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Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, 
In thy most need to go by thy side. 

This is No. 4^ of Everyman's Library. A 
list of authors and their works in this series 
will be found at the end of this volume. The 
publishers will be pleased to send freely to all 
applicants a separate, annotated list of the 








IN 2 VOLS. VOL, i 

All rights reserved 

Made in Great Britain 

at The Temple Tress Letchworth 

and decorated by Eric Ravilious 

J. M. Dent &. Sons Ltd. 

Aldine House Bedford St. London 

First Published in this Edition 1906 

Reprinted 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1916, 

1923, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1935 


SIR THOMAS MALORY has given us no account of himself or 
his family, but he has left his name and his work. The name 
Malory is found connected with estates in Yorkshire in the 
sixteenth century, and with estates in Leicestershire in that 
which follows. As the name of the knight to whom we owe 
the Morte Darthur, it is found written not only Malory or 
Malorye, but also Maleore. It occurred to me some years ago 
that this fact lent countenance to the statement ascribed to 
Leland and others, that Sir Thomas Malory was a Welshman ; 
for Maleore reminded me of Maylawr, Maelawr or Maelor, 
the name of two districts on the confines of England and 
Wales : a * Welsh Maelor ' is included in the County of 
Denbigh, and an 'English Maelor' in that of Flint. How such 
a name could readily become a surname may be seen from the 
designation, for instance, of a lord of the two Maelors in the 
twelfth century, named Gruffud Maelawr. Literally rendered, 
this would mean ' Griffith of Maelor.' Similarly, the name of 
a Welsh poet of the fifteenth century, Edward ab Rhys Maelor, 
might now be rendered * Edward Price of Maelor.' 

Since then Dr. Sommer, in a Supplement to the second 
volume of his great edition of the Morte Darthur, has called 
attention to the following passage in Bale's Illustrium Maioris 
Britannia Scriptorum, fol. 208 verso : 

"Thomas Mailorius, Britannus natione, heroic! spiritus homo, ab 
ipsa adolescentia uariis animi corporisque dotibus insigniter emicuit. 
Est Mailoria (inquit in Antiquarum Dictionum Syllabo Joannes Le- 
landus) in finibus Cambria regio, Deuse flumini uicina. Quam et 
alibi a fertilitate atque armorum fabrefactura commendat. Inter multi- 
plices reipublicae curas, non intermisit hie literarum studia, sed succisiuis 
horis uniuersas disparsse uetustatis reliquias, sedulus perquisiuit. Vnde 
in historiarum lectione diu uersatus, ex uariis autoribus undique selegit, 
de fortitudine ac uictoriis inclytissimi Brytannorum regis Arthurii." 

The first edition of Bale's work was published at Ipswich in 
1548, while Malory s Morte Darthur was only completed by him 
in 1469. These dates are not so far apart that we must suppose 
either Bale or Leland unable to obtain reliable information 
concerning Malory's history and origin. Bale's statement that 
Malory was Britannus natione, that is to say, Welsh, brings 


viii Preface 

with it the solution of what was my difficulty, to wit, the 
relation between the name Malory and the dissyllabic form 
Maleore j for one can hardly help seeing that while the latter 
postulates the Welsh place-name Maelor, the former more 
naturally connects itself with the derived Latin Mailorius. 

Thus far of Malory's name : we now come to his work, 
which, as already mentioned, was finished in 1469. It was, 
however, not printed till 1485, when its publication was under- 
taken by Caxton. Then followed two editions by Wynkyn de 
Worde in 1498 and 1529, and before the middle of the seven- 
teenth century four more editions appeared : all these seven 
were in black letter. The eighteenth century appears to have 
been content with what the three previous ones had done for 
the text of Malory ; but the nineteenth century has already 
seen it edited no less than six times, notably by Southey, 
Wright, Sir E. Strachey, and H. Oskar Sommer. Dr. Sommer's 
edition is comprised in three stately volumes, published in 
London by David Nutt : the first volume, consisting of the 
Text, appeared in 1889; then followed a volume of Introduction 
in 1890, and one of Studies on the Sources in 1891. This 
edition marks an era in the history of the Morte Darthur, 
seeing that special pains have been taken to make it reproduce 
the Caxton original, which is not known to exist in more than 
two copies, one of which is not quite perfect. This latter copy 
belongs to the Althorp Library, while the other, the perfect 
copy, once belonged to the Harleian Library. As regards its 
later history, we are told that it was purchased by the Earl of 
Jersey for his library at Osterley Park, and that in 1885 it 
became the property of a citizen of the United States, Mrs. 
Abby E. Pope of Brooklyn. 1 Lastly, I must add that no trace 
of Malory's own manuscript has ever been found. 

The question of the sources of Malory's work is no new one, 
and it had been to some extent discussed by M. Gaston Paris 
and M. J. Ulrich, in the introduction to their Merlin, edited 
from a manuscript belonging to Mr. Alfred Huth, London, and 
published in Paris in 1888 by the Societi des anciens Textes 
franqaisj but the exhaustive treatment of the subject was 
reserved for Dr. Sommer, who has devoted to it his third 
volume. The space at my disposal will only allow of my 
mentioning his conclusions in the briefest manner possible. 
Most of Malory's originals prove to have been romances written 

1 See Sommer's Malory, ii. 1-3. 

Preface ix 

in French, which he, as a rule, reduced greatly in length in 
the process of giving the work an English garb. His sources, 
however, were not exclusively French ; thus, for instance, he 
used for his fifth book of the Morte Darthur, a poem composed 
by the Scotch poet Huchown, which is extant in a manuscript 
of Thornton's in the library of Lincoln Cathedral. Here and 
there Malory alters the sequence of the incidents given in his 
originals, and in some cases he interpolates facts not contained 
in them, while in other instances he omits certain incidents 
which he did not find to his purpose ; but he is rarely found to 
have inserted entire chapters of his own. Taking the work as 
a whole, Dr. Sommer has succeeded in assigning with more or 
less precision the originals forming the groundwork of the 
whole, with one remarkable exception : I allude to Malory's 
seventh book, which relates the adventures of Sir Gareth, the 
story of his first coming to Arthur's court, of his being fed for 
a year in the kitchen, and of his receiving the nickname of 
Beaumayns at the hands of Syr Kay. Dr. Sommer admits that 
he has failed to trace any part of the contents of this book in 
any of the numerous manuscripts studied by him. He is in- 
clined to regard it as a folk-tale which had no connection with 
the Arthurian cycle, until Malory, or some unknown writer before 
him, adapted it from a French poem now lost, as he conjectures. 
After this brief reference to the works used by Malory, we 
come to a much larger and harder question of source, namely, 
the origin of the whole cycle of Arthurian stories and romances. 
For the most fruitful speculations on this subject in our day, 
one has to thank Dr. Zimmer, professor of Sanskrit in the 
University of Greifswald. 1 He believes the romances to be 
based on stories of Breton rather than of Welsh origin. 
Briefly described, his theory 2 sets out with the facts of the 
permanent conquest of a considerable tract of the east of 
Brittany by the Normans in the first half of the tenth century, 
and the intimate relationship which eventually grew up between 
the great families of Brittany and Normandy. Now, if we 
suppose the Bretons in their migration from Great Britain to 
their new country, called after them the Lesser Britain, to have 

1 Now professor of Celtic at Berlin. 

2 See Zimmer's review of the thirtieth volume of the Hittoire littt- 
raire de la France in the Gottingische gelehrte Anzeigen for October I, 
1890, pp. 802-4. But M. Loth in the Revue Celtique, xiii. 480-503, 
has justly charged Zimmer wkh underrating the Welsh element. 

x Preface 

carried with them the stories current about Arthur in the 
southern districts of this country, it may be further supposed 
that, ages later, those of their descendants who submitted to 
the Normans in the eastern portion of Brittany must have 
translated their popular stories about Arthur into their adopted 
Norman French. Thus a channel would be opened for Breton 
stories to reach the ears of Normans and Frenchmen. It is 
natural, further, to infer that, in the transition from the one 
language to the other, the Celtic names of most importance in 
the stories would inevitably undergo a considerable modification 
of form. This would seem to be countenanced by the circum- 
stance, that certain of these names in the romances cannot be 
identified with the Welsh ones by merely allowing for the 
errors in copying and reading incident to the manuscripts of 
the time in question. Such is the fact, for example, with 
Galvain, Perceval, Calibor? as compared with the Welsh 
Gwalchmei, Peredur, and Caletvwlch. For my own part, I have 
found this to be much less marked in the case, for example, 
of the Grail legend, the proper names in which lend themselves. 
on the whole, more readily to identification with their original, 
in Welsh. In other words, Professor Zimmer's views led me 
to draw the following two-fold conclusion : (i) The older 
romances relating chiefly to Arthur and his Men are of Breton 
rather than of Welsh origin, while (2) the reverse is the case 
with the Grail romances. The Welsh origin of the Grail legend 
has been discussed by me elsewhere, 2 so that I think it needless 
to endeavour to prove it here. But as to the alleged Breton 
origin of the romances about Arthur, it is to be observed that 
if the picture presented in them of Arthur and his Men be 
mainly Breton, one may expect to find those warriors repre- 
sented differently in Welsh literature, especially such Welsh 
literature as one finds to be fairly free from the influence of the 
romances when they reached the Welsh. So one could, perhaps, 
not do better than devote the rest of this introduction to a 
review of the more important passages concerning Arthur in 
manuscripts which have come down to us from Welsh sources. 
I have, however, to confess at the outset that those of them 
which happen to be in Welsh, as most of them are, prove to be 
couched in very obscure language, so that my rendering must 
be regarded as only tentative. 

1 See Zimmer's review, ibid. p. 830. 

2 See my Arthurian Legend, pp. 300-27. 



The first passage to demand attention is written in Latin, 
for it occurs in the Historia Brittonum with which the name 
of Nennius is associated. The year of the composition of the 
Historia Brittonum was, according to M. A. de la Borderie, no 
other than A.D. 822, 1 and the words relating to Arthur read as 
follows 2 : 

In illo tempore Saxones invalescebant in multitudine, et crescebant 
in Britannia. Mortuo autem Hengisto, Octha ejusfilius transivit de 
sinistrali parte Brittannia ad regnum Cantiorum, et de ipso orti sunt 
rcges Cantiorum. Tune Arthur pugnabat contra illos in tilts diebus cum 
regibus Brittonum, sed ipse dux erat bellorum. Primum bellumfuit in 
ostium fluminis quod dicitur Glein ; secundum, et tertium, et quartum, 
et quintum, super aliudflumen, quod dicitur Dubglas, et est in regione 
Linnuis. Sexturn bellum super flumen quod vocatur Bassas. Septi- 
nutm fuit bellum in Silva Celidonis, id est ^ Cat Coit Celidon. Octavum 
f uit bellum in castello Guinnion, in quo Arthur port avit imaginem Sanctce 
MaricE perpetua virginis super humeros suos, et pagani versi sunt in 
fugam in illo die, et cades rnagnafuit super illos per virtutem Domini 
nostri Jesu Christi, et per virtutem Sanctce Maria virginis genetricis 
ejus. Nonum bellum gestum est in Urbc Legionis. Decimum gessit 
bellum in littore fluminis, quod vocatur Tribruit. Undecimum factum 
est bellum in montc, qui dicitur Agned. Duodecimu?n fuit bellum in 
monte Badonis, in quo corrucrunt in uno die nongenti sexaginta viri 
de uno impetu Arthur ; et nemo prostravit eos nisi ipse sohis, et in 
omnibus bellis victor exstitit. Et ipsi t dum in omnibus bellis proster- 
nebantur^ auxilium a Germania petebant, et augebantur multipliciter 
sine intermissione, et reges a Germania deducebant, ut regnarent super 
illos in Brittannia, usque ad tempus quo Ida regnavit, qui fuit Eobba 
filius, ipse fuit primus rex in Beornicia^ id est, im Berneich. 

As regards a historical Arthur, the words here cited are very 
suggestive, for without explicitly saying that Arthur was one 
of the kings of the Brythons, they make him the general or 
dux bellorum, in whom one readily recognises the superior 
officer, known in the time of Roman rule as the Comes 
Britannia. This office, it may be presumed, was continued 
after the Roman forces left, with the only difference that the 

1 See t Historia Britonum attribute a Nennius et F Historia Bri- 
tannica avant Geoffro de Monmouth, par Arthur de la Borderie (Paris 
and London, 1883), p. 20. Since the above was written Zimmer's 
work entitled Nennius Vindicatus (Berlin, 1893) has reached me, and 
in it he gives it as his conclusion, p. 82, that the Historia Brittonum 
was put together as early as the year 796. 

2 Nennii Historia Britonum ad fidem codicum manuscriptorum re- 
censtiit Josephus Stevenson (London, 1838), pp. 47-9. 

xii Preface 

man filling it would be himself supreme, having no longer any 
lord, such as the Roman emperor, over him. This position 
seems to have been Arthur's, and one has accordingly no 
difficulty in understanding how he came to fight battles at 
places so far apart from one another. For, though the majority 
of the twelve battles were fought in what we now call the North 
of England or the South of Scotland, some of them undoubtedly 
took place in the south of the Island, such as the battle of Urbs 
Legionis, which must have been either Chester on the Dee or 
Caerleon on the Usk ; and still farther south must have been 
that of Mons B adonis. In a word, Arthur moved about in 
Britain just as Agricola or Severus would have done, and with- 
out necessarily being one of the kings of the Brythons, he 
would seem to have been over and above them. This must 
have been a position which would in time cause all kinds of 
heroic legends to be associated with the name of the man 
filling it. Add to this the numerous opportunities for the 
display of valour on behalf of a bleeding country provided by 
the invasions of Germanic tribes from the Continent, and by 
the incursions of Picts and Scots from the outlying portions of 
the British Isles, and we have the full explanation of no in- 
considerable part of the wondrous fame of Arthur and his Men 
in subsequent ages. 

The next references to Arthur, which deserve to be mentioned, 
occur in the Annales Cambria, the oldest existing manuscript of 
which was completed in 954 or 955. * The first entry occurs 
under the year 516, and reads as follows : 

Bellum Badonis in quo Arthur portauit criicem domini nostri Ihesu 
Christi tribus diebus et tribus noctibus in humeros suos et Brittones 
uictores fuerunt. 

The next entry in point comes under the year 537, and runs 
thus 2 

Gueith cam lann [i.e., the Battle of Camlati\ in qua Arthur et Me- 
draut corruerunt. et mortalitas in Brittannia et in Hibernia fuit. 

The Bellum Badonis of the Annales Cambrics is the same 
battle undoubtedly 33 Nennius' bellum in Monte Bado?iis. But 
the statement as to Arthur carrying the cross of Christ on his 
shoulders has been surmised to be a mistranslation of Welsh 
words representing him carrying a figure of the cross in his 
shield ; since the Welsh for shoulder would have been written 

1 See Phillimore's edition in the Cymmrodor^ vol. ix. p. 144. 

2 Ibid. p. 154. 

Preface xiii 

iscuit or iscttid which would also be spellings of the word for a 
shield. 1 This seems to shew that there was a Welsh tradition 
as to Arthur's personal appearance at one of his great battles. 
The other entry is remarkable as representing the death of 
Arthur and Medraut or Medrod (the Modred and Mordred of 
the romances) as an ordinary event of war. 

The next two passages to be cited occur in the Mirabilia 
usually associated with the Historia Brittonum; and most of 
them are probably to be referred to the same date as the 
Historia itself. a The words in point read as follows : 

Est alind miracTilum in regione qtuz dicitur Buelt. Est ibi cumulus 
lapidum, et unus lapis superpositus super congestum, cum vestigio cants 
in eo. Qziando venatus esl porcum Troit* impressit Cabal, qui erat 
cam's Arthuri militis, vestigium in lapide, et Arthur postea congregavii 
congestum lapidum sub lapide in quo erat vestigium cants sui, et vocatur 
Cam Cabal. Et veniunt homines et tollunt lapidem in manibus suis 
per spacium diei et noctis, et in crastino die invenitur super congestum 

Est aliud miraculum. in regione qua vocatur Ercing. Habefztr ibi 
sepulchrum juxtajontem qui cogiiominatur Licat Amir, et viri nomen, 
qui ispultus est in tuimilo, sic vocabatur. Amir* filius Arthuri militi^ 
erat, et ipse occidit eum ibidem, et sepelivit. Et veniunt homines ad 
mensurandtim ttimulutn ; in longitudine aliquando sex pedes, aliquando 
novem, aliquando quindecim. In qiia mensura metieris eum in isla 
vice, itertim non invenies eum in una mensura ; et ego solus probavi. 

The Porcus Troit occupies a great place, as Twrch Trwyth^ 
in the story of Kulhwch and Olwen, where Cabal & also occurs 
in its ordinary Welsh form of Cavall j but the lesson these two 

1 In later Welsh the words are ysgivydd, "a shoulder," and ysgwyd, 
"a shield." 

This is Zimmer's view in his Nennius Vindicatus, p. 115. 

3 Stevenson seems to have found two readings of this word, namely, 
Troit and Troynt, and he selected for his text the latter, which is 
gibberish : see his Nennius, p. 60. In Welsh literature the word has 
the two forms Trwyd and Trwyth. 

4 The same manuscript E, which reads Troit, and is supposed by 
Stevenson to have been written about the beginning of the thirteenth 
century, reads here amirmur ; but, as was to be expected, he inserted 
in his text a vox nihili, namely Anir : Amirmur = Amir mur "the 
Great Amir," and in the Liber Landavensis, Amir is written Amyr ; 
but a man's name Amhyr occurs also in that manuscript, while the 
name of Arthur's son in question is given as Amhar in the Welsh 
romance of Gereint and Enid: I do not recollect meeting with it elsewhere. 

5 It is to be noticed that Cabal with its b and single / belongs to the 
same school of orthography as the ninth century triplets beginning with 
Noigrucosam : see Skene's Four anc. Books of Wales^ ii, 2. 

xiv Preface 

passages in common teach us is, that at a comparatively early 
date Arthurian names had begun to figure in the topography of 

Attention is next claimed by some of the references to Arthur 
in Welsh literature, and here the Black Book of Carmarthen 
is entitled to the first place. The manuscript may be supposed 
to have been written in the reigns of Stephen, Henry II., and 
Richard. 1 One of the allusions to Arthur in this manuscript 
consists of a triplet occurring in the Stanzas of the Graves, 
apprising the reader of the futility of looking for Arthur's grave, 
as follows 2 : 

Bet y march, bet y guythur. 

bet y gugaun cletyfrut. 

anoeth bid bet y arthur. 

A grave for March, a grave for Gwythur, 
A grave for Gwgawn of the ruddy Sword, 
Not wise (the thought) a grave for Arthur. 3 

It might be objected that these lines are of no value here, as 
the idea suggested by them might have been derived from the 
romances which represent Arthur departing to the Isle of 
Avallon to be healed of his wounds, and not dying at all. But 
it may as reasonably be regarded as an expression of the native 
belief fixed in various localities, that Arthur and his knights 
were slumbering in a cave awaiting the destined hour of their 
return. This prevailed among Arthur's countrymen from Cad- 
bury to the Eildon Hills, and has never been more charmingly 
sung than by the poet Leyden, when he speaks of the enchanted 
sleep to be broken at length by somebody 

" That bids the charmed sleep of ages fly, 
Rolls the long sound through Eildon's caverns vast, 
While each dark warrior rouses at the blast, 
His horn, his falchion, grasps with mighty hand, 
And peals proud Arthur's march from Fairyland." 

The time likewise is not long past when the shepherds of North 
Wales used to entertain one another with stories describing one 

1 See Mr. J. G. Evans' preface (p. xvi.) to his Autotype Facsimile 
of the Black Book, Oxford, 1888. 

2 Ibid. fol. 34. 

3 I believe that such is the sense of the third line of the triplet, but 
I cannot attain to any certainty approaching the assurance with which 
Prof. Zimmer categorically declares that, " sie sagt bloss aus, dass man 
Arthur's Grab nichtkenne": see the Zeitschrift fur franzosische Spracht 
und Litleratur, xij. 238. 



of their number finding his way to the presence of Arthur and 
his Men, all asleep in a Snowdonian cave resplendent with 
untold wealth of gold and other treasure : the armed sleepers 
were believed to be merely awaiting the signal for their return 
to take an active part in the affairs of this world. In South 
Wales an elaborate but popular story lodges Arthur and his 
Knights in a cave at Craig y Ddinas, in Glamorgan, 1 while the 
peasanty of South Cardiganshire, relating the same story, locate 
it elsewhere, and call the sleeping hero not Arthur but Owen, 2 
a name the memory of which used to be kept fresh by ballad 
singers, who made country fairs ring with such strains as the 
following : 

Yr Owen hwn yw Harri 'r Nawfed^ 

Sydd yn trigo ngwlad estronied. 

This Owen is Henry the Ninth, 
Who lives in the land of strangers. 

The Owen of the Cardiganshire legend is known as Owen 
Lawgoch or Owen of the Red Hand, and he is represented as 
a man of seven feet in stature with a right hand which was all 
red. The whole story reminds one of him of the red beard, 
Frederic Barbarossa. I mention this lest anyone should sup- 
pose such stories had anything originally to do with the 
historical Arthur. Some light is shed on their genesis by a 
passage in the writings of an ancient author who lived in the 
first century of our era, namely Plutarch. In his work De 
Defectu Oraculorum, xviij., he uses words to the following 
effect 3 the Italics are mine: 

"Demetrius further said, that of the islands around Britain many lie 
scattered about uninhabited, of which some are named after deities and 
heroes. He told us also, that, being sent by the emperor with the 
object of reconnoitring and inspecting, he went to the island which* 
lay nearest to those uninhabited, and found it occupied by few inhabi- 
tants, who were, however, sacrosanct and inviolable in the eyes of the 
Britons. Soon after his arrival a great disturbance of the atmosphere 
took place, accompanied by many portents, by the winds bursting forth 
into hurricanes, and by fiery bolts falling. When it was over, the. 

1 The story is given in the Brython for 1858, p. 162. 

2 Ibid. p. 179. The editor, who was, I believe, no other than the 
Rev. Canon Silvan Evans, adds in a note that this sort of story might 
be found current also in Cumberland. 

3 For the original see the Didot edition of Plutarch, vol. iii. p. 511 
{De Defectu Oraculorum, xviij.) ; it is also to be found printed in my 
Arthurian legend ', p. 367. 

xvi Preface 

islanders said that some of the mighty had passed away. For as a 
lamp on being lit, they said, brings with it no danger, while on being 
extinguished it is grievous to many, just so with regard to great souls, 
their beginning to shine forth is pleasant and the reverse of grievous, 
whereas the extinction and destruction of them frequently disturb the 
winds and the surge as at present ; oftentimes also do they infect the 
atmosphere with pestilential diseases. Moreover, there is there, they 
said, an island in which Cronus is imprisoned, with Briareus keeping 
guard over him as he sleeps ; for, as they put it, sleep is the bond 
forged for Cronus. They add that around him are many deities^ his 
henchmen and attendants" 

To return to the Black Book, I may mention that another of 
the Stanzas of the Graves is worth citing here, though it does 
not name Arthur. It alludes, however, to Camlan, the Camelot 
of Malory and the romances, and that in the same strain of 
apparently historical definiteness as the entry in the Annales 
Cambrics cited as mentioning Camlan. The lines in question 
run thus x 

Bet mab csvran yg camlan. 

gvydi llauer kywlavan. 

Bet bedwir in alld tryvan. 

Osvran's son's grave (is) at Camlan, 

After many a slaughter, 

Bedwyr's grave (is) in Allt Tryvan. 2 

We next come to a poem headed Gereint Jilius Erbin, which 
describes a battle at a place called Llongborth. Gereint is the 
poet's hero, but he introduces Arthur as Gereint's superior and 
lord, as follows 3 : 

En llogporth y gtteleise. y arthur 

guir deur kymynint a d^lr. 

ameraudur* llywiaudir ilawur. 

At Llongborth saw I of Arthur's 

Brave men hewing Avith steel, 

(Men of the) emperor, 4 director of toil. 

1 Evans' Facsimile, fol. 32*. 

2 There are several mountain tops in the Snowdon district called 
y Tryfan, "the Tryvan," and Moel Tryfan, "the round-topped 
hill of Tryvan." Lady Charlotte Guest (Mabinogion, ii. 167) has 
been misled by somebody to indulge in the impossible spelling Trivaen. 

3 Evans" Facsimile, fol. 36*. 

4 I am not certain what documents exactly Prof. Zimmer had in view 
when he wrote as to Arthur, " Nirgends fuhrt er den Titel amherawdyr" ; 
or whether he would regard ameraudur here as a title or not : see the 
Gott. gel. Anz. for 1890, p. 524. 


xvi i 

En llogporth y lias y gereint. 
euir deur o odir diwneint. 
a chin rillethid ve. llatysseint. 

At Llongborth there fell of Gereint's 
Brave men from the border of Devon, 
And ere they were slain they slew. 

In these triplets the position of Arthur seems to be very 
clearly indicated : the men fighting on his side are Gereint's 
men from Devon. That is to say, Arthur is Gereint's superior : 
he fills in fact the role assigned him in the Historia Brittonum 
when he is there termed a Dux Bellorum. This raises the 
question of Arthur's title ; for passing on from the description 
of him as a Dux Bellorum, we have him twice in the Mirabilia 
called Arthur Miles. Further the Vita Gildce, sometimes 
ascribed to the twelfth century author, Caradoc of Llancarvan, 
in giving the story of the carrying away of Guenever by 
Mehvas, 1 speaks of the latter as rex, or king, reigning over 
the sEstiva Regio or Somerset, while it styles Arthur a 
tyrannies. To this must be added the fact that in the story 
of Kulhwch and Ohven the hero salutes Arthur as Penteyrned 
yr Ynys honn, or "the Head of the Princes of this Island," and 
one should notice that, in common with all these, the passage 
last cited from the Black Book avoids calling Arthur a king. 
On the other hand the word ameraudur which it applies 
to Arthur is one of the forms given in Welsh to the 
Latin word iinperator borrowed ; but as it is used of him 
commonly in the stories of Peredur, Owein, Gereint and others 
which betray the influence of the French romances, it might 
perhaps be supposed that its presence in Gereint's Elegy was 
due to that influence. There is, however, no evidence, and the 
way in which the word is used rather inclines me to regard it 
as spontaneous on the part of the poet : I am only doubtful 
whether instead of rendering, as I have done, " emperor, 
director of toil," it would not have been more correct to write 
" commander, director of toil " : that is to say, to suppose the 
word to retain here the meaning which it had primarily in 
Latin. In any case, the instances which have been adduced 
will suffice, it seems to me, to shew that it was not due to 
accident that other terms than that of king were thought more 
suitable in speaking of Arthur. In that fact one seems to trace 

1 For the text of that story, see San-Marte's Nennius et Gildas, pp. 122, 
3, also the Romania, vol. x. 491, where it is given by M. Gaston Paris. 
145 A 

xviii Preface 

one of the logical consequences of Arthur's having, as I have 
ventured to suppose, occupied the historical position of the 
Comes Britannia, in other words, that of the Imperator himself, 
which it became when Britain ceased to form a part of the 
dominions of Rome. 

We next have a poem consisting of a dialogue between 
Arthur and Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr, who in the Welsh stories 
about Arthur is represented as one of his chief porters ; but 
here he seems to have a castle of his own, the gates of which 
he appears in no hurry to open for Arthur and his companions. 
He asks Arthur who he is and what followers he has, which 
Arthur is made to seize as an opportunity for describing some 
of them, especially Kei, Malory's Sir Kay the seneschal. Un- 
fortunately, the poem is so obscure that I can only guess its 
meaning, as follows l : 

Pa gur yv y porthaur. Who is the porter? 

Gleuluid gauaeluaur. Glewlwyd Gavaelvawr. 

Pa gur ae gouin. Who asks the question ? 

arthiir. a chci guin? Arthur and worthy Kei. 

Pa imda genhid. What following (?) hast thou? 

Guir goreti im bid. The best of men are mine. 

Ym ty ny dot. To my house thou shalt not come 

onys guaredi. Unless thou plead (?) for them. 

Mi ae guar\_e~[di. I will plead (?) for them. 

athi ae gueli. And thou shalt see them : 

Vythneint elei. Wythneint of Elei, 

Assivyon ell tri. And the wise men three 

Mabon am mydron. Mabon son of Modron, 

guas uthir pen dragon. (Uther Pendragon's man) 

Kysceint ' mab ' Banon. Kyscaint son of Banon, 

A guin godybrion. And Gwyn Godyvrion. 

Oet rinn vy gueisson Sturdy would be my men 

in amuin ev detvon. In defence of their laws 

Manawidan ab llyr. Manawydan son of Llyr 

oet duis y cusil. Profound in counsel ; 

1 Evans' Facsimile, fol. 47 6 48*. 

2 Guin, now written gwyn means as a colour adjective white, but it 
is a very difficult word to render, one of its uses being somewhat like 
that of French beau in beau fere. On the banks of the Dovey in Mid- 
Wales a stepfather is respectfully called tad gwyn, literally "white 
father," and I surmise that it had a somewhat similar force here. It is 
to be borne in mind that Kei is, so far as I can remember, elsewhere 
called Kei guin only in the story of Kulhwch. See Red Book Mabino- 
gion, p. 105, and for further remarks on gwyn see my Hibbert Lectures, 
pp. 527-8. 



Neustuc manauid 
eis lull o tryivruid 
A mabon am melld. 
maglei guaed ar guelld, 
Ac anguas edeinauc. 
a Jluch * llauynnauc. 
Oetin diffreidauc 
ar eidin cyminauc 
Argluit ae llochei 
my nei ymtiwygei 
Kei ae heiriolei. 
trae llathei pop tri 
Pan colled kelli. 
caffad cuelli. 
Aseirolei kei 
kid trae kymynhei. 
Arthur ced huarhei 
y guaed gouerei. 
In neuat awarnach 
in imlat ew a gurach. 
Ew a guant pen palach. 
in atodeu dissethach. 
Ym minit eidin 
amiic ' a ' chinbin. 
Pop cant id ctiitin. 
id cuitin ' pop cant, 
roc beduir bedrydant. 
Ar traethev trywruid. 
in amuin a garvlitid. 
Oet guythir y annuyd. 
o cletyw ac yscuid. 
Oet gtcaget bragad 
vrth kei ig kad. 
Oet cletyw ighad. 
oe lav diguistlad. 
Oet hyneiw guastad 
cr lleg ar lies gulad. 
Bedtiir ' A Bridlav* 
Nau cant guarandau. 

(Manawyd brought home 
A pierced buckler from Tryvrwyd). 
And Mabon son of Mellt 
Who stained the grass with gore ; 
And Angwas the Winged, 
And Llwch Llawynnawc, 
Who were protective 
Against Eidyn 1 the gashing. 
His lord would shelter him, 
My nephew would amend (?), 
Kei would plead for (?) them, 
While slaying them three at a time. 
When Kelli was lost 
Savagery was experienced. 
Kei would plead for them (?) 
Until he might hew them down. 
Though Arthur was playing 
The blood was dripping. 
In Awarnach's hall 
A-fighting with a hag, 
He slew Pen-palach 
In the tasks (?) of Dissethach. 
On Eidyn's mountain 
He combated with champions (?), 
By the hundred they fell 
They fell a hundred at a time 
Before Bedwyr . . . 
On the shores of Tryvrwyd ; 
Combating with Garwlwyd. 
Victorious was his wrath 
Both with sword and shield. 
It were vain to boast 
Against Kei in battle. 
His sword in battle was 
Not to be pledged from his hand. 
He was an equable lord 
Of a legion for the state's good. 
Bedwyr son of Bridlaw, 
Nine hundred to watch, 

1 Mention is made of this man in Triads i. 38, 39 ; iii. 47, 48 (Myv. 
Arch. vol. ii. 9, 65), where he is described as the slayer of the bard 

2 This should probably give the parentage of Bedwyr, and it is 
natural to suggest as an emendation Beduir ab Bridlav ; but in Gereint 
and Enid 'he is described as son of Bedrawt: see Red Book Mab. p. 



chuechant y eirthau. 
a talei y ortinav. 
Gueisson am buyini 
oet guell ban tiitint. 
roc ricu emreis. 
gueleise ' kei ar uris. 
Preitev gort.howis. 
oet gur hir in ewnis. 
Oet trum y dial, 
oet tost y cynial. 
Pan yuei o wual 
yuei urth peduar 
ygkad pan delhsi. 
vrth cant id lathei. 
Ny bei duv ae digonhci. 
Oet diheit aghev kei. 
Kei guin a llachev. 
digonint we kadev. 
kin glees glas verev. 
yguarthaw ystawingun. 
kei a guant nav guiton. 
Kei -win aaeth von 
y dilein lleuon. 
y iscuid oet mymid 
erbin cath paluc. 
Pan gogiueirch tud. 
Puy guant cath pahic. 
Nau ugein kinlhtc. 
a cuytei in y bityd. 
Nau ugein kinran 

Six hundred to attack 

Was his onslaught (?) wcu'th. 

The young men I have 

It is well where they are 

Before the kings of Emrys 

Have I seen Kei in haste. 

Leader of the harryings, 

Long would he be in his wrath ; 

Heavy was he in his vengeance ; 

Terrible in his fighting. 

When from a horn he drank 

He drank as much as four men ; 

When he came into battle 

He slew as would a hundred. 

Unless it should be God's act x 

Kei's death would be unachieved. 

Worthy Kei and Llacheu 

Used to fight battles, 

Before the pang of livid spears, 

On the top of Ystavingun 

Kei slew nine witches. 2 

Worthy Kei went to Mona 

To destroy lions. 

His shield was small 

Against Palug's Cat. 

When people shall ask 

"Who slew Palug's Cat?" 

Nine score . . . 

Used to fall for her food 

Nine score leaders 

A . . . Used to ... 

The manuscript is imperfect, and it breaks off just where one 
should have heard more about Cath Paluc, or " Palug-'s Cat," a 
monster, said in the Red Book Triads to have been reared by 

1 With this sentiment compare the following passage put into the 
mouth of Llew in the Mabinogi of Math son of Mathonwy : Onym Had 
i duw hagen nyt hawd vy Had i. " Unless God slay me, however, it is 
not easy to slay me." See the Red Book Mabinogion, p. 75, also Lady 
Charlotte Guest's Mab. iii. 242, where she imparts to her translation a 
Christian tone not to be detected in the original, thus: "But until 
Heaven take me I shall not easily be slain." 

2 This looks as if it might be the incident in which the story of 
Peredur makes that hero take a leading part; he encounters the witches 
of Caer Loyw at a castle on a mountain, and he together with Arthur 
and his Men afterwards kills them all at the end of the story : see the 
Red Book Mab., pp. 210-1, 242-3, and Guest's Mab. i. 322-3, 369-70. 

Preface xxi 

the Sons of Palug, in Anglesey. The contests hsre mentioned 
with monsters, hags and witches, form also a feature of the 
story of Kulkwch and Oliuen, not to mention Irish stories, such 
as that of Bricrius Feast?- which abound in them. Moreover, 
the majority of Arthur's followers in the Black Book poem, 
figure as such in the Kulhwch also, namely Glewlwyd, Kei, 
Mabon son of Modron, Gwyn Godyvron, Mabon son of Mellt, 
Angwas Edeinawc, Llwch Llawyniawc, Bedwyr, and Arthurs 
son Llacheu ; not to mention Manawyddan, who is forced into 
Arthur's train in both poem and story. On the other hand, 
only two of Arthur's men enumerated in the former, evade 
identification elsewhere, namely, Wythneint and Kysceint. 2 
Perhaps the most remarkable thing in the Black Book poem, 
is the position which it assigns to Kei, who there towers far 
above all the rest of the Arthurian train : he is, in fact, not to 
be conquered by man or beast, so that his death could only be 
attributed to the direct interference of the Almighty. The next 
in importance to Kei was Bedwyr, the Bedewere or Bedyuere 
of Malory's Morte Darthur, and the positions of both heroes 
are relatively the same in the Kulhwch story. 

Another allusion to Arthur occurs in the Black Book, to wit 
in an elegy to Madog son of Meredydd, prince of Powys, who 
died in the year 1159. The poem is ascribed to Madog's con- 
temporary, the well-known Welsh poet Cynddelw, who, in 
alluding to the mourning and grief among Madog's men, 
characterises the uproar as being Mai gavr toryw teulu 

" Like the shout of the multitude of Arthur's host." 

This leads, however, to no inference of any importance in 
this context. The same remark may be made concerning a 
mention of Arthur in a poem called Gorchan Maelderw in the 
Book of Aneurin, a manuscript of the latter part of the thir- 
teenth or of the beginning of the fourteenth century: the 
passage is unfortunately obscure. 4 

1 The Irish text is given at length in Windisch's Irische Texte, 

' 2 Kysceint is probably a raiscopying of Kysteint t the Welsh form of 
Constantius ; a name Wytheint appears in the Book of Taliessin, as 
that of one who fights with Gwydion son of D6n, see Skene's Four 
anc. Books of Wales, ii. 158. 

3 Evans' Facsimile, fol. 52". 

4 For the text see Skene's Four anc. Books of Wales, vol. 11. 106, 
and for the translation vol. i. 426. Both will also be found in Thomas 

xxii Preface 

The next manuscript to be mentioned is one of approximately 
the same data as the last-mentioned : I allude to the Book of 
Taliessin, where an obscure poem occurs, headed Kat Godeu. 
There, near the end, we have the following couplet : 
derwydon doethur. Druids erudite, 

darogen-wch y Arthur. Prophesy for Arthur. 

Another allusion to Arthur in the Book of Taliessin runs 

thus l : 

heilyn pascadiir. Heilyn of the Passover 

(reded dofyn doethur One of three deeply wise 

y vendigaw Arthur. To bless Arthur. 

Arthur vendigan Arthur they will bless 

ar gerd gyfaenat In elaborate song. 

Who the Heilyn mentioned here was does not appear, but he 
may be supposed to have been a priest or a bard. 

Other references to Arthur occur in the Book of Taliessin, 
but the most important by far is the poem known as Preiddeu 
Annwfn, or the Harryings of Hades, which I subjoin, so far as 
it is in point, with an attempt to translate into English, as 
follows : 

Golychaf wledic pendeuic gwlat ri. 

py ledas y pennaeth dros traeth mundi. 

bu kyweir karchar gweir ygkaer sidi. 

trwy ebostol pwyll aphryderi. 

Neb kyn noc ef nyt aeth idi 

yr gadwyn tromlas kywirwas ae ketwi. 

