How Sir Tristram jousted, and smote down King Arthur, because he told him not the cause why he bare that shield.
AND if so be ye can descrive 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 can not descrive these arms, for it is no point of my charge, and yet I trust to God to bear them with worship. Truly, said King Arthur, ye ought not 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 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 an 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 you think you have me at a great advantage yet shall I right well endure you. And there withal 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 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 his spear, and cried aloud unto Sir Tristram and said: Knight, defend thee. So they came together as thunder, and Sir Uwaine brised 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. With that Sir Tristram turned about and said: Fair knights, I had no need to joust 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 orgulyte we demanded battle of you, and yet we knew not your name. Nevertheless, by Saint Cross, said Sir Uwaine, 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 alive; 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 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 of that one knight that endured so great pain, and ever he thought it should be Sir Palomides, by his shield. And so he rode unto the knights and cried unto them, and bade 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 Saunce Pite, that was at that time the most mischievoust knight living, and said thus: Sir knight, what have ye ado with us to meddle? and therefore, an 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 Palomides’ life, and how they promised to fight together within a fortnight.
So Sir Tristram alighted 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 struck down a knight. And when they espied his strokes they fled all with Breuse Saunce Pite 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 aback unto Sir Palomides, and found him sitting under a tree sore wounded. Ah, fair knight, said Sir Tristram, well be ye found. Gramercy, said Sir Palomides, 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 Palomides. O Jesu, 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 Palomides. My name is Sir Tristram, your mortal enemy. It may be so, said Sir Palomides; but ye have done over much 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, an 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 Palomides why the ten knights did battle with him. For this cause, said Sir Palomides; as I rode upon mine adventures in a forest here beside 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 Saunce Pite. Then for pity I made the damosel 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 Saunce Pite, and suddenly he struck me from my horse. And then or I might recover my horse this Sir Breuse slew the damosel. And so I took my horse again, and I was sore ashamed, and so began the medley 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 Palomides. 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 bubbling. Fair sir, said Sir Tristram, to drink of that water have I courage; and then they alighted 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. By the good lord, said Sir Tristram, yonder lieth a well-faring knight; what is best to do? Awake him, said Sir Palomides. So Sir Tristram awaked him with the butt of his spear. And so the knight rose 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 walloped farther, and fetched his course, and came hurling upon Sir Palomides, and there he struck 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 Palomides 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 Palomides, and I will repose me hereby with a friend of mine. Beware, said Sir Tristram unto Palomides, 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 Palomides, be it as it be may, for I fear you not, for an I be not sick nor prisoner, I will not fail you; but I have cause 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 an ever ye escape his hands. Right so Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides 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.
AND 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, she said, here 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 joust with thee, for I hate all these that be of Arthur’s court. And my lord that lieth here dead amounted upon his horse, and the strong knight and my lord encountered together, and there he smote my lord throughout with his spear, and thus he hath brought me in great woe and damage. That me repenteth, said Sir Tristram, of your great anger; an 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 bade me I should not have ado with him, for why he was overstrong 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 joust 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 Palomides, 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 further; 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 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 spoke great villainy by the king, and specially by the Queen Guenever, and then on the morn was 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 he departed. And then Sir Tristram asked them 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 Sagramore le Desirous and Sir Dodinas le Savage.
AND then he sent his man that hight Gouvernail, and commanded him to go to a city thereby to fetch him new harness; for it was long time afore that that Sir Tristram had been refreshed, his harness was brised 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 Sagramore 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 joust with them. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, with a good will I would joust with you, but I have promised at a day set, near hand, to do battle with a strong knight; and therefore I am loath to have ado with you, for an it misfortuned me here to be hurt I should not be able to do my battle which I promised. As for that, said Sagramore, maugre your head, ye shall joust 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 struck Sir Sagramore 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 struck 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 passed, Sir Sagramore 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 sithen I smote you to the earth at your own request and desire: I would have ridden by you, but ye would not suffer me, and now meseemeth ye would do more battle with me. That is truth, said Sir Sagramore and Sir Dodinas, for we will be revenged of the despite 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 an 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 loath 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 Sagramore, that ye shall fight withal? Sirs, said he, it is a good knight called Sir Palomides. By my head, said Sir Sagramore 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 Sagramore, tell us your name. Sir, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, said Sagramore 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 Colombe 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, Lanceor, and his lady, Colombe, 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 Palomides. 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 might of their horses; and they met so fiercely that both their horses and knights fell to the earth, and as fast as they might avoided their horses, and put their shields afore them; and they struck together with bright swords, as men that were of might, and either wounded other wonderly sore, that the blood ran out upon the grass. And thus they 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. O Lord Jesu, said Gouvernail, I 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 has received as many or more. O Jesu, said Gouvernail, it is too much for Sir Palomides 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, an it please you, tell me your name. Sir, said Sir Tristram, that is me loath to tell any man my name. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, an I were required I was never loath to tell my name. It is well said, said 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. O Jesu, said Sir Launcelot, what adventure is befallen me! And therewith Sir Launcelot kneeled down and yielded him up his sword. And therewith 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 off 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 Palomides; 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 are 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 Palomides. And then he told the king how he had rescued him from the nine knights and Breuse Saunce Pite; and how he found a knight lying by a well, and that knight smote down Sir Palomides and me, but his shield was covered with a cloth. So Sir Palomides left me, and I followed after that knight; and in many places I found where he had slain knights, and forjousted 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. Jesu, 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 Arthur, 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 damosels. Welcome, said 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 loath, 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 part 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 messengers 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 Bersules, and the other knight was called 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 Sir 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 alive, 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 Sir 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: Ah, 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, an 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, whatsomever come of me. As for that, said Sir Amant, I will not discover your name; and so they departed, 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 alighted, and tied his horse until 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 ruefuller 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; and for jealousness 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 joust with King Mark. And he was full loath thereto, but Sir Dinadan edged him so, that he jousted with Sir Lamorak. And Sir Lamorak smote King Mark so sore that he bare him on his spear end over his horse’s tail. And then King Mark arose again, and followed after Sir Lamorak. But Sir Dinadan would not joust 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 bade him abide. What will you 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? meseemeth you 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 I jousted 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, there fore your worship had been much more to have refused him as I did; for I warn you plainly he is able to beat such five 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 is 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 to 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 joust. Now, said Sir Dinadan unto King Mark, yonder are two brethren, that one hight Alein, and the other hight Trian, that will joust 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 joust more; but in no wise he would not joust no more. Then they came to the castle all three knights, and prayed the lord of the castle of 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 you ween, for ye are King Mark that slew my father afore mine own eyen; 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 nor harm you, nor none of your fellowship. But wit ye well, when ye are past this lodging I shall hurt you an I may, for ye slew my father traitorly. 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 alive, 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 that 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 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 joust. Lo, said Sir Dinadan unto King Mark, yonder hoveth a knight that will joust, for there shall none pass this bridge but he must joust with that knight. It is well, said King Mark, for this jousts falleth with thee. Sir Dinadan knew the knight well that he was a noble knight, and fain he would have jousted, but he had had liefer King Mark had jousted with him, but by no mean King Mark would not joust. 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 rose 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 have 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 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 weened you knights of the Table Round might not 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 joust 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 you 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 specially 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 the host. For it is not long ago, said Sir Dinadan, sithen 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 Aventurous, 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 joust 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 ate 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 joust 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 meiny. 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 joust with King Mark, and how King Mark refused him.
AND then they asked him of his adventures, and whether he had seen Sir Tristram or Sir Launcelot. So God me help, said Sir Dinadan, I saw none of them sithen 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 these 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 dwelt an old knight that made all knights-errant good cheer. Then in the meanwhile that they were talking came into the castle Sir Griflet le Fise de Dieu, and there was he welcome; and they all asked him whether he had seen Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram. Sirs, he answered, I saw him not sithen 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 weened they had been. Who is captain of that fellowship? said the king. Then for to fear him Sir Dinadan said that it was Sir Launcelot. O Jesu, 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 loath 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 him 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 woodside, 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 after 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 shent, 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 Palomides by adventure met King Mark flying, and how he overthrew Dagonet and other knights.
SO King Mark rode by fortune by a well, 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’s 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 wonder 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. Jesu, 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 unto 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 was done, this strong knight rode on his way a soft pace, and King Mark rode after him, praising him mickle; but he would answer no words, but sighed wonderly sore, hanging down his head, taking no heed to his words. Thus they rode well a three mile English, and then this knight called to him a varlet, and bade him ride until yonder fair manor, and recommend me to the lady of that castle and place, and pray her to send me refreshing of good meats and drinks. And if she ask thee what I am, tell her that I am the knight that followeth the glatisant beast: that is in English to say the questing beast; for that beast wheresomever he yede he quested in the belly with such a noise as it had been a thirty couple of hounds. Then the varlet went his way and came to the manor, and saluted the lady, and told her from whence he came. And when she understood that he came from the knight that followed the questing beast: O sweet Lord Jesu, she said, when shall I see that noble knight, my dear son Palomides? Alas, will he not abide with me? and therewith she swooned and wept, and made passing great dole. And then also soon as she might she gave the varlet all that he asked. And the varlet returned unto Sir Palomides, for he was a varlet of King Mark. And as soon as he came, he told the knight’s name was Sir Palomides. I am well pleased, said King Mark, but hold thee still and say nothing. Then they alighted and set them down and reposed them a while. Anon withal King Mark fell asleep. When Sir Palomides saw him sound asleep he took his horse and rode his way, and said to them: I will not be in the company of a sleeping knight. And so he rode forth a great pace.
How King Mark and Sir Dinadan heard Sir Palomides making great sorrow and mourning for La Beale Isoud.
NOW turn we unto Sir Dinadan, that found these seven knights passing heavy. And when he wist how that they sped, as heavy was he. My lord Uwaine, said Dinadan, I dare lay my head it is Sir Lamorak de Galis. I promise you all I shall find him an he may be found in this country. And so Sir Dinadan rode after this knight; and so did King Mark, that sought him through the forest. So as King Mark rode after Sir Palomides he heard the noise of a man that made great dole. Then King Mark rode as nigh that noise as he might and as he durst. Then was he ware of a knight that was descended off his horse, and had put off his helm, and there he made a piteous complaint and a dolorous, of love.
Now leave we that, and talk we of Sir Dinadan, that rode to seek Sir Palomides. And as he came within a forest he met with a knight, a chaser of a deer. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, met ye with a knight with a shield of silver and lions’ heads? Yea, fair knight, said the other, with such a knight met I with but a while agone, and straight yonder way he yede. Gramercy, said Sir Dinadan, for might I find the track of his horse I should not fail to find that knight. Right so as Sir Dinadan rode in the even late he heard a doleful noise as it were of a man. Then Sir Dinadan rode toward that noise; and when he came nigh that noise he alighted off his horse, and went near him on foot. Then was he ware of a knight that stood under a tree, and his horse tied by him, and the helm off his head; and ever that knight made a doleful complaint as ever made knight. And always he made his complaint of La Beale Isoud, the Queen of Cornwall, and said: Ah, fair lady, why love I thee! for thou art fairest of all other, and yet showest thou never love to me, nor bounty. Alas, yet must I love thee. And I may not blame thee, fair lady, for mine eyes be cause of this sorrow. And yet to love thee I am but a fool, for the best knight of the world loveth thee, and ye him again, that is Sir Tristram de Liones. And the falsest king and knight is your husband, and the most coward and full of treason, is your lord, King Mark. Alas, that ever so fair a lady and peerless of all other should be matched with the most villainous knight of the world. All this language heard King Mark, what Sir Palomides said by him; wherefore he was adread when he saw Sir Dinadan, lest he espied him, that he would tell Sir Palomides that he was King Mark; and therefore he withdrew him, and took his horse and rode to his men, where he commanded them to abide. And so he rode as fast as he might unto Camelot; and the same day he found there Amant, the knight, ready that afore Arthur had appealed him of treason; and so, lightly the king commanded them to do battle. And by misadventure King Mark smote Amant through the body. And yet was Amant in the righteous quarrel. And right so he took his horse and departed from the court for dread of Sir Dinadan, that he would tell Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides what he was. Then were there maidens that La Beale Isoud had sent to Sir Tristram, that knew Sir Amant well.
How King Mark had slain Sir Amant wrongfully tofore King Arthur, and Sir Launcelot fetched King Mark to King Arthur.
THEN by the license of King Arthur they went to him and spake with him; for while the truncheon of the spear stuck in his body he spake: Ah, fair damosels, said Amant, recommend me unto La Beale Isoud, and tell her that I am slain for the love of her and of Sir Tristram. And there he told the damosels how cowardly King Mark had slain him, and Sir Bersules, his fellow. And for that deed I appealed him of treason, and here am I slain in a righteous quarrel; and all was because Sir Bersules and I would not consent by treason to slay the noble knight, Sir Tristram. Then the two maidens cried aloud that all the court might hear it, and said: O sweet Lord Jesu, that knowest all hid things, why sufferest Thou so false a traitor to vanquish and slay a true knight that fought in a righteous quarrel? Then anon it was sprung to the king, and the queen, and to all the lords, that it was King Mark that had slain Sir Amant, and Sir Bersules afore hand; wherefore they did their battle. Then was King Arthur wroth out of measure, and so were all the other knights. But when Sir Tristram knew all the matter he made great dole and sorrow out of measure, and wept for sorrow for the loss of the noble knights, Sir Bersules and of Sir Amant.
When Sir Launcelot espied Sir Tristram weep he went hastily to King Arthur, and said: Sir, I pray you give me leave to return again to yonder false king and knight. I pray you, said King Arthur, fetch him again, but I would not that ye slew him, for my worship. Then Sir Launcelot armed him in all haste, and mounted upon a great horse, and took a spear in his hand and rode after King Mark. And from thence a three mile English Sir Launcelot over took him, and bade him: Turn recreant king and knight, for whether thou wilt or not thou shalt go with me to King Arthur’s court. King Mark returned and looked upon Sir Launcelot, and said: Fair sir, what is your name? Wit thou well, said he, my name is Sir Launcelot, and therefore defend thee. And when King Mark wist that it was Sir Launcelot, and came so fast upon him with a spear, he cried then aloud: I yield me to thee, Sir Launcelot, honourable knight. But Sir Launcelot would not hear him, but came fast upon him. King Mark saw that, and made no defence, but tumbled adown out of his saddle to the earth as a sack, and there he lay still, and cried Sir Launcelot mercy. Arise, recreant knight and king. I will not fight, said King Mark, but whither that ye will I will go with you. Alas, alas, said Sir Launcelot, that I may not give thee one buffet for the love of Sir Tristram and of La Beale Isoud, and for the two knights that thou hast slain traitorly. And so he mounted upon his horse and brought him to King Arthur; and there King Mark alighted in that same place, and threw his helm from him upon the earth, and his sword, and fell flat to the earth of King Arthur’s feet, and put him in his grace and mercy. So God me help, said Arthur, ye are welcome in a manner, and in a manner ye are not welcome. In this manner ye are welcome, that ye come hither maugre thy head, as I suppose. That is truth, said King Mark, and else I had not been here, for my lord, Sir Launcelot, brought me hither through his fine force, and to him am I yolden to as recreant. Well, said Arthur, ye understand ye ought to do me service, homage, and fealty. And never would ye do me none, but ever ye have been against me, and a destroyer of my knights; now, how will ye acquit you? Sir, said King Mark, right as your lordship will require me, unto my power, I will make a large amends. For he was a fair speaker, and false thereunder. Then for great pleasure of Sir Tristram, to make them twain accorded, the king withheld King Mark as at that time, and made a broken love-day between them.
How Sir Dinadan told Sir Palomides of the battle between Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristam.
NOW turn we again unto Sir Palomides, how Sir Dinadan comforted him in all that he might, from his great sorrow. What knight are ye? said Sir Palomides. Sir, I am a knight-errant as ye be, that hath sought you long by your shield. Here is my shield, said Sir Palomides, wit ye well, an ye will ought, therewith I will defend it. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, I will not have ado with you but in good manner. And if ye will, ye shall find me soon ready. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, whitherward ride you this way? By my head, said Sir Palomides, I wot not, but as fortune leadeth me. Heard ye or saw ye ought of Sir Tristram? So God me help, of Sir Tristram I both heard and saw, and not for then we loved not inwardly well together, yet at my mischief Sir Tristram rescued me from my death; and yet, or he and I departed, by both our assents we assigned a day that we should have met at the stony grave that Merlin set beside Camelot, and there to have done battle together; howbeit I was letted, said Sir Palomides, that I might not hold my day, the which grieveth me sore; but I have a large excuse. For I was prisoner with a lord, and many other more, and that shall Sir Tristram right well understand, that I brake it not of fear of cowardice. And then Sir Palomides told Sir Dinadan the same day that they should have met. So God me help, said Sir Dinadan, that same day met Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristram at the same grave of stone. And there was the most mightiest battle that ever was seen in this land betwixt two knights, for they fought more than two hours. And there they both bled so much blood that all men marvelled that ever they might endure it. And so at the last, by both their assents, they were made friends and sworn-brethren for ever, and no man can judge the better knight. And now is Sir Tristram made a knight of the Round Table, and he sitteth in the siege of the noble knight, Sir Marhaus. By my head, said Sir Palomides, Sir Tristram is far bigger than Sir Launcelot, and the hardier knight. Have ye assayed them both? said Sir Dinadan. I have seen Sir Tristram fight, said Sir Palomides, but never Sir Launcelot to my witting. But at the fountain where Sir Launcelot lay asleep, there with one spear he smote down Sir Tristram and me, said Palomides, but at that time they knew not either other. Fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, as for Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristram let them be, for the worst of them will not be lightly matched of no knights that I know living. No, said Sir Palomides, God defend, but an I had a quarrel to the better of them both I would with as good a will fight with him as with you. Sir, I require you tell me your name, and in good faith I shall hold you company till that we come to Camelot; and there shall ye have great worship now at this great tournament; for there shall be the Queen Guenever, and La Beale Isoud of Cornwall. Wit you well, sir knight, for the love of La Beale Isoud I will be there, and else not, but I will not have ado in King Arthur’s court. Sir, said Dinadan, I shall ride with you and do you service, so you will tell me your name. Sir, ye shall understand my name is Sir Palomides, brother to Safere, the good and noble knight. And Sir Segwarides and I, we be Saracens born, of father and mother. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, I thank you much for the telling of your name. For I am glad of that I know your name, and I promise you by the faith of my body, ye shall not be hurt by me by my will, but rather be advanced. And thereto will I help you with all my power, I promise you, doubt ye not. And certainly on my life ye shall win great worship in the court of King Arthur, and be right welcome. So then they dressed on their helms and put on their shields, and mounted upon their horses, and took the broad way towards Camelot. And then were they ware of a castle that was fair and rich, and also passing strong as any was within this realm.
How Sir Lamorak jousted with divers knights of the castle wherein was Morgan le Fay.
SIR PALOMIDES, said Dinadan, here is a castle that I know well, and therein dwelleth Queen Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s sister; and King Arthur gave her this castle, the which he hath repented him sithen a thousand times, for sithen King Arthur and she have been at debate and strife; but this castle could he never get nor win of her by no manner of engine; and ever as she might she made war on King Arthur. And all dangerous knights she withholdeth with her, for to destroy all these knights that King Arthur loveth. And there shall no knight pass this way but he must joust with one knight, or with two, or with three. And if it hap that King Arthur’s knight be beaten, he shall lose his horse and his harness and all that he hath, and hard, if that he escape, but that he shall be prisoner. So God me help, said Palomides, this is a shameful custom, and a villainous usance for a queen to use, and namely to make such war upon her own lord, that is called the Flower of Chivalry that is christian or heathen; and with all my heart I would destroy that shameful custom. And I will that all the world wit she shall have no service of me. And if she send out any knights, as I suppose she will, for to joust, they shall have both their hands full. And I shall not fail you, said Sir Dinadan, unto my puissance, upon my life.
So as they stood on horseback afore the castle, there came a knight with a red shield, and two squires after him; and he came straight unto Sir Palomides, the good knight, and said to him: Fair and gentle knight-errant, I require thee for the love thou owest unto knighthood, that ye will not have ado here with these men of this castle; for this was Sir Lamorak that thus said. For I came hither to seek this deed, and it is my request; and therefore I beseech you, knight, let me deal, and if I be beaten revenge me. In the name of God, said Palomides, let see how ye will speed, and we shall behold you. Then anon came forth a knight of the castle, and proffered to joust with the Knight with the Red Shield. Anon they encountered together, and he with the red shield smote him so hard that he bare him over to the earth. Therewith anon came another knight of the castle, and he was smitten so sore that he avoided his saddle. And forthwithal came the third knight, and the Knight with the Red Shield smote him to the earth. Then came Sir Palomides, and besought him that he might help him to joust. Fair knight, said he unto him, suffer me as at this time to have my will, for an they were twenty knights I shall not doubt them. And ever there were upon the walls of the castle many lords and ladies that cried and said: Well have ye jousted, Knight with the Red Shield. But as soon as the knight had smitten them down, his squire took their horses, and avoided their saddles and bridles of the horses, and turned them into the forest, and made the knights to be kept to the end of the jousts. Right so came out of the castle the fourth knight, and freshly proffered to joust with the Knight with the Red Shield: and he was ready, and he smote him so hard that horse and man fell to the earth, and the knight’s back brake with the fall, and his neck also. O Jesu, said Sir Palomides, that yonder is a passing good knight, and the best jouster that ever I saw. By my head, said Sir Dinadan, he is as good as ever was Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram, what knight somever he be.
How Sir Palomides would have jousted for Sir Lamorak with the knights of the castle.
THEN forthwithal came a knight out of the castle, with a shield bended with black and with white. And anon the Knight with the Red Shield and he encountered so hard that he smote the knight of the castle through the bended shield and through the body, and brake the horse’s back. Fair knight, said Sir Palomides, ye have overmuch on hand, therefore I pray you let me joust, for ye had need to be reposed. Why sir, said the knight, seem ye that I am weak and feeble? and sir, methinketh ye proffer me wrong, and to me shame, when I do well enough. I tell you now as I told you erst; for an they were twenty knights I shall beat them, and if I be beaten or slain then may ye revenge me. And if ye think that I be weary, and ye have an appetite to joust with me, I shall find you jousting enough. Sir, said Palomides, I said it not because I would joust with you, but meseemeth that ye have overmuch on hand. And therefore, an ye were gentle, said the Knight with the Red Shield, ye should not proffer me shame; therefore I require you to joust with me, and ye shall find that I am not weary. Sith ye require me, said Sir Palomides, take keep to yourself. Then they two knights came together as fast as their horses might run, and the knight smote Sir Palomides sore on the shield that the spear went into his side a great wound, and a perilous. And therewithal Sir Palomides avoided his saddle. And that knight turned unto Sir Dinadan; and when he saw him coming he cried aloud, and said: Sir, I will not have ado with you; but for that he let it not, but came straight upon him. So Sir Dinadan for shame put forth his spear and all to-shivered it upon the knight. But he smote Sir Dinadan again so hard that he smote him clean from his saddle; but their horses he would not suffer his squires to meddle with, and because they were knights-errant.
Then he dressed him again to the castle, and jousted with seven knights more, and there was none of them might withstand him, but he bare him to the earth. And of these twelve knights he slew in plain jousts four. And the eight knights he made them to swear on the cross of a sword that they should never use the evil customs of the castle. And when he had made them to swear that oath he let them pass. And ever stood the lords and the ladies on the castle walls crying and saying: Knight with the Red Shield, ye have marvellously well done as ever we saw knight do. And therewith came a knight out of the castle unarmed, and said: Knight with the Red Shield, overmuch damage hast thou done to us this day, therefore return whither thou wilt, for here are no more will have ado with thee; for we repent sore that ever thou camest here, for by thee is fordone the old custom of this castle. And with that word he turned again into the castle, and shut the gates. Then the Knight with the Red Shield turned and called his squires, and so passed forth on his way, and rode a great pace.
And when he was past Sir Palomides went to Sir Dinadan, and said: I had never such a shame of one knight that ever I met; and therefore I cast me to ride after him, and to be revenged with my sword, for a-horseback I deem I shall get no worship of him. Sir Palomides, said Dinadan, ye shall not meddle with him by my counsel, for ye shall get no worship of him; and for this cause, ye have seen him this day have had overmuch to do, and overmuch travailed. By almighty Jesu, said Palomides, I shall never be at ease till that I have had ado with him. Sir, said Dinadan, I shall give you my beholding. Well, said Palomides, then shall ye see how we shall redress our mights. So they took their horses of their varlets, and rode after the Knight with the Red Shield; and down in a valley beside a fountain they were ware where he was alighted to repose him, and had done off his helm for to drink at the well.
How Sir Lamorak jousted with Sir Palomides, and hurt him grievously.
THEN Palomides rode fast till he came nigh him. And then he said: Knight, remember ye of the shame ye did to me right now at the castle, therefore dress thee, for I will have ado with thee. Fair knight, said he to Palomides, of me ye win no worship, for ye have seen this day that I have been travailed sore. As for that, said Palomides, I will not let, for wit ye well I will be revenged. Well, said the knight, I may happen to endure you. And therewithal he mounted upon his horse, and took a great spear in his hand ready for to joust. Nay, said Palomides, I will not joust, for I am sure at jousting I get no prize. Fair knight, said that knight, it would beseem a knight to joust and to fight on horseback. Ye shall see what I will do, said Palomides. And therewith he alighted down upon foot, and dressed his shield afore him and pulled out his sword. Then the Knight with the Red Shield descended down from his horse, and dressed his shield afore him, and so he drew out his sword. And then they came together a soft pace, and wonderly they lashed together passing thick the mountenance of an hour or ever they breathed. Then they traced and traversed, and waxed wonderly wroth, and either behight other death; they hewed so fast with their swords that they cut in down half their swords and mails, that the bare flesh in some place stood above their harness. And when Sir Palomides beheld his fellow’s sword over-hylled with his blood it grieved him sore: some while they foined, some while they struck as wild men. But at the last Sir Palomides waxed faint, because of his first wound that he had at the castle with a spear, for that wound grieved him wonderly sore. Fair knight, said Palomides, meseemeth we have assayed either other passing sore, and if it may please thee, I require thee of thy knighthood tell me thy name. Sir, said the knight to Palomides, that is me loath to do, for thou hast done me wrong and no knighthood to proffer me battle, considering my great travail, but an thou wilt tell me thy name I will tell thee mine. Sir, said he, wit thou well my name is Palomides. Ah, sir, ye shall understand my name is Sir Lamorak de Galis, son and heir unto the good knight and king, King Pellinore, and Sir Tor, the good knight, is my half brother. When Sir Palomides heard him say so he kneeled down and asked mercy, For outrageously have I done to you this day; considering the great deeds of arms I have seen you do, shamefully and unknightly I have required you to do battle. Ah, Sir Palomides, said Sir Lamorak, overmuch have ye done and said to me. And therewith he embraced him with his both hands, and said: Palomides, the worthy knight, in all this land is no better than ye, nor more of prowess, and me repenteth sore that we should fight together. So it doth not me, said Sir Palomides, and yet am I sorer wounded than ye be; but as for that I shall soon thereof be whole. But certainly I would not for the fairest castle in this land, but if thou and I had met, for I shall love you the days of my life afore all other knights except my brother, Sir Safere. I say the same, said Sir Lamorak, except my brother, Sir Tor. Then came Sir Dinadan, and he made great joy of Sir Lamorak. Then their squires dressed both their shields and their harness, and stopped their wounds. And thereby at a priory they rested them all night.
How it was told Sir Launcelot that Dagonet chased King Mark, and how a knight overthrew him and six knights.
Now turn we again. When Sir Ganis and Sir Brandiles with his fellows came to the court of King Arthur they told the king, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram, how Sir Dagonet, the fool, chased King Mark through the forest, and how the strong knight smote them down all seven with one spear. There was great laughing and japing at King Mark and at Sir Dagonet. But all these knights could not tell what knight it was that rescued King Mark. Then they asked King Mark if that he knew him, and he answered and said: He named himself the Knight that followed the Questing Beast, and on that name he sent one of my varlets to a place where was his mother; and when she heard from whence he came she made passing great dole, and discovered to my varlet his name, and said: Oh, my dear son, Sir Palomides, why wilt thou not see me? And therefore, sir, said King Mark, it is to understand his name is Sir Palomides, a noble knight. Then were all these seven knights glad that they knew his name.
Now turn we again, for on the morn they took their horses, both Sir Lamorak, Palomides, and Dinadan, with their squires and varlets, till they saw a fair castle that stood on a mountain well closed, and thither they rode, and there they found a knight that hight Galahalt, that was lord of that castle, and there they had great cheer and were well eased. Sir Dinadan, said Sir Lamorak, what will ye do? Oh sir, said Dinadan, I will to-morrow to the court of King Arthur. By my head, said Sir Palomides, I will not ride these three days, for I am sore hurt, and much have I bled, and therefore I will repose me here. Truly, said Sir Lamorak, and I will abide here with you; and when ye ride, then will I ride, unless that ye tarry over long; then will I take my horse. Therefore I pray you, Sir Dinadan, abide and ride with us. Faithfully, said Dinadan, I will not abide, for I have such a talent to see Sir Tristram that I may not abide long from him. Ah, Dinadan, said Sir Palomides, now do I understand that ye love my mortal enemy, and therefore how should I trust you. Well, said Dinadan, I love my lord Sir Tristram, above all other, and him will I serve and do honour. So shall I, said Sir Lamorak, in all that may lie in my power.
So on the morn Sir Dinadan rode unto the court of King Arthur; and by the way as he rode he saw where stood an errant knight, and made him ready for to joust. Not so, said Dinadan, for I have no will to joust. With me shall ye joust, said the knight, or that ye pass this way. Whether ask ye jousts, by love or by hate? The knight answered: Wit ye well I ask it for love, and not for hate. It may well be so, said Sir Dinadan, but ye proffer me hard love when ye will joust with me with a sharp spear. But, fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, sith ye will joust with me, meet with me in the court of King Arthur, and there shall I joust with you. Well, said the knight, sith ye will not joust with me, I pray you tell me your name. Sir knight, said he, my name is Sir Dinadan. Ah, said the knight, full well know I you for a good knight and a gentle, and wit you well I love you heartily. Then shall there be no jousts, said Dinadan, betwixt us. So they departed. And the same day he came to Camelot, where lay King Arthur. And there he saluted the king and the queen, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram; and all the court was glad of Sir Dinadan, for he was gentle, wise, and courteous, and a good knight. And in especial, the valiant knight Sir Tristram loved Sir Dinadan passing well above all other knights save Sir Launcelot.
Then the king asked Sir Dinadan what adventures he had seen. Sir, said Dinadan, I have seen many adventures, and of some King Mark knoweth, but not all. Then the king hearkened Sir Dinadan, how he told that Sir Palomides and he were afore the castle of Morgan le Fay, and how Sir Lamorak took the jousts afore them, and how he forjousted twelve knights, and of them four he slew, and how after he smote down Sir Palomides and me both. t I may not believe that, said the king, for Sir Palomides is a passing good knight. That is very truth, said Sir Dinadan, but yet I saw him better proved, hand for hand. And then he told the king all that battle, and how Sir Palomides was more weaker, and more hurt, and more lost of his blood. And without doubt, said Sir Dinadan, had the battle longer lasted, Palomides had been slain. O Jesu, said King Arthur, this is to me a great marvel. Sir, said Tristram, marvel ye nothing thereof, for at mine advice there is not a valianter knight in the world living, for I know his might. And now I will say you, I was never so weary of knight but if it were Sir Launcelot. And there is no knight in the world except Sir Launcelot that did so well as Sir Lamorak. So God me help, said the king, I would that knight, Sir Lamorak, came to this Court. Sir, said Dinadan, he will be here in short space, and Sir Palomides both, but I fear that Palomides may not yet travel.
