights, see me not thus shamefully to die, for it is shame to all knighthood thus to see me die. For I dare well say, said Sir Tristram, that I never yet met with no knight but I was as good as he, or better. Fie upon thee, said Sir Andred, false traitor that thou art with thy vaunting, for all thy boast thou shalt die this day. O Andred, Andred, said Sir Tristram, thou shouldst be my kinsman, and now thou art to me full unfriendly, but and there were no more but thou and I, thou wouldst not put me to death. No! said Sir Andred, and therewith he drew his sword and would have slain him. When Sir Tristram saw him make such countenance, he looked upon both his hands that were fast bound unto two knights, and suddenly he pulled them both to him and unwrast his hands, and then he lept unto his cousin Andred and wrested his sword out of his hands, then he smote Sir Andred that he fell to the earth, and so Sir Tristram fought till he had killed ten knights. So then Sir Tristram gat the chapel and kept it mightily. Then the cry was great, and the people drew fast unto Sir Andred, more than an hundred. When Sir Tristram saw the people draw unto him, he remembered that he was naked, and shut fast the chapel door, and brake the bars of a window, and so he lept out and fell upon the crags in the sea. And so at that time Sir Andred nor none of his fellows might get to him at that time.

How Sir Tristram was holpen by his men, and of queen Isoud which was put in a lazar-cote, and how Tristram was hurt.

So when they were departed, Gouvernail and Sir Lambegus, and Sir Sentraille de Lushon, that were Sir Tristram’s men, sought their master. When they heard he was escaped, then they were passing glad, and on the rocks they found him, and with towels they pulled him up. And then Sir Tristram asked them where La Beale Isoud was, for he wend she had been had away of Andred’s people. Sir, said Gouvernail, she is put in a lazar-cote. Alas, said Sir Tristram, this is a full ungoodly place for such a fair lady; 191and if I may she shall not be long there. And so he took his men, and went there as was La Beale Isoud, and fetched her away, and brought her into a forest to a fair manor, and Sir Tristram there abode with her. So the good knight bad his men go from him,—For at this time I may not help you. So they departed all save Gouvernail. And so upon a day Sir Tristram went into the forest for to desport him, and then it happened that he fell there on sleep. And there came a man that Sir Tristram afore hand had slain his brother; and when this man had found him he shot him through the shoulder with an arrow, and Sir Tristram lept up and killed that man. And in the mean while it was told king Mark how Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud were in that same manor, and as soon as ever he might thither he came with many knights to slay Sir Tristram. And when he came there he found him gone; and there he took La Beale Isoud home with him, and kept her strait that by no means never she might wit nor send unto Tristram, nor he unto her. And then when Sir Tristram came toward the old manor, he found the track of many horses, and thereby he wist his lady was gone. And then Sir Tristram took great sorrow, and endured with great pain long time, for the arrow that he was hurt withall was envenomed.

Then by the means of La Beale Isoud she told a lady that was cousin unto dame Bragwaine, and she came to Sir Tristram, and told him that he might not be whole by no means,—For thy lady La Beale Isoud may not help thee; therefore she biddeth you haste into Britanny to king Howel, and there ye shall find his daughter Isoud la Blanche Mains, and she shall help thee. Then Sir Tristram and Gouvernail gat them shipping, and so sailed into Britanny. And when king Howel wist that it was Sir Tristram he was full glad of him. Sir, he said, I am come into this country to have help of your daughter, for it is told me that there is none other may heal me but she. And so within a while she healed him.

How Sir Tristram served in war king Howel of Britanny and slew his adversary in the field.

There was an earl that hight Grip, and this earl made great war upon the king, and put the king to the worse, and besieged him. And on a time Sir Kehydius, that was son to king Howel, as he issued out he was sore wounded nigh to the death. Then Gouvernail went to the king and said, Sir, I counsel you to desire my lord, Sir Tristram, as in your need to help you. I will do by your counsel, said the king. And so he went unto Sir Tristram and prayed him in his wars for to help him, for my son Sir Kehydius may not go into the field. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I will go to the field, and do what I may. Then Sir Tristram issued out of the town with such fellowship as he might make, and did such deeds that all Britanny spake of him. And then at the last, by great might and force, he slew the earl Grip with his own hands, and more than an hundred knights he slew that day. And then Sir Tristram was received right worshipfully with procession. Then king Howel embraced him in his arms and said, Sir Tristram, all my kingdom I will resign to thee. God defend, said Sir Tristram, for I am beholden unto you for your daughter’s sake to do for you. Then by the great means of king Howel and Kehydius his son, by great proffers there grew great love betwixt Isoud and Sir Tristram, for that lady was both good and fair, and a woman of noble blood and fame. And for because that Sir Tristram had such cheer and riches, and all other pleasance that he had, almost he had forsaken La Beale Isoud. And so upon a time Sir Tristram agreed to wed Isoud la Blanche Mains. And at the last they were wedded, and solemnly held their marriage.

And in the mean while there was a knight in Britanny, his name was Suppinabiles, and he came over the sea into England, and then he came unto 192the court of king Arthur, and there he met with Sir Launcelot du Lake, and told him of the marriage of Sir Tristram. Then said Sir Launcelot, Fie upon him, untrue knight to his lady; that so noble a knight as Sir Tristram is, should be found to his first lady false, La Beale Isoud, queen of Cornwall. But say ye him this, said Sir Launcelot, that of all knights in the world I loved him most, and had most joy of him, and all was for his noble deeds; and let him wit the love between him and me is done for ever, and that I give him warning from this day forth as his mortal enemy.

How Sir Suppinabiles told Sir Tristram how he was defamed in the court of king Arthur, and of Sir Lamorak.

Then departed Sir Suppinabiles unto Britanny again, and there he found Sir Tristram, and told him that he had been in king Arthur’s court. Then said Sir Tristram, Heard ye any thing of me? Truly, said Sir Suppinabiles, there I heard Sir Launcelot speak of you great shame, and that ye be a false knight to your lady, and he bad me to do you to wit that he will be your mortal enemy in every place where he may meet you. That me repenteth, said Tristram, for of all knights I loved to be in his fellowship. So Sir Tristram made great moan, and was ashamed that noble knights should defame him for the sake of his lady. And in this mean while La Beale Isoud made a letter unto queen Guenever, complaining her of the untruth of Sir Tristram, and how he had wedded the king’s daughter of Britanny. Queen Guenever sent her another letter, and bad her be of good cheer, for she should have joy after sorrow, for Sir Tristram was so noble a knight called, that by crafts of sorcery ladies would make such noble men to wed them, but in the end, queen Guenever said, it shall be thus, that he shall hate her, and love you better than ever he did tofore.

So leave we Sir Tristram in Britanny, and speak we of Sir Lamorak de Galis, that as he sailed his ship fell on a rock and perished all, save Sir Lamorak and his squire, and there he swam mightily, and fishers of the Isle of Servage took him up, and his squire was drowned, and the shipmen had great labour to save Sir Lamorak’s life for all the comfort that they could do. And the lord of that isle hight Sir Nabon le Noire, a great mighty giant. And this Sir Nabon hateth all the knights of king Arthur, and in no wise he would do them favor. And these fishers told Sir Lamorak all the guise of Sir Nabon, how there came never knight of king Arthur’s but he destroyed him. And at the last battle that he did was slain Sir Nanowne le Petite, the which he put to a shameful death in despite of king Arthur, for he was drawn limb-meal. That forthinketh me, said Sir Lamorak, for that knight’s death, for he was my cousin. And if I were at mine ease as well as ever I was, I would revenge his death. Peace, said the fishers, and make here no words, for, or ye depart from hence, Sir Nabon must know that ye have been here, or else we should die for your sake. So that I be whole, said Lamorak, of my disease that I have taken in the sea, I will that ye tell him that I am a knight of king Arthur’s, for I was never afeard to deny my lord.

How Sir Tristram and his wife arrived in Wales, and how he met there with Sir Lamorak.

Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that upon a day he took a little barge, and his wife Isoud la Blanch Mains, with Sir Kehydius her brother, to play them in the coasts. And when they were from the land, there was a wind drove them into the coast of Wales upon this Isle of Servage, where as was Sir Lamorak, and there the barge all to-rove, and there dame Isoud was hurt, and as well as they might they gat into the forest, and there by a well he saw Segwarides and a damsel. And then either 193saluted other. Sir, said Segwarides, I know you for Sir Tristram de Liones, the man in the world that I have the most cause to hate, because ye departed the love between me and my wife; but as for that, said Segwarides, I will never hate a noble knight for a light lady, and therefore I pray you be my friend, and I will be yours unto my power, for wit ye well ye are hard bested in this valley, and we shall have enough to do either of us to succour other. And then Sir Segwarides brought Sir Tristram unto a lady thereby that was born in Cornwall, and she told him all the perils of that valley, and how there came never knight there but he were taken prisoner or slain. Wit you well fair lady, said Sir Tristram, that I slew Sir Marhaus, and delivered Cornwall from the truage of Ireland, and I am he that delivered the king of Ireland from Sir Blamor de Ganis, and I am he that beat Sir Palamides, and wit ye well, I am Sir Tristram de Liones, that by the grace of God shall deliver this woful Isle of Servage. So Sir Tristram was well eased; then one told him there was a knight of king Arthur’s that was wrecked on the rocks. What is his name? said Sir Tristram. We wot not, said the fishers, but he keepeth it no counsel but that he is a knight of king Arthur’s, and by the mighty lord of this isle he setteth nought by. I pray you, said Sir Tristram, and ye may bring him hither that I may see him; and if he be any of the knights of Arthur’s I shall know him. Then the lady prayed the fishers to bring him to her place. So, on the morrow they brought him thither in a fisher’s raiment. And as soon as Sir Tristram saw him he smiled upon him and knew him well, but he knew not Sir Tristram. Fair knight, said Sir Tristram, me seemeth by your cheer ye have been diseased but late, and also me thinketh I should know you heretofore. I will well, said Sir Lamorak, that ye have seen me and met with me. Fair sir, said Sir Tristram, tell me your name. Upon a covenant I will tell you, said Sir Lamorak, that is, that ye will tell me whether ye be lord of this island or no, that is called Nabon le Noire. For sooth, said Sir Tristram, I am not he, nor I hold not of him, I am his foe as well ye be, and so shall I be found or I depart out of this isle. Well, said Sir Lamorak, since ye have said so largely unto me, my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis, son unto king Pellinore. For sooth, I trow well, said Sir Tristram, for, and ye said other, I know the contrary. What are ye, said Sir Lamorak, that knoweth me? I am Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, sir, remember ye not of the fall ye did give me once, and after ye refused me to fight on foot. That was not for fear I had of you, said Sir Tristram, but me shamed at that time to have more ado with you, for me seemed ye had enough; but, Sir Lamorak, for my kindness many ladies ye put to a reproof, when ye sent the horn from Morgan le Fay to king Mark, where as ye did this in despite of me. Well, said he, and it were to do again, so would I do, for I had lever strife and debate fell in king Mark’s court rather than Arthur’s court, for the honour of both courts be not alike. As to that, said Sir Tristram, I know well. But that that was done, it was for despite of me, but all your malice hurt not greatly. Therefore, said Sir Tristram, ye shall leave all your malice and so will I, and let us assay how we may win worship between you and me upon this giant Sir Nabon le Noire, that is lord of this island, to destroy him. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, now I understand your knighthood, it may not be false that all men say, for of your bounty, nobless, and worship, of all knights ye are peerless; and for courtesy and gentleness I shewed you ungentleness, and that now me repenteth.

How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Nabon and overcame him, and made Sir Lamorak lord of the isle.

In the mean time came word that Sir Nabon had made a cry that all the 194people of that isle should be at his castle the fifth day after. And the same day the son of Nabon should be made knight, and all the knights of that valley and thereabout should be there to just, and all those of the realm of Logris should be there to just with them of North Wales; and thither came five hundred knights, and they of the country brought there Sir Lamorak, and Sir Tristram, and Sir Kehydius, and Sir Segwarides, for they durst none otherwise do. And then Sir Nabon lent Sir Lamorak horse and armour at Sir Lamorak’s desire, and Sir Lamorak justed and did such deeds of arms that Nabon and all the people said there was never knight that ever they saw do such deeds of arms. For, as the French book saith, he forjusted all that were there, for the most part of five hundred knights, that none abode him in his saddle. Then Sir Nabon proffered to play with him his play:—For I saw never no knight do so much upon a day. I will well, said Sir Lamorak, play as I may, but I am weary and sore bruised: and there either gat a spear, but Nabon would not encounter with Sir Lamorak, but smote his horse in the forehead and so slew him, and then Sir Lamorak went on foot and turned his shield and drew his sword, and there began strong battle on foot. But Sir Lamorak was so sore bruised and short breathed, that he traced and traversed somewhat aback. Fair fellow, said Sir Nabon, hold thy hand, and I shall shew thee more courtesy than ever I shewed knight, because I have seen this day thy noble knighthood. And therefore stand thou by, and I will wit whether any of thy fellows will have ado with me. Then when Sir Tristram heard that, he stept forth and said, Nabon, lend me horse and sure armour, and I will have ado with thee. Well fellow, said Sir Nabon, go thou to yonder pavilion, and arm thee of the best thou findest there, and I shall play a marvellous play with thee. Then, said Sir Tristram, look ye play well, or else peradventure I shall learn you a new play. That is well said, fellow, said Sir Nabon. So when Sir Tristram was armed as him liked best, and well shielded and sworded, he dressed to him on foot, for well he knew that Sir Nabon would not abide a stroke with a spear, therefore he would slay all knights’ horses. Now fair fellow, said Sir Nabon, let us play. So then they fought long on foot, tracing and traversing, smiting and foining long without any rest. At the last Sir Nabon prayed him to tell him his name. Sir Nabon, I tell thee my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, a knight of Cornwall under king Mark. Thou art welcome, said Sir Nabon, for of all knights I have most desired to fight with thee or with Sir Launcelot. So then they went eagerly together, and Sir Tristram slew Sir Nabon, and so forthwith he lept to his son and strake off his head. And then all the country said they would hold of Sir Tristram. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not so: here is a worshipful knight Sir Lamorak de Galis that for me he shall be lord of this country, for he hath done here great deeds of arms. Nay, said Sir Lamorak, I will not be lord of this country, for I have not deserved it as well as ye, therefore give ye it where ye will, for I will none have. Well, said Sir Tristram, since ye nor I will not have it, let us give it to him that hath not so well deserved it. Do as ye list, said Sir Lamorak, for the gift is yours, for I will none have and I had deserved it. So it was given to Segwarides, wherefore he thanked him, and so was he lord, and worshipfully he did govern it. And then Sir Segwarides delivered all prisoners, and set good governance in that valley; and so he returned into Cornwall, and told king Mark and La Beale Isoud how Sir Tristram had advanced him to the Isle of Servage, and there he proclaimed in all Cornwall of all the adventures of these two knights, so was it openly known. But full woe was La Beale Isoud when she heard tell that Sir Tristram was wedded to Isoud La Blanche Mains.

How Sir Lamorak departed from Sir Tristram, and how he met with Sir Frol, and after with Sir Launcelot.

So turn we unto Sir Lamorak, that rode toward Arthur’s court; and Sir Tristram and his wife and Kehydius took a vessel and sailed into Britanny unto king Howel, where he was welcome. And when he heard of these adventures they marvelled of his noble deeds. Now turn we unto Sir Lamorak, that when he was departed from Sir Tristram, he rode out of the forest till he came to an hermitage. When the hermit saw him he asked him from whence he came. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, I come from this valley. Sir, said the hermit, thereof I greatly marvel, for this twenty winter I saw never no knight pass this country but he was either slain or villainously wounded, or passed as a poor prisoner. Those ill customs, said Sir Lamorak, are fordone; for Sir Tristram slew your lord Sir Nabon, and his son. Then was the hermit glad, and all his brethren, for he said there was never such a tyrant among Christian men,—and therefore, said the hermit, this valley and franchise we will hold of Sir Tristram. So on the morrow Sir Lamorak departed. And as he rode he saw four knights fight against one, and that one knight defended him well, but at the last the four knights had him down. And then Sir Lamorak went betwixt them, and asked them why they would slay that one knight, and said it was shame four against one. Thou shalt well wit, said the four knights, that he is false. That is your tale, said Sir Lamorak, and when I hear him also speak I will say as ye say. Then said Lamorak, Ah knight, can ye not excuse you but that ye are a false knight? Sir, said he, yet can I excuse me both with my words and with my hands, that I will make good upon one of the best of them, my body to his body. Then spake they all at once: We will not jeopard our bodies as for thee; but wit thou well, they said, and king Arthur were here himself, it should not lie in his power to save his life. That is too much said, said Sir Lamorak, but many speak behind a man more than they will say to his face. And because of your words, ye shall understand that I am one of the simplest of king Arthur’s court: in the worship of my lord now do your best, and in despite of you I shall rescue him. And then they lashed all at once to Sir Lamorak; but anon at two strokes Sir Lamorak had slain two of them, and then the other two fled. So then Sir Lamorak turned again to that knight and asked him his name. Sir, he said, my name is Sir Frol of the Out Isles. Then he rode with Sir Lamorak and bare him company; and as they rode by the way they saw a seemly knight riding against them, and all in white. Ah, said Frol, yonder knight justed late with me, and smote me down, therefore I will just with him. Ye shall not do so, said Sir Lamorak, by my counsel, and ye will tell me your quarrel, whether ye justed at his request, or he at yours. Nay, said Sir Frol, I justed with him at my request. Sir, said Lamorak, then will I counsel you deal no more with him, for me seemeth by his countenance he should be a noble knight and no jester, for me thinketh he should be of the Table Round. Therefore I will not spare, said Sir Frol; and then he cried and said, Sir knight, make thee ready to just. That needeth not, said the knight, for I have no lust to just with thee. But yet they feutred their spears, and the white knight overthrew Sir Frol, and then he rode his way a soft pace. Then Sir Lamorak rode after him, and prayed him to tell him his name, For me seemeth ye should be of the fellowship of the Round Table. Upon a covenant, said he, I will tell you my name, so that ye will not discover my name, and also that ye will tell me yours. Then, said he, my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. And my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Then they put up their swords, and kissed heartily together, and either made great joy of 196other. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, and it please you I will do you service. God defend, said Sir Launcelot, that any of so noble blood as ye be should do me service. Then he said more, I am in a quest that I must do myself alone. Now God speed you, said Sir Lamorak, and so they departed. Then Sir Lamorak came to Sir Frol and horsed him again. What knight is that? said Sir Frol. Sir, said he, it is not for you to know, nor it is no point of my charge. Ye are the more uncourteous, said Sir Frol, and therefore I will depart from you. Ye may do as ye list, said Sir Lamorak, and yet by my company you have saved the fairest flower of your garland. So they departed.

How Sir Lamorak slew Sir Frol, and of the courteous fighting with Sir Belliance his brother.

Then within two or three days Sir Lamorak found a knight at a well sleeping, and his lady sat with him and waked. Right so came Sir Gawaine and took the knight’s lady, and set her up behind his squire. So Sir Lamorak rode after Sir Gawaine, and said, Sir Gawaine, turn again. And then said Sir Gawaine, What will ye do with me? for I am nephew to king Arthur. Sir, said he, for that cause I will spare you, else that lady should abide with me, or else ye should just with me. Then Sir Gawaine turned him and ran to him that owned the lady with his spear. But the knight with pure might smote down Sir Gawaine, and took his lady with him. All this Sir Lamorak saw, and said to himself, But I revenge my fellow, he will say of me dishonour in king Arthur’s court. Then Sir Lamorak returned and proffered that knight to just. Sir, said he, I am ready. And so they came together with all their might, and there Sir Lamorak smote the knight through both sides, that he fell to the earth dead. Then the lady rode to that knight’s brother that hight Sir Belliance le Orgulous, that dwelled fast thereby, and then she told him how his brother was slain. Alas, said he, I will be revenged. And so horsed him and armed him, and within a while he overtook Sir Lamorak, and bad him, Turn, and leave that lady, for thou and I must play a new play, for thou hast slain my brother Sir Frol, that was a better knight than ever were thou. It might well be, said Sir Lamorak, but this day in the field I was found the better. So they rode together, and unhorsed other, and turned their shields and drew their swords, and fought mightily as noble knights proved by the space of two hours. So then Sir Belliance prayed him to tell his name. Sir, said he, my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. Ah, said Sir Belliance, thou art the man in the world that I most hate, for I slew my sons for thy sake, where I saved thy life, and now thou hast slain my brother Sir Frol. Alas, how should I be accorded with thee? therefore defend thee, for thou shalt die: there is none other remedy. Alas, said Sir Lamorak, full well me ought to know you, for ye are the man that most have done for me. And therewithal Sir Lamorak kneeled down and besought him of grace. Arise, said Sir Belliance, or else there as thou kneelest I shall slay thee. That shall not need, said Sir Lamorak, for I will yield me unto you, not for fear of you, nor for your strength, but your goodness maketh me full loth to have ado with you; wherefore I require you, for God’s sake, and for the honour of knighthood, forgive me all that I have offended unto you. Alas, said Belliance, leave thy kneeling, or else I shall slay thee without mercy. Then they went again unto battle, and either wounded other, that all the ground was bloody there as they fought. And at the last Belliance withdrew him aback and set him down softly upon a little hill, for he was so faint for bleeding that he might not stand. Then Sir Lamorak threw his shield upon his back, and asked him, What cheer? Well, said Sir Belliance. Ah sir, yet shall I shew you favour in your mal-ease. Ah 197knight, Sir Belliance said, Sir Lamorak thou art a fool, for and I had thee at such advantage as thou hast done me I should slay thee, but thy gentleness is so good and large that I must needs forgive thee mine evil will. And then Sir Lamorak kneeled down and unlaced first his umberere, and then his own. And then either kissed other with weeping tears. Then Sir Lamorak led Sir Belliance to an abbey fast by, and there Sir Lamorak would not depart from Belliance till he was whole. And then they swore together that none of them should never fight against other. So Sir Lamorak departed and went to the court of king Arthur.

Here leue we of sire Lamorak and of sir Tristram. And here begynneth the historye of La cote male tayle.

The Ninth Book.
How a young man came into the court of king Arthur, and how Sir Kay called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile.

At the court of king Arthur there came a young man and bigly made, and he was richly beseen, and he desired to be made knight of the king, but his over garment sat overthwartly, howbeit it was rich cloth of gold. What is your name? said king Arthur. Sir, said he, my name is Breunor le Noire, and within short space ye shall know that I am of good kin. It may well be, said Sir Kay the seneschal, but in mockage ye shall be called La Cote Male Taile, that is as much as to say, the evil-shapen coat. It is a great thing that thou askest, said the king; and for what cause wearest thou that rich coat? tell me; for I can well think for some cause it is. Sir, said he, I had a father a noble knight, and as he rode on hunting, upon a day it happed him to lay him down to sleep. And there came a knight that had been long his enemy. And when he saw he was fast on sleep, he all to-hewed him; and this same coat had my father on the same time, and that maketh this coat to sit so evil upon me, for the strokes be on it as I found it, and never shall be amended for me. Thus to have my father’s death in remembrance I wear this coat till I be revenged; and because ye are called the most noblest king in the world I come to you that ye should make me knight. Sir, said Sir Lamorak and Sir Gaheris, it were well done to make him knight, for him beseemeth well of person and of countenance, that he shall prove a good man, and a good knight and a mighty; for Sir, and ye be remembered, even such one was Sir Launcelot du Lake when he came first into this court, and full few of us knew from whence he came, and now he is proved the most man of worship in the world, and all your court and all your Round Table is by Sir Launcelot worshipped and amended more than by any knight now living. That is truth, said the king, and to-morrow at your request I shall make him knight. So on the morrow there was an hart found, and thither rode king Arthur with a company of his knights to slay the hart. And this young man that Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile was there left behind with queen Guenever, and by sudden adventure there was an horrible lion kept in a strong tower of stone, and it happened that he at that time brake loose, 198and came hurling afore the queen and her knights. And when the queen saw the lion, she cried, and fled, and prayed her knights to rescue her. And there was none of them all but twelve that abode, and all the other fled. Then said La Cote Male Taile, Now I see well that all coward knights be not dead: and therewithal he drew his sword and dressed him afore the lion. And that lion gaped wide, and came upon him ramping to have slain him. And he then smote him in the midst of the head such a mighty stroke that it clave his head in sunder, and dashed to the earth. Then was it told the queen how that the young man that Sir Kay named by scorn La Cote Male Taile had slain the lion. With that the king came home. And when the queen told him of that adventure he was well pleased, and said, Upon pain of mine head he shall prove a noble man, and a faithful knight, and true of his promise. Then the king forthwithal made him knight. Now Sir, said this young knight, I require you and all the knights of your court, that ye call me by none other name but La Cote Male Taile; insomuch as Sir Kay so hath named me, so will I be called. I assent me well thereto, said the king.