A rac preideu annwfyn tost yt gent. 

Ac yt urawt parahawt yn bard ivedi. 

Tri lloneit prytwen yd aetham ni idi. 

nam seith ny dyrreith o goer sidi. 

I adore the noble prince and high king 
Who extended his sway over the world's strand. 
Perfect was the captivity of Gwair in Caer Sidi, 
Through the warning 2 of Pwyll and Pryderi. 

Stephens' Gododin, pp. 352-3 ; but I am convinced that the meaning 
of the words still remains to be discovered. 

1 See Skene, ii. 456 : vol. i. 259, gives a translation differing 
considerably from the one proposed here with great diffidence. 

2 As to this meaning of the word tbostol> see Llyvyr Agkyt 
Llandeivivrevi (in the Anecdota Oxoniensia), p. 159. It is epistola 
borrowed and sometimes confounded with abostol from apostolus: the 
sequence of meanings seems to have been a letter, a message or 
admonition by letter, a warning. See a note on the word by Prof. 
Powel in the Cymmrodor, ix. 199. 

Preface xxiii 

Before him no one entered into it, 
Into the heavy dark chain a trusty youth guarded ; 
And at the harryings of Hades grievously did he sing, 
And till doom will he remain a bard afterwards. 
Three freights of Prydwen went we into it 
Seven alone did we return from Caer Sidi. 

Neut wyf glot geinmyn cerd o c/ilywtr. 

ygkaer pedryuan pedyr y chwelyt. 

vgkynneir or peir pan leferit. 

Oanadyl naw morwyn gochyneuit. 

Neu peir pen annwfyn pwy y vynut, 

gwrym am yoror a mererit. 

ny beirw bwyt llwfyr ny rytyghit. 

dedyf lluch lleawc idaw rydyrchit. 

Ac yn Haw leminawc yd edewit. 

Arac drws forth vffern llugyrn lloscit. 

Aphan aetham ni gan arthur trafferth lethrit. 

namyn seith ny dyrreith o goer vedwit. 

I am a seeker (?) of praise, if (my) song be heard : 

In Caer Pedryvan . . . 

. . . from the cauldron it would be spoken 

By the breath of nine maidens it would be kindled. 

The head of Hades' cauldron what is it like? 

A rim it has, with pearls, round its border: 

It boils not a coward's food : it would not be perjured. 

The sword of Llwch Lleawc would be lifted to it. 

And in the hand of Lleminawc was it left. 

And before the door of Hell's gate lamps were burning, 

And when we accompanied Arthur, a brilliant effort, 

Seven alone did we return from Caer Veddwit. 

Neut wyf glot geinmyn kerd glywanawr. 

ygkaer Pedryfan ynys pybyrdor. 

eckwyd amuchyd kymysgetor 

gwin gloyw eu gwirawt rac eu gorgord. 

Tri lloneit prytwen yd aetham ni ar vor. 

namyn seith ny dyrreith o gear rigor. 
I am a seeker (?) of praise, (my) song being (?) heard : 
At Caer Pedryvan in Quick-door Island, 
At dusk and in the blackness (of night) they mix 
The sparkling wine, their drink before their retinue. 
Three freights of Prydwen went we on sea : 
Seven alone did we return from Caer Rigor. 

Ny obrynafi lawyr lien llywyadttr 

tra chaer wydyr ny welsynt wrhyt artlmr. 

xxiv Preface 

Tri vgeint canhwr a sezii arymur. 
oed an haw d ymadrawd ae gwylyadur. 
tri lloneit prytwen yd aeth gan arthur. 
namyn seith ny dyrreith o gaer golnd. 

I merit not the laurel of the ruler of letters 

Beyond the Glass Fort they had not seen Arthur's valour. 

Three score hundreds stood on the wall : 

Hard it was found to converse with their sentinel. 

Three freights of Prydwen (were they that) went with Arthur, 

Seven alone did they return from Caer Goludd. 

Ny obrynaf y lawyr llaes eu kylchwy. 

ny wdant ivy py dyd peridyd pwy. 

py awr ymeindyd y ganet cwy. 

Pwy gwnaeth arnyt aeth doleu defwy, 

Ny wdant ivy yr ych brych bras ypenrwy. 

Seith vgein kygwng yny aervjy, 

A phan aetham ni gan arthur aurydol gofwy. 

namyn seith ny dyrreith o gaer vandwy. 
I merit not the laurel of them of the long shields (?) : 
They know not which is the ruler's day (or) who (he is), 
At what hour of early day he was born (or) where (?), 
Who made . . . went not . . . 

They know not the Speckled Ox with the stout halter, 
With seven score joints in his collar. 
When we went with Arthur, anxious visit, 
Seven alone did we return from Caer Vanddwy. 

Ny obrynafy lawyr llaes eu goken 

ny wdant py dyd peridyd pen. 

Py awr ymeindyd y ganet perchen. 

Py vil a gativant aryant y pen. 

pan aetham ni gan arthur afyrdwl gynken 

namyn seith ny dyrreith a gaer ochren. 

I merit not the laurel of those of long . . . 

They know not which is the day of the ruler (and) chief, 

At what hour of early day was born the owner, 

(Or) what myriad guards the silver of the head. 

When we went with Arthur, anxious contest, 

Seven alone did we return from Caer Ochren. 

Of the eight castles or strongholds mentioned in this poem 
not a single one has been identified with any real place, and the 
Isle of the Active Door belongs probably to the same sort of 
geography as Annwvyn or Hades, and Uffern or Hell. The 
poem evidently deals with expeditions conducted by Arthur 

Preface xxv 

by sea to the realms of twilight and darkness ; but the one in 
quest of the cauldron of the Head of Hades reminds me of that 
described in the Kulhwch as having for its object the cauldron 
of Diwrnach the Goidel : Arthur sets out with a small number 
of men on board his ship Prydwen, and after severe fighting 
brought away the cauldron full of the money of the country, 
which was, however, according to the Kulhwch, not Hades but 
Ireland. But with this difference the stories agree, not to 
mention ihatyr Yc/i Brych, or "the Speckled Ox,'' of the poem 
figures also in the Kulhwch. To do justice to this part of the 
comparison, and to complete the outline which I have sug- 
gested, I should have here to append at length the story of 
Kulhwch ; but as that is out of the question, I will only add 
that a translation of it into English will be found in the 
second volume of Lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogion, The 
Kulhwch is contained in the Jesus College manuscript, the Red 
Book of Hergest, which belongs to the latter half of the four- 
teenth century ; but the present version carries with it some 
evidence that it was copied from a manuscript written in the 
Kymric hand usual in Wales before the Norman Conquest 
and its influences had introduced another hand. On the 
whole, one cannot go far wrong in supposing that it was 
composed in the tenth century ; and as to its contents, it has 
been pronounced purely 1 Kymric by Professor Zimmer, that 
is to say, as contrasted with stories in which the influence of the 
romances cannot, as he thinks, be mistaken. 

It is not to be supposed, however, that other manuscripts, 
whether belonging to the same period as that of the Kulhwch 
or to later dates, relate nothing concerning Arthur but the echo 
of incidents occurring in the French romances. Instances 
could readily be cited to the contrary : take for example the 
episode in which the Welsh Triads 2 bring Arthur in contact 
with Drystan the gal-ofydd or "war-leader" of March and the 
lover of Essyllt, that is to say, Malory's Tristram, kynge Mark, 
and Isoud respectively. Drystan is represented sending March's 
swineherd on an errand to Essyllt, Drystan in the meantime 
taking upon himself the charge of the swine. The story then 
makes Arthur, assisted by March, Kei and Bedwyr, attempt to 
get possession of some of the swine by every means in their 

1 In the Gottingische gel. Anzeigen for June 10, 1890, pp. 517, 523-4. 

2 Triads i. 30, ii. 56, iii, IOI : see the Myv. Anh., vol. ii. pp. 6, 
20, 72-3. 

xxvi Preface 

power, but all in vain, so that Drystan came to be styled one 
of "the Three stout Swineherds of the Isle of Britain." Or 
take another instance, namely the statement that Arthur had 
not one wife Gwenhwyvar, Malory's Guenever, but three wives 
in succession, all called Gwenhwyvar. This strange piece of 
information likewise comes from the Triads, 1 and I should be 
surprised to learn that it found its way into them from the 
French romances rather than from some far older source. 

Speaking generally of the Arthur of Welsh literature, one 
may characterise him in few words : His first appearance is 
found to conform itself with the role of a Comes Britannia^ on 
whom it devolved to help the inhabitants of what was once 
Roman Britain against invasion and insult, whether at the 
hands of Angles and Saxons or of Picts and Scots : so we read 
of him acting for the kings of the Brythons as their dux 
bellorum. We next find his fame re-echoed by the topography 
of the country once under his protection, and his name gather- 
ing round it the legends of heroes and divinities of a past of 
indefinite extent. In other words, he and his men, especially 
Kei and Bedwyr, are represented undertaking perilous expedi- 
tions to realms of mythic obscurity, bringing home treasures, 
fighting with hags and witches, despatching giants, and destroy- 
ing monsters. How greatly this rude delineation of the triumph 
of man over violence and brute force differs from the more 
finished picture of the Arthur of Malory's painting, it would be 
needless to try to shew to any one bent on the pleasure of 
perusing the Morte Darthur. Such a reader may be trusted 
to pursue the comparison unassisted, in the fascinating pages 

of this incomparable book. 


The more important editions of the Morte Darthur have already been 
mentioned in the foregoing introduction (see p. vii). But since Principal 
Rhys wrote it (for the same publishers' large two- volume edition of 1893- 
4) many popular reprints and volumes of selections and adaptations from 
Malory's romance have appeared. A convenient pocket-guide to the 
wider field it indicates may be had in Miss Jessie L. Weston's Survey 
of Arthurian Romance (in Nutt's " Popular Studies in Mythology, 
Romance and Folklore"). The best companion romance-book is '2 lie 
Mabinogion t also republished in "EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY." 


1 Triad i. 59, ii. 16, iii. 109 : seethe Myv. Arch., vol. ii. pp. 12, 14, 73. 



AFTER that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, 
as well of contemplation as of other historical and worldly acts of 
great conquerors and princes, and also certain books of en- 
samples and doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this 
realm of England came and demanded me, many and ofttimes, 
wherefore that I have not do made and imprinted the noble history 
of the Sangreal, and of the most renowned Christian king, first 
and chief of the three best Christian and worthy, King Arthur, 
which ought most to be remembered among us English men 
tofore all other Christian kings. For it is notoriously known 
through the universal world that there be nine worthy and the 
best that ever were. That is to wit three paynims, three Jews, 
and three Christian men. As for the paynims they were tofore 
the Incarnation of Christ, which were named, the first Hector of 
Troy, of whom the history is come both in ballad and in prose ; 
the second Alexander the Great ; and the third Julius Caesar, 
Emperor of Rome, of whom the histories be well-known and 
had. And as for the three Jews which also were tofore the 
Incarnation of our Lord, of whom the first was Duke Joshua 
which brought the children of Israel into the land of behest; the 
second David, King of Jerusalem ; and the third Judas Macca- 
basus : of these three the Bible rehearseth all their noble histories 
and acts. And sith the said Incarnation have been three noble 
Christian men stalled and admitted through the universal world 
into the number of the nine best and worthy, of whom was first 
the noble Arthur, whose noble acts I purpose to write in this 
present book here following. The second was Charlemagne or 
Charles the Great, of whom the history is had in many places 
both in French and English ; and the third and last was Godfrey 
of Bouillon, of whose acts and life I made a book unto the 
excellent prince and king of noble memory, King Edward the 
Fourth. The said noble gentlemen instantly required me to 
imprint the history of the said noble king and conqueror, King 
Arthur, and of his knights, with the history of the Sangreal, and 
of the death and ending of the said Arthur ; affirming that I 
ought rather to imprint his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey 
of Bouillon, or any of the other eight, considering that he was a 
man born within this realm, and king and emperor of the same ; 

2 Caxton's Original Preface 

and that there be in French divers and many noble volumes of 
his acts, and also of his knights. To whom I answered, that 
divers men hold opinion that there was no such Arthur, and that 
all such books as be made of him be but feigned and fables, by 
cause that some chronicles make of him no mention nor remem- 
ber him no thing, nor of his knights. Whereto they answered 
and one in special said, that in him that should say or think 
that there was never such a king called Arthur, might well be 
credited great folly and blindness ; for he said that there were 
many evidences of the contrary : first ye may see his sepulture 
in the Monastery of Glastonbury. And also in Polichronicon, 
in the fifth book the sixth chapter, and in the seventh book 
the twenty-third chapter, where his body was buried and after 
found and translated into the said monastery. Ye shall see also 
in the history of Bochas, in his book De Casu Principum, part 
of his noble acts, and also of his fall. Also Galfridus in his 
British book recounteth his life ; and in divers places of England 
many remembrances be yet of him and shall remain perpetually, 
and also of his knights. First in the Abbey of Westminster, at 
Saint Edward's shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red 
wax closed in beryl, in which is written Patricius Arthurus, 
Britannie, Gallic, Germanie, Dacie, Imperator. Item in the 
castle of Dover ye may see Gawaine's skull and Craddock's 
mantle : at Winchester the Round Table : at other places 
Launcelot's sword and many other things. Then all these 
things considered, there can no man reasonably gainsay but 
there was a king of this land named Arthur. For in all places, 
Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for one of the 
nine worthy, and the first of the three Christian men. And also 
he is more spoken of beyond the sea, more books made of his 
noble acts than there be in England, as well in Dutch, Italian, 
Spanish, and Greek, as in French. And yet of record remain in 
witness of him in Wales, in the town of Camelot, the great 
stones and marvellous works of iron, lying under the ground, 
and royal vaults, which divers now living hath seen. Wherefore 
it is a marvel why he is no more renowned in his own country, 
save only it accordeth to the Word of God, which saith that no 
man is accept for a prophet in his own country. Then all these 
things foresaid alleged, I could not well deny but that there was 
such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed one of the nine 
worthy, and first and chief of the Christian men ; and many 
noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in French, 

Caxton's Original Preface 3 

which I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not had 
in our maternal tongue, but in Welsh be many and also in 
French, and some in English, but no where nigh all. Where 
fore, such as have late been drawn out briefly into English I 
have after the simple conning that God hath sent to me, under 
the favour and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, 
emprised to imprint a book of the noble histories of the said 
King Arthur, and of certain of his knights, after a copy unto me 
delivered, which copy Sir Thomas Malory did take out of certain 
books of French, and reduced it into English. And I, accord- 
ing to my copy, have done set it in imprint, to the intent that 
noble men may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, the 
gentle and virtuous deeds that some knights used in those days, 
by which they came to honour ; and how they that were vicious 
were punished and oft put to shame and rebuke ; humbly 
beseeching all noble lords and ladies, with all other estates, of 
what estate or degree they be of, that shall see and read in this 
said book and work, that they take the good and honest acts in 
their remembrance, and to follow the same. Wherein they shall 
find many joyous and pleasant histories, and noble and renowned 
acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalries. For herein may 
be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardi- 
ness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. 
Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to 
good fame and renown. And for to pass the time this book 
shall be pleasant to read in ; but for to give faith and believe 
that all is true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty ; 
but all is written for our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall 
not to vice nor sin ; but to exercise and follow virtue ; by which 
we may come and attain to good fame and renown in this life, 
and after this short and transitory life, to come unto everlasting 
bliss in heaven, the which he grant us that reigneth in heaven, 
the blessed Trinity. Amen. 

Then to proceed forth in this said book, which I direct unto 
all noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, 
that desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history 
of the great conqueror and excellent king, King Arthur, sometime 
king of this noble realm, then called Britain. I, William Caxton, 
simple person, present this book following, which I have 
emprised to imprint ; and treateth of the noble acts, feats of 
arms of chivalry, prowess, hardiness, humanity, love, courtesy 
and very gentleness, with many wonderful histories and adven- 

4 Caxton's Original Preface 

fares. And for to understand briefly the content of this volume, 
I have divided it into twenty-one books, and every book 
chaptered as hereafter shall by God's grace follow. The first 
book shall treat how Uther Pendragon gat the noble conqueror 
King Arthur, and containeth twenty-eight chapters. The second 
book treateth of Balin the noble knight, and containeth nineteen 
chapters. The third book treateth of the marriage of King 
Arthur to Queen Guenever, with other matters, and containeth 
fifteen chapters. The fourth book, how Merlin was assotted, 
and of war made to King Arthur, and containeth twenty-nine 
chapters. The fifth book treateth of the conquest of Lucius the 
emperor, and containeth twelve chapters. The sixth book 
treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel, and marvellous ad- 
ventures, and containeth eighteen chapters. The seventh book 
treateth of a noble knight called Sir Gareth, and named by Sir 
Kay, Beaumains, and containeth thirty-six chapters. The eight 
book treateth of the birth of Sir Tristram the noble knight, and 
of his acts, and containeth forty-one chapters. The ninth book 
treateth of a knight named by Sir Kay, La Cote Male Taile, and 
also of Sir Tristram, and containeth forty-four chapters. The 
tenth book treateth of Sir Tristram and other marvellous ad- 
ventures, and containeth eighty-eight chapters. The eleventh 
book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Galahad, and containeth 
fourteen chapters. The twelfth book treateth of Sir Launcelot 
and his madness, and containeth fourteen chapters. The 
thirteenth book treateth how Galahad came first to King Arthur's 
court, and the quest how the Sangreal was begun, and containeth 
twenty chapters. The fourteenth book treateth of the quest of 
the Sangreal, and containeth ten chapters. The fifteenth book 
treateth of Sir Launcelot, and containeth six chapters. The six- 
teenth book treateth of Sir Bors and Sir Lionel his brother, 
and containeth seventeen chapters. The seventeenth book 
treateth of the Sangreal, and containeth twenty-three chapters. 
The eighteenth book treateth of Sir Launcelot and the queen, and 
containeth twenty-five chapters. The nineteenth book treateth 
of Queen Guenever and Launcelot, and containeth thirteen 
chapters. The twentieth book treateth of the piteous death of 
Arthur, and containeth twenty-two chapters. The twenty-first 
book treateth of his last departing, and how Sir Launcelot came 
to revenge his death, and containeth thirteen chapters. The 
sum is twenty-one books, which contain the sum of five hundred 
and seven chapters, as more plainly shall follow hereafter. 





IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was 
king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty 
duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. 
And the duke was called the duke of Tintagil. And so by 
means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring 
his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing 
wise, and her name was called Igraine. So when the duke 
and his wife were come unto the king, by the means of great 
lords they were accorded both : the king liked and loved 
this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, 
and desired to have lain by her. But she was a passing 
good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And 
then she told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose 
that we were sent for that I should be dishonoured, where- 
fore, husband, I counsel you, that we depart from hence 
suddenly, that we may ride all night unto our own castle. 
And in like wise as she said so they departed, that neither 
the king nor none of his council were ware of their departing. 
All so soon as King Uther knew of their departing so 
suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to him 
his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of 
the duke and his wife. Then they asked the king to send 
for the duke and his wife by a great charge ; And if he will 
not come at your summons, then may ye do your best, then 
have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. So that was 
done, and the messengers had their answers, and that was 
this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at 
him. Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the 
king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and 

I 45 C B 

6 King Arthur 

stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would 
fetch him out of the biggest castle that he had. When the 
duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and 
garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one 
hight Tintagil, and the other castle hight Terrabil. So his 
wife Dame Igraine he put in the castle of Tintagil, and 
himself he put in the castle of Terrabil, the which had many 
issues and posterns out. Then in all haste came Uther with 
a great host, and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabil. 
And there he pyght many pavilions, and there was great war 
made on both parties, and much people slain. Then for 
pure anger and for great love of fair Igraine the King Uther 
fell sick. So came to the King Uther, Sir Ulfius a noble 
knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I shall tell 
thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love of fair 
Igraine that I may not be hool. Well, my lord, said Sir 
Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that 
your heart shall be pleased. So Ulfius departed, and by 
adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and then 
Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought. And he said he had 
little ado to tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom 
thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin ; therefore seek no 
farther, for I am he, and if King Uther will well reward me, 
and be sworn unto me to fulfil my desire, that shall be his 
honour and profit more than mine, for I shall cause him to 
have all his desire. All this will I undertake, said Ulfius, 
that there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have 
thy desire. Well, said Merlin, he shall have his entente and 
desire. And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your way, for 
I will not be long behind. 



THEN Ulfius was glad, and rode on more than a paas till 
that he came to King Uther Pendragon, and told him he 
had met with Merlin. Where is he? said the king. Sir, 
said Ulfius, he will not dwell long ; therewithal Ulfius was 
ware where Merlin stood at the porch of the pavilion's door. 

King Arthur 7 

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

8 King Arthur 

And anon, like a lusty knight, he assented thereto with good 
will, and so in all haste they were married in a morning with 
great mirth and joy. And King Lot of Lothian and of 
Orkney then wedded Margawse that was Gawaine's mother, 
and King Nentres of the land of Garlot wedded Elaine. 
All this was done at the request of King Uther. And the 
third sister Morgan le Fay was put to school in a nunnery, 
and there she learned so much that she was a great clerk of 
necromancy, and after she was wedded to King Uriens of the 
land of Gore, that was Sir Ewain's le Blanchemain's father. 



THEN Queen Igraine waxed daily greater and greater, so 
it befell after within half a year, as King Uther lay by his 
queen, he asked her, by the faith she owed to him, whose 
was the child within her body ; then was she sore abashed 
to give answer. Dismay you not, said the king, but tell me 
the truth, and I shall love you the better, by the faith of my 
body. Sir, said she, I shall tell you the truth. The same 
night that my lord was dead, the hour of his death, as his 
knights record, there came into my castle of Tintagil a man 
like my lord in speech and in countenance, and two knights 
with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and Jordans, 
and so I went unto bed with him as I ought to do with my 
lord, and the same night, as I shall answer unto God, this 
child was begotten upon me. That is truth, said the king, 
as ye say ; for it was I myself that came in the likeness, 
and therefore dismay you not, for I am father of the child ; 
and there he told her all the cause, how it was by Merlin's 
counsel. Then the queen made great joy when she knew 
who was the father of her child. Soon came Merlin unto 
the king, and said, Sir, ye must purvey you for the nourishing 
of your child. As thou wilt, said the king, be it. Well, 
said Merlin, I know a lord of yours in this land, that is 
a passing true man and a faithful, and he shall have the 
nourishing of your child, and his name is Sir Ector, and 
he is a lord of fair livelihood in many parts in England 
and Wales ; and this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, 
for to come and speak with you, and desire him yourself 

King Arthur 9 

as he loveth you, that he will put his own child to nourishing 
to another woman, and that his wife nourish yours. And 
when the child is born let it be delivered to me at yonder 
privy postern unchristened. So like as Merlin devised it 
was done. And when Sir Ector was come he made fyaunce 
to the king for to nourish the child like as the king desired ; 
and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards. Then 
when the lady was delivered, the king commanded two 
knights and two ladies to take the child, bound in a cloth 
of gold, and that ye deliver him to what poor man ye meet 
at the postern gate of the castle. So the child was delivered 
unto Merlin, and so he bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and 
made an holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur; 
and so Sir Ector's wife nourished him with her own pap. 



THEN within two years King Uther fell sick of a great 
malady. And in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon 
him, and did a great battle upon his men, and slew many 
of his people. Sir, said Merlin, ye may not lie so as ye do, 
for ye must to the field though ye ride on an horse-litter : 
for ye shall never have the better of your enemies but if 
your person be there, and then shall ye have the victory. 
So it was done as Merlin had devised, and they carried the 
king forth in an horse-litter with a great host towards his 
enemies. And at St. Albans there met with the king a 
great host of the North. And that day Sir Ulfius and 
Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and King Uther's men 
overcame the Northern battle and slew many people, and 
put the remnant to flight. And then the king returned 
unto London, and made great joy of his victory. And then 
he fell passing sore sick, so that three days and three nights 
he was speechless : wherefore all the barons made great 
sorrow, and asked Merlin what counsel were best. There 
is none other remedy, said Merlin, but God will have his 
will. But look ye, all barons, be before King Uther 
to-morn, and God and I shall make him to speak. So on 
the morn all the barons with Merlin came before the king ; 
then Merlin said aloud unto King Uther, Sir, shall your 

io King Arthur 

son Arthur be king after your days, of this realm with all 
the appurtenance? Then Uther Pendragon turned him, 
and said in hearing of them all, I give him God's blessing 
and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, and righteously 
and worshipfully that he claim the crown upon forfeiture of 
my blessing ; and therewith he yielded up the ghost, and 
then was he interred as longed to a king. Wherefore the 
queen, fair Igraine, made great sorrow, and all the barons. 



THEN stood the realm in great jeopardy long while, for 
every lord that was mighty of men made him strong, and 
many weened to have been king. Then Merlin went to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, and counselled him for to 
send for all the lords of the realm, and all the gentlemen of 
arms, that they should to London come by Christmas, upon 
pain of cursing; and for this cause, that Jesus, that was 
born on that night, that he would of his great mercy show 
some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for 
to show some miracle who should be rightways king of this 
realm. So the Archbishop, by the advice of Merlin, sent 
for all the lords and gentlemen of arms that they should 
come by Christmas even unto London. And many of 
them made them clean of their life, that their prayer might 
be the more acceptable unto God. So in the greatest 
church of London, whether it were Paul's or not the French 
book maketh no mention, all the estates were long or day 
in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first 
mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard, against 
the high altar, a great stone four square, like unto a marble 
stone, and in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot 
on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, 
and letters there were written in gold about the sword that 
said thus : Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and 
anvil, is rightwise king born of all England. Then the 
people marvelled, and told it to the Archbishop. I command, 
said the Archbishop, that ye keep you within your church, 
and pray unto God still ; that no man touch the sword till 

King Arthur n 

the high mass be all done. So when all masses were done 
all the lords went to behold the stone and the sword. And 
when they saw the scripture, some assayed ; such as would 
have been king. But none might stir the sword nor move 
it. He is not here, said the Archbishop, that shall achieve the 
sword, but doubt not God will make him known. But this 
is my counsel, said the Archbishop, that we let purvey ten 
knights, men of good fame, and they to keep this sword. 
So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that 
every man should essay that would, for to win the sword. 
And upon New Year's Day the barons let make a jousts 
and a tournament, that all knights that would joust or 
tourney there might play, and all this was ordained for to 
keep the lords and the commons together, for the Archbishop 
trusted that God would make him known that should win 
the sword. So upon New Year's Day, when the service 
was done, the barons rode unto the field, some to joust and 
some to tourney, and so it happened that Sir Ector, that 
had great livelihood about London, rode unto the jousts, 
and with him rode Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur that 
was his nourished brother ; and Sir Kay was made knight 
at All Hallowmass afore. So as they rode to the jousts- 
ward, Sir Kay had lost his sword, for he had left it at his 
father's lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride 
for his sword. I will well, said Arthur, and rode fast after 
the sword, and when he came home, the lady and all were 
out to see the jousting. Then was Arthur wroth, and said 
to himself, I will ride to the churchyard, and take the 
sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother 
Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day. So when 
he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alit and tied his 
horse to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and found no 
knights there, for they were at jousting ; and so he handled 
the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled 
it out of the stone, and took his horse and rode his way 
until he came to his brother Sir Kay, and delivered him the 
sword. And as soon as Sir Kay saw the sword, he wist 
well it was the sword of the stone, and so he rode to his 
father Sir Ector, and said : Sir, lo here is the sword of the 
stone, wherefore I must be king of this land. When Sir 
Ector beheld the sword, he returned again and came to the 
church, and there they alit all three, and went into the 
church. And anon he made Sir Kay to swear upon a 

12 King Arthur 

book how he came to that sword. Sir, said Sir Kay, by 
my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me. How gat ye 
this sword ? said Sir Ector to Arthur. Sir, I will tell you. 
When I came home for my brother's sword, I found 
nobody at home to deliver me his sword, and so I thought 
my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, and so I 
came hither eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without 
any pain. Found ye any knights about this sword ? said 
Sir Ector. Nay, said Arthur. Now, said Sir Ector to 
Arthur, I understand ye must be king of this land. Where- 
fore I, said Arthur, and for what cause ? Sir, said Ector, 
for God will have it so, for there should never man have 
drawn out this sword, but he that shall be rightways king 
of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the 
sword there as it was, and pull it out again. That is no 
mastery, said Arthur, and so he put it in the stone, there- 
withal Sir Ector essayed to pull out the sword and failed. 



Now assay, said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. And anon he 
pulled at the sword with all his might, but it would not be. 
Now shall ye essay, said Sir Ector to Arthur. I will well, 
said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir 
Ector knelt down to the earth, and Sir Kay. Alas, said 
Arthur, my own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to 
me ? Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so, I was never 
your father nor of your blood, but I wot well ye are of an 
higher blood than I weened ye were. And then Sir Ector 
told him all, how he was bitaken him for to nourish him, 
and by whose commandment, and by Merlin's deliverance. 
Then Arthur made great doole when he understood that 
Sir Ector was not his father. Sir, said Ector unto Arthur, 
will ye be my good and gracious lord when ye are king ? 
Else were I to blame, said Arthur, for ye are the man in 
the world that I am most beholden to, and my good lady 
and mother your wife, that as well as her own hath fostered 
me and kept. And if ever it be God's will that I be king 
as ye say, ye shall desire of me what I may do, and I shall 
not fail you, God forbid I should fail you. Sir, said Sir 

King Arthur 13 

Ector, I will ask no more of you, but that ye will make my 
son, your foster brother, Sir Kay, seneschal of all your 
lands. That shall be done, said Arthur, and more, by the 
faith of my body, that never man shall have that office but 
he, while he and I live. Therewithal they went unto the 
Archbishop, and told him how the sword was achieved, and 
by whom ; and on Twelfth-day all the barons came thither, 
and to essay to take the sword, who that would essay. But 
there afore them all, there might none take it out but 
Arthur ; wherefore there were many lords wroth, and said it 
was great shame unto them all and the realm, to be over- 
governed with a boy of no high blood born, and so they fell 
out at that time that it was put off till Candlemas, and then 
all the barons should meet there again ; but always the ten 
knights were ordained to watch the sword day and night, 
and so they set a pavilion over the stone and the sword, 
and five always watched. So at Candlemas many more 
great lords came thither for to have won the sword, but 
there might none prevail. And right as Arthur did at 
Christmas, he did at Candlemas, and pulled out the sword 
easily, whereof the barons were sore agrieved and put it off 
in delay till the high feast of Easter. And as Arthur sped 
before, so did he at Easter, yet there were some of the 
great lords had indignation that Arthur should be king, and 
put it off in a delay till the feast of Pentecost. Then the 
Archbishop of Canterbury by Merlyn's providence let purvey 
then of the best knights that they might get, and such 
knights as Uther Pendragon loved best and most trusted in 
his days. And such knights were put about Arthur as Sir 
Baudwin of Britain, Sir Kay, Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastias. All 
these with many other, were always about Arthur, day and 
night, till the feast of Pentecost. 



AND at the feast of Pentecost all manner of men essayed 
to pull at the sword that would essay, but none might 
prevail but Arthur, and pulled it out afore all the lords and 
commons that were there, wherefore all the commons cried 
at once, We will have Arthur unto our king, we will put him 

I 45 *B 

14 King Arthur 

no more in delay, for we all see that it is God's will that he 
shall be our king, and who that holdeth against it, we will 
slay him. And therewith they all kneeled at once, both 
rich and poor, and cried Arthur mercy because they had 
delayed him so long, and Arthur forgave them, and took 
the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the 
altar where the Archbishop was, and so was he made knight 
of the best man that was there. And so anon was the 
coronation made. And there was he sworn unto his lords 
and the commons for to be a true king, to stand with true 
justice from thenceforth the days of this life. Also then he 
made all lords that held of the crown to come in, and to do 
service as they ought to do. And many complaints were 
made unto Sir Arthur of great wrongs that were done since 
the death of King Uther, of many lands that were bereaved 
lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. Wherefore King 
Arthur made the lands to be given again unto them that 
owned them. When this was done, that the king had 
stablished all the countries about London, then he let make 
Sir Kay seneschal of England ; and Sir Baudwin of Britain 
was made constable; and Sir Ulfius was made chamberlain; 
and Sir Brastias was made warden to wait upon the north 
from Trent forwards, for it was that time the most part the 
king's enemies. But within few years after, Arthur won 
all the north, Scotland, and all that were under their 
obeissance. Also Wales, a part of it held against Arthur, 
but he overcame them all, as he did the remnant, through 
the noble prowess of himself and his knights of the Round 



THEN the king removed into Wales, and let cry a great 
feast that it should be holden at Pentecost after the incoro- 
nation of him at the city of Carlion. Unto the feast came 
King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney, with five hundred 
knights with him. Also there came to the feast King 
Uriens of Gore with four hundred knights with him. Also 
there came to that feast King Nentres of Garlot, with seven 

King Arthur 15 

hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast 
the king of Scotland with six hundred knights with him, 
and he was but a young man. Also there came to the 
feast a king that was called the king with the hundred 
knights, but he and his men were passing well bisene at all 
points. Also there came the king of Carados with five 
hundred knights. And King Arthur was glad of their 
coming, for he weened that all the kings and knights had 
come for great love, and to have done him worship at his 
feast, wherefore the king made great joy, and sent the kings 
and knights great presents. But the kings would none 
receive, but rebuked the messengers shamefully, and said 
they had no joy to receive no gifts of a beardless boy that 
was come of low blood, and sent him word they would none 
of his gifts, but that they were come to give him gifts with 
hard swords betwixt the neck and the shoulders : and there- 
fore they came thither, so they told to the messengers 
plainly, for it was great shame to all them to see such a boy 
to have a rule of so noble a realm as this land was. With 
this answer the messengers departed and told to King 
Arthur this answer. Wherefore, by the advice of his barons, 
he took him to a strong tower with five hundred good men 
with him : and all the kings aforesaid in a manner laid a 
siege tofore him, but King Arthur was well victualed. And 
within fifteen days there came Merlin among them into the 
city of Carlion. Then all the kings were passing glad of 
Merlin, and asked him, For what cause is that boy Arthur 
made your king? Sirs, said Merlin, I shall tell you the 
cause, for he is King Uther Pendragons son, born in 
wedlock, gotten on Igraine, the duke's wife of Tintagil. 
Then is he a bastard, they said all. Nay, said Merlin, 
after the death of the duke, more than three hours, was 
Arthur begotten, and thirteen days after King Uther weddsd 
Igraine ; and therefore I prove him he is no bastard, and 
who saith nay, he shall be king and overcome all his 
enemies ; and, or he die, he shall be long king of all England, 
and have under his obeissance Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, 
and more realms than I will now rehearse. Some of the 
kings had marvel of Merlin's words, and deemed well that 
it should be as he said ; and some of them laughed him to 
scorn, as King Lot ; and more other called him a witch. 
But then were they accorded with Merlin, that King Arthur 
should come out and speak with the kings, and to come 

1 6 King Arthur 

safe and to go safe, such assurance there was made. So 
Merlin went unto King Arthur, and told him how he had 
done, and bade him fear not, but come out boldly and 
speak with them, and spare them not, but answer them as 
their king and chieftain, for ye shall overcome them all, 
whether they will or nill. 




THEN King Arthur came out of his tower, and had under 
his gown a jesseraunte of double mail, and there went with 
him the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Baudwin of 
Britain, and Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias : these were the men 
of most worship that were with him. And when they were 
met there was no meekness, but stout words on both sides ; 
but always King Arthur answered them, and said he would 
make them to bow an he lived. Wherefore they departed 
with wrath, and King Arthur bade keep them well, and 
they bade the king keep him well. So the king returned 
him to the tower again and armed him and all his knights. 
What will ye do ? said Merlin to the kings ; ye were better 
for to stynte, for ye shall not here prevail though ye were 
ten times so many. Be we well advised to be afeard 
of a dream-reader? said King Lot. With that Merlin 
vanished away, and came to King Arthur, and bade him set 
on them fiercely ; and in the meanwhile there were three 
hundred good men of the best that were with the kings, that 
went straight unto King Arthur and that comforted him 
greatly. Sir, said Merlin to Arthur, fight not with the 
sword that ye had by miracle, till that ye see ye go unto the 
worse, then draw it out and do your best. So forthwithal 
King Arthur set upon them in their lodging. And Sir 
Baudwin, Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias slew on the right hand 
and on the left hand that it was marvel ; and always King 
Arthur on horseback laid on with a sword, and did marvel- 
lous deeds of arms that many of the kings had great joy of 
his deeds and hardiness. Then King Lot brake out on the 
back side, and the king with the hundred knights, and King 
Carados, and set on Arthur fiercely behind him. With that 

King Arthur 17 

Sir Arthur turned with his knights, and smote behind and 
before, and ever Sir Arthur was in the foremost press till his 
horse was slain underneath him. And therewith King Lot 
smote down King Arthur. With that his four knights 
received him and set him on horseback. Then he drew his 
sword Excalibur, but it was so bright in his enemies' eyes, 
that it gave light like thirty torches. And therewith he put 
them on back, and slew much people. And then the 
commons of Carlion arose with clubs and staves and slew 
many knights ; but all the kings held them together with 
their knights that were left alive, and so fled and departed. 
And Merlin came unto Arthur, and counselled him to 
follow them no further. 