How King Arthur let do cry a jousts, and how Sir Lamorak came in, and overthrew Sir Gawaine and many other.
THEN within three days after the king let make a jousting at a priory. And there made them ready many knights of the Round Table, for Sir Gawaine and his brethren made them ready to joust; but Tristram, Launcelot, nor Dinadan, would not joust, but suffered Sir Gawaine, for the love of King Arthur, with his brethren, to win the gree if they might. Then on the morn they apparelled them to joust, Sir Gawaine and his four brethren, and did there great deeds of arms. And Sir Ector de Maris did marvellously well, but Sir Gawaine passed all that fellowship; wherefore King Arthur and all the knights gave Sir Gawaine the honour at the beginning.
Right so King Arthur was ware of a knight and two squires, the which came out of a forest side, with a shield covered with leather, and then he came slyly and hurtled here and there, and anon with one spear he had smitten down two knights of the Round Table. Then with his hurtling he lost the covering of his shield, then was the king and all other ware that he bare a red shield. O Jesu, said King Arthur, see where rideth a stout knight, he with the red shield. And there was noise and crying Beware the Knight with the Red Shield. So within a little while he had overthrown three brethren of Sir Gawaine’s. So God me help, said King Arthur, meseemeth yonder is the best jouster that ever I saw. With that he saw him encounter with Sir Gawaine, and he smote him down with so great force that he made his horse to avoid his saddle. How now, said the king, Sir Gawaine hath a fall; well were me an I knew what knight he were with the red shield. I know him well, said Dinadan, but as at this time ye shall not know his name. By my head, said Sir Tristram, he jousted better than Sir Palomides, and if ye list to know his name, wit ye well his name is Sir Lamorak de Galis.
As they stood thus talking, Sir Gawaine and he encountered together again, and there he smote Sir Gawaine from his horse, and bruised him sore. And in the sight of King Arthur he smote down twenty knights, beside Sir Gawaine and his brethren. And so clearly was the prize given him as a knight peerless. Then slyly and marvellously Sir Lamorak withdrew him from all the fellowship into the forest side. All this espied King Arthur, for his eye went never from him. Then the king, Sir Launcelot, Sir Tristram, and Sir Dinadan, took their hackneys, and rode straight after the good knight, Sir Lamorak de Galis, and there found him. And thus said the king: Ah, fair knight, well be ye found. When he saw the king he put off his helm and saluted him, and when he saw Sir Tristram he alighted down off his horse and ran to him to take him by the thighs, but Sir Tristram would not suffer him, but he alighted or that he came, and either took other in arms, and made great joy of other. The king was glad, and also was all the fellowship of the Round Table, except Sir Gawaine and his brethren. And when they wist that he was Sir Lamorak, they had great despite at him, and were wonderly wroth with him that he had put him to dishonour that day.
Then Gawaine called privily in council all his brethren, and to them said thus: Fair brethren, here may ye see, whom that we hate King Arthur loveth, and whom that we love he hateth. And wit ye well, my fair brethren, that this Sir Lamorak will never love us, because we slew his father, King Pellinore, for we deemed that he slew our father, King of Orkney. And for the despite of Pellinore, Sir Lamorak did us a shame to our mother, therefore I will be revenged. Sir, said Sir Gawaine’s brethren, let see how ye will or may be revenged, and ye shall find us ready. Well, said Gawaine, hold you still and we shall espy our time.
How King Arthur made King Mark to be accorded with Sir Tristram, and how they departed toward Cornwall.
NOW pass we our matter, and leave we Sir Gawaine, and speak of King Arthur, that on a day said unto King Mark: Sir, I pray you give me a gift that I shall ask you. Sir, said King Mark, I will give you whatsomever ye desire an it be in my power. Sir, gramercy, said Arthur. This I will ask you, that ye will be good lord unto Sir Tristram, for he is a man of great honour; and that ye will take him with you into Cornwall, and let him see his friends, and there cherish him for my sake. Sir, said King Mark, I promise you by the faith of my body, and by the faith that I owe to God and to you, I shall worship him for your sake in all that I can or may. Sir, said Arthur, and I will forgive you all the evil will that ever I ought you, an so be that you swear that upon a book before me. With a good will, said King Mark; and so he there sware upon a book afore him and all his knights, and therewith King Mark and Sir Tristram took either other by the hands hard knit together. But for all this King Mark thought falsely, as it proved after, for he put Sir Tristram in prison, and cowardly would have slain him.
Then soon after King Mark took his leave to ride into Cornwall, and Sir Tristram made him ready to ride with him, whereof the most part of the Round Table were wroth and heavy, and in especial Sir Launcelot, and Sir Lamorak, and Sir Dinadan, were wroth out of measure For well they wist King Mark would slay or destroy Sir Tristram. Alas, said Dinadan, that my lord, Sir Tristram, shall depart. And Sir Tristram took such sorrow that he was amazed like a fool. Alas, said Sir Launcelot unto King Arthur, what have ye done, for ye shall lose the most man of worship that ever came into your court. It was his own desire, said Arthur, and therefore I might not do withal, for I have done all that I can and made them at accord. Accord, said Sir Launcelot, fie upon that accord, for ye shall hear that he shall slay Sir Tristram, or put him in a prison, for he is the most coward and the villainest king and knight that is now living.
And therewith Sir Launcelot departed, and came to King Mark, and said to him thus: Sir king, wit thou well the good knight Sir Tristram shall go with thee. Beware, I rede thee, of treason, for an thou mischief that knight by any manner of falsehood or treason, by the faith I owe to God and to the order of knighthood, I shall slay thee with mine own hands. Sir Launcelot, said the king, overmuch have ye said to me, and I have sworn and said over largely afore King Arthur in hearing of all his knights, that I shall not slay nor betray him. It were to me overmuch shame to break my promise. Ye say well, said Sir Launcelot, but ye are called so false and full of treason that no man may believe you. Forsooth it is known well wherefore ye came into this country, and for none other cause but for to slay Sir Tristram. So with great dole King Mark and Sir Tristram rode together, for it was by Sir Tristram’s will and his means to go with King Mark, and all was for the intent to see La Beale Isoud, for without the sight of her Sir Tristram might not endure.
How Sir Percivale was made knight of King Arthur, and how a dumb maid spake, and brought him to the Round Table.
NOW turn we again unto Sir Lamorak, and speak we of his brethren, Sir Tor, which was King Pellinore’s first son and begotten of Aryes, wife of the cowherd, for he was a bastard; and Sir Aglovale was his first son begotten in wedlock; Sir Lamorak, Dornar, Percivale, these were his sons too in wedlock. So when King Mark and Sir Tristram were departed from the court there was made great dole and sorrow for the departing of Sir Tristram. Then the king and his knights made no manner of joys eight days after. And at the eight days’ end there came to the court a knight with a young squire with him. And when this knight was unarmed, he went to the king and required him to make the young squire a knight. Of what lineage is he come? said King Arthur. Sir, said the knight, he is the son of King Pellinore, that did you some time good service, and he is a brother unto Sir Lamorak de Galis, the good knight. Well, said the king, for what cause desire ye that of me that I should make him knight? Wit you well, my lord the king, that this young squire is brother to me as well as to Sir Lamorak, and my name is Aglavale. Sir Aglavale, said Arthur, for the love of Sir Lamorak, and for his father’s love, he shall be made knight to-morrow. Now tell me, said Arthur, what is his name? Sir, said the knight, his name is Percivale de Galis. So on the morn the king made him knight in Camelot. But the king and all the knights thought it would be long or that he proved a good knight.
Then at the dinner, when the king was set at the table, and every knight after he was of prowess, the king commanded him to be set among mean knights; and so was Sir Percivale set as the king commanded. Then was there a maiden in the queen’s court that was come of high blood, and she was dumb and never spake word. Right so she came straight into the hall, and went unto Sir Percivale, and took him by the hand and said aloud, that the king and all the knights might hear it: Arise, Sir Percivale, the noble knight and God’s knight, and go with me; and so he did. And there she brought him to the right side of the Siege Perilous, and said, Fair knight, take here thy siege, for that siege appertaineth to thee and to none other. Right so she departed and asked a priest. And as she was confessed and houselled then she died. Then the king and all the court made great joy of Sir Percivale.
How Sir Lamorak visited King Lot’s wife, and how Sir Gaheris slew her which was his own mother.
NOW turn we unto Sir Lamorak, that much was there praised. Then, by the mean of Sir Gawaine and his brethren, they sent for their mother there besides, fast by a castle beside Camelot; and all was to that intent to slay Sir Lamorak. The Queen of Orkney was there but a while, but Sir Lamorak wist of their being, and was full fain; and for to make an end of this matter, he sent unto her, and there betwixt them was a night assigned that Sir Lamorak should come to her. Thereof was ware Sir Gaheris, and there he rode afore the same night, and waited upon Sir Lamorak, and then he saw where he came all armed. And where Sir Lamorak alighted he tied his horse to a privy postern, and so he went into a parlour and unarmed him; and then he went unto the queen’s bed, and she made of him passing great joy, and he of her again, for either loved other passing sore. So when the knight, Sir Gaheris, saw his time, he came to their bedside all armed, with his sword naked, and suddenly gat his mother by the hair and struck off her head.
When Sir Lamorak saw the blood dash upon him all hot, the which he loved passing well, wit you well he was sore abashed and dismayed of that dolorous knight. And therewithal, Sir Lamorak leapt out of the bed in his shirt as a knight dismayed, saying thus: Ah, Sir Gaheris, knight of the Table Round, foul and evil have ye done, and to you great shame. Alas, why have ye slain your mother that bare you? with more right ye should have slain me. The offence hast thou done, said Gaheris, notwithstanding a man is born to offer his service; but yet shouldst thou beware with whom thou meddlest, for thou hast put me and my brethren to a shame, and thy father slew our father; and thou to lie by our mother is too much shame for us to suffer. And as for thy father, King Pellinore my brother Sir Gawaine and I slew him. Ye did him the more wrong, said Sir Lamorak, for my father slew not your father, it was Balin le Savage: and as yet my father’s death is not revenged. Leave those words, said Sir Gaheris, for an thou speak feloniously I will slay thee. But because thou art naked I am ashamed to slay thee. But wit thou well, in what place I may get thee I shall slay thee; and now my mother is quit of thee; and withdraw thee and take thine armour, that thou were gone. Sir Lamorak saw there was none other bote, but fast armed him, and took his horse and rode his way making great sorrow. But for the shame and dolour he would not ride to King Arthur’s court, but rode another way.
But when it was known that Gaheris had slain his mother the king was passing wroth, and commanded him to go out of his court. Wit ye well Sir Gawaine was wroth that Gaheris had slain his mother and let Sir Lamorak escape. And for this matter was the king passing wroth, and so was Sir Launcelot, and many other knights. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, here is a great mischief befallen by felony, and by forecast treason, that your sister is thus shamefully slain. And I dare say that it was wrought by treason, and I dare say ye shall lose that good knight, Sir Lamorak the which is great pity. I wot well and am sure, an Sir Tristram wist it, he would never more come within your court, the which should grieve you much more and all your knights. God defend, said the noble King Arthur, that I should lose Sir Lamorak or Sir Tristram, for then twain of my chief knights of the Table Round were gone. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, I am sure ye shall lose Sir Lamorak, for Sir Gawaine and his brethren will slay him by one mean or other; for they among them have concluded and sworn to slay him an ever they may see their time. That shall I let, said Arthur.
How Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred met with a knight fleeing, and how they both were overthrown, and of Sir Dinadan.
NOW leave we of Sir Lamorak, and speak of Sir Gawaine’s brethren, and specially of Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred. As they rode on their adventures they met with a knight fleeing, sore wounded; and they asked him what tidings. Fair knights, said he, here cometh a knight after me that will slay me. With that came Sir Dinadan riding to them by adventure, but he would promise them no help. But Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred promised him to rescue him. Therewithal came that knight straight unto them, and anon he proffered to joust. That saw Sir Mordred and rode to him, but he struck Mordred over his horse’s tail. That saw Sir Agravaine, and straight he rode toward that knight, and right so as he served Mordred so he served Agravaine, and said to them: Sirs, wit ye well both that I am Breuse Saunce Pite, that hath done this to you. And yet he rode over Agravaine five or six times. When Dinadan saw this, he must needs joust with him for shame. And so Dinadan and he encountered together, that with pure strength Sir Dinadan smote him over his horse’s tail Then he took his horse and fled, for he was on foot one of the valiantest knights in Arthur’s days, and a great destroyer of all good knights.
Then rode Sir Dinadan unto Sir Mordred and unto Sir Agravaine. Sir knight, said they all, well have ye done, and well have ye revenged us, wherefore we pray you tell us your name. Fair sirs, ye ought to know my name, the which is called Sir Dinadan. When they understood that it was Dinadan they were more wroth than they were before, for they hated him out of measure because of Sir Lamorak. For Dinadan had such a custom that he loved all good knights that were valiant, and he hated all those that were destroyers of good knights. And there were none that hated Dinadan but those that ever were called murderers. Then spake the hurt knight that Breuse Saunce Pite had chased, his name was Dalan, and said: If thou be Dinadan thou slewest my father. It may well be so, said Dinadan, but then it was in my defence and at his request. By my head, said Dalan, thou shalt die therefore, and therewith he dressed his spear and his shield. And to make the shorter tale, Sir Dinadan smote him down off his horse, that his neck was nigh broken. And in the same wise he smote Sir Mordred and Sir Agravaine. And after, in the quest of the Sangreal, cowardly and feloniously they slew Dinadan, the which was great damage, for he was a great bourder and a passing good knight.
And so Sir Dinadan rode to a castle that hight Beale-Valet. And there he found Sir Palomides that was not yet whole of the wound that Sir Lamorak gave him. And there Dinadan told Palomides all the tidings that he heard and saw of Sir Tristram, and how he was gone with King Mark, and with him he hath all his will and desire. Therewith Sir Palomides waxed wroth, for he loved La Beale Isoud. And then he wist well that Sir Tristram enjoyed her.
How King Arthur, the Queen, and Launcelot received letters out of Cornwall, and of the answer again.
NOW leave we Sir Palomides and Sir Dinadan in the Castle of Beale-Valet, and turn we again unto King Arthur. There came a knight out of Cornwall, his name was Fergus, a fellow of the Round Table. And there he told the king and Sir Launcelot good tidings of Sir Tristram, and there were brought goodly letters, and how he left him in the castle of Tintagil. Then came the damosel that brought goodly letters unto King Arthur and unto Sir Launcelot, and there she had passing good cheer of the king, and of the Queen Guenever, and of Sir Launcelot. Then they wrote goodly letters again. But Sir Launcelot bade ever Sir Tristram beware of King Mark, for ever he called him in his letters King Fox, as who saith, he fareth all with wiles and treason. Whereof Sir Tristram in his heart thanked Sir Launcelot. Then the damosel went unto La Beale Isoud, and bare her letters from the king and from Sir Launcelot, whereof she was in passing great joy. Fair damosel, said La Beale Isoud, how fareth my Lord Arthur, and the Queen Guenever, and the noble knight, Sir Launcelot? She answered, and to make short tale: Much the better that ye and Sir Tristram be in joy. God reward them, said La Beale Isoud, for Sir Tristram suffereth great pain for me, and I for him.
So the damosel departed, and brought letters to King Mark. And when he had read them, and understood them, he was wroth with Sir Tristram, for he deemed that he had sent the damosel unto King Arthur. For Arthur and Launcelot in a manner threated King Mark. And as King Mark read these letters he deemed treason by Sir Tristram. Damosel, said King Mark, will ye ride again and bear letters from me unto King Arthur? Sir, she said, I will be at your commandment to ride when ye will. Ye say well, said the king; come again, said the king, to-morn, and fetch your letters. Then she departed and told them how she should ride again with letters unto Arthur. Then we pray you, said La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram, that when ye have received your letters, that ye would come by us that we may see the privity of your letters. All that I may do, madam, ye wot well I must do for Sir Tristram, for I have been long his own maiden.
So on the morn the damosel went to King Mark to have had his letters and to depart. I am not avised, said King Mark, as at this time to send my letters. Then privily and secretly he sent letters unto King Arthur, and unto Queen Guenever, and unto Sir Launcelot. So the varlet departed, and found the king and the queen in Wales, at Carlion. And as the king and the queen were at mass the varlet came with the letters. And when mass was done the king and the queen opened the letters privily by themself. And the beginning of the king’s letters spake wonderly short unto King Arthur, and bade him entermete with himself and with his wife, and of his knights; for he was able enough to rule and keep his wife.
How Sir Launcelot was wroth with the letter that he received from King Mark, and of Dinadan which made a lay of King Mark.
WHEN King Arthur understood the letter, he mused of many things, and thought on his sister’s words, Queen Morgan le Fay, that she had said betwixt Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot. And in this thought he studied a great while. Then he bethought him again how his sister was his own enemy, and that she hated the queen and Sir Launcelot, and so he put all that out of his thought. Then King Arthur read the letter again, and the latter clause said that King Mark took Sir Tristram for his mortal enemy; wherefore he put Arthur out of doubt he would be revenged of Sir Tristram. Then was King Arthur wroth with King Mark. And when Queen Guenever read her letter and understood it, she was wroth out of measure, for the letter spake shame by her and by Sir Launcelot. And so privily she sent the letter unto Sir Launcelot. And when he wist the intent of the letter he was so wroth that he laid him down on his bed to sleep, whereof Sir Dinadan was ware, for it was his manner to be privy with all good knights. And as Sir Launcelot slept he stole the letter out of his hand, and read it word by word. And then he made great sorrow for anger. And so Sir Launcelot awaked, and went to a window, and read the letter again, the which made him angry.
Sir, said Dinadan, wherefore be ye angry? discover your heart to me: forsooth ye wot well I owe you good will, howbeit I am a poor knight and a servitor unto you and to all good knights. For though I be not of worship myself I love all those that be of worship. It is truth, said Sir Launcelot, ye are a trusty knight, and for great trust I will shew you my counsel. And when Dinadan understood all, he said: This is my counsel: set you right nought by these threats, for King Mark is so villainous, that by fair speech shall never man get of him. But ye shall see what I shall do; I will make a lay for him, and when it is made I shall make an harper to sing it afore him. So anon he went and made it, and taught it an harper that hight Eliot. And when he could it, he taught it to many harpers. And so by the will of Sir Launcelot, and of Arthur, the harpers went straight into Wales, and into Cornwall, to sing the lay that Sir Dinadan made by King Mark, the which was the worst lay that ever harper sang with harp or with any other instruments.
How Sir Tristram was hurt, and of a war made to King Mark; and of Sir Tristram how he promised to rescue him.
NOW turn we again unto Sir Tristram and to King Mark. As Sir Tristram was at jousts and at tournament it fortuned he was sore hurt both with a spear and with a sword, but yet he won always the degree. And for to repose him he went to a good knight that dwelled in Cornwall, in a castle, whose name was Sir Dinas le Seneschal. Then by misfortune there came out of Sessoin a great number of men of arms, and an hideous host, and they entered nigh the Castle of Tintagil; and their captain’s name was Elias, a good man of arms. When King Mark understood his enemies were entered into his land he made great dole and sorrow, for in no wise by his will King Mark would not send for Sir Tristram, for he hated him deadly.
So when his council was come they devised and cast many perils of the strength of their enemies. And then they concluded all at once, and said thus unto King Mark: Sir, wit ye well ye must send for Sir Tristram, the good knight, or else they will never be overcome. For by Sir Tristram they must be foughten withal, or else we row against the stream. Well, said King Mark, I will do by your counsel; but yet he was full loath thereto, but need constrained him to send for him. Then was he sent for in all haste that might be, that he should come to King Mark. And when he understood that King Mark had sent for him, he mounted upon a soft ambler and rode to King Mark. And when he was come the king said thus: Fair nephew Sir Tristram, this is all. Here be come our enemies of Sessoin, that are here nigh hand, and without tarrying they must be met with shortly, or else they will destroy this country. Sir, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well all my power is at your commandment. And wit ye well, sir, these eight days I may bear none arms, for my wounds be not yet whole. And by that day I shall do what I may. Ye say well, said King Mark; then go ye again and repose you and make you fresh, and I shall go and meet the Sessoins with all my power.
So the king departed unto Tintagil, and Sir Tristram went to repose him. And the king made a great host and departed them in three; the first part led Sir Dinas the Seneschal, and Sir Andred led the second part, and Sir Argius led the third part; and he was of the blood of King Mark. And the Sessoins had three great battles, and many good men of arms. And so King Mark by the advice of his knights issued out of the Castle of Tintagil upon his enemies. And Dinas, the good knight, rode out afore, and slew two knights with his own hands, and then began the battles. And there was marvellous breaking of spears and smiting of swords, and slew down many good knights. And ever was Sir Dinas the Seneschal the best of King Mark’s party. And thus the battle endured long with great mortality. But at the last King Mark and Sir Dinas, were they never so loath, they withdrew them to the Castle of Tintagil with great slaughter of people; and the Sessoins followed on fast, that ten of them were put within the gates and four slain with the portcullis.
Then King Mark sent for Sir Tristram by a varlet, that told him all the mortality. Then he sent the varlet again, and bade him: Tell King Mark that I will come as soon as I am whole, for erst I may do him no good. Then King Mark had his answer. Therewith came Elias and bade the king yield up the castle: For ye may not hold it no while. Sir Elias, said the king, so will I yield up the castle if I be not soon rescued. Anon King Mark sent again for rescue to Sir Tristram. By then Sir Tristram was whole, and he had gotten him ten good knights of Arthur’s; and with them he rode unto Tintagil. And when he saw the great host of Sessoins he marvelled wonder greatly. And then Sir Tristram rode by the woods and by the ditches as secretly as he might, till he came nigh the gates. And there dressed a knight to him when he saw that Sir Tristram would enter; and Sir Tristram smote him down dead, and so he served three more. And everych of these ten knights slew a man of arms. So Sir Tristram entered into the Castle of Tintagil. And when King Mark wist that Sir Tristram was come he was glad of his coming, and so was all the fellowship, and of him they made great joy.
How Sir Tristram overcame the battle, and how Elias desired a man to fight body for body.
SO on the morn Elias the captain came, and bade King Mark: Come out and do battle; for now the good knight Sir Tristram is entered it will be shame to thee, said Elias, for to keep thy walls. When King Mark understood this he was wroth and said no word, but went unto Sir Tristram and asked him his counsel. Sir, said Sir Tristram, will ye that I give him his answer? I will well, said King Mark. Then Sir Tristram said thus to the messenger: Bear thy lord word from the king and me, that we will do battle with him to-morn in the plain field. What is your name? said the messenger. Wit thou well my name is Sir Tristram de Liones. Therewithal the messenger departed and told his lord Elias all that he had heard. Sir, said Sir Tristram unto King Mark, I pray you give me leave to have the rule of the battle. I pray you take the rule, said King Mark. Then Sir Tristram let devise the battle in what manner that it should be. He let depart his host in six parties, and ordained Sir Dinas the Seneschal to have the foreward, and other knights to rule the remnant. And the same night Sir Tristram burnt all the Sessoins’ ships unto the cold water. Anon, as Elias wist that, he said it was of Sir Tristram’s doing: For he casteth that we shall never escape, mother son of us. Therefore, fair fellows, fight freely to-morrow, and miscomfort you nought; for any knight, though he be the best knight in the world, he may not have ado with us all.
Then they ordained their battle in four parties, wonderly well apparelled and garnished with men of arms. Thus they within issued, and they without set freely upon them; and there Sir Dinas did great deeds of arms. Not for then Sir Dinas and his fellowship were put to the worse. With that came Sir Tristram and slew two knights with one spear; then he slew on the right hand and on the left hand, that men marvelled that ever he might do such deeds of arms. And then he might see sometime the battle was driven a bow-draught from the castle, and sometime it was at the gates of the castle. Then came Elias the captain rushing here and there, and hit King Mark so sore upon the helm that he made him to avoid the saddle. And then Sir Dinas gat King Mark again to horseback. Therewithal came in Sir Tristram like a lion, and there he met with Elias, and he smote him so sore upon the helm that he avoided his saddle. And thus they fought till it was night, and for great slaughter and for wounded people everych party drew to their rest.
And when King Mark was come within the Castle of Tintagil he lacked of his knights an hundred, and they without lacked two hundred; and they searched the wounded men on both parties. And then they went to council; and wit you well either party were loath to fight more, so that either might escape with their worship. When Elias the captain understood the death of his men he made great dole; and when he wist that they were loath to go to battle again he was wroth out of measure. Then Elias sent word unto King Mark, in great despite, whether he would find a knight that would fight for him body for body. And if that he might slay King Mark’s knight, he to have the truage of Cornwall yearly. And if that his knight slay mine, I fully release my claim forever. Then the messenger departed unto King Mark, and told him how that his lord Elias had sent him word to find a knight to do battle with him body for body. When King Mark understood the messenger, he bade him abide and he should have his answer. Then called he all the baronage together to wit what was the best counsel. They said all at once: To fight in a field we have no lust, for had not been Sir Tristram’s prowess it had been likely that we never should have escaped; and therefore, sir, as we deem, it were well done to find a knight that would do battle with him, for he knightly proffereth.
How Sir Elias and Sir Tristram fought together for the truage, and how Sir Tristram slew Elias in the field.
NOT for then when all this was said, they could find no knight that would do battle with him. Sir king, said they all, here is no knight that dare fight with Elias. Alas, said King Mark, then am I utterly ashamed and utterly destroyed, unless that my nephew Sir Tristram will take the battle upon him. Wit you well, they said all, he had yesterday overmuch on hand, and he is weary for travail, and sore wounded. Where is he? said King Mark. Sir, said they, he is in his bed to repose him. Alas, said King Mark, but I have the succour of my nephew Sir Tristram, I am utterly destroyed for ever.
Therewith one went to Sir Tristram where he lay, and told him what King Mark had said. And therewith Sir Tristram arose lightly, and put on him a long gown, and came afore the king and all the lords. And when he saw them all so dismayed he asked the king and the lords what tidings were with them. Never worse, said the king. And therewith he told him all, how he had word of Elias to find a knight to fight for the truage of Cornwall, and none can I find. And as for you, said the king and all the lords, we may ask no more of you for shame; for through your hardiness yesterday ye saved all our lives. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now I understand ye would have my succour, reason would that I should do all that lieth in my power to do, saving my worship and my life, howbeit I am sore bruised and hurt. And sithen Sir Elias proffereth so largely, I shall fight with him, or else I will be slain in the field, or else I will deliver Cornwall from the old truage. And therefore lightly call his messenger and he shall be answered, for as yet my wounds be green, and they will be sorer a seven night after than they be now; and therefore he shall have his answer that I will do battle to-morn with him.
Then was the messenger departed brought before King Mark. Hark, my fellow, said Sir Tristram, go fast unto thy lord, and bid him make true assurance on his part for the truage, as the king here shall make on his part; and then tell thy lord, Sir Elias, that I, Sir Tristram, King Arthur’s knight, and knight of the Table Round, will as to-morn meet with thy lord on horseback, to do battle as long as my horse may endure, and after that to do battle with him on foot to the utterance. The messenger beheld Sir Tristram from the top to the toe; and therewithal he departed and came to his lord, and told him how he was answered of Sir Tristram. And therewithal was made hostage on both parties, and made it as sure as it might be, that whether party had the victory, so to end. And then were both hosts assembled on both parts of the field, without the Castle of Tintagil, and there was none but Sir Tristram and Sir Elias armed.
So when the appointment was made, they departed in-sunder, and they came together with all the might that their horses might run. And either knight smote other so hard that both horses and knights went to the earth. Not for then they both lightly arose and dressed their shields on their shoulders, with naked swords in their hands, and they dashed together that it seemed a flaming fire about them. Thus they traced, and traversed, and hewed on helms and hauberks, and cut away many cantels of their shields, and either wounded other passing sore, so that the hot blood fell freshly upon the earth. And by then they had foughten the mountenance of an hour Sir Tristram waxed faint and for-bled, and gave sore aback. That saw Sir Elias, and followed fiercely upon him, and wounded him in many places. And ever Sir Tristram traced and traversed, and went froward him here and there, and covered him with his shield as he might all weakly, that all men said he was overcome; for Sir Elias had given him twenty strokes against one.
Then was there laughing of the Sessoins’ party, and great dole on King Mark’s party. Alas, said the king, we are ashamed and destroyed all for ever: for as the book saith, Sir Tristram was never so matched, but if it were Sir Launcelot. Thus as they stood and beheld both parties, that one party laughing and the other party weeping, Sir Tristram remembered him of his lady, La Beale Isoud, that looked upon him, and how he was likely never to come in her presence. Then he pulled up his shield that erst hung full low. And then he dressed up his shield unto Elias, and gave him many sad strokes, twenty against one, and all to-brake his shield and his hauberk, that the hot blood ran down to the earth. Then began King Mark to laugh, and all Cornish men, and that other party to weep. And ever Sir Tristram said to Sir Elias: Yield thee.
Then when Sir Tristram saw him so staggering on the ground, he said: Sir Elias, I am right sorry for thee, for thou art a passing good knight as ever I met withal, except Sir Launcelot. Therewithal Sir Elias fell to the earth, and there died. What shall I do, said Sir Tristram unto King Mark, for this battle is at an end? Then they of Elias’ party departed, and King Mark took of them many prisoners, to redress the harms and the scathes that he had of them; and the remnant he sent into their country to borrow out their fellows. Then was Sir Tristram searched and well healed. Yet for all this King Mark would fain have slain Sir Tristram. But for all that ever Sir Tristram saw or heard by King Mark, yet would he never beware of his treason, but ever he would be thereas La Beale Isoud was.
How at a great feast that King Mark made an harper came and sang the lay that Dinadan had made.
NOW will we pass of this matter, and speak we of the harpers that Sir Launcelot and Sir Dinadan had sent into Cornwall. And at the great feast that King Mark made for joy that the Sessoins were put out of his country, then came Eliot the harper with the lay that Dinadan had made and secretly brought it unto Sir Tristram, and told him the lay that Dinadan had made by King Mark. And when Sir Tristram heard it, he said: O Lord Jesu, that Dinadan can make wonderly well and ill, thereas it shall be. Sir, said Eliot, dare I sing this song afore King Mark? Yea, on my peril, said Sir Tristram, for I shall be thy warrant. Then at the meat came in Eliot the harper, and because he was a curious harper men heard him sing the same lay that Dinadan had made, the which spake the most villainy by King Mark of his treason that ever man heard.
When the harper had sung his song to the end King Mark was wonderly wroth, and said: Thou harper, how durst thou be so bold on thy head to sing this song afore me. Sir, said Eliot, wit you well I am a minstrel, and I must do as I am commanded of these lords that I bear the arms of. And sir, wit ye well that Sir Dinadan, a knight of the Table Round, made this song, and made me to sing it afore you. Thou sayest well, said King Mark, and because thou art a minstrel thou shalt go quit, but I charge thee hie thee fast out of my sight. So the harper departed and went to Sir Tristram, and told him how he had sped. Then Sir Tristram let make letters as goodly as he could to Launcelot and to Sir Dinadan. And so he let conduct the harper out of the country. But to say that King Mark was wonderly wroth, he was, for he deemed that the lay that was sung afore him was made by Sir Tristram’s counsel, wherefore he thought to slay him and all his well-willers in that country.