How a damsel came unto the court and desired a knight to take on him an inquest, which La Cote Male Taile emprized.

Then that same day there came a damsel into the king’s court, and she brought with her a great black shield, with a white hand in the midst holding a sword. Other picture was there none in that shield. When king Arthur saw her, he asked her from whence she came, and what she would. Sir, she said, I have ridden long and many a day with this shield many ways, and for this cause I am come to your court:—There was a good knight that owned this shield, and this knight had undertaken a great deed of arms to achieve it, and so it misfortuned him another strong knight met with him by sudden adventure, and there they fought long, and either wounded other passing sore, and they were so weary that they left that battle even hand. So this knight that owned this shield saw none other way but he must die; and then he commanded me to bear this shield to the court of king Arthur, he requiring and praying some good knight to take this shield, and that he would fulfil the quest that he was in. Now what say ye to this quest? said king Arthur. Is there any of you here that will take upon him to weld this shield? Then was there not one that would speak one word. Then Sir Kay took the shield in his hands. Sir knight, said the damsel, what is your name? Wit ye well, said he, my name is Sir Kay the seneschal, that widewhere is known. Sir, said that damsel, lay down that shield, for wit ye well it falleth not for you, for he must be a better knight than ye that shall weld this shield. Damsel, said Sir Kay, wit ye well I took this shield in my hands by your leave for to behold it, not to that intent, but go wheresoever thou wilt, for I will not go with you. Then the damsel stood still a great while, and beheld many of those knights. Then spake the knight La Cote Male Taile, Fair damsel, I will take the shield and that adventure upon me, so I wist I should know whither ward my journey might be, for because I was this day made knight I would take this adventure upon me. What is your name, fair young man? said the damsel. My name is, said he, La Cote Male Taile. Well mayest thou be called so, said the damsel, the knight with the evil-shapen coat, but and thou be so hardy to take upon thee to bear that shield and to follow me, wit thou well thy skin shall be as well hewn as thy coat. As for that, said La Cote Male Taile, when I am so hewn I will ask you no salve to heal me withal. And forthwithal there came into the court two squires, and brought him great horses and his armour and his spears, and anon he was armed, and took his leave. I would not 199by my will, said the king, that ye took upon you that hard adventure. Sir, said he, this adventure is mine, and the first that ever I took upon me, and that will I follow whatsoever come of me. Then that damsel departed, and La Cote Male Taile followed first after. And within a while he overtook the damsel. And anon she missaid him in the foullest manner.

How La Cote Male Taile overthrew Sir Dagonet the king’s fool, and of the rebuke that he had of the damsel.

Then Sir Kay ordained Sir Dagonet, king Arthur’s fool, to follow after La Cote Male Taile, and there Sir Kay ordained that Sir Dagonet was horsed and armed, and bad him follow La Cote Male Taile and proffer him to just, and so he did, and when he saw La Cote Male Taile he cried and bad him make him ready to just. So Sir La Cote Male Taile smote Sir Dagonet over his horse croup. Then the damsel mocked La Cote Male Taile, and said, Fie for shame, now art thou shamed in Arthur’s court when they send a fool to have ado with thee, and specially at thy first justs. Thus she rode long and chid. And within a while there came Sir Bleoberis the good knight, and there he justed with La Cote Male Taile, and there Sir Bleoberis smote him so sore that horse and all fell to the earth. Then La Cote Male Taile arose up lightly and dressed his shield and drew his sword, and would have done battle to the utterance, for he was wood wroth. Not so, said Bleoberis de Ganis, as at this time I will not fight upon foot. Then the damsel Maledisant rebuked him in the foullest manner, and bad him, turn again coward. Ah damsel, he said, I pray you of mercy to missay me no more, my grief is enough though ye give me no more. I call myself never the worse knight when a mare’s son faileth me, and also I count me never the worse knight for a fall of Sir Bleoberis. So thus he rode with her two days, and by fortune there came Sir Palamides and encountered with him, and he in the same wise served him as did Bleoberis toforehand. What dost thou here in my fellowship, said the damsel Maledisant, thou canst not sit no knight nor withstand him one buffet, but if it were Sir Dagonet. Ah fair damsel, I am not the worse to take a fall of Sir Palamides, and yet great disworship have I none, for neither Bleoberis nor yet Palamides would not fight with me on foot. As for that, said the damsel, wit thou well they have disdain and scorn to light off their horses to fight with such a mean knight as thou art. So in the meanwhile there came Sir Mordred, Sir Gawaine’s brother, and so he fell in the fellowship with the damsel Maledisant. And then they came afore the castle Orgulous, and there was such a custom that there might no knight come by that castle but either he must just or be prisoner, or at the least to lose his horse and his harness. And there came out two knights against them, and Sir Mordred justed with the foremost, and that knight of the castle smote Sir Mordred down off his horse. And then anon La Cote Male Taile justed with that other, and either of them smote other down, horse and all to the earth. And when they avoided their horses, then either of them took other’s horses. And then La Cote Male Taile rode into that knight that smote down Sir Mordred, and justed with him; and there Sir La Cote Male Taile hurt and wounded him passing sore, and put him from his horse as he had been dead. So he turned unto him that met him afore, and he took the flight toward the castle, and Sir La Cote Male Taile rode after him into the castle Orgulous, and there La Cote Male Taile slew him.

How La Cote Male Taile fought against an hundred knights, and how he escaped by the mean of a lady.

And anon there came an hundred knights about him and assailed him; and when he saw his horse should be 200slain he alight and voided his horse, and put the bridle under his feet, and so put him out of the gate. And when he had so done, he hurled in among them, and dressed his back unto a lady’s chamber-wall, thinking himself that he had lever die there with worship than to abide the rebukes of the damsel Maledisant. And in the mean time as he stood and fought, that lady whose was the chamber, went out slily at her postern, and without the gates she found La Cote Male Taile’s horse, and lightly she gat him by the bridle and tied him to the postern. And then she went unto her chamber slily again for to behold how that one knight fought against an hundred knights. And so when she had beheld him long, she went to a window behind his back and said, Thou knight thou fightest wonderly well, but for all that at the last thou must needs die, but and thou canst through thy mighty prowess win unto yonder postern, for there have I fastened thy horse to abide thee; but wit thou well thou must think on thy worship and think not to die, for thou mayest not win unto that postern without thou do nobly and mightily. When La Cote Male Taile heard her say so, he griped his sword in his hands, and put his shield fair afore him, and through the thickest press he thrulled through them. And when he came to the postern he found there ready four knights, and at two the first strokes he slew two of the knights, and the other fled, and so he won his horse and rode from them. And all as it was, it was rehearsed in king Arthur’s court, how he slew twelve knights within the castle Orgulous. And so he rode on his way. And in the mean while the damsel said to Sir Mordred, I ween my foolish knight be either slain or taken prisoner. Then were they ware where he came riding. And when he was come unto them, he told all how he had sped, and escaped in despite of them all, and some of the best of them will tell no tales. Thou liest falsely, said the damsel, that dare I make good, but as a fool and a dastard to all knighthood they have let thee pass. That may ye prove, said La Cote Male Taile. With that she sent a courier of hers that rode alway with her, for to know the truth of this deed. And so he rode thither lightly, and asked how and in what manner that Sir La Cote Male Taile was escaped out of the castle. Then all the knights cursed him and said that he was fiend and no man; for he hath slain here twelve of our best knights, and we wend unto this day that it had been too much for Sir Launcelot du Lake, or for Sir Tristram de Liones. And in despite of us all he is departed from us, and maugre our heads.

With this answer the courier departed, and came to Maledisant his lady, and told her all how Sir La Cote Male Taile had sped at the castle Orgulous. Then she smote down her head, and said little. By my head, said Sir Mordred to the damsel, ye are greatly to blame so to rebuke him, for I warn you plainly he is a good knight, and I doubt not but he shall prove a noble knight, but as yet he may not sit sure on horseback: for he that shall be a good horseman it must come of usage and exercise. But when he cometh to the strokes of his sword he is then noble and mighty, and that saw Sir Bleoberis and Sir Palamides, for wit ye well they are wily men of arms, and anon they know when they see a young knight by his riding, how they are sure to give him a fall from his horse or a great buffet. But for the most part they will not light on foot with young knights, for they are wight and strongly armed. For in likewise Sir Launcelot du Lake when he was first made knight he was often put to the worse upon horseback, but ever upon foot he recovered his renown, and slew and defoiled many knights of the Round Table. And therefore the rebukes that Sir Launcelot did to many knights causeth them that be men of prowess to beware, for often I have seen the old proved knights rebuked and slain by them that were but young beginners. Thus they rode sure talking by the way together.

201Here leave we off a while of this tale, and speak we of Sir Launcelot du Lake.

How Sir Launcelot came to the court and heard of La Cote Male Taile, and how he followed after him, and how La Cote Male Taile was prisoner.

That when he was come to the court of king Arthur, then heard he tell of the young knight La Cote Male Taile, how he slew the lion, and how he took upon him the adventure of the black shield, the which was named at that time the hardiest adventure of the world. Truly, said Sir Launcelot unto many of his fellows, it was shame to all the noble knights to suffer such a young knight to take such adventure upon him for his destruction: for I will that ye wit, said Sir Launcelot, that that damsel Maledisant hath borne that shield many a day for to seek the most proved knights, and that was she that Breuse Sance Pité took that shield from her, and after Tristram de Liones rescued that shield from him and gave it to the damsel again. A little afore that time Sir Tristram fought with my nephew Sir Blamor de Ganis for a quarrel that was betwixt the king of Ireland and him. Then many knights were sorry that Sir La Cote Male Taile was gone forth to that adventure. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I cast me to ride after him. And within seven days Sir Launcelot overtook La Cote Male Taile. And then he saluted him and the damsel Maledisant. And when Sir Mordred saw Sir Launcelot then he left their fellowship. And so Sir Launcelot rode with them all a day, and ever that damsel rebuked La Cote Male Taile, and then Sir Launcelot answered for him; then she left off and rebuked Sir Launcelot. So this mean time Sir Tristram sent by a damsel a letter unto Sir Launcelot excusing him of the wedding of Isoud la Blanche Mains, and passing courteously and gently Sir Tristram wrote unto Sir Launcelot, ever beseeching him to be his good friend, and unto La Beale Isoud of Cornwall, and that Sir Launcelot would excuse him if that ever he saw her. And within short time said Sir Tristram that he would speak with La Beale Isoud and with him right hastily. Then Sir Launcelot departed from the damsel and from Sir La Cote Male Taile, for to oversee that letter, and for to write another letter unto Sir Tristram de Liones. And in the mean while La Cote Male Taile rode with the damsel until they came unto a castle that hight Pendragon, and there were six knights stood afore him, and one of them proffered to just with La Cote Male Taile. And there La Cote Male Taile smote him over his horse croup. And then the five knights set upon him all at once with their spears, and there they smote La Cote Male Taile down, horse and man, and then they alight suddenly, and set their hands upon him all at once and took him prisoner, and so led him unto the castle and kept him as prisoner. And on the morn Sir Launcelot arose and delivered the damsel with letters unto Sir Tristram, and then he took his way after La Cote Male Taile, and by the way upon a bridge there was a knight proffered Sir Launcelot to just, and Sir Launcelot smote him down, and then they fought upon foot a noble battle together, and a mighty. And at the last Sir Launcelot smote him down groveling upon his hands and his knees; and then that knight yielded him, and Sir Launcelot received him fair. Sir, said the knight, I require thee tell me your name, for much my heart giveth unto you. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, as at this time I will not tell you my name, unless then that ye tell me your name. Certainly, said the knight, my name is Sir Nerovens, that was made knight of my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake. Ah, Nerovens de Lile, said Sir Launcelot, I am right glad that ye are proved a good knight, for now wit ye well my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Alas, said Nerovens de Lile, what have I done. And therewithall flatling he fell to his feet, and would have 202kissed them, but Sir Launcelot would not let him; and then either made great joy of other. And then Sir Nerovens told Sir Launcelot that he should not go by the castle of Pendragon, For there is a lord, a mighty knight, and many knights with him, and this night I heard say that they took a knight prisoner yesterday that rode with a damsel, and they say he is a knight of the Round Table.

How Sir Launcelot fought with six knights, and after with Sir Brian, and how he delivered the prisoners.

Ah, said Sir Launcelot, that knight is my fellow, and him shall I rescue, or else I shall lose my life therefore. And therewithal he rode fast till he came before the castle of Pendragon, and anon therewithal there came six knights, and all made them ready to set upon Sir Launcelot at once. Then Sir Launcelot feutred his spear, and smote the foremost that he brake his back in sunder, and three of them hit and three failed. And then Sir Launcelot past through them, and lightly he turned in again, and smote another knight through the breast and throughout the back, and more than an ell, and therewithal his spear brake. So then all the remnant of the four knights drew their swords, and lashed at Sir Launcelot, and at every stroke Sir Launcelot bestowed so his strokes that at four strokes sundry they avoided their saddles, passing sore wounded, and forthwithal he rode hurling into that castle. And, anon the lord of the castle that was that time called Sir Brian de les isles, the which was a noble man, and a great enemy unto king Arthur, within awhile he was armed and upon horseback: and then they feutred their spears, and hurled together so strongly that both their horses rashed to the earth. And then they avoided their saddles, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and flung together as wood men, and there were many strokes given in a while. At the last Sir Launcelot gave to Sir Brian such a buffet that he kneeled upon his knees, and then Sir Launcelot rashed upon him, and with great force he pulled him off his helm, and when Sir Brian saw that he should be slain, he yielded him, and put him in his mercy and in his grace. Then Sir Launcelot made him to deliver all his prisoners that he had within his castle, and therein Sir Launcelot found of Arthur’s knights thirty, and forty ladies, and so he delivered them and then he rode his way. And anon as La Cote Male Taile was delivered he gat his horse and his harness, and his damsel Maledisant. The mean while Sir Nerovens, that Sir Launcelot had fought withall afore at the bridge, he sent a damsel after Sir Launcelot for to wit how he sped at the castle of Pendragon. And then they within the castle marvelled what knight he was when Sir Brian and his knights delivered all those prisoners. Have ye no marvel, said the damsel, for the best knight in this world was here, and did this tourney, and wit ye well, she said, it was Sir Launcelot. Then was Sir Brian full glad, and so was his lady and all his knights that such a man should win them. And when the damsel and La Cote Male Taile understood that it was Sir Launcelot du Lake that had ridden with them in fellowship, and that she remembered her how she had rebuked him and called him coward, then was she passing heavy.

How Sir Launcelot met with the damsel named Maledisant, and how he named her the damsel Bienpensant.

So then they took their horses and rode forth a pace after Sir Launcelot. And within two mile they overtook him, and saluted him, and thanked him, and the damsel cried Sir Launcelot mercy of her evil deed, and saying, For now I know the flower of all knighthood is parted even between Sir Tristram and you. For I have sought you my lord Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram, long, 203and now I thank God I have met with you; and once at Camelot, I met with Sir Tristram, and there he rescued this black shield with the white hand holding a naked sword, which Sir Breuse Sance Pité had taken away from me. Now, fair damsel, said Sir Launcelot, who told you my name? Sir, said she, there came a damsel from a knight that ye fought withall at the bridge, and she told me your name was Sir Launcelot du Lake. Blame have she then, said Sir Launcelot, but her lord Sir Nerovens hath told her. But damsel, said Sir Launcelot, upon this covenant I will ride with you, so that ye will not rebuke this knight Sir La Cote Male Taile no more, for he is a good knight, and I doubt not he shall prove a noble knight, and for his sake, and pity that he should not be destroyed, I followed him to succour him in this great need. Ah, God thank you, said the damsel, for now I will say unto you and to him both, I rebuked him never for no hate that I hated him, but for great love that I had to him: for ever I supposed that he had been too young and too tender to take upon him these adventures, and, therefore by my will I would have driven him away for jealousy that I had of his life; for it may be no young knight’s deed that shall achieve this adventure to the end. Perdy, said Sir Launcelot, it is well said, and where ye are called the damsel Maledisant, I will call you the damsel Bienpensant. And so they rode forth a great while until they came to the border of the country of Surluse, and there they found a fair village with a strong bridge like a fortress. And when Sir Launcelot and they were at the bridge, there start forth afore them of gentlemen and yeomen many that said, Fair lords, ye may not pass this bridge and this fortress because of that black shield that I see one of you bear, and therefore there shall not pass but one of you at once; therefore choose which of you shall enter within this bridge first. Then Sir Launcelot proffered himself first to enter within this bridge. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I beseech you let me enter first within this fortress, and if I may speed well I will send for you, and if it happen that I be slain, there it goeth. And if so be that I am a prisoner taken, then may ye rescue me. I am loth, said Sir Launcelot, to let you pass this passage. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I pray you let me put my body in this adventure. Now go your way, said Sir Launcelot, and Jesu be your speed. So he entered, and anon there met with him two brethren, the one hight Sir Plaine de Force, and the other hight Sir Plaine de Amours; and anon they met with Sir La Cote Male Taile, and first La Cote Male Taile smote down Sir Plaine de Force, and soon after he smote down Plaine de Amours, and then they dressed them to their shields and swords, and bad La Cote Male Taile alight, and so he did, and there was dashing and foining with swords, and so they began to assail full hard La Cote Male Taile, and many great wounds they gave him upon his head and upon his breast and upon his shoulders. And as he might ever among he gave sad strokes again. And then the two brethren traced and traversed for to be of both hands of Sir La Cote Male Taile, but he by fine force and knightly prowess gat them afore him. And then when he felt himself so wounded then he doubled his strokes and gave them so many wounds that he felled them to the earth, and would have slain them had they not yielded them. And right so Sir La Cote Male Taile took the best horse that there was of them three, and so rode forth his way to the other fortress and bridge, and there he met with the third brother, whose name was Sir Plenorius, a full noble knight, and there they justed together, and either smote other down horse and man to the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, and one while the one knight was afore on the bridge, and another while the other. And thus they fought two hours and more, and 204never rested, and ever Sir Launcelot and the damsel beheld them. Alas, said the damsel, my knight fighteth passing sore and over long. Now may ye see, said Sir Launcelot, that he is a noble knight, for to consider his first battle, and his grievous wounds. And even forth with all so wounded as he is, it is great marvel that he may endure this long battle with that good knight.

How La Cote Male Taile was taken prisoner, and after rescued by Sir Launcelot, and how Sir Launcelot overcame four brethren.

This mean while Sir La Cote Male Taile sank right down upon the earth, what for-wounded and what for-bled he might not stand. Then the other knight had pity of him, and said, Fair young knight, dismay you not, for had ye been fresh when ye met with me, as I was, I well wot that I should not have endured so long as ye have done, and therefore for your noble deeds of arms I shall shew to you kindness and gentleness in all that I may. And forth withal this noble knight Sir Plenorius took him up in his arms, and led him into his tower. And then he commanded him the wine, and made to search him, and to stop his bleeding wounds. Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, withdraw you from me, and hie you to yonder bridge again, for there will meet you another manner knight than ever I was. Why, said Sir Plenorius, is there another manner knight behind of your fellowship? Yea, said La Cote Male Taile, there is a much better knight than I am. What is his name? said Plenorius. Ye shall not know for me, said La Cote Male Taile. Well, said the knight, he shall be encountered withal, whatsoever he be. Then Sir Plenorius heard a knight call that said, Sir Plenorius, where art thou? either thou must deliver me the prisoner that thou hast led unto thy tower, or else come and do battle with me. Then Sir Plenorius gat his horse, and came with a spear in his hand, galloping towards Sir Launcelot, and then they began to feutre their spears, and came together as thunder, and smote either other so mightily that their horses fell down under them. And then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and like two bulls they lashed together with great strokes and foins, but ever Sir Launcelot recovered ground upon him, and Sir Plenorius traced to have gone about him. But Sir Launcelot would not suffer that, but bare him backer and backer till he came nigh his tower gate. And then said Sir Launcelot, I know thee well for a good knight, but wit thou well thy life and death is in my hand, and therefore yield thee to me, and thy prisoner. The other answered no word, but strake mightily upon Sir Launcelot’s helm, that fire sprang out of his eyen; then Sir Launcelot doubled his strokes so thick, and smote at him so mightily, that he made him kneel upon his knees, and therewith Sir Launcelot lept upon him and pulled him groveling down. Then Sir Plenorius yielded him, and his tower, and all his prisoners, at his will. And then Sir Launcelot received him and took his troth, and then he rode to the other bridge, and there Sir Launcelot justed with other three of his brethren, the one hight Pillounes, and the other hight Pellogris, and the third Sir Pellandris. And first upon horseback Sir Launcelot smote them down, and afterward he beat them on foot, and made them to yield them unto him, and then he returned unto Sir Plenorius, and there he found in his prison king Carados of Scotland and many other knights, and all they were delivered. And then Sir La Cote Male Taile came to Sir Launcelot, and then Sir Launcelot would have given him all these fortresses and these bridges. Nay, said La Cote Male Taile, I will not have Sir Plenorius’s livelihood: with that he will grant you, my lord Sir Launcelot, to come unto king Arthur’s court, and to be his knight, and all his brethren, I will pray you, my lord, to let him have his livelihood. I will well, said Sir Launcelot, 205with this that he will come to the court of king Arthur, and become his man, and his brethren five. And as for you, Sir Plenorius, I will undertake, said Sir Launcelot, at the next feast, so there be a place voided, that ye shall be knight of the Round Table. Sir, said Sir Plenorius, at the next feast of Pentecost I will be at Arthur’s court, and at that time I will be guided and ruled as king Arthur and ye will have me. Then Sir Launcelot and Sir La Cote Male Tail reposed them there unto the time that Sir La Cote Male Taile was whole of his wounds, and there they had merry cheer, and good rest, and many games, and there were many fair ladies.

How Sir Launcelot made La Cote Male Taile lord of the castle of Pendragon, and after was made knight of the Round Table.

And in the mean while there came Sir Kay the seneschal, and Sir Brandiles, and anon they fellowshipped with them. And then within ten days then departed those knights of king Arthur’s court from these fortresses. And as Sir Launcelot came by the castle of Pendragon, there he put Sir Brian de les isles from his lands, because he would never be withold with king Arthur, and all that castle of Pendragon, and all the lands thereof, he gave to Sir La Cote Male Taile. And then Sir Launcelot sent for Sir Nerovens, that he made once knight, and he made him to have all the rule of that castle and of that country under La Cote Male Taile. And so they rode to Arthur’s court all wholly together. And at Pentecost next following there was Sir Plenorius, and Sir La Cote Male Taile, called otherwise by right Sir Breunor le Noire, both made knights of the Table Round, and great lands king Arthur gave them; and there Breunor le Noire wedded that damsel Maledisant. And after she was called Beauvivante: but ever after for the more part he was called La Cote Male Taile, and he proved a passing noble knight and mighty, and many worshipful deeds he did after in his life, and Sir Plenorius proved a noble knight and full of prowess. And all the days of their life for the most part they awaited upon Sir Launcelot. And Sir Plenorius’s brethren were ever knights of king Arthur. And also as the French book maketh mention, Sir La Cote Male Taile avenged his father’s death.