So after the feast and journey, King Arthur drew him 
unto London, and so by the counsel of Merlin, the king let 
call his barons to council, for Merlin had told the king that 
the six kings that made war upon him would in all haste be 
awroke on him and on his lands. Wherefore the king 
asked counsel at them all. They could no counsel give, 
but said they were big enough. Ye say well, said Arthur ; 
I thank you for your good courage, but will ye all that 
loveth me speak with Merlin ? ye know well that he hath 
done much for me, and he knoweth many things, and when 
he is afore you, I would that ye prayed him heartily of his 
best advice. AH the barons said they would pray him and 
desire him. So Merlin was sent for, and fair desired of all 
the barons to give them best counsel. I shall say you, said 
Merlin, I warn you all, your enemies are passing strong for 
you, and they are good men of arms as be alive, and by this 
time they have gotten to them four kings more and a mighty 
duke; and unless that our king have more chivalry with 
him than he may make within the bounds of his own 
realm, an he fight with them in battle, he shall be overcome 
and slain. What were best to do in this cause? said all the 
barons. I shall tell you, said Merlin, my advice ; there are 
two brethren beyond the sea, and they be kings both and 

1 8 King Arthur 

marvellous good men of their hands ; and that one hight 
King Ban of Benwick, and that other hight King Bors of 
Gaul, that is France. And on these two kings warreth a 
mighty man of men, the King Claudas, and striveth with 
them for a castle, and great war is betwixt them : but this 
Claudas is so mighty of goods whereof he getteth good 
knights, that he putteth these two kings most part to the 
worse ; wherefore this is my counsel, that our king and 
sovereign lord send unto the kings Ban and Bors by two 
trusty knights with letters well devised, that if they will come 
and see King Arthur and his court, and so help him in his 
wars, that he will be sworn unto them to help them in their 
wars against King Claudas. Now, what say ye unto this 
counsel ? said Merlin. This is well counselled, said the 
king and all the barons. Right so in all haste there were 
ordained to go two knights on the message unto the two 
kings. So were there made letters in the pleasant wise 
according unto King Arthur's desire. Ulfius and Brastias 
were made the messengers, and so rode forth well horsed 
and well armed, and as the guise was that time, and so 
passed the sea and rode toward the city of Benwick. And 
there besides were eight knights that espied them, and at a 
straight passage they met with Ulfius and Brastias, and 
would have taken them prisoners ; so they prayed them that 
they might pass, for they were messengers unto King Ban 
and Bors sent from King Arthur. Therefore, said the eight 
knights, ye shall die or be prisoners, for we be knights of 
King Claudas. And therewith two of them dressed their 
spears, and Ulfius and Brastias dressed their spears, and 
ran together with great raundon, and Claudas' knights 
brake their spears, and theirs to-held and bare the two 
knights out of their saddles to the earth, and so left 
them lying, and rode their ways. And the other six knights 
rode afore to a passage to meet with them again, and so 
Ulfius and Brastias smote other two down, and so passed on 
their ways. And at the fourth passage there met two for 
two, and both were laid unto the earth ; so there was none 
of the eight knights but he was sore hurt or bruised. And 
when they come to Benwick it fortuned there were both 
Kings Ban and Bors. And when it was told the kings that 
there were come messengers, there were sent unto them two 
knights of worship, the one hight Lionses, lord of the 
country of Payarne, and Sir Phariance a worshipful knight. 

King Arthur 19 

Anon they asked from whence they came, and they said 
from King Arthur, king of England ; so they took them in 
their arms and made great joy each of other. But anon, as 
the two kings wist they were messengers of Arthur's, there 
was made no tarrying, but forthwith they spake with the 
knights, and welcomed them in the faithfullest wise, and said 
they were most welcome unto them before all the kings 
living. And therewith they kissed the letters and delivered 
them ; and when Ban and Bors understood the letters, then 
they were more welcome than they were before. And after 
the haste of the letters, they gave them this answer, that they 
would fulfil the desire of King Arthur's writing, and Ulfius 
and Brastias tarry there as long as they would, they should 
have such cheer as might be made them in those marches. 
Then Ulfius and Brastias told the king of the adventure at 
their passages of the eight knights. Ha ! ah ! said Ban and 
Bors, they were my good friends. I would I had wist of 
them, they should not have escaped so. So Ulfius and 
Brastias had good cheer and great gifts as much as they 
might bear away, and had their answer by mouth and by 
writing, that those two kings would come unto Arthur in all 
the haste that they might. So the two knights rode on 
afore, and passed the sea, and come to their lord, and told 
him how they had sped, whereof King Arthur was passing 
glad. At what time suppose ye the two kings will be here ? 
Sir, said they, afore All Hallowmass. Then the king let 
purvey for a great feast, and let cry a great jousts. And by 
All Hallowmass the two kings were come over the sea with 
three hundred knights well arrayed both for the peace and 
for the war. And King Arthur met with them ten mile out 
of London, and there was great joy as could be thought or 
made. And on All Hallowmass at the great feast, sat in 
the hall the three kings, and Sir Kay seneschal served in the 
hall, and Sir Lucas the butler, that was Duke Corneus' son, 
and Sir Griflet, that was the son of Cardol, these three 
knights had the rule of all the service that served the kings. 
And anon, as they had washen and risen, all knights that 
would joust made them ready. By when they were ready 
on horseback there were seven hundred knights. And 
Arthur, Ban, and Bors, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
and Sir Ector, Kay's father, they were in a place covered 
with cloth of gold like an hali, with ladies and gentlewomen, 
for to behold who did best, and thereon to give judgment. 

2O King Arthur 



AND King Arthur and the two kings let depart the seven 
hundred knights in two parties. And there were three 
hundred knights of the realm of Benwick and of Gaul 
turned on the other side. Then they dressed their shields, 
and began to couch their spears many good knights. So 
Griflet was the first that met with a knight, one Ladinas, 
and they met so eagerly that all men had wonder ; and they 
so fought that their shields fell to pieces, and horse and 
man fell to the earth ; and both the French knight and the 
English knight lay so long that all men weened they had 
been dead. When Lucas the butler saw Griflet so lie, he 
horsed him again anon, and they two did marvellous deeds 
of arms with many bachelors. Also Sir Kay came out of an 
embushment with five knights with him, and they six smote 
other six down. But Sir Kay did that day marvellous deeds 
of arms that there was none did so well as he that day. 
Then there come Ladinas and Gracian, two knights of 
France, and did passing well, that all men praised them. 
Then come there Sir Placidas, a good knight, and met with 
Sir Kay, and smote him down horse and man, wherefore Sir 
Griflet was wroth, and met with Sir Placidas so hard, that 
horse and man fell to the earth. But when the five knights 
wist that Sir Kay had a fall, they were wroth out of wit, and 
therewith each of them five bare down a knight. When 
King Arthur and the two kings saw them begin to wax wroth 
on both parties, they leapt on small hackneys, and let cry 
that all men should depart unto their lodging. And so they 
went home and unarmed them, and so to evensong and 
supper. And after, the three kings went into a garden, and 
gave the prize unto Sir Kay, and to Lucas the butler, and 
unto Sir Griflet. And then they went unto council, and 
with them Gwenbaus, the brother unto Sir Ban and Bors, a 
wise clerk, and thither went Ulfius and Brastias, and Merlin. 
And after they had been in council, they went unto bed. 
And on the morn they heard mass, and to dinner, and so to 
their council, and made many arguments what were best to 
do. At the last they were concluded, that Merlin should go 
with a token of King Ban, and that was a ring, unto his men 

King Arthur 21 

and King Bors's ; and Gracian and Placidas should go again 
and keep their castles and their countries, as King Ban of 
Benvvick, and King Bors of Gaul had ordained them, and so 
they passed the sea and came to Benwick, And when the 
people saw King Ban's ring, and Gracian and Placidas, they 
were glad, and asked how the kings fared, and made great 
joy of their welfare and cordyng, and according unto the 
sovereign lords' desire, the men of war made them ready in 
all haste possible, so that they were fifteen thousand on 
horse and foot, and they had great plenty of victual with 
them, by Merlin's provision. But Gracian and Placidas 
were left to furnish and garnish the castles, for dread of King 
Claudas. Right so Merlin passed the sea well victualled 
both by water and by land. And when he came to the sea 
he sent home the foot men again, and took no more with 
him but ten thousand men on horseback, the most part men 
of arms, and so shipped and passed the sea into England, 
and landed at Dover ; and through the wit of Merlin, he led 
the host northward, the priviest way that could be thought, 
unto the forest of Bedegraine, and there in a valley he lodged 
them secretly. Then rode Merlin unto Arthur and the two 
kings, and told them how he had sped ; whereof they had 
great marvel, that man on earth might speed so soon, and go 
and come. So Merlin told them ten thousand were in the 
forest of Bedegraine, well armed at all points. Then was 
there no more to say, but to horseback went all the host as 
Arthur had afore purveyed. So with twenty thousand he 
passed by night and day, but there was made such an 
ordinance afore by Merlin, that there should no man of war 
ride nor go in no country on this side Trent water, but if he 
had a token from King Arthur, where through the king's 
enemies durst not ride as they did tofore to espy. 




AND so within a little space the three kings came unto 
the castle of Bedegraine, and found there a passing fair 
fellowship, and well besene, whereof they had great joy, and 
victual they wanted none. This was the cause of the 
northern host : that they were reared for the despite and 

22 King Arthur 

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



So by Merlin's advice there were sent fore-riders to skim 
the country, and they met with the fore-riders of the north, 
and made them to tell which way the host came, and then 
they told it to Arthur, and by King Ban and Bors' council 

King Arthur 23 

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



THEN King Arthur and King Ban and King Bors, with 
their good and trusty knights, set on them so fiercely that 
they made them overthrow their pavilions on their heads, 
but the eleven kings, by manly prowess of arms, took a fair 
champaign, but there was slain that morrowtide ten thousand 
good men's bodies. And so they had afore them a strong 
passage, yet were they fifty thousand of hardy men. Then 
it drew toward day. Now shall ye do by mine advice, said 
Merlin unto the three kings : I would that King Ban and 
King Bors, with their fellowship of ten thousand men, were 
put in a wood here beside, in an embushment, and keep 
them privy, and that they be laid or the light of the day 
come, and that they stir not till ye and your knights have 
fought with them long. And when it is daylight, dress your 
battle even afore them and the passage, that they may see 
all your host, for then will they be the more hardy, when 
they see you but about twenty thousand men, and cause 
them to be the gladder to suffer you and your host to come 
over the passage. All the three kings and the whole barons 
said that Merlin said passingly well, and it was done anon 
as Merlin had devised. So on the morn, when either host 
saw other, the host of the north was well comforted. Then 
to Ulfius and Brastias were delivered three thousand men 
of arms, and they set on them fiercely in the passage, and 
slew on the right hand and on the left hand that it was 

24 Kin" Arthur 

wonder to tell. When that the eleven kings saw that there 
was so few a fellowship did such deeds of arms, they were 
ashamed and set on them again fiercely ; and there was Sir 
Ulfius's horse slain under him, but he did marvellously well 
on foot. But the Duke Eustace of Cambenet and King 
Clariance of Northumberland, were alway grievous on 
Ulfius. When Brastias saw his fellow fared so withal, he 
smote the duke with a spear, that horse and man fell down. 
That saw King Clariance and returned unto Brastias, and 
either smote other so that horse and man went to the earth, 
and so they lay long astonied, and their horse knees brast 
to the hard bone. Then came Sir Kay the seneschal with 
six fellows with him, and did passing well. With that came 
the eleven kings, and there was Griflet put to the earth, 
horse and man, and Lucas the butler, horse and man, by 
King Brandegoris, and King Idres, and King Agwisance. 
Then waxed the medley passing hard on both parties. 
When Sir Kay saw Griflet on foot, he rode on King Nentres 
and smote him down, and led his horse unto Sir Griflet, 
and horsed him again. Also Sir Kay with the same spear 
smote down King Lot, and hurt him passing sore. That 
saw the king with the hundred knights, and ran unto Sir 
Kay and smote him down, and took his horse, and gave 
him King Lot, whereof he said gramercy. When Sir Griflet 
saw Sir Kay and Lucas the butler on foot, he took a sharp 
spear, great and square, and rode to Pinel, a good man of 
arms, and smote horse and man down, and then he took 
his horse, and gave him unto Sir Kay. When King Lot 
saw King Nentres on foot, he ran unto Melot de la Roche, 
and smote him down, horse and man, and gave King 
Nentres the horse, and horsed him again. Also the king of 
the hundred knights saw King Idres on foot, then he ran 
unto Gwimiart de Bloi, and smote him down, horse and 
man, and gave King Idres the horse, and horsed him again ; 
and King Lot smote down Clariance de la Forest Savage, 
and gave the horse unto Duke Eustace. And so when they 
had horsed the kings again they drew them all eleven kings 
together, and said they would be revenged of the damage 
that they had taken that day. The meanwhile came in Sir 
Ector with an eager countenance, and found Ulfias and 
Brastias on foot, in great peril of death, that were foul 
defoyled under horse-feet. Then King Arthur as a lion, 
ran unto King Cradelment of North Wales, and smote him 

King Arthur 25 

through the left side, that the horse and the king fell down ; 
and then he took the horse by the rein, and led him unto 
Ulfius, and said, Have this horse, mine old friend, for great 
need hast thou of horse. Gramercy, said Ulfias. Then Sir 
Arthur did so marvellously in arms, that all men had 
wonder. When the king with the hundred knights saw 
King Cradelment on foot, he ran unto Sir Ector, that was 
well horsed, Sir Kay's father, and smote horse and man 
down, and gave the horse unto the king, and horsed him 
again ; and when King Arthur saw the king ride on Sir 
Ector's horse, he was wroth and with his sword he smote 
the king on the helm, that a quarter of the helm and shield 
fell down, and the sword carved down unto the horse's 
neck, and so the king and the horse fell down to the 
ground. Then Sir Kay came unto Sir Morganore, seneschal 
with the king of the hundred knights, and smote him down, 
horse and man, and led the horse unto his father, Sir 
Ector; then Sir Ector ran unto a knight, hight Lardans, 
and smote horse and man down, and led the horse unto Sir 
Brastias, that great need had of an horse, and was greatly 
defoyled. When Brastias beheld Lucas the butler, that lay 
like a dead man under the horse's feet, and ever Sir Griflet 
did marvellously for to rescue him, and there were always 
fourteen knights on Sir Lucas ; then Brastias smote one of 
them on the helm, that it went to the teeth, and he rode to 
another and smote him, that the arm flew into the field. 
Then he went to the third and smote him on the shoulder, 
that shoulder and arm flew in the field. And when Griflet 
saw rescues, he smote a knight on the temples, that head 
and helm went to the earth, and Griflet took the horse of 
that knight, and led him unto Sir Lucas, and bad him 
mount upon the horse and revenge his hurts. For Brastias 
had slain a knight tofore and horsed Griflet. 



THEN Lucas saw King Agwisance, that late had slain 
Moris de la Roche, and Lucas ran to him with a short 
spear that was great, that he gave him such a fall, that the 
horse fell down to the earth. Also Lucas found there on 

26 King Arthur 

foot, Bloias de La Flandres, and Sir Gwinas, two hardy 
knights, and in that woodness that Lucas was in, he slew 
two bachelors and horsed them again. Then waxed the 
battle passing hard on both parties, but Arthur was glad 
that his knights were horsed again, and then they fought 
together, that the noise and sound rang by the water and 
the wood. Wherefore King Ban and King Bors made 
them ready, and dressed their shields and harness, and 
they were so courageous that many knights shook and 
bevered for eagerness. All this while Lucas, and Gwinas, 
and Briant, and Bellias of Flanders, held strong medley 
against six kings, that was King Lot, King Nentres, King 
Brandegoris, King Idres, King Uriens, and King Agwisance. 
So with the help of Sir Kay and of Sir Griflet they held 
these six kings hard, that unnethe they had any power to 
defend them. But when Sir Arthur saw the battle would 
not be ended by no manner, he ferd wood as a lion, and 
steered his horse here and there, on the right hand, and on 
the left hand, that he stinted not till he had slain twenty 
knights. Also he wounded King Lot sore on the shoulder, 
and made him to leave that ground, for Sir Kay and Griflet 
did with King Arthur there great deeds of arms. Then 
Ulfius, and Brastias, and Sir Ector encountered against 
the Duke Eustace, and King Cradelment, and King 
Clariance of Northumberland, and King Carados, and 
against the king with the hundred knights. So these 
knights encountered with these kings, that they made them 
to avoid the ground. Then King Lot made great dole for 
his damages and his fellows, and said unto the ten kings, 
But if ye will do as I advise we shall be slain and destroyed ; 
let me have the king with the hundred knights, and King 
Agwisance, and King Idres, and the Duke of Cambenet, 
and we five kings will have fifteen thousand men of arms 
with us, and we will go apart while ye six kings hold medley 
with twelve thousand ; an we see that ye have foughten 
with them long, then will we come on fiercely, and else 
shall we never match them, said King Lot, but by this 
mean. So they departed as they here devised, and six 
kings made their party strong against Arthur, and made 
great war long. In the meanwhile brake the embushment 
of King Ban and King Bors, and Lyonses and Phariance 
had the vanguard, and they two knights met with King 
Idres and his fellowship, and there began a great medley of 

King Arthur 27 

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

28 King Arthur 



BY then came into the field King Ban as fierce as a lion, 
with bands of green and thereupon gold. Ha ! ha ! said 
King Lot, we must be discomfited, for yonder I see the 
most valiant knight of the world, and the man of the most 
renown, for such two brethren as is King Ban and King 
Bors are not living, wherefore we must needs void or die ; 
and but if we avoid manly and wisely there is but death. 
When King Ban came into the battle, he came in so fiercely 
that the strokes redounded again from the wood and the 
water ; wherefore King Lot wept for pity and dole that he 
saw so many good knights take their end. But through the 
great force of King Ban they made both the northern battles 
that were departed hurtle together for great dread, and the 
three kings and their knights slew on ever, that it was pity 
on to behold that multitude of the people that fled. But 
King Lot, and king of the hundred knights, and King 
Morganore gathered the people together passing knightly, 
and did great prowess of arms, and held the battle all that 
day, like hard. When the king of the hundred knights 
beheld the great damage that King Ban did, he threst unto 
him with his horse, and smote him on high upon the helm, 
a great stroke, and astonied him sore. Then King Ban was 
wroth with him, and followed on him fiercely ; the other 
saw that, and cast up his shield, and spurred his horse 
forward, but the stroke of King Ban fell down and carved a 
cantel off the shield, and the sword slid down by the 
hauberk behind his back, and cut through the trappings of 
steel and the horse even in two pieces, that the sword felt 
the earth. Then the king of the hundred knights voided 
the horse lightly, and with his sword he broched the horse 
of King Ban through and through. With that King Ban 
voided lightly from the dead horse, and then King Ban 
smote at the other so eagerly, and smote him on the helm 
that he fell to the earth. Also in that ire he felled King 
Morganore, and there was great slaughter of good knights 
and much people. By then came into the press King 
Arthur, and found King Ban standing among dead men 
and dead horse, fighting on foot as a wood lion, that there 

King Arthur 29 

came none nigh him as far as he might reach with his sword 
but he caught a grievous buffet ; whereof King Arthur had 
great pity. And Arthur was so bloody, that by his shield there 
might no man know him, for all was blood and brains on 
his sword. And as Arthur looked by him he saw a knight 
that was passingly well horsed, and therewith Sir Arthur ran 
to him, and smote him on the helm, that his sword went 
unto his teeth, and the knight sank down to the earth dead, 
and anon Arthur took the horse by the rein, and led him 
unto King Ban, and said, Fair brother, have this horse, for 
ye have great myster thereof, and me repenteth sore of 
your great damage. It shall be soon revenged, said King 
Ban, for I trust in God mine cure is not such but some of 
them may sore repent this. I will well, said Arthur, for I 
see your deeds full actual ; nevertheless, I might not come 
at you at that time. But when King Ban was mounted on 
horseback, then there began new battle the which was sore 
and hard, and passing great slaughter. And so through 
great force King Arthur, King Ban, and King Bors made 
their knights a little to withdraw them. But alway the 
eleven kings with their chivalry never turned back ; and so 
withdrew them to a little wood, and so over a little river, 
and there they rested them, for on the night they might have 
no rest on the field. And then the eleven kings and 
knights put them on a heap all together, as men adread and 
out of all comfort. But there was no man might pass them, 
they held them so hard together both behind and before, 
that King Arthur had marvel of their deeds of arms, and 
was passing wroth. Ah, Sir Arthur, said King Ban and 
King Bors, blame them not, for they do as good men ought 
to do. For, by my faith, said King Ban, they are the best 
fighting men, and knights of most prowess, that ever I saw 
or heard speak of, and those eleven kings are men of great 
worship ; and if they were longing unto you there were no 
king under the heaven had such eleven knights, and of such 
worship. I may not love them, said Arthur, they would 
destroy me. That wot we well, said King Ban and King 
Bors, for they are your mortal enemies, and that hath 
been proved aforehand, and this day they have done their 
part, and that is great pity of their wilfulness. Then all the 
eleven kings drew them together, and then said King Lot, 
Lords, ye must other ways than ye do, or else the great loss 
is behind; ye may see what people we have lost, and 

30 King Arthur 

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




WHEN Sir Arthur and King Ban and Bors beheld them 
and all their knights, they praised them much for their noble 
cheer of chivalry, for the hardiest fighters that ever they heard 
or saw. With that, there dressed them a forty noble knights, 
and said unto the three kings, they would break their battle; 
these were their names : Lionses, Phariance, Ulfius, Brastias, 
Ector, Kay, Lucas the butler, Griflet le Fise de Dieu, 
Mariet de la Roche, Guinas de Bloi, Briant de la Forest 
Savage, Bellaus, Morians of the Castle of Maidens, Flan- 
nedrius of the Castle of Ladies, Annecians that was King 
Bors' godson, a noble knight, Ladinas de la Rouse, Emer- 
ause, Caulas, Graciens le Castlein, one Blois de la Case, and 
Sir Colgrevaunce de Gorre, all these knights rode on afore 
with spears on their thighs, and spurred their horses mightily 

King Arthur 31 

as the horses might run. And the eleven kings with part of 
their knights rushed with their horses as fast as they might 
with their spears, and there they did on both parts marvellous 
deeds of arms. So came into the thick of the press, Arthur, 
Ban, and Bors, and slew down right on both hands, that their 
horses went in blood up to the fetlocks. But ever the 
eleven kings and their host was ever in the visage of Arthur. 
Wherefore Ban and Bors had great marvel, considering the 
great slaughter that there was, but at the last they were 
driven aback over a little river. With that came Merlin on 
a great black horse, and said unto Arthur, Thou hast never 
done, hast thou not done enough ? of three score thousand 
this day hast thou left alive but fifteen thousand, and it is 
time to say Ho ! For God is wroth with thee, that thou 
wilt never have done, for yonder eleven kings at this time 
will not be overthrown, but an thou tarry on them any 
longer, thy fortune will turn and they shall increase. And 
therefore withdraw you unto your lodging, and rest you as 
soon as ye may, and reward your good knights with gold 
and with silver, for they have well deserved it ; there may 
no riches be too dear for them, for of so few men as ye 
have, there were never men did more of prowess than they 
have done to-day, for ye have matched this day with the 
best fighters of the world. That is truth, said King Ban. 
and Bors. Also said Merlin, withdraw you where ye list, for 
this three year I dare undertake they shall not dare you ; 
and by then ye shall hear new tidings. And then Merlin 
said unto Arthur, These eleven kings have more on hand 
than they are ware of, for the Saracens are landed in their 
countries, more than forty thousand, that burn and slay, 
and have laid siege at the castle Wandesborow, and make 
great destruction ; therefore dread you not this three year. 
Also, sir, all the goods that be gotten at this battle, let it be 
searched, and when ye have it in your hands, let it be given 
freely unto these two kings, Ban and Bors, that they may 
reward their knights withal ; and that shall cause strangers 
to be of better will to do you service at need. Also you 
be able to reward your own knights of your own goods 
whensomever it liketh you. It is well said, quoth Arthur, 
and as thou hast devised, so shall it be done. When it was 
delivered to Ban and Bors, they gave the goods as freely to 
their knights as freely as it was given to them. Then Merlin 
took his leave of Arthur and of the two kings, for to go and 

32 King Arthur 

see his master Bleise, that dwelt in Northumberland ; and 
so he departed and came to his master, that was passing 
glad of his coming ; and there he told how Arthur and the 
two kings had sped at the great battle, and how it was ended, 
and told the names of every king and knight of worship 
that was there. And so Bleise wrote the battle word by 
word, as Merlin told him how it began, and by whom, and 
in likewise how it was ended, and who had the worse. All 
the battles that were done in Arthur's days, Merlin did his 
master Bleise do write ; also he did do write all the battles 
that every worthy knight did of Arthur's court. After this 
Merlin departed from his master and came to King Arthur, 
that was in the castle of Bedegraine, that was one of the 
castles that stood in the forest of Sherwood. And Merlin 
was so disguised that King Arthur knew him not, for he was 
all befurred in black sheep skins, and a great pair of boots, 
and a bow and arrows, in a russet gown, and brought wild 
geese in his hand, and it was on the morn after Candlemas 
day ; but King Arthur knew him not. Sir, said Merlin unto 
the king, will ye give me a gift ? Wherefore, said King 
Arthur, should I give thee a gift, churl ? Sir, said Merlin, 
ye were better to give me a gift that is not in your hand than 
to lose great riches, for here in the same place where the 
great battle was, is great treasure hid in the earth. Who 
told thee so, churl ? said Arthur. Merlin told me so, said 
he. Then Ulfius and Brastias knew him well enough, and 
smiled. Sir, said these two knights, it is Merlin that so 
speaketh unto you. Then King Arthur was greatly abashed, 
and had marvel of Merlin, and so had King Ban and King 
Bors, and so they had great disport at him. So in the 
meanwhile there came a damosel that was an earl's daughter : 
his name was Sanam, and her name was Lionors, a passing 
fair damosel ; and so she came thither for to do homage, as 
other lords did after the great battle. And King Arthur set 
his love greatly upon her, and so did she upon him, and the 
king had ado with her, and gat on her a child : his name 
was Borre, that was after a good night, and of the Table 
Round. Then there came word that the King Rience of 
North Wales made great war on King Leodegrance of 
Cameliard, for the which thing Arthur was wroth, for 
he loved him well, and hated King Rience, for he was 
alway against him. So by ordinance of the three kings 
that were sent home unto Benvvick, all they would depart 

King Arthur 33 

for dread of King Claudas ; Phariance, and Antemes, and 
Gratian, and Lionses of Payarne, with the leaders of those 
that should keep the kings' lands. 



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

34 King Arthur 

search their wounds, and sorrowed greatly for the death of 
their people. With that there came a messenger and told 
how there was come into their lands people that were 
lawless as well as Saracens, a forty thousand, and have 
burnt and slain all the people that they may come by, with- 
out mercy, and have laid siege on the castle of Wandes- 
borow. Alas, said the eleven kings, here is sorrow upon 
sorrow, and if we had not warred against Arthur as we 
have done, he would soon revenge us ; as for King 
Leodegrance, he loveth Arthur better than us, and as for 
King Rience, he hath enough to do with Leodegrance, 
for he hath laid siege unto him. So they consented to- 
gether to keep all the marches of Cornwall, of Wales, and 
of the North. So first, they put King Idres in the City 
of Nauntes in Britain, with four thousand men of arms, 
to watch both the water and the land. Also they put in 
the city of Windesan, King Nentres of Garlot, with four 
thousand knights to watch both on water and on land. Also 
they had of other men of war more than eight thousand, for 
to fortify all the fortresses in the marches of Cornwall. Also 
they put more knights in all the marches of Wales and 
Scotland, with many good men of arms, and so they kept 
them together the space of three year, and ever allied them 
with mighty kings and dukes and lords. And to them fell 
King Rience of North Wales, the which was a mighty man 
of men, and Nero that was a mighty man of men. And 
all this while they furnished them and garnished them of 
good men of arms, and victual, and of all manner of habili- 
ments that pretendeth to the war, to avenge them for the 
battle of Bedegraine, as it telleth in the book of adventures 



THEN after the departure of King Ban and of King 
Bors, King Arthur rode unto Carlion. And thither came 
to him, King Lot's wife, of Orkney, in manner of a mes- 
sage, but she was sent thither to espy the court of King 
Arthur ; and she came richly bisene, with her four sons 

King Arthur 35 

Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravine, and Gareth, with many other 
knights and ladies. For she was a passing fair lady, there- 
fore the king cast great love unto her, and desired to lie 
by her ; so they were agreed, and he begat upon her 
Mordred, and she was his sister, on his mother's side, 
Igraine. So there she rested her a month, and at the last 
departed. Then the king dreamed a marvellous dream 
whereof he was sore adread. But all this time King 
Arthur knew not that King Lot's wife was his sister. Thus 
was the dream of Arthur : Him thought there was come 
into this land griffins and serpents, and him thought 
they burnt and slew all the people in the land, and then 
him thought he fought with them, and they did him 
passing great harm, and wounded him full sore, but at the 
last he slew them. When the king awaked, he was passing 
heavy of his dream, and so to put it out of thoughts, he 
made him ready with many knights to ride a-hunting. As 
soon as he was in the forest the king saw a great hart afore 
him. This hart will I chase, said King Arthur, and so he 
spurred the horse, and rode after long, and so by fine force 
oft he was like to have smitten the hart ; whereas the king 
had chased the hart so long, that his horse lost his breath, 
and fell down dead ; then a yeoman fetched the king another 
horse. So the king saw the hart embushed, and his horse 
dead ; he set him down by a fountain, and there he fell in 
great thoughts. And as he sat so, him thought he heard a 
noise of hounds, to the sum of thirty. And with that the king 
saw coming toward him the strangest beast that ever he saw 
or heard of ; so the beast went to the well and drank, and 
the noise was in the beast's belly like unto the questyng 
of thirty couple hounds ; but all the while the beast drank 
there was no noise in the beast's belly : and therewith the 
beast departed with a great noise, whereof the king had great 
marvel. And so he was in a great thought, and therewith 
he fell asleep. Right so there came a knight afoot unto 
Arthur and said, Knight full of thought and sleepy, tell me 
if thou sawest a strange beast pass this way. Such one 
saw I, said King Arthur, that is past two mile ; what would 
ye with the beast ? said Arthur. Sir, I have followed that 
beast long time, and killed mine horse, so would God 
I had another to follow my quest. Right so came one with 
the king's horse, and when the knight saw the horse, he 
prayed the king to give him the horse : for I have followed 

36 King Arthur 

this quest this twelvemonth, and either 1 shall achieve him, 
or bleed of the best blood of my body. Pellinore, that time 
king, followed the questing beast, and after his death 
Sir Palamides followed it. 



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

King Arthur 37 

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



RIGHT so came Ulfius, and said openly that the king and 
all might hear that were feasted that day, Ye are the falsest 
lady of the world, and the most traitress unto the king's 
person. Beware, said Arthur, what thpu sayest ; thou 
speakest a great word. I am well ware, said Ulfius, what I 
speak, and here is my glove to prove it upon any man that 
will say the contrary, that this Queen Igraine is causer of 
your great damage, and of your great war. For, an she 
would have uttered it in the life of King Uther Pendragon, 
of the birth of you, and how ye were begotten, ye had never 
had the mortal wars that ye have had ; for the most part of 
your barons of your realm knew never whose son ye were, 
nor of whom ye were begotten ; and she that bare you of her 

I 45 C 

38 King Arthur 

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



THOU art full young and tender of age, said Arthur, for to 
take so high an order on thee. Sir, said Griflet, I beseech 
you make me knight. Sir, said Merlin, it were great pity to 

King Arthur 39 

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



WHEN the knight saw him lie so on the ground, he alit, 
and was passing heavy, for he weened he had slain him, 
and then he unlaced his helm and gat him wind, and so 
with the truncheon he set him on his horse and gat him 
wind, and so betook him to God, and said he had a mighty 

4O King Arthur 

heart, and if he might live he would prove a passing good 
knight. And so Sir Griflet rode to the court, where great 
dole was made for him. But through good leeches he was 
healed and saved. Right so came into the court twelve 
knights, and were aged men, and they came from the 
Emperor of Rome, and they asked of Arthur truage for this 
realm, other-else the emperor would destroy him and his 
land. Well, said King Arthur, ye are messengers, therefore 
ye may say what ye will, other-else ye should die therefore. 
But this is mine answer : I owe the emperor no truage, nor 
none will I hold him, but on a fair field I shall give him my 
truage that shall be with a sharp spear, or else with a sharp 
sword, and that shall not be long, by my father's soul, Uther 
Pendragon. And therewith the messengers departed pass- 
ingly wroth, and King Arthur as wroth, for in evil time 
carne they then ; for the king was passingly wroth for the 
hurt of Sir Griflet. And so he commanded a privy man of 
his chamber that or it be day his best horse and armour, 
with all that longeth unto his person, be without the city or 
to-morrow day. Right so or to-morrow day he met with his 
man and his horse, and so mounted up and dressed his 
shield and took his spear, and bade his chamberlain tarry 
there till he came again. And so Arthur rode a soft pace 
till it was day, and then was he ware of three churls chasing 
Merlin, and would have slain him. Then the king rode 
unto them, and bade them : Flee, churls ! then were they 
afeard when they saw a knight, and fled. O Merlin, said 
Arthur, here hadst thou been slain for all thy crafts had I 
not been. Nay, said Merlin, not so, for I could save myself 
an I would ; and thou art more near thy death than I am, 
for thou goest to the deathward, an God be not thy friend. 
So as they went thus talking they came to the fountain, and 
the rich pavilion there by it. Then King Arthur was ware 
where sat a knight armed in a chair. Sir knight, said 
Arthur, for what cause abidest thou here, that there may no 
knight ride this way but if he joust with thee ? said the 
king. I rede thee leave that custom, said Arthur. This 
custom, said the knight, have I used and will use maugre 
who saith nay, and who is grieved with my custom let him 
amend it that will. I will amend it, said Arthur. I shall 
defend thee, said the knight. Anon he took his horse and 
dressed his shield and took a spear, and they met so hard 
either in other's shields, that all to-shivered their spears. 
Therewith anon Arthur pulled out his sword. Nay, not so, 

King Arthur 41 

said the knight ; it is fairer, said the knight, that we twain 
run more together with sharp spears. I will well, said 
Arthur, an I had any more spears. I have enow, said the 
knight; so there came a squire and brought two good 
spears, and Arthur chose one and he another; so they 
spurred their horses and came together with all their mights, 
that either brake their spears to their hands. Then Arthur 
set hand on his sword. Nay, said the knight, ye shall do 
better, ye are a passing good jouster as ever I met withal, 
and once for the love of the high order of knighthood let us 
joust once again. I assent me, said Arthur. Anon there were 
brought two great spears, and every knight gat a spear, and 
therewith they ran together that Arthur's spear all to-shivered. 
But the other knight hit him so hard in midst of the shield, 
that horse and man fell to the earth, and therewith Arthur 
was eager, and pulled out his sword, and said, I will assay thee, 
sir knight, on foot, for I have lost the honour on horse- 
back. I will be on horseback, said the knight. Then was 
Arthur wroth, and dressed his shield toward him with his 
sword drawn. When the knight saw that, he alit, for him 
thought no worship to have a knight at such avail, he to be 
on horseback and he on foot, and so he alit and dressed his 
shield unto Arthur. And there began a strong battle with 
many great strokes, and so hewed with their swords that the 
cantels flew in the fields, and much blood they bled both, 
that all the place there as they fought was overbled with 
blood, and thus they fought long and rested them, and then 
they went to the battle again, and so hurtled together like 
two rams that either fell to the earth. So at the last they 
smote together that both their swords met even together. 
But the sword of the knight smote King Arthur's sword in 
two pieces, wherefore he was heavy. Then said the knight 
unto Arthur, Thou art in my daunger whether me list to 
save thee or slay thee, and but thou yield thee as overcome 
and recreant, thou shalt die. As for death, said King 
Arthur, welcome be it when it cometh, but to yield me 
unto thee as recreant I had liefer die than to be so shamed. 
And therewithal the king leapt unto Pellinore, and took 
him by the middle and threw him down, and rased off his 
helm. ' When the knight felt that he was adread, for he was 
a passing big man of might, and anon he brought Arthur 
under him, and rased off his helm and would have smitten 
off his head. 

42 King Arthur 



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



RIGHT so the king and he departed, and went unto an 
hermit that was a good man and a great leech. So the 
hermit searched all his wounds and gave him good salves ; 
so the king was there three days, and then were his wounds 
well amended that he might ride and go, and so departed. 
And as they rode, Arthur said, I have no sword. No force, 
said Merlin, hereby is a sword that shall be yours, an I 

King Arthur 43 

may. So they rode till they came to a lake, the which was 
a fair water and broad, and in the midst of the lake Arthur 
was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair 
sword in that hand. Lo ! said Merlin, yonder is that sword 
that I spake of. With that they saw a damosel going upon 
the lake. What damosel is that ? said Arthur. That is the 
Lady of the Lake, said Merlin ; and within that lake is a 
rock, and therein is as fair a place as any on earth, and 
richly beseen ; and this damosel will come to you anon, 
and then speak ye fair to her that she will give you that 
sword. Anon withal came the damosel unto Arthur, and 
saluted him, and he her again. Damosel, said Arthur, what 
sword is that, that yonder the arm holdeth above the water ? 
I would it were mine, for I have no sword. Sir Arthur, 
king, said the damosel, that sword is mine, and if ye will 
give me a gift when I ask it you, ye shall have it. By my 
faith, said Arthur, I will give you what gift ye will ask. 
Well ! said the damosel, go ye into yonder barge, and row 
yourself to the sword, and take it and the scabbard with 
you, and I will ask my gift when I see my time. So Sir 
Arthur and Merlin alit and tied their horses to two trees, 
and so they went into the ship, and when they came to the 
sword that the hand held, Sir Arthur took it up by the 
handles, and took it with him, and the arm and the hand went 
under the water. And so they came unto the land and 
rode forth, and then Sir Arthur saw a rich pavilion. What 
signifieth yonder pavilion ? It is the knight's pavilion, said 
Merlin, that ye fought with last, Sir Pellinore ; but he is out, 
he is not there. He hath ado with a knight of yours that 
hight Egglame, and they have foughten together, but at the 
last Egglame fled, and else he had been dead, and he hath 
chased him even to Carlion, and we shall meet with him 
anon in the highway. That is well said, said Arthur, now 
have I a sword, now will I wage battle with him, and be 
avenged on him. Sir, you shall not so, said Merlin, for the 
knight is weary of fighting and chasing, so that ye shall have 
no worship to have ado with him ; also he will not be lightly 
matched of one knight living, and therefore it is my counsel, 
let him pass, for he shall do you good service in short time, 
and his sons after his days. Also ye shall see that day in 
short space, you shall be right glad to give him your sister 
to wed. When I see him, I will do as ye advise me, said 
Arthur. Then Sir Arthur looked on the sword, and liked 

44 King Arthur 

it passing well. Whether liketh you better, said Merlin, the 
sword or the scabbard? Me liketh better the sword, said 
Arthur. Ye are more unwise, said Merlin, for the scabbard 
is worth ten of the swords, for whiles ye have the scabbard 
upon you, ye shall never lose no blood be ye never so sore 
wounded, therefore keep well the scabbard always with you. 
So they rode unto Carlion, and by the way they met with 
Sir Pellinore; but Merlin had done such a craft, that 
Pellinore saw not Arthur, and he passed by without any 
words. I marvel, said Arthur, that the knight would not 
speak. Sir, said Merlin, he saw you not, for an he had 
seen you, ye had not lightly departed. So they came unto 
Carlion, whereof his knights were passing glad. And when 
they heard of his adventures, they marvelled that he would 
jeopard his person so, alone. But all men of worship said 
it was merry to be under such a chieftain, that would put 
his person in adventure as other poor knights did. 