How King Mark slew by treason his brother Boudwin, for good service that he had done to him.
NOW turn we to another matter that fell between King Mark and his brother, that was called the good Prince Boudwin, that all the people of the country loved passing well. So it befell on a time that the miscreant Saracens landed in the country of Cornwall soon after these Sessoins were gone. And then the good Prince Boudwin, at the landing, he raised the country privily and hastily. And or it were day he let put wildfire in three of his own ships, and suddenly he pulled up the sail, and with the wind he made those ships to be driven among the navy of the Saracens. And to make short tale, those three ships set on fire all the ships, that none were saved. And at point of the day the good Prince Boudwin with all his fellowship set on the miscreants with shouts and cries, and slew to the number of forty thousand, and left none alive.
When King Mark wist this he was wonderly wroth that his brother should win such worship. And because this prince was better beloved than he in all that country, and that also Boudwin loved well Sir Tristram, therefore he thought to slay him. And thus, hastily, as a man out of his wit, he sent for Prince Boudwin and Anglides his wife, and bade them bring their young son with them, that he might see him. All this he did to the intent to slay the child as well as his father, for he was the falsest traitor that ever was born. Alas, for his goodness and for his good deeds this gentle Prince Boudwin was slain. So when he came with his wife Anglides, the king made them fair semblant till they had dined. And when they had dined King Mark sent for his brother and said thus: Brother, how sped you when the miscreants arrived by you? meseemeth it had been your part to have sent me word, that I might have been at that journey, for it had been reason that I had had the honour and not you. Sir, said the Prince Boudwin, it was so that an I had tarried till that I had sent for you those miscreants had destroyed my country. Thou liest, false traitor, said King Mark, for thou art ever about for to win worship from me, and put me to dishonour, and thou cherishest that I hate. And therewith he struck him to the heart with a dagger, that he never after spake word. Then the Lady Anglides made great dole, and swooned, for she saw her lord slain afore her face. Then was there no more to do but Prince Boudwin was despoiled and brought to burial. But Anglides privily gat her husband’s doublet and his shirt, and that she kept secretly.
Then was there much sorrow and crying, and great dole made Sir Tristram, Sir Dinas, Sir Fergus, and so did all knights that were there; for that prince was passingly well beloved. So La Beale Isoud sent unto Anglides, the Prince Boudwin’s wife, and bade her avoid lightly or else her young son, Alisander le Orphelin, should be slain When she heard this, she took her horse and her child; and rode with such poor men as durst ride with her.
How Anglides, Boudwin’s wife, escaped with her young son, Alisander le Orphelin, and came to the Castle of Arundel.
NOTWITHSTANDING, when King Mark had done this deed, yet he thought to do more vengeance; and with his sword in his hand, he sought from chamber to chamber, to seek Anglides and her young son. And when she was missed he called a good knight that hight Sadok, and charged him by pain of death to fetch Anglides again and her young son. So Sir Sadok departed and rode after Anglides. And within ten mile he overtook her, and bade her turn again and ride with him to King Mark. Alas, fair knight, she said, what shall ye win by my son’s death or by mine? I have had overmuch harm and too great a loss. Madam, said Sadok, of your loss is dole and pity; but madam, said Sadok, would ye depart out of this country with your son, and keep him till he be of age, that he may revenge his father’s death, then would I suffer you to depart from me, so you promise me to revenge the death of Prince Boudwin. Ah, gentle knight, Jesu thank thee, and if ever my son, Alisander le Orphelin, live to be a knight, he shall have his father’s doublet and his shirt with the bloody marks, and I shall give him such a charge that he shall remember it while he liveth. And therewithal Sadok departed from her, and either betook other to God. And when Sadok came to King Mark he told him faithfully that he had drowned young Alisander her son; and thereof King Mark was full glad.
Now turn we unto Anglides, that rode both night and day by adventure out of Cornwall, and little and in few places she rested; but ever she drew southward to the seaside, till by fortune she came to a castle that is called Magouns, and now it is called Arundel, in Sussex. And the Constable of the castle welcomed her, and said she was welcome to her own castle; and there was Anglides 2t worshipfully received, for the Constable’s wife was nigh her cousin, and the Constable’s name was Bellangere; and that same Constable told Anglides that the same castle was hers by right inheritance. Thus Anglides endured years and winters, till Alisander was big and strong; there was none so wight in all that country, neither there was none that might do no manner of mastery afore him.
How Anglides gave the bloody doublet to Alisander, her son, the same day that he was made knight, and the charge withal.
THEN upon a day Bellangere the Constable came to Anglides and said: Madam, it were time my lord Alisander were made knight, for he is a passing strong young man. Sir, said she, I would he were made knight; but then must I give him the most charge that ever sinful mother gave to her child. Do as ye list, said Bellangere, and I shall give him warning that he shall be made knight. Now it will be well done that he may be made knight at our Lady Day in Lent. Be it so, said Anglides, and I pray you make ready therefore. So came the Constable to Alisander, and told him that he should at our Lady Day in Lent be made knight. I thank God, said Alisander; these are the best tidings that ever came to me. Then the Constable ordained twenty of the greatest gentlemen’s sons, and the best born men of the country, that should be made knights that same day that Alisander was made knight. So on the same day that Alisander and his twenty fellows were made knights, at the offering of the mass there came Anglides unto her son and said thus: O fair sweet son, I charge thee upon my blessing, and of the high order of chivalry that thou takest here this day, that thou understand what I shall say and charge thee withal. Therewithal she pulled out a bloody doublet and a bloody shirt, that were be-bled with old blood. When Alisander saw this he stert aback and waxed pale, and said: Fair mother, what may this mean? I shall tell thee, fair son: this was thine own father’s doublet and shirt, that he wore upon him that same day that he was slain. And there she told him why and wherefore, and how for his goodness King Mark slew him with his dagger afore mine own eyen. And therefore this shall be your charge that I shall give thee.
How it was told to King Mark of Sir Alisander, and how he would have slain Sir Sadok for saving his life.
NOW I require thee, and charge thee upon my blessing, and upon the high order of knighthood, that thou be revenged upon King Mark for the death of thy father. And therewithal she swooned. Then Alisander leapt to his mother, and took her up in his arms, and said: Fair mother, ye have given me a great charge, and here I promise you I shall be avenged upon King Mark when that I may; and that I promise to God and to you. So this feast was ended, and the Constable, by the advice of Anglides, let purvey that Alisander was well horsed and harnessed. Then he jousted with his twenty fellows that were made knights with him, but for to make a short tale, he overthrew all those twenty, that none might withstand him a buffet.
Then one of those knights departed unto King Mark, and told him all, how Alisander was made knight, and all the charge that his mother gave him, as ye have heard afore time. Alas, false treason, said King Mark, I weened that young traitor had been dead. Alas, whom may I trust? And therewithal King Mark took a sword in his hand; and sought Sir Sadok from chamber to chamber to slay him. When Sir Sadok saw King Mark come with his sword in his hand he said thus: Beware, King Mark, and come not nigh me; for wit thou well that I saved Alisander his life, of which I never repent me, for thou falsely and cowardly slew his father Boudwin, traitorly for his good deeds; wherefore I pray Almighty Jesu send Alisander might and strength to be revenged upon thee. And now beware King Mark of young Alisander, for he is made a knight. Alas, said King Mark, that ever I should hear a traitor say so afore me. And therewith four knights of King Mark’s drew their swords to slay Sir Sadok, but anon Sir Sadok slew them all in King Mark’s presence. And then Sir Sadok passed forth into his chamber, and took his horse and his harness, and rode on his way a good pace. For there was neither Sir Tristram, neither Sir Dinas, nor Sir Fergus, that would Sir Sadok any evil will. Then was King Mark wroth, and thought to destroy Sir Alisander and Sir Sadok that had saved him; for King Mark dreaded and hated Alisander most of any man living.
When Sir Tristram understood that Alisander was made knight, anon forthwithal he sent him a letter, praying him and charging him that he would draw him to the court of King Arthur, and that he put him in the rule and in the hands of Sir Launcelot. So this letter was sent to Alisander from his cousin, Sir Tristram. And at that time he thought to do after his commandment. Then King Mark called a knight that brought him the tidings from Alisander, and bade him abide still in that country. Sir, said that knight, so must I do, for in my own country I dare not come. No force, said King Mark, I shall give thee here double as much lands as ever thou hadst of thine own. But within short space Sir Sadok met with that false knight, and slew him. Then was King Mark wood wroth out of measure. Then he sent unto Queen Morgan le Fay, and to the Queen of North-galis, praying them in his letters that they two sorceresses would set all the country in fire with ladies that were enchantresses, and by such that were dangerous knights, as Malgrin, Breuse Saunce Pite, that by no mean Alisander le Orphelin should escape, but either he should be taken or slain. This ordinance made King Mark for to destroy Alisander.
How Sir Alisander won the prize at a tournament, and of Morgan le Fay: and how he fought with Sir Malgrin, and slew him.
NOW turn we again unto Sir Alisander, that at his departing his mother took with him his father’s bloody shirt. So that he bare with him always till his death day, in tokening to think of his father’s death. So was Alisander purposed to ride to London, by the counsel of Sir Tristram, to Sir Launcelot. And by fortune he went by the seaside, and rode wrong. And there he won at a tournament the gree that King Carados made. And there he smote down King Carados and twenty of his knights, and also Sir Safere, a good knight that was Sir Palomides’ brother, the good knight. All this saw a damosel, and saw the best knight joust that ever she saw. And ever as he smote down knights he made them to swear to wear none harness in a twelvemonth and a day. This is well said, said Morgan le Fay, this is the knight that I would fain see. And so she took her palfrey, and rode a great while, and then she rested her in her pavilion. So there came four knights, two were armed, and two were unarmed, and they told Morgan le Fay their names: the first was Elias de Gomeret, the second was Cari de Gomeret, those were armed; that other twain were of Camiliard, cousins unto Queen Guenever, and that one hight Guy, and that other hight Garaunt, those were unarmed. There these four knights told Morgan le Fay how a young knight had smitten them down before a castle For the maiden of that castle said that he was but late made knight, and young. But as we suppose, but if it were Sir Tristram, or Sir Launcelot, or Sir Lamorak, the good knight, there is none that might sit him a buffet with a spear. Well, said Morgan le Fay, I shall meet that knight or it be long time, an he dwell in that country.
So turn we to the damosel of the castle, that when Alisander le Orphelin had forjousted the four knights, she called him to her, and said thus: Sir knight, wilt thou for my sake joust and fight with a knight, for my sake, of this country, that is and hath been long time an evil neighbour to me? His name is Malgrin, and he will not suffer me to be married in no manner wise for all that I can do, or any knight for my sake. Damosel, said Alisander, an he come whiles I am here I will fight with him, and my poor body for your sake I will jeopard. And therewithal she sent for him, for he was at her commandment. And when either had a sight of other, they made them ready for to joust, and they came together eagerly, and Malgrin brised his spear upon Alisander, and Alisander smote him again so hard that he bare him quite from his saddle to the earth. But this Malgrin arose lightly, and dressed his shield and drew his sword, and bade him alight, saying: Though thou have the better of me on horseback, thou shalt find that I shall endure like a knight on foot. It is well said, said Alisander; and so lightly he avoided his horse and betook him to his varlet. And then they rushed together like two boars, and laid on their helms and shields long time, by the space of three hours, that never man could say which was the better knight.
And in the meanwhile came Morgan le Fay to the damosel of the castle, and they beheld the battle. But this Malgrin was an old roted knight, and he was called one of the dangerous knights of the world to do battle on foot, but on horseback there were many better. And ever this Malgrin awaited to slay Alisander, and so wounded him wonderly sore, that it was marvel that ever he might stand, for he had bled so much blood; for Alisander fought wildly, and not wittily. And that other was a felonious knight, and awaited him, and smote him sore. And sometime they rushed together with their shields, like two boars or rams, and fell grovelling both to the earth. Now knight, said Malgrin, hold thy hand a while, and tell me what thou art. I will not, said Alisander, but if me list: but tell me thy name, and why thou keepest this country, or else thou shalt die of my hands. Wit thou well, said Malgrin, that for this maiden’s love, of this castle, I have slain ten good knights by mishap; and by outrage and orgulite of myself I have slain ten other knights. So God me help, said Alisander, this is the foulest confession that ever I heard knight make, nor never heard I speak of other men of such a shameful confession; wherefore it were great pity and great shame unto me that I should let thee live any longer; therefore keep thee as well as ever thou mayest, for as I am true knight, either thou shalt slay me or else I shall slay thee, I promise thee faithfully.
Then they lashed together fiercely, and at the last Alisander smote Malgrin to the earth. And then he raced off his helm, and smote off his head lightly. And when he had done and ended this battle, anon he called to him his varlet, the which brought him his horse. And then he, weening to be strong enough, would have mounted. And so she laid Sir Alisander in an horse litter, and led him into the castle, for he had no foot nor might to stand upon the earth; for he had sixteen great wounds, and in especial one of them was like to be his death.
How Queen Morgan le Fay had Alisander in her castle, and how she healed his wounds.
THEN Queen Morgan le Fay searched his wounds, and gave such an ointment unto him that he should have died. And on the morn when she came to him he complained him sore; and then she put other ointments upon him, and then he was out of his pain. Then came the damosel of the castle, and said unto Morgan le Fay: I pray you help me that this knight might wed me, for he hath won me with his hands. Ye shall see, said Morgan le Fay, what I shall say. Then Morgan le Fay went unto Alisander, and bade in anywise that he should refuse this lady, an she desire to wed you, for she is not for you. So the damosel came and desired of him marriage. Damosel, said Orphelin, I thank you, but as yet I cast me not to marry in this country. Sir, she said, sithen ye will not marry me, I pray you insomuch as ye have won me, that ye will give me to a knight of this country that hath been my friend, and loved me many years. With all my heart, said Alisander, I will assent thereto. Then was the knight sent for, his name was Gerine le Grose. And anon he made them handfast, and wedded them.
Then came Queen Morgan le Fay to Alisander, and bade him arise, and put him in an horse litter, and gave him such a drink that in three days and three nights he waked never, but slept; and so she brought him to her own castle that at that time was called La Beale Regard. Then Morgan le Fay came to Alisander, and asked him if he would fain be whole. Who would be sick, said Alisander, an he might be whole? Well, said Morgan le Fay, then shall ye promise me by your knighthood that this day twelvemonth and a day ye shall not pass the compass of this castle, and without doubt ye shall lightly be whole. I assent, said Sir Alisander. And there he made her a promise: then was he soon whole. And when Alisander was whole, then he repented him of his oath, for he might not be revenged upon King Mark. Right so there came a damosel that was cousin to the Earl of Pase, and she was cousin to Morgan le Fay. And by right that castle of La Beale Regard should have been hers by true inheritance. So this damosel entered into this castle where lay Alisander, and there she found him upon his bed, passing heavy and all sad.
How Alisander was delivered from Queen Morgan le Fay by the means of a damosel.
SIR knight, said the damosel, an ye would be merry I could tell you good tidings. Well were me, said Alisander, an I might hear of good tidings, for now I stand as a prisoner by my promise. Sir, she said, wit you well that ye be a prisoner, and worse than ye ween; for my lady, my cousin Queen Morgan le Fay, keepeth you here for none other intent but for to do her pleasure with you when it liketh her. O Jesu defend me, said Alisander, from such pleasure; for I had liefer cut away my hangers than I would do her such pleasure. As Jesu help me, said the damosel, an ye would love me and be ruled by me, I shall make your deliverance with your worship. Tell me, said Alisander, by what means, and ye shall have my love. Fair knight, said she, this castle of right ought to be mine, and I have an uncle the which is a mighty earl, he is Earl of Pase, and of all folks he hateth most Morgan le Fay; and I shall send unto him and pray him for my sake to destroy this castle for the evil customs that be used therein; and then will he come and set wild-fire on every part of the castle, and I shall get you out at a privy postern, and there shall ye have your horse and your harness. Ye say well, damosel, said Alisander. And then she said: Ye may keep the room of this castle this twelvemonth and a day, then break ye not your oath. Truly, fair damosel, said Alisander, ye say sooth. And then he kissed her, and did to her pleasaunce as it pleased them both at times and leisures.
So anon she sent unto her uncle and bade him come and destroy that castle, for as the book saith, he would have destroyed that castle afore time had not that damosel been. When the earl understood her letters he sent her word again that on such a day he would come and destroy that castle. So when that day came she showed Alisander a postern wherethrough he should flee into a garden, and there he should find his armour and his horse. When the day came that was set, thither came the Earl of Pase with four hundred knights, and set on fire all the parts of the castle, that or they ceased they left not a stone standing. And all this while that the fire was in the castle he abode in the garden. And when the fire was done he let make a cry that he would keep that piece of earth thereas the castle of La Beale Regard was a twelvemonth and a day, from all manner knights that would come
So it happed there was a duke that hight Ansirus, and he was of the kin of Sir Launcelot. And this knight was a great pilgrim, for every third year he would be at Jerusalem. And because he used all his life to go in pilgrimage men called him Duke Ansirus the Pilgrim. And this duke had a daughter that hight Alice, that was a passing fair woman, and because of her father she was called Alice la Beale Pilgrim. And anon as she heard of this cry she went unto Arthur’s court, and said openly in hearing of many knights, that what knight may overcome that knight that keepeth that piece of earth shall have me and all my lands.
When the knights of the Round Table heard her say thus many were glad, for she was passing fair and of great rents. Right so she let cry in castles and towns as fast on her side as Alisander did on his side. Then she dressed her pavilion straight by the piece of the earth that Alisander kept. So she was not so soon there but there came a knight of Arthur’s court that hight Sagramore le Desirous, and he proffered to joust with Alisander; and they encountered, and Sagramore le Desirous brised his spear upon Sir Alisander, but Sir Alisander smote him so hard that he avoided his saddle. And when La Beale Alice saw him joust so well, she thought him a passing goodly knight on horseback. And then she leapt out of her pavilion, and took Sir Alisander by the bridle, and thus she said: Fair knight, I require thee of thy knighthood show me thy visage. I dare well, said Alisander, show my visage. And then he put off his helm; and she saw his visage, she said: O sweet Jesu, thee I must love, and never other. Then show me your visage, said he.
How Alisander met with Alice la Beale Pilgrim, and how he jousted with two knights; and after of him and of Sir Mordred.
Then she unwimpled her visage. And when he saw her he said: Here have I found my love and my lady. Truly, fair lady, said he, I promise you to be your knight, and none other that beareth the life. Now, gentle knight, said she, tell me your name. My name is, said he, Alisander le Orphelin. Now, damosel, tell me your name, said he. My name is, said she, Alice la Beale Pilgrim. And when we be more at our heart’s ease, both ye and I shall tell other of what blood we be come. So there was great love betwixt them. And as they thus talked there came a knight that hight Harsouse le Berbuse, and asked part of Sir Alisander’s spears. Then Sir Alisander encountered with him, and at the first Sir Alisander smote him over his horse’s croup. And then there came another knight that hight Sir Hewgon, and Sir Alisander smote him down as he did that other. Then Sir Hewgon proffered to do battle on foot. Sir Alisander overcame him with three strokes, and there would have slain him had he not yielded him. So then Alisander made both those knights to swear to wear none armour in a twelvemonth and a day.
Then Sir Alisander alighted down, and went to rest him and repose him. Then the damosel that helped Sir Alisander out of the castle, in her play told Alice all together how he was prisoner in the castle of La Beale Regard, and there she told her how she got him out of prison. Sir, said Alice la Beale Pilgrim, meseemeth ye are much beholding to this maiden. That is truth, said Sir Alisander. And there Alice told him of what blood she was come. Sir, wit ye well, she said, that I am of the blood of King Ban, that was father unto Sir Launcelot. Y-wis, fair lady, said Alisander, my mother told me that my father was brother unto a king, and I nigh cousin unto Sir Tristram.
Then this while came there three knights, that one hight Vains, and the other hight Harvis de les Marches, and the third hight Perin de la Montaine. And with one spear Sir Alisander smote them down all three, and gave them such falls that they had no list to fight upon foot. So he made them to swear to wear none arms in a twelvemonth. So when they were departed Sir Alisander beheld his lady Alice on horseback as he stood in her pavilion. And then was he so enamoured upon her that he wist not whether he were on horseback or on foot.
Right so came the false knight Sir Mordred, and saw Sir Alisander was assotted upon his lady; and therewithal he took his horse by the bridle, and led him here and there, and had cast to have led him out of that place to have shamed him. When the damosel that helped him out of that castle saw how shamefully he was led, anon she let arm her, and set a shield upon her shoulder; and therewith she mounted upon his horse, and gat a naked sword in her hand, and she thrust unto Alisander with all her might, and she gave him such a buffet that he thought the fire flew out of his eyen. And when Alisander felt that stroke he looked about him, and drew his sword And when she saw that, she fled, and so did Mordred into the forest, and the damosel fled into the pavilion. So when Alisander understood himself how the false knight would have shamed him had not the damosel been then was he wroth with himself that Sir Mordred was so escaped his hands. But then Sir Alisander and Alice had good game at the damosel, how sadly she hit him upon the helm.
Then Sir Alisander jousted thus day by day, and on foot he did many battles with many knights of King Arthur’s court, and with many knights strangers. Therefore to tell all the battles that he did it were overmuch to rehearse, for every day within that twelvemonth he had ado with one knight or with other, and some day he had ado with three or with four; and there was never knight that put him to the worse. And at the twelvemonth’s end he departed with his lady, Alice la Beale Pilgrim. And the damosel would never go from him, and so they went into their country of Benoye, and lived there in great joy.
How Sir Galahalt did do cry a jousts in Surluse, and Queen Guenever’s knights should joust against all that would come.
BUT as the book saith, King Mark would never stint till he had slain him by treason. And by Alice he gat a child that hight Bellengerus le Beuse. And by good fortune he came to the court of King Arthur, and proved a passing good knight; and he revenged his father’s death, for the false King Mark slew both Sir Tristram and Alisander falsely and feloniously. And it happed so that Alisander had never grace nor fortune to come to King Arthur’s court. For an he had come to Sir Launcelot, all knights said that knew him, he was one of the strongest knights that was in Arthur’s days, and great dole was made for him. So let we of him pass, and turn we to another tale.
So it befell that Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, was lord of the country of Surluse, whereof came many good knights. And this noble prince was a passing good man of arms, and ever he held a noble fellowship together. And then he came to Arthur’s court and told him his intent, how this was his will, how he would let cry a jousts in the country of Surluse, the which country was within the lands of King Arthur, and there he asked leave to let cry a jousts. I will give you leave, said King Arthur; but wit thou well, said King Arthur, I may not be there. Sir, said Queen Guenever, please it you to give me leave to be at that jousts. With right good will, said Arthur; for Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, shall have you in governance. Sir, said Galahalt, I will as ye will. Sir, then the queen, I will take with me [Sir Launcelot] and such knights as please me best. Do as ye list, said King Arthur. So anon she commanded Sir Launcelot to make him ready with such knights as he thought best.
So in every good town and castle of this land was made a cry, that in the country of Surluse Sir Galahalt should make a joust that should last eight days, and how the haut prince, with the help of Queen Guenever’s knights, should joust against all manner of men that would come. When this cry was known, kings and princes, dukes and earls, barons and noble knights, made them ready to be at that jousts. And at the day of jousting there came in Sir Dinadan disguised, and did many great deeds of arms.
How Sir Launcelot fought in the tournament, and how Sir Palomides did arms there for a damosel.
THEN at the request of Queen Guenever and of King Bagdemagus Sir Launcelot came into the range, but he was disguised, and that was the cause that few folk knew him; and there met with him Sir Ector de Maris, his own brother, and either brake their spears upon other to their hands. And then either gat another spear. And then Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Ector de Maris, his own brother. That saw Sir Bleoberis, and he smote Sir Launcelot such a buffet upon the helm that he wist not well where he was. Then Sir Launcelot was wrothy and smote Sir Bleoberis so sore upon the helm that his head bowed down backward. And he smote eft another buffet, that he avoided his saddle; and so he rode by, and thrust forth to the thickest. When the King of Northgalis saw Sir Ector and Bleoberis lie on the ground then was he wroth, for they came on his party against them of Surluse. So the King of Northgalis ran to Sir Launcelot, and brake a spear upon him all to pieces. Therewith Sir Launcelot overtook the King of Northgalis, and smote him such a buffet on the helm with his sword that he made him to avoid his horse; and anon the king was horsed again. So both the King Bagdemagus’ and the King of North-galis’ party hurled to other; and then began a strong medley, but they of Northgalis were far bigger.
When Sir Launcelot saw his party go to the worst he thrang into the thickest press with a sword in his hand; and there he smote down on the right hand and on the left hand, and pulled down knights and raced off their helms, that all men had wonder that ever one knight might do such deeds of arms. When Sir Meliagaunce, that was son unto King Bagdemagus, saw how Sir Launcelot fared he marvelled greatly. And when he understood that it was he, he wist well that he was disguised for his sake. Then Sir Meliagaunce prayed a knight to slay Sir Launcelot’s horse, either with sword or with spear. At that time King Bagdemagus met with a knight that hight Sauseise, a good knight, to whom he said: Now fair Sauseise, encounter with my son Meliagaunce and give him large payment, for I would he were well beaten of thy hands, that he might depart out of this field. And then Sir Sauseise encountered with Sir Meliagaunce, and either smote other down. And then they fought on foot, and there Sauseise had won Sir Meliagaunce, had there not come rescues. So then the haut prince blew to lodging, and every knight unarmed him and went to the great feast.
Then in the meanwhile there came a damosel to the haut prince, and complained that there was a knight that hight Goneries that withheld her all her lands. Then the knight was there present, and cast his glove to her or to any that would fight in her name. So the damosel took up the glove all heavily for default of a champion. Then there came a varlet to her and said: Damosel, will ye do after me? Full fain, said the damosel. Then go you unto such a knight that lieth here beside in an hermitage, and that followeth the Questing Beast, and pray him to take the battle upon him, and anon I wot well he will grant you.
So anon she took her palfrey, and within a while she found that knight, that was Sir Palomides. And when she required him he armed him and rode with her, and made her to go to the haut prince, and to ask leave for her knight to do battle. I will well, said the haut prince. Then the knights were ready in the field to joust on horseback; and either gat a spear in their hands, and met so fiercely together that their spears all to-shivered. Then they flang out swords, and Sir Palomides smote Sir Goneries down to the earth. And then he raced off his helm and smote off his head. Then they went to supper, and the damosel loved Palomides as paramour, but the book saith she was of his kin. So then Palomides disguised himself in this manner, in his shield he bare the Questing Beast, and in all his trappings. And when he was thus ready, he sent to the haut prince to give him leave to joust with other knights, but he was adoubted of Sir Launcelot. The haut prince sent him word again that he should be welcome, and that Sir Launcelot should not joust with him. Then Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, let cry what knight somever he were that smote down Sir Palomides should have his damosel to himself.
How Sir Galahalt and Palomides fought together, and of Sir Dinadan and Sir Galahalt.
HERE beginneth the second day. Anon as Sir Palomides came into the field, Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, was at the range end, and met with Sir Palomides, and he with him, with great spears. And then they came so hard together that their spears all to-shivered, but Sir Galahalt smote him so hard that he bare him backward over his horse, but yet he lost not his stirrups. Then they drew their swords and lashed together many sad strokes, that many worshipful knights left their business to behold them. But at the last Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, smote a stroke of might unto Palomides, sore upon the helm; but the helm was so hard that the sword might not bite, but slipped and smote off the head of the horse of Sir Palomides. When the haut prince wist and saw the good knight fall unto the earth he was ashamed of that stroke. And therewith he alighted down off his own horse, and prayed the good knight, Palomides, to take that horse of his gift, and to forgive him that deed. Sir, said Palomides, I thank you of your great goodness, for ever of a man of worship a knight shall never have disworship; and so he mounted upon that horse, and the haut prince had another anon. Now, said the haut prince, I release to you that maiden, for ye have won her. Ah, said Palomides, the damosel and I be at your commandment.
So they departed, and Sir Galahalt did great deeds of arms. And right so came Dinadan and encountered with Sir Galahalt, and either came to other so fast with their spears that their spears brake to their hands. But Dinadan had weened the haut prince had been more weary than he was. And then he smote many sad strokes at the haut prince; but when Dinadan saw he might not get him to the earth he said: My lord, I pray you leave me, and take another. The haut prince knew not Dinadan, and left goodly for his fair words. And so they departed; but soon there came another and told the haut prince that it was Dinadan. Forsooth, said the prince, therefore am I heavy that he is so escaped from me, for with his mocks and japes now shall I never have done with him. And then Galahalt rode fast after him, and bade him: Abide, Dinadan, for King Arthur’s sake. Nay, said Dinadan, so God me help, we meet no more together this day. Then in that wrath the haut prince met with Meliagaunce, and he smote him in the throat that an he had fallen his neck had broken; and with the same spear he smote down another knight. Then came in they of Northgalis and many strangers, and were like to have put them of Surluse to the worse, for Sir Galahalt, the haut prince, had ever much in hand. So there came the good knight, Semound the Valiant, with forty knights, and he beat them all aback. Then the Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot let blow to lodging, and every knight unarmed him, and dressed him to the feast.
How Sir Archade appealed Sir Palomides of treason, and how Sir Palomides slew him.
WHEN Palomides was unarmed he asked lodging for himself and the damosel. Anon the haut prince commanded them to lodging. And he was not so soon in his lodging but there came a knight that hight Archade, he was brother unto Goneries that Palomides slew afore in the damosel’s quarrel. And this knight, Archade, called Sir Palomides traitor, and appealed him for the death of his brother. By the leave of the haut prince, said Palomides, I shall answer thee. When Sir Galahalt understood their quarrel he bade them go to dinner: And as soon as ye have dined look that either knight be ready in the field. So when they had dined they were armed both, and took their horses, and the queen, and the prince, and Sir Launcelot, were set to behold them; and so they let run their horses, and there Sir Palomides bare Archade on his spear over his horse’s tail. And then Palomides alighted and drew his sword, but Sir Archade might not arise; and there Sir Palomides raced off his helm, and smote off his head. Then the haut prince and Queen Guenever went unto supper. Then King Bagdemagus sent away his son Meliagaunce because Sir Launcelot should not meet with him, for he hated Sir Launcelot, and that knew he not.
Of the third day, and how Sir Palomides jousted with Sir Lamorak, and other things.
NOW beginneth the third day of jousting; and at that day King Bagdemagus made him ready; and there came against him King Marsil, that had in gift an island of Sir Galahalt the haut prince; and this island had the name Pomitain. Then it befell that King Bagdemagus and King Marsil of Pomitain met together with spears, and King Marsil had such a buffet that he fell over his horse’s croup. Then came there in a knight of King Marsil to revenge his lord, and King Bagdemagus smote him down, horse and man, to the earth. So there came an earl that hight Arrouse, and Sir Breuse, and an hundred knights with them of Pomitain, and the King of Northgalis was with them; and all these were against them of Surluse. And then there began great battle, and many knights were cast under horses’ feet. And ever King Bagdemagus did best, for he first began, and ever he held on. Gaheris, Gawaine’s brother, smote ever at the face of King Bagdemagus; and at the last King Bagdemagus hurtled down Gaheris, horse and man.