How La Beale Isoud sent letters unto Sir Tristram by her maid Bragwaine, and of divers adventures of Sir Tristram.

Now leave we here Sir La Cote Male Taile, and turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones that was in Britanny. When La Beale Isoud understood that he was wedded she sent unto him by her maiden Bragwaine as piteous letters as could be thought and made, and her conclusion was, that, and it pleased Sir Tristram, that he would come to her court and bring with him Isoud la Blanche Mains, and they should be kept as well as she herself. Then Sir Tristram called unto him Sir Kehydius and asked him whether he would go with him into Cornwall secretly. He answered him that he was ready at all times. And then he let ordain privily a little vessel, and therein they went, Sir Tristram, Kehydius, dame Bragwaine, and Gouvernail Sir Tristram’s squire. So when they were in the sea, a contrarious wind blew them on the coasts of North Wales, nigh the castle perilous. Then said Sir Tristram, Here shall ye abide me these ten days, and Gouvernail my squire with you. And if so be I come not again by that day, take the next way into Cornwall, for in this forest are many strange adventures as I have heard say, and some of them I cast me to prove or I depart: and when I may I shall hie me after you. Then Sir Tristram and Kehydius took their horses and departed from their fellowship. And so they rode within that forest a mile and more. And at the last Sir Tristram saw afore him a likely knight armed, sitting by a well, and a strong mighty horse passing nigh him tied to 206an oak, and a man hoving and riding by him, leading an horse laden with spears. And this knight that sat at the well seemed by his countenance to be passing heavy. Then Sir Tristram rode near him and said, Fair knight, why sit ye so drooping? Ye seem to be a knight errant by your arms and harness, and therefore dress you to just with one of us or with both. Therewithal that knight made no words, but took his shield and buckled it about his neck, and lightly he took his horse and lept upon him. And then he took a great spear of his squire, and departed his way a furlong. Sir Kehydius asked leave of Sir Tristram to just first. Do your best, said Sir Tristram. So they met together, and there Sir Kehydius had a fall, and was sore wounded on high above the breast. Then Sir Tristram said, Knight, that is well justed, now make you ready unto me. I am ready, said the knight. And then that knight took a greater spear in his hand and encountered with Sir Tristram, and there by great force that knight smote down Sir Tristram from his horse, and he had a great fall. Then Sir Tristram was sore ashamed, and lightly he avoided his horse and put his shield afore his shoulder, and drew his sword. And then Sir Tristram required that knight of his knighthood to alight upon foot and fight with him. I will well, said the knight. And so he alight upon foot and avoided his horse, and cast his shield upon his shoulder, and drew his sword, and there they fought a long battle together full nigh two hours.

Then Sir Tristram said, Fair knight, hold thy hand, and tell me of whence thou art, and what is thy name. As for that, said the knight, I will be advised, but and thou wilt tell me thy name, peradventure I will tell thee mine.

How Sir Tristram met with Sir Lamorak de Galis, and how they fought, and after accorded never to fight together.

Now fair knight, he said, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Sir, said the other knight, and my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. Ah Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, well be we met, and bethink thee now of the despite that thou didst me of the sending of the horn unto king Mark’s court, to the intent to have slain or dishonoured my lady the queen La Beale Isoud. And therefore wit thou well, said Sir Tristram, the one of us shall die or we depart. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, remember that we were together in the isle of Servage, and at that time ye promised me great friendship. Then Sir Tristram would make no longer delays, but lashed at Sir Lamorak, and thus they fought long, till either were weary of other. Then Sir Tristram said to Sir Lamorak, In all my life met I never with such a knight that was so big and well breathed as ye be; therefore, said Sir Tristram, it were pity that any of us both should here be mischieved. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, for your renown and name I will that ye have the worship of this battle, and therefore I will yield me unto you. And therewith he took the point of his sword to yield him. Nay, said Sir Tristram, ye shall not do so, for I know well your proffers are more of your gentleness than for any fear or dread ye have of me. And therewithal Sir Tristram proffered him his sword, and said, Sir Lamorak, as an overcome knight I yield me unto you, as to a man of the most noble prowess that ever I met withal. Nay, said Sir Lamorak, I will do you gentleness. I require you let us be sworn together that never none of us shall after this day have ado with other. And there withal Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak sware that never none of them should fight against other, nor for weal nor for woe.

How Sir Palamides followed the questing beast, and he smote down both Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak with one spear.

And this mean while there came Sir Palamides the good knight following 207the questing beast that had in shape a head like a serpent’s head, and a body like a libbard, haunches like a lion, and footed like a hart, and in his body there was such a noise as it had been the noise of thirty couple of hounds questing, and such a noise that beast made wheresoever he went. And this beast evermore Sir Palamides followed, for it was called his quest. And right so as he followed this beast it came by Sir Tristram, and soon after came Palamides, and to brief this matter he smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak both with one spear, and so he departed after the beast Glatisant, that was called the questing beast, wherefore these two knights were passing wroth that Sir Palamides would not fight on foot with them.

Here men may understand that be of worship, that he was never formed that all times might stand, but some time he was put to the worse by mal-fortune. And at some time the worse knight put the better knight to a rebuke. Then Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak gat Sir Kehydius upon a shield betwixt them both, and led him to a forester’s lodge, and there they gave him in charge to keep him well, and with him they abode three days. Then the two knights took their horses and at the cross they parted. And then said Sir Tristram to Sir Lamorak, I require you if ye hap to meet with Sir Palamides, say him that he shall find me at the same well there I met him, and there I, Sir Tristram, shall prove whether he be better knight than I. And so either departed from other a sundry way, and Sir Tristram rode nigh there as was Sir Kehydius, and Sir Lamorak rode until he came to a chapel, and there he put his horse unto pasture. And anon there came Sir Meliagaunce that was king Bagdemagus’s son, and he there put his horse to pasture, and was not ware of Sir Lamorak, and then this knight Sir Meliagaunce made his moan of the love that he had to queen Guenever, and there he made a woful complaint. All this heard Sir Lamorak, and on the morn Sir Lamorak took his horse and rode unto the forest, and there he met two knights hoving under the wood shawe. Fair knights, said Sir Lamorak, what do ye hoving here and watching, and if ye be knights errant that will just, lo I am ready. Nay, sir knight, they said, not so, we abide not here for to just with you, but we lie here in await of a knight that slew our brother. What knight was that, said Sir Lamorak, that ye would fain meet withal. Sir, they said, it is Sir Launcelot that slew our brother, and if ever we may meet with him he shall not escape but we shall slay him. Ye take upon you a great charge, said Sir Lamorak, for Sir Launcelot is a noble proved knight. As for that we doubt not, for there is none of us but we are good enough for him. I will not believe that, said Sir Lamorak, for I heard never yet of no knight the days of my life but Sir Launcelot was too big for him.

How Sir Lamorak met with Sir Meliagaunce, and how they fought together for the beauty of queen Guenever.

Right so as they stood talking thus, Sir Lamorak was ware how Sir Launcelot came riding straight toward them; then Sir Lamorak saluted him, and he him again. And then Sir Lamorak asked Sir Launcelot if there were any thing that he might do for him in these marches. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, not at this time, I thank you. Then either departed from other, and Sir Lamorak rode again there as he left the two knights, and then he found them hid in the leaved wood. Fie on you, said Sir Lamorak, false cowards, pity and shame it is that any of you should take the high order of knighthood. So Sir Lamorak departed from them, and within a while he met with Sir Meliagaunce, and then Sir Lamorak asked him why he loved queen Guenever as he did: For I was not far from you when ye made your complaint by the chapel. Did ye so, said Sir Meliagaunce, 208then will I abide by it: I love queen Guenever; what will ye with it? I will prove and make good that she is the fairest lady and most of beauty in the world. As to that, said Sir Lamorak, I say nay thereto, for queen Morgause of Orkney, mother to Sir Gawaine, and his mother is the fairest queen and lady that beareth the life. That is not so, said Sir Meliagaunce, and that will I prove with my hands upon thy body. Will ye so, said Sir Lamorak, and in a better quarrel keep I not to fight. Then they departed either from other in great wrath. And then they came riding together as it had been thunder, and either smote other so sore that their horses fell backward to the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields, and drew their swords. And then they hurtled together as wild boars, and thus they fought a great while. For Meliagaunce was a good man and of great might, but Sir Lamorak was hard big for him, and put him always aback; but either had wounded other sore. And as they stood thus fighting, by fortune came Sir Launcelot and Sir Bleoberis riding. And then Sir Launcelot rode betwixt them, and asked them for what cause they fought so together, and ye are both knights of king Arthur.

How Sir Meliagaunce told for what cause they fought, and how Sir Lamorak justed with king Arthur.

Sir, said Meliagaunce, I shall tell you for what cause we do this battle. I praised my lady queen Guenever, and said she was the fairest lady of the world, and Sir Lamorak said nay thereto, for he said queen Morgause of Orkney was fairer than she, and more of beauty. Ah Sir Lamorak, why sayest thou so? It is not thy part to dispraise thy princess that thou art under her obeisance and we all. And therewith he alight on foot, and said, For this quarrel make thee ready, for I will prove upon thee that queen Guenever is the fairest lady and most of bounty in the world. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, I am loth to have ado with you in this quarrel. For every man thinketh his own lady fairest; and though I praise the lady that I love most, ye should not be wroth. For though my lady queen Guenever be fairest in your eye, wit ye well queen Morgause of Orkney is fairest in mine eye, and so every knight thinketh his own lady fairest; and, wit ye well, Sir, ye are the man in the world, except Sir Tristram, that I am most lothest to have ado withal. But and ye will needs fight with me, I shall endure you as long as I may. Then spake Sir Bleoberis, and said, My lord Sir Launcelot, I wist you never so misadvised as ye are now. For Sir Lamorak saith you but reason and knightly. For I warn you I have a lady, and me thinketh that she is the fairest lady of the world. Were this a great reason that ye should be wroth with me for such language? And well ye wot that Sir Lamorak is as noble a knight as I know, and he hath owed you and us ever good will, and therefore I pray you be good friends. Then Sir Launcelot said unto Sir Lamorak: I pray you forgive me mine evil will; and if I was misadvised I will amend it. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, the amends is soon made betwixt you and me. And so Sir Launcelot and Sir Bleoberis departed. And Sir Meliagaunce and Sir Lamorak took their horses, and either departed from other. And within a while came king Arthur, and met with Sir Lamorak, and justed with him, and there he smote down Sir Lamorak, and wounded him sore with a spear, and so he rode from him, wherefore Sir Lamorak was wroth that he would not fight with him on foot; how be it that Sir Lamorak knew not king Arthur.

How Sir Kay met with Sir Tristram, and after of the shame spoken of the knights of Cornwall, and how they justed.

Now leave we of this tale, and speak we of Sir Tristram, that as he rode he 209met with Sir Kay the seneschal, and there Sir Kay asked Sir Tristram of what country he was. He answered that he was of the country of Cornwall. It may well be, said Sir Kay, for yet heard I never that ever good knight came out of Cornwall. That is evil spoken, said Sir Tristram, but and it please you to tell me your name I require you. Sir, wit ye well, said Sir Kay, that my name is Sir Kay the seneschal. Is that your name? said Sir Tristram; now wit ye well that ye are named the shamefullest knight of your tongue that now is living, how be it ye are called a good knight, but ye are called unfortunate, and passing overthwart of your tongue. And thus they rode together till they came to a bridge. And there was a knight would not let them pass till one of them justed with him. And so that knight justed with Sir Kay, and there that knight gave Sir Kay a fall; his name was Sir Tor, Sir Lamorak’s half brother. And then they two rode to their lodging, and there they found Sir Brandiles; and Sir Tor came thither anon after.

And as they sat at supper, these four knights, three of them spake all shame by Cornish knights. Sir Tristram heard all that they said, and he said but little, but he thought the more; but at that time he discovered not his name. Upon the morn Sir Tristram took his horse and abode them upon their way; and there Sir Brandiles proffered to just with Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram smote him down, horse and all, to the earth. Then Sir Tor le Fise de Vayshoure encountered with Sir Tristram, and there Sir Tristram smote him down. And then he rode his way, and Sir Kay followed him, but he would not of his fellowship. Then Sir Brandiles came to Sir Kay, and said, I would wit fain what is that knight’s name. Come on with me, said Sir Kay, and we shall pray him to tell us his name. So they rode together till they came nigh him; and then they were ware where he sat by a well, and had put off his helm to drink at the well. And when he saw them come, he laced on his helm lightly, and took his horse, and proffered them to just. Nay, said Sir Brandiles, we justed late enough with you; we come not in that intent. But for this we come, to require you of knighthood to tell us your name. My fair knights, since that is your desire, and to please you, ye shall wit that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, nephew unto king Mark of Cornwall. In good time, said Sir Brandiles, and well ye be found; and wit ye well that we be right glad that we have found you, and we be of a fellowship that would be right glad of your company. For ye are the knight in the world that the noble fellowship of the Round Table most desireth to have the company of. I thank them, said Sir Tristram, of their great goodness; but as yet I feel well that I am unable to be of their fellowship. For I was never of such deeds of worthiness to be in the company of such a fellowship. Ah, said Sir Kay, and ye be Sir Tristram de Liones, ye are the man now called most of prowess, except Sir Launcelot du Lake. For he beareth not the life, christian ne heathen, that can find such another knight, to speak of his prowess, and of his hands, and his truth withal. For yet could there never creature say of him dishonour and make it good. Thus they talked a great while; and then they departed either from other, such ways as them seemed best.

How king Arthur was brought into the forest perilous, and how Sir Tristram saved his life.

Now shall ye hear what was the cause that king Arthur came into the forest perilous, that was in North Wales, by the means of a lady. Her name was Annowre, and this lady came to king Arthur at Cardiff, and she, by fair promise and fair behests, made king Arthur to ride with her into that forest perilous; and she was a great sorceress, and many days she had loved king Arthur, and therefore she came into that 210country. So when the king was gone with her, many of his knights followed after king Arthur when they missed him, as Sir Launcelot, Brandiles, and many other. And when she had brought him to her tower, she desired him to love her. And then the king remembered him of his lady, and would not love her for no craft that she could do. Then every day she would make him ride into that forest with his own knights, to the intent to have had king Arthur slain. For when this lady Annowre saw that she might not have him at her will, then she laboured by false means to have destroyed king Arthur and slain. Then the Lady of the lake, that was alway friendly to king Arthur, she understood by her subtle crafts that king Arthur was like to be destroyed. And therefore this Lady of the lake, that hight Nimue, came into that forest to seek after Sir Launcelot du Lake, or Sir Tristram, for to help king Arthur; for as that same day this Lady of the lake knew well that king Arthur should be slain, unless that he had help of one of these two knights. And thus she rode up and down till she met with Sir Tristram, and anon as she saw him she knew him. O my lord Sir Tristram, she said, well be ye met, and blessed be the time that I have met with you; for this same day, and within these two hours, shall be done the foulest deed that ever was done in this land. O fair damsel, said Sir Tristram, may I amend it? Come on with me, she said, and that in all the haste ye may, for ye shall see the most worshipfullest knight of the world hard bested. Then said Sir Tristram, I am ready to help such a noble man. He is neither better nor worse, said the Lady of the lake, but the noble king Arthur himself. God defend, said Sir Tristram, that ever he should be in such distress. Then they rode together a great pace, until they came to a little turret or castle, and underneath that castle they saw a knight standing upon foot fighting with two knights; and so Sir Tristram beheld them, and at the last the two knights smote down the one knight, and that one of them unlaced his helm to have slain him. And the lady Annowre gat king Arthur’s sword in her hand to have stricken off his head. And therewithal came Sir Tristram with all his might, crying, Traitress, traitress, leave that. And anon there Sir Tristram smote one of the knights through the body, that he fell dead; and then he rashed to the other and smote his back in sunder, and in the mean while the Lady of the lake cried to king Arthur, Let not that false lady escape. Then king Arthur overtook her, and with the same sword he smote off her head; and the Lady of the lake took up her head, and hung it up by the hair on her saddle bow. And then Sir Tristram horsed king Arthur, and rode forth with him, but he charged the Lady of the lake not to discover his name as at that time. When the king was horsed he thanked heartily Sir Tristram, and desired to wit his name; but he would not tell him, but that he was a poor knight adventurous. And so he bare king Arthur fellowship till he met with some of his knights. And within a mile he met with Sir Ector de Maris, and he knew not king Arthur nor Sir Tristram, and he desired to just with one of them. Then Sir Tristram rode unto Sir Ector, and smote him from his horse. And when he had done so he came again to the king, and said: My lord, yonder is one of your knights, he may bear you fellowship; and another day by that deed that I have done for you, I trust ye shall understand that I would do you service. Alas, said king Arthur, let me wit what ye are. Not at this time, said Sir Tristram. So he departed, and left king Arthur and Sir Ector together.

How Sir Tristram came to La Beale Isoud, and how Kehydius began to love La Beale Isoud, and of a letter that Tristram found.

And then at a day set Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak met at the well; and 211then they took Kehydius at the forester’s house, and so they rode with him to the ship where they left dame Bragwaine and Gouvernail, and so they sailed into Cornwall all wholly together; and by assent and information of dame Bragwaine, when they were landed they rode unto Sir Dinas the seneschal, a trusty friend of Sir Tristram’s. And so dame Bragwaine and Sir Dinas rode to the court of king Mark, and told the queen, La Beale Isoud, that Sir Tristram was nigh her in that country. Then for very pure joy La Beale Isoud swooned: and when she might speak, she said, Gentle knight seneschal, help that I might speak with him, or else my heart will brast.

Then Sir Dinas and dame Bragwaine brought Sir Tristram and Kehydius privily unto the court, unto a chamber whereas La Beale Isoud assigned it; and to tell the joy that was between La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram, there is no tongue can tell it, nor heart think it, nor pen write it. And, as the French book maketh mention, at the first time that ever Sir Kehydius saw La Beale Isoud, he was so enamoured upon her that for very pure love he might never withdraw it. And at the last, as ye shall hear or the book be ended, Sir Kehydius died for the love of La Beale Isoud. And then privily he wrote unto her letters and ballads of the most goodliest that were used in those days. And when La Beale Isoud understood his letters, she had pity of his complaint, and unadvised she wrote another letter to comfort him withal. And Sir Tristram was all this while in a turret, at the commandment of La Beale Isoud, and when she might she came unto Sir Tristram. So on a day king Mark played at the chess under a chamber window; and at that time Sir Tristram and Sir Kehydius were within the chamber, over king Mark, and as it mishapped Sir Tristram found the letter that Kehydius sent to La Beale Isoud; also he had found the letter that she wrote unto Kehydius, and at that same time La Beale Isoud was in the same chamber. Then Sir Tristram came unto La Beale Isoud, and said; Madam, here is a letter that was sent unto you, and here is the letter that ye sent unto him that sent you that letter. Alas, madam, the good love that I have loved you, and many lands and riches have I forsaken for your love, and now ye are a traitress to me, the which doth me great pain. But as for thee, Sir Kehydius, I brought thee out of Britanny into this country, and thy father, king Howel, I won his lands; howbeit, I wedded thy sister, Isoud la Blanche Mains, for the goodness which she did to me; but wit thou well Sir Kehydius for this falsehood and treason thou hast done me, I will revenge it upon thee. And therewithal Sir Tristram drew out his sword, and said, Sir Kehydius keep thee, and then La Beale Isoud swooned to the earth. And when Sir Kehydius saw Sir Tristram come upon him, he saw none other boot, but lept out at a bay window, even over the head where sat king Mark playing at the chess. And when the king saw one come hurling over his head, he said, Fellow, what art thou, and what is the cause thou leapest out of that window? My lord the king, said Kehydius, it fortuned me that I was asleep in the window above your head, and as I slept I slumbered, and so I fell down. And thus Sir Kehydius excused him.

How Sir Tristram departed from Tintagil, and how he sorrowed, and was so long in a forest till he was out of his mind.

Then Sir Tristram dread sore lest he were discovered unto the king that he was there, wherefore he drew him to the strength of the tower, and armed him in such armour as he had, for to fight with them that would withstand him. And so when Sir Tristram saw there was no resistance against him, he sent Gouvernail for his horse and for his spear, and knightly he rode forth out of the castle openly that was called the castle of Tintagil. And even at the gate he met with Gingalin, Sir Gawaine’s 212son. And anon Sir Gingalin put his spear in his rest, and ran upon Sir Tristram, and brake his spear, and Sir Tristram at that time had but a sword, and gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell down from his saddle, and his sword slid down and carved asunder his horse neck. And so Sir Tristram rode his way into the forest, and all this doing saw king Mark. And then he sent a squire unto the hurt knight, and commanded him to come to him, and so he did. And when king Mark wist that it was Sir Gingalin, he welcomed him, and gave him a horse, and asked him what knight it was that had encountered with him. Sir, said Sir Gingalin, I wot not what knight he was, but well I wot that he sigheth, and maketh great dole. Then Sir Tristram within a while met with a knight of his own, that hight Sir Fergus. And when he had met with him he made great sorrow, insomuch that he fell down off his horse in a swoon, and in such sorrow he was in three days and three nights. Then at the last Sir Tristram sent unto the court by Sir Fergus, for to ask what tidings. And so as he rode by the way he met with a damsel that came from Sir Palamides, to know and seek how Sir Tristram did. Then Sir Fergus told her how he was almost out of his mind. Alas, said the damsel, where shall I find him? In such a place, said Sir Fergus. Then Sir Fergus found queen Isoud sick in her bed, making the greatest dole that ever any earthly woman made. And when the damsel found Sir Tristram, she made great dole because she might not amend him; for the more she made of him the more was his pain. And at the last Sir Tristram took his horse and rode away from her. And then was it three days or that she could find him, and then she brought him meat and drink, but he would none. And then another time Sir Tristram escaped away from the damsel, and it happed him to ride by the same castle where Sir Palamides and Sir Tristram did battle when La Beale Isoud departed them. And there by fortune the damsel met with Sir Tristram again, making the greatest dole that ever earthly creature made, and she went to the lady of that castle, and told her of the misadventure of Sir Tristram. Alas, said the lady of that castle, where is my lord Sir Tristram? Right here by your castle, said the damsel. In good time, said the lady, is he so nigh me: he shall have meat and drink of the best, and a harp I have of his whereupon he taught me,—for of goodly harping he beareth the prize in the world. So this lady and the damsel brought him meat and drink, but he eat little thereof. Then upon a night he put his horse from him, and then he unlaced his armour, and then Sir Tristram would go into the wilderness, and brast down the trees and boughs; and otherwhile, when he found the harp that the lady sent him, then would he harp and play thereupon and weep together. And sometime when Sir Tristram was in the wood, that the lady wist not where he was, then would she sit her down and play upon that harp: then would Sir Tristram come to that harp and hearken thereto, and sometime he would harp himself. Thus he there endured a quarter of a year. Then at the last he ran his way, and she wist not where he was become. And then was he naked, and waxed lean and poor of flesh, and so he fell into the fellowship of herdmen and shepherds, and daily they would give him of their meat and drink. And when he did any shrewd deed they would beat him with rods, and so they clipped him with shears and made him like a fool.

How Sir Tristram soused Dagonet in a well, and how Palamides sent a damsel to seek Tristram, and how Palamides met with king Mark.