THIS meanwhile came a messenger from King Rience of 
North Wales, and king he was of all Ireland, and of many 
isles. And this was his message, greeting well King Arthur 
in this manner wise, saying that King Rience had discomfited 
and overcome eleven kings, and every each of them did him 
homage, and that was this, they gave him their beards clean 
flayed off, as much as there was ; wherefore the messenger 
came for King Arthur's beard. For King Rience had 
purfled a mantle with kings' beards, and there lacked one 
place of the mantle ; wherefore he sent for his beard, or 
else he would enter into his lands, and burn and slay, and 
never leave till he have the head and the beard. Well, said 
Arthur, thou hast said thy message, the which is the most 
villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent 
unto a king ; also thou mayest see my beard is full young 
yet to make a purfle of it. But tell thou thy king this: I 
owe him none homage, nor none of mine elders, but or it 
be long to, he shall do me homage on both his knees, or 
else he shall lose his head, by the faith of my body, for this 

King Arthur 45 

is the most shamefulest message that ever I heard speak of. 
I have espied thy king met never yet with worshipful man, 
but tell him, I will have his head without he do me homage. 
Then the messenger departed. Now is there any here, said 
Arthur, that knoweth King Rience? Then answered a 
knight that hight Naram, Sir, I know the king well ; he is 
a passing good man of his body, as few be living, and a 
passing proud man, and Sir, doubt ye not he will make 
war on you with a mighty puissance. Well, said Arthur, 
I shall ordain for him in short time. 



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

Explicit Liber Primus 

I 45 

46 King Arthur 




AFTER the death of Uther Pendragon reigned Arthur 
his son, the which had great war in his days for to get all 
England into his hand. For there were many kings within 
the realm of England, and in Wales, Scotland, and Cornwall. 
So it befell on a time when King Arthur was at London, 
there came a knight and told the king tidings how that the 
King Rience of North Wales had reared a great number of 
people, and were entered into the land, and burnt and slew 
the king's true liege people. If this be true, said Arthur, it 
were great shame unto mine estate but that he were mightily 
withstood. It is truth, said the knight, for I saw the host 
myself. Well, said the king, let make a cry, that all the 
lords, knights, and gentlemen of arms, should draw unto a 
castle called Camelot in those days, and there the king 
would let make a council-general and a great jousts. So 
when the king was come thither with all his baronage, and 
lodged as they seemed best, there was come a damosel the 
which was sent on message from the great lady Lile of 
Avelion. And when she came before King Arthur, she told 
from whom she came, and how she was sent on message 
unto him for these causes. Then she let her mantle fall 
that was richly furred ; and then was she girt with a noble 
sword whereof the king had marvel, and said, Damosel, for 
what cause are ye girt with that sword? it beseemeth you 
not. Now shall I tell you, said the damosel ; this sword 
that I am girt withal doth me great sorrow and cumberance, 
for I may not be delivered of this sword but by a knight, but 
he must be a passing good man of his hands and of his 
deeds, and without villainy or treachery, and without treason. 
And if I may find such a knight that hath all these virtues, 
he may draw out this sword out of the sheath, for I have 
been at King Rience's, it was told me there were passing 
good knights, and he and all his knights have assayed it and 
none can speed. This is a great marvel, said Arthur, if this 

King Arthur 47 

be sooth ; I will myself assay to draw out the sword, not 
presuming upon myself that I am the best knight, but that 
I will begin to draw at your sword in giving example to all 
the barons that they shall assay every each one after other 
when I have assayed it. Then Arthur took the sword by 
the sheath and by the girdle and pulled at it eagerly, but the 
sword would not out. Sir, said the damosel, you need not 
to pull half so hard, for he that shall pull it out shall do it 
with little might. Ye say well, said Arthur; now assay ye 
all my barons, but beware ye be not defiled with shame, 
treachery, nor guile. Then it will not avail, said the damosel, 
for he must be a clean knight without villainy, and of a 
gentle strain of father side and mother side. Most of all the 
barons of the Round Table that were there at that time 
assayed all by row, but there might none speed ; wherefore 
the damosel made great sorrow out of measure, and said, 
Alas ! I weened in this Court had been the best knights 
without treachery or treason. By my faith, said Arthur, here 
are good knights, as I deem, as any be in the world, but 
their grace is not to help you, wherefore I am displeased. 



THEN fell it so that time there was a poor knight with 
King Arthur, that had been prisoner with him half a year 
and more for slaying of a knight, the which was cousin unto 
King Arthur. The name of this knight was called Balin, 
and by good means of the barons he was delivered out of 
prison, for he was a good man named of his body, and he 
was born in Northumberland ; and so he went privily into 
the court, and saw this adventure, whereof it reysed his 
heart, and he would assay it as other knights did, but for he 
was poor and poorly arrayed he put him not far in press ; 
but in his heart he was fully assured to do as well, if his 
grace happed him, as any knight that there was. And as 
the damosel took her leave of Arthur and of all the barons, 
so departing, this knight Balin called unto her, and said, 
Damosel, I pray you of your courtesy, suffer me as well to 
assay as these lords ; though that I be so poorly clothed, in 

48 King Arthur 

my heart meseemeth I am fully assured as some of these 

others, and meseemeth in my heart to speed right well. 

The damosel beheld the poor knight, and saw he was a 

likely man, but for his poor arrayment she thought he should 

be of no worship without villainy or treachery. And then 

she said unto the knight, Sir, it needeth not to put me 

to more pain or labour, for it seemeth not you to speed 

there as other have failed. Ah ! fair Damosel, said Balm, 

worthiness, and good tatches, and good deeds, are not only 

in arrayment, but manhood and worship is hid within man's 

person, and many a worshipful knight is not known unto 

all people, and therefore worship and hardiness is not in 

arrayment. By God, said the Damosel, ye say sooth; 

therefore ye shall assay to do what ye may. Then Balin 

took the sword by the girdle and sheath, and drew it out 

easily ; and when he looked on the sword it pleased him 

much. Then had the king and all the barons great marvel 

that Balin had done that adventure, and many knights had 

great despite of Balin. Certes, said the damosel, this is a 

passing good knight, and the best that ever I found, and 

most of worship without treason, treachery, or villainy, and 

many marvels shall he do. Now, gentle and courteous 

knight, give me the sword again. Nay, said Balin, for this 

sword will I keep, but it be taken from me with force. 

Well, said the damosel, ye are not wise to keep the sword 

from me, for ye shall slay with the sword the best friend 

that ye have, and the man that ye most love in the world, 

and the sword shall be your destruction. I shall take the 

adventure, said Balin, that God will ordain me, but the 

sword ye shall not have at this time, by the faith of my 

body. Ye shall repent it within short time, said the damosel, 

for I would have the sword more for your avail than for 

mine, for I am passing heavy for your sake ; for ye will not 

believe that sword shall be your destruction, and that is 

great pity. With that the damosel departed, making great 

sorrow. Anon after, Balin sent for his horse and armour, 

and so would depart from the court, and took his leave of 

King Arthur. Nay, said the king, I suppose ye will not 

depart so lightly from this fellowship, I suppose ye are 

displeased that I have shewed you unkindness ; blame me 

the less, for I was misinformed against you, but I weened 

ye had not been such a knight as ye are, of worship and 

prowess, and if ye will abide in this court among my fellow- 

King Arthur 49 

ship, I shall so advance you as ye shall be pleased. God 
thank your highness, said Balin, your bounty and highness 
may no man praise half to the value ; but at this time I 
must needs depart, beseeching you ahvay of your good 
grace. Truly, said the king, I am right wroth for your 
departing; I pray you, fair knight, that ye tarry not long, 
and ye shall be right welcome to me, and to my barons, 
and I shall amend all amiss that I have done against you. 
God thank your great lordship, said Balin, and therewith 
made him ready to depart. Then the most part of the 
knights of the Round Table said that Balin did not this 
adventure all only by might, but by witchcraft. 



THE meanwhile, that this knight was making him ready 
to depart, there came into the court a lady that hight the 
Lady of the Lake. And she came on horseback, richly 
bysene, and saluted King Arthur, and there asked him a 
gift that he promised her when she gave him the sword. 
That is sooth, said Arthur, a gift I promised you, but I 
have forgotten the name of my sword that ye gave me. 
The name of it, said the lady, is Excalibur, that is as much 
to say as Cut-steel. Ye say well, said the king, ask what ye 
will and ye shall have it, an it lie in my power to give it. 
Well, said the lady, I ask the head of the knight that hath 
won the sword, or else the damosel's head that brought it ; 
I take no force though I have both their heads, for he slew 
my brother, a good knight and a true, and that gentlewoman 
was causer of my father's death. Truly, said King Arthur, 
I may not grant neither of their heads with my worship, 
therefore ask what ye will else, and I shall fulfil your desire. 
I will ask none other thing, said the lady. When Balin was 
ready to depart, he saw the Lady of the Lake, that by her 
means had slain Balin's mother, and he had sought her 
three years ; and when it was told him that she asked his 
head of King Arthur, he went to her straight and said, Evil 
be you found ; ye would have my head, and therefore ye 
shall lose yours, and with his sword lightly he smote off her 
head before King Arthur. Alas, for shame ! said Arthur, 

50 King Arthur 

why have ye done so? ye have shamed me and all my 
court, for this was a lady that I was beholden to, and hither 
she came under my safe-conduct ; I shall never forgive you 
that trespass. Sir, said Balin, me forthynketh of your 
displeasure, for this same lady was the untruest lady living, 
and by enchantment and sorcery she hath been the destroyer 
of many good knights, and she was causer that my mother 
was burnt, through her falsehood and treachery. What 
cause soever ye had, said Arthur, ye should have forborne 
her in my presence ; therefore, think not the contrary, ye 
shall repent it, for such another despite had I never in my 
court ; therefore withdraw you out of my court in all haste 
ye may. Then Balin took up the head of the lady, and 
bare it with him to his hostelry, and there he met with his 
squire, that was sorry he had displeased King Arthur, and 
so they rode forth out of the town. Now, said Balin, we 
must depart, take thou this head and bear it to my friends, 
and tell them how I have sped, and tell my friends in 
Northumberland that my most foe is dead. Also tell them 
how I am out of prison, and what adventure befel me at the 
getting of this sword. Alas ! said the squire, ye are greatly 
to blame for to displease King Arthur. As for that, said 
Balin, I will hie me in all the haste that I may to meet with 
King Rience and destroy him, either else to die therefore ; 
and if it may hap me to win him, then will King Arthur be 
my good and gracious lord. Where shall I meet with you ? 
said the squire. In King Arthur's court, said Balin. So 
his squire and he departed at that time. Then King Arthur 
and all the court made great dole and had shame of the 
death of the Lady of the Lake. Then the king buried her 



AT that time there was a knight, the which was the king's 
son of Ireland, and his name was Lanceor, the which was 
an orgulous knight, and counted himself one of the best of 
the court ; and he had great despite at Balin for the achiev- 
ing of the sword, that any should be accounted more hardy, 
or more of prowess ; and he asked King Arthur if he would 

King Arthur 51 

give him leave to ride after Balin and to revenge the despite 
that he had none. Do your best, said Arthur, I am right 
wroth with Balin ; I would he were quit of the despite that 
he hath done to me and to my court. Then this Lanceor 
went to his hostelry to make him ready. In the meanwhile 
came Merlin unto the court of King Arthur, and there was 
told him the adventure of the sword, and the death of the 
Lady of the Lake. Now shall I say you, said Merlin ; this 
same damosel that here standeth, that brought the sword 
unto your court, I shall tell you the cause of her coming : 
she was the falsest damosel that liveth. Say not so, said 
they. She hath a brother, a passing good knight of prowess 
and a full true man ; and this damosel loved another knight 
that held her to paramour, and this good knight her brother 
met with the knight that held her to paramour, and slew him 
by force of his hands. When this false damosel understood 
this, she went to the Lady Lile of Avelion, and besought 
her of help, to be avenged on her own brother. 



AND so this Lady Lile of Avelion took her this sword that 
she brought with her, and told there should no man pull it 
out of the sheath but if he be one of the best knights of this 
realm, and he should be hard and full of prowess, and with 
that sword he should slay her brother. This was the cause 
that the damosel came into this court. I know it as well as 
ye. Would God she had not come into this court, but she 
came never in fellowship of worship to do good, but always 
great harm ; and that knight that hath achieved the sword 
shall be destroyed by that sword, for the which will be great 
dommage, for there liveth not a knight of more prowess than 
he is, and he shall do unto you, my Lord Arthur, great 
honour and kindness; and it is great pity he shall not 
endure but a while, for of his strength and hardiness I know 
not his match living. So the knight of Ireland armed him 
at all points, and dressed his shield on his shoulder, and 
mounted upon horseback, and took his spear in his hand, 
and rode after a great pace, as much as his horse might go ; 

52 King Arthur 

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



THEN he looked by him, and was ware of a damosel that 
came riding full fast as the horse might ride, on a fair 
palfrey. And when she espied that Lanceor was slain, she 
made sorrow out of measure, and said, O Balin, two bodies 
thou hast slain and one heart, and two hearts in one body, 
and two souls thou hast lost. And therewith she took the 
sword from her love that lay dead, and fell to the ground in 
a swoon. And when she arose she made great dole out of 
measure, the which sorrow grieved Balin passingly sore, and 
he went unto her for to have taken the sword out of her 

King Arthur 53 

hand, but she held it so fast he might not take it out of her 
hand unless he should have hurt her, and suddenly she set 
the pommel to the ground, and rove herself through the 
body. When Balin espied her deeds, he was passing heavy 
in his heart, and ashamed that so fair a damosel had 
destroyed herself for the love of his death. Alas, said 
Balin, me repenteth sore the death of this knight, for the 
love of this damosel, for there was much true love betwixt 
them both. And for sorrow he might not longer behold 
him, but turned his horse and looked toward a great forest, 
and there he was ware, by the arms, of his brother Balan. 
And when they were met they put off their helms and 
kissed together, and wept for joy and pity. Then Balan 
said, I little weened to have met with you at this sudden 
adventure ; I am right glad of your deliverance out of your 
dolorous prisonment, for a man told me, in the castle of 
Four Stones, that ye were delivered, and that man had 
seen you in the court of King Arthur, and therefore I came 
hither into this country, for here I supposed to find you. 
Anon the knight Balin told his brother of his adventure of 
the sword, and of the death of the Lady of the Lake, and 
how King Arthur was displeased with him. Wherefore he 
sent this knight after me, that lieth here dead, and the 
death of this damosel grieveth me sore. So doth it me, 
said Balan, but ye must take the adventure that God will 
ordain you. Truly, said Balin, I am right heavy that my 
Lord Arthur is displeased with me, for he is the most 
worshipful knight that reigneth now on earth, and his love 
will I get or else will I put my life in adventure, for the 
King Rience lieth at a siege at Castle Terrabil, and thither 
will we draw in all haste, to prove our worship and prowess 
upon him. I will well, said Balan, that we do, and we will 
help each other as brethren ought to do. 



Now go we hence, said Balin, and well be we met. 
The meanwhile as they talked, there came a dwarf from the 
city of Camelot on horseback, as much as he might, and 
found the dead bodies, wherefore he made great dole, and 

54 King Arthur 

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



THE meanwhile as this was a-doing, in came Merlin to 
King Mark, and seeing all his doing, said, Here shall be in 
this same place the greatest battle betwixt two knights that 
was or ever shall be, and the truest lovers, and yet none 
,of them shall slay other. And there Merlin wrote their names 
upon the tomb with letters of gold that should fight in that 
place, whose names were Launcelot de Lake, and Tristram. 

King Arthur 55 

Thou art a marvellous man, said King Mark unto Merlin, 
that speakest of such marvels, thou art a boystous man and 
an unlikely to tell of such deeds. What is thy name ? said 
King Mark. At this time, said Merlin, I will not tell, but 
at that time when Sir Tristram is taken with his sovereign 
lady, then ye shall hear and know my name, and at that 
time ye shall hear tidings that shall not please you. Then 
said Merlin to Balin, Thou hast done thyself great hurt, 
because that thou savest not this lady that slew herself, 
that might have saved her an thou wouldest. By the faith of 
my body, said Balin, I might not save her, for she slew 
herself suddenly. Me repenteth, said Merlin; because of 
the death of that lady thou shalt strike a stroke most 
dolorous that ever man struck, except the stroke of our Lord, 
for thou shalt hurt the truest knight and the man of most 
worship that now liveth, and through that stroke three 
kingdoms shall be in great poverty, misery and wretched- 
ness twelve years, and the knight shall not be whole of that 
wound for many years. Then Merlin took his leave of 
Balin. And Balin said, If I wist it were sooth that ye say 
I should do such a perilous deed as that, I would slay my- 
self to make thee a liar. Therewith Merlin vanished away 
suddenly. And then Balan and his brother took their 
leave of King Mark. First, said the king, tell me your 
name. Sir, said Balan, ye may see he beareth two swords, 
thereby ye may call him the knight with the two swords. 
And so departed King Mark unto Camelot to King Arthur, 
and Balin took the way toward King Rience ; and as they 
rode together they met with Merlin disguised, but they 
knew him not. Whither ride you ? said Merlin. We have 
little to do, said the two knights, to tell thee, but what is 
thy name ? said Balin. At this time, said Merlin, I will 
not tell it thee. It is evil seen, said the knights, that thou 
art a true man that thou wilt not tell thy name. As for 
that, said Merlin, be it as it be may, I can tell you^wherefore 
ye ride this way, for to meet King Rience ; but it will not 
avail you without ye have my counsel. Ah ! said Balin, ye 
are Merlin ; we will be ruled by your counsel. Come on, 
said Merlin, ye shall have great worship, and look that ye 
do knightly, for ye shall have great need. As for that, said 
Balin, dread you not, we will do what we may. 

56 King Arthur 



THEN Merlin lodged them in a wood among leaves 
beside the highway, and took off the bridles of their horses 
and put them to grass and laid them down to rest till it was 
nigh midnight. Then Merlin bade them rise, and make 
them ready, for the king was nigh them, that was stolen 
away from his host with a three score horses of his best 
knights, and twenty of them rode tofore to warn the Lady 
de Vance that the king was coming, for that night King 
Rience should have lain with her. Which is the king ? said 
Balin. Abide, said Merlin, here in a straight way ye shall 
meet with him ; and therewith he showed Balin and his 
brother where he rode. Anon Balin and his brother met 
with the king, and smote him down, and wounded him 
fiercely, and laid him to the ground ; and there they slew 
on the right hand and the left hand, and slew more than 
forty of his men, and the remnant fled. Then went they 
again to King Rience and would have slain him had he not 
yielded him unto their grace. Then said he thus : Knights 
full of prowess, slay me not, for by my life ye may win, and 
by my death ye shall win nothing. Then said these two 
knights, Ye say sooth and truth, and so laid him on a 
horse-litter. With that Merlin was vanished, and came to 
King Arthur aforehand, and told him how his most enemy 
was taken and discomfited. By whom ? said King Arthur. 
By two knights, said Merlin, that would please your lord- 
ship, and to-morrow ye shall know what knights they are. 
Anon after came the knight with the two swords and Balan 
his brother, and brought with them King Rience of North 
Wales, and there delivered him to the porters, and charged 
them with him ; and so they two returned again in the 
dawning of the day. King Arthur came then to King 
Rience, and said, Sir king, ye are welcome : by what adven- 
ture come ye hither? Sir, said King Rience, I came 
hither by an hard adventure. Who won you ? said King 
Arthur. Sir, said the king, the knight with the two swords 
and his brother, which are two marvellous knights of 
prowess. I know them not, said Arthur, but much I am 
beholden to them. Ah, said Merlin, I shall tell you : it is 

King Arthur qy 

Balm that achieved the sword, and his brother Balan, a good 
knight, there liveth not a better of prowess and of worthi- 
ness, and it shall be the greatest dole of him that ever I 
knew of knight, for he shall not long endure. Alas, said 
King Arthur, that is great pity ; for I am much beholden 
unto him, and I have ill deserved it unto him for his kind- 
ness. Nay, said Merlin, he shall do much more for you. 
and that shall ye know in haste. But, sir, are ye purveyed, 
said Merlin, for to-mom the host of Nero, King Rierice's 
brother, will set on you or noon with a great host, and 
therefore make you ready, for I will depart from you. 



THEN King Arthur made ready his host in ten battles, 
and Nero was ready in the Held afore the Castle Terrabil 
with a great host, and he had ten battles, with many more 
people than Arthur had. Then Nero had the vanguard 
with the most part of his people, and Merlin came to King 
Lot of the Isle of Orkney, and held him with a tale of 
prophecy, till Nero and his people were destroyed. And 
there Sir Kay the Seneschal did passingly well, that the 
days of his life the worship went never from him ; and 
Sir Hervis de Revel did marvellous deeds with King Arthur, 
and King Arthur slew that day twenty knights and maimed 
forty. At that time came in the knight with the two swords 
and his brother Balan, but they two did so marvellously that 
the king and all the knights marvelled of them, and all they 
that beheld them said they were sent from heaven as angels, 
or devils from hell ; and King Arthur said himself they were 
the best knights that ever he saw, for they gave such strokes 
that all men had wonder of them. In the meanwhile came 
one to King Lot, and told him while he tarried there Nero 
was destroyed and slain with all his people. Alas, said 
King Lot, I am ashamed, for by my default there is many a 
worshipful man slain, for an we had been together there had 
been none host under the heaven that had been able for to 
have matched with us ; this fayter with his prophecy hath 

58 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 59 



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

60 King Arthur 

prophecy that there should be a great battle beside Salisbury, 
and Mordred his own son should be against him. Also he 
told him that Basdemegus was his cousin, and germain unto 
King Uriens. 



WITHIN a day or two King Arthur was somewhat sick, 
and he let pitch his pavilion in a meadow, and there he laid 
him down on a pallet to sleep, but he might have no rest. 
Right so he heard a great noise of an horse, and therewith 
the king looked out at the porch of the pavilion, and saw a 
knight coming even by him and making great dole. Abide, 
fair sir, said Arthur, and tell me wherefore thou makest this 
sorrow. Ye may little amend me, said the knight, and so 
passed forth to the castle of Meliot. Anon after there came 
Balm, and when he saw King Arthur he alit off his horse, 
and came to the king on foot, and saluted him. By my 
head, said Arthur, ye be welcome. Sir, right now came 
riding this way a knight making great mourn, for what cause 
I cannot tell ; wherefore I would desire of you of your 
courtesy and of your gentleness to fetch again that knight 
either by force or else by his good will. I will do more for 
your lordship than that, said Balin ; and so he rode more 
than a pace, and found the knight with a damosel in a forest, 
and said, Sir knight, ye must come with me unto King 
Arthur, for to tell him of your sorrow. That will I not, 
said the knight, for it will scathe me greatly, and do you 
none avail. Sir, said Balin, I pray you make you ready, for 
ye must go with me, or else I must fight with you and bring 
you by force, and that were me loath to do. Will ye be my 
warrant, said the knight, an I go with you ? Yea, said Balin, 
or else I will die therefor. And so he made him ready to go 
with Balin, and left the damosel still. And as they were 
even afore King Arthur's pavilion, there came one invisible, 
and smote this knight that went with Balin throughout the 
body with a spear. Alas, said the knight, I am slain under 
your conduct with a knight called Garlon ; therefore take 
my horse that is better than yours, and ride to the damosel, 

King Arthur 61 

and follow the quest that I was in as she will lead you, and 
revenge my death when ye may. That shall I do, said 
Balin, and that I make a vow unto knighthood ; and so he 
departed from this knight with great sorrow. So King 
Arthur let bury this knight richly, and made a mention on 
his tomb, how there was slain Herlews le Berbeus, and by 
whom the treachery was done, the knight Garlon. But ever 
the damosel bare the truncheon of the spear with her that Sir 
Herlews was slain withal. 



So Balin and the damosel rode into a forest, and there 
met with a knight that had been a-hunting, and that knight 
asked Balin for what cause he made so great sorrow. Me 
list not to tell you, said Balin. Now, said the knight, an I 
were armed as ye be I would fight with you. That should 
little need, said Balin, I am not afeard to tell you, and told 
him all the cause how it was. Ah, said the knight, is this 
all? here I ensure you by the faith of my body never to 
depart from you while my life lasteth. And so they went to 
the hostelry and armed them, and so rode forth with Balin. 
And as they came by an hermitage even by a churchyard, 
there came the knight Garlon invisible, and smote this 
knight, Perin de Mountbeliard, through the body with a 
spear. Alas, said the knight, I am slain by this traitor 
knight that rideth invisible. Alas, said Balin, it is not the 
first despite he hath done me ; and there the hermit and 
Balin buried the knight under a rich stone and a tomb 
royal. And on the morn they found letters of gold written, 
how Sir Gawaine shall revenge his father's death. King Lot, 
on the King Pellinore. Anon after this Balin and the 
damosel rode till they came to a castle, and there Balin alit, 
and he and the damosel went to go into the castle, and 
anon as Balin came within the castle's gate the portcullis 
fell down at his back, and there fell many men about the 
damosel, and would have slain her. When Balin saw 
that, he was sore aggrieved, for he might not help the 
damosel; and then he went up into the tower, and leapt 

62 King Arthur 

over the walls into the ditch, and hurt him not ; and anon 
he pulled out his sword and would have foughten with 
them. And they all said nay, they would not fight with 
him, for they did nothing but the old custom of the castle, 
and told him how their lady was sick, and had lain many 
years, and she might not be whole but if she had a dish of 
silver full of blood of a clean maid and a king's daughter ; 
and therefore the custom of this castle is, there shall no 
damosel pass this way but she shall bleed of her blood in a 
silver dish full. Well, said Balin, she shall bleed as much 
as she may bleed, but I will not lose the life of her whiles 
my life lasteth. And so Balin made her to bleed by her 
good will, but her blood helped not the lady. And so he 
and she rested there all night, and had there right good 
cheer, and on the morn they passed on their ways. And as 
it telleth after in the Sangreal, that Sir Percivale's sister 
helped that lady with her blood, whereof she was dead. 



THEN they rode three or four days and never met with 
adventure, and by hap they were lodged with a gentle man 
that was a rich man and well at ease. And as they sat at 
their supper Balin overheard one complain grievously by 
him in a chair. What is this noise ? said Balin. Forsooth, 
said his host, I will tell you. I was but late at a jousting, 
and there I jousted with a knight that is brother unto King 
Pellam, and twice smote I him down, and then he promised 
to requite me on my best friend ; and so he wounded my 
son, that cannot be whole till I have of that knight's blood, 
and he rideth always invisible, but I know not his name. 
Ah ! said Balin, I know that knight, his name is Garlon, he 
hath slain two knights of mine in the same manner, there- 
fore I had lever meet with that knight than all the gold in 
this realm, for the despite he hath done me. Well, said his 
host, I shall tell you, King Pellam of Listeneise hath made 
do cry in all this country a great feast that shall be within 
these twenty days, and no knight may come there but if he 

King Arthur 63 

bring his wife with him, or his paramour ; and that knight, 
your enemy and mine, ye shall see that day. Then I behote 
you, said Balin, part of his blood to heal your son withal. 
We will be forward to-morn, said his host. So on the morn 
they rode all three toward Pellam, and they had fifteen days' 
journey or they came thither ; and that same day began the 
great feast. And so they alit and stabled their horses, and 
went into the castle ; but Balin's host might not be let in 
by cause he had no lady. Then Balin was well received 
and brought unto a chamber and unarmed him, and there 
were brought him robes to his pleasure, and would have had 
Balin leave his sword behind him. Nay, said Balin, that do 
I not, for it is the custom of my country a knight always to 
keep his weapon with him, and that custom will I keep, or 
else I will depart as I came. Then they gave him leave to 
wear his sword, and so he went unto the castle, and was set 
among knights of worship, and his lady afore him. Soon 
Balin asked a knight, Is there not a knight in this court 
whose name is Garlon ? Yonder he goeth, said a knight, he 
with the black face ; he is the marvellest knight that is now 
living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth 
invisible. Ah well, said Balin, is that he? Then Balin 
advised him long : If I slay him here I shall not escape, 
and if I leave him now, peradventure I shall never meet 
with him again at such a Steven, and much harm he will do 
an he live. Therewith this Garlon espied that this Balin 
beheld him, and then he came and smote Balin on the face 
with the back of his hand, and said, Knight, why beholdest 
me so? for shame therefor, eat thy meat and do that thou 
came for. Thou sayest sooth, said Balin, this is not the 
first despite that thou hast done me, and therefore I will do 
what I came for, and rose up fiercely and clave his head to 
the shoulders. Give me the truncheon, said Balin to his 
lady, wherewith he slew your knight. Anon she gave it 
him, for always she bare the truncheon with her. And 
therewith Balin smote him through the body, and said 
openly, With that truncheon thou has slain a good knight, 
and now it sticketh in thy body. And then Balin called 
unto him his host, saying, Now may ye fetch blood enough 
to heal your son withal. 

64 King Arthur 



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



THEN Merlin came thither and took up Balin, and gat 
him a good horse, for his was dead, and bad him ride out 
of that country. I would have my damosel, said Balin. 
Lo, said Merlin, where she lieth dead. And King Pellam 
lay so, many years sore wounded, and might never be whole 

King Arthur 65 

till Galahad the haughty prince healed him in the quest of 
the Sangreal, for in that place was part of the blood of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, that Joseph of Arimathea brought into 
this land, and there himself lay in that rich bed. And that 
was the same spear that Longius smote our Lord to the 
heart ; and King Pellam was nigh of Joseph's kin, and that 
was the most worshipful man that lived in those days, and 
great pity it was of his hurt, for through that stroke, turned 
to great dole, tray and tene. Then departed Balin from 
Merlin, and said, In this world we meet never no more. So 
he rode forth through the fair countries and cities, and 
found the people dead, slain on every side. And all that 
were alive cried, O Balin, thou hast caused great damage in 
these countries ; for the dolorous stroke thou gavest unto King 
Pellam, three countries are destroyed, and doubt not but the 
vengeance will fall on thee at the last. When Balin was past 
those countries he was passing fayne. So he rode eight 
days or he met with adventure. And at the last he came into 
a fair forest in a valley, and was ware of a tower, and there 
beside he saw a great horse of war, tied to a tree, and there 
beside sat a fair knight on the ground and made great 
mourning, and he was a likely man, and a well made. Balin 
said, God save you, why be ye so heavy ? tell me and I will 
amend it, an I may to my power. Sir knight, said he again, 
thou doest me great grief, for I was in merry thoughts, and 
now thou puttest me to more pain. Balin went a little from 
him, and looked on his horse ; then heard Balin him say 
thus : Ah, fair lady, why have ye broken my promise, for 
thou promisest me to meet me here by noon, and I may 
curse thee that ever ye gave me this sword, for with this 
sword I slay myself, and pulled it out. And therewith Balin 
sterte unto him and took him by the hand. Let go my 
hand, said the knight, or else I shall slay thee. That shall 
not need, said Balin, for I shall promise you my help to get 
you your lady, an ye will tell me where she is. What is 
your name ? said the knight. My name is Balin le Savage. 
Ah, sir, I know you well enough, ye are the knight with the 
two swords, and the man of most prowess of your hands 
living. What is your name? said Balin. My name is 
Garnish of the Mount, a poor man's son, but by my prowess 
and hardiness a duke hath made me knight, and gave me 
lands ; his name is Duke Hermel, and his daughter is she 
that I love, and she me as I deemed. How far is she 

66 King Arthur 

hence? said Balin. But six mile, said the knight. Now 
ride we hence, said these two knights. So they rode more 
than a pace, till that they came to a fair castle well walled 
and ditched. I will into the castle, said Balin, and look if 
she be there. So he went in and searched from chamber to 
chamber, and found her bed, but she was not there. Then 
Balin looked into a fair little garden, and under a laurel tree 
he saw her lie upon a quilt of green samite and a knight in 
her arms, fast halsynge either other, and under their heads 
grass and herbs. When Balin saw her lie so with the foulest 
knight that ever he saw, and she a fair lady, then Balin went 
through all the chambers again, and told the knight how he 
found her as she had slept fast, and so brought him in the 
place where she lay fast sleeping. 



AND when Garnish beheld her so lying, for pure sorrow 
his mouth and nose burst out on bleeding, and with his 
sword he smote off both their heads, and then he made 
sorrow out of measure, and said, O Balin, much sorrow hast 
thou brought unto me, for haddest thou not shewed me that 
sight I should have passed my sorrow. Forsooth, said 
Balin, I did it to this intent that it should better thy courage, 
and that ye might see and know her falsehood, and to cause 
you to leave love of such a lady ; God knoweth I did none 
other but as I would ye did to me. Alas, said Garnish, now 
is my sorrow double that I may not endure, now have I slain 
that I most loved in all my life ; and therewith suddenly he 
rove himself on his own sword unto the hilts. When Balin 
saw that, he dressed him thenceward, lest folk would say he 
had slain them ; and so he rode forth, and within three days 
he came by a cross, and thereon were letters of gold written, 
that said, It is not for no knight alone to ride toward this 
castle. Then saw he an old hoar gentleman coming toward 
him, that said, Balin le Savage, thou passest thy bounds to 
come this way, therefore turn again and it will avail thee. 

King Arthur 67 

And he vanished away anon ; and so he heard an horn blow 
as it had been the death of a beast. That blast, said Balin, 
is blown for me, for I am the prize and yet am I not dead. 
Anon withal he saw an hundred ladies and many knights, 
that welcomed him with fair semblance, and made him pass- 
ing good cheer unto his sight, and led him into the castle, 
and there was dancing and minstrelsy and all manner of joy. 
Then the chief lady of the castle said, Knight with the two 
swords, ye must have ado and joust with a knight hereby 
that keepeth an island, for there may no man pass this way 
but he must joust or he pass. That is an unhappy custom, 
said Balin, that a knight may not pass this way but if he 
joust. Ye shall not have ado but with one knight, said the 
lady. Well, said Balin, syne I shall thereto I am ready, but 
travelling men are oft weary and their horses too ; but 
though my horse be weary my heart is not weary, I would 
be fain there my death should be. Sir, said a knight to 
Balin, methinketh your shield is not good, I will lend you a 
bigger, thereof I pray you. And so he took the shield that 
was unknown and left his own, and so rode unto the island, 
and put him and his horse in a great boat ; and when he 
came on the other side he met with a damosel, and she said, 
O knight Balin, why have ye left your own shield ? alas ye 
have put yourself in great danger, for by your shield ye 
should have been known ; it is great pity of you as ever was 
of knight, for of thy prowess and hardiness thou hast no 
fellow living. Me repenteth, said Balin, that ever I came 
within this country, but I may not turn now again for shame, 
and what adventure shall fall to me, be it life or death, I 
will take the adventure that shall come to me And then 
he looked on his armour, and understood he was well armed, 
and therewith blessed him and mounted upon his horse. 



THEN afore him he saw come riding out of a castle a 
knight, and his horse trapped all red, and himself in the 
same colour. When this knight in the red beheld Balin, 
him thought it should be his brother Balin by cause of his 

68 King Arthur 

two swords, but by cause he knew not his shield he deemed 
it was not he. And so they aventryd their spears and came 
marvellously fast together, and they smote each other in the 
shields, but their spears and their course were so big that it 
bare down horse and man that they lay both in a swoon. 
But Balin was bruised sore with the fall of his horse, for he 
was weary of travel. And Balan was the first that rose on 
foot and drew his sword, and went toward Balin, and he 
arose and went against him ; but Balan smote Balin first, 
and he put up his shield and smote him through the shield 
and tamyd his helm. Then Balin smote him again with 
that unhappy sword, and well nigh had felled his brother 
Balan, and so they fought there together till their breaths 
failed. Then Balin looked up to the castle and saw the 
towers stand full of ladies. So they went unto battle again, 
and wounded every each other dolefully, and then they 
breathed ofttimes, and so went unto battle that all the place 
there as they fought was blood red. And at that time there 
was none of them both but they had either smitten other 
seven great wounds, so that the least of them might have 
been the death of the mightiest giant in this world. Then 
they went to battle again so marvellously that doubte it was 
to hear of that battle for the great blood-shedding, and their 
hauberks unnailed that naked they were on every side. At 
last Balan the younger brother withdrew him a little and 
laid him down. Then said Balin le Savage, What knight 
art thou ? for or now I found never no knight that matched 
me. My name is, said he, Balan, brother unto the good 
knight, Balin. Alas, said Balin, that ever I should see this 
day, and therewith he fell backward in a swoon. Then 
Balan yede on all four feet and hands, and put off the helm 
of his brother, and might not know him by the visage it was 
so ful hewen and bledde ; but when he awoke he said, O 
Balan, my brother, thou hast slain me and I thee, wherefore 
all the wide world shall speak of us both. Alas, said Balan, 
that ever I saw this day, that through mishap I might not 
know you, for I espied well your two swords, but by cause 
ye had another shield I deemed ye had been another knight. 
Alas, said Balin, all that made an unhappy knight in the 
castle, for he caused me to leave my own shield to our both's 
destruction, and if I might live I would destroy that castle 
for ill customs. That were well done, said Balan, for I had 
never grace to depart from them syne that I came hither, 

King Arthur 69 

for here it happed me to slay a knight that kept this island, 
and syne might I never depart, and no more should ye, 
brother, an ye might have slain me as ye have, and escaped 
yourself with the life. Right so came the lady of the tower 
with four knights and six ladies and six yeomen unto them, 
and there she heard how they made their moan either to 
other, and said, We came both out of one tomb, that is to 
say one mother's belly, and so shall we lie both in one pit. 
So Balan prayed the lady of her gentleness, for his true 
service, that she would bury them both in that same place 
where the battle was done. And she granted them with 
weeping it should be done richly in the best manner. Now, 
will ye send for a priest, that we may receive our sacrament, 
and receive the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ? 
Yea, said the lady, it shall be done ; and so she sent for a 
priest and gave them their rites. Now, said Balin, when 
we are buried in one tomb, and the mention made over us 
how two brethren slew each other, there will never good 
knight nor good man see our tomb but they will pray for 
our souls. And so all the ladies and gentlewomen wept for 
pity. Then anon Balan died, but Balin died not till the 
midnight after, and so were they buried both, and the lady 
let make a mention of Balan how he was there slain by his 
brother's hands, but she knew not Balm's name. 