Then by adventure Sir Palomides, the good knight, met with Sir Blamore de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis’ brother. And either smote other with great spears, that both their horses and knights fell to the earth. But Sir Blamore had such a fall that he had almost broken his neck, for the blood brast out at nose, mouth, and his ears, but at the last he recovered well by good surgeons. Then there came in the Duke Chaleins of Clarance; and in his governance there came a knight that hight Elis la Noire; and there encountered with him King Bagdemagus, and he smote Elis that he made him to avoid his saddle. So the Duke Chaleins of Clarance did there great deeds of arms, and of so late as he came in the third day there was no man did so well except King Bagdemagus and Sir Palomides, that the prize was given that day to King Bagdemagus. And then they blew unto lodging, and unarmed them, and went to the feast. Right so came Dinadan, and mocked and japed with King Bagdemagus that all knights laughed at him, for he was a fine japer, and well loving all good knights.
So anon as they had dined there came a varlet bearing four spears on his back; and he came to Palomides, and said thus: Here is a knight by hath sent you the choice of four spears, and requireth you for your lady’s sake to take that one half of these spears, and joust with him in the field. Tell him, said Palomides, I will not fail him. When Sir Galahalt wist of this, he bade Palomides make him ready. So the Queen Guenever, the haut prince, and Sir Launcelot, they were set upon scaffolds to give the judgment of these two knights. Then Sir Palomides and the strange knight ran so eagerly together that their spears brake to their hands. Anon withal either of them took a great spear in his hand and all to-shivered them in pieces. And then either took a greater spear, and then the knight smote down Sir Palomides, horse and man, to the earth. And as he would have passed over him the strange knight’s horse stumbled and fell down upon Palomides. Then they drew their swords and lashed together wonderly sore a great while.
Then the haut prince and Sir Launcelot said they saw never two knights fight better than they did; but ever the strange knight doubled his strokes, and put Palomides aback; therewithal the haut prince cried: Ho: and then they went to lodging. And when they were unarmed they knew it was the noble knight Sir Lamorak. When Sir Launcelot knew that it was Sir Lamorak he made much of him, for above all earthly men he loved him best except Sir Tristram. Then Queen Guenever commended him, and so did all other good knights make much of him, except Sir Gawaine’s brethren. Then Queen Guenever said unto Sir Launcelot: Sir, I require you that an ye joust any more, that ye joust with none of the blood of my lord Arthur. So he promised he would not as at that time.
Of the fourth day, and of many great feats of arms.
HERE beginneth the fourth day. Then came into the field the King with the Hundred Knights, and all they of Northgalis, and the Duke Chaleins of Clarance, and King Marsil of Pomitain, and there came Safere, Palomides’ brother, and there he told him tidings of his mother. And his name was called the Earl, and so he appealed him afore King Arthur: For he made war upon our father and mother, and there I slew him in plain battle. So they went into the field, and the damosel with them; and there came to encounter again them Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, and Sir Ector de Maris. Sir Palomides encountered with Sir Bleoberis, and either smote other down. And in the same wise did Sir Safere and Sir Ector, and the two couples did battle on foot. Then came in Sir Lamorak, and he encountered with the King with the Hundred Knights, and smote him quite over his horse’s tail. And in the same wise he served the King of Northgalis, and also he smote down King Marsil. And so or ever he stint he smote down with his spear and with his sword thirty knights. When Duke Chaleins saw Lamorak do so great prowess he would not meddle with him for shame; and then he charged all his knights in pain of death that none of you touch him; for it were shame to all good knights an that knight were shamed.
Then the two kings gathered them together, and all they set upon Sir Lamorak; and he failed them not, but rushed here and there, smiting on the right hand and on the left, and raced off many helms, so that the haut prince and Queen Guenever said they saw never knight do such deeds of arms on horseback. Alas, said Launcelot to King Bagdemagus, I will arm me and help Sir Lamorak. And I will ride with you, said King Bagdemagus. And when they two were horsed they came to Sir Lamorak that stood among thirty knights; and well was him that might reach him a buffet, and ever he smote again mightily. Then came there into the press Sir Launcelot, and he threw down Sir Mador de la Porte. And with the truncheon of that spear he threw down many knights. And King Bagdemagus smote on the left hand and on the right hand marvellously well. And then the three kings fled aback. Therewithal then Sir Galahalt let blow to lodging, and all the heralds gave Sir Lamorak the prize. And all this while fought Palomides, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Safere, Sir Ector on foot; never were there four knights evener matched. And then they were departed, and had unto their lodging, and unarmed them, and so they went to the great feast.
But when Sir Lamorak was come into the court Queen Guenever took him in her arms and said: Sir, well have ye done this day. Then came the haut prince, and he made of him great joy, and so did Dinadan, for he wept for joy; but the joy that Sir Launcelot made of Sir Lamorak there might no man tell. Then they went unto rest, and on the morn the haut prince let blow unto the field.
Of the Fifth day, and how Sir Lamorak behaved him.
HERE beginneth the fifth day. So it befell that Sir Palomides came in the morntide, and proffered to joust thereas King Arthur was in a castle there besides Surluse; and there encountered with him a worshipful duke, and there Sir Palomides smote him over his horse’s croup. And this duke was uncle unto King Arthur. Then Sir Elise’s son rode unto Palomides, and Palomides served Elise in the same wise. When Sir Uwaine saw this he was wroth. Then he took his horse and encountered with Sir Palomides, and Palomides smote him so hard that he went to the earth, horse and man. And for to make a short tale, he smote down three brethren of Sir Gawaine, that is for to say Mordred, Gaheris, and Agravaine. O Jesu, said Arthur, this is a great despite of a Saracen that he shall smite down my blood. And therewithal King Arthur was wood wroth, and thought to have made him ready to joust.
That espied Sir Lamorak, that Arthur and his blood were discomfit; and anon he was ready, and asked Palomides if he would any more joust. Why should I not? said Palomides. Then they hurtled together, and brake their spears, and all to-shivered them, that all the castle rang of their dints. Then either gat a greater spear in his hand, and they came so fiercely together; but Sir Palomides’ spear all to-brast and Sir Lamorak’s did hold. Therewithal Sir Palomides lost his stirrups and lay upright on his horse’s back. And then Sir Palomides returned again and took his damosel, and Sir Safere returned his way.
So, when he was departed, King Arthur came to Sir Lamorak and thanked him of his goodness, and prayed him to tell him his name. Sir, said Lamorak, wit thou well, I owe you my service, but as at this time I will not abide here, for I see of mine enemies many about me. Alas, said Arthur, now wot I well it is Sir Lamorak de Galis. O Lamorak, abide with me, and by my crown I shall never fail thee: and not so hardy in Gawaine’s head, nor none of his brethren, to do thee any wrong. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, wrong have they done me, and to you both. That is truth, said the king, for they slew their own mother and my sister, the which me sore grieveth: it had been much fairer and better that ye had wedded her, for ye are a king’s son as well as they. O Jesu, said the noble knight Sir Lamorak unto Arthur, her death shall I never forget. I promise you, and make mine avow unto God, I shall revenge her death as soon as I see time convenable. And if it were not at the reverence of your highness I should now have been revenged upon Sir Gawaine and his brethren. Truly, said Arthur, I will make you at accord. Sir, said Lamorak, as at this time I may not abide with you, for I must to the jousts, where is Sir Launcelot, and the haut prince Sir Galahalt.
Then there was a damosel that was daughter to King Bandes. And there was a Saracen knight that hight Corsabrin, and he loved the damosel, and in no wise he would suffer her to be married; for ever this Corsabrin noised her, and named her that she was out of her mind; and thus he let her that she might not be married.
How Sir Palomides fought with Corsabrin for a lady, and how Palomides slew Corsabrin.
SO by fortune this damosel heard tell that Palomides did much for damosels’ sake; so she sent to him a pensel, and prayed him to fight with Sir Corsabrin for her love, and he should have her and her lands of her father’s that should fall to her. Then the damosel sent unto Corsabrin, and bade him go unto Sir Palomides that was a paynim as well as he, and she gave him warning that she had sent him her pensel, and if he might overcome Palomides she would wed him. When Corsabrin wist of her deeds then was he wood wroth and angry, and rode unto Surluse where the haut prince was, and there he found Sir Palomides ready, the which had the pensel. So there they waged battle either with other afore Galahalt. Well, said the haut prince, this day must noble knights joust, and at-after dinner we shall see how ye can speed.
Then they blew to jousts; and in came Dinadan, and met with Sir Gerin, a good knight, and he threw him down over his horse’s croup; and Sir Dinadan overthrew four knights more; and there he did great deeds of arms, for he was a good knight, but he was a scoffer and a japer, and the merriest knight among fellowship that was that time living. And he had such a custom that he loved every good knight, and every good knight loved him again. So then when the haut prince saw Dinadan do so well, he sent unto Sir Launcelot and bade him strike down Sir Dinadan: And when that ye have done so bring him afore me and the noble Queen Guenever. Then Sir Launcelot did as he was required. Then Sir Lamorak and he smote down many knights, and raced off helms, and drove all the knights afore them. And so Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Dinadan, and made his men to unarm him, and so brought him to the queen and the haut prince, and they laughed at Dinadan so sore that they might not stand. Well, said Sir Dinadan, yet have I no shame, for the old shrew, Sir Launcelot, smote me down. So they went to dinner, [and] all the court had good sport at Dinadan.
Then when the dinner was done they blew to the field to behold Sir Palomides and Corsabrin. Sir Palomides pight his pensel in midst of the field; and then they hurtled together with their spears as it were thunder, and either smote other to the earth. And then they pulled out their swords, and dressed their shields, and lashed together mightily as mighty knights, that well-nigh there was no piece of harness would hold them, for this Corsabrin was a passing felonious knight. Corsabrin, said Palomides, wilt thou release me yonder damosel and the pensel? Then was Corsabrin wroth out of measure, and gave Palomides such a buffet that he kneeled on his knee. Then Palomides arose lightly, and smote him upon the helm that he fell down right to the earth. And therewith he raced off his helm and said: Corsabrin, yield thee or else thou shalt die of my hands. Fie on thee, said Corsabrin, do thy worst. Then he smote off his head. And therewithal came a stink of his body when the soul departed, that there might nobody abide the savour. So was the corpse had away and buried in a wood, because he was a paynim. Then they blew unto lodging, and Palomides was unarmed.
Then he went unto Queen Guenever, to the haut prince, and to Sir Launcelot. Sir, said the haut prince, here have ye seen this day a great miracle by Corsabrin, what savour there was when the soul departed from the body. Therefore, sir, we will require you to take the baptism upon you, and I promise you all knights will set the more by you, and say more worship by you. Sir, said Palomides, I will that ye all know that into this land I came to be christened, and in my heart I am christened and christened will I be. But I have made such an avow that I may not be christened till I have done seven true battles for Jesu’s sake, and then will I be christened; and I trust God will take mine intent, for I mean truly Then Sir Palomides prayed Queen Guenever and the haut prince to sup with him. And so they did, both Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorak, and many other good knights. So on the morn they heard their mass, and blew the field, and then knights made them ready.
Of the sixth day, and what then was done.
HERE beginneth the sixth day. Then came therein Sir Gaheris, and there encountered with him Sir Ossaise of Surluse, and Sir Gaheris smote him over his horse’s croup. And then either party encountered with other, and there were many spears broken, and many knights cast under feet. So there came in Sir Dornard and Sir Aglovale, that were brethren unto Sir Lamorak, and they met with other two knights, and either smote other so hard that all four knights and horses fell to the earth. When Sir Lamorak saw his two brethren down he was wroth out of measure, and then he gat a great spear in his hand, and therewithal he smote down four good knights, and then his spear brake. Then he pulled out his sword, and smote about him on the right hand and on the left hand, and raced off helms and pulled down knights, that all men marvelled of such deeds of arms as he did, for he fared so that many knights fled. Then he horsed his brethren again, and said: Brethren, ye ought to be ashamed to fall so off your horses! what is a knight but when he is on horseback? I set not by a knight when he is on foot, for all battles on foot are but pillers’ battles. For there should no knight fight on foot but if it were for treason, or else he were driven thereto by force; therefore, brethren, sit fast on your horses, or else fight never more afore me.
With that came in the Duke Chaleins of Clarance, and there encountered with him the Earl Ulbawes of Surluse, and either of them smote other down. Then the knights of both parties horsed their lords again, for Sir Ector and Bleoberis were on foot, waiting on the Duke Chaleins. And the King with the Hundred Knights was with the Earl of Ulbawes. With that came Gaheris and lashed to the King with the Hundred Knights, and he to him again. Then came the Duke Chaleins and departed them.
Then they blew to lodging, and the knights unarmed them and drew them to their dinner; and at the midst of their dinner in came Dinadan and began to rail. Then he beheld the haut prince, that seemed wroth with some fault that he saw; for he had a custom he loved no fish, and because he was served with fish, the which he hated, therefore he was not merry. When Sir Dinadan had espied the haut prince, he espied where was a fish with a great head, and that he gat betwixt two dishes, and served the haut prince with that fish. And then he said thus: Sir Galahalt, well may I liken you to a wolf, for he will never eat fish, but flesh; then the haut prince laughed at his words. Well, well, said Dinadan to Launcelot, what devil do ye in this country, for here may no mean knights win no worship for thee. Sir Dinadan, said Launcelot, I ensure thee I shall no more meet with thee nor with thy great spear, for I may not sit in my saddle when that spear hitteth me. And if I be happy I shall beware of that boistous body that thou bearest. Well, said Launcelot, make good watch ever: God forbid that ever we meet but if it be at a dish of meat. Then laughed the queen and the haut prince, that they might not sit at their table; thus they made great joy till on the morn, and then they heard mass, and blew to field. And Queen Guenever and all the estates were set, and judges armed clean with their shields to keep the right.
Of the seventh battle, and how Sir Launcelot, being disguised like a maid, smote down Sir Dinadan.
NOW beginneth the seventh battle. There came in the Duke Cambines, and there encountered with him Sir Aristance, that was counted a good knight, and they met so hard that either bare other down, horse and man. Then came there the Earl of Lambaile and helped the duke again to horse. Then came there Sir Ossaise of Surluse, and he smote the Earl Lambaile down from his horse. Then began they to do great deeds of arms, and many spears were broken, and many knights were cast to the earth. Then the King of Northgalis and the Earl Ulbawes smote together that all the judges thought it was like mortal death. This meanwhile Queen Guenever, and the haut prince, and Sir Launcelot, made there Sir Dinadan make him ready to joust. I would, said Dinadan, ride into the field, but then one of you twain will meet with me. Per dieu, said the haut prince, ye may see how we sit here as judges with our shields, and always mayest thou behold whether we sit here or not.
So Sir Dinadan departed and took his horse, and met with many knights, and did passing well. And as he was departed, Sir Launcelot disguised himself, and put upon his armour a maiden’s garment freshly attired. Then Sir Launcelot made Sir Galihodin to lead him through the range, and all men had wonder what damosel it was. And so as Sir Dinadan came into the range, Sir Launcelot, that was in the damosel’s array, gat Galihodin’s spear, and ran unto Sir Dinadan. And always Sir Dinadan looked up thereas Sir Launcelot was, and then he saw one sit in the stead of Sir Launcelot, armed. But when Dinadan saw a manner of a damosel he dread perils that it was Sir Launcelot disguised, but Sir Launcelot came on him so fast that he smote him over his horse’s croup; and then with great scorns they gat Sir Dinadan into the forest there beside, and there they dispoiled him unto his shirt, and put upon him a woman’s garment, and so brought him into the field: and so they blew unto lodging. And every knight went and unarmed them. Then was Sir Dinadan brought in among them all. And when Queen Guenever saw Sir Dinadan brought so among them all, then she laughed that she fell down, and so did all that there were. Well, said Dinadan to Launcelot, thou art so false that I can never beware of thee. Then by all the assent they gave Sir Launcelot the prize, the next was Sir Lamorak de Galis, the third was Sir Palomides, the fourth was King Bagdemagus; so these four knights had the prize, and there was great joy, and great nobley in all the court.
And on the morn Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot departed unto King Arthur, but in no wise Sir Lamorak would not go with them. I shall undertake, said Sir Launcelot, that an ye will go with us King Arthur shall charge Sir Gawaine and his brethren never to do you hurt. As for that, said Sir Lamorak, I will not trust Sir Gawaine nor none of his brethren; and wit ye well, Sir Launcelot, an it were not for my lord King Arthur’s sake, I should match Sir Gawaine and his brethren well enough. But to say that I should trust them, that shall I never, and therefore I pray you recommend me unto my lord Arthur, and unto all my lords of the Round Table. And in what place that ever I come I shall do you service to my power: and sir, it is but late that I revenged that, when my lord Arthur’s kin were put to the worse by Sir Palomides. Then Sir Lamorak departed from Sir Launcelot, and either wept at their departing.
How by treason Sir Tristram was brought to a tournament for to have been slain, and how he was put in prison.
NOW turn we from this matter, and speak we of Sir Tristram, of whom this book is principally of, and leave we the king and the queen, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Lamorak, and here beginneth the treason of King Mark, that he ordained against Sir Tristram. There was cried by the coasts of Cornwall a great tournament and jousts, and all was done by Sir Galahalt the haut prince and King Bagdemagus, to the intent to slay Launcelot, or else utterly destroy him and shame him, because Sir Launcelot had always the higher degree, therefore this prince and this king made this jousts against Sir Launcelot. And thus their counsel was discovered unto King Mark, whereof he was full glad.
Then King Mark bethought him that he would have Sir Tristram unto that tournament disguised that no man should know him, to that intent that the haut prince should ween that Sir Tristram were Sir Launcelot. So at these jousts came in Sir Tristram. And at that time Sir Launcelot was not there, but when they saw a knight disguised do such deeds of arms, they weened it had been Sir Launcelot. And in especial King Mark said it was Sir Launcelot plainly. Then they set upon him, both King Bagdemagus, and the haut prince, and their knights, that it was wonder that ever Sir Tristram might endure that pain. Notwithstanding for all the pain that he had, Sir Tristram won the degree at that tournament, and there he hurt many knights and bruised them, and they hurt him and bruised him wonderly sore. So when the jousts were all done they knew well that it was Sir Tristram de Liones; and all that were on King Mark’s party were glad that Sir Tristram was hurt, and the remnant were sorry of his hurt; for Sir Tristram was not so behated as was Sir Launcelot within the realm of England.
Then came King Mark unto Sir Tristram and said: Fair nephew, I am sorry of your hurts. Gramercy my lord, said Sir Tristram. Then King Mark made Sir Tristram to be put in an horse bier in great sign of love, and said: Fair cousin, I shall be your leech myself. And so he rode forth with Sir Tristram, and brought him to a castle by daylight. And then King Mark made Sir Tristram to eat. And then after he gave him a drink, the which as soon as he had drunk he fell asleep. And when it was night he made him to be carried to another castle, and there he put him in a strong prison, and there he ordained a man and a woman to give him his meat and drink. So there he was a great while.
Then was Sir Tristram missed, and no creature wist where he was become. When La Beale Isoud heard how he was missed, privily she went unto Sir Sadok, and prayed him to espy where was Sir Tristram. Then when Sadok wist how Sir Tristram was missed, and anon espied that he was put in prison by King Mark and the traitors of Magouns, then Sadok and two of his cousins laid them in an ambushment, fast by the Castle of Tintagil, in arms. And as by fortune, there came riding King Mark and four of his nephews, and a certain of the traitors of Magouns. When Sir Sadok espied them he brake out of the bushment, and set there upon them. And when King Mark espied Sir Sadok he fled as fast as he might, and there Sir Sadok slew all the four nephews unto King Mark. But these traitors of Magouns slew one of Sadok’s cousins with a great wound in the neck, but Sadok smote the other to the death. Then Sir Sadok rode upon his way unto a castle that was called Liones, and there he espied of the treason and felony of King Mark. So they of that castle rode with Sir Sadok till that they came to a castle that hight Arbray, and there in the town they found Sir Dinas the Seneschal, that was a good knight. But when Sir Sadok had told Sir Dinas of all the treason of King Mark he defied such a king, and said he would give up his lands that he held of him. And when he said these words all manner knights said as Sir Dinas said. Then by his advice and of Sir Sadok’s, he let stuff all the towns and castles within the country of Liones, and assembled all the people that they might make.
How King Mark let do counterfeit letters from the Pope, and how Sir Percivale delivered Sir Tristram out of prison.
NOW turn we unto King Mark, that when he was escaped from Sir Sadok he rode unto the Castle of Tintagil, and there he made great cry and noise, and cried unto harness all that might bear arms. Then they sought and found where were dead four cousins of King Mark’s, and the traitor of Magouns. Then the king let inter them in a chapel. Then the king let cry in all the country that held of him, to go unto arms, for he understood to the war he must needs. When King Mark heard and understood how Sir Sadok and Sir Dinas were arisen in the country of Liones he remembered of wiles and treason. Lo thus he did: he let make and counterfeit letters from the Pope, and did make a strange clerk to bear them unto King Mark; the which letters specified that King Mark should make him ready, upon pain of cursing, with his host to come to the Pope, to help to go to Jerusalem, for to make war upon the Saracens.
When this clerk was come by the mean of the king, anon withal King Mark sent these letters unto Sir Tristram and bade him say thus: that an he would go war upon the miscreants, he should be had out of prison, and to have all his power. When Sir Tristram understood this letter, then he said thus to the clerk: Ah, King Mark, ever hast thou been a traitor, and ever will be; but, Clerk, said Sir Tristram, say thou thus unto King Mark: Since the Apostle Pope hath sent for him, bid him go thither himself; for tell him, traitor king as he is, I will not go at his commandment, get I out of prison as I may, for I see I am well rewarded for my true service. Then the clerk returned unto King Mark, and told him of the answer of Sir Tristram. Well, said King Mark, yet shall he be beguiled. So he went into his chamber, and counterfeit letters; and the letters specified that the Pope desired Sir Tristram to come himself, to make war upon the miscreants. When the clerk was come again to Sir Tristram and took him these letters, then Sir Tristram beheld these letters, and anon espied they were of King Mark’s counterfeiting. Ah, said Sir Tristram, false hast thou been ever, King Mark, and so wilt thou end. Then the clerk departed from Sir Tristram and came to King Mark again.
By then there were come four wounded knights within the Castle of Tintagil, and one of them his neck was nigh broken in twain. Another had his arm stricken away, the third was borne through with a spear, the fourth had his teeth stricken in twain. And when they came afore King Mark they cried and said: King, why fleest thou not, for all this country is arisen clearly against thee? Then was King Mark wroth out of measure.
And in the meanwhile there came into the country Sir Percivale de Galis to seek Sir Tristram. And when he heard that Sir Tristram was in prison, Sir Percivale made clearly the deliverance of Sir Tristram by his knightly means. And when he was so delivered he made great joy of Sir Percivale, and so each one of other. Sir Tristram said unto Sir Percivale: An ye will abide in these marches I will ride with you. Nay, said Percivale, in this country I may not tarry, for I must needs into Wales. So Sir Percivale departed from Sir Tristram, and rode straight unto King Mark, and told him how he had delivered Sir Tristram; and also he told the king that he had done himself great shame for to put Sir Tristram in prison, for he is now the knight of most renown in this world living. And wit thou well the noblest knights of the world love Sir Tristram, and if he will make war upon you ye may not abide it. That is truth, said King Mark, but I may not love Sir Tristram because he loveth my queen and my wife, La Beale Isoud. Ah, fie for shame, said Sir Percivale, say ye never so more. Are ye not uncle unto Sir Tristram, and he your nephew? Ye should never think that so noble a knight as Sir Tristram is, that he would do himself so great a villainy to hold his uncle’s wife; howbeit, said Sir Percivale, he may love your queen sinless, because she is called one of the fairest ladies of the world.
Then Sir Percivale departed from King Mark. So when he was departed King Mark bethought him of more treason: notwithstanding King Mark granted Sir Percivale never by no manner of means to hurt Sir Tristram. So anon King Mark sent unto Sir Dinas the Seneschal that he should put down all the people that he had raised, for he sent him an oath that he would go himself unto the Pope of Rome to war upon the miscreants; and this is a fairer war than thus to arise the people against your king. When Sir Dinas understood that King Mark would go upon the miscreants, then Sir Dinas in all the haste put down all the people; and when the people were departed every man to his home, then King Mark espied where was Sir Tristram with La Beale Isoud; and there by treason King Mark let take him and put him in prison, contrary to his promise that he made unto Sir Percivale.
When Queen Isoud understood that Sir Tristram was in prison she made as great sorrow as ever made lady or gentlewoman. Then Sir Tristram sent a letter unto La Beale Isoud, and prayed her to be his good lady; and if it pleased her to make a vessel ready for her and him, he would go with her unto the realm of Logris, that is this land. When La Beale Isoud understood Sir Tristram’s letters and his intent, she sent him another, and bade him be of good comfort, for she would do make the vessel ready, and all thing to purpose.
Then La Beale Isoud sent unto Sir Dinas, and to Sadok, and prayed them in anywise to take King Mark, and put him in prison, unto the time that she and Sir Tristram were departed unto the realm of Logris. When Sir Dinas the Seneschal understood the treason of King Mark he promised her again, and sent her word that King Mark should be put in prison. And as they devised it so it was done. And then Sir Tristram was delivered out of prison; and anon in all the haste Queen Isoud and Sir Tristram went and took their counsel with that they would have with them when they departed.
How Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud came unto England, and how Sir Launcelot brought them to Joyous Gard.
THEN La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram took their vessel, and came by water into this land. And so they were not in this land four days but there came a cry of a jousts and tournament that King Arthur let make. When Sir Tristram heard tell of that tournament he disguised himself, and La Beale Isoud, and rode unto that tournament. And when he came there he saw many knights joust and tourney; and so Sir Tristram dressed him to the range, and to make short conclusion, he overthrew fourteen knights of the Round Table. When Sir Launcelot saw these knights thus overthrown, Sir Launcelot dressed him to Sir Tristram. That saw La Beale Isoud how Sir Launcelot was come into the field. Then La Beale Isoud sent unto Sir Launcelot a ring, and bade him wit that it was Sir Tristram de Liones. When Sir Launcelot under stood that there was Sir Tristram he was full glad, and would not joust. Then Sir Launcelot espied whither Sir Tristram yede, and after him he rode; and then either made of other great joy. And so Sir Launcelot brought Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud unto Joyous Gard, that was his own castle, that he had won with his own hands. And there Sir Launcelot put them in to wield for their own. And wit ye well that castle was garnished and furnished for a king and a queen royal there to have sojourned. And Sir Launcelot charged all his people to honour them and love them as they would do himself.
So Sir Launcelot departed unto King Arthur; and then he told Queen Guenever how he that jousted so well at the last tournament was Sir Tristram. And there he told her how he had with him La Beale Isoud maugre King Mark, and so Queen Guenever told all this unto King Arthur. When King Arthur wist that Sir Tristram was escaped and come from King Mark, and had brought La Beale Isoud with him, then was he passing glad. So because of Sir Tristram King Arthur let make a cry, that on May Day should be a jousts before the castle of Lonazep; and that castle was fast by Joyous Gard. And thus Arthur devised, that all the knights of this land, and of Cornwall, and of North Wales, should joust against all these countries, Ireland, Scotland, and the remnant of Wales, and the country of Gore, and Surluse, and of Listinoise, and they of Northumberland, and all they that held lands of Arthur on this half the sea. When this cry was made many knights were glad and many were unglad. Sir, said Launcelot unto Arthur, by this cry that ye have made ye will put us that be about you in great jeopardy, for there be many knights that have great envy to us; therefore when we shall meet at the day of jousts there will be hard shift among us. As for that, said Arthur, I care not; there shall we prove who shall be best of his hands. So when Sir Launcelot understood wherefore King Arthur made this jousting, then he made such purveyance that La Beale Isoud should behold the jousts in a secret place that was honest for her estate.
Now turn we unto Sir Tristram and to La Beale Isoud, how they made great joy daily together with all manner of mirths that they could devise; and every day Sir Tristram would go ride a-hunting, for Sir Tristram was that time called the best chaser of the world, and the noblest blower of an horn of all manner of measures; for as books report, of Sir Tristram came all the good terms of venery and hunting, and all the sizes and measures of blowing of an horn; and of him we had first all the terms of hawking, and which were beasts of chase and beasts of venery, and which were vermins, and all the blasts that long to all manner of games. First to the uncoupling, to the seeking, to the rechate, to the flight, to the death, and to strake, and many other blasts and terms, that all manner of gentlemen have cause to the world’s end to praise Sir Tristram, and to pray for his soul.
How by the counsel of La Beale Isoud Sir Tristram rode armed, and how he met with Sir Palomides.
SO on a day La Beale Isoud said unto Sir Tristram: I marvel me much, said she, that ye remember not yourself, how ye be here in a strange country, and here be many perilous knights; and well ye wot that King Mark is full of treason; and that ye will ride thus to chase and to hunt unarmed ye might be destroyed. My fair lady and my love, I cry you mercy, I will no more do so. So then Sir Tristram rode daily a-hunting armed, and his men bearing his shield and his spear. So on a day a little afore the month of May, Sir Tristram chased an hart passing eagerly, and so the hart passed by a fair well. And then Sir Tristram alighted and put off his helm to drink of that bubbly water. Right so he heard and saw the Questing Beast come to the well. When Sir Tristram saw that beast he put on his helm, for he deemed he should hear of Sir Palomides, for that beast was his quest. Right so Sir Tristram saw where came a knight armed, upon a noble courser, and he saluted him, and they spake of many things; and this knight’s name was Breuse Saunce Pite. And right so withal there came unto them the noble knight Sir Palomides, and either saluted other, and spake fair to other.
Fair knights, said Sir Palomides, I can tell you tidings. What is that? said those knights. Sirs, wit ye well that King Mark is put in prison by his own knights, and all was for love of Sir Tristram; for King Mark had put Sir Tristram twice in prison, and once Sir Percivale delivered the noble knight Sir Tristram out of prison. And at the last time Queen La Beale Isoud delivered him, and went clearly away with him into this realm; and all this while King Mark, the false traitor, is in prison. Is this truth? said Palomides; then shall we hastily hear of Sir Tristram. And as for to say that I love La Beale Isoud paramours, I dare make good that I do, and that she hath my service above all other ladies, and shall have the term of my life.
And right so as they stood talking they saw afore them where came a knight all armed, on a great horse, and one of his men bare his shield, and the other his spear. And anon as that knight espied them he gat his shield and his spear and dressed him to joust. Fair fellows, said Sir Tristram, yonder is a knight will joust with us, let see which of us shall encounter with him, for I see well he is of the court of King Arthur. It shall not be long or he be met withal, said Sir Palomides, for I found never no knight in my quest of this glasting beast, but an he would joust I never refused him. As well may I, said Breuse Saunce Pite, follow that beast as ye. Then shall ye do battle with me, said Palomides.