And upon a day Sir Dagonet, king Arthur’s fool, came into Cornwall, with two squires with him, and as they rode through that forest they came by a fair well where Sir Tristram was wont to be, and the weather was hot, and they 213alight to drink of that well, and in the mean while their horses brake loose. Right so Sir Tristram came unto them, and first he soused Sir Dagonet in that well, and after his squires, and thereat laughed the shepherds, and forthwithal he ran after their horses, and brought them again one by one, and right so, wet as they were, he made them leap up and ride their ways. Thus Sir Tristram endured there an half year naked, and would never come in town nor village. The mean while the damsel that Sir Palamides sent to seek Sir Tristram she went unto Sir Palamides, and told him all the mischief that Sir Tristram endured. Alas, said Sir Palamides, it is great pity that ever so noble a knight should be so mischieved for the love of a lady. But nevertheless I will go and seek him, and comfort him and I may. Then a little before that time La Beale Isoud had commanded Sir Kehydius out of the country of Cornwall. So Sir Kehydius departed with a dolorous heart. And by adventure he met with Sir Palamides, and they enfellowshipped together, and either complained to other of their love, that they loved La Beale Isoud. Now let us, said Sir Palamides, seek Sir Tristram that loved her as well as we, and let us prove whether we may recover him. So they rode into that forest, and three days and three nights they would never take their lodging, but ever sought Sir Tristram. And upon a time by adventure they met with king Mark that was ridden from his men all alone. When they saw him, Sir Palamides knew him, but Sir Kehydius knew him not. Ah, false king, said Sir Palamides, it is pity thou hast thy life, for thou art a destroyer of all worshipful knights, and by thy mischief, and thy vengeance, thou hast destroyed that most noble knight Sir Tristram de Liones; and therefore defend thee, said Sir Palamides, for thou shalt die this day. That were shame, said king Mark, for ye two are armed, and I am unarmed. As for that, said Sir Palamides, I shall find a remedy therefore. Here is a knight with me, and thou shalt have his harness. Nay, said king Mark, I will not have ado with you, for cause have ye none to me. For all the misease that Sir Tristram hath was for a letter that he found; for, as to me, I did to him no displeasure, and I am full sorry for his disease and malady. So when the king had thus excused him, they were friends, and king Mark would have had them unto Tintagil, but Sir Palamides would not, but turned unto the realm of Logris, and Sir Kehydius said he would go into Britanny.

Now turn we unto Sir Dagonet again, then when he and his squires were upon horseback, he deemed that the shepherds had sent that fool to array them so because that they laughed at them, and so they rode unto the keepers of beasts, and all to beat them. Sir Tristram saw them beaten that were wont to give him meat and drink, then he ran thither and gat Sir Dagonet by the head, and gave him such a fall to the earth that he bruised him sore, so that he lay still. And then he wrast his sword out of his hand and therewith he ran to one of his squires and smote off his head, and the other fled. And so Sir Tristram took his way with that sword in his hand, running as he had been wild wood. Then Sir Dagonet rode to king Mark and told him how he had sped in that forest. And therefore, said Sir Dagonet, beware, king Mark, that thou come not about that well in the forest, for there is a fool naked, and that fool and I fool met together, and he had almost slain me. Ah, said king Mark, that is Sir Matto le Breune, that fell out of his wit because he lost his lady. For when Sir Gaheris smote down Sir Matto and won his lady of him, never since was he in his mind, and that was pity, for he was a good knight.

How it was noised how Sir Tristram was dead, and how La Beale Isoud would have slain herself.

Then Sir Andred that was cousin unto Sir Tristram, made a lady that was 214his paramour to say and noise it that she was with Sir Tristram or ever he died. And this tale she brought unto king Mark’s court, that she buried him by a well, and that or he died he besought king Mark to make his cousin, Sir Andred, king of the country of Liones, of the which Sir Tristram was lord of. All this did Sir Andred because he would have had Sir Tristram’s lands. And when king Mark heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead, he wept and made great dole. But when queen Isoud heard of these tidings, she made such sorrow that she was nigh out of her mind. And so upon a day she thought to slay herself, and never to live after Sir Tristram’s death. And so upon a day La Beale Isoud gat a sword privily, and bare it into her garden, and there she pight the sword through a plum tree up to the hilts, so that it stack fast, and it stood breast high. And as she would have run upon the sword and to have slain herself, all this espied king Mark, how she kneeled down and said, Sweet Lord Jesu have mercy upon me, for I may not live after the death of Sir Tristram de Liones, for he was my first love, and he shall be the last. And with these words came king Mark and took her in his arms, and then he took up the sword, and bare her away with him into a strong tower, and there he made her to be kept, and watched her surely. And after that she lay long sick, nigh at the point of death. This mean while ran Sir Tristram naked in the forest with the sword in his hand, and so he came to an hermitage, and there he laid him down and slept, and in the mean while the hermit stale away his sword, and laid meat down by him. Thus was he kept there a ten days, and at the last he departed and came to the herdmen again. And there was a giant in that country that hight Tauleas, and for fear of Sir Tristram more than seven years he durst never much go at large, but for the most part he kept him in a sure castle of his own. And so this Tauleas heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead, by the noise of the court of king Mark. Then this Tauleas went daily at large. And so it happed upon a day he came to the herdmen wandering and lingering, and there he set him down to rest among them. The mean while there came a knight of Cornwall that led a lady with him, and his name was Sir Dinant. And when the giant saw him, he went from the herdmen and hid him under a tree, and so the knight came to the well, and there he alight to repose him. And as soon as he was from his horse, the giant Tauleas came betwixt this knight and his horse, and took the horse and lept upon him. So forthwith he rode unto Sir Dinant and took him by the collar, and pulled him afore him upon his horse, and there would have stricken off his head. Then the herdmen said unto Sir Tristram, Help yonder knight. Help ye him, said Sir Tristram. We dare not, said the herdmen. Then Sir Tristram was ware of the sword of the knight there as it lay, and so thither he ran, and took up the sword and strake off Sir Tauleas’s head, and so he went his way to the herdmen again.

How king Mark found Sir Tristram naked, and made him to be borne home to Tintagil, and how he was there known by a brachet.

Then the knight took up the giant’s head, and bare it with him unto king Mark, and told him what adventure betid him in the forest, and how a naked man rescued him from the grimly giant Tauleas. Where had ye this adventure? said king Mark. Forsooth, said Sir Dinant, at the fair fountain in your forest where many adventurous knights meet, and there is the mad man. Well, said king Mark, I will see that wild man. So within a day or two king Mark commanded his knights and his hunters, that they should be ready on the morn for to hunt, and on the morn he went unto that forest. And when the king came to that well, he found there lying by that well a fair naked 215man, and a sword by him. Then king Mark blew and straked, and therewith his knights came to him. And then the king commanded his knights to take that naked man with fairness, and bring him to my castle. So they did softly and fair, and cast mantles upon Sir Tristram, and so led him unto Tintagil; and there they bathed him and washed him, and gave him hot suppings, till they had brought him well to his remembrance. But all this while there was no creature that knew Sir Tristram, nor what man he was. So it fell upon a day that the queen La Beale Isoud heard of such a man that ran naked in the forest, and how the king had brought him home to the court. Then La Beale Isoud called unto her dame Bragwaine, and said, Come on with me, for we will go see this man that my lord brought from the forest the last day. So they passed forth, and asked where was the sick man. And then a squire told the queen that he was in the garden taking his rest, and reposing him against the sun. So when the queen looked upon Sir Tristram she was not remembered of him. But ever she said unto dame Bragwaine, Me seemeth I should have seen him heretofore in many places. But as soon as Sir Tristram saw her he knew her well enough, and then he turned away his visage and wept. Then the queen had always a little brachet with her, that Sir Tristram gave her the first time that ever she came into Cornwall, and never would that brachet depart from her, but if Sir Tristram was nigh there as was La Beale Isoud; and this brachet was sent from the king’s daughter of France unto Sir Tristram for great love. And anon as this little brachet felt a savour of Sir Tristram, she leaped upon him, and licked his cheeks and his ears, and then she whined and quested, and she smelled at his feet and at his hands, and on all parts of his body that she might come to. Ah, my lady, said dame Bragwaine unto La Beale Isoud, alas, alas! said she, I see it is mine own lord, Sir Tristram. And thereupon Isoud fell down in a swoon, and so lay a great while; and when she might speak, she said, My lord Sir Tristram, blessed be God ye have your life; and now I am sure ye shall be discovered by this little brachet, for she will never leave you; and also I am sure as soon as my lord king Mark do know you, he will banish you out of the country of Cornwall, or else he will destroy you. Therefore mine own lord, grant king Mark his will, and then draw you unto the court of king Arthur, for there are ye beloved. And ever when I may I shall send unto you, and when ye list ye may come to me, and at all times early and late I will be at your commandment to live as poor a life as ever did queen or lady. O madam, said Sir Tristram, go from me, for mickle anger and danger have I escaped for your love.

How king Mark, by the advice of his council, banished Sir Tristram out of Cornwall the term of ten years.

Then the queen departed, but the brachet would not from him. And therewithal came king Mark, and the brachet sat upon him, and bayed at them all. Therewithal Sir Andred spake and said, Sir, this is Sir Tristram, I see by the brachet. Nay, said the king, I cannot suppose that. So the king asked him upon his faith what he was, and what was his name. Truly, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, now do by me what ye list. Ah, said king Mark, me repenteth of your recovery. And then he let call his barons to judge Sir Tristram to death. Then many of his barons would not assent thereto, and in especial Sir Dinas the seneschal and Sir Fergus. And so by the advice of them all Sir Tristram was banished out of the country for ten year, and thereupon he took his oath upon a book before the king and his barons. And so he was made to depart out of the country of Cornwall, and there were many barons brought him into his ship, of the which 216some were his friends, and some his foes. And in the mean while there came a knight of king Arthur’s, his name was Dinadan, and his coming was to seek after Sir Tristram. Then they shewed him where he was armed at all points, going to the ship. Now, fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, or ye pass this court, that ye will just with me I require you. With a good will, said Sir Tristram, and these lords will give me leave. Then the barons granted thereto, and so they ran together, and there Sir Tristram gave Sir Dinadan a fall. And then he prayed Sir Tristram to give him leave to go in his fellowship. Ye shall be right welcome, said then Sir Tristram. And so they took their horses and rode to their ships together. And when Sir Tristram was in the sea, he said, Greet well king Mark and all mine enemies, and say them I will come again when I may. And well am I rewarded for the fighting with Sir Marhaus, and delivering all this country from servage, and well I am rewarded for the fetching and costs of La Beale Isoud out of Ireland, and the danger that I was in first and last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to bring again queen Isoud from the castle Pluere. And well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Bleoberis for Sir Segwarides’ wife. And well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Blamor de Ganis for king Anguish, father unto La Beale Isoud. And well am I rewarded when I smote down the good knight Sir Lamorak de Galis at king Mark’s request. And well am I rewarded when I fought with the king with the hundred knights, and the king of Northgalis, and both these would have put his land in servage, and by me they were put to a rebuke. And well am I rewarded for the slaying of Tauleas the mighty giant, and many more deeds have I done for him, and now have I my warison. And tell king Mark that many noble knights of the Table Round have spared the barons of this country for my sake. Also am I not well rewarded when I fought with the good knight Sir Palamides, and rescued queen Isoud from him. And at that time king Mark said afore all his barons, I should have been better rewarded. And forthwithal he took the sea.

How a damsel sought help to help Sir Launcelot against thirty knights, and how Sir Tristram fought with them.

And at the next landing, fast by the sea, there met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan Sir Ector de Maris and Sir Bors de Ganis. And there Sir Ector justed with Sir Dinadan and he smote him and his horse down. And then Sir Tristram would have justed with Sir Bors, and Sir Bors said he would not just with no Cornish knights, for they are not called men of worship. And all this was done upon a bridge. And with this came Sir Bleoberis and Sir Driant, and Sir Bleoberis proffered to just with Sir Tristram, and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Bleoberis. Then said Sir Bors de Ganis, I wist never Cornish knight of so great valour nor so valiant as that knight that beareth the trappours embroidered with crowns. And then Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan departed from them into a forest, and there met them a damsel that came for the love of Sir Launcelot to seek after some noble knights of king Arthur’s court for to rescue Sir Launcelot. And so Sir Launcelot was ordained, for by the treason of queen Morgan le Fay to have slain Sir Launcelot, and for that cause she ordained thirty knights for to lie in a wait for Sir Launcelot, and this damsel knew this treason. And for this cause the damsel came for to seek noble knights to help Sir Launcelot. For that night, or the day after, Sir Launcelot should come where these thirty knights were. And so this damsel met with Sir Bors, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Ector, and Sir Driant, and there she told them all four of the treason of Morgan le Fay. And then they promised her that they would be nigh where Sir Launcelot should meet 217with the thirty knights, and if so be they set upon him we will do rescues as we can. So the damsel departed, and by adventure the damsel met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, and there the damsel told them all the treason that was ordained for Sir Launcelot. Fair damsel, said Sir Tristram, bring me to that same place where they should meet with Sir Launcelot. Then said Sir Dinadan, What will ye do? it is not for us to fight with thirty knights, and wit you well I will not thereof, as to match one knight two or three is enough, and they be men. But for to match fifteen knights, that will I never undertake. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, do but your part. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, I will not thereof, but if ye will lend me your shield, for ye bear a shield of Cornwall, and for the cowardice that is named to the knights of Cornwall, by your shields ye be ever forborn. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not depart from my shield for her sake that gave it me. But one thing, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee Sir Dinadan, but if thou wilt promise me to abide with me, here I shall slay thee: for I desire no more of thee but to answer one knight, and if thy heart will not serve thee, stand by and look upon me and them. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, I promise you to look upon and to do what I may to save myself, but I would I had not met with you. So then anon these thirty knights came fast by these four knights, and they were ware of them, and either of other. And so these thirty knights let them pass for this cause, that they would not wrath them if cause be that they had ado with Sir Launcelot, and the four knights let them pass to this intent, that they would see and behold what they would do with Sir Launcelot. And so the thirty knights past on, and came by Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan. And then Sir Tristram cried on high, Lo here is a knight against you for the love of Sir Launcelot. And there he slew two with one spear, and ten with his sword. And then came in Sir Dinadan, and he did passing well. And so of the thirty knights there went but ten away, and they fled. All this battle saw Sir Bors de Ganis, and his three fellows. And then they saw well it was the same knight that justed with them at the bridge. Then they took their horses and rode unto Sir Tristram, and praised him, and thanked him of his good deeds, and they all desired Sir Tristram to go with them to their lodging. And he said nay, he would not go to no lodging. Then they all four knights prayed him to tell them his name. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, as at this time I will not tell you my name.

How Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan came to a lodging where they must just with two knights.

Then Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode forth their way till they came to the shepherds and to the herdmen, and there they asked them if they knew any lodging or harbour there nigh hand. Forsooth sirs, said the herdmen, hereby is good lodging in a castle, but there is such a custom that there shall no knight be harboured but if he just with two knights, and if he be but one knight he must just with two. And as ye be therein, soon shall ye be matched. There is shrewd harbour, said Sir Dinadan, lodge where ye will, for I will not lodge there. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, are ye not a knight of the Table Round, wherefore ye may not with your worship refuse your lodging. Not so, said the herdmen, for and ye be beaten and have the worse ye shall not be lodged there, and if ye beat them ye shall be well harboured. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, they are two sure knights. Then Sir Dinadan would not lodge there in no manner, but as Sir Tristram required him of his knighthood, and so they rode thither. And to make short tale, Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan smote them down both, and so they entered into the castle, and had good cheer as they could think or 218devise. And when they were unarmed, and thought to be merry and in good rest, there came in at the gates Sir Palamides and Sir Gaheris, requiring to have the custom of the castle. What array is this? said Sir Dinadan, I would have my rest. That may not be, said Sir Tristram; now must we needs defend the custom of this castle, insomuch as we have the better of the lords of this castle, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, needs must ye make you ready. In the devil’s name, said Sir Dinadan, came I into your company. And so they made them ready. And Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Tristram, and Sir Gaheris had a fall, and Sir Palamides encountered with Sir Dinadan, and Sir Dinadan had a fall; then was it fall for fall. So then must they fight on foot. That would not Sir Dinadan, for he was so sore bruised of the fall that Sir Palamides gave him. Then Sir Tristram unlaced Sir Dinadan’s helm, and prayed him to help him. I will not, said Sir Dinadan, for I am sore wounded of the thirty knights that we had but late ago to do withal. But ye fare, said Sir Dinadan unto Sir Tristram, as a mad man, and as a man that is out of his mind, that would cast himself away, and I may curse the time that ever I saw you. For in all the world are not two such knights that be so wood as is Sir Launcelot and ye Sir Tristram: for once I fell in the fellowship of Sir Launcelot as I have now done with you, and he set me a work that a quarter of a year I kept my bed. Defend me, said Sir Dinadan, from such two knights, and specially from your fellowship. Then, said Sir Tristram, I will fight with them both. Then Sir Tristram bad them come forth both, for I will fight with you. Then Sir Palamides and Sir Gaheris dressed them and smote at them both. Then Dinadan smote at Sir Gaheris a stroke or two, and turned from him. Nay, said Sir Palamides, it is too much shame for us two knights to fight with one. And then he did bid Sir Gaheris stand aside with that knight that hath no list to fight. Then they rode together and fought long, and at the last Sir Tristram doubled his strokes and drove Sir Palamides aback more than three strides. And then by one assent Sir Gaheris and Sir Dinadan went betwixt them and departed them in sunder. And then by assent of Sir Tristram, they would have lodged together. But Sir Dinadan would not lodge in that castle, and then he cursed the time that ever he came in their fellowship. And so he took his horse and his harness and departed. Then Sir Tristram prayed the lords of that castle to lend him a man to bring him to a lodging. And so they did, and overtook Sir Dinadan, and rode to their lodging two miles thence with a good man in a priory, and there they were well at ease. And that same night, Sir Bors, and Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Ector, and Sir Driant, abode still in the same place there as Sir Tristram fought with the thirty knights, and there they met with Sir Launcelot the same night, and had made promise to lodge with Sir Colgrevance the same night.

How Sir Tristram justed with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramor le Desirous, and how Sir Gawaine turned Sir Tristram from Morgan le Fay.

But anon as the noble knight Sir Launcelot heard of the shield of Cornwall, then wist he well that it was Sir Tristram that fought with his enemies. And then Sir Launcelot praised Sir Tristram, and called him the man of most worship in the world. So there was a knight in that priory that hight Pellinore, and he desired to wit the name of Sir Tristram, but in no wise he could not. And so Sir Tristram departed and left Sir Dinadan in the priory, for he was so weary and so sore bruised that he might not ride. Then this knight, Sir Pellinore, said to Sir Dinadan, Sithen that ye will not tell me that knight’s name, I will ride after him and make him to tell me his name, or he shall die therefore. Beware, sir 219knight, said Sir Dinadan, for and ye follow him ye shall repent it. So that knight, Sir Pellinore, rode after Sir Tristram, and required him of justs. Then Sir Tristram smote him down, and wounded him through the shoulder, and so he past on his way. And on the next day following Sir Tristram met with pursuivants, and they told him that there was made a great cry of tournament between king Carados of Scotland and the king of North Wales, and either should just against other at the Castle of Maidens. And these pursuivants sought all the country after the good knights, and in especial king Carados let make seeking for Sir Launcelot, and the king of Northgalis let seek after Sir Tristram de Liones. And at that time Sir Tristram thought to be at that justs, and so by adventure they met with Sir Kay the seneschal and Sir Sagramor le Desirous, and Sir Kay required Sir Tristram to just, and Sir Tristram in a manner refused him, because he would not be hurt nor bruised against the great justs that should be before the Castle of Maidens, and therefore he thought to repose him, and to rest him. And alway Sir Kay cried, Sir knight of Cornwall, just with me, or else yield thee to me as recreant. When Sir Tristram heard him say so, he turned to him, and then Sir Kay refused him, and turned his back. Then Sir Tristram said, As I find thee shall I take thee. Then Sir Kay turned with evil will, and Sir Tristram smote Sir Kay down, and so he rode forth. Then Sir Sagramor le Desirous rode after Sir Tristram and made him to just with him. And there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Sagramor le Desirous from his horse, and rode his way, and the same day he met with a damsel that told him that he should win great worship of a knight adventurous, that did much harm in all that country.

When Sir Tristram heard her say so, he was glad to go with her to win worship. So Sir Tristram rode with that damsel a six mile, and then met him Sir Gawaine, and therewithal Sir Gawaine knew the damsel, that she was a damsel of queen Morgan le Fay. Then Sir Gawaine understood that she led that knight to some mischief. Fair knight, said Sir Gawaine, whither ride you now with that damsel? Sir, said Sir Tristram, I wot not whither I shall ride, but as the damsel will lead me. Sir, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall not ride with her, for she and her lady did never good, but ill. And then Sir Gawaine pulled out his sword, and said, Damsel, but if thou tell me anon for what cause thou leadest this knight with thee, thou shalt die for it right anon. I know all your lady’s treason and yours. Mercy, Sir Gawaine, she said, and if ye will save my life I will tell you. Say on, said Sir Gawaine, and thou shalt have thy life. Sir, she said, queen Morgan le Fay, my lady, hath ordained a thirty ladies to seek and espy after Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram, and by the trains of these ladies, who that may first meet with any of these two knights, they should turn them unto Morgan le Fay’s castle, saying that they should do deeds of worship, and if any of those two knights came there, there be thirty knights lying and watching in a tower to wait upon Sir Launcelot, or upon Sir Tristram. Fie for shame, said Sir Gawaine, that ever such false treason should be wrought or used in a queen and a king’s sister, and a king and queen’s daughter.

How Sir Tristram and Sir Gawaine rode to have fought against the thirty knights, but they durst not come out.

Sir, said Sir Gawaine, will ye stand with me, and we will see the malice of these thirty knights? Sir, said Sir Tristram, go ye to them and it please you, and ye shall see I will not fail you, for it is not long ago since I and a fellow met with thirty knights of that queen’s fellowship; and God speed us so that we may win worship. So then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram rode toward the castle where Morgan le Fay was, and ever Sir Gawaine deemed well that he was Sir Tristram de Liones, because 220he heard that two knights had slain and beaten thirty knights. And when they came afore the castle Sir Gawaine spake on high, and said, Queen Morgan le Fay, send out your knights that ye have laid in a watch for Sir Launcelot, and for Sir Tristram. Now, said Sir Gawaine, I know your false treason, and through all places where that I ride men shall know of your false treason. And now let see Sir Gawaine whether ye dare come out of your castle ye thirty knights. Then the queen spake and all the thirty knights at once, and said, Sir Gawaine, full well wotest thou what thou dost and sayest; for we know thee passing well; but all that thou speakest and dost thou sayest it upon pride of that good knight that is there with thee. For there be some of us that know full well the hands of that knight over all well, and wit thou well, Sir Gawaine, it is more for his sake than for thine that we will not come out of this castle. For wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, that knight that beareth the arms of Cornwall we know him, and what he is. Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram departed, and rode on their ways a day or two together, and there by adventure they met with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramor le Desirous. And then they were glad of Sir Gawaine, and he of them, but they wist not what he was with the shield of Cornwall but by deeming. And thus they rode together a day or two. And then they were ware of Sir Breuse Sance Pité chasing a lady for to have slain her, for he had slain her lover before. Hold you all still, said Sir Gawaine, and shew none of you forth, and ye shall see me reward yonder false knight, for and he espy you he is so well horsed that he will escape away. And then Sir Gawaine rode betwixt Sir Breuse and the lady, and said, False knight, leave her and have ado with me. When Sir Breuse saw no more but Sir Gawaine he feutred his spear, and Sir Gawaine against him, and there Sir Breuse overthrew Sir Gawaine, and then he rode over him and overthwart him twenty times, to have destroyed him; and when Sir Tristram saw him do so villainous a deed, he hurled out against him. And when Sir Breuse saw him with the shield of Cornwall, he knew him well that it was Sir Tristram, and then he fled, and Sir Tristram followed after him. And Sir Breuse Sance Pité was so horsed that he went his way quite. And Sir Tristram followed him long, for he would fain have been avenged upon him. And so when he had long chased him he saw a fair well, and thither he rode to repose him, and tied his horse to a tree.

How damsel Bragwaine found Tristram sleeping by a well, and how she delivered letters to him from La Beale Isoud.