IN the morning came Merlin and let write Balin's name 
on the tomb with letters of gold, that here lieth Balin le 
Savage that was the knight with the two swords, and he that 
smote the dolorous stroke. Also Merlin let make there a 
bed, that there should never man lie therein but he went 
out of his wit, yet Launcelot de Lake fordyd that bed 
through his noblesse. And anon after Balin was dead, 
Merlin took his sword, and took off the pommel and set on 
another pommel. So Merlin bad a knight that stood afore 
him handle that sword, and he assayed, and he might not 
handle it. Then Merlin laughed. Why laugh ye ? said the 
knight. This is the cause, said Merlin : there shall never 

I 45 D 

70 King Arthur 

man handle this sword but the best knight of the world, and 
that shall be Sir Launcelot or else Galahad his son, and 
Launcelot with this sword shall slay the man that in the 
world he loved best, that shall be Sir Gawaine. All this he 
let write in the pommel of the sword. Then Merlin let 
make a bridge of iron and of steel into that island, and it 
was but half a foot broad, and there shall never man pass 
that bridge, nor have hardiness to go over, but if he were a 
passing good man and a good knight without treachery or 
villainy. Also the scabbard of Balin's sword Merlin left it 
on this side the island, that Galahad should find it. Also 
Merlin let make by his subtilty that Balin's sword was put 
in a marble stone standing upright as great as a mill stone, 
and the stone hoved always above the water and did many 
years, and so by adventure it swam down the stream to the 
City of Camelot, that is in English Winchester. And that 
same day Galahad the haughty prince came with King 
Arthur, and so Galahad brought with him the scabbard and 
achieved the sword that was there in the marble stone 
hoving upon the water. And on Whitsunday he achieved 
the sword as it is rehearsed in the book of Sangreal. Soon 
after this was done Merlin came to King Arthur and told 
him of the dolorous stroke that Balin gave to King Pellam, 
and how Balin and Balan fought together the marvellest 
battle that ever was heard of, and how they were buried 
both in one tomb. Alas, said King Arthur, this is the 
greatest pity that ever I heard tell of two knights, for in the 
world I know not such two knights. Thus endeth the tale 
of Balin and of Balan, two brethren born in Northumberland s 
good knights. 

Seqaitur tit. Uczr 

King Arthur 71 




IN the beginning of Arthur, after he was chosen king by 
adventure and by grace ; for the most part of the barons 
knew not that he was Uther Pendragon's son, but as Merlin 
made it openly known. But yet many kings and lords held 
great war against him for that cause, but well Arthur over- 
came them all, for the most part the days of his life he was 
ruled much by the counsel of Merlin. So it fell on a time 
King Arthur said unto Merlin, My barons will let me have 
no rest, but needs I must take a wife, and I will none take 
but by thy counsel and by thine advice. It is well done, 
said Merlin, that ye take a wife, for a man of your bounty 
and noblesse should not be without a wife. Now is there 
any that ye love more than another ? Yea, said King Arthur, 
I love Guenever the king's daughter, Leodegrance of the 
land of Cameliard, the which holdeth in his house the 
Table Round that ye told he had of my father Uther. 
And this damosel is the most valiant and fairest lady that I 
know living, or yet that ever I could find. Sir, said Merlin, 
as of her beauty and fairness she is one of the fairest on 
live, but, an ye loved her not so well as ye do, I should find 
you a damosel of beauty and of goodness that should like 
you and please you, an your heart were not set ; but there 
as a man's heart is set, he will be loth to return. That 
is truth, said King Arthur. But Merlin warned the king 
covertly that Guenever was not wholesome for him to take 
to wife, for he warned him that Launcelot should love her, 
and she him again; and so he turned his tale to the 
adventures of Sangreal. Then Merlin desired of the king 
for to have men with him that should enquire of Guenever, 
and so the king granted him, and Merlin went forth unto 
King Leodegrance of Cameliard, and told him of the desire 
of the king that he would have unto his wife Guenever his 
daughter. That is to me, said King Leodegrance, the best 

72 King Arthur 

tidings that ever I heard, that so worthy a king of prowess 
and noblesse will wed my daughter. And as for my lands, 
I will give him, wist I it might please him, but he hath lands 
enow, him needeth none, but I shall send him a gift shall 
please him much more, for I shall give him the Table 
Round, the which Uther Pendragon gave me, and when it 
is full complete, there is an hundred knights and fifty. And 
as for an hundred good knights I have myself, but I fawte 
fifty, for so many have been slain in my days. And so 
Leodegrance delivered his daughter Guenever unto Merlin, 
and the Table Round with the hundred knights, and so they 
rode freshly, with great royalty, what by water and what by 
land, till that they came nigh unto London. 



WHEN King Arthur heard of the coming of Guenever and 
the hundred knights with the Table Round, then King 
Arthur made great joy for her coming, and that rich present, 
and said openly, This fair lady is passing welcome unto me, 
for I have loved her long, and therefore there is nothing 
so lief to me. And these knights with the Round Table 
please me more than right great riches. And in all haste 
the king let ordain for the marriage and the coronation in 
the most honourable wise that could be devised. Now, 
Merlin, said King Arthur, go thou and espy me in all this 
land fifty knights which be of most prowess and worship. 
Within short time Merlin had found such knights that 
should fulfil twenty and eight knights, but no more he could 
find. Then the Bishop of Canterbury was fetched, and he 
blessed the sieges with great royalty and devotion, and 
there set the eight and twenty knights in their sieges. And 
when this was done Merlin said, Fair sirs, you must all arise 
and come to King Arthur for to do him homage ; he will 
have the better will to maintain you. And so they arose 
and did their homage, and when they were gone Merlin 
found in every sieges letters of gold that told the knights' 
names that had sitten therein. But two sieges were void. 
And so anon came young Gawaine and asked the king a 

King Arthur 73 

gift. Ask, said the king, and I shall grant it you. Sir, I 
ask that ye will make me knight that same day ye shall wed 
fair Guenever. I will do it with a good will, said King 
Arthur, and do unto you all the worship that I may, for I 
must by reason ye are my nephew, my sister's son. 



FORTHWITHAL there came a poor man into the court, and 
brought with him a fair young man of eighteen years of age 
riding upon a lean mare; and the poor man asked all men 
that he met, Where shall I find King Arthur ? Yonder he 
is, said the knights, wilt thou anything with him ? Yea, said 
the poor man, therefore I came hither. Anon as he came 
before the king, he saluted him and said : O King Arthur, 
the flower of all knights and kings, I beseech Jesu save 
thee. Sir, it was told me that at this time of your marriage 
ye would give any man the gift that he would ask, out except 
that were unreasonable. That is truth, said the king, such 
cries I let make, and that will I hold, so it impair not my 
realm nor mine estate. Ye say well and graciously, said the 
poor man ; Sir, I ask nothing else but that ye will make my 
son here a knight. It is a great thing thou askest of me 
said the king. What is thy name? said the king to the 
poor man. Sir, my name is Aries the cowherd. Whether 
cometh this of thee or of thy son ? said the king. Nay, sir, 
said Aries, this desire cometh of my son and not of me, for 
I shall tell you I have thirteen sons, and all they will fall 
to what labour I put them, and will be right glad to do 
labour, but this child will not labour for me, for anything 
that my wife or I may do, but always he will be shooting or 
casting darts, and glad for to see battles and to behold 
knights, and always day and night he desireth of me to be 
made a knight. What is thy name ? said the king unto the 
young man. Sir, my name is Tor. The king beheld him 
fast, and saw he was passingly well-visaged and passingly 
well made of his years. Well, said King Arthur unto Aries 
the cowherd, fetch all thy sons afore me that I may see them. 
And so the poor man did, and all were shaped much like 

74 King Arthur 

the poor man. But Tor was not like none of them all in 
shape nor in countenance, for he was much more than any 
of them. Now, said King Arthur unto the cowherd, where 
is the sword he shall he made knight withal ? It is here, 
said Tor. Take it out of the sheath, said the king, and 
require me to make you a knight. Then Tor alit off his 
mare and pulled out his sword, kneeling, and requiring 
the king that he would make him knight, and that he might 
be a knight of the Table Round. As for a knight I will 
make you, and therewith smote him in the neck with the 
sword, saying, Be ye a good knight, and so 1 pray to God 
so ye may be, and if ye be of prowess and of worthiness ye 
shall be a knight of the Table Round. Now Merlin, said 
Arthur, say whether this Tor shall be a good knight 
or no. Yea, sir, he ought to be a good knight, for he 
is come of as good a man as any is alive, and of kings' 
blood. How so, sir ? said the king. I shall tell you, said 
Merlin: This poor man, Aries the cowherd, is not his father, 
he is nothing syb to him, for King Pellinore is his father. 
I suppose nay, said the cowherd. Fetch thy wife afore me, 
said Merlin, and she shall not say nay. Anon the wife was 
fetched, which was a fair housewife, and there she answered 
Merlin full womanly, and there she told the king and 
Merlin that when she was a maid, and went to milk kine, 
there met with her a stern knight, and half by force he had 
my maidenhead, and at that time he begat my son Tor, and 
he took away from me my greyhound that I had that time 
with me, and said that he would keep the greyhound for my 
love. Ah, said the cowherd, I weened not this, but I may 
believe it well, for he had never no tatches of me. Sir, said 
Tor unto Merlin, dishonour not my mother. Sir, said 
Merlin, it is more for your worship than hurt, for your 
father is a good man and a king, and he may right well 
advance you and your mother, for ye were begotten or ever 
she was wedded. That is truth, said the wife. It is the 
less grief unto me, said the cowherd. 

King Arthur 75 



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



THEN was the high feast made ready, and the king was 
wedded at Camelot unto Dame Guenever in the church of 
Saint Stephen's, with great solemnity. And as every man 
was set after his degree, Merlin went to all the knights of 

76 King Arthur 

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



SIR GAWAINE rode more than a pace, and Gaheris his 
brother that rode with him instead of a squire to do him 
service. So as they rode they saw two knights fight on 

King Arthur 77 

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

I 45 *D 

78 King Arthur 

smote him so hard through the helm that it went to the 
brains, and the knight fell down dead. Ah ! said Gaheris, 
that was a mighty stroke of a young knight. 



THEN Gawaine and Gaheris rode more than a pace after 
the white hart, and let slip at the hart three couple of grey- 
hounds, and so they chased the hart into a castle, and in the 
chief place of the castle they slew the hart ; Sir Gawaine and 
Gaheris followed after. Right so there came a knight out 
of a chamber with a sword drawn in his hand and slew 
two of the greyhounds, even in the sight of Sir Gawaine, and 
the remnant he chased them with his sword out of the castle. 
And when he came again, he said, O my white hart, me 
repenteth that thou art dead, for my sovereign lady gave 
thee to me, and evil have I kept thee, and thy death shall 
be dear bought an I live. And anon he went into his 
chamber and armed him, and came out fiercely, and there 
met he with Sir Gawaine. Why have ye slain my hounds ? 
said Sir Gawaine, for they did but their kind, and lever I had 
ye had wroken your anger upon me than upon a dumb 
beast. Thou sayest truth, said the knight, I have avenged 
me on thy hounds, and so I will on thee or thou go. Then 
Sir Gawaine alit afoot and dressed his shield, and they struck 
together mightily, and clave their shields, and stoned their 
helms, and brake their hauberks that the blood ran down to 
their feet. At last Sir Gawaine smote the knight so hard 
that he fell to the earth, and then he cried mercy, and 
yielded him, and besought him as he was a knight and 
gentleman, to save his life. Thou shalt die, said Sir 
Gawaine, for slaying of my hounds. I will make amends, 
said the knight, unto my power. Sir Gawaine would no 
mercy have but unlaced his helm to have stricken off his 
head. Right so came his lady out of a chamber and fell 
over him, and so he smote off her head by misadventure. 
Alas, said Gaheris, that is foully and shamefully done, that 
shame shall never from you ; also ye should give mercy unto 
them that ask mercy, for a knight without mercy is without 
worship. Sir Gawaine was so stonyed of the death of this fair 

King Arthur 79 

lady that he wist not what he did, and said unto the knight, 
Arise, I will give thee mercy. Nay, nay, said the knight, I 
take no force of mercy now, for thou hast slain my love 
and my lady that I loved best of all earthly things. Me 
sore repenteth it, said Sir Gawaine, for I thought to strike 
unto thee ; but now thou shalt go unto King Arthur and 
tell him of thine adventures, and how thou art overcome by 
the knight that went in the quest of the white hart. I take 
no force, said the knight, whether I live or 1 die ; but so for 
dread of death he swore to go unto King Arthur, and he 
made him to bear one greyhound before him on his horse, 
and another behind him. What is your name ? said Sir 
Gawaine, or we depart. My name is, said the knight, 
Ablamar of the Marsh. So he departed toward Camelot. 



AND Sir Gawaine went into the castle, and made him 
ready to lie there all night, and would have unarmed him. 
What will ye do, said Gaheris, will ye unarm you in this 
country? Ye may think ye have many enemies here. 
They had not sooner said that word but there came four 
knights well armed, and assailed Sir Gawaine hard, and 
said unto him, Thou new-made knight, thou hast shamed 
thy knighthood, for a knight without mercy is dishonoured. 
Also thou hast slain a fair lady to thy great shame to the 
world's end, and doubt thou not thou shalt have great need 
of mercy or thou depart from us. And therewith one of 
them smote Sir Gawaine a great stroke that nigh he fell to 
the earth, and Gaheris smote him again sore, and so they 
were on the one side and on the other, that Sir Gawaine 
and Gaheris were in jeopardy of their lives ; and one with a 
bow, an archer, smote Sir Gawaine through the arm that it 
grieved him wonderly sore. And as they should have been 
slain, there came four fair ladies, and besought the knights 
of grace for Sir Gawaine ; and goodly at request of the 
ladies they gave Sir Gawaine and Gaheris their lives, and 
made them to yield them as prisoners. Then Gawaine and 
Gaheris made great dole. Alas ! said Sir Gawaine, mine 

8o King Arthur 

arm grieveth me sore, I am like to be maimed ; and so 
made his complaint piteously. Early on the morrow there 
came to Sir Gawaine one of the four ladies that had heard 
all his complaint, and said, Sir knight, what cheer ? Not 
good, said he. It is your own default, said the lady, for ye 
have done a passing foul deed in the slaying of the lady, the 
which will be great villainy unto you. But be ye not of 
King Arthur's kin ? said the lady. Yes truly, said Sir 
Gawaine. What is your name ? said the lady, ye must tell 
it me or ye pass. My name is Gawaine, the King Lot ot 
Orkney's son, and my mother is King Arthur's sister. Ah ! 
then are ye nephew unto King Arthur, said the lady, and I 
shall so speak for you that ye shall have conduct to go to 
King Arthur for his love. And so she departed and told 
the four knights how their prisoner was King Arthur's 
nephew, and his name is Sir Gawaine, King Lot's son of 
Orkney. And they gave him the hart's head because it was 
in his quest. Then anon they delivered Sir Gawaine under 
this promise, that he should bear the dead lady with him in 
this manner ; the head of her was hanged about his neck, 
and the whole body of her lay before him on his horse's 
mane. Right so rode he forth unto Camelot. And anon 
as he was come, Merlin desired of King Arthur that Sir 
Gawaine should be sworn to tell of all his adventures, and 
how he slew the lady, and how he would give no mercy 
unto the knight, wherethrough the lady was slain. Then 
the king and the queen were greatly displeased with Sir 
Gawaine for the slaying of the lady. And there by ordin- 
ance of the queen there was set a quest of ladies on Sir 
Gawaine, and they judged him for ever while he lived to be 
with all ladies, and to fight for their quarrels ; and that ever 
he should be courteous, and never to refuse mercy to him 
that asketh mercy. Thus was Gawaine sworn upon the 
four Evangelists that he should never be against lady nor 
gentlewoman, but if he fought for a lady and his adversary 
fought for another. And thus endeth the adventure of Sir 
Gawaine that he did at the marriage of King Arthur. 

King Arthur 81 



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

82 King Arthur 

knights. Take an horse, said Sir Tor, and ride on with me. 
I wot ye ride after the knight with the white brachet, and I 
shall bring you where he is, said the dwarf. And so they 
rode throughout a forest, and at the last they were ware of 
two pavilions even by a priory with two shields, and the one 
shield was enewed with white, and the other shield was red. 



THEREWITH Sir Tor alit and took the dwarf his glaive, 

and so he came to the white pavilion, and saw three 

damosels lie in it, on one pallet sleeping, and so he went to 

the other pavilion, and found a lady lying sleeping therein, 

but there was the white brachet that bayed at her fast, and 

therewith the lady yede out of the pavilion and all her 

damosels. But anon as Sir Tor espied the white brachet, 

he took her by force and took her to the dwarf. What, 

will ye so, said the lady, take my brachet from me ? Yea, 

said Sir Tor, this brachet have I sought from King Arthur's 

court hither. Well, said the lady, knight, ye shall not go 

far with her, but that ye shall be met and grieved. I shall 

abide what adventure that cometh by the grace of God, and 

so mounted upon his horse, and passed on his way toward 

Camelot ; but it was so near night he might not pass but 

little further. Know ye any lodging? said Tor. I know 

none, said the dwarf, but here beside is an hermitage, and 

here ye must take lodging as ye find. And within a while 

they came to the hermitage and took lodging ; and was 

there grass, oats and bread for their horses ; soon it was 

sped, and full hard was their supper; but there they rested 

them all night till on the morn, and heard a mass devoutly, 

and took their leave of the hermit, and Sir Tor prayed the 

hermit to pray for him. He said he would, and betook him 

to God. And so he mounted upon horseback and rode 

towards Camelot a long while. With that they heard a 

knight call loud that came after them, and he said, Knight, 

abide and yield my brachet that thou took from my lady, 

Sir Tor returned again, and beheld him how he was a 

seemly knight and well horsed, and well armed at all points ; 

King Arthur 83 

then Sir Tor dressed his shield, and took his spear in his 
hands, and the other came fiercely upon him, and smote 
both horse and man to the earth. Anon they arose lightly 
and drew their swords as eagerly as lions, and put their 
shields afore them, and smote through the shields, that the 
cantels fell off both parties. Also they tamyd their helms 
that the hot blood ran out, and the thick mails of their 
hauberks they carved and rove in sunder that the hot 
blood ran to the earth, and both they had many wounds 
and were passing weary. But Sir Tor espied that the other 
knight fainted, and then he sewed fast upon him, and 
doubled his strokes, and garte him go to the earth on the 
one side. Then Sir Tor bad him yield him. That will I 
not, said Abelleus, while my life lasteth and the soul is 
within my body, unless that thou wilt give me the brachet. 
That will I not do, said Sir Tor, for it was my quest to 
bring again thy brachet, thee, or both. 




WITH that came a damosel riding on a palfrey as fast as 
she might drive, and cried with a loud voice unto Sir Tor. 
What will ye with me ? said Sir Tor. I beseech thee, said 
the damosel, for King Arthur's love, give me a gift ; I require 
thee gentle knight, as thou art a gentleman. Now, said 
Tor, ask a gift and I will give it you. Gramercy, said the 
damosel ; now I ask the head of the false knight Abelleus, 
for he is the most outrageous knight that liveth, and the 
greatest murderer. I am loth, said Sir Tor, of that gift I 
have given you ; let him make amends in that he hath 
trespassed unto you. Now, said the damosel, he may not, 
for he slew mine own brother afore mine own eyes, that was 
a better knight than he, an he had had grace ; and I kneeled 
half an hour afore him in the mire for to save my brother's 
life, that had done him no damage, but fought with him by 
adventure of arms, and so for all that I could do he struck off 
his head ; wherefore I require thee, as thou art a true knight, 
to give me my gift, or else I shall shame thee in all the 
court of King Arthur ; for he is the falsest knight living, and 

84 King Arthur 

a great destroyer of good knights. Then when Abelleus 
heard this, he was more afeard, and yielded him and asked 
mercy. I may not now, said Sir Tor, but if I should be 
found false of my promise ; for while I would have taken 
you to mercy ye would none ask but if ye had the brachet 
again that was my quest. And therewith he took off his 
helm, and he arose and fled, and Sir Tor after him, and 
smote off his head quite. Now sir, said the damosel, it is 
near night ; I pray you come and lodge with me here at my 
place, it is here fast by. I will well, said Sir Tor, for his 
horse and he had fared evil syne they departed from Camelot, 
and so he rode with her, and had passing good cheer with 
her ; and she had a passing fair old knight to her husband 
that made him passing good cheer, and well eased both his 
horse and him. And on the morn he heard his mass, and 
brake his fast, and took his leave of the knight and of the lady, 
that besought him to tell them his name. Truly, he said, 
my name is Sir Tor that was late made knight, and this was 
the first quest of arms that ever I did, to bring again that 
this knight Abelleus took away from King Arthur's court. 
O fair knight, said the lady and her husband, an ye come 
here in our marches, come and see our poor lodging, and it 
shall be always at your commandment. So Sir Tor departed 
and came to Camelot on the third day by noon, and the 
king and the queen and all the court was passing fain of his 
coming, and made great joy that he was come again ; for he 
went from the court with little succour, but as King Pellinore 
his father gave him an old courser, and King Arthur gave 
him armour and a sword, and else had he none other 
succour, but rode so forth himself alone. And then the 
king and the queen by Merlin's advice made him to swear to 
tell of his adventures, and so he told and made proofs of his 
deeds as it is afore rehearsed, wherefore the king and the 
queen made great joy. Nay, nay, said Merlin, these be but 
japes to that he shall do ; for he shall prove a noble knight 
of prowess, as good as any is living, and gentle and courteous, 
and of good tatches, and passing true of his promise, and 
never shall outrage. Wherethrough Merlin's words King 
Arthur gave him an earldom of lands that fell unto him. 
And here endeth the quest of Sir Tor, King Pellinore's son. 

King Arthur 85 



THEN King Pellinore armed him and mounted upon his 
horse, and rode more than a paas after the lady that the 
knight led away. And as he rode in a forest, he saw in a 
valley a damosel sit by a well, and a wounded knight in her 
arms, and Pellinore saluted her. And when she was ware 
of him, she cried overloud, Help me, knight, for Christ's 
sake, King Pellinore. And he would not tarry, he was so 
eager in his quest, and ever she cried an hundred times after 
help. When she saw he would not abide, she prayed unto 
God to send him as much need of help as she had, and that 
he might feel it or he died. So, as the book telleth, the 
knight there died that there was wounded, wherefore the 
lady for pure sorrow slew herself with his sword. As King 
Pellinore rode in that valley he met with a poor man, a 
labourer. Sawest thou not, said Pellinore, a knight riding 
and leading away a lady ? Yea, said the man, I saw that 
knight, and the lady that made great dole ; and yonder 
beneath in a valley there shall ye see two pavilions, and one 
of the knights of the pavilions challenged that lady of that 
knight, and said she was his cousin near, wherefore he 
should lead her no farther. And so they waged battle in 
that quarrel, the one said he would have her by force, 
and the other said he would have the rule of her, by 
cause he was her kinsman, and would lead her to her kin. 
For this quarrel he left them fighting. And if ye will ride a 
pace ye shall find them fighting, and the lady was beleft 
with the two squires in the pavilions. God thank thee, said 
King Pellinore. Then he rode a wallop till he had a sight 
of the two pavilions, and the two knights fighting. Anon 
he rode unto the pavilions, and saw the lady that was his 
quest, and said, Fair lady, ye must go with me unto the 
court of King Arthur. Sir knight, said the two squires that 
were with her, yonder are two knights that fight for this 
lady, go thither and depart them, and be agreed with them, 
and then may ye have her at your pleasure. Ye say well, 
said King Pellinore. And anon he rode betwixt them, and 

86 King Arthur 

departed them, and asked them the causes why that they 
fought ? Sir knight, said the one, I shall tell you, this lady 
is my kinswoman nigh, mine aunt's daughter, and when I 
heard her complain that she was with him maugre her head, 
I waged battle to fight with him. Sir knight, said the other, 
whose name was Hontzlake of Wentland, and this lady I gat 
by my prowess of arms this day at Arthur's court. That is 
untruly said, said King Pellinore, for ye came in suddenly there 
as we were at the high feast, and took away this lady or any 
man might make him ready, and therefore it was my quest 
to bring her again and you both, or else the one of us to 
abide in the field ; therefore the lady shall go with me, or I 
will die for it, for I have promised it King Arthur. And 
therefore fight ye no more, for none of you shall have no 
part of her at this time, and if ye list to fight for her, fight 
with me, and I will defend her. Well, said the knights, 
make you ready, and we shall assail you with all our power, 
And as King Pellinore would have put his horse from them, 
Sir Hontzlake rove his horse through with a sword, and said : 
Now art thou on foot as well as we are. When King 
Pellinore espied that his horse was slain, lightly he leapt from 
his horse and pulled out his sword, and put his shield afore 
him, and said, Knight, keep well thy head, for thou shalt 
have a buffet for the slaying of my horse. So King Pellinore 
gave him such a stroke upon the helm that he clave the 
head down to the chin, that he fell to the earth dead. 



AND then he turned him to the other knight that was 
sore wounded. But when he saw the other's buffet, he 
would not fight, but kneeled down and said, Take my 
cousin the lady with you at your request, and I require you, 
as ye be a true knight, put her to no shame nor villainy. 
What, said King Pellinore, will ye not fight for her ? No, 
sir, said the knight, I will not fight with such a knight 
of prowess as ye be. Well, said Pellinore, ye say well; I 
promise you she shall have no villainy by me, as I am 
true knight ; but now me lacketh an horse, said Pellinore, 

King Arthur 87 

but I will have Hontzlake's horse. Ye shall not need, said 
the knight, for I shall give you such an horse as shall please 
you, so that you will lodge with me, for it is near night. I 
will well, said King Pellinore, abide with you all night. And 
there he had with him right good cheer, and fared of the 
best with passing good wine, and had merry rest that night. 
And on the morn he heard a mass and dined ; and then 
was brought him a fair bay courser, and King Pellinore's 
saddle set upon him. Now, what shall I call you ? said the 
knight, inasmuch as ye have my cousin at your desire of 
your quest. Sir, I shall tell you, my name is King Pellinore 
of the Isles and knight of the Table Round. Now I am 
glad, said the knight, that such a noble man shall have the 
rule of my cousin. Now, what is your name ? said Pellinore, 
I pray you tell me. Sir, my name is Sir Meliot of Logurs, 
and this lady my cousin hight Nimue, and the knight that 
was in the other pavilion is my sworn brother, a passing 
good knight, and his name is Brian of the Isles, and he is 
full loth to do wrong, and full loth to fight with any man, 
but if he be sore sought on, so that for shame he may not 
leave it. It is marvel, said Pellinore, that he will not have 
ado with me. Sir, he will not have ado with no man but if 
it be at his request. Bring him to the court, said Pellinore, 
one of these days. Sir, we will come together. And ye 
shall be welcome, said Pellinore, to the court of King 
Arthur, and greatly allowed for your coming. And so he 
departed with the lady, and brought her to Camelot. So as 
they rode in a valley it was full of stones, and there the 
lady's horse stumbled and threw her down, that her arm 
was sore bruised and near she swooned for pain. Alas ! 
sir, said the lady, mine arm is out of lythe, wherethrough I 
must needs rest me. Ye shall well, said King Pellinore. 
And so he alit under a fair tree where was fair grass, and he 
put his horse thereto, and so laid him under the tree and 
slept till it was nigh night. And when he awoke he would 
have ridden. Sir, said the lady, it is so dark that ye may as 
well ride backward as forward. So they abode still and 
made there their lodging. Then Sir Pellinore put off his 
armour ; then a little afore midnight they heard the trotting 
of an horse. Be ye still, said King Pellinore, for we shall 
hear of some adventure. 

King Arthur 



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

King Arthur 89 



AND therewith they departed, and came there as the head 
of the lady lay with a fair yellow hair, that grieved King 
Pellinore passingly sore when he looked on it, for much he 
cast his heart on the visage. And so by noon they came to 
Camelot ; and the king and the queen were passing fain of 
his coming to the court. And there he was made to swear 
upon the four Evangelists, to tell the truth of his quest from 
the one to the other. Ah ! Sir Pellinore, said Queen 
Guenever, ye were greatly to blame that ye saved not this 
lady's life. Madam, said Pellinore, ye were greatly to blame 
an ye would not save your own life an ye might, but, save 
your pleasure, I was so furious in my quest that I would not 
abide, and that repenteth me, and shall the days of my life. 
Truly, said Merlin, ye ought sore to repent it, for that lady 
was your own daughter begotten on the lady of the Rule, 
and that knight that was dead was her love, and should have 
wedded her, and he was a right good knight of a young 
man, and would have proved a good man, and to this court 
was he coming, and his name was Sir Miles of the Launds, 
and a knight came behind him and slew him with a spear, 
and his name is Loraine le Savage, a false knight and a 
coward ; and she for great sorrow and dole slew herself with 
his sword, and her name was Eleine. And because ye 
would not abide and help her, ye shall see your best friend 
fail you when ye be in the greatest distress that ever ye were 
or shall be. And that penance God hath ordained you for 
that deed, that he that ye shall most trust to of any man alive, 
he shall leave you where ye shall be slain. Me forthynketh, 
said King Pellinore, that this shall me betide, but God may 
fordo well destiny. Thus, when the quest was done of the 
white hart, the which followed Sir Gawaine ; and the quest 
of the brachet, followed of Sir Tor, Pellinore's son ; and 
the quest of the lady that the knight took away, the which 
King Pellinore at that time followed ; then the king stab- 
lished all his knights, and gave them that were of lands not 
rich, he gave them lands, and charged them never to do 
outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason ; also, 

90 King Arthur 

by no means to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that 
asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and 
lordship of King Arthur for evermore ; and always to do 
ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succour, upon pain of 
death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful 
quarrel for no law, nor for no world's goods. Unto this 
were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old 
and young. And every year were they sworn at the high 
feast of Pentecost. 

Explicit the Wedding of King Arthur. 
Sequiiur quartus liber. 




So after these quests of Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor, and King 
Pellinore, it fell so that Merlin fell in a dotage on the 
damosel that King Pellinore brought to court, and she was 
one of the damosels of the lake, that hight Nimue. But 
Merlin would let have her no rest, but always he would be 
with her. And ever she made Merlin good cheer till she 
had learned of him all manner thing that she desired ; and 
he was assotted upon her, that he might not be from her. 
So on a time he told King Arthur that he should not dure 
long, but for all his crafts he should be put in the earth 
quick, and so he told the king many things that should 
befall, but always he warned the king to keep well his sword 
and the scabbard, for he told him how the sword and the 
scabbard should be stolen by a woman from him that he 
most trusted. Also he told King Arthur that he should 
miss him, Yet had ye lever than all your lands to have me 
again. Ah, said the king, since ye know of your adventure, 
purvey for it, and put away by your crafts that misadventure. 
Nay, said Merlin, it will not be ; so he departed from the 
king. And within a while the damosel of the lake departed, 

King Arthur 91 

and Merlin went with her evermore wheresomever she went. 
And ofttimes Merlin would have had her privily away by his 
subtle crafts ; then she made him to swear that he should 
never do none enchantment upon her if he would have his 
will. And so he sware ; so she and Merlin went over the 
sea unto the land of Benwick, whereas King Ban was king 
that had great war against King Claudas, and there Merlin 
spake with King Ban's wife, a fair lady and a good, and her 
name was Elaine, and there he saw young Launcelot. There 
the queen made great sorrow for the mortal war that King 
Claudas made on her lord and on her lands. Take none 
heaviness, said Merlin, for this same child within this twenty 
year shall revenge you on King Claudas, that all Christendom 
shall speak of it ; and this same child shall be the most man 
of worship of the world, and his first name is Galahad, that 
know I well, said Merlin, and syne ye have confirmed him 
Launcelot. That is truth, said the queen, his first name was 
Galahad. O Merlin, said the queen, shall I live to see my son 
such a man of prowess ? Yea, lady, on my peril ye shall see 
it, and live many winters after. And so soon after the lady and 
Merlin departed, and by the way Merlin showed her many 
wonders, and came into Cornwall. And always Merlin lay 
about the lady to have her maidenhood, and she was ever 
passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of 
him, for she was afeared of him because he was a devil's son, 
and she could not beskyfte him by no mean. And so on a 
time it happed that Merlin showed to her in a rock whereas 
was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, that went 
under a great stone. So by her subtle working she made 
Merlin to go under that stone to let her wit of the marvels 
there, but she wrought so there for him that he came never 
out for all the craft he could do. And so she departed and 
left Merlin. 



AND as King Arthur rode to Camelot, and held there a 
great feast with mirth and joy, so soon after he returned unto 
Cardoile, and there came unto Arthur new tidings that the 
king of Denmark, and the king of Ireland that was his 

92 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 93 



UNTO this counsel these five kings assented, and so they 
passed forth with their host through North Wales, and came 
upon Arthur by night, and set upon his host as the king and 
his knights were in their pavilions. King Arthur was un- 
armed, and had lain him to rest with his Queen Guenever. 
Sir, said Sir Kay, it is not good we be unarmed. We shall 
have no need, said Sir Gawaine and Sir Griflet, that lay in a 
little pavilion by the king. With that they heard a great 
noise, and many cried, Treason, treason ! Alas, said King 
Arthur, we be betrayed ! Unto arms, fellows, then he cried. 
So they were armed anon at all points. Then came there a 
wounded knight unto the king, and said, Sir, save yourself 
and my lady the queen, for our host is destroyed, and much 
people of ours slain. So anon the king and the queen and 
the three knights took their horses, and rode toward Humber 
to pass over it, and the water was so rough that they were 
afraid to pass over. Now may ye choose, said King Arthur ; 
whether ye will abide and take the adventure on this side, 
for an ye be taken they will slay you. It were me lever, said 
the queen, to die in the water than to fall in your enemies' 
hands and there be slain. And as they stood so talking, Sir 
Kay saw the five kings coming on horseback by themself 
alone, with their spears in their hands even toward them. 
Lo, said Sir Kay, yonder be the five kings ; let us go to 
them and match them. That were folly, said Sir Gawaine, 
for we are but three and they be five. That is truth, said 
Sir Griflet. No force, said Sir Kay, I will undertake for two 
of them, and then may ye three undertake for the other three. 
And therewithal, Sir Kay let his horse run as fast as he 
might, and struck one of them through the shield and the 
body a fathom, that the king fell to the earth stark dead. 
That saw Sir Gawaine, and ran unto another king so hard 
that he smote him through the body. And therewithal 
King Arthur ran to another, and smote him through the 
body with a spear, that he fell to the earth dead. Then Sir 
Griflet ran unto the fourth king, and gave him such a fall 
that his neck brake. Anon Sir Kay ran unto the fifth king, 

94 King Arthur 

and smote him so hard on the helm that the stroke clave 
the helm and the head to the earth. That was well stricken, 
said King Arthur, and worshipfully hast thou holden thy 
promise, therefore I shall honour thee while that I live, and 
therewithal they set the queen in a barge into Humber ; 
but always Queen Guenever praised Sir Kay for his 
deeds, and said, What lady that ye love, and she love you 
not again she were greatly to blame ; and among ladies, 
said the queen, I shall bear your noble fame, for ye 
spake a great word, and fulfilled it worshipfully. And 
therewith the queen departed. Then the king and the 
three knights rode into the forest, for there they supposed 
to hear of them that were escaped ; and there he found the 
most part of his people, and told them all how the five 
kings were dead. And therefore let us hold us together till 
it be day, and when their host have espied that their chief- 
tains be slain, they will make such dole that they shall no 
more help themselves. And right so as the king said, so it 
was ; for when they found the five kings dead, they made 
such dole that they fell from their horses. Therewithal 
came King Arthur but with a few people, and slew on the 
left hand and on the right hand, that well-nigh there escaped 
no man, but all were slain to the number thirty thousand. 
And when the battle was all ended, the king kneeled down 
and thanked God meekly. And then he sent for the queen, 
and soon she was come, and she made great joy of the 
overcoming of that battle. 



THEREWITHAL came one to King Arthur, and told him that 
King Pellinore was within three mile with a great host ; 
and he said, Go unto him, and let him understand how we 
have sped. So within a while King Pellinore came with a 
great host, and saluted the people and the king, and there 
was great joy made on every side. Then the king let search 
how much people of his party there was slain ; and there 
were found but little past two hundred men slain and eight 
knights of the Table Round in their pavilions. Then the 
king let rear and devise in the same place whereat the battle 

King Arthur 95 

was done a fair abbey, and endowed it with great livelihood, 
and let it call the Abbey of La Beale Adventure. But when 
some of them came into their countries, whereof the five 
kings were kings, and told them how they were slain, there 
was made great dole. And when all King Arthur's enemies, 
as the King of North Wales, and the kings of the North, 
wist of the battle, they were passing heavy. And so the 
king returned unto Camelot in haste. And when he was 
come to Camelot he called King Pellinore unto him, and 
said, Ye understand well that we have lost eight knights of the 
best of the Table Round, and by your advice we will choose 
eight again of the best we may find in this court. Sir, said 
Pellinore, I shall counsel you after my conceit the best : 
there are in your court full noble knights both of old and 
young ; and therefore by mine advice ye shall choose half 
of the old and half of the young. Which be the old ? said 
King Arthur. Sir, said King Pellinore, meseemeth that King 
Uriens that hath wedded your sister Morgan le Fay, and 
the King of the Lake, and Sir Hervise de Revel, a noble 
knight, and Sir Galagars, the fourth. This is well devised, 
said King Arthur, and right so shall it be. Now, which are 
the four young knights? said Arthur. Sir, said Pellinore, 
the first is Sir Gawaine, your nephew, that is as good a 
knight of his time as any is in this land ; and the second as 
meseemeth best is Sir Griflet le Fise de Dieu, that is a good 
knight and full desirous in arms, and who may see him live 
he shall prove a good knight ; and the third as meseemeth is 
well to be one of the knights of the Round Table, Sir Kay 
the Seneschal, for many times he hath done full worship- 
fully, and now at your last battle he did full honourably for 
to undertake to slay two kings. By my head, said Arthur, 
he is best worth to be a knight of the Round Table of 
any that ye have rehearsed, an he had done no more 
prowess in his life days. 