So Sir Palomides dressed him unto that other knight, Sir Bleoberis, that was a full noble knight, nigh kin unto Sir Launcelot. And so they met so hard that Sir Palomides fell to the earth, horse and all. Then Sir Bleoberis cried aloud and said thus: Make thee ready thou false traitor knight, Breuse Saunce Pite, for wit thou certainly I will have ado with thee to the utterance for the noble knights and ladies that thou hast falsely betrayed. When this false knight and traitor, Breuse Saunce Pite, heard him say so, he took his horse by the bridle and fled his way as fast as ever his horse might run, for sore he was of him afeard. When Sir Bleoberis saw him flee he followed fast after, through thick and through thin. And by fortune as Sir Breuse fled, he saw even afore him three knights of the Table Round, of the which the one hight Sir Ector de Maris, the other hight Sir Percivale de Galis, the third hight Sir Harry le Fise Lake, a good knight and an hardy. And as for Sir Percivale, he was called that time of his time one of the best knights of the world, and the best assured. When Breuse saw these knights he rode straight unto them, and cried unto them and prayed them of rescues. What need have ye? said Sir Ector. Ah, fair knights, said Sir Breuse, here followeth me the most traitor knight, and most coward, and most of villainy; his name is Breuse Saunce Pite, and if he may get me he will slay me without mercy and pity. Abide with us, said Sir Percivale, and we shall warrant you.
Then were they ware of Sir Bleoberis that came riding all that he might. Then Sir Ector put himself forth to joust afore them all. When Sir Bleoberis saw that they were four knights and he but himself, he stood in a doubt whether he would turn or hold his way. Then he said to himself: I am a knight of the Table Round, and rather than I should shame mine oath and my blood I will hold my way whatsoever fall thereof. And then Sir Ector dressed his spear, and smote either other passing sore, but Sir Ector fell to the earth. That saw Sir Percivale, and he dressed his horse toward him all that he might drive, but Sir Percivale had such a stroke that horse and man fell to the earth. When Sir Harry saw that they were both to the earth then he said to himself: Never was Breuse of such prowess. So Sir Harry dressed his horse, and they met together so strongly that both the horses and knights fell to the earth, but Sir Bleoberis’ horse began to recover again. That saw Breuse and he came hurtling, and smote him over and over, and would have slain him as he lay on the ground. Then Sir Harry le Fise Lake arose lightly, and took the bridle of Sir Breuse’s horse, and said: Fie for shame! strike never a knight when he is at the earth, for this knight may be called no shameful knight of his deeds, for yet as men may see thereas he lieth on the ground he hath done worshipfully, and put to the worse passing good knights. Therefore will I not let, said Sir Breuse. Thou shalt not choose, said Sir Harry, as at this time. Then when Sir Breuse saw that he might not choose nor have his will he spake fair. Then Sir Harry let him go. And then anon he made his horse to run over Sir Bleoberis, and rashed him to the earth like if he would have slain him. When Sir Harry saw him do so villainously he cried: Traitor knight, leave off for shame. And as Sir Harry would have taken his horse to fight with Sir Breuse, then Sir Breuse ran upon him as he was half upon his horse, and smote him down, horse and man, to the earth, and had near slain Sir Harry, the good knight. That saw Sir Percivale, and then he cried: Traitor knight what dost thou? And when Sir Percivale was upon his horse Sir Breuse took his horse and fled all that ever he might, and Sir Percivale and Sir Harry followed after him fast, but ever the longer they chased the farther were they behind.
Then they turned again and came to Sir Ector de Maris and to Sir Bleoberis. Ah, fair knights, said Bleoberis, why have ye succoured that false knight and traitor? Why said Sir Harry, what knight is he? for well I wot it is a false knight, said Sir Harry, and a coward and a felonious knight. Sir, said Bleoberis, he is the most coward knight, and a devourer of ladies and a destroyer of good knights and especially of Arthur’s. What is your name? said Sir Ector. My name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis. Alas, fair cousin, said Ector, forgive it me, for I am Sir Ector de Maris. Then Sir Percivale and Sir Harry made great joy that they met with Bleoberis, but all they were heavy that Sir Breuse was escaped them, whereof they made great dole.
Of Sir Palomides, and how he met with Sir Bleoberis and with Sir Ector, and of Sir Pervivale.
RIGHT so as they stood thus there came Sir Palomides, and when he saw the shield of Bleoberis lie on the earth, then said Palomides: He that oweth that shield let him dress him to me, for he smote me down here fast by at a fountain, and therefore I will fight for him on foot. I am ready, said Bleoberis, here to answer thee, for wit thou well, sir knight, it was I, and my name is Bleoberis de Ganis. Well art thou met, said Palomides, and wit thou well my name is Palomides the Saracen; and either of them hated other to the death. Sir Palomides, said Ector, wit thou well there is neither thou nor none knight that beareth the life that slayeth any of our blood but he shall die for it; therefore an thou list to fight go seek Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram, and there shall ye find your match. With them have I met, said Palomides, but I had never no worship of them. Was there never no manner of knight, said Sir Ector, but they that ever matched with you? Yes, said Palomides, there was the third, a good knight as any of them, and of his age he was the best that ever I found; for an he might have lived till he had been an hardier man there liveth no knight now such, and his name was Sir Lamorak de Galis. And as he had jousted at a tournament there he overthrew me and thirty knights more, and there he won the degree. And at his departing there met him Sir Gawaine and his brethren, and with great pain they slew him feloniously, unto all good knights’ great damage. Anon as Sir Percivale heard that his brother was dead, Sir Lamorak, he fell over his horse’s mane swooning, and there he made the greatest dole that ever made knight. And when Sir Percivale arose he said: Alas, my good and noble brother Sir Lamorak, now shall we never meet, and I trow in all the wide world a man may not find such a knight as he was of his age; and it is too much to suffer the death of our father King Pellinore, and now the death of our good brother Sir Lamorak.
Then in the meanwhile there came a varlet from the court of King Arthur, and told them of the great tournament that should be at Lonazep, and how these lands, Cornwall and Northgalis, should be against all them that would come.
How Sir Tristram met with Sir Dinadan, and of their devices, and what he said to Sir Gawaine’s brethren.
NOW turn we unto Sir Tristram, that as he rode a-hunting he met with Sir Dinadan, that was come into that country to seek Sir Tristram. Then Sir Dinadan told Sir Tristram his name, but Sir Tristram would not tell him his name, wherefore Sir Dinadan was wroth. For such a foolish knight as ye are, said Sir Dinadan, I saw but late this day lying by a well, and he fared as he slept; and there he lay like a fool grinning, and would not speak, and his shield lay by him, and his horse stood by him; and well I wot he was a lover. Ah, fair sir, said Sir Tristram are ye not a lover? Mary, fie on that craft! said Sir Dinadan. That is evil said, said Sir Tristram, for a knight may never be of prowess but if he be a lover. It is well said, said Sir Dinadan; now tell me your name, sith ye be a lover, or else I shall do battle with you. As for that, said Sir Tristram, it is no reason to fight with me but I tell you my name; and as for that my name shall ye not wit as at this time. Fie for shame, said Dinadan, art thou a knight and durst not tell thy name to me? therefore I will fight with thee. As for that, said Sir Tristram, I will be advised, for I will not do battle but if me list. And if I do battle, said Sir Tristram, ye are not able to withstand me. Fie on thee, coward, said Sir Dinadan.
And thus as they hoved still, they saw a knight come riding against them. Lo, said Sir Tristram, see where cometh a knight riding, will joust with you. Anon, as Sir Dinadan beheld him he said: That is the same doted knight that I saw lie by the well, neither sleeping nor waking. Well, said Sir Tristram, I know that knight well with the covered shield of azure, he is the king’s son of Northumberland, his name is Epinegris; and he is as great a lover as I know, and he loveth the king’s daughter of Wales, a full fair lady. And now I suppose, said Sir Tristram, an ye require him he will joust with you, and then shall ye prove whether a lover be a better knight, or ye that will not love no lady. Well, said Dinadan, now shalt thou see what I shall do. Therewithal Sir Dinadan spake on high and said: Sir knight, make thee ready to joust with me, for it is the custom of errant knights one to joust with other. Sir, said Epinegris, is that the rule of you errant knights for to make a knight to joust, will he or nill? As for that, said Dinadan, make thee ready, for here is for me. And therewithal they spurred their horses and met together so hard that Epinegris smote down Sir Dinadan. Then Sir Tristram rode to Sir Dinadan and said: How now, meseemeth the lover hath well sped. Fie on thee, coward, said Sir Dinadan, and if thou be a good knight revenge me. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not joust as at this time, but take your horse and let us go hence. God defend me, said Sir Dinadan, from thy fellowship, for I never sped well since I met with thee: and so they departed. Well, said Sir Tristram, peradventure I could tell you tidings of Sir Tristram. God defend me, said Dinadan, from thy fellowship, for Sir Tristram were mickle the worse an he were in thy company; and then they departed. Sir, said Sir Tristram, yet it may happen I shall meet with you in other places.
So rode Sir Tristram unto Joyous Gard, and there he heard in that town great noise and cry. What is this noise? said Sir Tristram. Sir, said they, here is a knight of this castle that hath been long among us, and right now he is slain with two knights, and for none other cause but that our knight said that Sir Launcelot were a better knight than Sir Gawaine. That was a simple cause, said Sir Tristram, for to slay a good knight for to say well by his master. That is little remedy to us, said the men of the town. For an Sir Launcelot had been here soon we should have been revenged upon the false knights.
When Sir Tristram heard them say so he sent for his shield and for his spear, and lightly within a while he had overtaken them, and bade them turn and amend that they had misdone. What amends wouldst thou have? said the one knight. And therewith they took their course, and either met other so hard that Sir Tristram smote down that knight over his horse’s tail. Then the other knight dressed him to Sir Tristram, and in the same wise he served the other knight. And then they gat off their horses as well as they might, and dressed their shields and swords to do their battle to the utterance. Knights, said Sir Tristram, ye shall tell me of whence ye are, and what be your names, for such men ye might be ye should hard escape my hands; and ye might be such men of such a country that for all your evil deeds ye should pass quit. Wit thou well, sir knight, said they, we fear not to tell thee our names, for my name is Sir Agravaine, and my name is Gaheris, brethren unto the good knight Sir Gawaine, and we be nephews unto King Arthur. Well, said Sir Tristram, for King Arthur’s sake I shall let you pass as at this time. But it is shame, said Sir Tristram, that Sir Gawaine and ye be come of so great a blood that ye four brethren are so named as ye be, for ye be called the greatest destroyers and murderers of good knights that be now in this realm; for it is but as I heard say that Sir Gawaine and ye slew among you a better knight than ever ye were, that was the noble knight Sir Lamorak de Galis. An it had pleased God, said Sir Tristram, I would I had been by Sir Lamorak at his death. Then shouldst thou have gone the same way, said Sir Gaheris. Fair knight, said Sir Tristram, there must have been many more knights than ye are. And therewithal Sir Tristram departed from them toward Joyous Gard. And when he was departed they took their horses, and the one said to the other: We will overtake him and be revenged upon him in the despite of Sir Lamorak.
How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Agravaine and Sir Gaheris, and how Sir Dinadan was sent for by La Beale Isoud.
SO when they had overtaken Sir Tristram, Sir Agravaine bade him: Turn, traitor knight. That is evil said, said Sir Tristram; and therewith he pulled out his sword, and smote Sir Agravaine such a buffet upon the helm that he tumbled down off his horse in a swoon, and he had a grievous wound. And then he turned to Gaheris, and Sir Tristram smote his sword and his helm together with such a might that Gaheris fell out of his saddle: and so Sir Tristram rode unto Joyous Gard, and there he alighted and unarmed him. So Sir Tristram told La Beale Isoud of all his adventure, as ye have heard tofore. And when she heard him tell of Sir Dinadan: Sir, said she, is not that he that made the song by King Mark? That same is he, said Sir Tristram, for he is the best bourder and japer, and a noble knight of his hands, and the best fellow that I know, and all good knights love his fellowship. Alas, sir, said she, why brought ye not him with you? Have ye no care, said Sir Tristram, for he rideth to seek me in this country; and therefore he will not away till he have met with me. And there Sir Tristram told La Beale Isoud how Sir Dinadan held against all lovers. Right so there came in a varlet and told Sir Tristram how there was come an errant knight into the town, with such colours upon his shield. That is Sir Dinadan, said Sir Tristram; wit ye what ye shall do, said Sir Tristram: send ye for him, my Lady Isoud, and I will not be seen, and ye shall hear the merriest knight that ever ye spake withal, and the maddest talker; and I pray you heartily that ye make him good cheer.
Then anon La Beale Isoud sent into the town, and prayed Sir Dinadan that he would come into the castle and repose him there with a lady. With a good will, said Sir Dinadan; and so he mounted upon his horse and rode into the castle; and there he alighted, and was unarmed, and brought into the castle. Anon La Beale Isoud came unto him, and either saluted other; then she asked him of whence that he was. Madam, said Dinadan, I am of the court of King Arthur, and knight of the Table Round, and my name is Sir Dinadan. What do ye in this country? said La Beale Isoud. Madam, said he, I seek Sir Tristram the good knight, for it was told me that he was in this country. It may well be, said La Beale Isoud, but I am not ware of him. Madam, said Dinadan, I marvel of Sir Tristram and mo other lovers, what aileth them to be so mad and so sotted upon women. Why, said La Beale Isoud, are ye a knight and be no lover? it is shame to you: wherefore ye may not be called a good knight [but] if ye make a quarrel for a lady. God defend me, said Dinadan, for the joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long. Ah, said La Beale Isoud, say ye not so, for here fast by was the good knight Sir Bleoberis, that fought with three knights at once for a damosel’s sake, and he won her afore the King of Northumberland. It was so, said Sir Dinadan, for I know him well for a good knight and a noble, and come of noble blood; for all be noble knights of whom he is come of, that is Sir Launcelot du Lake.
Now I pray you, said La Beale Isoud, tell me will you fight for my love with three knights that do me great wrong? and insomuch as ye be a knight of King Arthur’s I require you to do battle for me. Then Sir Dinadan said: I shall say you ye be as fair a lady as ever I saw any, and much fairer than is my lady Queen Guenever, but wit ye well at one word, I will not fight for you with three knights, Jesu defend me. Then Isoud laughed, and had good game at him. So he had all the cheer that she might make him, and there he lay all that night. And on the morn early Sir Tristram armed him, and La Beale Isoud gave him a good helm; and then he promised her that he would meet with Sir Dinadan, and they two would ride together into Lonazep, where the tournament should be: And there shall I make ready for you where ye shall see the tournament. Then departed Sir Tristram with two squires that bare his shield and his spears that were great and long.
How Sir Dinadan met with Sir Tristram, and with jousting with Sir Palomides, Sir Dinadan knew him.
THEN after that Sir Dinadan departed, and rode his way a great pace until he had overtaken Sir Tristram. And when Sir Dinadan had overtaken him he knew him anon, and he hated the fellowship of him above all other knights. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, art thou that coward knight that I met with yesterday? keep thee, for thou shalt joust with me maugre thy head. Well, said Sir Tristram, and I am loath to joust. And so they let their horses run, and Sir Tristram missed of him a-purpose, and Sir Dinadan brake a spear upon Sir Tristram, and therewith Sir Dinadan dressed him to draw out his sword. Not so, said Sir Tristram, why are ye so wroth? I will not fight. Fie on thee, coward, said Dinadan, thou shamest all knights. As for that, said Sir Tristram, I care not, for I will wait upon you and be under your protection; for because ye are so good a knight ye may save me. The devil deliver me of thee, said Sir Dinadan, for thou art as goodly a man of arms and of thy person as ever I saw, and the most coward that ever I saw. What wilt thou do with those great spears that thou carriest with thee? I shall give them, said Sir Tristram, to some good knight when I come to the tournament; and if I see you do best, I shall give them to you.
So thus as they rode talking they saw where came an errant knight afore them, that dressed him to joust. Lo, said Sir Tristram, yonder is one will joust; now dress thee to him. Ah, shame betide thee, said Sir Dinadan. Nay, not so, said Tristram, for that knight beseemeth a shrew. Then shall I, said Sir Dinadan. And so they dressed their shields and their spears, and they met together so hard that the other knight smote down Sir Dinadan from his horse. Lo, said Sir Tristram, it had been better ye had left. Fie on thee, coward, said Sir Dinadan. Then Sir Dinadan started up and gat his sword in his hand, and proffered to do battle on foot. Whether in love or in wrath? said the other knight. Let us do battle in love, said Sir Dinadan. What is your name, said that knight, I pray you tell me. Wit ye well my name is Sir Dinadan. Ah, Dinadan, said that knight, and my name is Gareth, the youngest brother unto Sir Gawaine. Then either made of other great cheer, for this Gareth was the best knight of all the brethren, and he proved a good knight. Then they took their horses, and there they spake of Sir Tristram, how such a coward he was; and every word Sir Tristram heard and laughed them to scorn.
Then were they ware where came a knight afore them well horsed and well armed, and he made him ready to joust. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, look betwixt you who shall joust with yonder knight, for I warn you I will not have ado with him. Then shall I, said Sir Gareth. And so they encountered together, and there that knight smote down Sir Gareth over his horse’s croup. How now, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Dinadan, dress thee now and revenge the good knight Gareth. That shall I not, said Sir Dinadan, for he hath stricken down a much bigger knight than I am. Ah, said Sir Tristram, now Sir Dinadan, I see and feel well your heart faileth you, therefore now shall ye see what I shall do. And then Sir Tristram hurtled unto that knight, and smote him quite from his horse. And when Sir Dinadan saw that, he marvelled greatly; and then he deemed that it was Sir Tristram.
Then this knight that was on foot pulled out his sword to do battle. What is your name? said Sir Tristram. Wit ye well, said that knight, my name is Sir Palomides. What knight hate ye most? said Sir Tristram. Sir knight, said he, I hate Sir Tristram to the death, for an I may meet with him the one of us shall die. Ye say well, said Sir Tristram, and wit ye well that I am Sir Tristram de Liones, and now do your worst. When Sir Palomides heard him say so he was astonied. And then he said thus: I pray you, Sir Tristram, forgive me all mine evil will, and if I live I shall do you service above all other knights that be living; and whereas I have owed you evil will me sore repenteth. I wot not what aileth me, for meseemeth that ye are a good knight, and none other knight that named himself a good knight should not hate you; therefore I require you, Sir Tristram, take no displeasure at mine unkind words. Sir Palomides, said Sir Tristram, ye say well, and well I wot ye are a good knight, for I have seen ye proved; and many great enterprises have ye taken upon you, and well achieved them; therefore, said Sir Tristram, an ye have any evil will to me, now may ye right it, for I am ready at your hand. Not so, my lord Sir Tristram, I will do you knightly service in all thing as ye will command. And right so I will take you, said Sir Tristram. And so they rode forth on their ways talking of many things. O my lord Sir Tristram, said Dinadan, foul have ye mocked me, for God knoweth I came into this country for your sake, and by the advice of my lord Sir Launcelot; and yet would not Sir Launcelot tell me the certainty of you, where I should find you. Truly, said Sir Tristram, Sir Launcelot wist well where I was, for I abode within his own castle.
How they approached the Castle Lonazep, and of other devices of the death of Sir Lamorak.
THUS they rode until they were ware of the Castle Lonazep. And then were they ware of four hundred tents and pavilions, and marvellous great ordinance. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, yonder I see the greatest ordinance that ever I saw. Sir, said Palomides, meseemeth that there was as great an ordinance at the Castle of Maidens upon the rock, where ye won the prize, for I saw myself where ye forjousted thirty knights. Sir, said Dinadan, and in Surluse, at that tournament that Galahalt of the Long Isles made, the which there dured seven days, was as great a gathering as is here, for there were many nations. Who was the best? said Sir Tristram. Sir, it was Sir Launcelot du Lake and the noble knight, Sir Lamorak de Galis, and Sir Launcelot won the degree. I doubt not, said Sir Tristram, but he won the degree, so he had not been overmatched with many knights; and of the death of Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, it was over great pity, for I dare say he was the cleanest mighted man and the best winded of his age that was alive; for I knew him that he was the biggest knight that ever I met withal, but if it were Sir Launcelot. Alas, said Sir Tristram, full woe is me for his death. And if they were not the cousins of my lord Arthur that slew him, they should die for it, and all those that were consenting to his death. And for such things, said Sir Tristram, I fear to draw unto the court of my lord Arthur; I will that ye wit it, said Sir Tristram unto Gareth.
Sir, I blame you not, said Gareth, for well I understand the vengeance of my brethren Sir Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Mordred. But as for me, said Sir Gareth, I meddle not of their matters, therefore there is none of them that loveth me. And for I understand they be murderers of good knights I left their company; and God would I had been by, said Gareth, when the noble knight, Sir Lamorak, was slain. Now as Jesu be my help, said Sir Tristram, it is well said of you, for I had liefer than all the gold betwixt this and Rome I had been there. Y-wis,11 said Palomides, and so would I had been there, and yet had I never the degree at no jousts nor tournament thereas he was, but he put me to the worse, or on foot or on horseback; and that day that he was slain he did the most deeds of arms that ever I saw knight do in all my life days. And when him was given the degree by my lord Arthur, Sir Gawaine and his three brethren, Agravaine, Gaheris, and Sir Mordred, set upon Sir Lamorak in a privy place, and there they slew his horse. And so they fought with him on foot more than three hours, both before him and behind him; and Sir Mordred gave him his death wound behind him at his back, and all to-hew him: for one of his squires told me that saw it. Fie upon treason, said Sir Tristram, for it killeth my heart to hear this tale. So it doth mine, said Gareth; brethren as they be mine I shall never love them, nor draw in their fellowship for that deed.
Now speak we of other deeds, said Palomides, and let him be, for his life ye may not get again. That is the more pity, said Dinadan, for Sir Gawaine and his brethren, except you Sir Gareth, hate all the good knights of the Round Table for the most part; for well I wot an they might privily, they hate my lord Sir Launcelot and all his kin, and great privy despite they have at him; and that is my lord Sir Launcelot well ware of, and that causeth him to have the good knights of his kin about him.
11 “Y-wis” (certainly); Caxton, “ye wis”; W. de Worde, “truly.”
How they came to Humber bank, and how they found a ship there, wherein lay the body of King Hermance.
SIR, said Palomides, let us leave of this matter, and let us see how we shall do at this tournament. By mine advice, said Palomides, let us four hold together against all that will come. Not by my counsel, said Sir Tristram, for I see by their pavilions there will be four hundred knights, and doubt ye not, said Sir Tristram, but there will be many good knights; and be a man never so valiant nor so big, yet he may be overmatched. And so have I seen knights done many times; and when they weened best to have won worship they lost it, for manhood is not worth but if it be medled with wisdom. And as for me, said Sir Tristram, it may happen I shall keep mine own head as well as another.
So thus they rode until that they came to Humber bank, where they heard a cry and a doleful noise. Then were they ware in the wind where came a rich vessel hilled over with red silk, and the vessel landed fast by them. Therewith Sir Tristram alighted and his knights. And so Sir Tristram went afore and entered into that vessel. And when he came within he saw a fair bed richly covered, and thereupon lay a dead seemly knight, all armed save the head, was all be-bled with deadly wounds upon him, the which seemed to be a passing good knight. How may this be, said Sir Tristram, that this knight is thus slain? Then Sir Tristram was ware of a letter in the dead knight’s hand. Master mariners, said Sir Tristram, what meaneth that letter? Sir, said they, in that letter ye shall hear and know how he was slain, and for what cause, and what was his name. But sir, said the mariners, wit ye well that no man shall take that letter and read it but if he be a good knight, and that he will faithfully promise to revenge his death, else shall there be no knight see that letter open. Wit ye well, said Sir Tristram, that some of us may revenge his death as well as other, and if it be so as ye mariners say his death shall be revenged. And therewith Sir Tristram took the letter out of the knight’s hand, and it said thus: Hermance, king and lord of the Red City, I send unto all knights errant, recommending unto you noble knights of Arthur’s court. I beseech them all among them to find one knight that will fight for my sake with two brethren that I brought up of nought, and feloniously and traitorly they have slain me; wherefore I beseech one good knight to revenge my death. And he that revengeth my death I will that he have my Red City and all my castles.
Sir, said the mariners, wit ye well this king and knight that here lieth was a full worshipful man and of full great prowess, and full well he loved all manner knights errants. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, here is a piteous case, and full fain would I take this enterprise upon me; but I have made such a promise that needs I must be at this great tournament, or else I am shamed. For well I wot for my sake in especial my lord Arthur let make this jousts and tournament in this country; and well I wot that many worshipful people will be there at that tournament for to see me; therefore I fear me to take this enterprise upon me that I shall not come again by time to this jousts. Sir, said Palomides, I pray you give me this enterprise, and ye shall see me achieve it worshipfully, other else I shall die in this quarrel. Well, said Sir Tristram, and this enterprise I give you, with this, that ye be with me at this tournament that shall be as this day seven night. Sir, said Palomides, I promise you that I shall be with you by that day if I be unslain or unmaimed.
How Sir Tristram with his fellowship came and were with an host which after fought with Sir Tristram; and other matters.
THEN departed Sir Tristram, Gareth, and Sir Dinadan, and left Sir Palomides in the vessel; and so Sir Tristram beheld the mariners how they sailed overlong Humber. And when Sir Palomides was out of their sight they took their horses and beheld about them. And then were they ware of a knight that came riding against them unarmed, and nothing about him but a sword. And when this knight came nigh them he saluted them, and they him again. Fair knights, said that knight, I pray you insomuch as ye be knights errant, that ye will come and see my castle, and take such as ye find there; I pray you heartily. And so they rode with him until his castle, and there they were brought into the hall, that was well apparelled; and so they were there unarmed, and set at a board; and when this knight saw Sir Tristram, anon he knew him. And then this knight waxed pale and wroth at Sir Tristram. When Sir Tristram saw his host make such cheer he marvelled and said: Sir, mine host, what cheer make you? Wit thou well, said he, I fare the worse for thee, for I know thee, Sir Tristram de Liones, thou slewest my brother; and therefore I give thee summons I will slay thee an ever I may get thee at large. Sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I am never advised that ever I slew any brother of yours; and if ye say that I did I will make amends unto my power. I will none amends, said the knight, but keep thee from me.
So when he had dined Sir Tristram asked his arms, and departed. And so they rode on their ways, and within a while Sir Dinadan saw where came a knight well armed and well horsed, without shield. Sir Tristram, said Sir Dinadan, take keep to yourself, for I dare undertake yonder cometh your host that will have ado with you. Let him come, said Sir Tristram, I shall abide him as well as I may. Anon the knight, when he came nigh Sir Tristram, he cried and bade him abide and keep him. So they hurtled together, but Sir Tristram smote the other knight so sore that he bare him over his horse’s croup. That knight arose lightly and took his horse again, and so rode fiercely to Sir Tristram, and smote him twice hard upon the helm. Sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I pray you leave off and smite me no more, for I would be loath to deal with you an I might choose, for I have your meat and your drink within my body. For all that he would not leave; and then Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell up-so-down from his horse, that the blood brast out at the ventails of his helm, and so he lay still likely to be dead. Then Sir Tristram said: Me repenteth of this buffet that I smote so sore, for as I suppose he is dead. And so they left him and rode on their ways.
So they had not ridden but a while, but they saw riding against them two full likely knights, well armed and well horsed, and goodly servants about them. The one was Berrant le Apres, and he was called the King with the Hundred Knights; and the other was Sir Segwarides, which were renowned two noble knights. So as they came either by other the king looked upon Sir Dinadan, that at that time he had Sir Tristram’s helm upon his shoulder, the which helm the king had seen tofore with the Queen of Northgalis, and that queen the king loved as paramour; and that helm the Queen of Northgalis had given to La Beale Isoud, and the queen La Beale Isoud gave it to Sir Tristram. Sir knight, said Berrant, where had ye that helm? What would ye? said Sir Dinadan. For I will have ado with thee, said the king, for the love of her that owed that helm, and therefore keep you. So they departed and came together with all their mights of their horses, and there the King with the Hundred Knights smote Sir Dinadan, horse and all, to the earth; and then he commanded his servant: Go and take thou his helm off, and keep it. So the varlet went to unbuckle his helm. What helm, what wilt thou do? said Sir Tristram, leave that helm. To what intent, said the king, will ye, sir knight, meddle with that helm? Wit you well, said Sir Tristram, that helm shall not depart from me or it be dearer bought. Then make you ready, said Sir Berrant unto Sir Tristram. So they hurtled together, and there Sir Tristram smote him down over his horse’s tail; and then the king arose lightly, and gat his horse lightly again. And then he struck fiercely at Sir Tristram many great strokes. And then Sir Tristram gave Sir Berrant such a buffet upon the helm that he fell down over his horse sore stonied. Lo, said Dinadan, that helm is unhappy to us twain, for I had a fall for it, and now, sir king, have ye another fall.
Then Segwarides asked: Who shall joust with me? I pray thee, said Sir Gareth unto Dinadan, let me have this jousts. Sir, said Dinadan, I pray you take it as for me. That is no reason, said Tristram, for this jousts should be yours. At a word, said Dinadan, I will not thereof. Then Gareth dressed him to Sir Segwarides, and there Sir Segwarides smote Gareth and his horse to the earth. Now, said Sir Tristram to Dinadan, joust with yonder knight. I will not thereof, said Dinadan. Then will I, said Sir Tristram. And then Sir Tristram ran to him, and gave him a fall; and so they left them on foot, and Sir Tristram rode unto Joyous Gard, and there Sir Gareth would not of his courtesy have gone into this castle, but Sir Tristram would not suffer him to depart. And so they alighted and unarmed them, and had great cheer. But when Dinadan came afore La Beale Isoud he cursed the time that ever he bare Sir Tristram’s helm, and there he told her how Sir Tristram had mocked him. Then was there laughing and japing at Sir Dinadan, that they wist not what to do with him.
How Palomides went for to fight with two brethren for the death of King Hermance.
NOW will we leave them merry within Joyous Gard, and speak we of Sir Palomides. Then Sir Palomides sailed evenlong Humber to the coasts of the sea, where was a fair castle. And at that time it was early in the morning, afore day. Then the mariners went unto Sir Palomides that slept fast. Sir knight, said the mariners, ye must arise, for here is a castle there ye must go into. I assent me, said Sir Palomides; and therewithal he arrived. And then he blew his horn that the mariners had given him. And when they within the castle heard that horn they put forth many knights; and there they stood upon the walls, and said with one voice: Welcome be ye to this castle. And then it waxed clear day, and Sir Palomides entered into the castle. And within a while he was served with many divers meats. Then Sir Palomides heard about him much weeping and great dole. What may this mean? said Sir Palomides; I love not to hear such a sorrow, and fain I would know what it meaneth. Then there came afore him one whose name was Sir Ebel, that said thus: Wit ye well, sir knight, this dole and sorrow is here made every day, and for this cause: we had a king that hight Hermance, and he was King of the Red City, and this king that was lord was a noble knight, large and liberal of his expense; and in the world he loved nothing so much as he did errant knights of King Arthur’s court, and all jousting, hunting, and all manner of knightly games; for so kind a king and knight had never the rule of poor people as he was; and because of his goodness and gentle ness we bemoan him, and ever shall. And all kings and estates may beware by our lord, for he was destroyed in his own default; for had he cherished them of his blood he had yet lived with great riches and rest: but all estates may beware by our king. But alas, said Ebel, that we shall give all other warning by his death.