And then he pulled off his helm, and washed his visage and his hands, and so he fell on sleep. In the mean while came a damsel that had sought Sir Tristram many ways and days within this land. And when she came to the well she looked upon him, and had forgotten him as in remembrance of Sir Tristram, but by his horse she knew him, that hight Passe-Brewel, that had been Sir Tristram’s horse many years. For when he was mad in the forest, Sir Fergus kept him. So this lady dame Bragwaine abode still till he was awake. So when she saw him wake she saluted him, and he her again, for either knew other of old acquaintance. Then she told him how she had sought him long and broad, and there she told him how she had letters from queen La Beale Isoud. Then anon Sir Tristram read them, and wit ye well he was glad, for therein was many a piteous complaint. Then Sir Tristram said, Lady Bragwaine, ye shall ride with me till that tournament be done at the Castle of Maidens; and then shall ye bear letters and tidings with you. And then Sir Tristram took his horse and sought lodging, and there he met with a good ancient knight that prayed him to lodge with him. Right so came Gouvernail unto 221Sir Tristram, that was glad of that lady. So this old knight’s name was Sir Pellounes, and he told of the great tournament that should be at the Castle of Maidens. And there Sir Launcelot and thirty-two knights of his blood had ordained shields of Cornwall. And right so there came one unto Sir Pellounes and told him that Sir Persides de Bloise was come home, and then that knight held up his hands and thanked God of his coming home, and there Sir Pellounes told Sir Tristram that in two years he had not seen his son Sir Persides. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I know your son well enough for a good knight. So on a time Sir Tristram and Sir Persides came to their lodging both at once, and so they unarmed them, and put upon them their clothing. And then these two knights each welcomed other. And when Persides understood that Sir Tristram was of Cornwall, he said he was once in Cornwall,—and there I justed afore king Mark, and so it happed me at that time to overthrow ten knights, and then came to me Sir Tristram de Liones and overthrew me, and took my lady from me, and that I shall never forget, but I shall remember me and ever I see my time. Ah, said Sir Tristram, now I understand that ye hate Sir Tristram. What deem ye, ween ye that Sir Tristram is not able to withstand your malice? Yes, said Sir Persides, I know well that Sir Tristram is a noble knight, and a much better knight than I, yet shall I not owe him my good will. Right as they stood thus talking at a bay window of that castle, they saw many knights riding to and fro toward the tournament. And then was Sir Tristram ware of a likely knight riding upon a great black horse, and a black covered shield. What knight is that, said Sir Tristram, with the black horse and the black shield? He seemeth to be a good knight. I know him well, said Sir Persides, he is one of the best knights of the world. Then is it Sir Launcelot, said Sir Tristram. Nay, said Sir Persides, it is Sir Palamides, that is yet unchristened.

How Sir Tristram had a fall of Sir Palamides, and how Launcelot overthrew two knights.

Then they saw much people of the country salute Sir Palamides. And within a while after there came a squire of the castle that told Sir Pellounes, that was lord of that castle, that a knight with a black shield had smitten down thirteen knights. Fair brother, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Persides, let us cast upon us our cloaks, and let us go see the play. Not so, said Sir Persides, we will not go like knaves thither, but we will ride like men and good knights to withstand our enemies. So they armed them, and took their horses, and great spears, and thither they went, there as many knights assayed themselves before the tournament. And anon Sir Palamides saw Sir Persides, and then he sent a squire unto him, and said, Go thou to the yonder knight with a green shield and therein a lion of gold, and say to him I require him to just with me, and tell him that my name is Sir Palamides. When Sir Persides understood that request of Sir Palamides he made him ready. And there anon they met together, but Sir Persides had a fall. Then Sir Tristram dressed him to be revenged upon Sir Palamides. And that saw Sir Palamides, that was ready, and so was not Sir Tristram, and took him at advantage, and smote him over his horse tail when he had no spear in his rest. Then start up Sir Tristram, and took his horse lightly, and was wroth out of measure, and sore ashamed of that fall. Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir Palamides by Gouvernail his squire, and prayed him to just with him at his request. Nay, said Sir Palamides, as at this time I will not just with that knight, for I know him better than he weeneth. And if he be wroth, he may right it to-morn at the Castle of Maidens, where he may see me and many other knights. With that came Sir Dinadan, and when he saw Sir Tristram 222wroth he list not to jest. Lo, said Sir Dinadan, here may a man prove, be a man never so good yet may he have a fall, and he was never so wise but he might be overseen, and he rideth well that never fell. So Sir Tristram was passing wroth, and said to Sir Persides and Sir Dinadan, I will revenge me. Right so as they stood talking there, there came by Sir Tristram a likely knight, riding passing soberly and heavily, with a black shield. What knight is that? said Sir Tristram unto Sir Persides. I know him well, said Sir Persides, for his name is Sir Briant of North Wales: so he past on among other knights of North Wales. And there came in Sir Launcelot du Lake with a shield of the arms of Cornwall, and he sent a squire unto Sir Briant, and required him to just with him. Well, said Sir Briant, since I am required to just I will do what I may. And there Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Briant from his horse a great fall. And then Sir Tristram marvelled what knight he was that bare the shield of Cornwall. Whatsoever he be, said Sir Dinadan, I warrant you he is of king Ban’s blood, the which be knights of the most noble prowess in the world, for to account so many for so many. Then there came two knights of Northgalis, the one hight Hew de la Montaine, and the other Sir Madok de la Montaine, and they challenged Sir Launcelot foot hot. Sir Launcelot not refusing them, but made him ready, with one spear he smote them down both over their horse croups, and so Sir Launcelot rode his way. By my faith, said Sir Tristram, he is a good knight that beareth the shield of Cornwall, and me seemeth he rideth in the best manner that ever I saw knight ride. Then the king of Northgalis rode unto Sir Palamides, and prayed him heartily for his sake to just with that knight that hath done us of Northgalis despite. Sir, said Sir Palamides, I am full loth to have ado with that knight, and cause why is for as to-morn the great tournament shall be, and therefore I will keep myself fresh by my will. Nay, said the king of Northgalis, I pray you require him of justs. Sir, said Sir Palamides, I will just at your request, and require that knight to just with me; and often I have seen a man have a fall at his own request.

How Sir Launcelot justed with Palamides and overthrew him, and after he was assailed with twelve knights.

Then Sir Palamides sent unto Sir Launcelot a squire, and required him of justs. Fair fellow, said Sir Launcelot, tell me thy lord’s name. Sir, said the squire, my lord’s name is Sir Palamides the good knight. In good hour, said Sir Launcelot, for there is no knight that I saw this seven years that I had lever have ado withal than with him. And so either knights made them ready with two great spears. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, ye shall see that Sir Palamides will quit him right well. It may be so, said Sir Tristram, but I undertake that knight with the shield of Cornwall shall give him a fall. I believe it not, said Sir Dinadan. Right so they spurred their horses, and feutred their spears, and either hit other, and Sir Palamides brake a spear upon Sir Launcelot, and he sat and moved not, but Sir Launcelot smote him so lightly that he made his horse to avoid the saddle, and the stroke brake his shield and the hauberk, and had he not fallen he had been slain. How now, said Sir Tristram, I wist well by the manner of their riding both that Sir Palamides should have a fall. Right so Sir Launcelot rode his way, and rode to a well to drink and to repose him, and they of Northgalis espied him whither he rode, and then there followed him twelve knights for to have mischieved him, for this cause, that upon the morn, at the tournament of the Castle of Maidens, that he should not win the victory. So they came upon Sir Launcelot suddenly, and scarcely he might put upon him his helm and take his horse but they were in hands with him. And then Sir Launcelot 223gat his spear and rode through them, and there he slew a knight, and brake his spear in his body. Then he drew his sword and smote upon the right hand and upon the left hand, so that within a few strokes he had slain other three knights, and the remnant that abode he wounded them sore, all that did abide. Thus Sir Launcelot escaped from his enemies of North Wales, and then he rode forth on his way to a friend, and lodged him till on the morn, for he would not the first day have ado in the tournament, because of his great labour. And on the first day he was with king Arthur, there as he was set on high upon a scaffold, to discern who was best worthy of his deeds. So Sir Launcelot was with king Arthur, and justed not the first day.

How Sir Tristram behaved him the first day of the tournament, and there he had the prize.

Now turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones, that commanded Gouvernail his servant to ordain him a black shield with none other remembrance therein. And so Sir Persides and Sir Tristram departed from their host Sir Pellounes and they rode early toward the tournament, and then they drew them to king Carados’ side of Scotland: and anon knights began the field, what of the king of Northgalis’ part, and what of king Carados’ part, and there began great party. Then there was hurling and rashing. Right so came in Sir Persides and Sir Tristram, and so they did fare that they put the king of Northgalis aback. Then came in Sir Bleoberis de Ganis and Sir Gaheris with them of Northgalis, and then was Sir Persides smitten down and almost slain, for more than forty horsemen went over him. For Sir Bleoberis did great deeds of arms, and Sir Gaheris failed him not. When Sir Tristram beheld them, and saw them do such deeds of arms, he marvelled what they were. Also Sir Tristram thought shame that Sir Persides was so done to; and then he gat a great spear in his hand, and then he rode to Sir Gaheris and smote him down from his horse. And then was Bleoberis wroth, and gat a spear and rode against Sir Tristram in great ire, and there Sir Tristram met with him, and smote Sir Bleoberis from his horse. So then the king with the hundred knights was wroth, and he horsed Sir Bleoberis and Sir Gaheris again, and there began a great meddle; and ever Sir Tristram held them passing short, and ever Sir Bleoberis was passing busy upon Sir Tristram. And there came Sir Dinadan against Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that he swooned in his saddle. Then anon Sir Dinadan came to Sir Tristram, and said, Sir, I know thee better than thou weenest, but here I promise thee my troth I will never come against thee more, for I promise thee that sword of thine shall never come on my helm. With that came Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that down he laid his head: and then he caught him so sore by the helm that he pulled him under his horse feet. And then king Arthur blew to lodging. Then Sir Tristram departed to his pavilion, and Sir Dinadan rode with him. And Sir Persides and king Arthur then, and the kings upon both parties, marvelled what knight that was with the black shield. Many said their advice, and some knew him for Sir Tristram, and held their peace, and would nought say. So that first day king Arthur and all the kings and lords that were judges gave Sir Tristram the prize, how be it they knew him not, but named him the knight with the black shield.

How Sir Tristram returned against king Arthur’s party, because he saw Sir Palamides on that party.

Then upon the morn Sir Palamides returned from the king of Northgalis, and rode to king Arthur’s side, where 224was king Carados, and the king of Ireland, and Sir Launcelot’s kin, and Sir Gawaine’s kin. So Sir Palamides sent the damsel unto Sir Tristram that he sent to seek him when he was out of his mind in the forest; and this damsel asked Sir Tristram what he was, and what was his name. As for that, said Sir Tristram, tell Sir Palamides he shall not wit as at this time, unto the time I have broken two spears upon him. But let him wit thus much, said Sir Tristram, that I am the same knight that he smote down in over evening at the tournament, and tell him plainly, on what part that Sir Palamides be I will be on the contrary part. Sir, said the damsel, ye shall understand that Sir Palamides will be on king Arthur’s side, where the most noble knights of the world be. Then, said Sir Tristram, will I be with the king of Northgalis, because Sir Palamides will be on king Arthur’s side, and else I would not but for his sake. So when king Arthur was come they blew unto the field, and then there began a great party, and so king Carados justed with the king with the hundred knights, and there king Carados had a fall; then there was hurling and rashing, and right so came in knights of king Arthur’s, and they bare back the king of Northgalis’ knights. Then Sir Tristram came in, and began so roughly and so bigly that there was none might withstand him, and thus Sir Tristram endured long. And at the last Sir Tristram fell among the fellowship of king Ban, and there fell upon him Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Blamor de Ganis, and many other knights. And then Sir Tristram smote on the right hand and on the left hand, that all lords and ladies spake of his noble deeds. But at the last Sir Tristram should have had the worse had not the king with the hundred knights been. And then he came with his fellowship and rescued Sir Tristram, and brought him away from those knights that bare the shields of Cornwall. And then Sir Tristram saw another fellowship by themselves, and there were a forty knights together, and Sir Kay the seneschal was their governor. Then Sir Tristram rode in amongst them, and there he smote down Sir Kay from his horse, and there he fared among those knights like a grey hound among conies. Then Sir Launcelot found a knight that was sore wounded upon the head. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, who wounded you so sore? Sir, he said, a knight that beareth a black shield, and I may curse the time that ever I met with him, for he is a devil and no man. So Sir Launcelot departed from him, and thought to meet with Sir Tristram, and so he rode with his sword drawn in his hand to seek Sir Tristram, and then he espied him how he hurled here and there, and at every stroke Sir Tristram well nigh smote down a knight. O mercy, said the king, sith the time I bare arms saw I never no knight do so marvellous deeds of arms. And if I should set upon this knight, said Sir Launcelot to himself, I did shame to myself; and therewithal Sir Launcelot put up his sword. And then the king with the hundred knights and a hundred more of North Wales set upon the twenty of Sir Launcelot’s kin: and they twenty knights held them ever together as wild swine, and none would fail other. And so when Sir Tristram beheld the noblesse of these twenty knights, he marvelled of their good deeds, for he saw by their fare and by their rule, that they had lever die than avoid the field. Now, said Sir Tristram, well may he be valiant and full of prowess that hath such a sort of noble knights unto his kin, and full like is he to be a noble man that is their leader and governor. He meant it by Sir Launcelot du Lake. So when Sir Tristram had beholden them long, he thought shame to see two hundred knights battering upon twenty knights. Then Sir Tristram rode unto the king with the hundred knights and said, Sir, leave your fighting with those twenty knights, for ye win no worship of them, ye be so many, and they so few; and wit ye well they will not out of the field, I see by their cheer and 225countenance; and worship get ye none and ye slay them. Therefore leave your fighting with them, for I to increase my worship I will ride to the twenty knights and help them with all my might and power. Nay, said the king with the hundred knights, ye shall not do so. Now I see your courage and courtesy I will withdraw my knights for your pleasure, for evermore a good knight will favour another, and like will draw to like.

How Sir Tristram found Palamides by a well, and brought him with him to his lodging.

Then the king with the hundred knights withdrew his knights. And all this while, and long tofore, Sir Launcelot had watched upon Sir Tristram with a very purpose to have fellowshipped with him. And then suddenly Sir Tristram, Sir Dinadan, and Gouvernail his man, rode their way into the forest, that no man perceived where they went. So then king Arthur blew unto lodging, and gave the king of Northgalis the prize, because Sir Tristram was upon his side. Then Sir Launcelot rode here and there, so wood as lion that wanted his fill, because he had lost Sir Tristram, and so he returned unto king Arthur. And then in all the field was a noise that with the wind it might be heard two mile thence, how the lords and ladies cried. The knight with the black shield hath won the field. Alas, said king Arthur, where is that knight become? It is shame to all those in the field so to let him escape away from you; but with gentleness and courtesy ye might have brought him unto me to the Castle of Maidens. Then the noble king Arthur went unto his knights, and comforted them in the best wise that he could, and said, My fair fellows be not dismayed, howbeit ye have lost the field this day. And many were hurt and sore wounded, and many were whole. My fellows, said king Arthur, look that ye be of good cheer, for to-morrow I will be in the field with you, and revenge you of your enemies.

So that night king Arthur and his knights reposed themselves. The damsel that came from La Beale Isoud unto Sir Tristram, all the while the tournament was a doing she was with queen Guenever, and ever the queen asked her for what cause she came into that country. Madam, she answered, I come for none other cause but from my lady La Beale Isoud to wit of your welfare. For in no wise she would not tell the queen that she came for Sir Tristram’s sake. So this lady, dame Bragwaine, took her leave of queen Guenever, and she rode after Sir Tristram. And as she rode through the forest she heard a great cry, then she commanded her squire to go into that forest to wit what was that noise. And so he came to a well, and there he found a knight bound to a tree, crying as he had been wood, and his horse and his harness standing by him. And when he espied the squire, therewith he started and brake himself loose, and took his sword in his hand, and ran to have slain that squire. Then he took his horse and fled all that ever he might unto dame Bragwaine again, and told her of his adventure. Then she rode unto Sir Tristram’s pavilion, and told Sir Tristram what adventure she had found in the forest. Alas, said Sir Tristram, upon my head there is some good knight at mischief. Then Sir Tristram took his horse and his sword and rode thither, and there he heard how the knight complained unto himself, and said, I, woeful knight, Sir Palamides, what misadventure befalleth me, that thus am defoiled with falsehood and treason, through Sir Bors and Sir Ector. Alas, he said, why live I so long! And then he gat his sword in his hands, and made many strange signs and tokens, and so through his raging he threw his sword into that fountain. Then Sir Palamides wailed and wrang his hands. And at the last, for pure sorrow, he ran into that fountain over his middle, and sought after his sword. Then Sir Tristram 226saw that, and ran upon Sir Palamides, and held him in his arms fast. What art thou, said Sir Palamides, that holdeth me so? I am a man of this forest that would thee none harm. Alas, said Sir Palamides, I may never win worship where Sir Tristram is, for ever where he is and I be there then get I no worship, and if he be away for the most part I have the gree, unless that Sir Launcelot du Lake be there or Sir Lamorak. Then Sir Palamides said: Once in Ireland Sir Tristram put me to the worse, and another time in Cornwall, and in other places in this land. What would ye do, said Sir Tristram, and ye had Sir Tristram? I would fight with him, said Sir Palamides, and ease my heart upon him, and yet, to say the sooth, Sir Tristram is the gentlest knight in this world living. What will ye do? said Sir Tristram, will ye go with me to your lodging? Nay, said he, I will go to the king with the hundred knights, for he rescued me from Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Ector, and else had I been slain traitourly. Sir Tristram said him such kind words that Sir Palamides went with him to his lodging. Then Gouvernail went tofore and charged dame Bragwaine to go out of the way to her lodging, and bid ye Sir Persides that he make him no quarrels. And so they rode together till they came to Sir Tristram’s pavilion, and there Sir Palamides had all the cheer that might be had all that night. But in no wise Sir Palamides might not know what was Sir Tristram. And so after supper they went to rest, and Sir Tristram for great travail slept till it was day. And Sir Palamides might not sleep for anguish, and in the dawning of the day he took his horse privily and rode his way unto Sir Gaheris and to Sir Sagramor le Desirous, where they were in their pavilions, for they three were fellows at the beginning of the tournament. And then upon the morn the king blew unto the tournament upon the third day.

How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides, and how he justed with king Arthur, and other feats.

So the king of Northgalis and the king with the hundred knights, they two encountered with king Carados and with the king of Ireland, and there the king with the hundred knights smote down king Carados, and the king of Northgalis smote down the king of Ireland. With that came in Sir Palamides, and when he came he made great work, for by his indented shield he was well known. So came in king Arthur and did great deeds of arms together, and put the king of Northgalis and the king with the hundred knights to the worse. With this came in Sir Tristram with his black shield, and anon he justed with Sir Palamides, and there by fine force Sir Tristram smote Sir Palamides over his horse croup. Then king Arthur cried, Knight with the black shield make thee ready to me. And in the same wise Sir Tristram smote king Arthur. And then by force of king Arthur’s knights the king and Sir Palamides were horsed again. Then king Arthur with a great eager heart gat a spear in his hand, and there upon the one side he smote Sir Tristram over his horse. Then foot-hot Sir Palamides came upon Sir Tristram as he was on foot, to have over-ridden him. Then Sir Tristram was ware of him, and there he stooped aside, and with great ire he gat him by the arm, and pulled him down from his horse. Then Sir Palamides lightly arose, and then they dashed together mightily with their swords, and many kings, queens, and lords stood and beheld them. And at the last Sir Tristram smote Sir Palamides upon the helm three mighty strokes, and at every stroke that he gave him he said, Have this for Sir Tristram’s sake. With that Sir Palamides fell to the earth groveling. And then came the king with the hundred knights and brought Sir Tristram an horse, and so was he horsed again. By then was Sir Palamides 227horsed, and with great ire he justed upon Sir Tristram with his spear as it was in the rest, and gave him a great dash with his spear. Then Sir Tristram avoided his spear and gat him by the neck with his both hands, and pulled him clean out of his saddle, and so he bare him afore him the length of ten spears, and then in the presence of them all he let him fall at his adventure. Then Sir Tristram was ware of king Arthur with a naked sword in his hand, and with his spear Sir Tristram ran upon king Arthur, and then king Arthur boldly abode him, and with his sword he smote a-two his spear, and therewithal Sir Tristram was astonished, and so king Arthur gave him three or four great strokes or he might get out his sword, and at the last Sir Tristram drew his sword and assailed other passing hard. With that the great press parted, then Sir Tristram rode here and there and did his great pain, that eleven of the good knights of the blood of king Ban, that was of Sir Launcelot’s kin, that day Sir Tristram smote down, that all the estates marvelled of his great deeds, and all cried upon the knight with the black shield.

How Sir Launcelot hurt Sir Tristram, and how after Sir Tristram smote down Palamides.

Then this cry was so large that Sir Launcelot heard it. And then he gat a great spear in his hand, and came towards the cry. Then Sir Launcelot cried, The knight with the black shield, make thee ready to just with me. When Sir Tristram heard him say so, he gat his spear in his hand, and either abashed down their heads, and came together as thunder, and Sir Tristram’s spear brake in pieces, and Sir Launcelot by mal-fortune struck Sir Tristram on the side a deep wound nigh to the death. But yet Sir Tristram avoided not his saddle, and so the spear brake: therewithal Sir Tristram that was wounded gat out his sword, and he rashed to Sir Launcelot, and gave him three great strokes upon the helm that the fire spang there out, and Sir Launcelot abashed his head lowly toward his saddle-bow. And therewithal Sir Tristram departed from the field, for he felt him so wounded that he wend he should have died. And Sir Dinadan espied him, and followed him into the forest. Then Sir Launcelot abode and did many marvellous deeds. So when Sir Tristram was departed by the forest side, he alight, and unlaced his harness and refreshed his wound. Then wend Sir Dinadan that he should have died. Nay, nay, said Sir Tristram, Dinadan never dread thee, for I am heart whole, and of this wound I shall soon be whole by the mercy of God. By that Sir Dinadan was ware where came Sir Palamides riding straight upon them. And then Sir Tristram was ware that Sir Palamides came to have destroyed him. And so Sir Dinadan gave him warning and said, Sir Tristram, my lord, ye are so sore wounded that ye may not have ado with him, therefore I will ride against him and do to him what I may; and if I be slain ye may pray for my soul, and in the meanwhile ye may withdraw you and go into the castle, or into the forest, that he shall not meet with you. Sir Tristram smiled and said, I thank you, Sir Dinadan, of your good will, but ye shall wit that I am able to handle him. And then anon hastily he armed him and took his horse and gat a great spear in his hand, and said to Sir Dinadan, Adieu, and rode toward Sir Palamides a soft pace.

Then when Sir Palamides saw that, he made countenance to amend his horse; but he did it for this cause, for he abode Sir Gaheris that came after him. And when he was come, he rode toward Sir Tristram. Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir Palamides and required him to just with him; and if he smote down Sir Palamides he would do no more to him; and if it so happened that Sir Palamides smote down Sir Tristram he bad him do his utterance. So they were accorded. Then they met together, and Sir Tristram smote down Sir 228Palamides, that he had a grievous fall, so that he lay still as he had been dead. And then Sir Tristram ran upon Sir Gaheris, and he would not have justed, but whether he would or not Sir Tristram smote him over his horse croup, that he lay still as though he had been dead. And then Sir Tristram rode his way, and left Sir Persides’ squire within the pavilions, and Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode to an old knight’s place to lodge them. And that old knight had five sons at the tournament, for whom he prayed heartily for their coming home. And so, as the French book saith, they came home all five well beaten.