Now, said King Pellinore, I shall put to you two knights, 
and ye shall choose which is most worthy, that is Sir Bagde- 
magus, and Sir Tor, my son. But because Sir Tor is my 

96 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 97 



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

98 King Arthur 

and well bisene ; and so they were laid in their beds easily. 
And anon they fell a-sleep, and slept marvellously sore all 
the night. And on the morrow King Uriens was in Game- 
lot abed in his wife's arms, Morgan le Fay. And when he 
awoke he had great marvel, how he came there, for on the 
even afore he was two days' journey from Camelot. And 
when King Arthur awoke he found himself in a dark prison, 
hearing about him many complaints of woful knights. 



WHAT are ye that so complain ? said King Arthur. We 
be here twenty knights, prisoners, said they, and some of us 
have lain here seven year, and some more and some less. 
For what cause ? said Arthur. We shall tell you, said the 
knights ; this lord of this castle, his name is Sir Darnas, and 
he is the falsest knight that liveth, and full of treason, and a 
very coward as any liveth, and he hath a younger brother, a 
good knight of prowess, his name is Sir Ontzlake, and 
this traitor Damas, the elder brother will give him no part 
of his livelihood, but as Sir Ontzlake keepeth thorough 
prowess of his hands, and so he keepeth from him 
a full fair manor and a rich, and therein Sir Ontzlake 
dwelleth worshipfully, and is well beloved of all people. And 
this Sir Damas, our master is as evil beloved, for he is 
without mercy, and he is a coward, and great war hath been 
betwixt them both, but Ontzlake hath ever the better, and 
ever he proffereth Sir Damas to fight for the livelihood, 
body for body, but he will not do ; other els to find a 
knight to fight for him. Unto that Sir Damas had granted 
to find a knight, but he is so evil beloved and hated, that 
there is never a knight will fight for him. And when Damas 
saw this, that there was never a knight would fight for him, 
he hath daily lain await with many knights with him, and 
taken all the knights in this country to see and espy their 
adventures, he hath taken them by force and brought them 
to his prison. And so he took us separately as we rode on 
our adventures, and many good knights have died in this 

King Arthur 99 

prison for hunger, to the number of eighteen knights ; and 
if any of us all that here is, or hath been, would have 
foughten with his brother Ontzlake, he would have delivered 
us, but for because this Damas is so false and so full of 
treason we would never fight for him to die for it. And we 
be so lean for hunger that unnethe we may stand on our 
feet. God deliver you, for his mercy, said Arthur. Anon, 
therewithal there came a damosel unto Arthur, and asked 
him, What cheer ? I cannot say, said he. Sir, said she, an 
ye will fight for my lord, ye shall be delivered out of prison, 
and else ye escape never the life. Now, said Arthur, that is 
hard, yet had I lever to fight with a knight than to die in 
prison; with this, said Arthur, I may be delivered and all 
these prisoners, I will do the battle. Yes, said the damosel. 
I am ready, said Arthur, an I had horse and armour. Ye 
shall lack none, said the damosel. Meseemeth, damosel, I 
should have seen you in the court of Arthur. Nay, said the 
damosel, I came never there, I am the lord's daughter of 
this castle. Yet was she false, for she was one of the 
damosels of Morgan le Fay. Anon she went unto Sir 
Damas, and told him how he would do battle for him, and 
so he sent for Arthur. And when he came he was well 
coloured, and well made of his limbs, that all knights that 
saw him said it were pity that such a knight should die in 
prison. So Sir Damas and he were agreed that he should 
fight for him upon this covenant, that all other knights should 
be delivered ; and unto that was Sir Damas sworn unto 
Arthur, and also to do the battle to the uttermost. And 
with that all the twenty knights were brought out of the 
dark prison into the hall, and delivered, and so they all 
abode to see the battle. 



Now turn we unto Accolon of Gaul, that when he awoke 
he found himself by a deep well-side, within half a foot, in 
great peril of death. And there came out of that fountain a 
pipe of silver, and out of that pipe ran water all on high in a 
stone of marble. When Sir Accolon saw this, he blessed 

ioo King Arthur 

him and said, Jesus save my lord King Arthur, and King 
Uriens, for these damosels in this ship have betrayed us, 
they were devils and no women ; and if I may escape this 
misadventure, I shall destroy all where I may find these 
false damosels that use enchantments. Right with that 
there came a dwarf with a great mouth and a flat nose, and 
saluted Sir Accolon, and said how he came from Queen 
Morgan le Fay, and she greeteth you well, and biddeth you 
be of strong heart, for ye shall fight to-morrow with a knight 
at the hour of prime, and therefore she hath sent you here 
Excalibur Arthur's sword, and the scabbard, and she biddeth 
you as ye love her, that ye do the battle to the uttermost, 
without any mercy, like as ye had promised her when ye 
spake together in private ; and what damosel that bringeth 
her the knight's head, which ye shall fight withal, she will 
make her a queen. Now I understand you well, said 
Accolon, I shall hold that I have promised her now I have 
the sword : when saw ye my lady Queen Morgan le Fay ? 
Right late, said the dwarf. Then Accolon took him in his 
arms and said, Recommend me unto my lady queen, and 
tell her all shall be done that I have promised her, and else 
I will die for it. Now I suppose, said Accolon, she hath 
made all these crafts and enchantments for this battle. Ye 
may well believe it, said the dwarf. Right so there came a 
knight and a lady with six squires, and saluted Accolon, and 
prayed him for to arise, and come and rest him at his 
manor. And so Accolon mounted upon a void horse, and 
went with the knight unto a fair manor by a priory, and 
there he had passing good cheer. Then Sir Damas sent 
unto his brother Sir Ontzlake, and bade make him ready by 
to-morn at the hour of prime, and to be in the field to fight 
with a good knight, for he had found a good knight that was 
ready to do battle at all points. When this word came 
unto Sir Ontzlake he was passing heavy, for he was wounded 
a little tofore through both his thighs with a spear, and 
made great dole ; but as he was wounded he would have 
taken the battle on hand. So it happed at that time, by the 
means of Morgan le Fay, Accolon was with Sir Ontzlake 
lodged ; and when he heard of that battle, and how 
Ontzlake was wounded, he said that he would fight for him, 
because Morgan le Fay had sent him Excalibur and the 
sheath for to fight with the knight on the morn : this was 
the cause Sir Accolon took the battle on hand. Then Sir 

King Arthur 101 

Ontzlake was passing glad, and thanked Sir Accolon with all 
his heart that he would do so much for him. And there- 
withal Sir Ontzlake sent word unto his brother Sir Damas, 
that he had a knight that for him should be ready in the 
field by the hour of prime. So on the morn Sir Arthur 
was armed and well horsed, and asked Sir Damas, When 
shall we to the field ? Sir, said Sir Damas, ye shall hear 
mass. And so Arthur heard a mass, and when mass was 
done there came a squire on a great horse, and asked Sir 
Damas if his knight were ready, for our knight is ready in 
the field. Then Sir Arthur mounted upon horseback, and 
there were all the knights and commons of that country ; 
and so by all advices there were chosen twelve good men of 
the country for to wait upon the two knights. And right as 
Arthur was on horseback there came a damosel from Morgan 
le Fay, and brought unto Sir Arthur a sword like unto 
Excalibur, and the scabbard, and said unto Arthur, Morgan 
le Fay sendeth here your sword for great love. And he 
thanked her, and weened it had been so, but she was false, 
for the sword and the scabbard were counterfeit, and brittle, 
and false. 



AND then they dressed them on both parties of the field, 
and let their horses run so fast that either smote other in the 
middes of the shield with their spear-heads, that both horse 
and man went to the earth ; and then they started up both, 
and pulled out their swords. The meanwhile that they were 
thus at the battle, came the damosel of the lake into the field, 
that put Merlin under the stone ; and she came thither for 
love of King Arthur, for she knew how Morgan le Fay had 
so ordained that King Arthur should have been slain that 
day, and therefore she came to save his life. And so they 
went eagerly to the battle, and gave many great strokes, but 
always Arthur's sword bit not like Accolon's sword ; but for 
the most part, every stroke that Accolon gave he wounded 
sore Arthur, that it was marvellous he stood, and always his 
blood fe)l from him fast. When Arthur beheld the ground 
so sore be-bled he was dismayed, and then he deemed treason 
that his sword was changed ; for his sword bit not steel as it 

I 45 E 

IO2 King Arthur 

was wont to do, therefore he dread him sore to be dead, for 
ever him seemed that the sword in Accolon's hand was 
Excalibur, for at every stroke that Accolon struck he drew 
blood on Arthur. Now, knight, said Accolon unto Arthur, 
keep thee well from me ; but Arthur answered not again, 
and gave him such a buffet on the helm that it made him 
to stoop, nigh falling down to the earth. Then Sir Accolon 
withdrew him a little, and came on with Excalibur on high, 
and smote Sir Arthur such a buffet that he fell nigh to the 
earth. Then were they wroth both, and gave each other 
many sore strokes, but always Sir Arthur lost so much blood 
that it was marvel he stood on his feet, but he was so full of 
knighthood that knightly he endured the pain. And Sir 
Accolon lost not a dele of blood, therefore he waxed passing 
light, and Sir Arthur was passing feeble, and weened verily 
to have died ; but for all that he made countenance as 
though he might endure, and held Accolon as short as he 
might. But Accolon was so bold because of Excalibur that 
he waxed passing hardy. But all men that beheld him said 
they saw never knight fight so well as Arthur did considering 
the blood that he bled. So was all the people sorry for him, 
but the two brethren would not accord ; then always they 
fought together as fierce knights,and Sir Arthur withdrew him 
a little for to rest him, and Sir Accolon called him to battle 
and said, It is no time for me to suffer thee to rest. And 
therewith he came fiercely upon Arthur, and Sir Arthur was 
wroth for the blood that he had lost, and smote Accolon on 
high upon the helm, so mightily, that he made him nigh to 
fall to the earth ; and therewith Arthur's sword brast at the 
cross, and fell in the grass among the blood, and the pommel 
and the sure handles he held in his hands. When Sir 
Arthur saw that, he was in great fear to die, but always he 
held up his shield and lost no ground, nor bated no cheer. 



THEN Sir Accolon began with words of treason, and said, 
Knight, thou art overcome, and mayst not endure, and also 
thou art weaponless, and thou hast lost much of thy blood, 

King Arthur 103 

and I am full loath to slay thee, therefore yield thee to me 
as recreant. Nay, said Sir Arthur, I may not so, for I have 
promised to do the battle to the uttermost, by the faith of my 
body, while me lasteth the life, and therefore I had lever to 
die with honour than to live with shame ; and if it were 
possible for me to die an hundred times, I had lever to die 
so oft than yield me to thee ; for though I lack weapon, I 
shall lack no worship, and if thou slay me weaponless that 
shall be thy shame. Well, said Accolon, as for the shame I 
will not spare, now keep thee from me, for thou art but a 
dead man. And therewith Accolon gave him such a stroke 
that he fell nigh to the earth, and would have had Arthur to 
have cried him mercy. But Sir Arthur pressed unto Accolon 
with his shield, and gave him with the pommel in his hand 
such a buffet that he went three strides aback. When the 
damosel of the lake beheld Arthur, how full of prowess his 
body was, and the false treason that was wrought for him to 
have had him slain ; she had great pity that so good a knight 
and such a man of worship should so be destroyed. And at 
the next stroke Sir Accolon struck him such a stroke that by 
the damosel's enchantment the sword Excalibur fell out of 
Accolon's hand to the earth. And therewithal Sir Arthur 
lightly leapt to it, and gat it in his hand, and forthwithal he 
knew that it was his sword Excalibur, and said, Thou hast 
been from me all too long, and much damage hast thou done 
me ; and therewith he espied the scabbard hanging by his 
side, and suddenly he sterte to him and pulled the scabbard 
from him, and threw it from him as far as he might throw it. 

knight, said Arthur, this day hast thou done me great 
damage with this sword ; now are ye come unto your death, 
for I shall not warrant you but ye shall as well be rewarded 
with this sword or ever we depart as thou hast rewarded me, 
for much pain have ye made me to endure, and much blood 
have I lost. And therewith Sir Arthur rushed on him with 
all his might and pulled him to the earth, and then rushed 
off his helm, and gave him such a buffet on the head that the 
blood came out at his ears, his nose, and his mouth. Now 
will I slay thee, said Arthur. Slay me ye may well, said 
Accolon, an it please you, for ye are the best knight that ever 

1 found, and I see well that God is with you. But for I 
promised to do this battle, said Accolon, to the uttermost, 
and never to be recreant while I lived, therefore shall I never 
yield me with my mouth, but God do with my body what he 

IO4 King Arthur 

will. Then Sir Arthur remembered him, and thought he 
should have seen this knight. Now tell me, said Arthur, or 
I will slay thee, of what country art thou, and of what court ? 
Sir knight, said Sir Accolon, I am of the court of King 
Arthur, and my name is Accolon of Gaul. Then was Arthur 
more dismayed than he was beforehand; for then he re- 
membered him of his sister Morgan le Fay, and of the 
enchantment of the ship. O sir knight, said he, I pray you 
tell me who gave you this sword, and by whom ye had it. 




THEN Sir Accolon bethought him, and said, Woe worth 
this sword, for by it have I gotten my death. It may well 
be, said the king. Now, sir, said Accolon, I will tell you ; 
this sword hath been in my keeping the most part of this 
twelvemonth ; and Morgan le Fay, King Uriens' wife, sent 
it me yesterday by a dwarf, to this intent, that I should 
slay King Arthur, her brother. For ye shall understand 
King Arthur is the man in the world that she most hateth, 
because he is most of worship and of prowess of any of her 
blood ; also she loveth me out of measure as paramour, and 
I her again ; and if she 'might bring about to slay Arthur 
by her crafts, she would slay her husband King Uriens 
lightly, and then had she me devised to be king in this land, 
and so to reign, and she to be my queen ; but that is now 
done, said Accolon, for I am sure of my death. Well, said 
Sir Arthur, I feel by you ye would have been king in this 
land. It had been great damage to have destroyed your 
lord, said Arthur. It is truth, said Accolon, but now I 
have told you truth, wherefore I pray you tell me of whence 
ye are, and of what court ? O Accolon, said King Arthur, 
now I let thee wit that I am King Arthur, to whom thou 
hast done great damage. When Accolon heard that he 
cried aloud, Fair, sweet lord, have mercy on me, for I knew 
not you. O Sir Accolon, said King Arthur, mercy shalt 
thou have, because I feel by thy words at this time thou 
knewest not my person; but I understand well by thy 

King Arthur 105 

words that thou hast agreed to the death of my person, and 
therefore thou art a traitor; but I wyte thee the less, for 
my sister Morgan le Fay by her false crafts made thee to 
agree and consent to her false lusts, but I shall be sore 
avenged upon her an I live, that all Christendom shall 
speak of it ; God knoweth I have honoured her and wor- 
shipped her more than all my kin, and more have I trusted 
her than mine own wife and all my kin after. Then Sir 
Arthur called the keepers of the field, and said, Sirs, come 
hither, for here are we two knights that have fought unto a 
great damage unto us both, and like each one of us to have 
slain other, if it had happed so ; and had any of us known 
other, here had been no battle, nor stroke stricken. Then 
all aloud cried Accolon unto all the knights and men that 
were then there gathered together, and said to them in this 
manner, O lords, this noble knight that I have fought withal, 
the which me sore repenteth, is the most man of prowess, of 
manhood, and of worship in the world, for it is himself 
King Arthur, our alther liege lord, and with mishap and 
with misadventure have I done this battle with the king 
and lord that I am holden withall. 



THEN all the people fell down on their knees and cried 
King Arthur mercy. Mercy shall ye have, said Arthur : 
here may ye see what adventures befall ofttime of errant 
knights, how that I have fought with a knight of mine own 
unto my great damage and his both. But, sirs, because I 
am sore hurt, and he both, and I had great need of a little 
rest, ye shall understand the opinion betwixt you two 
brethren : As to thee, Sir Damas, for whom I have been 
champion and won the field of this knight, yet will I judge 
because ye, Sir Damas, are called an orgulous knight, and 
full of villainy, and not worth of prowess your deeds, there- 
fore I will that ye give unto your brother all the whole 
manor with the appurtenance, under this form, that Sir 
Ontzlake hold the manor of you, and yearly to give you 
a palfrey to ride upon, for that will become you better to 

io6 King Arthur 

ride on than upon a courser. Also I charge thee, Sir Damas, 
upon pain of death, that thou never distress no knights 
errant that ride on their adventure. And also that thou 
restore these twenty knights that thou hast long kept 
prisoners, of all their harness, that they be content for ; and 
if any of them come to my court and complain of thee, by 
my head thou shalt die therefor. Also, Sir Ontzlake, as 
to you, because ye are named a good knight, and full of 
prowess, and true and gentle in all your deeds, this shall be 
your charge. I will give you that in all goodly haste ye 
come unto me and my court, and ye shall be a knight of 
mine, and if your deeds be thereafter I shall so prefer you, 
by the grace of God, that ye shall in short time be in ease 
for to live as worshipfully as your brother Sir Damas. God 
thank your largeness of your goodness and of your bounty, I 
shall be from henceforward at all times at your command- 
ment ; for, sir, said Sir Ontzlake, as God would, as I was 
hurt but late with an adventurous knight through both my 
thighs, that grieved me sore, and else had I done this battle 
with you. God would, said Arthur, it had been so, for then 
had not I been hurt as I am. I shall tell you the cause why : 
for I had not been hurt as I am, had it not been mine own 
sword, that was stolen from me by treason ; and this battle 
was ordained aforehand to have slain me, and so it was 
brought to the purpose by false treason, and by false enchant- 
ment. Alas, said Sir Ontzlake, that is great pity that ever so 
noble a man as ye are of your deeds and prowess, that any man 
or woman might find in their hearts to work any treason 
against you. I shall reward them, said Arthur, in short 
time, by the grace of God. Now, tell me, said Arthur, how 
far am I from Camelot? Sir, ye are two days' journey 
therefrom. I would fain be at some place of worship, said 
Sir Arthur, that I might rest me. Sir, said Sir Ontzlake, 
hereby is a rich abbey of your elders' foundation, of nuns, 
but three miles hence. So the king took his leave of all the 
people, and mounted upon horseback, and Sir Accolon 
with him. And when they were come to the abbey, he let 
fetch leeches and search his wounds and Accolon's both ; 
but Sir Accolon died within four days, for he had bled so 
much blood that he might not live, but King Arthur was 
well recovered. So when Accolon was dead he let send 
him on an horse-bier with six knights unto Camelot, and 
said : Bear him to my sister Morgan le Fay, and say that I 

King Arthur 107 

send her him to a present, and tell her I have my sword 
Excalibur and the scabbard; so they departed with the 



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

io8 King Arthur 



THEN came tidings unto Morgan le Fay that Accolon 
was dead, and his body brought unto the church, and how 
King Arthur had his sword again. But when Queen 
Morgan wist that Accolon was dead, she was so sorrowful 
that near her heart to-brast. But because she would not it 
were known, outward she kept her countenance, and made 
no semblance of sorrow. But well she wist an she abode till 
her brother Arthur came thither, there should no gold go 
for her life. Then she went unto Queen Guenever, and 
asked her leave to ride into the country. Ye may abide, 
said Queen Guenever, till your brother the king come home. 
I may not, said Morgan le Fay, for I have such hasty 
tidings, that I may not tarry. Well, said Guenever, ye may 
depart when ye will. So early on the morn, or it was day, 
she took her horse and rode all that day and most part of 
the night, and on the morn by noon she came to the same 
abbey of nuns whereat lay King Arthur ; and she knowing 
he was there, she asked where he was. And they answered 
how he had laid him in his bed to sleep, for he had had but 
little rest these three nights. Well, said she, I charge you 
that none of you awake him till I do, and then she alit off 
her horse, and thought for to steal away Excalibur his sword, 
and so she went straight unto his chamber, and no man 
durst disobey her commandment, and there she found 
Arthur asleep in his bed, and Excalibur in his right hand 
naked. When she saw that she was passing heavy that she 
might not come by the sword without she had awaked him, 
and then she wist well she had been dead. Then she 
took the scabbard and went her way on horseback. When 
the king awoke and missed his scabbard, he was wroth, and 
he asked who had been there, and they said his sister, 
Queen Morgan had been there, and had put the scabbard 
under her mantle and was gone. Alas, said Arthur, falsely 
ye have watched me. Sir, said they all, we durst not 
disobey your sister's commandment. Ah, said the king, let 
fetch the best horse may be found, and bid Sir Ontzlake 
arm him in all haste, and take another good horse and ride 

King Arthur 109 

with me. So anon the king and Ontzlake were well armed, 
and rode after this lady, and so they came by a cross and 
found a cowherd, and they asked the poor man if there 
came any lady late riding that way. Sir, said this poor 
man, right late came a lady riding with a forty horses, and 
to yonder forest she rode. Then they spurred their horses, 
and followed fast, and within a while Arthur had a sight 
of Morgan le Fay, then he chased as fast as he might. 
When she espied him following her, she rode a greater pace 
through the forest till she came to a plain, and when she 
saw she might not escape, she rode unto a lake thereby, 
and said, Whatsoever come of me, my brother shall not have 
this scabbard. And then she let throw the scabbard in the 
deepest of the water so it sank, for it was heavy of gold and 
precious stones. Then she rode into a valley where many 
great stones were, and when she saw she must be overtaken, 
she shaped herself, horse and man, by enchantment unto a 
great marble stone. Anon withal came Sir Arthur and Sir 
Ontzlake whereas the king might know his sister and her 
men, and one knight from another. Ah, said the king, here 
may ye see the vengeance of God, and now am I sorry that 
this misadventure is befallen. And then he looked for the 
scabbard, but it would not be found, so he returned to the 
abbey where he came from. So when Arthur was gone she 
turned all into the likeliness as she and they were before, 
and said, Sirs, now may we go where we will. 



THEN said Morgan, Saw ye Arthur, my brother ? Yea, 
said her knights, right well, and that ye should have found 
an we might have stered from one stede, for by his army- 
vestal countenance he would have caused us to have fled. 
I believe you, said Morgan. Anon after as she rode she 
met a knight leading another knight on his horse before 
him, bound hand and foot, blindfold, to have drowned him 
in a fountain. When she saw this knight so bound, she 
asked him, What will ye do with that knight ? Lady, said 
he, I will drown him. For what cause ? she asked. For I 

I 45 *E 

no King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 1 1 1 



WITH that came the damosel of the lake unto the king, 
and said, Sir, 1 must speak with you in private. Say on, 
said the king, what ye will. Sir, said the damosel, put not 
on you this mantle till ye have seen more, and in no wise 
let it not come on you nor on no knight of yours till ye 
command the bringer thereof to put it upon her. Well, said 
King Arthur, it shall be done as ye counsel me. And then 
he said unto the damosel that came from his sister, Damosel, 
this mantle that ye have brought me, I will see it upon you. 
Sir, she said, it will not beseem me to wear a king's garment. 
By my head, said Arthur, ye shall wear it or it come on my 
back, or any man's that here is. And so the king made it 
to be put upon her, and forthwithal she fell down dead, and 
never more spake word after and burnt to coals. Then was the 
king wonderly wroth, more than he was toforehand, and said 
unto King Uriens, My sister, your wife, is alway about to 
betray me, and well I wot either ye, or my nephew, your 
son, is of counsel with her to have me destroyed ; but as for 
you, said the king to King Uriens, I deem not greatly that 
ye be of her counsel, for Accolon confessed to me by his 
own mouth, that he would have destroyed you as well as 
me, therefore I hold you excused ; but as for your son, Sir 
Uwaine, I hold him suspect, therefore I charge you put him 
out of my court. So Sir Uwaine was discharged. And 
when Sir Gawaine wist that, he made him ready to go with 
him; and said, Whoso banisheth my cousin-germain shall 
banish me. So they two departed, and rode into a great 
forest, and so they came to an abbey of monks, and there 
were well lodged. But when the king wist that Sir Gawaine 
was departed from the court, there was made great sorrow 
among all the estates. Now, said Gaheris, Gawaine's brother, 
we have lost two good knights for the love of one. So on 
the mom they heard their masses in the abbey, and so they 
rode forth till that they came to a great forest. _ Then was 
Sir Gawaine ware in a valley by a turret, twelve fair damosels, 
and two knights armed on great horses, and the damosels 
went to and fro by a tree. And then was Sir Gawaine ware 

H2 King Arthur 

how there hung a white shield on that tree, and ever as the 
damosels came by it they spit upon it, and some threw mire 
upon the shield. 



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

King Arthur 113 




AND then Sir Marhaus rode unto his shield, and saw how 
it was defouled, and said, Of this despite I am a part avenged, 
but for her love that gave me this white shield I shall wear 
thee, and hang mine where thou wast ; and so he hanged it 
about his neck. Then he rode straight unto Sir Gawaine 
and to Sir Uwaine, and ask them what they did there? 
They answered him that they came from King Arthur's 
court to see adventures. Well, said Sir Marhaus, here am 
I ready, an adventurous knight that will fulfil any adventure 
that ye will desire ; and so departed from them, to fetch his 
range. Let him go, said Sir Uwaine unto Sir Gawaine, for 
he is a passing good knight as any is living ; I would not by 
my will that any of us were matched with him. Nay, said 
Sir Gawaine, not so, it were shame to us were he not 
assayed, were he never so good a knight. Well, said Sir 
Uwaine, I will assay him afore you, for I am more weaker 
than ye, and if he smite me down then may ye revenge me. 
So these two knights came together with great raundon, that 
Sir Uwaine smote Sir Marhaus that his spear brast in pieces 
on the shield, and Sir Marhaus smote him so sore that horse 
and man he bare to the earth, and hurt Sir Uwaine on the 
left side. Then Sir Marhaus turned his horse and rode 
toward Gawaine with his spear, and when Sir Gawaine saw 
that he dressed his shield, and they aventred their spears, 
and they came together with all the might of their horses, 
that either knight smote other so hard in middes of their 
shields, but Sir Gawaine's spear brake, but Sir Marhaus's 
spear held; and therewith Sir Gawaine and his horse rushed 
down to the earth. And lightly Sir Gawaine rose on his 
feet, and pulled out his sword, and dressed him toward Sir 
Marhaus on foot, and Sir Marhaus saw that, and pulled out 
his sword and began to come to Sir Gawaine on horseback. 
Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, alight on foot, or else I will 
slay thy horse. Gramercy, said Sir Marhaus, of your gentle- 
ness ye teach me courtesy, for it is not for one knight to be 
on foot, and the other on horseback. And therewith Sir 
Marhaus set his spear against a tree and alit and tied his 
horse to a tree, and dressed his shield, and either came unto 

H4 King Arthur 

other eagerly, and smote together with their swords that 
their shields flew in cantels, and they bruised their helms 
and their hauberks, and wounded either other. But Sir 
Gawaine from it passed nine of the clock waxed ever stronger 
and stronger, for then it came to the hour of noon, and thrice 
his might was increased. All this espied Sir Marhaus and 
had great wonder how his might increased, and so they 
wounded other passing sore. And then when it was past 
noon, and when it drew toward evensong, Sir Gawaine's 
strength feebled, and waxed passing faint that unnethes he 
might dure any longer, and Sir Marhaus was then bigger 
and bigger. Sir knight, said Sir Marhaus, I have well 
felt that ye are a passing good knight and a marvellous 
man of might as ever I felt any, while it lasteth, and 
our quarrels are not great, and therefore it were pity to do 
you hurt, for I feel ye are passing feeble. Ah, said Sir 
Gawaine, gentle knight, ye say the word that I should say. 
And therewith they took off their helms, and either kissed 
other, and there they swore together either to love other as 
brethren. And Sir Marhaus prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge 
with him that night. And so they took their horses, and 
rode toward Sir Marhaus's house. And as they rode by the 
way, Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, I have marvel that so 
valiant a man as ye be love no ladies nor damosels. Sir, 
said Sir Marhaus, they name me wrongfully those that give 
me that name, but well I wot it be the damosels of the 
turret that so name me, and other such as they be; now 
shall I tell you for what cause I hate them : for they be 
sorceresses and enchanters many of them, and be a knight 
never so good of his body and full of prowess as man may 
be, they will make him a stark coward to have the better of 
him, and this is the principal cause that I hate them ; and 
to all good ladies and gentlewomen I owe my service as 
a knight ought to do. As the book rehearseth in French, 
there were many knights that overmatched Sir Gawaine, for 
all the thrice might that he had : Sir Launcelot de Lake, Sir 
Tristram, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Percivale, Sir Pelleas, and 
Sir Marhaus, these six knights had the better of Sir Gawaine. 
Then within a little while they came to Sir Marhaus's place, 
which was in a little priory, and there they alit, and ladies 
and damosels unarmed them, and hastily looked to their 
hurts, for they were all three hurt. And so they had all 
three good lodging with Sir Marhaus, and good cheer ; for 

King Arthur 115 

when he wist that they were King Arthur's sisters' sons he 
made them all the cheer that lay in his power, and so they 
sojourned there a se'nnight, and were well eased of their 
wounds, and at the last departed. Now, said Sir Marhaus, 
we will not depart so lightly, for I will bring you through 
the forest ; and rode day by day well a seven days or they 
found any adventure. At the last they came into a great 
forest, that was named the country and forest of Arroy, and 
the country of strange adventures. In this country, said Sir 
Marhaus, came never knight syne it was christened, but he 
found strange adventures, and so they rode, and came into 
a deep valley full of stones, and thereby they saw a fair 
stream of water ; above thereby was the head of the stream 
a fair fountain, and three damosels sitting thereby. And 
then they rode to them, and either saluted other, and the 
eldest had a garland of gold about her head, and she was 
three score winter of age or more, and her hair was white 
under the garland. The second damosel was of thirty winter 
of age, with a circlet of gold about her head. The third 
damosel was but fifteen year of age, and a garland of flowers 
about her head. When these knights had so beheld them, 
they asked them the cause why they sat at that fountain ? 
We be here, said the damosels, for this cause : if we may see 
any errant knights, to teach them unto strange adventures; and 
ye be three knights that seeken adventures, and we be three 
damosels, and therefore each one of you must choose one 
of us ; and when ye have done so we will lead you unto 
three highways, and there each of you shall choose a way 
and his damosel with him. And this day twelvemonth ye 
must meet here again, and God send you your lives, and 
thereto ye must plight your troth. This is well said, said 
Sir Marhaus. 



Now shall every each of us choose a damosel. I shall 
tell you, said Sir Uwaine, I am the youngest and most 
weakest of you both, therefore I will have the eldest damosel, 
for she hath seen much, and can best help me when I have 
need, for I have most need of help of you both. Now, said 
Sir Marhaus, I will have the damosel of thirty winter age, 

n6 King Arthur 

for she falleth best to me. Well, said Sir Gawaine, I thank 
you, for ye have left me the youngest and the fairest, and 
she is most liefest to me. Then every damosel took 
her knight by the reins of his bridle, and brought him 
to the three ways, and there was their oath made to 
meet at the fountain that day twelvemonth an they were 
living, and so they kissed and departed, and every each 
knight set his lady behind him. And Sir Uwaine took the 
way that lay west, and Sir Marhaus took the way that lay 
south, and Sir Gawaine took the way that lay north. Now 
will we begin at Sir Gawaine, that held that way till that he 
came unto a fair manor, where dwelled an old knight and a 
good householder, and there Sir Gawaine asked the knight 
if he knew any adventures in that country. I shall show 
you some to-morn, said the old knight, and that marvellous. 
So, on the morn they rode into the forest of adventures to a 
launde, and thereby they found a cross, and as they stood 
and hoved, there came by them the fairest knight and the 
seemliest man that ever they saw, making the greatest 
dole that ever man made. And then he was ware of Sir 
Gawaine, and saluted him, and prayed God to send him 
much worship. As to that, said Sir Gawaine, gramercy ; 
also I pray to God that he send you honour and worship. 
Ah, said the knight, I may lay that a-side, for sorrow and 
shame cometh to me after worship. 



AND therewith he passed unto the one side of the launde ; 
and on the other side saw Sir Gawaine ten knights that 
hoved still and made them ready with their shields and 
spears against that one knight that came by Sir Gawaine. 
Then this one knight aventred a great spear, and one of the 
ten knights encountered with him, but this woful knight 
smote him so hard that he fell over his horse's tail. So this 
same dolorous knight served them all, that at the leastway 
he smote down horse and man, and all he did with one 
spear ; and so when they were all ten on foot, they went to 
that one knight, and he stood stone still, and suffered them 
to pull him down off his horse, and bound him hand and 

King Arthur 117 

foot, and tied him under the horse's belly, and so led him 
with them. O Jesu ! said Sir Gawaine, this is a doleful 
sight, to see the yonder knight so to be entreated, and it 
seemeth by the knight that he sufifereth them to bind him 
so, for he maketh no resistance. No, said his host, that is 
truth, for an he would they all were too weak so to do him. 
Sir, said the damosel unto Sir Gawaine, meseemeth it were 
your worship to help that dolorous knight, for methinketh 
he is one of the best knights that ever I saw. I would do 
for him, said Sir Gawaine, but it seemeth he will have no 
help. Then, said the damosel, methinketh ye have no lust 
to help him. Thus as they talked they saw a knight on the 
other side of the launde all armed save the head. And on the 
other side there came a dwarf on horseback all armed save the 
head, with a great mouth and a short nose ; and when the 
dwarf came nigh he said, Where is the lady should meet us 
here ? and therewithal she came forth out of the wood. And 
then they began to strive for the lady ; for the knight said 
he would have her, and the dwarf said he would have her. 
Will we do well? said the dwarf; yonder is a knight at the 
cross, let us put it both upon him, and as he deemeth so 
shall it be. I will well, said the knight, and so they went all 
three unto Sir Gawaine and told him wherefore they strove. 
Well, sirs, said he, will ye put the matter in my hand ? Yea, 
they said both. Now damosel, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall 
stand betwixt them both, and whether ye list better to go 
to, he shall have you. And when she was set between 
them both, she left the knight and went to the dwarf, and 
the dwarf took her and went his way singing, and the knight 
went his way with great mourning. Then came there two 
knights all armed, and cried on high, Sir Gawaine ! knight 
of King Arthur's make thee ready in all haste and joust with 
me. So they ran together, that either fell down, and then 
on foot they drew their swords, and did full actually. The 
meanwhile the other knight went to the damosel, and asked 
her why she abode with that knight, and if ye would abide 
with me, I will be your faithful knight. And with you will 
I be, said the damosel, for with Sir Gawaine I may not find 
in mine heart to be with him ; for now here was one knight 
discomfited ten knights, and at the last he was cowardly led 
away ; and therefore let us two go whilst they fight. And 
Sir Gawaine fought with that other knight long, but at the 
last they accorded both. And then the knight prayed Sir 

n8 King Arthur 

Gawaine to lodge with him that night. So as Sir Gawaine 
went with this knight he asked him, What knight is he in this 
country that smote down the ten knights ? For when he 
had done so manfully he suffered them to bind him hand 
and foot, and so led him away. Ah, said the knight, that is 
the best knight I trow in the world, and the most man of 
prowess, and he hath been served so as he was even more 
than ten times, and his name hight Sir Pelleas, and he 
loveth a great lady in this country and her name is Ettard. 
And so when he loved her there was cried in this country a 
great jousts three days, and all the knights of this country 
were there and gentlewomen, and who that proved him the 
best knight should have a passing good sword and a circlet 
of gold, and the circlet the knight should give it to the 
fairest lady that was at the jousts. And this knight Sir 
Pelleas was the best knight that was there, and there were 
five hundred knights, but there was never man that ever Sir 
Pelleas met withal but he struck him down, or else from his 
horse ; and every day of three days he struck down twenty 
knights, therefore they gave him the prize, and forthwithal 
he went thereas the lady Ettard was, and gave her the 
circlet, and said openly she was the fairest lady that there 
was, and that would he prove upon any knight that would 
say nay. 



AND so he chose her for his sovran lady, and never to 
love other but her, but she was so proud that she had scorn 
of him, and said that she would never love him though he 
would die for her. Wherefore all ladies and gentlewomen had 
scorn of her that she was so proud, for there were fairer than 
she, and there was none that was there but an Sir Pelleas 
would have proffered them love, they would have loved him 
for his noble prowess. And so this knight promised the 
lady Ettard to follow her into this country, and never to 
leave her till she loved him. And thus he is here the most 
part nigh her, and lodged by a priory, and every week she 
sendeth knights to fight with him. And when he hath put 
them to the worse, then will he suffer them wilfully to take 

King Arthur 119 

him prisoner, by cause he would have a sight of this lady. 
And always she doth him great despite, for sometime she 
maketh her knights to tie him to his horse's tail, and some 
to bind him under the horse's belly ; thus in the most 
shamefullest ways that she can think he is brought to her ; 
and all she doth it for to cause him to leave this country, 
and to leave his loving ; but all this cannot make him to 
leave, for an he would have fought on foot he might have 
had the better of the ten knights as well on foot as on 
horseback. Alas, said Sir Gawaine, it is great pity of him ; 
and after this night I will seek him to-morrow, in this forest, 
to do him all the help I can. So on the morn Sir Gawaine 
took his leave of his host Sir Carados, and rode into the 
forest ; and at the last he met with Sir Pelleas, making great 
moan out of measure, so each of them saluted other, and 
asked him why he made such sorrow. And as it is above 
rehearsed, Sir Pelleas told Sir Gawaine : But always I suffer 
her knights to fare so with me as ye saw yesterday, in trust 
at the last to win her love, for she knoweth well all her 
knights should not lightly win me, an me list to fight with 
them to the uttermost. Wherefore an I loved her not so 
sore, I had lever die an hundred times, an I might die so 
oft, rather than I would suffer that despite ; but I trust 
she will have pity upon me at the last, for love causeth many 
a good knight to suffer to have his entent, but alas I am 
unfortunate. And therewith he made so great dole and 
sorrow that unnethe he might hold him on horseback. Now, 
said Sir Gawaine, leave your mourning and I shall promise 
you by the faith of my body to do all that lieth in my power 
to get you the love of your lady, and thereto I will plight 
you my troth. Ah, said Sir Pelleas, of what court are ye ? tell 
me, I pray you, my good friend. And then Sir Gawaine 
said, I am of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son, 
and King Lot of Orkney was my father, and my name is Sir 
Gawaine. And then he said, My name is Sir Pelleas, born 
in the Isles, and of many isles I am lord, and never have I 
loved lady nor damosel till now in an unhappy time ; and, sir 
knight, syne ye are so nigh cousin unto King Arthur, and 
a king's son, therefore betray me not but help me, for I may 
never come by her but by some good knight, for she is in a 
strong castle here, fast by within this four mile, and over all 
this country she is lady of. And so I may never come to 
her presence, but as I suffer her knights to take me, and 

i2o King Arthur 

but if I did so that I might have a sight of her, I had been 
dead long or this time ; and yet fair word had I never of 
her, but when I am brought tofore her she rebuketh me in 
the foulest manner, and then they take my horse and harness 
and putten me out of the gates, and she will not suffer me 
to eat nor drink ; and always I offer me to be her prisoner, 
but that she will not suffer me, for I would desire no more, 
what pains so ever I had, so that I might have a sight of her 
daily. Well, said Sir Gawaine, all this shall I amend an ye 
will do as I shall devise : I will have your horse and your 
armour, and so will I ride unto her castle and tell her that 
I have slain you, and so shall I come within her to cause 
her to cherish me, and then shall I do my true part that ye 
shall not fail to have the love of her. 