Tell me, said Palomides, and in what manner was your lord slain, and by whom. Sir, said Sir Ebel, our king brought up of children two men that now are perilous knights; and these two knights our king had so in charity, that he loved no man nor trusted no man of his blood, nor none other that was about him. And by these two knights our king was governed, and so they ruled him peaceably and his lands, and never would they suffer none of his blood to have no rule with our king. And also he was so free and so gentle, and they so false and deceivable, that they ruled him peaceably; and that espied the lords of our king’s blood, and departed from him unto their own livelihood. Then when these two traitors understood that they had driven all the lords of his blood from him, they were not pleased with that rule, but then they thought to have more, as ever it is an old saw: Give a churl rule and thereby he will not be sufficed; for whatsomever he be that is ruled by a villain born, and the lord of the soil to be a gentleman born, the same villain shall destroy all the gentlemen about him: therefore all estates and lords, beware whom ye take about you. And if ye be a knight of King Arthur’s court remember this tale, for this is the end and conclusion. My lord and king rode unto the forest hereby by the advice of these traitors, and there he chased at the red deer, armed at all pieces full like a good knight; and so for labour he waxed dry, and then he alighted, and drank at a well. And when he was alighted, by the assent of these two traitors, that one that hight Helius he suddenly smote our king through the body with a spear, and so they left him there. And when they were departed, then by fortune I came to the well, and found my lord and king wounded to the death. And when I heard his complaint, I let bring him to the water side, and in that same ship I put him alive; and when my lord King Hermance was in that vessel, he required me for the true faith I owed unto him for to write a letter in this manner.
The copy of the letter written for to revenge the king’s death, and how Sir Palomides fought for to have the battle.
RECOMMENDING unto King Arthur and to all his knights errant, beseeching them all that insomuch as I, King Hermance, King of the Red City, thus am slain by felony and treason, through two knights of mine own, and of mine own bringing up and of mine own making, that some worshipful knight will revenge my death, insomuch I have been ever to my power well willing unto Arthur’s court. And who that will adventure his life with these two traitors for my sake in one battle, I, King Hermance, King of the Red City, freely give him all my lands and rents that ever I wielded in my life. This letter, said Ebel, I wrote by my lord’s commandment, and then he received his Creator; and when he was dead, he commanded me or ever he were cold to put that letter fast in his hand. And then he commanded me to put forth that same vessel down Humber, and I should give these mariners in commandment never to stint until that they came unto Logris, where all the noble knights shall assemble at this time. And there shall some good knight have pity on me to revenge my death, for there was never king nor lord falslier nor traitorlier slain than I am here to my death. Thus was the complaint of our King Hermance. Now, said Sir Ebel, ye know all how our lord was betrayed, we require you for God’s sake have pity upon his death, and worshipfully revenge his death, and then may ye wield all these lands. For we all wit well that an ye may slay these two traitors, the Red City and all those that be therein will take you for their lord.
Truly, said Sir Palomides, it grieveth my heart for to hear you tell this doleful tale; and to say the truth I saw the same letter that ye speak of, and one of the best knights on the earth read that letter to me, and by his commandment I came hither to revenge your king’s death; and therefore have done, and let me wit where I shall find those traitors, for I shall never be at ease in my heart till I be in hands with them. Sir, said Sir Ebel, then take your ship again, and that ship must bring you unto the Delectable Isle, fast by the Red City, and we in this castle shall pray for you, and abide your again-coming. For this same castle, an ye speed well, must needs be yours; for our King Hermance let make this castle for the love of the two traitors, and so we kept it with strong hand, and therefore full sore are we threated. Wot ye what ye shall do, said Sir Palomides; whatsomever come of me, look ye keep well this castle. For an it misfortune me so to be slain in this quest I am sure there will come one of the best knights of the world for to revenge my death, and that is Sir Tristram de Liones, or else Sir Launcelot du Lake.
Then Sir Palomides departed from that castle. And as he came nigh the city, there came out of a ship a goodly knight armed against him, with his shield on his shoulder, and his hand upon his sword. And anon as he came nigh Sir Palomides he said: Sir knight, what seek ye here? leave this quest for it is mine, and mine it was or ever it was yours, and therefore I will have it. Sir knight, said Palomides, it may well be that this quest was yours or it was mine, but when the letter was taken out of the dead king’s hand, at that time by likelihood there was no knight had undertaken to revenge the death of the king. And so at that time I promised to revenge his death, and so I shall or else I am ashamed. Ye say well, said the knight, but wit ye well then will I fight with you, and who be the better knight of us both, let him take the battle upon hand. I assent me, said Sir Palomides. And then they dressed their shields, and pulled out their swords, and lashed together many sad strokes as men of might; and this fighting was more than an hour, but at the last Sir Palomides waxed big and better winded, so that then he smote that knight such a stroke that he made him to kneel upon his knees. Then that knight spake on high and said: Gentle knight, hold thy hand. Sir Palomides was goodly and withdrew his hand. Then this knight said: Wit ye well, knight, that thou art better worthy to have this battle than I, and require thee of knighthood tell me thy name. Sir, my name is Palomides, a knight of King Arthur’s, and of the Table Round, that hither I came to revenge the death of this dead king.
Of the preparation of Sir Palomides and the two brethren that should fight with him.
WELL be ye found, said the knight to Palomides, for of all knights that be alive, except three, I had liefest have you. The first is Sir Launcelot du Lake, and Sir Tristram de Liones, the third is my nigh cousin, Sir Lamorak de Galis. And I am brother unto King Hermance that is dead, and my name is Sir Hermind. Ye say well, said Sir Palomides, and ye shall see how I shall speed; and if I be there slain go ye to my lord Sir Launcelot, or else to my lord Sir Tristram, and pray them to revenge my death, for as for Sir Lamorak him shall ye never see in this world. Alas, said Sir Hermind, how may that be? He is slain, said Sir Palomides, by Sir Gawaine and his brethren. So God me help, said Hermind, there was not one for one that slew him. That is truth, said Sir Palomides, for they were four dangerous knights that slew him, as Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred, but Sir Gareth, the fifth brother was away, the best knight of them all. And so Sir Palomides told Hermind all the manner, and how they slew Sir Lamorak all only by treason.
So Sir Palomides took his ship, and arrived up at the Delectable Isle. And in the meanwhile Sir Hermind that was the king’s brother, he arrived up at the Red City, and there he told them how there was come a knight of King Arthur’s to avenge King Hermance’s death: And his name is Sir Palomides, the good knight, that for the most part he followeth the beast Glatisant. Then all the city made great joy, for mickle had they heard of Sir Palomides, and of his noble prowess. So let they ordain a messenger, and sent unto the two brethren, and bade them to make them ready, for there was a knight come that would fight with them both. So the messenger went unto them where they were at a castle there beside; and there he told them how there was a knight come of King Arthur’s court to fight with them both at once. He is welcome, said they; but tell us, we pray you, if it be Sir Launcelot or any of his blood? He is none of that blood, said the messenger. Then we care the less, said the two brethren, for with none of the blood of Sir Launcelot we keep not to have ado withal. Wit ye well, said the messenger, that his name is Sir Palomides, that yet is unchristened, a noble knight. Well, said they, an he be now unchristened he shall never be christened. So they appointed to be at the city within two days.
And when Sir Palomides was come to the city they made passing great joy of him, and then they beheld him, and saw that he was well made, cleanly and bigly, and unmaimed of his limbs, and neither too young nor too old. And so all the people praised him; and though he was not christened yet he believed in the best manner, and was full faithful and true of his promise, and well conditioned; and because he made his avow that he would never be christened unto the time that he had achieved the beast Glatisant, the which was a full wonderful beast, and a great signification; for Merlin prophesied much of that beast. And also Sir Palomides avowed never to take full christendom unto the time that he had done seven battles within the lists.
So within the third day there came to the city these two brethren, the one hight Helius, the other hight Helake, the which were men of great prowess; howbeit that they were false and full of treason, and but poor men born, yet were they noble knights of their hands. And with them they brought forty knights, to that intent that they should be big enough for the Red City. Thus came the two brethren with great bobaunce and pride, for they had put the Red City in fear and damage. Then they were brought to the lists, and Sir Palomides came into the place and said thus: Be ye the two brethren, Helius and Helake, that slew your king and lord, Sir Hermance, by felony and treason, for whom that I am come hither to revenge his death? Wit thou well, said Sir Helius and Sir Helake, that we are the same knights that slew King Hermance; and wit thou well, Sir Palomides Saracen, that we shall handle thee so or thou depart that thou shalt wish that thou wert christened. It may well be, said Sir Palomides, for yet I would not die or I were christened; and yet so am I not afeard of you both, but I trust to God that I shall die a better christian man than any of you both; and doubt ye not, said Sir Palomides, either ye or I shall be left dead in this place.
Of the battle between Sir Palomides and the two brethren, and how the two brethren were slain.
THEN they departed, and the two brethren came against Sir Palomides, and he against them, as fast as their horses might run. And by fortune Sir Palomides smote Helake through his shield and through the breast more than a fathom. All this while Sir Helius held up his spear, and for pride and orgulite he would not smite Sir Palomides with his spear; but when he saw his brother lie on the earth, and saw he might not help himself, then he said unto Sir Palomides: Help thyself. And therewith he came hurtling unto Sir Palomides with his spear, and smote him quite from his saddle. Then Sir Helius rode over Sir Palomides twice or thrice. And therewith Sir Palomides was ashamed, and gat the horse of Sir Helius by the bridle, and therewithal the horse areared, and Sir Palomides halp after, and so they fell both to the earth; but anon Sir Helius stert up lightly, and there he smote Sir Palomides a great stroke upon the helm, that he kneeled upon his own knee. Then they lashed together many sad strokes, and traced and traversed now backward, now sideling, hurtling together like two boars, and that same time they fell both grovelling to the earth.
Thus they fought still without any reposing two hours, and never breathed; and then Sir Palomides waxed faint and weary, and Sir Helius waxed passing strong, and doubled his strokes, and drove Sir Palomides overthwart and endlong all the field, that they of the city when they saw Sir Palomides in this case they wept and cried, and made great dole, and the other party made as great joy. Alas, said the men of the city, that this noble knight should thus be slain for our king’s sake. And as they were thus weeping and crying, Sir Palomides that had suffered an hundred strokes, that it was wonder that he stood on his feet, at the last Sir Palomides beheld as he might the common people, how they wept for him; and then he said to himself: Ah, fie for shame, Sir Palomides, why hangest thou thy head so low; and therewith he bare up his shield, and looked Sir Helius in the visage, and he smote him a great stroke upon the helm, and after that another and another. And then he smote Sir Helius with such a might that he fell to the earth grovelling; and then he raced off his helm from his head, and there he smote him such a buffet that he departed his head from the body. And then were the people of the city the joyfullest people that might be. So they brought him to his lodging with great solemnity, and there all the people became his men. And then Sir Palomides prayed them all to take keep unto all the lordship of King Hermance: For, fair sirs, wit ye well I may not as at this time abide with you, for I must in all haste be with my lord King Arthur at the Castle of Lonazep, the which I have promised. Then was the people full heavy at his departing, for all that city proffered Sir Palomides the third part of their goods so that he would abide with them; but in no wise as at that time he would not abide.
And so Sir Palomides departed, and so he came unto the castle thereas Sir Ebel was lieutenant. And when they in the castle wist how Sir Palomides had sped, there was a joyful meiny; and so Sir Palomides departed, and came to the castle of Lonazep. And when he wist that Sir Tristram was not there he took his way over Humber, and came unto Joyous Gard, whereas Sir Tristram was and La Beale Isoud. Sir Tristram had commanded that what knight errant came within the Joyous Gard, as in the town, that they should warn Sir Tristram. So there came a man of the town, and told Sir Tristram how there was a knight in the town, a passing goodly man. What manner of man is he, said Sir Tristram, and what sign beareth he? So the man told Sir Tristram all the tokens of him. That is Palomides, said Dinadan. It may well be, said Sir Tristram. Go ye to him, said Sir Tristram unto Dinadan. So Dinadan went unto Sir Palomides, and there either made other great joy, and so they lay together that night. And on the morn early came Sir Tristram and Sir Gareth, and took them in their beds, and so they arose and brake their fast.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides met Breuse Saunce Pite, and how Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud went unto Lonazep.
AND then Sir Tristram desired Sir Palomides to ride into the fields and woods. So they were accorded to repose them in the forest. And when they had played them a great while they rode unto a fair well; and anon they were ware of an armed knight that came riding against them, and there either saluted other. Then this armed knight spake to Sir Tristram, and asked what were these knights that were lodged in Joyous Gard. I wot not what they are, said Sir Tristram. What knights be ye? said that knight, for meseemeth ye be no knights errant, because ye ride unarmed. Whether we be knights or not we list not to tell thee our name. Wilt thou not tell me thy name? said that knight; then keep thee, for thou shalt die of my hands. And therewith he got his spear in his hands, and would have run Sir Tristram through. That saw Sir Palomides, and smote his horse traverse in midst of the side, that man and horse fell to the earth. And therewith Sir Palomides alighted and pulled out his sword to have slain him. Let be, said Sir Tristram, slay him not, the knight is but a fool, it were shame to slay him. But take away his spear, said Sir Tristram, and let him take his horse and go where that he will.
So when this knight arose he groaned sore of the fall, and so he took his horse, and when he was up he turned then his horse, and required Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides to tell him what knights they were. Now wit ye well, said Sir Tristram, that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and this knight’s name is Sir Palomides. When he wist what they were he took his horse with the spurs, because they should not ask him his name, and so rode fast away through thick and thin. Then came there by them a knight with a bended shield of azure, whose name was Epinogris, and he came toward them a great wallop. Whither are ye riding? said Sir Tristram. My fair lords, said Epinogris, I follow the falsest knight that beareth the life; wherefore I require you tell me whether ye saw him, for he beareth a shield with a case of red over it. So God me help, said Tristram, such a knight departed from us not a quarter of an hour agone; we pray you tell us his name. Alas, said Epinogris, why let ye him escape from you? and he is so great a foe unto all errant knights: his name is Breuse Saunce Pite. Ah, fie for shame, said Sir Palomides, alas that ever he escaped mine hands, for he is the man in the world that I hate most. Then every knight made great sorrow to other; and so Epinogris departed and followed the chase after him.
Then Sir Tristram and his three fellows rode unto Joyous Gard; and there Sir Tristram talked unto Sir Palomides of his battle, how he sped at the Red City, and as ye have heard afore so was it ended. Truly, said Sir Tristram, I am glad ye have well sped, for ye have done worshipfully. Well, said Sir Tristram, we must forward to-morn. And then he devised how it should be; and Sir Tristram devised to send his two pavilions to set them fast by the well of Lonazep, and therein shall be the queen La Beale Isoud. It is well said, said Sir Dinadan, but when Sir Palomides heard of that his heart was ravished out of measure: notwithstanding he said but little. So when they came to Joyous Gard Sir Palomides would not have gone into the castle, but as Sir Tristram took him by the finger, and led him into the castle. And when Sir Palomides saw La Beale Isoud he was ravished so that he might unnethe speak. So they went unto meat, but Palomides might not eat, and there was all the cheer that might be had. And on the morn they were apparelled to ride toward Lonazep.
So Sir Tristram had three squires, and La Beale Isoud had three gentlewomen, and both the queen and they were richly apparelled; and other people had they none with them, but varlets to bear their shields and their spears. And thus they rode forth. So as they rode they saw afore them a rout of knights; it was the knight Galihodin with twenty knights with him. Fair fellows, said Galihodin, yonder come four knights, and a rich and a well fair lady: I am in will to take that lady from them. That is not of the best counsel, said one of Galihodin’s men, but send ye to them and wit what they will say; and so it was done. There came a squire unto Sir Tristram, and asked them whether they would joust or else to lose their lady. Not so, said Sir Tristram, tell your lord I bid him come as many as we be, and win her and take her. Sir, said Palomides, an it please you let me have this deed, and I shall undertake them all four. I will that ye have it, said Sir Tristram, at your pleasure. Now go and tell your lord Galihodin, that this same knight will encounter with him and his fellows.
How Sir Palomides jousted with Sir Galihodin, and after with Sir Gawaine, and smote them down.
THEN this squire departed and told Galihodin; and then he dressed his shield, and put forth a spear, and Sir Palomides another; and there Sir Palomides smote Galihodin so hard that he smote both horse and man to the earth. And there he had an horrible fall. And then came there another knight, and in the same wise he served him; and so he served the third and the fourth, that he smote them over their horses’ croups, and always Sir Palomides’ spear was whole. Then came six knights more of Galihodin’s men, and would have been avenged upon Sir Palomides. Let be, said Sir Galihodin, not so hardy, none of you all meddle with this knight, for he is a man of great bounte and honour, and if he would ye were not able to meddle with him. And right so they held them still. And ever Sir Palomides was ready to joust; and when he saw they would no more he rode unto Sir Tristram. Right well have ye done, said Sir Tristram, and worshipfully have ye done as a good knight should. This Galihodin was nigh cousin unto Galahalt, the haut prince; and this Galihodin was a king within the country of Surluse.
So as Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and La Beale Isoud rode together they saw afore them four knights, and every man had his spear in his hand: the first was Sir Gawaine, the second Sir Uwaine, the third Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and the fourth was Dodinas le Savage. When Sir Palomides beheld them, that the four knights were ready to joust, he prayed Sir Tristram to give him leave to have ado with them all so long as he might hold him on horseback. And if that I be smitten down I pray you revenge me. Well, said Sir Tristram, I will as ye will, and ye are not so fain to have worship but I would as fain increase your worship. And therewithal Sir Gawaine put forth his spear, and Sir Palomides another; and so they came so eagerly together that Sir Palomides smote Sir Gawaine to the earth, horse and all; and in the same wise he served Uwaine, Sir Dodinas, and Sagramore. All these four knights Sir Palomides smote down with divers spears And then Sir Tristram departed toward Lonazep.
And when they were departed then came thither Galihodin with his ten knights unto Sir Gawaine, and there he told him all how he had sped. I marvel, said Sir Gawaine, what knights they be, that are so arrayed in green. And that knight upon the white horse smote me down, said Galihodin, and my three fellows. And so he did to me, said Gawaine; and well I wot, said Sir Gawaine, that either he upon the white horse is Sir Tristram or else Sir Palomides, and that gay beseen lady is Queen Isoud. Thus they talked of one thing and of other.
And in the meanwhile Sir Tristram passed on till that he came to the well where his two pavilions were set; and there they alighted, and there they saw many pavilions and great array. Then Sir Tristram left there Sir Palomides and Sir Gareth with La Beale Isoud, and Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode to Lonazep to hearken tidings; and Sir Tristram rode upon Sir Palomides’ white horse. And when he came into the castle Sir Dinadan heard a great horn blow, and to the horn drew many knights. Then Sir Tristram asked a knight: What meaneth the blast of that horn? Sir, said that knight, it is all those that shall hold against King Arthur at this tournament. The first is the King of Ireland, and the King of Surluse, the King of Listinoise, the King of Northumberland, and the King of the best part of Wales, with many other countries. And these draw them to a council, to understand what governance they shall be of; but the King of Ireland, whose name was Marhalt, and father to the good knight Sir Marhaus that Sir Tristram slew, had all the speech that Sir Tristram might hear it. He said: Lords and fellows, let us look to ourself, for wit ye well King Arthur is sure of many good knights, or else he would not with so few knights have ado with us; therefore by my counsel let every king have a standard and a cognisance by himself, that every knight draw to their natural lord, and then may every king and captain help his knights if they have need. When Sir Tristram had heard all their counsel he rode unto King Arthur for to hear of his counsel.
How Sir Tristram and his fellowship came into the tournament of Lonazep; and of divers jousts and matters.
BUT Sir Tristram was not so soon come into the place, but Sir Gawaine and Sir Galihodin went to King Arthur, and told him: That same green knight in the green harness with the white horse smote us two down, and six of our fellows this same day. Well, said Arthur. And then he called Sir Tristram and asked him what was his name. Sir, said Sir Tristram, ye shall hold me excused as at this time, for ye shall not wit my name. And there Sir Tristram returned and rode his way. I have marvel, said Arthur, that yonder knight will not tell me his name, but go thou, Griflet le Fise de Dieu, and pray him to speak with me betwixt us. Then Sir Griflet rode after him and overtook him, and said him that King Arthur prayed him for to speak with him secretly apart. Upon this covenant, said Sir Tristram, I will speak with him; that I will turn again so that ye will ensure me not to desire to hear my name. I shall undertake, said Sir Griflet, that he will not greatly desire it of you. So they rode together until they came to King Arthur. Fair sir, said King Arthur, what is the cause ye will not tell me your name? Sir, said Sir Tristram, without a cause I will not hide my name. Upon what party will ye hold? said King Arthur. Truly, my lord, said Sir Tristram, I wot not yet on what party I will be on, until I come to the field, and there as my heart giveth me, there will I hold; but to-morrow ye shall see and prove on what party I shall come. And therewithal he returned and went to his pavilions.
And upon the morn they armed them all in green, and came into the field; and there young knights began to joust, and did many worshipful deeds. Then spake Gareth unto Sir Tristram, and prayed him to give him leave to break his spear, for him thought shame to bear his spear whole again. When Sir Tristram heard him say so he laughed, and said: I pray you do your best. Then Sir Gareth gat a spear and proffered to joust. That saw a knight that was nephew unto the King of the Hundred Knights; his name was Selises, and a good man of arms. So this knight Selises then dressed him unto Sir Gareth, and they two met together so hard that either smote other down, his horse and all, to the earth, so they were both bruised and hurt; and there they lay till the King with the Hundred Knights halp Selises up, and Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides halp up Gareth again. And so they rode with Sir Gareth unto their pavilions, and then they pulled off his helm.
And when La Beale Isoud saw Sir Gareth bruised in the face she asked him what ailed him. Madam, said Sir Gareth, I had a great buffet, and as I suppose I gave another, but none of my fellows, God thank them, would not rescue me. Forsooth, said Palomides, it longed not to none of us as this day to joust, for there have not this day jousted no proved knights, and needly ye would joust. And when the other party saw ye proffered yourself to joust they sent one to you, a passing good knight of his age, for I know him well, his name is Selises; and worshipfully ye met with him, and neither of you are dishonoured, and therefore refresh yourself that ye may be ready and whole to joust to-morrow. As for that, said Gareth, I shall not fail you an I may bestride mine horse.
How Sir Tristram and his fellowship jousted, and of the noble feats that they did in that tourneying.
NOW upon what party, said Tristram, is it best we be withal as to-morn? Sir, said Palomides, ye shall have mine advice to be against King Arthur as to-morn, for on his party will be Sir Launcelot and many good knights of his blood with him. And the more men of worship that they be, the more worship we shall win. That is full knightly spoken, said Sir Tristram; and right so as ye counsel me, so will we do. In the name of God, said they all. So that night they were lodged with the best. And on the morn when it was day they were arrayed all in green trappings, shields and spears, and La Beale Isoud in the same colour, and her three damosels. And right so these four knights came into the field endlong and through. And so they led La Beale Isoud thither as she should stand and behold all the jousts in a bay window; but always she was wimpled that no man might see her visage. And then these three knights rode straight unto the party of the King of Scots.
When King Arthur had seen them do all this he asked Sir Launcelot what were these knights and that queen. Sir, said Launcelot, I cannot say you in certain, but if Sir Tristram be in this country, or Sir Palomides, wit ye well it be they m certain, and La Beale Isoud. Then Arthur called to him Sir Kay and said: Go lightly and wit how many knights there be here lacking of the Table Round, for by the sieges thou mayst know. So went Sir Kay and saw by the writings in the sieges that there lacked ten knights. And these be their names that be not here. Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, Sir Percivale, Sir Gaheris, Sir Epinogris, Sir Mordred, Sir Dinadan, Sir La Cote Male Taile, and Sir Pelleas the noble knight. Well, said Arthur, some of these I dare undertake are here this day against us.
Then came therein two brethren, cousins unto Sir Gawaine, the one hight Sir Edward, that other hight Sir Sadok, the which were two good knights; and they asked of King Arthur that they might have the first jousts, for they were of Orkney. I am pleased, said King Arthur. Then Sir Edward encountered with the King of Scots, in whose party was Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides; and Sir Edward smote the King of Scots quite from his horse, and Sir Sadok smote down the King of North Wales, and gave him a wonder great fall, that there was a great cry on King Arthur’s party, and that made Sir Palomides passing wroth. And so Sir Palomides dressed his shield and his spear, and with all his might he met with Sir Edward of Orkney, that he smote him so hard that his horse might not stand on his feet, and so they hurtled to the earth; and then with the same spear Sir Palomides smote down Sir Sadok over his horse’s croup. O Jesu, said Arthur, what knight is that arrayed all in green? he jousteth mightily. Wit you well, said Sir Gawaine, he is a good knight, and yet shall ye see him joust better or he depart. And yet shall ye see, said Sir Gawaine, another bigger knight, in the same colour, than he is; for that same knight, said Sir Gawaine, that smote down right now my four cousins, he smote me down within these two days, and seven fellows more.
This meanwhile as they stood thus talking there came into the place Sir Tristram upon a black horse, and or ever he stint he smote down with one spear four good knights of Orkney that were of the kin of Sir Gawaine; and Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan everych of them smote down a good knight. Jesu, said Arthur, yonder knight upon the black horse doth mightily and marvellously well. Abide you, said Sir Gawaine; that knight with the black horse began not yet. Then Sir Tristram made to horse again the two kings that Edward and Sadok had unhorsed at the beginning. And then Sir Tristram drew his sword and rode into the thickest of the press against them of Orkney; and there he smote down knights, and rashed off helms, and pulled away their shields, and hurtled down many knights: he fared so that Sir Arthur and all knights had great marvel when they saw one knight do so great deeds of arms. And Sir Palomides failed not upon the other side, but did so marvellously well that all men had wonder. For there King Arthur likened Sir Tristram that was on the black horse like to a wood lion, and likened Sir Palomides upon the white horse unto a wood leopard, and Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan unto eager wolves. But the custom was such among them that none of the kings would help other, but all the fellowship of every standard to help other as they might; but ever Sir Tristram did so much deeds of arms that they of Orkney waxed weary of him, and so withdrew them unto Lonazep
How Sir Tristram was unhorsed and smitten down by Sir Launcelot, and after that Sir Tristram smote down King Arthur.
THEN was the cry of heralds and all manner of common people: The Green Knight hath done marvellously, and beaten all them of Orkney. And there the heralds numbered that Sir Tristram that sat upon the black horse had smitten down with spears and swords thirty knights; and Sir Palomides had smitten down twenty knights, and the most part of these fifty knights were of the house of King Arthur, and proved knights. So God me help, said Arthur unto Sir Launcelot, this is a great shame to us to see four knights beat so many knights of mine; and therefore make you ready, for we will have ado with them. Sir, said Launcelot, wit ye well that there are two passing good knights, and great worship were it not to us now to have ado with them, for they have this day sore travailed. As for that, said Arthur, I will be avenged; and therefore take with you Sir Bleoberis and Sir Ector, and I will be the fourth, said Arthur. Sir, said Launcelot, ye shall find me ready, and my brother Sir Ector, and my cousin Sir Bleoberis. And so when they were ready and on horseback: Now choose, said Sir Arthur unto Sir Launcelot, with whom that ye will encounter withal. Sir, said Launcelot, I will meet with the green knight upon the black horse, that was Sir Tristram; and my cousin Sir Bleoberis shall match the green knight upon the white horse, that was Sir Palomides; and my brother Sir Ector shall match with the green knight upon the white horse, that was Sir Gareth. Then must I, said Sir Arthur, have ado with the green knight upon the grisled horse, and that was Sir Dinadan. Now every man take heed to his fellow, said Sir Launcelot. And so they trotted on together, and there encountered Sir Launcelot against Sir Tristram. So Sir Launcelot smote Sir Tristram so sore upon the shield that he bare horse and man to the earth; but Sir Launcelot weened that it had been Sir Palomides, and so he passed forth. And then Sir Bleoberis encountered with Sir Palomides, and he smote him so hard upon the shield that Sir Palomides and his white horse rustled to the earth. Then Sir Ector de Maris smote Sir Gareth so hard that down he fell off his horse. And the noble King Arthur encountered with Sir Dinadan, and he smote him quite from his saddle. And then the noise turned awhile how the green knights were slain down.
When the King of Northgalis saw that Sir Tristram had a fall, then he remembered him how great deeds of arms Sir Tristram had done. Then he made ready many knights, for the custom and cry was such, that what knight were smitten down, and might not be horsed again by his fellows, outher by his own strength, that as that day he should be prisoner unto the party that had smitten him down. So came in the King of Northgalis, and he rode straight unto Sir Tristram; and when he came nigh him he alighted down suddenly and betook Sir Tristram his horse, and said thus: Noble knight, I know thee not of what country that thou art, but for the noble deeds that thou hast done this day take there my horse, and let me do as well I may; for, as Jesu me help, thou art better worthy to have mine horse than I myself. Gramercy, said Sir Tristram, and if I may I shall quite you: look that ye go not far from us, and as I suppose, I shall win you another horse. And therewith Sir Tristram mounted upon his horse, and there he met with King Arthur, and he gave him such a buffet upon the helm with his sword that King Arthur had no power to keep his saddle. And then Sir Tristram gave the King of Northgalis King Arthur’s horse: then was there great press about King Arthur for to horse him again; but Sir Palomides would not suffer King Arthur to be horsed again, but ever Sir Palomides smote on the right hand and on the left hand mightily as a noble knight. And this meanwhile Sir Tristram rode through the thickest of the press, and smote down knights on the right hand and on the left hand, and raced off helms, and so passed forth unto his pavilions, and left Sir Palomides on foot; and Sir Tristram changed his horse and disguised himself all in red, horse and harness.
How Sir Tristram changed his harness and it was all red, and how he demeaned him, and how Sir Palomides slew Launcelot’s horse.
AND when the queen La Beale Isoud saw that Sir Tristram was unhorsed, and she wist not where he was, then she wept greatly. But Sir Tristram, when he was ready, came dashing lightly into the field, and then La Beale Isoud espied him. And so he did great deeds of arms; with one spear, that was great, Sir Tristram smote down five knights or ever he stint. Then Sir Launcelot espied him readily, that it was Sir Tristram, and then he repented him that he had smitten him down; and so Sir Launcelot went out of the press to repose him and lightly he came again. And now when Sir Tristram came into the press, through his great force he put Sir Palomides upon his horse, and Sir Gareth, and Sir Dinadan, and then they began to do marvellously; but Sir Palomides nor none of his two fellows knew not who had holpen them on horseback again. But ever Sir Tristram was nigh them and succoured them, and they [knew] not him, because he was changed into red armour: and all this while Sir Launcelot was away.
So when La Beale Isoud knew Sir Tristram again upon his horse-back she was passing glad, and then she laughed and made good cheer. And as it happened, Sir Palomides looked up toward her where she lay in the window, and he espied how she laughed; and therewith he took such a rejoicing that he smote down, what with his spear and with his sword, all that ever he met; for through the sight of her he was so enamoured in her love that he seemed at that time, that an both Sir Tristram and Sir Launcelot had been both against him they should have won no worship of him; and in his heart, as the book saith, Sir Palomides wished that with his worship he might have ado with Sir Tristram before all men, because of La Beale Isoud. Then Sir Palomides began to double his strength, and he did so marvellously that all men had wonder of him, and ever he cast up his eye unto La Beale Isoud. And when he saw her make such cheer he fared like a lion, that there might no man withstand him; and then Sir Tristram beheld him, how that Sir Palomides bestirred him; and then he said unto Sir Dinadan: So God me help, Sir Palomides is a passing good knight and a well enduring, but such deeds saw I him never do, nor never heard I tell that ever he did so much in one day. It is his day, said Dinadan; and he would say no more unto Sir Tristram; but to himself he said: An if ye knew for whose love he doth all those deeds of arms, soon would Sir Tristram abate his courage. Alas, said Sir Tristram, that Sir Palomides is not christened. So said King Arthur, and so said all those that beheld him. Then all people gave him the prize, as for the best knight that day, that he passed Sir Launcelot outher Sir Tristram. Well, said Dinadan to himself, all this worship that Sir Palomides hath here this day he may thank the Queen Isoud, for had she been away this day Sir Palomides had not gotten the prize this day.