And when Sir Tristram departed into the forest, Sir Launcelot held alway the fight like hard as a man enraged that took no heed to himself, and wit ye well there was many a noble knight against him. And when king Arthur saw Sir Launcelot do so marvellous deeds of arms, he then armed him, and took his horse and armour, and rode into the field to help Sir Launcelot, and so many knights came in with king Arthur. And to make short tale, in conclusion, the king of Northgalis and the king of the hundred knights were put to the worse, and because Sir Launcelot abode and was the last in the field, the prize was given him. But Sir Launcelot would neither for king, queen, nor knight have the prize. But where the cry was cried through the field, Sir Launcelot, Sir Launcelot, hath won the field this day, Sir Launcelot let make another cry contrary, Sir Tristram hath won the field, for he began first, and last he hath endured, and so hath he done the first day, the second, and the third day.

How the prize of the third day was given to Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot gave it unto Sir Tristram.

Then all the estates and degrees high and low said of Sir Launcelot great worship for the honour that he did unto Sir Tristram, and for that honour doing to Sir Tristram he was at that time more praised and renowned than if he had overthrown five hundred knights: and all the people wholly for this gentleness, first the estates both high and low, and after the commonalty, cried at once, Sir Launcelot hath won the field, whosoever say nay. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth and ashamed, and so therewithal he rode to king Arthur. Alas, said the king, we are all dismayed that Sir Tristram is thus departed from us. Truly, said king Arthur, he is one of the noblest knights that ever I saw hold spear or sword in hand, and the most courteyest knight in his fighting, for full hard I saw him, said king Arthur, when he smote Sir Palamides upon his helm, thrice that he abashed his helm with his strokes, and also he said, here is a stroke for Sir Tristram, and thus thrice he said. Then king Arthur, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Dodinas le Savage took their horses to seek Sir Tristram, and by the means of Sir Persides he had told king Arthur where Sir Tristram was in his pavilion, but when they came there Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan were gone. Then king Arthur and Sir Launcelot were heavy, and returned again to the Castle of Maidens making great dole for the hurt of Sir Tristram, and his sudden departing. Truly, said king Arthur, I am more heavy that I cannot meet with him than for all the hurts that all my knights have had at the tournament. Right so came Sir Gaheris and told to king Arthur how Sir Tristram had smitten down Sir Palamides, and it was at Sir Palamides’s own request. Alas, said king Arthur, that was great dishonour to Sir Palamides, inasmuch as Sir Tristram was sore wounded, and now may we all, kings, and knights, and men of worship, say that Sir Tristram may be called a noble knight, and one of the best knights that ever I saw the days of my life. For I will that ye all kings and knights know, said king Arthur, that I never saw knight do so marvellously as he hath done these three days, for he was the first that began, and that longest held 229on, save this last day. And though he was hurt, it was a manly adventure of two noble knights: and when two noble men encounter needs must the one have the worse, like as God will suffer at that time. As for me, said Sir Launcelot, for all the lands that ever my father left me I would not have hurt Sir Tristram and I had known him at that time. That I hurt him was for I saw not his shield, for if I had seen his black shield I would not have meddled with him for many causes, for late he did as much for me as ever knight did, and that is well known that he had ado with thirty knights, and no help save Sir Dinadan. And one thing shall I promise, said Sir Launcelot, Sir Palamides shall repent it, as in his unkindly dealing for to follow that noble knight that I by mishap hurt thus. Sir Launcelot said all the worship that might be said by Sir Tristram. Then king Arthur made a great feast to all that would come.

And thus let we pass king Arthur, and a little we will turn unto Sir Palamides, that, after he had a fall of Sir Tristram, he was nigh hand enraged out of his wit for despite of Sir Tristram. And so he followed him by adventure. And as he came by a river in his woodness he would have made his horse to have lept over; and the horse failed footing and fell in the river, wherefore Sir Palamides was adread lest he should have been drowned, and then he avoided his horse and swam to the land, and let his horse go down by adventure.

How Sir Palamides came to the castle where Sir Tristram was, and of the quest that Sir Launcelot and ten knights made for Sir Tristram.

And when he came to the land he took off his harness, and sat roaring and crying as a man out of his mind. Right so came a damsel even by Sir Palamides, that was sent from Sir Gawaine and his brother unto Sir Mordred, that lay sick in the same place with that old knight where Sir Tristram was. For, as the French book saith, Sir Persides hurt so Sir Mordred a ten days afore; and had it not been for the love of Sir Gawaine and his brother, Sir Persides had slain Sir Mordred. And so this damsel came by Sir Palamides, and she and he had language together, the which pleased neither of them: and so the damsel rode her ways till she came to the old knight’s place, and there she told that old knight how she had met with the woodest knight by adventure that ever she met withal. What bare he in his shield? said Sir Tristram. It was indented with white and black, said the damsel. Ah, said Sir Tristram, that was Sir Palamides the good knight, for well I know him, said Sir Tristram, for one of the best knights living in this realm. Then that old knight took a little hackney, and rode for Sir Palamides, and brought him unto his own manor; and then full well knew Sir Tristram Sir Palamides, but he said but little, for at that time Sir Tristram was walking upon his feet, and well amended of his hurts, and always when Sir Palamides saw Sir Tristram he would behold him full marvellously. And ever him seemed that he had seen him. Then would he say to Sir Dinadan, And ever I may meet with Sir Tristram, he shall not escape my hands. I marvel, said Sir Dinadan, that ye boast behind Sir Tristram, for it is but late that he was in your hands, and ye in his hands; why would ye not hold him when ye had him? for I saw myself twice or thrice that ye gat but little worship of Sir Tristram. Then was Sir Palamides ashamed. So leave we them a little while in the castle with the old knight Sir Darras.

Now shall we speak of king Arthur, that said to Sir Launcelot, Had not ye been, we had not lost Sir Tristram, for he was here daily unto the time ye met with him, and in an evil time, said Arthur, ye encountered with him. My lord Arthur, said Launcelot, ye put upon me that I should be cause of his departure: truly it was against my will. But when men be hot in deeds of arms, often they hurt their friends as well as their foes; 230and my lord, said Sir Launcelot, ye shall understand that Sir Tristram is a man that I am loth to offend, for he hath done for me more than ever I did for him as yet. But then Sir Launcelot made to bring forth a book, and then Sir Launcelot said, Here we are ten knights that will swear upon a book never to rest one night where we rest another, this twelvemonth, until that we find Sir Tristram. And as for me, said Sir Launcelot, I promise you upon this book that and I may meet with him, either by fairness or foulness I shall bring him to this court, or else I shall die therefore. And the names of these ten knights that had undertaken this quest were these following. First was Sir Launcelot; Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, and Bleoberis, and Sir Blamor de Ganis, and Lucan the butler, Sir Uwaine, Sir Galihud, Sir Lionel, and Galiodin. So these ten noble knights departed from the court of king Arthur; and so they rode upon their quest together until they came to a cross where departed four highways, and there departed the fellowship in four, to seek Sir Tristram. And as Sir Launcelot rode by adventure he met with dame Bragwaine, that was sent into that country to seek Sir Tristram, and she fled as fast as her palfrey might go. So Sir Launcelot met with her, and asked her why she fled. Ah, fair knight, said dame Bragwaine, I flee for dread of my life, for here followeth me Sir Breuse Sance Pité to slay me. Hold you nigh me, said Sir Launcelot. Then when Sir Launcelot saw Sir Breuse Sance Pité, Sir Launcelot cried unto him and said, False knight, destroyer of ladies and damsels, now thy last days be come. When Sir Breuse Sance Pité saw Sir Launcelot’s shield he knew it well, for at that time he bare not the arms of Cornwall, but he bare his own shield. And then Sir Breuse fled, and Sir Launcelot followed after him. But Sir Breuse was so well horsed, that when him list to flee he might well flee, and also abide when him list. And then Sir Launcelot returned unto dame Bragwaine, and she thanked him of his great labour.

How Sir Tristram, Sir Palamides, and Sir Dinadan were taken and put in prison.

Now will we speak of Sir Lucan the butler, that by fortune came riding to the same place there as was Sir Tristram, and in he came in none other intent but to ask harbour. Then the porter asked what was his name. Tell your lord that my name is Sir Lucan the butler, a knight of the Round Table. So the porter went unto Sir Darras, lord of the place, and told him who was there to ask harbour. Nay, nay, said Sir Daname, that was nephew unto Sir Darras, say him that he shall not be lodged here. But let him wit that I Sir Daname will meet with him anon, and bid him make him ready. So Sir Daname came forth on horseback, and there they met together with spears, and Sir Lucan smote down Sir Daname over his horse croup, and then he fled into that place, and Sir Lucan rode after him, and asked after him many times. Then Sir Dinadan said to Sir Tristram, It is shame to see the lord’s cousin of this place defoiled. Abide, said Sir Tristram, and I shall redress it. And in the mean while Sir Dinadan was on horseback, and he justed with Lucan the butler, and there Sir Lucan smote Dinadan through the thick of the thigh, and so he rode his way, and Sir Tristram was wroth that Sir Dinadan was hurt, and followed after, and thought to avenge him. And within a mile he overtook Sir Lucan and bade him turn: and so they met together, so that Sir Tristram hurt Sir Lucan passing sore, and gave him a fall. With that came Sir Uwaine, a gentle knight, and when he saw Sir Lucan so hurt, he called Sir Tristram to just with him. Fair knight, said Sir Tristram, tell me your name I require you. Sir knight, wit ye well my name is Sir Uwaine le Fise de Roy Ureine. Ah, said Sir Tristram, by my 231will I would not have ado with you at no time. Ye shall not so, said Sir Uwaine, but ye shall have ado with me. And then Sir Tristram saw none other boot, but rode against him, and overthrew Sir Uwaine, and hurt him in the side, and so he departed unto his lodging again. And when Sir Dinadan understood that Sir Tristram had hurt Sir Lucan, he would have ridden after Sir Lucan to have slain him, but Sir Tristram would not suffer him.

Then Sir Uwaine let ordain an horse-litter, and brought Sir Lucan to the abbey of Ganis, and the castle thereby hight the castle of Ganis, of the which Sir Bleoberis was lord. And at that castle Sir Launcelot promised all his fellows to meet in the quest of Sir Tristram. So when Sir Tristram was come to his lodging, there came a damsel that told Sir Darras that three of his sons were slain at that tournament, and two grievously wounded that they were never like to help themselves, and all this was done by a noble knight that bare the black shield, and that was he that bare the prize. Then came there one and told Sir Darras that the same knight was within him that bare the black shield. Then Sir Darras went unto Sir Tristram’s chamber, and there he found his shield and shewed it to the damsel. Ah, sir, said the damsel, that same is he that slew your three sons. Then without any tarrying Sir Darras put Sir Tristram, and Sir Palamides, and Sir Dinadan within a strong prison, and there Sir Tristram was like to have died of great sickness, and every day Sir Palamides would reprove Sir Tristram of old hate betwixt them. And ever Sir Tristram spake fair and said little. But when Sir Palamides saw the falling of sickness of Sir Tristram then was he heavy for him, and comforted him in all the best wise he could. And, as the French book saith, there came forty knights to Sir Darras that were of his own kin, and they would have slain Sir Tristram and his two fellows, but Sir Darras would not suffer that, but kept them in prison, and meat and drink they had. So Sir Tristram endured there great pain, for sickness had undertaken him, and that is the greatest pain a prisoner may have. For all the while a prisoner may have his health of body, he may endure under the mercy of God, and in hope of good deliverance; but when sickness toucheth a prisoner’s body, then may a prisoner say all wealth is him bereft, and then he hath cause to wail and to weep. And so did Sir Tristram when sickness had undertaken him, for then he took such sorrow that he had almost slain himself.

How king Mark was sorry for the good renown of Sir Tristram: some of king Arthur’s knights justed with knights of Cornwall.

Now will we speak, and leave Sir Tristram, Sir Palamides, and Sir Dinadan in prison, and speak we of other knights that sought after Sir Tristram many divers parts of this land. And some went into Cornwall, and by adventure Sir Gaheris, nephew unto king Arthur, came unto king Mark, and there he was well received, and sat at king Mark’s own table and eat of his own mess. Then king Mark asked Sir Gaheris what tidings there were in the realm of Logris. Sir, said Sir Gaheris, the king reigneth as a noble knight, and now but late there was a great justs and tournament as ever I saw any in the realm of Logris, and the most noble knights were at that justs. But there was one knight that did marvellously three days, and he bare a black shield, and of all knights that ever I saw he proved the best knight. Then said king Mark, That was Sir Launcelot, or Sir Palamides the Paynim. Not so, said Sir Gaheris, for both Sir Launcelot and Sir Palamides were on the contrary part against the knight with the black shield. Then it was Sir Tristram, said the king. Yea, said Sir Gaheris. And therewith the king smote down his head, and in his heart he feared sore that Sir Tristram should get him such worship in the realm of 232Logris, where through that he himself should not be able to withstand him. Thus Sir Gaheris had great cheer with king Mark, and with queen La Beale Isoud, the which was glad of Sir Gaheris’ words; for well she wist by his deeds and manners that it was Sir Tristram. And then the king made a feast royal, and unto that feast came Sir Uwaine le Fise de Roy Ureine, and some folk called him Uwaine le Blanche Mains. And this Sir Uwaine challenged all the knights of Cornwall. Then was the king wood wroth that he had no knights to answer him. Then Sir Andred, nephew unto king Mark, lept up and said, I will encounter with Sir Uwaine. Then he went and armed him, and horsed him in the best manner. And there Sir Uwaine met with Sir Andred and smote him down, that he swooned on the earth. Then was king Mark sorry and wroth out of measure that he had no knight to revenge his nephew Sir Andred. So the king called unto him Sir Dinas the seneschal, and prayed him for his sake to take upon him to just with Sir Uwaine. Sir, said Sir Dinas, I am full loth to have ado with any knight of the Round Table. Yet, said the king, for my love take upon thee to just. So Sir Dinas made him ready, and anon they encountered together with great spears, but Sir Dinas was overthrown, horse and man, a great fall. Who was wroth but king Mark? Alas, he said, have I no knight that will encounter with yonder knight. Sir, said Sir Gaheris, for your sake I will just. So Sir Gaheris made him ready, and when he was armed he rode into the field. And when Sir Uwaine saw Sir Gaheris’ shield, he rode unto him and said, Sir, ye do not your part; for, sir, the first time ye were made knight of the Round Table ye sware that ye should not have ado with your fellowship wittingly. And pardy Sir Gaheris, ye knew me well enough by my shield, and so do I know you by your shield, and though ye would break your oath I would not break mine, for there is not one here, nor ye, that shall think I am afraid of you, but I durst right well have ado with you, but we be sisters’ sons. Then was Sir Gaheris ashamed. And so therewithal every knight went his way, and Sir Uwaine rode into the country. Then king Mark armed him and took his horse and his spear, with a squire with him. And then he rode afore Sir Uwaine, and suddenly at a gap he ran upon him as he that was not ware of him, and there he smote him almost through the body, and there left him. So within a while there came Sir Kay, and found Sir Uwaine, and asked him how he was hurt. I wot not, said Sir Uwaine, why, nor wherefore, but by treason I am sure I gat this hurt, for here came a knight suddenly upon me or that I was ware, and suddenly hurt me. Then there was come Sir Andred to seek king Mark. Thou traitor knight, said Sir Kay, and I wist it were thou that thus traitourly hast hurt this noble knight, thou shouldst never pass my hands. Sir, said Sir Andred, I did never hurt him, and that I will report me to himself. Fie on you, false knights, said Sir Kay, for ye of Cornwall are nought worth. So Sir Kay made carry Sir Uwaine to the abbey of the black cross, and there he was healed. And then Sir Gaheris took his leave of king Mark. But or he departed he said, Sir king, ye did a foul shame unto you and your court when ye banished Sir Tristram out of this country, for ye needed not to have doubted no knight and he had been here. And so he departed.

Of the treason of king Mark, and how Sir Gaheris, smote him down and Andred his cousin.

Then there came Sir Kay the seneschal unto king Mark, and there he had good cheer shewing outward. Now fair lords, said he, will ye prove any adventures in the forest of Morris, in the which I know well is as hard an adventure as I know any. Sir, said Sir Kay, I will prove it. And Sir Gaheris said he would 233be advised, for king Mark was ever full of treason. And therewithal Sir Gaheris departed and rode his way. And by the same way that Sir Kay should ride he laid him down to rest, charging his squire to wait upon Sir Kay,—and warn me when he cometh. So within a while Sir Kay came riding that way. And then Sir Gaheris took his horse and met him, and said, Sir Kay, ye are not wise to ride at the request of king Mark, for he dealeth all with treason. Then said Sir Kay, I require you let us prove this adventure. I shall not fail you, said Sir Gaheris. And so they rode that time till a lake that was that time called the perilous lake, and there they abode under the shawe of the wood. The mean while king Mark within the castle of Tintagil avoided all his barons, and all other save such as were privy with him were all avoided out of his chamber. And then he let call his nephew Sir Andred, and bad arm him and horse him lightly, and by that time it was midnight. And so king Mark was armed in black, horse and all. And so at a privy postern they two issued out with their varlets with them, and rode till they came to that lake. Then Sir Kay espied them first, and gat his spear, and proffered to just. And king Mark rode against him, and smote each other full hard, for the moon shone as the bright day. And there at that justs Sir Kay’s horse fell down, for his horse was not so big as the king’s horse was, and Sir Kay’s horse bruised him full sore. Then Sir Gaheris was wroth that Sir Kay had a fall. Then he cried, Knight, sit thou fast in thy saddle, for I will revenge my fellow. Then king Mark was afeard of Sir Gaheris, and so with evil will king Mark rode against him: and Sir Gaheris gave him such a stroke that he fell down. So then forthwithal Sir Gaheris ran unto Sir Andred, and smote him from his horse quite that his helm smote in the earth and nigh had broken his neck. And therewith Sir Gaheris alight, and gat up Sir Kay. And then they went both on foot to them, and bad them yield them and tell their names, or else they should die. Then with great pain Sir Andred spake first and said, It is king Mark of Cornwall, therefore beware what ye do, and I am Sir Andred his cousin. Fie on you both, said Sir Gaheris, for a false traitor, and false treason hast thou wrought and he both, under the feigned cheer that ye made us. It were pity, said Sir Gaheris, that thou shouldst live any longer. Save my life, said king Mark, and I will make amends; and consider that I am a king anointed. It were the more shame, said Sir Gaheris, to save thy life; thou art a king anointed with crism, and therefore thou shouldest hold with all men of worship; and therefore thou art worthy to die. With that he lashed at king Mark without saying any more; and he covered him with his shield, and defended him as he might. And then Sir Kay lashed at Sir Andred. And therewithal king Mark yielded him unto Sir Gaheris, and then he kneeled down, and made his oath upon the cross of the sword that never while he lived he would be against errant knights. And also he sware to be good friend unto Sir Tristram, if ever he came into Cornwall. By then Sir Andred was on the earth, and Sir Kay would have slain him. Let be, said Sir Gaheris, slay him not I pray you. It were pity, said Sir Kay, that he should live any longer, for this is nigh cousin unto Sir Tristram, and ever he hath been a traitor unto him, and by him he was exiled out of Cornwall, and therefore I will slay him, said Sir Kay. Ye shall not, said Sir Gaheris; sithen I have given the king his life, I pray you give him his life. And therewithal Sir Kay let him go. And so Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris rode forth their way unto Dinas the seneschal, for because they heard say that he loved well Sir Tristram. So they reposed them there. And soon after they rode unto the realm of Logris. And so within a little while they met with Sir Launcelot, that had always dame Bragwaine with him, to that intent he wend to have met sooner with Sir Tristram, and Sir Launcelot asked what tidings in Cornwall, 234and whether they heard of Sir Tristram or not. Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris answered and said that they heard not of him. Then they told Sir Launcelot word by word of their adventure. Then Sir Launcelot smiled, and said, Hard it is to take out of the flesh that is bred in the bone. And so made them merry together.

How after that Sir Tristram, Sir Palamides, and Sir Dinadan had been long in prison they were delivered.

Now leave we off this tale and speak we of Sir Dinas that loved a lady within the castle, and she loved another knight better than him. And so when Sir Dinas went out on hunting she slipped down by a towel, and took with her two brachets, and so she went to the knight that she loved. And when Sir Dinas came home and missed his lady, and his brachets, then was he more wroth for his brachets than for the lady. So then he rode after the knight that had his lady, and bad him turn and just. So Sir Dinas smote him down, that with the fall he brake his leg and his arm. And then his lady cried Sir Dinas mercy, and said she would love him better than ever she did. Nay, said Sir Dinas, I shall never trust them that once betrayed me, and therefore as ye have begun so end, for I will never meddle with you. And so Sir Dinas departed and took his brachets with him, and so rode to his castle.

Now will we turn unto Sir Launcelot, that was right heavy that he could never hear no tidings of Sir Tristram, for all this while he was in prison with Sir Darras, Palamides, and Dinadan. Then dame Bragwaine took her leave to go into Cornwall, and Sir Launcelot, Sir Kay, and Sir Gaheris rode to seek Sir Tristram in the country of Surluse. Now speaketh this tale of Sir Tristram and of his two fellows, for every day Sir Palamides brawled and said language against Sir Tristram. I marvel, said Sir Dinadan, of thee Sir Palamides: and thou hadst Sir Tristram here thou wouldst do him no harm; for and a wolf and a sheep were together in prison, the wolf would suffer the sheep to be in peace. And wit thou well, said Sir Dinadan, this same is Sir Tristram at a word, and now mayest thou do thy best with him, and let see now how ye can shift it with your hands. Then was Sir Palamides abashed and said little. Sir Palamides, said Sir Tristram, I have heard much of your ill-will against me, but I will not meddle with you as at this time by my will, because I dread the lord of this place that hath us in governance, for and I dread him more than I do thee, soon should it be shift. So they appeased themselves. Right so came in a damsel and said, Knights, be of good cheer, for ye are sure of your lives, and that I heard say my lord Sir Darras. Then were they glad all three, for daily they wend they should have died. Then soon after this Sir Tristram fell sick, that he wend to have died. Then Sir Dinadan wept, and so did Sir Palamides under them both making great sorrow. So a damsel came into them, and found them mourning. Then she went to Sir Darras and told him how that mighty knight that bare the black shield was likely to die. That shall not be, said Sir Darras, for God defend when any knights come to me for succour that I should suffer them to die within my prison. Therefore, said Sir Darras to the damsel, fetch that knight and his fellows afore me. And then anon when Sir Darras saw Sir Tristram afore him, he said, Sir knight, me repenteth of thy sickness, for thou art called a full noble knight, and so it seemeth by thee. And wit ye well, it shall never be said that Sir Darras shall destroy such a noble knight as thou art in prison, howbeit that thou hast slain three of my sons, whereby I was greatly agrieved. But now shalt thou go and thy fellows, and your harness and horses have been fair and clean kept, and ye shall go where it liketh you, upon this covenant, that 235thou, knight, will promise me to be good friend to my sons two that be now on live, and also that thou tell me thy name. Sir, said he, as for me, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and in Cornwall was I born, and nephew I am unto king Mark. And as for the death of your sons, I might not do withal, for and they had been the next kin that I have, I might have done none otherwise. And if I had slain them by treason or treachery, I had been worthy to have died. All this I consider, said Sir Darras, that all that ye did was by force of knighthood, and that was the cause I would not put you to death. But since ye be Sir Tristram the good knight, I pray you heartily to be my good friend and to my sons. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I promise you by the faith of my body ever while I live I will do you service, for ye have done to us but as a natural knight ought to do. Then Sir Tristram reposed him there till that he was amended of his sickness. And when he was big and strong they took their leave, and every knight took their horses and so departed, and rode together till they came to a cross way. Now fellows, said Sir Tristram, here will we depart in sundry ways. And because Sir Dinadan had the first adventure, of him I will begin.

How Sir Dinadan rescued a lady from Sir Breuse Sance Pité, and how Sir Tristram received a shield of Morgan le Fay.