AND therewith Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir 
Pelleas to be true and faithful unto him ; so each one plight 
their troth to other, and so they changed horses and harness, 
and Sir Gawaine departed, and came to the castle whereas 
stood the pavilions of this lady without the gate. And as 
soon as Ettard had espied Sir Gawaine she fled in toward 
the castle. Sir Gawaine spake on high, and bade her abide, 
for he was not Sir Pelleas ; I am another knight that have 
slain Sir Pelleas. Do off your helm, said the Lady Ettard, 
that I may see your visage. And so when she saw that it was 
not Sir Pelleas, she bade him alight and led him unto her 
castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had slain Sir 
Pelleas. And he said her yea, and told her his name was 
Sir Gawaine of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son. 
Truly, said she, that is great pity, for he was a passing good 
knight of his body, but of all men a-live I hated him most, 
for I could never be quit of him ; and for ye have slain him 
I shall be your woman, and to do anything that might 
please you. So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer. Then 
Sir Gawaine said that he loved a lady and by no means she 
would love him. She is to blame, said Ettard, an she will 
not love you, for ye that be so well born a man, and such a 

King Arthur 121 

man of prowess, there is no lady in the world too good for 
you. Will ye, said Sir Gawaine, promise me to do all that 
ye may, by the faith of your body, to get me the love of my 
lady? Yea, sir, said she, and that I promise you by the 
faith of my body. Now, said Sir Gawaine, it is yourself 
that I love so well, therefore I pray you hold your promise. 
I may not choose, said the Lady Ettard, but if I should be 
forsworn ; and so she granted him to fulfil all his desire. So 
it was then in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine 
went out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and there 
was made a bed, and there Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ettard 
went to bed together, and in another pavilion she laid her 
damosels, and in the third pavilion she laid part of her 
knights, for then she had no dread of Sir Pelleas. And 
there Sir Gawaine lay with her in that pavilion two days and 
two nights. And on the third day, in the morning early, Sir 
Pelleas armed him, for he had never slept syne Sir Gawaine 
departed from him ; for Sir Gawaine had promised him by 
the faith of his body, to come to him unto his pavilion by 
that priory within the space of a day and a night. Then Sir 
Pelleas mounted upon horseback, and came to the pavilions 
that stood without the castle, and found in the first pavilion 
three knights in three beds, and three squires lying at their 
feet. Then went he to the second pavilion and found four 
gentlewomen lying in four beds. And then he yede to the 
third pavilion and found Sir Gawaine lying in bed with his 
Lady Ettard, and either clipping other in arms, and when 
he saw that his heart wellnigh brast for sorrow, and said : 
Alas ! that ever a knight should be found so false ; and then 
he took his horse and might not abide no longer for pure 
sorrow. And when he had ridden nigh half a mile he 
turned again and thought to slay them both ; and when he 
saw them both so lie sleeping fast, unnethe he might hold 
him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself, 
Though this knight be never so false, I will never slay him 
sleeping, for I will never destroy the high order of knight- 
hood ; and therewith he departed again. And or he had 
ridden half a mile he returned again, and thought then to 
slay them both, making the greatest sorrow that ever man 
made. And when he came to the pavilions he tied his 
horse unto a tree, and pulled out his sword naked in his 
hand, and went to them thereas they lay, and yet he thought 
it were shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the naked 

122 King Arthur 

sword overthwart both their throats, and so took his horse 
and rode his way. And when Sir Pelleas came to his 
pavilions he told his knights and his squires how he had 
sped, and said thus to them, For your true and good service 
ye have done me I shall give you all my goods, for I will go 
unto my bed and never arise until I am dead. And when 
that I am dead I charge you that ye take the heart out of 
my body and bear it her betwixt two silver dishes, and tell 
her how I saw her lie with the false knight Sir Gawaine. 
Right so Sir Pelleas unarmed himself, and went unto his 
bed making marvellous dole and sorrow. When Sir Gawaine 
and Ettard awoke of their sleep, and found the naked 
sword overthwart their throats, then she knew well it was 
Sir Pelleas' sword. Alas ! said she to Sir Gawaine, ye have 
betrayed me and Sir Pelleas both, for ye told me ye had 
slain him, and now I know well it is not so, he is on live. 
And if Sir Pelleas had been as uncourteous to you as ye 
have been to him ye had been a dead knight ; but ye have 
deceived me and betrayed me falsely, that all ladies and 
damosels may beware by you and me. And therewith Sir 
Gawaine made him ready, and went into the forest. So it 
happed then that the damosel of the lake Nimue met with 
a knight of Sir Pelleas, that went on his foot in the forest 
making great dole, and she asked him the cause. And so 
the woful knight told her how his master and lord was 
betrayed through a knight and lady, and how he will never 
arise out of his bed till he be dead. Bring me to him, said 
she anon, and I will warrant his life he shall not die for 
love, and she that hath caused him so to love, she shall be 
in as evil plight as he is or it be long to, for it is no joy of 
such a proud lady that will have no mercy of such a valiant 
knight. Anon that knight brought her unto him, and when 
she saw him lie in his bed, she thought she saw never so 
likely a knight ; and therewith she threw an enchantment 
upon him, and he fell on sleep. And therewhile she rode 
unto the Lady Ettard, and charged no man to awake him 
till she came again. So within two hours she brought the 
Lady Ettard thither, and both ladies found him on sleep : 
Lo, said the damosel of the lake, ye ought to be ashamed 
for to murder such a knight. And therewith she threw 
such an enchantment upon her that she loved him sore, 
that well nigh she was out of her mind. O Lord Jesu, said 
the Lady Ettard, how is it befallen unto me that I love now 

King Arthur 123 

him that I have most hated of any man alive ? That is the 
righteous judgment of God, said the damosel. And then 
anon Sir Pelleas awaked and looked upon Ettard ; and 
when he saw her he knew her, and then he hated her more 
than any woman alive, and said : Away, traitress, come 
never in my sight. And when she heard him say so, she 
wept and made great sorrow out of measure. 



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



Now turn we unto Sir Marhaus, that rode with the 
damosel of thirty winter of age, southward. And so they 
came into a deep forest, and by fortune they were nighted, 
and rode long in a deep way, and at the last they came unto 
a courtelage, and there they asked harbour. But ihe man 
of the courtelage would not lodge them for no treaty that 
they could treat, but thus much the good man said, An ye 
will take the adventure of your lodging, I shall bring you 

124 King Arthur 

where ye shall be lodged. What adventure is that that I 
shall have for my lodging ? said Sir Marhaus. Ye shall wit 
when ye come there, said the good man. Sir, what adven- 
ture so it be, bring me thither I pray thee, said Sir Marhaus ; 
for I am weary, my damosel, and my horse. So the good 
man went and opened the gate, and within an hour he 
brought him unto a fair castle, and then the poor man 
called the porter, and anon he was let into the castle, and 
so he told the lord how he brought him a knight errant and 
a damosel that would be lodged with him. Let him in, 
said the lord, it may happen he shall repent that they took 
their lodging here. So Sir Marhaus was let in with torch- 
light, and there was a goodly sight of young men that 
welcomed him. And then his horse was led into the stable, 
and he and the damosel were brought into the hall, and 
there stood a mighty duke and many goodly men about 
him. Then this lord asked him what he hyghte, and from 
whence he came, and with whom he dwelt. Sir, he said, I 
am a knight of King Arthur's and knight of the Table 
Round, and my name is Sir Marhaus, and born I am in 
Ireland. And then said the duke to him, That me sore 
repenteth : the cause is this, for I love not thy lord nor 
none of thy fellows of the Table Round ; and therefore 
ease thyself this night as well as thou mayest, for as to-morn 
I and my six sons shall match with you. Is there no 
remedy but that I must have ado with you and your six 
sons at once ? said Sir Marhaus. No, said the duke, for 
this cause I made mine avow, for Sir Gawaine slew my 
seven sons in a recounter, therefore I made mine avow, 
there should never knight of King Arthur's court lodge with 
me, or come there as I might have ado with him, but that I 
would have a revenging of my sons' death. What is your 
name ? said Sir Marhaus ; I require you tell me, an it please 
you. Wit thou well I am the Duke of South Marches. Ah, 
said Sir Marhaus, I have heard say that ye have been long 
time a great foe unto my lord Arthur and to his knights. 
That shall ye feel to-morn, said the duke. Shall I have ado 
with you? said Sir Marhaus. Yea, said the duke, thereof 
shalt thou not choose, and therefore take you to your 
chamber, and ye shall have all that to you longeth. So Sir 
Marhaus departed and was led to a chamber, and his 
damosel was led unto her chamber. And on the morn the 
duke sent unto Sir Marhaus and bad make him ready. And 

King Arthur 125 

so Sir Marhaus arose and armed him, and then there was a 
mass sung afore him, and brake his fast, and so mounted on 
horseback in the court of the castle where they should do 
the battle. So there was the duke all ready on horseback, 
clene armed, and his six sons by him, and every each had a 
spear in his hand, and so they encountered, whereas the 
duke and his two sons brake their spears upon him, but Sir 
Marhaus held up his spear and touched none of them. 



THEN came the four sons by couple, and two of them 
brake their spears, and so did the other two. And all this 
while Sir Marhaus touched them not. Then Sir Marhaus 
ran to the duke, and smote him with his spear that horse 
and man fell to the earth, and so he served his sons ; and 
then Sir Marhaus alit down and bad the duke yield him or 
else he would slay him. And then some of his sons re- 
covered, and would have set upon Sir Marhaus ; then Sir 
Marhaus said to the duke, Cease thy sons, or else I will do 
the uttermost to you all. When the duke saw he might not 
escape the death, he cried to his sons, and charged them to 
yield them to Sir Marhaus ; and they kneeled all down and 
put the pommels of their swords to the knight, and so he 
received them. And then they helped up their father, and 
so by their comynal assent promised to Sir Marhaus never 
to be foes unto King Arthur, and thereupon at Whitsuntide 
after, to come he and his sons, and put them in the king's 
grace. Then Sir Marhaus departed, and within two days 
his damosel brought him whereas was a great tournament 
that the Lady de Vawse had cried. And who that did best 
should have a rich circlet of gold worth a thousand besauntes. 
And there Sir Marhaus did so nobly that he was renowned, 
and had sometime down forty knights, and so the circlet of 
gold was rewarded him. Then he departed from thence 
with great worship ; and so within seven nights his damosel 
brought him to an earl's place, his name was the Earl 
Fergus, that after was Sir Tristram's knight ; and this earl 
was but a young man, and late come into his lands, and 

126 King Arthur 

there was a giant fast by him that hight Taulurd, and he 
had another brother in Cornwall that hight Taulas, that Sir 
Tristram slew when he was out of his mind. So this earl 
made his complaint unto Sir Marhaus, that there was a 
giant by him that destroyed all his lands, and how he durst 
nowhere ride nor go for him. Sir, said the knight, whether 
useth he to fight, on horseback or on foot ? Nay, said the 
earl, there may no horse bare him. Well, said Sir Marhaus, 
then will I fight with him on foot ; so on the morn Sir 
Marhaus prayed the earl that one of his men might bring 
him whereas the giant was ; and so he was, for he saw him 
sit under a tree of holly, and many clubs of iron and gysarms 
about him. So this knight dressed him to the giant, putting 
his shield afore him, and the giant took an iron club in his 
hand, and at the first stroke he clave Sir Marhaus' shield in 
two pieces. And there he was in great peril, for the giant 
was a wily fighter, but at last Sir Marhaus smote off his 
right arm above the elbow. Then the giant fled and the 
knight after him, and so he drove him into a water, but the 
giant was so high that he might not wade after him. And 
then Sir Marhaus made the Earl Fergus' man to fetch him 
stones, and with those stones the knight gave the giant 
many sore knocks, till at the last he made him fall down 
into the water, and so was he there dead. Then Sir Marhaus 
went unto the giant's castle, and there he delivered twenty- 
four ladies and twelve knights out of the giant's prison, and 
there he had great riches without number, so that the days 
of his life he was never poor man. Then he returned to 
the Earl Fergus, the which thanked him greatly, and would 
have given him half his lands, but he would none take. So 
Sir Marhaus dwelled with the earl nigh half a year, for he 
was sore bruised with the giant, and at the last he took his 
leave. And as he rode by the way, he met with Sir Gawaine 
and Sir Uwaine, and so by adventure he met with four 
knights of Arthur's court, the first was Sir Sagramore le 
Desirous, Sir Osanna, Sir Dodinas le Savage, and Sir Felot 
of Listinoise ; and there Sir Marhaus with one spear smote 
down these four knights, and hurt them sore. So he 
departed to meet at his day aforeset. 

King Arthur 127 



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

128 King Arthur 




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

King Arthur 129 



RIGHT so at the twelvemonths' end they met all three 
knights at the fountain and their damosels, but the damosel 
that Sir Gawaine had could say but little worship of him ; 
so they departed from the damosels and rode through a 
great forest, and there they met with a messenger that 
came from King Arthur, that had sought them well nigh a 
twelvemonth throughout all England, Wales, and Scotland, 
and charged if ever he might find Sir Gawaine and Sir 
Uwaine to bring them to the court again. And then were 
they all glad, and so prayed they Sir Marhaus to ride with 
them to the king's court. And so within twelve days they 
came to Camelot, and the king was passing glad of their 
coming, and so was all the court. Then the king made 
them to swear upon a book to tell him all their adventures 
that had befallen them that twelvemonth, and so they did. 
And there was Sir Marhaus well-known, for there were 
knights that he had matched aforetime, and he was named 
one of the best knights living. Against the feast of 
Pentecost came the damosel of the Lake and brought with 
her Sir Pelleas ; and at that high feast there was great 
jousting of knights, and of all knights that were at that 
jousts, Sir Pelleas had the prize, and Sir Marhaus was 
named the next ; but Sir Pelleas was so strong there might 
but few knights sit him a buffet with a spear. And at that 
next feast Sir Pelleas and Sir Marhaus were made knights 
of the Table Round, for there were two sieges void, for two 
knights were slain that twelvemonth, and great joy had King 
Arthur of Sir Pelleas and of Sir Marhaus. But Pelleas 
loved never after Sir Gawaine, but as he spared him for the 
love of King Arthur ; but ofttimes at jousts and tournaments 
Sir Pelleas quyte Sir Gawaine, for so it rehearseth in the 
book of French. So Sir Tristram many days after fought 
with Sir Marhaus in an island, and there they did a great 
battle, but at the last Sir Tristram slew him, so Sir Tristram 
was wounded that unnethe he might recover, and lay at 
a nunnery half a year. And Sir Pelleas was a worshipful 
knight, and was one of the four that achieved the Sangreal, 

130 King Arthur 

and the damosel of the Lake made by her means that never 
he had ado with Sir Launcelot de Lake, for where Sir 
Launcelot was at any jousts or any tournament, she would 
not suffer him be there that day, but if it were on the side 
of Sir Launcelot. 

Explicit Liber Quartus. 
Incipit Liber Quintus. 




WHEN King Arthur had after long war rested, and held a 
royal feast and Table Round with his allies of kings, princes, 
and noble knights all of the Round Table, there came into 
his hall, he sitting in his throne royal, twelve ancient men, 
bearing each of them a branch of olive, in token that they 
came as ambassadors and messengers from the Emperor 
Lucius, which was called at that time, Dictator or Procurer 
of the Public Weal of Rome ; which said messengers, after 
their entering and coming into the presence of King Arthur, 
did to him their obeisance in making to him reverence, and 
said to him in this wise : The high and mighty Emperor 
Lucius sendeth to the King of Britain greeting, commanding 
thee to acknowledge him for thy lord, and to send him the 
truage due of this realm unto the Empire, which thy father 
and other tofore thy precessors have paid as is of record, 
and thou as rebel not knowing him as thy sovereign, with- 
holdest and retainest contrary to the statutes and decrees 
made by the noble and worthy Julius Cesar, conqueror of 
this realm, and first Emperor of Rome. And if thou refuse 
his demand and commandment, know thou for certain that 
he shall make strong war against thee, thy realms and lands, 
and shall chastise thee and thy subjects, that it shall be 
ensample perpetual unto all kings and princes, for to deny 
their truage unto that noble empire which domineth upon 

King Arthur 131 

the universal world. Then when they had showed the 
effect of their message, the king commanded them to with- 
draw them, and said he should take advice of council and 
give to them an answer. Then some of the young knights, 
hearing this their message, would have run on them to have 
slain them, saying that it was a rebuke to all the knights 
there being present to suffer them to say so to the king. 
And anon the king commanded that none of them, upon 
pain of death, to myssaye them nor do them any harm, and 
commanded a knight to bring them to their lodging, and 
see that they have all that is necessary and requisite for 
them, with the best cheer, and that no dainty be spared, for 
the Romans be great lords, and though their message please 
me not nor my court, yet I must remember mine honour. 
After this the king let call all his lords and knights of the 
Round Table to counsel upon this matter, and desired them 
to say their advice. Then Sir Cador of Cornwall spake first 
and said, Sir, this message liketh me well, for we have many 
days rested us and have been idle, and now I hope ye shall 
make sharp war on the Romans, where I doubt not we shall 
get honour. I believe well, said Arthur, that this matter 
pleaseth thee well, but these answers may not be answered, 
for the demand grieveth me sore, for truly I will never pay 
truage to Rome, wherefore I pray you to counsel me. I 
have understood that Belinus and Brenius, kings of Britain, 
have had the empire in their hands many days, and also 
Constantine the son of Heleine, which is an open evidence 
that we owe no tribute to Rome, but of right we that be 
descended of them have right to claim the title of the 



THEN answered King Anguish of Scotland, Sir, ye ought 
of right to be above all other kings, for unto you is none 
like nor pareylle in Christendom, of knighthood nor of 
dignity, and I counsel you never to obey the Romans, for 
when they reigned on us they distressed our elders, and put 
this land to great extortions and taylles, wherefore I make 
here mine avow to avenge me on them ; and for to 

132 Ki n g Arthur 

strengthen your quarrel I shall furnish twenty thousand 
good men of war, and wage them on my costs, which shall 
await on you with myself when it shall please you. And 
the king of Little Britain granted him to the same thirty 
thousand ; wherefore King Arthur thanked them. And 
then every man agreed to make war, and to aid after their 
power ; that is to wit, the lord of West Wales promised to 
bring thirty thousand men, and Sir Uwaine, Sir Ider his 
son, with their cousins, promised to bring thirty thousand. 
Then Sir Launcelot with all other promised in likewise 
every man a great multitude. And when King Arthur 
understood their courages and good wills he thanked them 
heartily, and after let call the ambassadors to hear their 
answer. And in presence of all his lords and knights he 
said to them in this wise : I will that ye return unto your 
lord and Procurer of the Common Weal for the Romans, 
and say ye to him, Of his demand and commandment I set 
nothing, and that I know of no trua^e nor tribute that I 

^j* tj 

owe to him, nor to none earthly prince, Christian nor 
heathen ; but I pretend to have and occupy the sovereignty 
of the empire, wherein I am entitled by the right of my 
predecessors, sometime kings of this land ; and say to him 
that I am delibered and fully concluded, to go with mine 
army with strength and power unto Rome, by the grace of 
God, to take possession in the empire and subdue them 
that be rebel. Wherefore I command him and all them of 
Rome, that incontinent they make to me their homage, and 
to acknowledge me for their Emperor and Governor, upon 
pain that shall ensue. And then he commanded his treasurer 
to give to them great and large gifts, and to pay all their 
dispenses, and assigned Sir Cador to convey them out of 
the land. And so they took their leave and departed, and 
took their shipping at Sandwich, and passed forth by 
Flanders, Almaine, the mountains, and all Italy, until they 
came unto Lucius. And after the reverence made, they 
made relation of their answer, like as ye tofore have heard. 
When the Emperor Lucius had well understood their 
credence, he was sore moved as he had been all araged, 
and said, I had supposed that Arthur would have obeyed to 
my commandment, and have served you himself, as him 
well beseemed or any other king to do. O Sir, said one of 
the senators, let be such vain words, for we let you wit that 
I and my fellows were full sore afeared to behold his 

King Arthur 133 

countenance ; I fear me ye have made a rod for yourself, 
for he intendeth to be lord of this empire, which sore is to 
be doubted if he come, for he is all another man than ye 
ween, and holdeth the most noble court of the world, all 
other kings nor princes may not compare unto his noble 
maintenance. On New Year's Day we saw him in his 
estate, which was the royalest that ever we saw, for he was 
served at his table with nine kings, and the noblest fellow- 
ship of other princes, lords, and knights that be in the 
world, and every knight approved and like a lord, and 
holdeth Table Round : and in his person the most manly 
man that liveth, and is like to conquer all the world, for 
unto his courage it is too little : wherefore I advise you to 
keep well your marches and straits in the mountains ; for 
certainly he is a lord to be doubted. Well, said Lucius, 
before Easter I suppose to pass the mountains, and so forth 
into France, and there bereave him his lands with Genoese 
and other mighty warriors of Tuscany and Lombardy. And 
I shall send for them all that be subjects and allied to the 
empire of Rome to come to mine aid. And forthwith sent 
old wise knights unto these countries following : first to 
Ambage and Arrage, to Alexandria, to India, to Armenia, 
whereas the river of Euphrates runnelh into Asia, to Africa, 
and Europe the Large, to Ertayne and Elamye, to Araby, 
Egypt, and to Damascus, to Damietta and Caver, to Cappa- 
docia, to Tarsus, Turkey, Pontus and Pamphylia, to Syria 
and Galatia. And all these were subject to Rome and 
many more, as Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, Calabria, 
Cateland, Portugal, with many thousands of Spaniards. 
Thus all these kings, dukes, and admirals, assembled about 
Rome, with sixteen kings at nee, with great _ multitude of 
people. When the emperor understood their coming he 
made ready his Romans and all the people between him 
and Flanders. Also he had gotten with him fifty giants 
which had been engendered of fiends ; and they were 
ordained to guard his person, and to break the front of the 
battle of King Arthur. And thus departed from Rome, and 
came down the mountains for to destroy the lands that 
Arthur had conquered, and came unto Cologne, and 
besieged a castle thereby, and won it soon, and stuffed 
it with two hundred Saracens or Infidels, and after 
destroyed many fair countries which Arthur had won of 
King Claudas. And thus Lucius came with all his host 

I 45 f 

134 King Arthur 

which were disperplyd sixty mile in breadth, and com- 
manded them to meet with him in Burgoyne, for he 
purposed to destroy the realm of Little Britain. 



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



AND as the king lay in his cabin in the ship, he fell in a 
slumbering and dreamed a marvellous dream : him seemed 
that a dreadful dragon did drown much of his people, and 
he came flying out of the west, and his head was enamelled 

King Arthur 135 

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



THEN came to him an husbandman of the country, and 
told him how there was in the country of Constantine, 
beside Brittany, a great giant which had slain, murdered 

136 King Arthur 

and devoured much people of the country, and had been 
sustained seven year with the children of the commons of 
that land, insomuch that all the children be all slain and 
destroyed ; and now late he hath taken the Duchess of 
Brittany as she rode with her meyne, and hath led her to 
his lodging which is in a mountain, for to ravish and lie by 
her to her life's end, and many people followed her, more 
than five hundred, but all they might not rescue her, but 
they left her shrieking and crying lamentably, wherefore I 
suppose that he hath slain her in fulfilling his foul lust of 
lechery. She was wife unto thy cousin Sir Howell, whom 
we call full nigh of thy blood. Now, as thou art a rightful 
king, have pity on this lady, and revenge us all as thou art 
a noble conqueror. Alas, said King Arthur, this is a great 
mischief, I had lever than the best realm that I have that I 
had been a furlong way tofore him for to have rescued that 
lady. Now, fellow, said King Arthur, canst thou bring me 
thereas this giant haunteth ? Yea, Sir, said the good man, 
look yonder whereas thou seest those two great fires, there 
shalt thou find him, and more treasure than I suppose is in 
all France. When the king had understood this piteous 
case, he returned into his tent. Then he called to him Sir 
Kay and Sir Bedivere, and commanded them secretly to 
make ready horse and harness for himself and them twain ; 
for after evensong he would ride on pilgrimage with them 
two only unto Saint Michael's mount. And then anon he 
made him ready, and armed him at all points, and took his 
horse and his shield. And so they three departed thence 
and rode forth as fast as ever they might till that they came 
to the forbond of that mount. And there they alighted, 
and the king commanded them to tarry there, for he would 
himself go up into that mount. And so he ascended up 
into that hill till he came to a great fire, and there he found 
a careful widow wringing her hands and making great 
sorrow, sitting by a grave new made. And then King 
Arthur saluted her, and demanded of her wherefore she 
made such lamentation, to whom she answered and said, 
Sir knight, speak soft, for yonder is a devil, if he hear thee 
speak he will come and destroy thee ; I hold thee unhappy ; 
what dost thou here in this mountain ? for if ye were such 
fifty as ye be, ye were not able to make resistance against 
this devil : here lieth a duchess dead, the which was the 
fairest of all the world, wife to Sir Howell, Duke of Brittany, 

King Arthur 137 

he hath murdered her in forcing her, and hath slit her unto 
the navel. Dame, said the king, I come from the noble 
conqueror King Arthur, for to treat with that tyrant for his 
liege people. Fie on such treaties, said she, he setteth not 
by the king nor by no man else ; but an if thou have 
brought Arthur's wife, dame Gwenever, he shall be gladder 
than thou hadst given to him half France. Beware, 
approach him not too nigh, for he hath vanquished fifteen 
kings, and hath made him a coat full of precious stones 
enbroidered with their beards, which they sent him to have 
his love for salvation of their people at this last Christmas. 
And if thou wilt, speak with him at yonder great fire at 
supper. Well, said Arthur, I will accomplish my message 
for all your fearful words ; and went forth by the crest of 
that hill, and saw where he sat at supper gnawing on a limb 
of a man, baking his broad limbs by the fire, and breechless, 
and three fair damosels turning three broaches whereon 
were broached twelve young children late born, like young 
birds. When King Arthur beheld that piteous sight he had 
great compassion on them, so that his heart bled for sorrow, 
and hailed him saying in this wise : He that all the world 
wieldeth give thee short life and shameful death ; and the 
devil have thy soul ; why hast thou murdered these young 
innocent children, and murdered this duchess ? Therefore, 
arise and dress thee, thou glutton, for this day shalt thou die 
of my hand. Then the glutton anon started up, and took a 
great clu> in his hand, and smote at the king that his 
coronal fell to the earth. And the king hit him again that 
he carve his belly and cut off his genytours, that his guts 
and his entrails fell down to the ground. Then the giant 
threw away his club, and caught the king in his arms that 
he crushed his ribs. Then the three maidens kneeled down 
and called to Christ for help and comfort of Arthur. And 
then Arthur weltered and wrung, that he was other while 
under and another time above. And so weltering and 
wallowing they rolled down the hill till they came to the 
sea mark, and ever as they so weltered Arthur smote him 
with his dagger. And it fortuned they came to the place 
whereas the two knights were and kept Arthur's horse ; then 
when they saw the king fast in the giant's arms they came 
and loosed him. And then the king commanded Sir Kay 
to smite off the giant's head, and to set it upon a truncheon 
of a spear, and bear it to Sir Howell, and tell him that his 

138 King Arthur 

enemy was slain ; and after let this head be bounden to a 
barbican that all the people may see and behold it ; and go 
ye two up to the mountain, and fetch me my shield, my 
sword, and the club of iron ; and as for the treasure, take ye 
it, for ye shall find there goods out of number ; so I have 
the kirtle and the club I desire no more. This was the 
fiercest giant that ever I met with, save one in the mount 
of Araby, which I overcame, but this was greater and fiercer. 
Then the knights fetched the club and the kirtle, and some 
of the treasure they took to themselves, and returned again 
to the host. And anon this was known through all the 
country, wherefore the people came and thanked the king. 
And he said again, Give the thanks to God, and depart the 
goods among you. And after that King Arthur said and 
commanded his cousin Howell, that he should ordain for a 
church to be builded on the same hill in the worship of 
Saint Michael. And on the morn the king removed with 
his great battle, and came into Champayne and in a valley, 
and there they pyght their tents ; and the king being set at 
his dinner, there came in two messengers, of whom that one 
was Marshal of France, and said to the king that the 
emperor was entered into France, and had destroyed a great 
part, and was in Burgoyne, and had destroyed and made 
great slaughter of people, and burnt towns and boroughs ; 
wherefore, if thou come not hastily, they must yield up their 
bodies and goods. 



THEN the king did do call Sir Gawaine, Sir Bors, Sir Lionel, 
and Sir Bedivere, and commanded them to go straight to Sir 
Lucius, and say ye to him that hastily he remove out of my 
land ; and if he will not, bid him make him ready to battle 
and not distress the poor people. Then anon these noble 
knights dressed themselves to horseback, and when they 
came to the green wood, they saw many pavilions set in a 
meadow, of silk of divers colours, beside a river, and the 
emperor's pavilion was in the middle with an eagle dis- 
played above. To the which tent our knights rode toward, 
and ordained Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors to do the message, 

King Arthur 139 

and left in a bushment Sir Lionel and Sir Bedivere. And 
then Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors did their message, and 
commanded Lucius, in Arthur's name to avoid his land, 
or shortly to address him to battle. To whom Lucius 
answered and said, Ye shall return to your lord, and say ye 
to him that I shall subdue him and all his lands. Then Sir 
Gawaine was wroth and said, I had lever than all France 
fight against thee ; and so had I, said Sir Bors, lever than 
ail Brittany or Burgoyne. Then a knight named Sir Gainus, 
nigh cousin to the emperor, said, Lo, how these Britons be 
full of pride and boast, and they brag as though they bare 
up all the world. Then Sir Gawaine was sore grieved with 
these words, and pulled out his sword and smote oft" his 
head. And therewith turned their horses and rode over 
waters and through woods till they came to their bushment, 
whereas Sir Lionel and Sir Bedivere were hovyng. The 
Romans folio \ved fast after, on horseback and on foot, over 
a champaign unto a wood ; then Sir Bors turned his horse 
and saw a knight come fast on, whom he smote through the 
body with a spear that he fell dead down to the earth ; then 
came Caliburn one of the strongest of Pavie, and smote 
down many of Arthur's knights. And when Sir Bors saw 
him do so much harm, he addressed toward him, and smote 
him through the breast, that he fell down dead to the earth. 
Then Sir Feldenak thought to revenge the death of Gainus 
upon Sir Gawaine, but Sir Gawaine was ware thereof, and 
smote him on the head, which stroke stinted not till it came 
to his breast. And then he returned and came to his 
fellows in the bushment. And there was a recounter, for 
the bushment brake on the Romans, and slew and hew 
down the Romans, and forced the Romans to flee and 
return, whom the noble knights chased unto their tents. 
Then the Romans gathered more people, and also foot-men 
came on, and there was a new battle, and so much people 
that Sir Bors and Sir Berel were taken. But when Sir 
Gawaine saw that, he took with him Sir Idrus the good 
knight, and said he would never see King Arthur but if he 
rescued them, and pulled out Galatine his good sword, and 
followed them that led those two knights away; and he 
smote him that led Sir Bors, and took Sir Bors from him 
and delivered him to his fellows. And Sir Idrus in likewise 
rescued Sir Berel. Then began the battle to be great, that 
our knights were in great jeopardy, wherefore Sir Gawaine 

140 King Arthur 

sent to King Arthur for succour, and that he hie him, for I 
am sore wounded, and that our prisoners may pay goods 
out of number. And the messenger came to the king and 
told him his message. And anon the king did do assemble 
his army, but anon, or he departed the prisoners were come, 
and Sir Gawaine and his fellows gat the field and put the 
Romans to flight, and after returned and came with their 
fellowship in such wise that no man of worship was lost of 
them, save that Sir Gawaine was sore hurt. Then the king 
did do ransake his wounds and comforted him. And thus 
was the beginning of the first journey of the Britons and 
Romans, and there were slain of the Romans more than ten 
thousand, and great joy and mirth was made that night in 
the host of King Arthur. And on the morn he sent all the 
prisoners into Paris under the guard of Sir Launcelot, with 
many knights, and of Sir Cador. 



Now turn we to the Emperor of Rome, which espied that 
these prisoners should be sent to Paris, and anon he sent to 
lie in a bushrnent certain knights and princes with sixty 
thousand men, for to rescue his knights and lords that were 
prisoners. And so on the morn as Launcelot and Sir 
Cador, chieftains and governors of all them that conveyed 
the prisoners, as they should pass through a wood, Sir 
Launcelot sent certain knights to espy if any were in the 
woods to let them. And when the said knights came into 
the wood, anon they espied and saw the great embushment, 
and returned and told Sir Launcelot that there lay in await 
for them three score thousand Romans. And then Sir 
Launcelot with such knights as he had, and men of war to 
the number of ten thousand, put them in array, and met 
with them and fought with them manly, and slew and 
dretenchid many of the Romans, and slew many knights 
and admirals of the party of the Romans and Saracens ; 
there was slain the king of Lyly and three great lords, 
Aladuke, Herawd, and Heringdale. But Sir Launcelot 
fought so nobly that no man might endure a stroke of his 

King Arthur 141 

hand, but where he came he shewed his prowess and might, 
for he slew down right on every side ; and the Romans and 
Saracens fled from him as the sheep from the wolf or from 
the lion, and put them all that abode alive to flight. And 
so long they fought that tidings came to King Arthur, and 
anon he graythed him and came to the battle, and saw his 
knights how they had vanquished the battle, he embraced 
them knight by knight in his arms, and said, Ye be worthy 
to wield all your honour and worship ; there was never king 
save myself that had so noble knights. Sir, said Cador, 
there was none of us failed other, but of the prowess and 
manhood of Sir Launcelot were more than wonder to tell, 
and also of his cousins which did that day many noble 
feats of war. And also Sir Cador told who of his knights 
were slain, as Sir Beriel, and other Sir Moris and Sir 
Maurel, two good knights. Then the king wept, and dried 
his eyes with a kerchef, and said, Your courage had near 
hand destroyed you, for though ye had returned again, ye 
had lost no worship ; for I call it folly, knights to abide 
when they be overmatched. Nay, said Launcelot and the 
other, for once shamed may never be recovered. 



Now leave we King Arthur and his noble knights which 
had won the field, and had brought their prisoners to Paris, 
and speak we of a senator which escaped from the battle, 
and came to Lucius the emperor, and said to him, Sir 
emperor, I advise thee for to withdraw thee ; what dost thou 
here? thou shalt win nothing in these marches but great 
strokes out of all measure, for this day one of Arthur's 
knights was worth in the battle an hundred of ours. Fie on 
thee, said Lucius, thou speakest cowardly ; for thy words 
grieve me more than all the loss that I had this day. And 
anon he sent forth a king, which hight Sir Leomie, with a 
great army, and bad him hie him fast tofore, and he would 
follow hastily after. King Arthur was warned privily, and 
sent his people to Sessome, and took up the towns and 
castles from the Romans. Then the king commanded Sir 

I 45 * F 

142 King Arthur 

Cador to take the rearward, and to take with him certain 
knights of the Round Table, And Sir Launcelot, Sir Bors, 
Sir Kay, Sir Marrok, with Sir Marhaus, shall await on our 
person. Thus the King Arthur disperplyd his host in divers 
parties, to the end that his enemies should not escape. 
When the emperor was entered into the vale of Sessoine, he 
might see where King Arthur was embattled and his banner 
displayed ; and he was beset round about with his enemies, 
that needs he must fight or yield him, for he might not flee, 
but said openly unto the Romans, Sirs, I admonish you that 
this day ye fight and acquit you as men, and remember how 
Rome domineth and is chief and head over all the earth 
and universal world, and suffer not these Britons this day 
to abide against us ; and therewith he did command his 
trumpets to blow the bloody sounds, in such wise that the 
ground trembled and dyndled. Then the battles approached 
and shove and shouted on both sides, and great strokes 
were smitten on both sides, many men overthrown, hurt, 
and slain ; and great valiances, prowesses and appertyces of 
war were that day showed, which were over long to recount 
the noble feats of every man, for they should contain an 
whole volume. But in especial, King Arthur rode in the 
battle exhorting his knights to do well, and himself did as 
nobly with his hands as was possible a man to do ; he drew 
out Excalibur his sword, and awaited ever whereas the 
Romans were thickest and most grieved his people, and 
anon he addressed him on that part, and hew and slew 
down right, and rescued his people ; and he slew a great 
giant named Galapas, which was a man of an huge quantity 
and height, he shorted him and smote off both his legs by 
the knees, saying, Now art thou better of a size to deal with 
than thou were, and after smote off his head. There Sir 
Gawaine fought nobly and slew three admirals in that battle. 
And so did all the knights of the Round Table. Thus the 
battle between King Arthur and Lucius the Emperor en- 
dured long. Lucius had on his side many Saracens which 
were slain. And thus the battle was great, and oftsydes 
that one party was at a fordele and anon at an afterdele, 
which endured so long till at the last King Arthur espied 
where Lucius the Emperor fought, and did wonder with his 
own hands. And anon he rode to him. And either smote 
other fiercely, and at last Lucius smote Arthur thwart the 
visage, and gave him a large wound. And when King 

King Arthur 143 

Arthur felt himself hurt, anon he smote him again with 
Excalibur that it cleft his head, from the summit of his 
head, and stinted not till it came to his breast. And then 
the emperor fell down dead and there ended his life. And 
ivhen it was known that the emperor was slain, anon all the 
Romans with all their host put them to flight, and King 
Arthur with all his knights followed the chase, and slew 
down right all them that they might attain. And thus was 
the victory given to King Arthur, and the triumph; and 
there were slain on the part of Lucius more than an 
hundred thousand. And after King Arthur did do ransack 
the dead bodies, and did do bury them that were slain of 
his retinue, every man according to the estate and degree 
that he was of. And them that were hurt he let the surgeons 
do search their hurts and wounds, and commanded to spare 
no salves nor medicines till they were whole. Then the 
king rode straight to the place where the Emperor Lucius 
lay dead, and with him he found slain the Sultan of Syria, 
the King of Egypt and of Ethiopia, which were two noble 
kings, with seventeen other kings of divers regions, and also 
sixty senators of Rome, all noble men, whom the king did 
do bawme and gum with many good gums aromatic, and 
after did do cere them in sixty fold of cered cloth of Sendal, 
and laid them in chests of lead, by cause they should not 
chafe nor savour, and upon all these bodies their shields 
with their arms and banners were set, to the end they should 
be known of what country they were. And after he found 
three senators which were on live, to whom he said, For to 
save your lives I will that ye take these dead bodies, and 
carry them with you unto great Rome, and present them to 
the Potestate on my behalf, shewing him my letters, and tell 
them that I in my person shall hastily be at Rome. And I 
suppose the Romans shall beware how they shall demand 
any tribute of me. And I command you to say when ye 
shall come to Rome, to the Potestate and all the Council 
and Senate, that I send to them these dead bodies for the 
tribute that they have demanded. And if they be not 
content with these, I shall pay more at my coming, for other 
tribute owe I none, nor none other will I pay. And me- 
thinketh this sufficeth for Britain, Ireland and all Almaine 
with Germany. And furthermore, I charge you to say to 
them, that I command them upon pain of their heads 
never to demand tribute nor tax of me nor of my lands. 