Right so came into the field Sir Launcelot du Lake, and saw and heard the noise and cry and the great worship that Sir Palomides had. He dressed him against Sir Palomides, with a great mighty spear and a long, and thought to smite him down. And when Sir Palomides saw Sir Launcelot come upon him so fast, he ran upon Sir Launcelot as fast with his sword as he might; and as Sir Launcelot should have stricken him he smote his spear aside, and smote it a-two with his sword. And Sir Palomides rushed unto Sir Launcelot, and thought to have put him to a shame; and with his sword he smote his horse’s neck that Sir Launcelot rode upon, and then Sir Launcelot fell to the earth. Then was the cry huge and great: See how Sir Palomides the Saracen hath smitten down Sir Launcelot’s horse. Right then were there many knights wroth with Sir Palomides because he had done that deed; therefore many knights held there against that it was unknightly done in a tournament to kill an horse wilfully, but that it had been done in plain battle, life for life.
How Sir Launcelot said to Sir Palomides, and how the prize of that day was given unto Sir Palomides.
WHEN Sir Ector de Maris saw Sir Launcelot his brother have such a despite, and so set on foot, then he gat a spear eagerly, and ran against Sir Palomides, and he smote him so hard that he bare him quite from his horse. That saw Sir Tristram, that was in red harness, and he smote down Sir Ector de Maris quite from his horse. Then Sir Launcelot dressed his shield upon his shoulder, and with his sword naked in his hand, and so came straight upon Sir Palomides fiercely and said: Wit thou well thou hast done me this day the greatest despite that ever any worshipful knight did to me in tournament or in jousts, and therefore I will be avenged upon thee, therefore take keep to yourself. Ah, mercy, noble knight, said Palomides, and forgive me mine unkindly deeds, for I have no power nor might to withstand you, and I have done so much this day that well I wot I did never so much, nor never shall in my life-days; and therefore, most noble knight, I require thee spare me as at this day, and I promise you I shall ever be your knight while I live: an ye put me from my worship now, ye put me from the greatest worship that ever I had or ever shall have in my life-days. Well, said Sir Launcelot, I see, for to say thee sooth, ye have done marvellously well this day; and I understand a part for whose love ye do it, and well I wot that love is a great mistress. And if my lady were here as she nis not, wit you well, said Sir Launcelot, ye should not bear away the worship. But beware your love be not discovered, for an Sir Tristram may know it ye will repent it; and sithen my quarrel is not here, ye shall have this day the worship as for me; considering the great travail and pain that ye have had this day, it were no worship for me to put you from it. And therewithal Sir Launcelot suffered Sir Palomides to depart.
Then Sir Launcelot by great force and might gat his own horse maugre twenty knights. So when Sir Launcelot was horsed he did many marvels, and so did Sir Tristram, and Sir Palomides in like wise. Then Sir Launcelot smote down with a spear Sir Dinadan, and the King of Scotland, and the King of Wales, and the King of Northumberland, and the King of Listinoise. So then Sir Launcelot and his fellows smote down well a forty knights. Then came the King of Ireland and the King of the Straight Marches to rescue Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides. There began a great medley, and many knights were smitten down on both parties; and always Sir Launcelot spared Sir Tristram, and he spared him. And Sir Palomides would not meddle with Sir Launcelot, and so there was hurtling here and there. And then King Arthur sent out many knights of the Table Round; and Sir Palomides was ever in the foremost front, and Sir Tristram did so strongly well that the king and all other had marvel. And then the king let blow to lodging; and because Sir Palomides began first, and never he went nor rode out of the field to repose, but ever he was doing marvellously well either on foot or on horseback, and longest during, King Arthur and all the kings gave Sir Palomides the honour and the gree as for that day.
Then Sir Tristram commanded Sir Dinadan to fetch the queen La Beale Isoud, and bring her to his two pavilions that stood by the well. And so Dinadan did as he was commanded. But when Sir Palomides understood and wist that Sir Tristram was in the red armour, and on a red horse, wit ye well that he was glad, and so was Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan, for they all weened that Sir Tristram had been taken prisoner. And then every knight drew to his inn. And then King Arthur and every knight spake of those knights; but above all men they gave Sir Palomides the prize, and all knights that knew Sir Palomides had wonder of his deeds. Sir, said Sir Launcelot unto Arthur, as for Sir Palomides an he be the green knight I dare say as for this day he is best worthy to have the degree, for he reposed him never, nor never changed his weeds, and he began first and longest held on. And yet, well I wot, said Sir Launcelot, that there was a better knight than he, and that shall be proved or we depart, upon pain of my life. Thus they talked on either party; and so Sir Dinadan railed with Sir Tristram and said: What the devil is upon thee this day? for Sir Palomides’ strength feebled never this day, but ever he doubled his strength.
How Sir Dinadan provoked Sir Tristram to do well.
AND thou, Sir Tristram, farest all this day as though thou hadst been asleep, and therefore I call thee coward. Well, Dinadan, said Sir Tristram, I was never called coward or now of no earthly knight in my life; and wit thou well, sir, I call myself never the more coward though Sir Launcelot gave me a fall, for I outcept him of all knights. And doubt ye not Sir Dinadan, an Sir Launcelot have a quarrel good, he is too over good for any knight that now is living; and yet of his sufferance, largess, bounty, and courtesy, I call him knight peerless: and so Sir Tristram was in manner wroth with Sir Dinadan. But all this language Sir Dinadan said because he would anger Sir Tristram, for to cause him to awake his spirits and to be wroth; for well knew Sir Dinadan that an Sir Tristram were thoroughly wroth Sir Palomides should not get the prize upon the morn. And for this intent Sir Dinadan said all this railing and language against Sir Tristram. Truly, said Sir Palomides, as for Sir Launcelot, of his noble knighthood, courtesy, and prowess, and gentleness, I know not his peer; for this day, said Sir Palomides, I did full uncourteously unto Sir Launcelot, and full unknightly, and full knightly and courteously he did to me again; for an he had been as ungentle to me as I was to him, this day I had won no worship. And therefore, said Palomides, I shall be Sir Launcelot’s knight while my life lasteth. This talking was in the houses of kings. But all kings, lords, and knights, said, of clear knighthood, and of pure strength, of bounty, of courtesy, Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristram bare the prize above all knights that ever were in Arthur’s days. And there were never knights in Arthur’s days did half so many deeds as they did; as the book saith, no ten knights did not half the deeds that they did, and there was never knight in their days that required Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram of any quest, so it were not to their shame, but they performed their desire.
How King Arthur and Sir Lancelot came to see La Beale Isoud, and how Palomides smote down King Arthur.
SO on the morn Sir Launcelot departed, and Sir Tristram was ready, and La Beale Isoud with Sir Palomides and Sir Gareth. And so they rode all in green full freshly beseen unto the forest. And Sir Tristram left Sir Dinadan sleeping in his bed. And so as they rode it happed the king and Launcelot stood in a window, and saw Sir Tristram ride and Isoud. Sir, said Launcelot, yonder rideth the fairest lady of the world except your queen, Dame Guenever. Who is that? said Sir Arthur. Sir, said he, it is Queen Isoud that, out-taken my lady your queen, she is makeless. Take your horse, said Arthur, and array you at all rights as I will do, and I promise you, said the king, I will see her. Then anon they were armed and horsed, and either took a spear and rode unto the forest. Sir, said Launcelot, it is not good that ye go too nigh them, for wit ye well there are two as good knights as now are living, and therefore, sir, I pray you be not too hasty. For peradventure there will be some knights be displeased an we come suddenly upon them. As for that, said Arthur, I will see her, for I take no force whom I grieve. Sir, said Launcelot, ye put yourself in great jeopardy. As for that, said the king, we will take the adventure. Right so anon the king rode even to her, and saluted her, and said: God you save. Sir, said she, ye are welcome. Then the king beheld her, and liked her wonderly well.
With that came Sir Palomides unto Arthur, and said: Uncourteous knight, what seekest thou here? thou art uncourteous to come upon a lady thus suddenly, therefore withdraw thee. Sir Arthur took none heed of Sir Palomides’ words, but ever he looked still upon Queen Isoud Then was Sir Palomides wroth, and therewith he took a spear, and came hurtling upon King Arthur, and smote him down with a spear. When Sir Launcelot saw that despite of Sir Palomides, he said to himself: I am loath to have ado with yonder knight, and not for his own sake but for Sir Tristram. And one thing I am sure of, if I smite down Sir Palomides I must have ado with Sir Tristram, and that were overmuch for me to match them both, for they are two noble knights; notwithstanding, whether I live or I die, needs must I revenge my lord, and so will I, whatsomever befall of me. And therewith Sir Launcelot cried to Sir Palomides: Keep thee from me. And then Sir Launcelot and Sir Palomides rushed together with two spears strongly, but Sir Launcelot smote Sir Palomides so hard that he went quite out of his saddle, and had a great fall. When Sir Tristram saw Sir Palomides have that fall, he said to Sir Launcelot: Sir knight, keep thee, for I must joust with thee. As for to joust with me, said Sir Launcelot, I will not fail you, for no dread I have of you; but I am loath to have ado with you an I might choose, for I will that ye wit that I must revenge my special lord that was unhorsed unwarly and unknightly. And therefore, though I revenged that fall, take ye no displeasure therein, for he is to me such a friend that I may not see him shamed.
Anon Sir Tristram understood by his person and by his knightly words that it was Sir Launcelot du Lake, and verily Sir Tristram deemed that it was King Arthur, he that Sir Palomides had smitten down. And then Sir Tristram put his spear from him, and put Sir Palomides again on horseback, and Sir Launcelot put King Arthur on horseback and so departed. So God me help, said Sir Tristram unto Palomides, ye did not worshipfully when ye smote down that knight so suddenly as ye did. And wit ye well ye did yourself great shame, for the knights came hither of their gentleness to see a fair lady; and that is every good knight’s part, to behold a fair lady; and ye had not ado to play such masteries afore my lady. Wit thou well it will turn to anger, for he that ye smote down was King Arthur, and that other was the good knight Sir Launcelot. But I shall not forget the words of Sir Launcelot when that he called him a man of great worship, thereby I wist that it was King Arthur. And as for Sir Launcelot, an there had been five hundred knights in the meadow, he would not have refused them, and yet he said he would refuse me. By that again I wist that it was Sir Launcelot, for ever he forbeareth me in every place, and showeth me great kindness; and of all knights, I out-take none, say what men will say, he beareth the flower of all chivalry, say it him whosomever will. An he be well angered, and that him list to do his utterance without any favour, I know him not alive but Sir Launcelot is over hard for him, be it on horseback or on foot. I may never believe, said Palomides, that King Arthur will ride so privily as a poor errant knight. Ah, said Sir Tristram, ye know not my lord Arthur, for all knights may learn to be a knight of him. And therefore ye may be sorry, said Sir Tristram, of your unkindly deeds to so noble a king. And a thing that is done may not be undone, said Palomides. Then Sir Tristram sent Queen Isoud unto her lodging in the priory, there to behold all the tournament.
How the second day Palomides forsook Sir Tristram, and went to the contrary part against him.
THEN there was a cry unto all knights, that when they heard an horn blow they should make jousts as they did the first day. And like as the brethren Sir Edward and Sir Sadok began the jousts the first day, Sir Uwaine the king’s son Urien and Sir Lucanere de Buttelere began the jousts the second day. And at the first encounter
Sir Uwaine smote down the King’s son of Scots; and Sir Lucanere ran against the King of Wales, and they brake their spears all to pieces; and they were so fierce both, that they hurtled together that both fell to the earth. Then they of Orkney horsed again Sir Lucanere. And then came in Sir Tristram de Liones; and then Sir Tristram smote down Sir Uwaine and Sir Lucanere; and Sir Palomides smote down other two knights and Sir Gareth smote down other two knights. Then said Sir Arthur unto Sir Launcelot: See yonder three knights do passingly well, and namely the first that jousted. Sir, said Launcelot, that knight began not yet but ye shall see him this day do marvellously. And then came into the place the duke’s son of Orkney, and then they began to do many deeds of arms.
When Sir Tristram saw them so begin, he said to Palomides: How feel ye yourself? may ye do this day as ye did yesterday? Nay, said Palomides, I feel myself so weary, and so sore bruised of the deeds of yesterday, that I may not endure as I did yesterday. That me repenteth, said Sir Tristram, for I shall lack you this day. Sir Palomides said: Trust not to me, for I may not do as I did. All these words said Palomides for to beguile Sir Tristram. Sir, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Gareth, then must I trust upon you; wherefore I pray you be not far from me to rescue me. An need be, said Sir Gareth, I shall not fail you in all that I may do. Then Sir Palomides rode by himself; and then in despite of Sir Tristram he put himself in the thickest press among them of Orkney, and there he did so marvellously deeds of arms that all men had wonder of him, for there might none stand him a stroke.
When Sir Tristram saw Sir Palomides do such deeds, he marvelled and said to himself: He is weary of my company. So Sir Tristram beheld him a great while and did but little else, for the noise and cry was so huge and great that Sir Tristram marvelled from whence came the strength that Sir Palomides had there in the field Sir, said Sir Gareth unto Sir Tristram, remember ye not of the words that Sir Dinadan said to you yesterday, when he called you a coward; forsooth, sir, he said it for none ill, for ye are the man in the world that he most loveth, and all that he said was for your worship. And therefore, said Sir Gareth to Sir Tristram, let me know this day what ye be; and wonder ye not so upon Sir Palomides, for he enforceth himself to win all the worship and honour from you. I may well believe it, said Sir Tristram. And sithen I understand his evil will and his envy, ye shall see, if that I enforce myself, that the noise shall be left that now is upon him.
Then Sir Tristram rode into the thickest of the press, and then he did so marvellously well, and did so great deeds of arms, that all men said that Sir Tristram did double so much deeds of arms as Sir Palomides had done aforehand. And then the noise went plain from Sir Palomides, and all the people cried upon Sir Tristram. O Jesu, said the people, see how Sir Tristram smiteth down with his spear so many knights. And see, said they all, how many knights he smiteth down with his sword, and of how many knights he rashed off their helms and their shields; and so he beat them all of Orkney afore him. How now, said Sir Launcelot unto King Arthur, I told you that this day there would a knight play his pageant. Yonder rideth a knight ye may see he doth knightly, for he hath strength and wind. So God me help, said Arthur to Launcelot, ye say sooth, for I saw never a better knight, for he passeth far Sir Palomides. Sir, wit ye well, said Launcelot, it must be so of right, for it is himself, that noble knight Sir Tristram. I may right well believe it, said Arthur.
But when Sir Palomides heard the noise and the cry was turned from him, he rode out on a part and beheld Sir Tristram. And when Sir Palomides saw Sir Tristram do so marvellously well he wept passingly sore for despite, for he wist well he should no worship win that day; for well knew Sir Palomides, when Sir Tristram would put forth his strength and his manhood, be should get but little worship that day,
How Sir Tristram departed of the field, and awaked Sir Dinadan, and changed his array into black.
THEN came King Arthur, and the King of Northgalis, and Sir Launcelot du Lake; and Sir Bleoberis, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Ector de Maris, these three knights came into the field with Sir Launcelot. And then Sir Launcelot with the three knights of his kin did so great deeds of arms that all the noise began upon Sir Launcelot. And so they beat the King of Wales and the King of Scots far aback, and made them to avoid the field; but Sir Tristram and Sir Gareth abode still in the field and endured all that ever there came, that all men had wonder that any knight might endure so many strokes. But ever Sir Launcelot, and his three kinsmen by the commandment of Sir Launcelot, forbare Sir Tristram. Then said Sir Arthur: Is that Sir Palomides that endureth so well? Nay, said Sir Launcelot, wit ye well it is the good knight Sir Tristram, for yonder ye may see Sir Palomides beholdeth and hoveth, and doth little or nought. And sir, ye shall understand that Sir Tristram weeneth this day to beat us all out of the field. And as for me, said Sir Launcelot, I shall not beat him, beat him whoso will. Sir, said Launcelot unto Arthur, ye may see how Sir Palomides hoveth yonder, as though he were in a dream; wit ye well he is full heavy that Tristram doth such deeds of arms Then is he but a fool, said Arthur, for never was Sir Palomides, nor never shall be, of such prowess as Sir Tristram. And if he have any envy at Sir Tristram, and cometh in with him upon his side he is a false knight.
As the king and Sir Launcelot thus spake, Sir Tristram rode privily out of the press, that none espied him but La Beale Isoud and Sir Palomides, for they two would not let off their eyes upon Sir Tristram. And when Sir Tristram came to his pavilions he found Sir Dinadan in his bed asleep. Awake, said Tristram, ye ought to be ashamed so to sleep when knights have ado in the field. Then Sir Dinadan arose lightly and said: What will ye that I shall do? Make you ready, said Sir Tristram, to ride with me into the field. So when Sir Dinadan was armed he looked upon Sir Tristram’s helm and on his shield, and when he saw so many strokes upon his helm and upon his shield he said: In good time was I thus asleep, for had I been with you I must needs for shame there have followed you; more for shame than any prowess that is in me; that I see well now by those strokes that I should have been truly beaten as I was yesterday. Leave your japes, said Sir Tristram, and come off, that [we] were in the field again. What, said Sir Dinadan, is your heart up? yesterday ye fared as though ye had dreamed. So then Sir Tristram was arrayed in black harness. O Jesu, said Dinadan, what aileth you this day? meseemeth ye be wilder than ye were yesterday. Then smiled Sir Tristram and said to Dinadan: Await well upon me; if ye see me overmatched look that ye be ever behind me, and I shall make you ready way by God’s grace. So Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan took their horses. All this espied Sir Palomides, both their going and their coming, and so did La Beale Isoud, for she knew Sir Tristram above all other.
How Sir Palomides changed his shield and his armour for to hurt Sir Tristram, and how Sir Launcelot did to Sir Tristram.
THEN when Sir Palomides saw that Sir Tristram was disguised, then he thought to do him a shame. So Sir Palomides rode to a knight that was sore wounded, that sat under a fair well from the field. Sir knight, said Sir Palomides, I pray you to lend me your armour and your shield, for mine is over-well known in this field, and that hath done me great damage; and ye shall have mine armour and my shield that is as sure as yours. I will well, said the knight, that ye have mine armour and my shield, if they may do you any avail. So Sir Palomides armed him hastily in that knight’s armour and his shield that shone as any crystal or silver, and so he came riding into the field. And then there was neither Sir Tristram nor none of King Arthur’s party that knew Sir Palomides. And right so as Sir Palomides was come into the field Sir Tristram smote down three knights, even in the sight of Sir Palomides. And then Sir Palomides rode against Sir Tristram, and either met other with great spears, that they brast to their hands. And then they dashed together with swords eagerly. Then Sir Tristram had marvel what knight he was that did battle so knightly with him. Then was Sir Tristram wroth, for he felt him passing strong, so that he deemed he might not have ado with the remnant of the knights, because of the strength of Sir Palomides. So they lashed together and gave many sad strokes together, and many knights marvelled what knight he might be that so encountered with the black knight, Sir Tristram. Full well knew La Beale Isoud that there was Sir Palomides that fought with Sir Tristram, for she espied all in her window where that she stood, as Sir Palomides changed his harness with the wounded knight. And then she began to weep so heartily for the despite of Sir Palomides that there she swooned.
Then came in Sir Launcelot with the knights of Orkney. And when the other party had espied Sir Launcelot, they cried: Return, return, here cometh Sir Launcelot du Lake. So there came knights and said: Sir Launcelot, ye must needs fight with yonder knight in the black harness, that was Sir Tristram, for he hath almost overcome that good knight that fighteth with him with the silver shield, that was Sir Palomides. Then Sir Launcelot rode betwixt Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides, and Sir Launcelot said to Palomides: Sir knight, let me have the battle, for ye have need to be reposed. Sir Palomides knew Sir Launcelot well, and so did Sir Tristram, but because Sir Launcelot was far hardier knight than himself therefore he was glad, and suffered Sir Launcelot to fight with Sir Tristram. For well wist he that Sir Launcelot knew not Sir Tristram, and there he hoped that Sir Launcelot should beat or shame Sir Tristram, whereof Sir Palomides was full fain. And so Sir Launcelot gave Sir Tristram many sad strokes, but Sir Launcelot knew not Sir Tristram, but Sir Tristram knew well Sir Launcelot. And thus they fought long together, that La Beale Isoud was well-nigh out of her mind for sorrow.
Then Sir Dinadan told Sir Gareth how that knight in the black harness was Sir Tristram: And this is Launcelot that fighteth with him, that must needs have the better of him, for Sir Tristram hath had too much travail this day. Then let us smite him down, said Sir Gareth. So it is better that we do, said Sir Dinadan, than Sir Tristram be shamed, for yonder hoveth the strong knight with the silver shield to fall upon Sir Tristram if need be. Then forthwithal Gareth rushed upon Sir Launcelot, and gave him a great stroke upon his helm so hard that he was astonied. And then came Sir Dinadan with a spear, and he smote Sir Launcelot such a buffet that horse and all fell to the earth. O Jesu, said Sir Tristram to Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan, fie for shame, why did ye smite down so good a knight as he is, and namely when I had ado with him? now ye do yourself great shame, and him no disworship; for I held him reasonable hot, though ye had not holpen me.
Then came Sir Palomides that was disguised, and smote down Sir Dinadan from his horse. Then Sir Launcelot, because Sir Dinadan had smitten him aforehand, then Sir Launcelot assailed Sir Dinadan passing sore, and Sir Dinadan defended him mightily. But well understood Sir Tristram that Sir Dinadan might not endure Sir Launcelot, wherefore Sir Tristram was sorry. Then came Sir Palomides fresh upon Sir Tristram. And when Sir Tristram saw him come, he thought to deliver him at once, because that he would help Sir Dinadan, because he stood in great peril with Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Tristram hurtled unto Sir Palomides and gave him a great buffet, and then Sir Tristram gat Sir Palomides and pulled him down underneath him. And so fell Sir Tristram with him; and Sir Tristram leapt up lightly and left Sir Palomides, and went betwixt Sir Launcelot and Dinadan, and then they began to do battle together.
Right so Sir Dinadan gat Sir Tristram’s horse, and said on high that Sir Launcelot might hear it: My lord Sir Tristram, take your horse. And when Sir Launcelot heard him name Sir Tristram: O Jesu, said Launcelot, what have I done? I am dishonoured. Ah, my lord Sir Tristram, said Launcelot, why were ye disguised? ye have put yourself in great peril this day; but I pray you noble knight to pardon me, for an I had known you we had not done this battle. Sir, said Sir Tristram, this is not the first kindness ye showed me. So they were both horsed again.
Then all the people on the one side gave Sir Launcelot the honour and the degree, and on the other side all the people gave to the noble knight Sir Tristram the honour and the degree; but Launcelot said nay thereto: For I am not worthy to have this honour, for I will report me unto all knights that Sir Tristram hath been longer in the field than I, and he hath smitten down many more knights this day than I have done. And therefore I will give Sir Tristram my voice and my name, and so I pray all my lords and fellows so to do. Then there was the whole voice of dukes and earls, barons and knights, that Sir Tristram this day is proved the best knight.
How Sir Tristram departed with La Beale Isoud, and how Palomides followed and excused him.
THEN they blew unto lodging, and Queen Isoud was led unto her pavilions. But wit you well she was wroth out of measure with Sir Palomides, for she saw all his treason from the beginning to the ending. And all this while neither Sir Tristram, neither Sir Gareth nor Dinadan, knew not of the treason of Sir Palomides; but afterward ye shall hear that there befell the greatest debate betwixt Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides that might be.
So when the tournament was done, Sir Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan, rode with La Beale Isoud to these pavilions. And ever Sir Palomides rode with them in their company disguised as he was. But when Sir Tristram had espied him that he was the same knight with the shield of silver that held him so hot that day: Sir knight, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well here is none that hath need of your fellowship, and therefore I pray you depart from us. Sir Palomides answered again as though he had not known Sir Tristram: Wit you well, sir knight, from this fellowship will I never depart, for one of the best knights of the world commanded me to be in this company, and till he discharge me of my service I will not be discharged. By that Sir Tristram knew that it was Sir Palomides. Ah, Sir Palomides, said the noble knight Sir Tristram, are ye such a knight? Ye have been named wrong, for ye have long been called a gentle knight, and as this day ye have showed me great ungentleness, for ye had almost brought me unto my death. But, as for you, I suppose I should have done well enough, but Sir Launcelot with you was overmuch; for I know no knight living but Sir Launcelot is over good for him, an he will do his uttermost. Alas, said Sir Palomides, are ye my lord Sir Tristram? Yea, sir, and that ye know well enough. By my knighthood, said Palomides, until now I knew you not; I weened that ye had been the King of Ireland, for well I wot ye bare his arms. His arms I bare, said Sir Tristram, and that will I stand by, for I won them once in a field of a full noble knight, his name was Sir Marhaus; and with great pain I won that knight, for there was none other recover, but Sir Marhaus died through false leeches; and yet was he never yolden to me. Sir, said Palomides, I weened ye had been turned upon Sir Launcelot’s party, and that caused me to turn. Ye say well, said Sir Tristram, and so I take you, and I forgive you.
So then they rode into their pavilions; and when they were alighted they unarmed them and washed their faces and hands, and so yode unto meat, and were set at their table. But when Isoud saw Sir Palomides she changed then her colours, and for wrath she might not speak. Anon Sir Tristram espied her countenance and said: Madam, for what cause make ye us such cheer? we have been sore travailed this day. Mine own lord, said La Beale Isoud, for God’s sake be ye not displeased with me, for I may none otherwise do; for I saw this day how ye were betrayed and nigh brought to your death. Truly, sir, I saw every deal, how and in what wise, and therefore, sir, how should I suffer in your presence such a felon and traitor as Sir Palomides; for I saw him with mine eyes, how he beheld you when ye went out of the field. For ever he hoved still upon his horse till he saw you come in againward. And then forthwithal I saw him ride to the hurt knight, and changed harness with him, and then straight I saw him how he rode into the field. And anon as he had found you he encountered with you, and thus wilfully Sir Palomides did battle with you; and as for him, sir, I was not greatly afraid, but I dread sore Launcelot, that knew you not. Madam, said Palomides, ye may say whatso ye will, I may not contrary you, but by my knighthood I knew not Sir Tristram. Sir Palomides, said Sir Tristram, I will take your excuse, but well I wot ye spared me but little, but all is pardoned on my part. Then La Beale Isoud held down her head and said no more at that time.
How King Arthur and Sir Launcelot came unto their pavilions as they sat at supper, and of Sir Palomides.
AND therewithal two knights armed came unto the pavilion, and there they alighted both, and came in armed at all pieces. Fair knights, said Sir Tristram, ye are to blame to come thus armed at all pieces upon me while we are at our meat; if ye would anything when we were in the field there might ye have eased your hearts. Not so, said the one of those knights, we come not for that intent, but wit ye well Sir Tristram, we be come hither as your friends. And I am come here, said the one, for to see you, and this knight is come for to see La Beale Isoud. Then said Sir Tristram: I require you do off your helms that I may see you. That will we do at your desire, said the knights. And when their helms were off, Sir Tristram thought that he should know them.
Then said Sir Dinadan privily unto Sir Tristram: Sir, that is Sir Launcelot du Lake that spake unto you first, and the other is my lord King Arthur. Then, said Sir Tristram unto La Beale Isoud, Madam arise, for here is my lord, King Arthur. Then the king and the queen kissed, and Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristram braced either other in arms, and then there was joy without measure; and at the request of La Beale Isoud, King Arthur and Launcelot were unarmed, and then there was merry talking. Madam, said Sir Arthur, it is many a day sithen that I have desired to see you, for ye have been praised so far; and now I dare say ye are the fairest that ever I saw, and Sir Tristram is as fair and as good a knight as any that I know; therefore me beseemeth ye are well beset together. Sir, God thank you, said the noble knight, Sir Tristram, and Isoud; of your great goodness and largess ye are peerless. Thus they talked of many things and of all the whole jousts. But for what cause, said King Arthur, were ye, Sir Tristram, against us? Ye are a knight of the Table Round; of right ye should have been with us. Sir, said Sir Tristram, here is Dinadan, and Sir Gareth your own nephew, caused me to be against you. My lord Arthur, said Gareth, I may well bear the blame, but it were Sir Tristram’s own deeds. That may I repent, said Dinadan, for this unhappy Sir Tristram brought us to this tournament, and many great buffets he caused us to have. Then the king and Launcelot laughed that they might not sit.
What knight was that, said Arthur, that held you so short, this with the shield of silver? Sir, said Sir Tristram, here he sitteth at this board. What, said Arthur, was it Sir Palomides? Wit ye well it was he, said La Beale Isoud. So God me help, said Arthur, that was unknightly done of you of so good a knight, for I have heard many people call you a courteous knight. Sir, said Palomides, I knew not Sir Tristram, for he was so disguised. So God me help, said Launcelot, it may well be, for I knew not Sir Tristram; but I marvel why ye turned on our party. That was done for the same cause, said Launcelot. As for that, said Sir Tristram, I have pardoned him, and I would be right loath to leave his fellowship, for I love right well his company: so they left off and talked of other things.
And in the evening King Arthur and Sir Launcelot departed unto their lodging; but wit ye well Sir Palomides had envy heartily, for all that night he had never rest in his bed, but wailed and wept out of measure. So on the morn Sir Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan arose early, and then they went unto Sir Palomides’ chamber, and there they found him fast asleep, for he had all night watched, and it was seen upon his cheeks that he had wept full sore. Say nothing, said Sir Tristram, for I am sure he hath taken anger and sorrow for the rebuke that I gave to him, and La Beale Isoud.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides did the next day, and how King Arthur was unhorsed.
THEN Sir Tristram let call Sir Palomides, and bade him make him ready, for it was time to go to the field. When they were ready they were armed, and clothed all in red, both Isoud and all they; and so they led her passing freshly through the field, into the priory where was her lodging. And then they heard three blasts blow, and every king and knight dressed him unto the field. And the first that was ready to joust was Sir Palomides and Sir Kainus le Strange, a knight of the Table Round. And so they two encountered together, but Sir Palomides smote Sir Kainus so hard that he smote him quite over his horse’s croup. And forthwithal Sir Palomides smote down another knight, and brake then his spear, and pulled out his sword and did wonderly well. And then the noise began greatly upon Sir Palomides. Lo, said King Arthur, yonder Palomides beginneth to play his pageant. So God me help, said Arthur, he is a passing good knight. And right as they stood talking thus, in came Sir Tristram as thunder, and he encountered with Sir Kay the Seneschal, and there he smote him down quite from his horse; and with that same spear Sir Tristram smote down three knights more, and then he pulled out his sword and did marvellously. Then the noise and cry changed from Sir Palomides and turned to Sir Tristram, and all the people cried: O Tristram, O Tristram. And then was Sir Palomides clean forgotten.