So as Sir Dinadan rode by a well, he found a lady making great dole. What aileth you? said Sir Dinadan. Sir knight, said the lady, I am the wofullest lady of the world, for within these five days here came a knight called Sir Breuse Sance Pité, and he slew mine own brother, and ever since he hath kept me at his own will, and of all men in the world I hate him most. And therefore I require you of knighthood to avenge me, for he will not tarry but be here anon. Let him come, said Sir Dinadan, and because of honour of all women I will do my part. With this came Sir Breuse, and when he saw a knight with his lady, he was wood wroth. And then he said, Sir knight, keep thee from me. So they hurled together as thunder, and either smote other passing sore. But Sir Dinadan put him through the shoulder a grievous wound, and or ever Sir Dinadan might turn him, Sir Breuse was gone and fled. Then the lady prayed him to bring her to a castle there beside but four mile thence. And so Sir Dinadan brought her there, and she was welcome, for the lord of that castle was her uncle. And so Sir Dinadan rode his way upon his adventure.

Now turn we this tale unto Sir Tristram, that by adventure he came to a castle to ask lodging, wherein was queen Morgan le Fay. And so when Sir Tristram was let into that castle he had good cheer all that night. And upon the morn when he would have departed, the queen said, Wit ye well ye shall not depart lightly, for ye are here as a prisoner. God defend, said Sir Tristram, for I was but late a prisoner. Fair knight, said the queen, ye shall abide with me till that I wit what ye are, and from whence ye come. And ever the queen would set Sir Tristram on her side, and her paramour on the other side, and ever queen Morgan would behold Sir Tristram, and thereat the knight was jealous, and was in will suddenly to have run upon Sir Tristram with a sword, but he left it for shame. Then the queen said to Sir Tristram, Tell me thy name, and I shall suffer you to depart when you will. Upon that covenant I tell you my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, said Morgan le Fay, and I had wist that thou shouldst not have departed so soon as thou shalt: but sithen I have made a promise I will hold it, with that thou wilt promise me to bear upon thee a shield that I shall deliver thee, unto the castle of the Hard Rock, where king Arthur hath cried a great tournament, and there I pray you that ye will be, 236and to do for me as much deeds of arms as ye may do. For at that Castle of Maidens, Sir Tristram, ye did marvellous deeds of arms as ever I heard knight do. Madam, said Sir Tristram, let me see the shield that I shall bear. So the shield was brought forth, and the shield was goldish, with a king and a queen therein painted, and a knight standing above them, with one foot upon the king’s head, and the other upon the queen’s. Madam, said Sir Tristram, this is a fair shield and a mighty; but what signifieth this king and this queen and that knight standing upon both their heads. I shall tell you, said Morgan le Fay, it signifieth king Arthur and queen Guenever, and a knight that holdeth them both in bondage and servage. Who is that knight? said Sir Tristram. That shall ye not wit as at this time, said the queen. But, as the French book saith, queen Morgan loved Sir Launcelot best, and ever she desired him, and he would never love her, nor do nothing at her request, and therefore she held many knights together for to have taken him by strength. And because she deemed that Sir Launcelot loved queen Guenever, and she him again, therefore queen Morgan le Fay ordained that shield to put Sir Launcelot to a rebuke, to that intent that king Arthur might understand the love between them. Then Sir Tristram took that shield and promised her to bear it at the tournament at the castle of the Hard Rock. But Sir Tristram knew not that shield was ordained against Sir Launcelot, but afterward he knew it.

How Sir Tristram took with him the shield, and also how he slew the paramour of Morgan le Fay.

So then Sir Tristram took his leave of the queen, and took the shield with him. Then came the knight that held queen Morgan le Fay, his name was Sir Hemison, and he made him ready to follow Sir Tristram. Fair friend, said Morgan, ride not after that knight, for ye shall win no worship of him. Fie on him, coward, said Sir Hemison, for I wist never good knight come out of Cornwall, but if it were Sir Tristram de Liones. What and that be he, said she. Nay, nay, said he, he is with La Beale Isoud, and this is but a daffish knight. Alas my fair friend, ye shall find him the best knight that ever ye met withal, for I know him better than ye do. For your sake, said Sir Hemison, I shall slay him. Ah, fair friend, said the queen, me repenteth that ye will follow that knight, for I fear me sore of your again coming. With this, this knight rode his way wood wroth, and he rode after Sir Tristram as fast as he had been chased with knights. When Sir Tristram heard a knight come after him so fast, he returned about, and saw a knight coming against him. And when he came nigh to Sir Tristram, he cried on high, Sir knight, keep thee from me. Then they rushed together as it had been thunder, and Sir Hemison bruised his spear upon Sir Tristram, but his harness was so good that he might not hurt him. And Sir Tristram smote him harder, and bare him through the body, and he fell over his horse croup. Then Sir Tristram turned to have done more with his sword, but he saw so much blood go from him, that him seemed he was likely to die; and so he departed from him and came to a fair manor to an old knight, and there Sir Tristram lodged.

How Morgan le Fay buried her paramour, and how Sir Tristram praised Sir Launcelot and his kin.

Now leave we to speak of Sir Tristram, and speak we of the knight that was wounded to the death. Then his varlet alight, and took off his helm; and then he asked his master whether there were any life in him. There is in me life, said the knight, but it is but little, and therefore leap thou up behind me, when thou hast holpen me up; and hold me fast that I fall not, and bring me 237to queen Morgan le Fay, for deep draughts of death draw to my heart, that I may not live, for I would fain speak with her or I died. For else my soul will be in great peril and I die. And with great pain his varlet brought him to the castle, and there Sir Hemison fell down dead. When Morgan le Fay saw him dead, she made great sorrow out of reason. And then she let despoil him unto his shirt, and so she let him put into a tomb. And about the tomb she let write: Here lieth Sir Hemison, slain by the hands of Sir Tristram de Liones. Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that asked the knight, his host, if he saw late any knights adventurous. Sir, he said, the last night here lodged with me Sir Ector de Maris and a damsel with him, and that damsel told me that he was one of the best knights of the world. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for I know four better knights of his own blood; and the first is Sir Launcelot du Lake, call him the best knight; and Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Blamor de Ganis, and Sir Gaheris. Nay, said his host, Sir Gawaine is a better knight than he. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for I have met with them both, and I felt Sir Gaheris for the better knight; and Sir Lamorak, I call him as good as any of them, except Sir Launcelot. Why name ye not Sir Tristram, said his host, for I account him as good as any of them. I know not Sir Tristram, said Tristram. Thus they talked and jested as long as them list, and then went to rest. And on the morn Sir Tristram departed and took his leave of his host, and rode towards the Roche-dure, and none adventure had Sir Tristram but that, and so he rested not till he came to the castle, where he saw five hundred tents.

How Sir Tristram at a tournament bare the shield that Morgan le Fay had delivered him.

Then the king of Scots and the king of Ireland held against king Arthur’s knights, and there began a great meddle. So came in Sir Tristram and did marvellous deeds of arms, for there he smote down many knights. And ever he was afore king Arthur with that shield. And when king Arthur saw that shield, he marvelled greatly in what intent it was made. But queen Guenever deemed as it was, wherefore she was heavy. Then was there a damsel of queen Morgan in a chamber by king Arthur, and when she heard king Arthur speak of that shield, then she spake openly unto king Arthur, Sir king, wit ye well this shield was ordained for you, to warn you of your shame and dishonour, and that longeth to you and to your queen. And then anon the damsel piked her away privily, that no man wist where she was become. Then was king Arthur sad and wroth, and asked from whence came that damsel. There was not one that knew her, nor wist where she was become. Then queen Guenever called to her Sir Ector de Maris, and there she made her complaint to him, and said, I wot well this shield was made by Morgan le Fay, in despite of me and Sir Launcelot, wherefore I dread sore lest I should be destroyed. And ever the king beheld Sir Tristram that did so marvellous deeds of arms, that he wondered sore what knight he might be, and well he wist it was not Sir Launcelot. And it was told him that Sir Tristram was in Petit Britain with Isoud la Blanche Mains, for he deemed, and he had been in the realm of Logris, Sir Launcelot or some of his fellows that were in the quest of Sir Tristram, that they should have found him or that time. So king Arthur had marvel what knight he might be. And ever Sir Arthur’s eye was on that shield. All that espied the queen, and that made her sore afeard. Then ever Sir Tristram smote down knights, wonderly to behold, what upon the right hand and upon the left hand, that unneth no knight might withstand him. And the king of Scots and the king of Ireland began to withdraw them. When Arthur espied that, he thought that that knight 238with the strange shield should not escape him. Then he called unto him Sir Uwaine la Blanche Mains, and bade him arm him and make him ready. So anon king Arthur and Sir Uwaine dressed them before Sir Tristram, and required him to tell them where he had that shield. Sir, he said, I had it of queen Morgan le Fay, sister unto king Arthur.

Soo here endeth this history of this book, for it is the firste book of sire Tristram de lyones, and the second book of sir tristram foloweth.

Here begynneth the second book of sire Tristram. Howe syre Tristram smote doune kyng Arthur and sir Uwayne, by cause he wold not telle hem wherfor that shelde was made. But to say the sothe sire Tristram coude not telle the cause, for he knewe it not.

The Tenth Book.
How Sir Tristram justed and smote down king Arthur, because he told him not the cause why he bare that shield.

And if so be ye can describe what ye bear, ye are worthy to bear the arms. As for that, said Sir Tristram, I will answer you. This shield was given me, not desired, of queen Morgan le Fay. And as for me, I cannot describe these arms, for it is no point of my charge, and yet I trust to bear them with worship. Truly, said king Arthur, ye ought to bear none arms but if ye wist what ye bear. But I pray you tell me your name. To what intent? said Sir Tristram. For I would wit, said king Arthur. Sir, ye shall not wit as at this time. Then shall ye and I do battle together, said king Arthur. Why, said Sir Tristram, will ye do battle with me but if I tell you my name? and that little needeth you and ye were a man of worship, for ye have seen me this day have had great travail; and therefore ye are a villainous knight to ask battle of me, considering my great travail, howbeit I will not fail you, and have ye no doubt that I fear not you; though ye think ye have me at a great advantage, yet shall I right well endure you. And therewithal king Arthur dressed his shield and his spear, and Sir Tristram against him, and they came so eagerly together. And there king Arthur brake his spear all to pieces upon Sir Tristram’s shield. But Sir Tristram hit king Arthur again, that horse and man fell to the earth. And there was king Arthur wounded on the left side a great wound and a perilous. Then when Sir Uwaine saw his lord Arthur lie on the ground sore wounded he was passing heavy. And then he dressed his shield and spear, and cried aloud unto Sir Tristram, and said, Knight, defend thee. So they came together as thunder, and Sir Uwaine brake his spear all to pieces upon Sir Tristram’s shield. And Sir Tristram smote him harder and sorer, with such a might that he bare him clean out of his saddle to the earth. 239With that Sir Tristram turned about and said, Fair knights, I had no need to just with you, for I have had enough to do this day. Then arose Arthur and went to Sir Uwaine, and said to Sir Tristram, We have as we have deserved, for through our pride we demanded battle of you, and yet we knew not your name. Nevertheless, said Sir Uwaine, by saint cross he is a strong knight at mine advice as any is now living.

Then Sir Tristram departed, and in every place he asked and demanded after Sir Launcelot, but in no place he could not hear of him whether he were dead or on live, wherefore Sir Tristram made great dole and sorrow. So Sir Tristram rode by a forest, and then was he ware of a fair tower by a marsh on that one side, and on that other side a fair meadow. And there he saw ten knights fighting together. And ever the nearer he came he saw how there was but one knight did battle against nine knights, and that one knight did so marvellously that Sir Tristram had great wonder that ever one knight might do so great deeds of arms. And then within a little while he had slain half their horses and unhorsed them, and their horses ran in the fields and forest. Then Sir Tristram had so great pity upon that one knight that endured so great pain, and ever he thought it should be Sir Palamides by his shield. And so he rode unto the knights and cried unto them, and bad them cease of their battle, for they did themselves great shame, so many knights to fight with one. Then answered the master of those knights, his name was called Breuse Sance Pité, that was at that time the most mischievousest knight living, and said thus: Sir knight, what have ye ado with us to meddle; and therefore and ye be wise depart on your way as ye came, for this knight shall not escape us. That were pity, said Sir Tristram, that so good a knight as he is should be slain so cowardly. And therefore I warn you I will succour him with all my puissance.

How Sir Tristram saved Sir Palamides’ life, and how they promised to fight together within a fortnight.

So Sir Tristram alight off his horse because they were on foot, that they should not slay his horse, and then dressed his shield with his sword in his hand: and he smote on the right hand and on the left hand passing sore, that well nigh at every stroke he strake down a knight. And when they espied his strokes they fled all with Breuse Sance Pité unto the tower; and Sir Tristram followed fast after with his sword in his hand. But they escaped into the tower and shut Sir Tristram without the gate. And when Sir Tristram saw this he returned back unto Sir Palamides, and found him sitting under a tree sore wounded. Ah, fair knight, said Sir Tristram, well be ye found. Gramercy, said Sir Palamides, of your great goodness, for ye have rescued me of my life, and saved me from my death. What is your name? said Sir Tristram. He said, my name is Sir Palamides. Oh, said Sir Tristram, thou hast a fair grace of me this day that I should rescue thee, and thou art the man in the world that I most hate. But now make thee ready, for I will do battle with thee. What is your name? said Sir Palamides. My name is Sir Tristram, your mortal enemy. It may be so, said Sir Palamides, but ye have done overmuch for me this day that I should fight with you, for inasmuch as ye have saved my life, it will be no worship for you to have ado with me, for ye are fresh, and I am wounded sore. And therefore and ye will needs have ado with me, assign me a day, and then I shall meet with you without fail. Ye say well, said Sir Tristram. Now, I assign you to meet me in the meadow by the river of Camelot, where Merlin set the peron. So they were agreed. Then Sir Tristram asked Sir Palamides why the ten knights did battle with him. For this cause, said Sir Palamides, as I rode on mine adventures in a forest here 240beside, I espied where lay a dead knight, and a lady weeping beside him. And when I saw her making such dole, I asked her who slew her lord? Sir, she said, the falsest knight of the world now living: and he is the most villain that ever man heard speak of, and his name is Sir Breuse Sance Pité. Then for pity I made the damsel to leap on her palfrey, and I promised her to be her warrant, and to help her to inter her lord. And so, suddenly, as I came riding by this tower, there came out Sir Breuse Sance Pité, and suddenly he strake me from my horse. And then or I might recover my horse, this Sir Breuse slew the damsel. And so I took my horse again, and I was sore ashamed, and so began the meddle betwixt us. And this is the cause wherefore we did this battle. Well, said Sir Tristram, now I understand the manner of your battle. But in any wise have remembrance of your promise that ye have made with me to do battle with me this day fortnight. I shall not fail you, said Sir Palamides. Well, said Sir Tristram, as at this time I will not fail you till that ye be out of the danger of your enemies. So they mounted upon their horses, and rode together unto that forest, and there they found a fair well, with clear water burbling. Fair sir, said Sir Tristram, to drink of that water have I courage. And then they alight off their horses. And then were they ware by them where stood a great horse tied to a tree, and ever he neighed. And then were they ware of a fair knight armed under a tree, lacking no piece of harness, save his helm lay under his head. Truly, said Sir Tristram, yonder lieth a wellfaring knight, what is best to do? Awake him, said Sir Palamides. So Sir Tristram wakened him with the butt of his spear. And so the knight arose up hastily, and put his helm upon his head, and gat a great spear in his hand, and without any more words he hurled unto Sir Tristram, and smote him clean from his saddle to the earth, and hurt him on the left side, that Sir Tristram lay in great peril. Then he galloped farther, and fet his course, and came hurling upon Sir Palamides, and there he strake him a part through the body, that he fell from his horse to the earth. And then this strange knight left them there, and took his way through the forest. With this Sir Palamides and Sir Tristram were on foot, and gat their horses again, and either asked counsel of other what was best to do. By my head, said Sir Tristram, I will follow this strong knight that thus hath shamed us. Well, said Sir Palamides, and I will repose me hereby with a friend of mine. Beware, said Sir Tristram unto Palamides, that ye fail not that day that ye have set with me to do battle, for, as I deem, ye will not hold your day, for I am much bigger than ye. As for that, said Sir Palamides, be it as it be may, for I fear you not: for and I be not sick nor prisoner I will not fail you. But I have cause for to have more doubt of you that ye will not meet with me, for ye ride after yonder strong knight, and if ye meet with him it is an hard adventure and ever ye escape his hands. Right so Sir Tristram and Sir Palamides departed, and either took their ways diverse.

How Sir Tristram sought a strong knight that had smitten him down, and many other knights of the Round Table.

So Sir Tristram rode long after this strong knight. And at the last he saw where lay a lady overthwart a dead knight. Fair lady, said Sir Tristram, who hath slain your lord? Sir, said she, there came a knight riding as my lord and I rested us here, and asked him of whence he was, and my lord said of Arthur’s court. Therefore, said the strong knight, I will just with thee, for I hate all these that be of Arthur’s court. And my lord that lieth here dead mounted upon his horse, and the strong knight and my lord encountered together, and there he smote my lord through out with his spear. And thus he hath brought me in great woe and damage. That me repenteth, said Sir 241Tristram, of your great anger; and it please you tell me your husband’s name? Sir, said she, his name was Galardoun, that would have proved a good knight. So departed Sir Tristram from that dolorous lady, and had much evil lodging. Then on the third day Sir Tristram met with Sir Gawaine and with Sir Bleoberis in a forest at a lodge: and either were sore wounded. Then Sir Tristram asked Sir Gawaine and Sir Bleoberis if they met with such a knight, with such a cognisance, with a covered shield. Fair sir, said these knights, such a knight met with us to our great damage. And first he smote down my fellow Sir Bleoberis, and sore wounded him because he bad me I should not have ado with him, for why, he was over strong for me. That strong knight took his words at scorn, and said he said it for mockery. And then they rode together, and so he hurt my fellow. And when he had done so, I might not for shame but I must just with him. And at the first course, he smote me down and my horse to the earth. And there he had almost slain me, and from us he took his horse and departed, and in an evil time we met with him. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, so he met with me and with another knight that hight Palamides, and he smote us both down with one spear, and hurt us right sore. By my faith, said Sir Gawaine, by my counsel ye shall let him pass and seek him no farther, for at the next feast of the Round Table upon pain of my head ye shall find him there. By my faith, said Sir Tristram, I shall never rest till that I find him. And then Sir Gawaine asked him his name. Then he said, My name is Sir Tristram. And so either told other their names. And then departed Sir Tristram, and rode his way. And by fortune in a meadow Sir Tristram met with Sir Kay the seneschal and Sir Dinadan. What tidings with you, said Sir Tristram,—with you knights? Not good, said these knights. Why so? said Sir Tristram, I pray you tell me, for I ride to seek a knight. What cognisance beareth he? said Sir Kay. He beareth, said Sir Tristram, a covered shield close with a cloth. By my head, said Sir Kay, that is the same knight that met with us, for this night we were lodged within a widow’s house, and there was that knight lodged. And when he wist we were of Arthur’s court, he spake great villainy by the king, and specially by the queen Guenever. And then on the morrow we waged battle with him for that cause. And at the first recounter, said Sir Kay, he smote me down from my horse, and hurt me passing sore. And when my fellow Sir Dinadan saw me smitten down and hurt, he would not revenge me, but fled from me. And thus is he departed. And then Sir Tristram required them to tell him their names, and so either told other their names. And so Sir Tristram departed from Sir Kay and from Sir Dinadan, and so he passed through a great forest into a plain, till he was ware of a priory, and there he reposed him with a good man six days.

How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Sagramor le Desirous, and Sir Dodinas le Savage.

And then he sent his man that hight Gouvernail, and commanded him to go to a city there by to fetch him new harness; for it was long time afore that that Sir Tristram had been refreshed; his harness was bruised and broken. And when Gouvernail his servant was come with his apparel, he took his leave at the widow, and mounted upon his horse, and rode his way early on the morn. And, by sudden adventure Sir Tristram met with Sir Sagramor le Desirous, and with Sir Dodinas le Savage. And these two knights met with Sir Tristram and questioned with him, and asked him if he would just with them. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, with a good will I would just with you, but I have promised at a day set near hand to do battle with a strong knight. And therefore I am loth to 242have ado with you, for and it misfortuned me here to be hurt, I should not be able to do my battle which I promised. As for that, said Sir Sagramor, maugre your head ye shall just with us or ye pass from us. Well, said Sir Tristram, if ye enforce me thereto, I must do what I may. And then they dressed their shields, and came running together with great ire. But through Sir Tristram’s great force, he strake Sir Sagramor from his horse. Then he hurled his horse farther, and said to Sir Dodinas, Knight, make thee ready. And so through fine force Sir Tristram strake Dodinas from his horse. And when he saw them lie on the earth he took his bridle, and rode forth on his way, and his man Gouvernail with him. Anon as Sir Tristram was past, Sir Sagramor and Sir Dodinas gat again their horses, and mounted up lightly, and followed after Sir Tristram. And when Sir Tristram saw them come so fast after him, he returned with his horse to them, and asked them what they would. It is not long ago since I smote you down to the earth at your own request and desire: I would have ridden by you but ye would not suffer me, and now me seemeth ye would do more battle with me. That is truth, said Sir Sagramor and Sir Dodinas, for we will be revenged of the despite that ye have done to us. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, that shall little need you, for all that I did to you ye caused it, wherefore I require you of your knighthood leave me as at this time, for I am sure and I do battle with you I shall not escape without great hurts, and as I suppose ye shall not escape all lotless. And this is the cause why I am so loth to have ado with you. For I must fight within these three days with a good knight and as valiant as any is now living, and if I be hurt I shall not be able to do battle with him. What knight is that, said Sir Sagramor, that ye shall fight withal? Sir, said he, it is a good knight called Sir Palamides. By my head, said Sir Sagramor and Sir Dodinas, ye have cause to dread him, for ye shall find him a passing good knight and a valiant. And because ye shall have ado with him we will forbear you as at this time, and else ye should not escape us lightly. But fair knight, said Sir Sagramor, tell us your name. Sir, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, said Sagramor and Sir Dodinas, well be ye found, for much worship have we heard of you. And then either took leave of other, and departed on their way.

How Sir Tristram met at the peron with Sir Launcelot, and how they fought together unknown.

Then departed Sir Tristram and rode straight unto Camelot, to the peron that Merlin had made tofore, where Sir Lanceor, that was the king’s son of Ireland, was slain by the hands of Balin. And in that same place was the fair lady Columbe slain, that was love unto Sir Lanceor, for after he was dead she took his sword and thrust it through her body. And by the craft of Merlin he made to inter this knight Sir Lanceor and his lady Columbe under one stone. And at that time Merlin prophesied that in that same place should fight two the best knights that ever were in Arthur’s days, and the best lovers. So when Sir Tristram came to the tomb where Lanceor and his lady were buried, he looked about him after Sir Palamides. Then was he ware of a seemly knight came riding against him all in white, with a covered shield. When he came nigh Sir Tristram, he said on high, Ye be welcome, Sir knight, and well and truly have ye holden your promise. And then they dressed their shields and spears, and came together with all their mights of their horses. And they met so fiercely that both their horses and knights fell to the earth. And as fast as they might they avoided their horses, and put their shields before them, and they strake together with bright swords, as men that were of might, and either 243wounded other wonderly sore, that the blood ran out upon the grass. And thus they two fought the space of four hours, that never one would speak to other one word, and of their harness they had hewn off many pieces. Oh, said Gouvernail, I have marvel greatly of the strokes my master hath given to your master. By my head, said Sir Launcelot’s servant, your master hath not given so many but your master hath received as many or more. Oh, said Gouvernail, it is too much for Sir Palamides to suffer, or Sir Launcelot, and yet pity it were that either of these good knights should destroy other’s blood. So they stood and wept both, and made great dole when they saw the bright swords over covered with blood of their bodies. Then at the last spake Sir Launcelot and said: Knight, thou fightest wonderly well as ever I saw knight, therefore and it please you tell me your name. Sir, said Sir Tristram, that is me loth to tell any man my name. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, and I were required, I was never loth to tell my name. It is well said, quoth Sir Tristram, then I require you to tell me your name. Fair knight, he said, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Alas, said Sir Tristram, what have I done, for ye are the man in the world that I love best. Fair knight, said Sir Launcelot, tell me your name. Truly, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Oh, said Sir Launcelot, what adventure is befallen me! And therewith Sir Launcelot kneeled down and yielded him up his sword. And therewithal Sir Tristram kneeled adown, and yielded him up his sword. And so either gave other the degree. And then they both forthwithal went to the stone, and set them down upon it, and took off their helms to cool them, and either kissed other an hundred times. And then anon after they took their helms and rode to Camelot. And there they met with Sir Gawaine and with Sir Gaheris that had made promise to Arthur never to come again to the court till they had brought Sir Tristram with them.