How now, said Launcelot unto Arthur, yonder rideth a knight that playeth his pageants. So God me help, said Arthur to Launcelot, ye shall see this day that yonder two knights shall here do this day wonders. Sir, said Launcelot, the one knight waiteth upon the other, and enforceth himself through envy to pass the noble knight Sir Tristram, and he knoweth not of the privy envy the which Sir Palomides hath to him; for all that the noble Sir Tristram doth is through clean knighthood. And then Sir Gareth and Dinadan did wonderly great deeds of arms, as two noble knights, so that King Arthur spake of them great honour and worship; and the kings and knights of Sir Tristram’s side did passingly well, and held them truly together. Then Sir Arthur and Sir Launcelot took their horses and dressed them, and gat into the thickest of the press. And there Sir Tristram unknowing smote down King Arthur, and then Sir Launcelot would have rescued him, but there were so many upon Sir Launcelot that they pulled him down from his horse. And then the King of Ireland and the King of Scots with their knights did their pain to take King Arthur and Sir Launcelot prisoner. When Sir Launcelot heard them say so, he fared as it had been an hungry lion, for he fared so that no knight durst nigh him.
Then came Sir Ector de Maris, and he bare a spear against Sir Palomides, and brast it upon him all to shivers. And then Sir Ector came again and gave Sir Palomides such a dash with a sword that he stooped down upon his saddle bow. And forthwithal Sir Ector pulled down Sir Palomides under his feet; and then Sir Ector de Maris gat Sir Launcelot du Lake an horse, and brought it to him, and bade him mount upon him; but Sir Palomides leapt afore and gat the horse by the bridle, and leapt into the saddle. So God me help, said Launcelot, ye are better worthy to have that horse than I. Then Sir Ector brought Sir Launcelot another horse. Gramercy, said Launcelot unto his brother. And so when he was horsed again, with one spear he smote down four knights. And then Sir Launcelot brought to King Arthur one of the best of the four horses. Then Sir Launcelot with King Arthur and a few of his knights of Sir Launcelot’s kin did marvellous deeds; for that time, as the book recordeth, Sir Launcelot smote down and pulled down thirty knights. Notwithstanding the other party held them so fast together that King Arthur and his knights were overmatched. And when Sir Tristram saw that, what labour King Arthur and his knights, and in especial the noble deeds that Sir Launcelot did with his own hands, he marvelled greatly.
How Sir Tristram turned to King Arthur’s side, and how Palomides would not.
THEN Sir Tristram called unto him Sir Palomides, Sir Gareth, and Sir Dinadan, and said thus to them: My fair fellows, wit ye well that I will turn unto King Arthur’s party, for I saw never so few men do so well, and it will be shame unto us knights that be of the Round Table to see our lord King Arthur, and that noble knight Sir Launcelot, to be dishonoured. It will be well done, said Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan. Do your best, said Palomides, for I will not change my party that I came in withal. That is for my sake, said Sir Tristram; God speed you in your journey. And so departed Sir Palomides from them. Then Sir Tristram, Gareth, and Dinadan, turned with Sir Launcelot. And then Sir Launcelot smote down the King of Ireland quite from his horse; and so Sir Launcelot smote down the King of Scots, and the King of Wales; and then Sir Arthur ran unto Sir Palomides and smote him quite from his horse; and then Sir Tristram bare down all that he met. Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan did there as noble knights; then all the parties began to flee. Alas, said Palomides, that ever I should see this day, for now have I lost all the worship that I won; and then Sir Palomides went his way wailing, and so withdrew him till he came to a well, and there he put his horse from him, and did off his armour, and wailed and wept like as he had been a wood man. Then many knights gave the prize to Sir Tristram, and there were many that gave the prize unto Sir Launcelot. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, I thank you of the honour ye would give me, but I pray you heartily that ye would give your voice to Sir Launcelot, for by my faith said Sir Tristram, I will give Sir Launcelot my voice. But Sir Launcelot would not have it, and so the prize was given betwixt them both.
Then every man rode to his lodging, and Sir Bleoberis and Sir Ector rode with Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud unto their pavilions. Then as Sir Palomides was at the well wailing and weeping, there came by him flying the kings of Wales and of Scotland, and they saw Sir Palomides in that arage. Alas, said they, that so noble a man as ye be should be in this array. And then those kings gat Sir Palomides’ horse again, and made him to arm him and mount upon his horse, and so he rode with them, making great dole. So when Sir Palomides came nigh the pavilions thereas Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud was in, then Sir Palomides prayed the two kings to abide him there the while that he spake with Sir Tristram. And when he came to the port of the pavilions, Sir Palomides said on high: Where art thou, Sir Tristram de Liones? Sir, said Dinadan, that is Palomides. What, Sir Palomides, will ye not come in here among us? Fie on thee traitor, said Palomides, for wit you well an it were daylight as it is night I should slay thee, mine own hands. And if ever I may get thee, said Palomides, thou shalt die for this day’s deed. Sir Palomides, said Sir Tristram, ye wite me with wrong, for had ye done as I did ye had won worship. But sithen ye give me so large warning I shall be well ware of you. Fie on thee, traitor, said Palomides, and therewith departed.
Then on the morn Sir Tristram, Bleoberis, and Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Gareth, Sir Dinadan, what by water and what by land, they brought La Beale Isoud unto Joyous Gard, and there reposed them a seven night, and made all the mirths and disports that they could devise. And King Arthur and his knights drew unto Camelot, and Sir Palomides rode with the two kings; and ever he made the greatest dole that any man could think, for he was not all only so dolorous for the departing from La Beale Isoud, but he was a part as sorrowful to depart from the fellowship of Sir Tristram; for Sir Tristram was so kind and so gentle that when Sir Palomides remembered him thereof he might never be merry.
How Sir Bleoberis and Sir Ector reported to Queen Guenever of the beauty of La Beale Isoud.
SO at the seven nights’ end Sir Bleoberis and Sir Ector departed from Sir Tristram and from the queen; and these two good knights had great gifts; and Sir Gareth and Sir Dinadan abode with Sir Tristram. And when Sir Bleoberis and Sir Ector were come there as the Queen Guenever was lodged, in a castle by the seaside, and through the grace of God the queen was recovered of her malady, then she asked the two knights from whence they came. They said that they came from Sir Tristram and from La Beale Isoud. How doth Sir Tristram, said the queen, and La Beale Isoud? Truly, said those two knights, he doth as a noble knight should do; and as for the Queen Isoud, she is peerless of all ladies; for to speak of her beauty, bounte, and mirth, and of her goodness, we saw never her match as far as we have ridden and gone. O mercy Jesu, said Queen Guenever, so saith all the people that have seen her and spoken with her. God would that I had part of her conditions; and it is misfortuned me of my sickness while that tournament endured. And as I suppose I shall never see in all my life such an assembly of knights and ladies as ye have done.
Then the knights told her how Palomides won the degree at the first day with great noblesse; and the second day Sir Tristram won the degree; and the third day Sir Launcelot won the degree. Well, said Queen Guenever, who did best all these three days? So God me help, said these knights, Sir Launcelot and Sir Tristram had least dishonour. And wit ye well Sir Palomides did passing well and mightily; but he turned against the party that he came in withal, and that caused him to lose a great part of his worship, for it seemed that Sir Palomides is passing envious. Then shall he never win worship, said Queen Guenever, for an it happeth an envious man once to win worship he shall be dishonoured twice therefore; and for this cause all men of worship hate an envious man, and will shew him no favour, and he that is courteous, and kind, and gentle, hath favour in every place.
How Epinogris complained by a well, and how Sir Palomides came and found him, and of their both sorrowing.
NOW leave we of this matter and speak we of Sir Palomides, that rode and lodged him with the two kings, whereof the kings were heavy. Then the King of Ireland sent a man of his to Sir Palomides, and gave him a great courser, and the King of Scotland gave him great gifts; and fain they would have had Sir Palomides to have abiden with them, but in no wise he would abide; and so he departed, and rode as adventures would guide him, till it was nigh noon. And then in a forest by a well Sir Palomides saw where lay a fair wounded knight and his horse bounden by him; and that knight made the greatest dole that ever he heard man make, for ever he wept, and therewith he sighed as though he would die. Then Sir Palomides rode near him and saluted him mildly and said: Fair knight, why wail ye so? let me lie down and wail with you, for doubt not I am much more heavier than ye are; for I dare say, said Palomides, that my sorrow is an hundred fold more than yours is, and therefore let us complain either to other. First, said the wounded knight, I require you tell me your name, for an thou be none of the noble knights of the Round Table thou shalt never know my name, whatsomever come of me. Fair knight, said Palomides, such as I am, be it better or be it worse, wit thou well that my name is Sir Palomides, son and heir unto King Astlabor, and Sir Safere and Sir Segwarides are my two brethren; and wit thou well as for myself I was never christened, but my two brethren are truly christened. O noble knight, said that knight, well is me that I have met with you; and wit ye well my name is Epinogris, the king’s son of Northumberland. Now sit down, said Epinogris, and let us either complain to other.
Then Sir Palomides began his complaint. Now shall I tell you, said Palomides, what woe I endure. I love the fairest queen and lady that ever bare life, and wit ye well her name is La Beale Isoud, King Mark’s wife of Cornwall. That is great folly, said Epinogris, for to love Queen Isoud, for one of the best knights of the world loveth her, that is Sir Tristram de Liones. That is truth, said Palomides, for no man knoweth that matter better than I do, for I have been in Sir Tristram’s fellowship this month, and with La Beale Isoud together; and alas, said Palomides, unhappy man that I am, now have I lost the fellowship of Sir Tristram for ever, and the love of La Beale Isoud for ever, and I am never like to see her more, and Sir Tristram and I be either to other mortal enemies. Well, said Epinogris, sith that ye loved La Beale Isoud, loved she you ever again by anything that ye could think or wit, or else did ye rejoice her ever in any pleasure? Nay, by my knighthood, said Palomides, I never espied that ever she loved me more than all the world, nor never had I pleasure with her, but the last day she gave me the greatest rebuke that ever I had, the which shall never go from my heart. And yet I well deserved that rebuke, for I did not knightly, and therefore I have lost the love of her and of Sir Tristram for ever; and I have many times enforced myself to do many deeds for La Beale Isoud’s sake, and she was the causer of my worship-winning. Alas, said Sir Palomides, now have I lost all the worship that ever I won, for never shall me befall such prowess as I had in the fellowship of Sir Tristram.
How Sir Palomides brought Sir Epinogris his lady; and how Sir Palomides and Sir Safere were assailed.
NAY, nay, said Epinogris, your sorrow is but japes to my sorrow; for I rejoiced my lady and won her with my hands, and lost her again: alas that day! Thus first I won her, said Epinogris; my lady was an earl’s daughter, and as the earl and two knights came from the tournament of Lonazep, for her sake I set upon this earl and on his two knights, my lady there being present; and so by fortune there I slew the earl and one of the knights, and the other knight fled, and so that night I had my lady. And on the morn as she and I reposed us at this well-side there came there to me an errant knight, his name was Sir Helior le Preuse, an hardy knight, and this Sir Helior challenged me to fight for my lady. And then we went to battle first upon horse and after on foot, but at the last Sir Helior wounded me so that he left me for dead, and so he took my lady with him; and thus my sorrow is more than yours, for I have rejoiced and ye rejoiced never. That is truth, said Palomides, but sith I can never recover myself I shall promise you if I can meet with Sir Helior I shall get you your lady again, or else he shall beat me.
Then Sir Palomides made Sir Epinogris to take his horse, and so they rode to an hermitage, and there Sir Epinogris rested him. And in the meanwhile Sir Palomides walked privily out to rest him under the leaves, and there beside he saw a knight come riding with a shield that he had seen Sir Ector de Maris bear beforehand; and there came after him a ten knights, and so these ten knights hoved under the leaves for heat. And anon after there came a knight with a green shield and therein a white lion, leading a lady upon a palfrey. Then this knight with the green shield that seemed to be master of the ten knights, he rode fiercely after Sir Helior, for it was he that hurt Sir Epinogris. And when he came nigh Sir Helior he bade him defend his lady. I will defend her, said Helior, unto my power. And so they ran together so mightily that either of these knights smote other down, horse and all, to the earth; and then they won up lightly and drew their swords and their shields, and lashed together mightily more than an hour. All this Sir Palomides saw and beheld, but ever at the last the knight with Sir Ector’s shield was bigger, and at the last this knight smote Sir Helior down, and then that knight unlaced his helm to have stricken off his head. And then he cried mercy, and prayed him to save his life, and bade him take his lady. Then Sir Palomides dressed him up, because he wist well that that same lady was Epinogris’ lady, and he promised him to help him.
Then Sir Palomides went straight to that lady, and took her by the hand, and asked her whether she knew a knight that hight Epinogris. Alas, she said, that ever he knew me or I him, for I have for his sake lost my worship, and also his life grieveth me most of all. Not so, lady, said Palomides, come on with me, for here is Epinogris in this hermitage. Ah! well is me, said the lady, an he be alive. Whither wilt thou with that lady? said the knight with Sir Ector’s shield. I will do with her what me list, said Palomides. Wit you well, said that knight, thou speakest over large, though thou seemest me to have at advantage, because thou sawest me do battle but late. Thou weenest, sir knight, to have that lady away from me so lightly? nay, think it never not; an thou were as good a knight as is Sir Launcelot, or as is Sir Tristram, or Sir Palomides, but thou shalt win her dearer than ever did I. And so they went unto battle upon foot, and there they gave many sad strokes, and either wounded other passing sore, and thus they fought still more than an hour.
Then Sir Palomides had marvel what knight he might be that was so strong and so well breathed during, and thus said Palomides: Knight, I require thee tell me thy name. Wit thou well, said that knight, I dare tell thee my name, so that thou wilt tell me thy name. I will, said Palomides. Truly, said that knight, my name is Safere, son of King Astlabor, and Sir Palomides and Sir Segwarides are my brethren. Now, and wit thou well, my name is Sir Palomides. Then Sir Safere kneeled down upon his knees, and prayed him of mercy; and then they unlaced their helms and either kissed other weeping. And in the meanwhile Sir Epinogris arose out of his bed, and heard them by the strokes, and so he armed him to help Sir Palomides if need were.
How Sir Palomides and Sir Safere conducted Sir Epinogris to his castle, and of other adventures.
THEN Sir Palomides took the lady by the hand and brought her to Sir Epinogris, and there was great joy betwixt them, for either swooned for joy. When they were met: Fair knight and lady, said Sir Safere, it were pity to depart you; Jesu send you joy either of other. Gramercy, gentle knight, said Epinogris; and much more thanks be to my lord Sir Palomides, that thus hath through his prowess made me to get my lady. Then Sir Epinogris required Sir Palomides and Sir Safere, his brother, to ride with them unto his castle, for the safeguard of his person. Sir, said Palomides, we will be ready to conduct you because that ye are sore wounded; and so was Epinogris and his lady horsed, and his lady behind him upon a soft ambler. And then they rode unto his castle, where they had great cheer and joy, as great as ever Sir Palomides and Sir Safere had in their life-days.
So on the morn Sir Safere and Sir Palomides departed, day until after noon. And at the last they heard a great weeping and a great noise down in a manor. Sir, said then Sir Safere, let us wit what noise this is. I will well, said Sir Palomides. And so they rode forth till that they came to a fair gate of a manor, and there sat an old man saying his prayers and beads. Then Sir Palomides and Sir Safere alighted and left their horses, and went within the gates, and there they saw full many goodly men weeping. Fair sirs, said Palomides, wherefore weep ye and make this sorrow? Anon one of the knights of the castle beheld Sir Palomides and knew him, and then went to his fellows and said: Fair fellows, wit ye well all, we have in this castle the same knight that slew our lord at Lonazep, for I know him well; it is Sir Palomides. Then they went unto harness, all that might bear harness, some on horseback and some on foot, to the number of three score. And when they were ready they came freshly upon Sir Palomides and upon Sir Safere with a great noise, and said thus: Keep thee, Sir Palomides, for thou art known, and by right thou must be dead, for thou hast slain our lord; and therefore wit ye well we will slay thee, therefore defend thee.
Then Sir Palomides and Sir Safere, the one set his back to the other, and gave many great strokes, and took many great strokes; and thus they fought with a twenty knights and forty gentlemen and yeomen nigh two hours. But at the last though they were loath, Sir Palomides and Sir Safere were taken and yolden, and put in a strong prison; and within three days twelve knights passed upon them, and they found Sir Palomides guilty, and Sir Safere not guilty, of their lord’s death. And when Sir Safere should be delivered there was great dole betwixt Sir Palomides and him, and many piteous complaints that Sir Safere made at his departing, there is no maker can rehearse the tenth part. Fair brother, said Palomides, let be thy dolour and thy sorrow. And if I be ordained to die a shameful death, welcome be it; but an I had wist of this death that I am deemed unto, I should never have been yolden. So Sir Safere departed from his brother with the greatest dolour and sorrow that ever made knight.
And on the morn they of the castle ordained twelve knights to ride with Sir Palomides unto the father of the same knight that Sir Palomides slew; and so they bound his legs under an old steed’s belly. And then they rode with Sir Palomides unto a castle by the seaside, that hight Pelownes, and there Sir Palomides should have justice. Thus was their ordinance; and so they rode with Sir Palomides fast by the castle of Joyous Gard. And as they passed by that castle there came riding out of that castle by them one that knew Sir Palomides. And when that knight saw Sir Palomides bounden upon a crooked courser, the knight asked Sir Palomides for what cause he was led so. Ah, my fair fellow and knight, said Palomides, I ride toward my death for the slaying of a knight at a tournament of Lonazep; and if I had not departed from my lord Sir Tristram, as I ought not to have done, now might I have been sure to have had my life saved; but I pray you, sir knight, recommend me unto my lord, Sir Tristram, and unto my lady, Queen Isoud, and say to them if ever I trespassed to them I ask them forgiveness. And also I beseech you recommend me unto my lord, King Arthur, and to all the fellowship of the Round Table, unto my power. Then that knight wept for pity of Sir Palomides; and therewithal he rode unto Joyous Gard as fast as his horse might run, and lightly that knight descended down off his horse and went unto Sir Tristram, and there he told him all as ye have heard, and ever the knight wept as he had been mad.
How Sir Tristram made him ready to rescue Sir Palomides, but Sir Launcelot rescued him or he came.
WHEN Sir Tristram heard how Sir Palomides went to his death, he was heavy to hear that, and said: Howbeit that I am wroth with Sir Palomides, yet will not I suffer him to die so shameful a death, for he is a full noble knight. And then anon Sir Tristram was armed and took his horse and two squires with him, and rode a great pace toward the castle of Pelownes where Sir Palomides was judged to death. And these twelve knights that led Sir Palomides passed by a well whereas Sir Launcelot was, which was alighted there, and had tied his horse to a tree, and taken off his helm to drink of that well; and when he saw these knights, Sir Launcelot put on his helm and suffered them to pass by him. And then was he ware of Sir Palomides bounden, and led shamefully to his death. O Jesu, said Launcelot, what misadventure is befallen him that he is thus led toward his death? Forsooth, said Launcelot, it were shame to me to suffer this noble knight so to die an I might help him, therefore I will help him whatsomever come of it, or else I shall die for Sir Palomides’ sake. And then Sir Launcelot mounted upon his horse, and gat his spear in his hand, and rode after the twelve knights that led Sir Palomides. Fair knights, said Sir Launcelot, whither lead ye that knight? it beseemeth him full ill to ride bounden. Then these twelve knights suddenly turned their horses and said to Sir Launcelot: Sir knight, we counsel thee not to meddle with this knight, for he hath deserved death, and unto death he is judged. That me repenteth, said Launcelot, that I may not borrow him with fairness, for he is over good a knight to die such a shameful death. And therefore, fair knights, said Sir Launcelot, keep you as well as ye can, for I will rescue that knight or die for it.
Then they began to dress their spears, and Sir Launcelot smote the foremost down, horse and man, and so he served three more with one spear; and then that spear brast, and therewithal Sir Launcelot drew his sword, and then he smote on the right hand and on the left hand. Then within a while he left none of those twelve knights, but he had laid them to the earth, and the most part of them were sore wounded. And then Sir Launcelot took the best horse that he found, and loosed Sir Palomides and set him upon that horse; and so they returned again unto Joyous Gard, and then was Sir Palomides ware of Sir Tristram how he came riding. And when Sir Launcelot saw him he knew him well, but Sir Tristram knew him not because Sir Launcelot had on his shoulder a golden shield. So Sir Launcelot made him ready to joust with Sir Tristram, that Sir Tristram should not ween that he were Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Palomides cried aloud to Sir Tristram: O my lord, I require you joust not with this knight, for this good knight hath saved me from my death. When Sir Tristram heard him say so he came a soft trotting pace toward them. And then Sir Palomides said: My lord, Sir Tristram, much am I beholding unto you of your great goodness, that would proffer your noble body to rescue me undeserved, for I have greatly offended you. Notwithstanding, said Sir Palomides, here met we with this noble knight that worshipfully and manly rescued me from twelve knights, and smote them down all and wounded them sore.
How Sir Tristram and Launcelot, with Palomides, came to joyous Gard; and of Palomides and Sir Tristram.
FAIR knight, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Launcelot, of whence be ye? I am a knight errant, said Sir Launcelot, that rideth to seek many adventures. What is your name? said Sir Tristram. Sir, at this time I will not tell you. Then Sir Launcelot said unto Sir Tristram and to Palomides: Now either of you are met together I will depart from you. Not so, said Sir Tristram; I pray you of knighthood to ride with me unto my castle. Wit you well, said Sir Launcelot, I may not ride with you, for I have many deeds to do in other places, that at this time I may not abide with you. Ah, mercy Jesu, said Sir Tristram, I require you as ye be a true knight to the order of knighthood, play you with me this night. Then Sir Tristram had a grant of Sir Launcelot: howbeit though he had not desired him he would have ridden with them, outher soon have come after them; for Sir Launcelot came for none other cause into that country but for to see Sir Tristram. And when they were come within Joyous Gard they alighted, and their horses were led into a stable; and then they unarmed them. And when Sir Launcelot was unhelmed, Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides knew him. Then Sir Tristram took Sir Launcelot in arms, and so did La Beale Isoud; and Palomides kneeled down upon his knees and thanked Sir Launcelot. When Sir Launcelot saw Sir Palomides kneel he lightly took him up and said thus: Wit thou well, Sir Palomides, I and any knight in this land, of worship ought of very right succour and rescue so noble a knight as ye are proved and renowned, throughout all this realm endlong and overthwart. And then was there joy among them, and the oftener that Sir Palomides saw La Beale Isoud the heavier he waxed day by day.
Then Sir Launcelot within three or four days departed, and with him rode Sir Ector de Maris; and Dinadan and Sir Palomides were there left with Sir Tristram a two months and more. But ever Sir Palomides faded and mourned, that all men had marvel wherefore he faded so away. So upon a day, in the dawning, Sir Palomides went into the forest by himself alone; and there he found a well, and then he looked into the well, and in the water he saw his own visage, how he was disturbed and defaded, nothing like that he was. What may this mean? said Sir Palomides, and thus he said to himself: Ah, Palomides, Palomides, why art thou defaded, thou that was wont to be called one of the fairest knights of the world? I will no more lead this life, for I love that I may never get nor recover. And therewithal he laid him down by the well. And then he began to make a rhyme of La Beale Isoud and him.
And in the meanwhile Sir Tristram was that same day ridden into the forest to chase the hart of greese; but Sir Tristram would not ride a-hunting never more unarmed, because of Sir Breuse Saunce Pite. And so as Sir Tristram rode into that forest up and down, he heard one sing marvellously loud, and that was Sir Palomides that lay by the well. And then Sir Tristram rode softly thither, for he deemed there was some knight errant that was at the well. And when Sir Tristram came nigh him he descended down from his horse and tied his horse fast till a tree, and then he came near him on foot; and anon he was ware where lay Sir Palomides by the well and sang loud and merrily; and ever the complaints were of that noble queen, La Beale Isoud, the which was marvellously and wonderfully well said, and full dolefully and piteously made. And all the whole song the noble knight, Sir Tristram, heard from the beginning to the ending, the which grieved and troubled him sore.
But then at the last, when Sir Tristram had heard all Sir Palomides’ complaints, he was wroth out of measure, and thought for to slay him thereas he lay. Then Sir Tristram remembered himself that Sir Palomides was unarmed, and of the noble name that Sir Palomides had, and the noble name that himself had, and then he made a restraint of his anger; and so he went unto Sir Palomides a soft pace and said: Sir Palomides, I have heard your complaint, and of thy treason that thou hast owed me so long, and wit thou well therefore thou shalt die; and if it were not for shame of knighthood thou shouldest not escape my hands, for now I know well thou hast awaited me with treason. Tell me, said Sir Tristram, how thou wilt acquit thee? Sir, said Palomides, thus I will acquit me: as for Queen La Beale Isoud, ye shall wit well that I love her above all other ladies in this world; and well I wot it shall befall me as for her love as befell to the noble knight Sir Kehydius, that died for the love of La Beale Isoud. And now, Sir Tristram, I will that ye wit that I have loved La Beale Isoud many a day, and she hath been the causer of my worship, and else I had been the most simplest knight in the world. For by her, and because of her, I have won the worship that I have; for when I remembered me of La Beale Isoud I won the worship wheresomever I came for the most part; and yet had I never reward nor bounte of her the days of my life, and yet have I been her knight guerdonless. And therefore, Sir Tristram, as for any death I dread not, for I had as lief die as to live. And if I were armed as thou art, I should lightly do battle with thee. Well have ye uttered your treason, said Tristram. I have done to you no treason, said Palomides, for love is free for all men, and though I have loved your lady, she is my lady as well as yours; howbeit I have wrong if any wrong be, for ye rejoice her, and have your desire of her, and so had I never nor never am like to have, and yet shall I love her to the uttermost days of my life as well as ye.
How there was a day set between Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides for to fight, and how Sir Tristram was hurt.
THEN said Sir Tristram: I will fight with you to the uttermost. I grant, said Palomides, for in a better quarrel keep I never to fight, for an I die of your hands, of a better knight’s hands may I not be slain. And sithen I understand that I shall never rejoice La Beale Isoud, I have as good will to die as to live. Then set ye a day, said Sir Tristram, that we shall do battle. This day fifteen days, said Palomides, will I meet with you hereby, in the meadow under Joyous Gard. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, will ye set so long day? let us fight to-morn. Not so, said Palomides, for I am meagre, and have been long sick for the love of La Beale Isoud, and therefore I will repose me till I have my strength again. So then Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides promised faith fully to meet at the well that day fifteen days. I am remembered, said Sir Tristram to Palomides, that ye brake me once a promise when that I rescued you from Breuse Saunce Pite and nine knights; and then ye promised me to meet me at the peron and the grave beside Camelot, whereas at that time ye failed of your promise. Wit you well, said Palomides unto Sir Tristram, I was at that day in prison, so that I might not hold my promise. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, an ye had holden your promise this work had not been here now at this time.
Right so departed Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides. And so Sir Palomides took his horse and his harness, and he rode unto King Arthur’s court; and there Sir Palomides gat him four knights and four sergeants-of-arms, and so he returned againward unto Joyous Gard. And in the meanwhile Sir Tristram chased and hunted at all manner of venery; and about three days afore the battle should be, as Sir Tristram chased an hart, there was an archer shot at the hart, and by misfortune he smote Sir Tristram in the thick of the thigh, and the arrow slew Sir Tristram’s horse and hurt him. When Sir Tristram was so hurt he was passing heavy, and wit ye well he bled sore; and then he took another horse, and rode unto Joyous Gard with great heaviness, more for the promise that he had made with Sir Palomides, as to do battle with him within three days after, than for any hurt of his thigh. Wherefore there was neither man nor woman that could cheer him with anything that they could make to him, neither Queen La Beale Isoud; for ever he deemed that Sir Palomides had smitten him so that he should not be able to do battle with him at the day set.
How Sir Palomides kept his day to have foughten, but Sir Tristram might not come; and other things.
BUT in no wise there was no knight about Sir Tristram that would believe that ever Sir Palomides would hurt Sir Tristram, neither by his own hands nor by none other consenting. Then when the fifteenth day was come, Sir Palomides came to the well with four knights with him of Arthur’s court, and three sergeants-of-arms. And for this intent Sir Palomides brought the knights with him and the sergeants-of-arms, for they should bear record of the battle betwixt Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides. And the one sergeant brought in his helm, the other his spear, the third his sword. So thus Palomides came into the field, and there he abode nigh two hours; and then he sent a squire unto Sir Tristram, and desired him to come into the field to hold his promise.
When the squire was come to Joyous Gard, anon as Sir Tristram heard of his coming he let command that the squire should come to his presence thereas he lay in his bed. My lord Sir Tristram, said Palomides’ squire, wit you well my lord, Palomides, abideth you in the field, and he would wit whether ye would do battle or not. Ah, my fair brother, said Sir Tristram, wit thou well that I am right heavy for these tidings; therefore tell Sir Palomides an I were well at ease I would not lie here, nor he should have no need to send for me an I might either ride or go; and for thou shalt say that I am no liar — Sir Tristram showed him his thigh that the wound was six inches deep. And now thou hast seen my hurt, tell thy lord that this is no feigned matter, and tell him that I had liefer than all the gold of King Arthur that I were whole; and tell Palomides as soon as I am whole I shall seek him endlong and overthwart, and that I promise you as I am true knight; and if ever I may meet with him, he shall have battle of me his fill. And with this the squire departed; and when Palomides wist that Tristram was hurt he was glad and said: Now I am sure I shall have no shame, for I wot well I should have had hard handling of him, and by likely I must needs have had the worse, for he is the hardest knight in battle that now is living except Sir Launcelot.
And then departed Sir Palomides whereas fortune led him, and within a month Sir Tristram was whole of his hurt. And then he took his horse, and rode from country to country, and all strange adventures he achieved wheresomever he rode; and always he enquired for Sir Palomides, but of all that quarter of summer Sir Tristram could never meet with Sir Palomides. But thus as Sir Tristram sought and enquired after Sir Palomides Sir Tristram achieved many great battles, wherethrough all the noise fell to Sir Tristram, and it ceased of Sir Launcelot; and therefore Sir Launcelot’s brethren and his kinsmen would have slain Sir Tristram because of his fame. But when Sir Launcelot wist how his kinsmen were set, he said to them openly: Wit you well, that an the envy of you all be so hardy to wait upon my lord, Sir Tristram, with any hurt, shame, or villainy, as I am true knight I shall slay the best of you with mine own hands Alas, fie for shame, should ye for his noble deeds await upon him to slay him. Jesu defend, said Launcelot, that ever any noble knight as Sir Tristram is should be destroyed with treason. Of this noise and fame sprang into Cornwall, and among them of Liones, whereof they were passing glad, and made great joy. And then they of Liones sent letters unto Sir Tristram of recommendation, and many great gifts to maintain Sir Tristram’s estate; and ever, between, Sir Tristram resorted unto Joyous Gard whereas La Beale Isoud was, that loved him as her life.
Here endeth the tenth book which is of Sir Tristram. And here followeth the eleventh book which is of Sir Launcelot.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53