How Sir Launcelot brought Sir Tristram to the court, and of the great joy that the king and other made for the coming of Sir Tristram.

Return again, said Sir Launcelot, for your quest is done, for I have met with Sir Tristram: lo here is his own person. Then was Sir Gawaine glad, and said to Sir Tristram, Ye are welcome, for now have ye eased me greatly of my labour. For what cause, said Sir Gawaine, came ye into this court? Fair sir, said Sir Tristram, I came into this country because of Sir Palamides, for he and I had assigned at this day to have done battle together at the peron, and I marvel I hear not of him. And thus by adventure my lord Sir Launcelot and I met together. With this came king Arthur. And when he wist that there was Sir Tristram, then he ran unto him and took him by the hand and said, Sir Tristram, ye be as welcome as any knight that ever came to this court. And when the king had heard how Sir Launcelot and he had foughten, and either had wounded other wonderly sore, then the king made great dole. Then Sir Tristram told the king how he came thither for to have had ado with Sir Palamides. And then he told the king how he had rescued him from the nine knights and Breuse Sance Pité, and how he found a knight lying by a well, and that knight smote down Sir Palamides and me, but his shield was covered with a cloth. So Sir Palamides left me, and I followed after that knight. And in many places I found where he had slain knights, and forjusted many. By my head, said Sir Gawaine, that same knight smote me down and Sir Bleoberis, and hurt us sore both, he with the covered shield. Ah, said Sir Kay, that knight smote me adown and hurt me passing sore, and fain would I have known him, but I might not. Mercy, said Arthur, what knight was that with the covered shield? I know not, said Sir Tristram; and so said they all. Now, said king 244Arthur, then wot I, for it is Sir Launcelot. Then they all looked upon Sir Launcelot and said, Ye have beguiled us with your covered shield. It is not the first time, said Arthur, he hath done so. My lord, said Sir Launcelot, truly wit ye well I was the same knight that bare the covered shield. And because I would not be known that I was of your court I said no worship of your house. That is truth, said Sir Gawaine, Sir Kay, and Sir Bleoberis. Then king Arthur took Sir Tristram by the hand, and went to the Table Round. Then came queen Guenever and many ladies with her, and all the ladies said at one voice, Welcome, Sir Tristram. Welcome, said the damsels: Welcome, said the knights: Welcome, said Arthur, for one of the best knights and the gentlest of the world, and the man of most worship. For of all manner of hunting thou bearest the prize, and of all measures of blowing thou art the beginning, and of all the terms of hunting and hawking ye are the beginner: of all instruments of music ye are the best; therefore, gentle knight, said Arthur, ye are welcome to this court. And also I pray you, said Arthur, grant me a boon. It shall be at your commandment, said Tristram. Well, said Arthur, I will desire of you that ye will abide in my court. Sir, said Sir Tristram, thereto is me loth, for I have ado in many countries. Not so, said Arthur, ye have promised it me, ye may not say nay. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I will as ye will. Then went Arthur unto the sieges about the Round Table, and looked in every siege the which were void that lacked knights. And then the king saw in the siege of Marhaus letters that said, This is the siege of the noble knight Sir Tristram. And then Arthur made Sir Tristram knight of the Table Round with great nobley and great feast as might be thought. For Sir Marhaus was slain afore by the hands of Sir Tristram in an island, and that was well known at that time in the court of Arthur; for this Marhaus was a worthy knight. And for evil deeds that he did unto the country of Cornwall Sir Tristram and he fought. And they fought so long tracing and traversing till they fell bleeding to the earth, for they were so sore wounded that they might not stand for bleeding. And Sir Tristram by fortune recovered, and Sir Marhaus died through the stroke on the head. So leave we of Sir Tristram, and speak we of king Mark.

How for the despite of Sir Tristram king Mark came with two knights into England, and how he slew one of the knights.

Then king Mark had great despite of the renown of Sir Tristram, and then he chased him out of Cornwall: yet was he nephew unto king Mark, but he had great suspicion unto Sir Tristram, because of his queen, La Beale Isoud: for him seemed that there was too much love between them both. So when Sir Tristram departed out of Cornwall into England, king Mark heard of the great prowess that Sir Tristram did there, the which grieved him sore. So he sent on his party men to espy what deeds he did. And the queen sent privily on her part spies to know what deeds he had done, for great love was between them twain. So when the messagers were come home, they told the truth as they had heard, that he passed all other knights, but if it were Sir Launcelot. Then king Mark was right heavy of these tidings, and as glad was La Beale Isoud. Then in great despite he took with him two good knights and two squires, and disguised himself, and took his way into England, to the intent for to slay Sir Tristram. And one of these two knights hight Sir Bersules, and the other knight was called Sir Amant. So as they rode, king Mark asked a knight that he met where he should find king Arthur. He said, at Camelot. Also he asked that knight after Sir Tristram, whether he heard of him in the court of king Arthur. Wit you well, said that knight, ye shall find 245Sir Tristram there for a man of as great worship as is now living, for through his prowess he won the tournament of the Castle of Maidens, that standeth by the Hard Rock. And sithen he hath won with his own hands thirty knights that were men of great honour. And the last battle that ever he did he fought with Sir Launcelot, and that was a marvellous battle. And not by force Sir Launcelot brought Sir Tristram to the court, and of him king Arthur made passing great joy, and so made him knight of the Table Round, and his seat was where the good knight’s Sir Marhaus seat was. Then was king Mark passing sorry when he heard of the honour of Sir Tristram, and so they departed. Then said king Mark unto his two knights, Now will I tell you my counsel; ye are the men that I trust most to on live; and I will that ye wit my coming hither is to this intent, for to destroy Sir Tristram by wiles or by treason; and it shall be hard if ever he escape our hands. Alas, said Bersules, what mean you? for ye be set in such a way ye are disposed shamefully. For Sir Tristram is the knight of most worship that we know living, and therefore I warn you plainly I will never consent to do him to the death; and therefore I will yield my service, and forsake you. When king Mark heard him say so, suddenly he drew his sword, and said, A traitor! and smote Sir Bersules on the head, that the sword went to his teeth. When Amant the knight saw him do that villainous deed, and his squires, they said it was foul done and mischievously, wherefore we will do thee no more service; and wit ye well we will appeach thee of treason afore Arthur. Then was king Mark wonderly wroth, and would have slain Amant; but he and the two squires held them together, and set nought by his malice. When king Mark saw he might not be revenged on them, he said thus unto the knight Amant, Wit thou well, and thou appeach me of treason I shall thereof defend me afore king Arthur; but I require thee that thou tell not my name that I am king Mark, whatsoever come of me. As for that, said Sir Amant, I will not discover your name. And so they parted; and Amant and his fellows took the body of Bersules and buried it.

How king Mark came to a fountain where he found Sir Lamorak complaining for the love of king Lot’s wife.

Then king Mark rode till he came to a fountain, and there he rested him, and stood in a doubt whether he would ride to Arthur’s court or none, or return again to his country. And as he thus rested him by that fountain, there came by him a knight well armed on horseback, and he alight and tied his horse unto a tree, and set him down by the brink of the fountain, and there he made great languor and dole, and made the dolefullest complaint of love that ever man heard; and all this while was he not ware of king Mark. And this was a great part of his complaint, he cried and wept, saying, O fair queen of Orkney, king Lot’s wife, and mother of Sir Gawaine, and to Sir Gaheris, and mother to many other, for thy love I am in great pains. Then king Mark arose, and went near him, and said, Fair knight, ye have made a piteous complaint. Truly, said the knight, it is an hundred part more rueful than my heart can utter. I require you, said king Mark, tell me your name. Sir, said he, as for my name, I will not hide it from no knight that beareth a shield, and my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. But when Sir Lamorak heard king Mark speak, then wist he well by his speech that he was a Cornish knight. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, I understand by your tongue ye be of Cornwall, wherein there dwelleth the shamefullest king that is now living, for he is a great enemy to all good knights; and that proveth well, for he hath chased out of that country Sir Tristram, that is the worshipfullest knight that now is living, and all knights speak of him worship, 246and for jealousy of his queen he hath chased him out of his country. It is pity, said Sir Lamorak, that ever any such false knight-coward as king Mark is should be matched with such a fair lady and good as La Beale Isoud is, for all the world of him speaketh shame, and of her worship that any queen may have. I have not ado in this matter, said king Mark, neither nought will I speak thereof. Well said, said Sir Lamorak. Sir, can ye tell me any tidings? I can tell you, said Sir Lamorak, that there shall be a great tournament in haste beside Camelot, at the castle of Jagent. And the king with the hundred knights, and the king of Ireland, as I suppose, make that tournament.

Then there came a knight, that was called Sir Dinadan, and saluted them both. And when he wist that king Mark was a knight of Cornwall, he reproved him for the love of king Mark a thousand fold more than did Sir Lamorak. Then he proffered to just with king Mark. And he was full loth thereto; but Sir Dinadan edged him so, that he justed with Sir Lamorak. And Sir Lamorak smote king Mark so sore that he bare him on his spear end over his horse tail. And then king Mark arose again, and followed after Sir Lamorak. But Sir Dinadan would not just with Sir Lamorak, but he told king Mark that Sir Lamorak was Sir Kay the seneschal. That is not so, said king Mark, for he is much bigger than Sir Kay. And so he followed and overtook him, and bad him abide. What will ye do? said Sir Lamorak. Sir, he said, I will fight with a sword, for ye have shamed me with a spear. And therewith they dashed together with swords, and Sir Lamorak suffered him and forbare him. And king Mark was passing hasty, and smote thick strokes. Sir Lamorak saw he would not stint, and waxed somewhat wroth, and doubled his strokes, for he was one of the noblest knights of the world, and he beat him so on the helm that his head hung nigh on the saddle bow. When Sir Lamorak saw him fare so, he said, Sir knight, what cheer? me seemeth ye have nigh your fill of fighting; it were pity to do you any more harm for ye are but a mean knight, therefore I give you leave to go where ye list. Gramercy, said king Mark, for ye and I be not matches. Then Sir Dinadan mocked king Mark and said, Ye are not able to match a good knight. As for that, said king Mark, at the first time that I justed with this knight ye refused him. Think ye that it is a shame to me? said Sir Dinadan: nay, sir, it is ever worship to a knight to refuse that thing that he may not attain: therefore your worship had been much more, to have refused him as I did: for I warn you plainly he is able to beat five such as ye and I be; for ye knights of Cornwall are no men of worship, as other knights are. And because ye are no men of worship, ye hate all men of worship; for never was bred in your country such a knight as Sir Tristram.

How king Mark, Sir Lamorak, and Sir Dinadan came to a castle, and how king Mark was known there.

Then they rode forth all together, king Mark, Sir Lamorak, and Sir Dinadan, till that they came unto a bridge. And at the end thereof stood a fair tower. Then saw they a knight on horseback, well armed, brandishing a spear, crying and proffering himself to just. Now, said Sir Dinadan unto king Mark, yonder are two brethren, that one hight Allein, and that other hight Trian, that will just with any that passeth this passage. Now proffer yourself, said Dinadan to king Mark, for ever ye be laid to the earth. Then king Mark was ashamed, and therewith he feutred his spear, and hurtled to Sir Trian, and either brake their spears all to pieces, and passed through anon. Then Sir Trian sent king Mark another spear to just more; but in no wise he would not just no more. Then they 247came to the castle, all three knights, and they prayed the lord of the castle for harbour. Ye are right welcome, said the knights of the castle, for the love of the lord of this castle, the which hight Sir Tor le Fise Aries. And then they came into a fair court, well repaired. And they had passing good cheer till the lieutenant of this castle that hight Berluse espied king Mark of Cornwall. Then said Berluse, Sir knight, I know you better than ye ween, for ye are king Mark, that slew my father afore mine own eyes, and me had ye slain had I not escaped into a wood; but wit ye well for the love of my lord of this castle, I will neither hurt you ne harm you, nor none of your fellowship. But wit ye well when ye are past this lodging I shall hurt you and I may, for ye slew my father traitourly. But first for the love of my lord Sir Tor, and for the love of Sir Lamorak the honourable knight that here is lodged, ye shall have none ill lodging. For it is pity that ever ye should be in the company of good knights, for ye are the most villainous knight or king that is now known on live; for ye are a destroyer of good knights, and all that ye do is but treason.

How Sir Berluse met with king Mark, and how Sir Dinadan took his part.

Then was king Mark sore ashamed, and said but little again. But when Sir Lamorak and Sir Dinadan wist that he was king Mark they were sorry of his fellowship. So after supper they went to lodging. So on the morn they arose early, and king Mark and Sir Dinadan rode together; and three mile from their lodging there met with them three knights, and Sir Berluse was one, and the other his two cousins. Sir Berluse saw king Mark, and then he cried on high, Traitor, keep thee from me, for wit thou well that I am Berluse. Sir knight, said Sir Dinadan, I counsel you to leave off at this time, for he is riding to king Arthur; and because I have promised to conduct him to my lord king Arthur, needs must I take a part with him, howbeit I love not his condition, and fain I would be from him. Well Dinadan, said Sir Berluse, me repenteth that ye will take part with him, but now do your best. And then he hurtled to king Mark, and smote him sore upon the shield that he bare him clean out of his saddle to the earth. That saw Sir Dinadan, and he feutred his spear, and ran to one of Berluse’s fellows, and smote him down off his saddle. Then Dinadan turned his horse, and smote the third knight in the same wise to the earth, for Sir Dinadan was a good knight on horseback. And there began a great battle, for Berluse and his fellows held them together strongly on foot. And so through the great force of Sir Dinadan, king Mark had Sir Berluse to the earth, and his two fellows fled; and had not been Sir Dinadan, king Mark would have slain him; and so Sir Dinadan rescued him of his life, for king Mark was but a murderer. And then they took their horses and departed, and left Sir Berluse there sore wounded. Then king Mark and Sir Dinadan rode forth a four leagues English till that they came to a bridge, where hoved a knight on horseback, armed and ready to just. Lo, said Sir Dinadan unto king Mark, yonder hoveth a knight that will just, for there shall none pass this bridge but he must just with that knight. It is well, said king Mark, for this justs falleth with thee. Sir Dinadan knew the knight well that he was a noble knight, and fain he would have justed, but he had lever king Mark had justed with him, but by no mean king Mark would not just. Then Sir Dinadan might not refuse him in no manner. And then either dressed their spears and their shields and smote together, so that through fine force Sir Dinadan was smitten to the earth. And lightly he arose up, and gat his horse, and required that knight to do battle with swords. And he answered and said, Fair knight, as at this time I may not 248have ado with you no more; for the custom of this passage is such. Then was Sir Dinadan passing wroth, that he might not be revenged of that knight; and so he departed. And in no wise would that knight tell his name; but ever Sir Dinadan thought that he should know him by his shield that it should be Sir Tor.

How king Mark mocked Sir Dinadan, and how they met with six knights of the Round Table.

So as they rode by the way, king Mark then began to mock Sir Dinadan, and said, I wend you knights of the Table Round might in no wise find their matches. Ye say well, said Sir Dinadan, as for you, on my life I call you none of the best knights; but sith ye have such a despite at me, I require you to just with me, to prove my strength. Not so, said king Mark, for I will not have ado with you in no manner. But I require you of one thing, that when ye come to Arthur’s court, discover not my name, for I am there so hated. It is shame to you, said Sir Dinadan, that ye govern yourself so shamefully; for I see by you ye are full of cowardice, and ye are a murderer, and that is the greatest shame that a knight may have, for never a knight being a murderer hath worship, nor never shall have. For I saw but late through my force ye would have slain Sir Berluse, a better knight than ye, or ever ye shall be, and more of prowess.

Thus they rode forth talking, till they came to a fair place where stood a knight, and prayed them to take their lodging with him. So at the request of that knight they reposed them there, and made them well at ease, and had great cheer. For all errant knights were welcome to him, and especially all those of Arthur’s court. Then Sir Dinadan demanded his host, what was the knight’s name that kept the bridge. For what cause ask you it? said his host. For it is not long ago, said Sir Dinadan, since he gave me a fall. Ah, fair knight, said his host, thereof have ye no marvel, for he is a passing good knight, and his name is Sir Tor, the son of Aries le Vaysher. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, was that Sir Tor, for truly so ever me thought. Right as they stood thus talking together, they saw come riding to them over a plain six knights of the court of king Arthur, well armed at all points. And there by their shields Sir Dinadan knew them well. The first was the good knight Sir Uwaine, the son of king Uriens; the second was the noble knight Sir Brandiles; the third was Ozana le Cure Hardy; the fourth was Uwaine les Adventurous; the fifth was Sir Agravaine; the sixth Sir Mordred, brother to Sir Gawaine. When Sir Dinadan had seen these six knights, he thought in himself he would bring king Mark by some wile to just with one of them. And anon they took their horses and ran after these knights well a three mile English. Then was king Mark ware where they sat all six about a well, and eat and drank such meats as they had, and their horses walking and some tied, and their shields hung in divers places about them. Lo, said Sir Dinadan, yonder are knights errant that will just with us. God forbid, said king Mark, for they be six, and we but two. As for that, said Sir Dinadan, let us not spare, for I will assay the foremost. And therewith he made him ready. When king Mark saw him do so, as fast as Sir Dinadan rode toward them king Mark rode froward them with all his menial company. So when Sir Dinadan saw king Mark was gone, he set the spear out of the rest, and threw his shield upon his back, and came riding to the fellowship of the Table Round. And anon Sir Uwaine knew Sir Dinadan, and welcomed him, and so did all his fellowship.

How the six knights sent Sir Dagonet to just with king Mark, and how king Mark refused him.

And then they asked him of his adventures, and whether he had seen Sir 249Tristram, or Sir Launcelot. Truly, said Sir Dinadan, I saw none of them since I departed from Camelot. What knight is that, said Sir Brandiles, that so suddenly departed from you, and rode over yonder field? Sir, said he, it was a knight of Cornwall, and the most horrible coward that ever bestrode horse. What is his name? said all the knights. I wot not, said Sir Dinadan. So when they had reposed them, and spoken together, they took their horses and rode to a castle where dwelled an old knight that made all knights errant good cheer. Then in the mean while that they were talking came into the castle Sir Griflet le Fise de Dieu, and there was he welcome, and they asked him whether he had seen Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram? Sirs, he answered, I saw him not since he departed from Camelot. So as Sir Dinadan walked and beheld the castle, thereby in a chamber he espied king Mark, and then he rebuked him, and asked him why he departed so? Sir, said he, for I durst not abide because they were so many. But how escaped ye? said king Mark. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, they were better friends than I wend they had been. Who is captain of that fellowship? said the king. Then for to fear him Sir Dinadan said it was Sir Launcelot. Oh, said the king, might I know Sir Launcelot by his shield? Yea, said Dinadan, for he beareth a shield of silver and black bends. All this he said to fear the king, for Sir Launcelot was not in his fellowship. Now I pray you, said king Mark, that ye will ride in my fellowship? That is me loth to do, said Sir Dinadan, because ye forsook my fellowship. Right so Sir Dinadan went from king Mark and went to his own fellowship. And so they mounted upon their horses, and rode on their ways, and talked of the Cornish knight, for Dinadan told them that he was in the castle where they were lodged. It is well said, said Sir Griflet, for here have I brought Sir Dagonet king Arthur’s fool, that is the best fellow and the merriest in the world. Will ye do well? said Sir Dinadan; I have told the Cornish knight that here is Sir Launcelot, and the Cornish knight asked me what shield he bare. Truly I told him that he bare the same shield that Sir Mordred beareth. Will ye do well? said Sir Mordred; I am hurt and may not well bear my shield nor harness, and therefore put my shield and my harness upon Sir Dagonet, and let him set upon the Cornish knight. That shall be done, said Sir Dagonet, by my faith. Then anon was Dagonet armed in Mordred’s harness and his shield, and he was set on a great horse and a spear in his hand. Now, said Dagonet, shew me the knight, and I trow I shall bear him down. So all these knights rode to a wood side, and abode till king Mark came by the way. Then they put forth Sir Dagonet, and he came on all the while his horse might run, straight upon king Mark. And when he came nigh king Mark, he cried as he were wood, and said, Keep thee, knight of Cornwall, for I will slay thee. Anon as king Mark beheld his shield he said to himself, Yonder is Sir Launcelot: alas, now am I destroyed. And therewithal he made his horse to run as fast as it might through thick and thin. And ever Sir Dagonet followed king Mark crying and rating him as a wood man through a great forest. When Sir Uwaine and Sir Brandiles saw Dagonet so chase king Mark, they laughed all as they were wood. And then they took their horses and rode after to see how Sir Dagonet sped. For they would not for no good that Sir Dagonet were hurt, for king Arthur loved him passing well, and made him knight with his own hands. And at every tournament he began to make king Arthur to laugh. Then the knights rode here and there crying and chasing after king Mark, that all the forest rang of the noise.

How Sir Palamides by adventure met king Mark flying, and how he overthrew Dagonet and other knights.

So king Mark rode by fortune by a 250well in the way where stood a knight errant on horseback armed at all points with a great spear in his hand. And when he saw king Mark coming flying he said, Knight, return again for shame, and stand with me, and I shall be thy warrant. Ah, fair knight, said king Mark, let me pass, for yonder cometh after me the best knight of the world, with the black bended shield. Fie for shame, said the knight, he is none of the worthy knights. And if he were Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram I should not doubt to meet the better of them both. When king Mark heard him say that word he turned his horse and abode by him. And then that strong knight bare a spear to Dagonet, and smote him so sore that he bare him over his horse tail, and nigh he had broken his neck. And anon after him came Sir Brandiles, and when he saw Dagonet have that fall he was passing wroth, and cried, Keep thee knight! And so they hurtled together wonderous sore. But the knight smote Sir Brandiles so sore that he went to the earth, horse and man. Sir Uwaine came after and saw all this. Truly, said he, yonder is a strong knight. And then they feutred their spears, and this knight came so eagerly that he smote down Sir Uwaine. Then came Ozana with the hardy heart, and he was smitten down. Now, said Sir Griflet, by my counsel let us send to yonder errant knight, and wit whether he be of Arthur’s court, for, as I deem, it is Sir Lamorak de Galis. So they sent unto him, and prayed the strange knight to tell his name, and whether he were of Arthur’s court or not. As for my name they shall not wit, but tell them I am a knight errant as they are: and let them wit that I am no knight of king Arthur’s court. And so the squire rode again to them, and told them his answer of him. By my head, said Sir Agravaine, he is one of the strongest knights that ever I saw, for he hath overthrown three noble knights, and needs we must encounter with him for shame. So Sir Agravaine feutred his spear, and that other was ready, and smote him down over his horse to the earth. And in the same wise he smote Sir Uwaine les Avoutres and also Sir Griflet. Then had he served them all but Sir Dinadan, for he was behind, and Sir Mordred was unarmed, and Dagonet had his harness. So when this