144 King Arthur 

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



Now turn we unto King Arthur and his noble knights, 
which, after the great battle achieved against the Romans, 
entered into Loraine, Brabant and Flanders, and sythen 
returned into Haut Almaine, and so over the mountains into 
Lombardy, and after, into Tuscany wherein was a city which 
in no wise would yield themself nor obey, wherefore King 
Arthur besieged it, and lay long about it, and gave many 
assaults to the city ; and they within defended them valiantly. 
Then, on a time, the king called Sir Florence, a knight, and 
said to him they lacked victual, And not far from hence be 
great forests and woods, wherein be many of mine enemies 
with much bestyayl : I will that thou make thee ready and 
go thither in foraging, and take with thee Sir Gawaine my 
nephew, Sir Wisshard, Sir Clegis, Sir Cleremond, and the 
Captain of Cardiff with other, and bring with you all the 
beasts that ye there can get. And anon these knights made 
them ready, and rode over holts and hills, through forests 
and woods, till they came into a fair meadow full of fair 
flowers and grass ; and there they rested them and their 
horses all that night. And in the springing of the day in 
the next morn, Sir Gawaine took his horse and stole away 
from his fellowship, to seek some adventures. And anon 
he was ware of a man armed, walking his horse easily by a 

King Arthur 145 

wood side, and his shield laced to his shoulder, sitting on 
a strong courser, without any man saving a page bearing a 
mighty spear. The knight bare in his shield three griffins 
of gold, in sable carbuncle, the chief of silver. When Sir 
Gawaine espied this gay knight, he fewtryd his spear, and 
rode straight to him, and demanded of him from whence 
that he was. That other answered and said he was of 
Tuscany, and demanded of Sir Gawaine, What, profferest 
thou, proud knight, thee so boldly? here gettest thou no 
prey, thou mayest prove what thou wilt, for thou shalt be 
my prisoner or thou depart. Then said Gawaine, thou 
avauntest thee greatly and speakest proud words, I counsel 
thee for all thy boast that thou make thee ready, and take 
thy gear to thee, tofore greater grame fall to thee. 



THEN they took their spears and ran each at other with 
all the might they had, and smote each other through their 
shields into their shoulders, wherefore anon they pulled out 
their swords, and smote great strokes that the fire sprang 
out of their helms. Then Sir Gawaine was all abashed, and 
with Galatine his good sword he smote through shield and 
thick hauberk made of thick mails, and all to-rushed and 
break the precious stones, and made him a large wound, 
that men might see both liver and lung. Then groaned 
that knight, and addressed him to Sir Gawaine, and with an 
awke stroke gave him a great wound and cut a vein, which 
grieved Gawaine sore, and he bled sore. Then the knight 
said to Sir Gawaine, bind thy wound or thy bleeding change, 
for thou be-bleedest all thy horse and thy fair arms, for all 
the barbers of Brittany shall not conne staunch thy blood, 
for whosomever is hurt with this blade he shall never be 
staunched of bleeding. Then answered Gawaine, it grieveth 
me but little, thy great words shall not fear me nor lessen 
my courage, but thou shalt suffer tene and sorrow or we 
depart, but tell me in haste who may staunch my bleeding. 
That may I do, said the knight, if I will, and so will I if 
thou wilt succour and aid me, that I may be christened and 



believe on God, and thereof I require thee of thy manhood, 
and it shall be great merit for thy soul. I grant, said 
Gawaine, so God help me, to accomplish all thy desire, but 
first tell me what thou soughtest here thus alone, and of 
what land and liegiance thou art of. Sir, he said, my name 
is Priamus, and a great prince is my father, and he hath 
been rebel unto Rome and overridden many of their lands. 
My father is lineally descended of Alexander and of Hector 
by right line. And Duke Joshua and Maccabaeus were of 
our lineage. I am right inheritor of Alexandria and Africa, 
and all the out isles, yet will I believe on thy Lord that 
thou believest on ; and for thy labour I shall give thee 
treasure enough. I was so elate and haughty in my heart 
that I thought no man my peer, nor to me semblable. I 
was sent into this war with seven score knights, and now I 
have encountered with thee, which hast given to me of 
fighting my fill, wherefore sir knight, I pray thee to tell me 
what thou art. I am no knight, said Gawayn, I have been 
brought up in the guardrobe with the noble King Arthur 
many years, for to take heed to his armour and his other 
array, and to poynt his paltockes that long to himself. At 
yule last he made me yeoman, and gave to me horse and 
harness, and an hundred pound in money ; and if fortune 
be my friend, I doubt not but to be well advanced and 
holpen by my liege lord. Ah, said Priamus, if his knaves 
be so keen and fierce, his knights be passing good : now 
for the King's love of Heaven, whether thou be a knave or 
a knight, tell thou me thy name. By God, said Sir Gawaine, 
now I will say thee sooth, my name is Sir Gawaine, and 
known I am in his court and in his chamber, and one of 
the knights of the Round Table, he dubbed me a duke with 
his own hand. Therefore grudge not if this grace is to me 
fortuned, it is the goodness of God that lent to me my 
strength. Now am I better pleased, said Priamus, than 
thou hadst given to me all the Provence and Paris the rich. 
I had liever to have been torn with wild horses, than any 
varlet had won such loos, or any page or pryker should have 
had prize on me. But now sir knight I warn thee that 
hereby is a Duke of Lorraine with his army, and the noblest 
men of Dolphiny, and lords of Lombardy, with the garrison 
of Godard, and Saracens of Southland, that numbered sixty- 
thousand of good men of arms ; wherefore but if we hie us 
hence, it will harm us both, for we be sore hurt, never like 

King Arthur 147 

to recover ; but take heed to my page, that he no horn 
blow, for if he do, there be hoving here fast by an hundred 
knights awaiting on my person, and if they take thee, there 
shall no ransom of gold nor silver acquit thee. Then Sir 
Gawaine rode over a water for to save him, and the knight 
followed him, and so rode forth till they carne to his fellows 
which were in the meadow, where they had been all the 
night. Anon as Sir Wisshard was ware of Sir Gawaine and 
saw that he was hurt, he ran to him sorrowfully weeping, 
and demanded of him who had so hurt him ; and Gawaine 
told how he had foughten with that man, and each of them 
had hurt other, and how he had salves to heal them ; but I 
can tell you other tidings, that soon we shall have ado with 
many enemies. Then Sir Priamus and Sir Gawaine alighted, 
and let their horses graze in the meadow, and unarmed 
them, and then the blood ran freshly from their wounds. 
And Priamus took from his page a phial full of the four 
waters that came out of paradise, and with certain balm 
anointed their wounds, and washed them with that water, 
and within an hour after they were both as whole as ever 
they were. And then with a trumpet were they all assembled 
to council, and there Priamus told unto them what lords 
and knights had sworn to rescue him, and that without fail 
they should be assailed with many thousands, wherefore he 
counselled them to withdraw them. Then Sir Gawaine 
said, it were great shame to them to avoid without any 
strokes ; Wherefore I advise to take our arms and to make 
us ready to meet with these Saracens and misbelieving men, 
and with the help of God we shall overthrow them and have 
a fair day on them. And Sir Florence shall abide still in 
this field to keep the stale as a noble knight, and we shall 
not forsake yonder fellows. Now, said Priamus, cease your 
words, for I warn you ye shall find in yonder woods many 
perilous knights ; they will put forth beasts to call you on, 
they be out of number, and ye are not past seven hundred, 
which be over few to fight with so many. Nevertheless said 
Sir Gawaine we shall once encounter them, and see what 
they can do, and the best shall have the victory. 

148 King Arthur 



THEN Sir Florence called to him Sir Floridas, with an 
hundred knights, and drove forth the herd of beasts. Then 
followed him seven hundred men of arms ; and Sir Ferant 
of Spain on a fair steed came springing out of the woods, 
and came to Sir Florence and asked him why he fled. Then 
Sir Florence took his spear and rode against him, and smote 
him in the forehead and brake his neck bone. Then all 
the other were moved, and thought to avenge the death of 
Sir Ferant, and smote in among them, and there was great 
fight, and many slain and laid down to ground, and Sir 
Florence with his hundred knights alway kept the stale, and 
fought manly. Then when Priamus the good knight per- 
ceived the great fight, he went to Sir Gawaine, and bad 
him that he should go and succour his fellowship, which 
were sore bystad with their enemies. Sir, grieve you not, 
said Sir Gawaine, for their gree shall be theirs. I shall not 
once move my horse to them ward, but if I see more than 
there be ; for they be strong enough to match them. And 
with that he saw an earl called Sir Ethelwold, and the duke 
of Dutchmen come leaping out of a wood with many 
thousands, and Priamus' knights, and come straight unto 
the battle. Then Sir Gawaine comforted his knights, and 
bade them not to be abashed, for all shall be ours. Then 
they began to wallop and met with their enemies, there were 
men slain and overthrown on every side. Then thrust in 
among them the knights of the Table Round, and smote 
down to the earth all them that withstood them, in so much 
that they made them to recoil and flee. By God, said Sir 
Gawaine, this gladdeth my heart, for now be they less in 
number by twenty thousand. Then entered into the battle 
Jubance a giant, and fought and slew downright, and dis- 
tressed many of our knights, among whom was slain Sir 
Gherard, a knight of Wales. Then our knights took heart 
to them, and slew many Saracens. And then came in Sir 
Priamus with his pennon, and rode with the knights of the 
Round Table, and fought so manfully that many of their 
enemies lost their lives. And there Sir Priamus slew the 

King Arthur 149 

Marquis of Moises land, and Sir Gawame with his fellows 
so quit them that they had the field, but in that stour was 
Sir Chestelaine, a child and ward of Sir Gawaine slain, 
wherefor was much sorrow made, and his death was soon 
avenged. Thus was the battle ended, and many lords of 
Lombardy and Saracens left dead in the field. Then Sir 
Florence and Sir Gawaine harboured surely their people, 
and took great plenty of bestial, of gold and silver, and 
great treasure and riches, and returned unto King Arthur, 
which lay still at the siege. And when they came to the 
king they presented their prisoners and recounted their 
adventures, and how they had vanquished their enemies. 



Now thanked be God, said the noble King Arthur. But 
what manner man is he that standeth by himself, him 
seemeth no prisoner. Sir, said Gawaine, this is a good man 
of arms, he hath matched me, but he is yielden unto God, 
and to me, for to become Christian ; had not he have been 
we should never have returned, wherefore I pray you that 
he may be baptised, for there liveth not a nobler man nor 
better knight of his hands. Then the king let him anon be 
christened, and did do call his first name Priamus, and made 
him a duke and knight of the Table Round. And then 
anon the king let do cry assault to the city, and there was 
rearing of ladders, breaking of walls, and the ditch filled, 
that men with little pain might enter into the city. Then 
came out a duchess, and Clarisin the countess, with many 
ladies and damosels, and kneeling before King Arthur, re- 
quired him for the love of God to receive the city, and not 
to take it by assault, for then should many guiltless be slain. 
Then the king avalyd his visor with a meek and noble 
countenance, and said, Madam, there shall none of my 
subjects misdo you nor your maidens, nor to none that to 
you belong, but the duke shall abide my judgment. Then 
anon the king commanded to leave the assault, and anon 
the duke's oldest son brought out the keys, and kneeling 

150 King" Arthur 

delivered them to the king, and besought him of grace ; and 
the king seized the town by assent of his lords, and took the 
duke and sent him to Dover, there for to abide prisoner term 
of his life, and assigned certain rents for the dower of the 
duchess and for her children. Then he ma.<ie lords to rule 
those lands, and laws as a lord ought to do in his own 
country ; and after he took his journey toward Rome, and 
sent Sir Floris and Sir Floridas tofore, with five hundred 
men of arms, and they came to the city of Urbino and laid 
there a bushment, thereas them seemed most best for them, 
and rode tofore the town, where anon issued out much 
people and skirmished with the fore-riders. Then brake 
out the bushment and won the bridge, and after the town, 
and set upon the walls the king's banner. Then came the 
king upon an hill, and saw the city and his banner on the 
walls, by which he knew that the city was won. And anon he 
sent and commanded that none of his lie^e men should 


defoul nor lie by no lady, wife, nor maiden ; and when he 
came into the city, he passed to the castle, and comforted 
them that were in sorrow, and ordained there a captain, a 
knight of his own country. And when they of Milan heard 
that thilk city was won, they sent to King Arthur great sums 
of money, and besought him as their lord to have pity on 
them, promising to be his subjects for ever, and yield to him 
homage and fealty for the lands of Pleasance and Pavia, 
Petersaint, and the Port of Tremble, and to give him yearly 
a million of gold all his lifetime. Then he rideth into 
Tuscany, and winneth towns and castles, and wasted all in 
his way that to him will not obey, and so to Spolute and 
Viterbe, and from thence he rode into the Vale of Vicecount 
among the vines. And from thence he sent to the senators, 
to wit whether they would know him for their lord. But 
soon after on a Saturday came unto King Arthur all the 
senators that were left on live, and the noblest cardinals that 
then dwelt in Rome, and prayed him of peace, and preferred 
him full large, and besought him as governor to give licence 
for six weeks for to assemble all the Romans, and then to 
crown him emperor with chrism as it belongeth to so high 
estate. I assent, said the king, like as ye have devised, and 
at Christmas there to be crowned, and to hold my Round 
Table with my knights as me liketh. And then the senators 
made ready for his enthronization. And at the day ap- 
pointed, as the romance telleth, he came into Rome, and 

Kino; Arthur 1^1 

O -/ 

was crowned emperor by the pope's hand, with all the royalty 
that could be made, and sojourned there a time, and es- 
tablished all his lands from Rome into France, and gave 
lands and realms unto his servants and knights, to even- each 
after his desert, in such wise that none complained, rich nor 
poor. And he gave to Sir Priamus the duchy of Lorraine : 
and he thanked him, and said he would serve him the days 
of his life ; and after made dukes and earls, and made every 
man rich. Then after this all his knights and lords d- 
sembled them afore him, and said : Blessed be God. vour 

war is finished and your conquest achieved, in so much that 
we know none so great nor mighty that dare make 
against you : wherefore we beseech you to return homeward, 
and give us licence to go home to our wives, from whom we 
have been long, and to rest us, for your journey is finished 
with honour and worship. Then said the king. Ye say truth, 
and fo,- to temot God it is no wisdom, and therefore make 


you ready and return we into England. Then there v. 
trussing of harness and bainjajre and s;reat carriage. Ar . 

O wC* O O C* 

after licence given, he returned and commanded that no 
man in pain of death should not rob nor take victual, nor 
other thing by the way but that he should pay therefor. 
And thus he came over the sea and landed at Sandwich. 
against whom Queen Gwenever his wife came and met him, 
and he was nobly received of all his commons in every 
city and burgh, and great gifts presented to him at his 
home-comin to welcome him with. 

ftfi ' hoo'k of the cc-~::<-\~? that Kir.g 
r\:.: against Lucius : : v E-'icc-c* of .\c~ne, ar.z 'v 
the sixth book, -i-~ich ts of S:~ 
met tot da 1 be, 

152 King Arthur 




SOON after that King Arthur was come from Rome into 
England, then all the knights of the Table Round resorted 
unto the king, and made many jousts and tournaments, and 
some there were that were but knights, which increased so in 
arms and worship that they passed all their fellows in prowess 
and noble deeds, and that was well proved on many ; but 
in especial it was proved on Sir Launcelot du Lake, for in 
all tournaments and jousts and deeds of arms, both for life 
and death, he passed all other knights, and at no time he 
was never overcome but if it were by treason or enchantment, 
so Sir Launcelot increased so marvellously in worship, and 
in honour, therefore is he the first knight that the French 
book maketh mention of after King Arthur came from Rome. 
Wherefore Queen Guenever had him in great favour above all 
other knights, and in certain he loved the queen again above 
all other ladies and damosels of his life, and for her he did 
many deeds of arms, and saved her from the fire through his 
noble chivalry. Thus Sir Launcelot rested him long with 
play and game. And then he thought himself to prove 
himself in strange adventures, then he bade his nephew, Sir 
Lionel, for to make him ready ; for we too will seek adven- 
tures. So "they mounted on their horses, armed at all rights, 
and rode into a deep forest and so into a deep plain. And 
then the weather was hot about noon, and Sir Launcelot had 
great lust to sleep. Then Sir Lionel espied a great apple 
tree that stood by an hedge, and said, Brother, yonder is a 
fair shadow, there may we rest us on our horses. It is well 
said, fair brother, said Sir Launcelot, for this seven year I 
was not so sleepy as I am now ; and so they there alighted 
and tied their horses unto sundry trees, and so Sir Launcelot 
laid him down under an apple tree, and his helm he laid 
under his head. And Sir Lionel waked while he slept. So 
Sir Launcelot was asleep passing fast. And in the mean- 
while there came three knights riding, as fast fleeing as ever 
they might ride. And there followed them three but one 

King Arthur . 153 

knight. And when Sir Lionel saw him, him thought he saw 
never so great a knight, nor so well faring a man, neither 
so well apparelled unto all rights. So within a while this 
strong knight had overtaken one of these knights, and there 
he smote him to the cold earth that he lay still. And then 
he rode unto the second knight, and smote him so that man 
and horse fell down. And then straight to the third knight 
he rode, and smote him behind his horse arse a spear length. 
And then he alit down and reined his horse on the bridle, 
and bound all the three knights fast with the reins of their 
own bridles. When Sir Lionel saw him do thus, he thought 
to assay him, and made him ready, and stilly and privily he 
took his horse, and thought not for to awake Sir Launcelot. 
And when he was mounted upon his horse, he overtook this 
strong knight, and bade him turn, and the other smote Sir 
Lionel so hard that horse and man he bare to the earth, and 
so he alit down and bound him fast, and threw him over 
thwart his own horse, and so he served them all four, and 
rode with them away to his own castle. And when he came 
there he garte unarm them, and beat them with thorns all 
naked, and after put them in a deep prison where were many 
more knights that made great dolour. 



WHEN Sir Ector de Maris wist that Sir Launcelot was 
passed out of the court to seek adventures, he was wroth with 
himself, and made him ready to seek Sir Launcelot, and as 
he had ridden long in a great forest he met with a man was 
like a forester. Fair fellow, said Sir Ector, knowest thou in 
this country any adventures that be here nigh hand ? Sir, 
said the forester, this country know I well, and hereby, 
within this mile, is a strong manor, and well dyked, and by 
that manor, on the left hand, there is a fair ford for horses to 
drink of, and over that ford there groweth a fair tree, and 
thereon hang many fair shields that wielded sometime good 
knights, and at the hole of the tree hangeth a basin of copper 
and laton, and strike upon that basin with the butt of thy 
spear thrice, and soon after thou shalt hear new tidings, and 

154 K' m Arthur 

else hast thou the fairest grace that many a year had ever 
knight that passed through this forest. Gramercy, said Sir 
Ector, and departed and came to the tree, and saw many 
fair shields. And among them he saw his brother's shield, 
Sir Lionel, and many more that he knew that were his fellows 
of the Round Table, the which grieved his heart, and he pro- 
mised to revenge his brother. Then anon Sir Ector beat 
on the basin as he were wood, and then he gave his horse 
drink at the ford, and there came a knight behind him and 
bade him come out of the water and make him ready; and 
Sir Ector anon turned him shortly, and in fewter cast his 
spear, and smote the other knight a great buffet that his horse 
turned twice about. This was well done, said the strong 
knight, and knightly thou hast stricken me ; and therewith 
he rushed his horse on Sir Ector, and cleyghte him under 
his right arm, and bare him clean out of the saddle, and 
rode with him away into his own hall, and threw him down 
in myddes of the floor. The name of this knight was Sir 
Turqafne. Then he said unto Sir Ector, For thou hast done 
this day more unto me than any knight did these twelve 
years, now will I grant thee thy life, so thou wilt be sworn to 
be my prisoner all thy life days. Nay, said Sir Ector, that 
will I never promise thee, but that I will do mine advantage. 
That me repenteth, said Sir Turquine. And then he garte 
to unarm him, and beat him with thorns all naked, and 
sythen put him down in a deep dungeon, where he knew 
many of his fellows. But when Sir Ector saw Sir Lionel, 
then made he great sorrow. Alas, brother, said Sir Ector, 
where is my brother, Sir Launcelot ? Fair brother, I left 
him on sleep when that I from him yode, under an apple 
tree ; and what is become of him I cannot tell you. Alas, 
said the knights, but Sir Launcelot help us we may never 
be delivered, for we know now no knight that is able to 
match our master Turquine. 



Now leave we these knights prisoners, and speak we of 
Sir Launcelot du Lake- that lieth under the Apple Tree 
sleeping. Even about the noon there come by him four 

King Arthur 155 

queens of great estate ; and, for the heat should not annoy 
them, there rode four knights about them, and bare a cloth 
of green silk on four spears, betwixt them and the sun, and 
the queens rode on four white mules. Thus as they rode 
they heard by them a great horse grimly neigh, then were 
they ware of a sleeping knight, that lay all armed under an 
apple tree ; anon as these queens looked on his face, they 
knew it was Sir Launcelot. Then they began for to strive 
for that knight, every each one said they would have him to 
her love. We shall not strive, said Morgan le Fay, that was 
King Arthur's sister, I shall put an enchantment upon him 
that he shall not awake in six hours, and then I will lead 
him away unto my castle, and when he is surely within my 
hold, I shall take the enchantment from him, and then let 
him choose which of us he will have unto paramour. So 
this enchantment was cast upon Sir Launcelot, and then they 
laid him upon his shield, and bare him so on horseback be- 
twixt two knights, and brought him unto the castle Chariot, 
and there they laid him in a chamber cold, and at night they 
sent unto him a fair damosel with his supper ready dight. 
By that the enchantment was past, and when she came she 
saluted him, and asked him what cheer. I cannot say, fair 
damosel, said Sir Launcelot, for I wot not how I came into 
this castle but it be by an enchantment. Sir, said she, ye 
must make good cheer, and if ye be such a knight as it is 
said ye be, I shall tell you more to-morn by prime of the 
day. Gramercy, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, of your 
good will I require you. And so she departed. And there 
he lay all on that night without comfort of anybody. And 
on the morn early came these four queens, passingly well 
bysene, all they bidding him good morn, and he them 
again. Sir knight, the four queens said, thou must under- 
stand thou art our prisoner, and we here know thee well that 
thou art Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son, and 
by cause we understand your worthiness, that thou art the 
noblest knight living, and as we know well there can no lady 
have thy love but one, and that is Queen Guenever, and 
now thou shalt lose her for ever, and she thee, and therefore 
thee behoveth now to choose one of us four. I am the 
Queen Morgan le Fay, queen of the land of Gore, and here 
is the queen of Northgalis, and the queen of Eastland, and 
the queen of the Out Isles ; now choose one of us which 
thou wilt have to thy paramour, for thou mayest not choose 

156 King Arthur 

or else in this prison to die. This is an hard case, said Sir 
Launcelot, that either I must die or else chose one of you, 
yet had I lever to die in this prison with worship, than to 
have one of you to my paramour maugre my head. And 
therefore ye be answered, I will none of you, for ye be false 
enchantresses, and as for my lady, Dame Guenever, were I 
at my liberty as I was, I would prove it on you or on yours, 
that she is the truest lady unto her lord living. Well, said 
the queens, is this your answer, that ye will refuse us. Yea, 
on my life, said Sir Launcelot, refused ye be of me. So 
they departed and left him there alone and made great 




RIGHT so at the noon came the damosel unto him with his 
dinner, and asked him what cheer. Truly, fair damosel, said 
Sir Launcelot, in my life days never so ill. Sir, she said, 
that me repentest, but an ye will be ruled by me, I shall 
help you out of this distress, and ye shall have no shame 
nor villainy, so that ye hold me a promise. Fair damosel, I 
will grant you, and sore I am of these queen-sorceresses 
afeard, for they have destroyed many a good knight. Sir, 
said she, that is sooth, and for the renown and bounte that 
they hear of you they would have your love, and Sir, they 
say, your name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, the flower of 
knights, and they be passing wroth with you that ye 
have refused them. But Sir, an ye would promise me to 
help my father on Tuesday next coming, that hath made a 
tournament betwixt him and the king of Northgalis ; for the 
last Tuesday past my father lost the field through three 
knights of Arthur's court ; an ye will be there on Tuesday 
next coming, and help my father, to-morn or prime, by the 
grace of God, I shall deliver you clene. Fair maiden, said 
Sir Launcelot, tell me what is your father's name, and then 
shall I give you an answer. Sir knight, she said, my father 
is King Bagdemagus, that was foul rebuked at the last 
tournament. I know your father well, said Sir Launcelot, 
for a noble king and a good knight, and by the faith of my 
body, ye shall have my body ready to do your father and 

King Arthur 157 

you service at that day. Sir, she said, gramercy, and 
to-morn await ye be ready betimes, and I shall be she that 
shall deliver you, and take you your armour and your horse, 
shield and spear, and hereby, within this ten mile, is an 
abbey of white monks, there I pray you that ye me abide, 
and thither shall I bring my father unto you. All this shall 
be done, said Sir Launcelot, as I am true knight. And so 
she departed, and came on the morn early, and found him 
ready ; then she brought him out of twelve locks, and 
brought him unto his armour, and when he was clene 
armed, she brought him until his own horse, and lightly he 
saddled him and took a great spear in his hand, and so rode 
forth, and said, Fair damosel, I shall not fail you by the 
grace of God. And so he rode into a great forest all that 
day, and never could find no highway, and so the night fell 
on him, and then was he ware in a slade, of a pavilion of red 
sendal. By my faith, said Sir Launcelot, in that pavilion 
will I lodge all this night, and so there he alit down, and 
tied his horse to the pavilion, and there he unarmed him, 
and there he found a bed, and laid him therein and fell on 
sleep sadly. 



THEN within an hour there came the knight to whom the 
pavilion ought, and he weened that his leman had lain in 
that bed, and so he laid him down beside Sir Launcelot, 
and took him in his arms and began to kiss him. And 
when Sir Launcelot felt a rough beard kissing him, he 
started out of the bed lightly, and the other knight after 
him, and either of them gat their swords in their hands, and 
out at the pavilion door went the knight of the pavilion, and 
Sir Launcelot followed him, and there by a little slake Sir 
Launcelot wounded him sore, nigh unto the death. And then 
he yielded him unto Sir Launcelot, and so he granted him, 
so that he would tell him why he came in to the bed. Sir, 
said the knight, the pavilion is mine own, and there this 
night I had assigned my lady to have slept with me, and now 
I am likely to die of this wound. That me repenteth, said 
Launcelot, of your hurt, but I was adread of treason, for I 

158 King Arthur 

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



AND soon as Sir Launcelot came within the abbey yard, 
the daughter of King Bagdemagus heard a great horse go on 
the pavement. And she then arose and yede unto a window, 
and there she saw Sir Launcelot, and anon she made men 
fast to take his horse from him and let lead him into a 
stable, and himself was led into a fair chamber, and unarmed 
him, and the lady sent him a long gown, and anon she came 

King Arthur 159 

herself. And then she made Launcelot passing good cheer, 
and she said he was the knight in the world was most 
welcome to her. Then in all haste she sent for her father 
Bagdemagus that was within twelve mile of that Abbey, and 
afore even he came with a fair fellowship of knights with 
him. And when the king was alit off his horse he yode 
straight unto Sir Launcelot's chamber and there he found 
his daughter, and then the king embraced Sir Launcelot in 
his arms, and either made other good cheer. Anon Sir 
Launcelot made his complaint unto the king how he was 
betrayed, and how his brother Sir Lionel was departed from 
him he wist not where, and how his daughter had delivered 
him out of prison; Therefore while I live I shall do her 
service and all her kindred. Then am I sure of your help, 
said the king, on Tuesday next coming ? Yea, sir, said Sir 
Launcelot, I shall not fail you, for so I have promised my 
lady your daughter. But, sir, what knights be they of my 
lord Arthur's that were with the King of Northgalis ? And 
the king said it was Sir Mador de la Porte, and Sir Mordred 
and Sir Gahalantine that all for-fared my knights, for against 
them three I nor my knights might bear no strength. Sir, 
said Sir Launcelot, as I hear say that the tournament shall 
be here within this three mile of this abbey, ye shall send 
unto me three knights of yours, such as ye trust, and look 
that the three knights have all white shields, and I also, 
and no painture on the shields, and we four will come out of 
a little wood in middes of both parties, and we shall fall in 
the front of our enemies and grieve them that we may ; and 
thus shall I not be known what knight I am. So they took 
their rest that night, and this was on the Sunday, and so 
the king departed, and sent unto Sir Launcelot three knights 
with the four white shields. And on the Tuesday they 
lodged them in a little leaved wood beside where the 
tournament should be. And there were scaffolds and 
holes that lords and ladies might behold and to give the 
prize. Then came into the field the King of Northgalis 
with eight score helms. And then the three knights of 
Arthur's stood by themself. Then came into the field King 
Bagdemagus with four score of helms. And then they 
fewtryd their spears, and came together with a great dash, 
and there were slain of knights at the first recounter twelve 
of King Bagdemagus' party, and six of the King of North- 
galis' party, and King Bagdemagus' party was far set aback. 

160 King" Arthur 



WITH that came Sir Launcelot du Lake, and he thrust in 
with his spear in the thickest of the press, and there he 
smote down with one spear five knights, and of four of them 
he brake their backs. And in that throng he smote down 
the King of Northgalis, and brake his thigh in that fall. All 
this doing of Sir Launcelot saw the three knights of Arthur's. 
Yonder is a shrewd guest, said Sir Mador de la Porte, there- 
fore have here once at him. So they encountered, and Sir 
Launcelot bare him down horse and man, so that his 
shoulder went out of lyth. Now befalleth it to me to joust, 
said Mordred, for Sir Mador hath a sore fall. Sir Launcelot 
was ware of him, and gat a great spear in his hand, and met 
him, and Sir Mordred brake a spear upon him, and Sir 
Launcelot gave him such a buffet that the arsson of his 
saddle brake, and so he flew over his horse's tail, that his 
helm butted into the earth a foot and more, that nigh his 
neck was broken, and there he lay long in a swoon. Then 
came in Sir Gahalantine with a great spear and Launcelot 
against him, with all their strength that they might drive, 
that both their spears to-brast even to their hands, and then 
they flang out with their swords and gave many a grim 
stroke. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth out of measure, and 
then he smote Sir Gahalantine on the helm that his nose 
brast out on blood, and ears and mouth both, and therewith 
his head hung low. And therewith his horse ran away with 
him, and he fell down to the earth. Anon therewithal Sir 
Launcelot gat a great spear in his hand, and or ever that 
great spear brake, he bare down to the earth sixteen knights, 
some horse and man, and some the man and not the horse, 
and there was none but that he hit surely, he bare none 
arms that day. And then he gat another great spear, and 
smote down twelve knights, and the most part of them 
never throve after. And then the knights of the King of 
Northgalis would joust no more. And there the gree was 
given to King Bagdemagus. So either party departed unto 
his own place, and Sir Launcelot rode forth with King 
Bagdemagus unto his castle, and there he had passing good 

King Arthur 161 

cheer both with the king and with his daughter, and they 
proffered him great gifts. And on the morn he took his 
leave, and told the king that he would go and seek his 
brother Sir Lionel, that went from him when that he slept, 
so he took his horse, and betaught them all to God. And 
there he said unto the king's daughter, If ye have need any 
time of my service I pray you let me have knowledge, and I 
shall not fail you as I am true knight. And so Sir Launcelot 
departed, and by adventure he came into the same forest where 
he was taken sleeping. And in the midst of a highway he 
met a damosel riding on a white palfrey, and there either 
saluted other. Fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, know ye 
in this country any adventures ? Sir knight, said that 
damosel, here are adventures near hand, an thou durst prove 
them. Why should I not prove adventures? said Sir 
Launcelot, for that cause come I hither. Well, said she, 
thou seemest well to be a good knight, and if thou dare 
meet with a good knight, I shall bring thee where is the best 
knight, and the mightiest that ever thou found, so thou wilt 
tell me what is thy name, and what knight thou art. 
Damosel, as for to tell thee my name I take no great force, 
truly my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Sir, thou be- 
seemest well, here be adventures by that fall for thee, for 
hereby dwelleth a knight that will not be overmatched for 
no man I know but ye overmatch him, and his name is Sir 
Turquine. And, as I understand, he hath in his prison, of 
Arthur's court, good knights three score and four, that he 
hath won with his own hands. But when ye have done that 
journey ye shall promise me as ye are a true knight for to go 
with me, and to help me and other damosels that are 
distressed daily with a false knight. All your intent, 
damosel, and desire I will fulfil, so ye will bring me unto 
this knight. Now, fair knight, come on your way ; and so 
she brought him unto the ford and the tree where hung the 
basin. So Sir Launcelot let his horse drink, and then he 
beat on the basin with the butt of his spear so hard with all 
his might till the bottom fell out, and long he did so but 
he saw nothing. Then he rode endlong the gates of that 
manor nigh half-an-hour. And then was he ware of a great 
knight that drove an horse afore him, and overthwart the 
horse there lay an armed knight bound. And ever as they 
came near and near, Sir Launcelot thought he should know 
him. Then Sir Launcelot was ware that it was Sir Gaheris, 

1 62 Kin Arthur 

Gawaine's brother, a knight of the Table Round. Now, 
fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, I see yonder cometh a 
knight fast bounden that is a fellow of mine, and brother he 
is unto Sir Gawaine. And at the first beginning I promise 
you, by the love of God, to rescue that knight ; but if his 
master sit better in the saddle I shall deliver all the prisoners 
that he hath out of danger, for I am sure he hath two 
brethren of mine prisoners with him. By that time that 
either had seen other, they gripped their spears unto them. 
Now, fair knight, said Sir Launcelot, put that wounded 
knight off the horse, and let him rest awhile, and let us two 
prove our strengths ; for as it is informed me, thou doest 
and hast done great despite and shame unto knights of the 
Round Table, and therefore now defend thee. An thou be 
of the Table Round, said Turquine, I defy thee and all thy 
fellowship. That is overmuch said, said Sir Launcelot. 



AND then they put their spears in the rests, and came 
together with their horses as fast as they might run, and 
either smote other in middes of their shields, that both their 
horses' backs brast under them, and the knights were both 
stonied, and as soon as they might avoid their horses, they 
took their shields afore them, and drew out their swords, and 
came together eagerly, and either gave other many strong 
strokes, for there might neither shields nor harness hold 
their strokes. And so within a while they had both grimly 
wounds, and bled passing grievously. Thus they fared two 
hours or more trasyng and rasyng either other where they 
might hit any bare place. Then at the last they were 
breathless both, and stood leaning on their swords. Now 
fellow, said Sir Turquine, hold thy hand a while, and tell me 
what I shall ask thee. Say on. Then Turquine said, Thou 
art the biggest man that ever I met withal, and the best 
breathed, and like one knight that I hate above all other 
knights ; so be it that thou be not he I will lightly accord 
with thee, and for thy love I will deliver all the prisoners 
that I have, that is three score and four, so thou wilt tell me 
thy name. And thou and I we will be fellows together, and 

King Arthur 163 

never to fail the while that I live. It is well said, said Sir 
Launcelot, but sithen it is so that I may have thy friendship, 
what knight is he that thou so hatest above all other ? Faith- 
fully, said Sir Turquine, his name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, 
for he slew my brother, Sir Carados, at the dolorous tower, 
that was one of the best knights on live ; and therefore him 
1 expect of all knights, for may I once meet with him, the 
one of us shall make an end of other, I make mine avow. 
And for Sir Launcelot's sake I have slain an hundred good 
knights, and as many I have maimed all utterly that they 
might never after help themself, and many have died in 
prison, and yet have I three score and four, and all shall be 
delivered so thou wilt tell me thy name, so be it that thou 
be not Sir Launcelot. Now, see I well, said Sir Launcelot, 
that such a man I might be, I might have peace, and such 
a man I might be, that there should be war mortal betwixt 
us. And now, sir knight, at thy request I will that thou wit 
and know that I am Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son of 
Benwick, and very knight of the Table Round. And now 
I defy thee, and do thy best. Ah, said Turquine, Launcelot, 
thou art unto me most welcome that ever was knight, for we 
shall never depart till the one of us be dead. Then they 
hurtled together as two wild bulls rashing and lashing with 
their shields and swords, that sometime they fell both over 
their noses. Thus they fought still two hours and more, and 
never would have rest, and Sir Turquine gave Sir Launcelot 
many wounds that all the ground thereas they fought was 
ail bespeckled with blood. 



THEN at the last Sir Turquine waxed faint, and gave 
somewhat aback, and bare his shield low for weariness. 
That espied Sir Launcelot, and leapt upon him fiercely and 
gat him by the beaver of his helmet, and plucked him down 
on his knees, and anon he rased off his helm, and smote his 
neck in sunder. And when Sir Launcelot had done this, he 
yode unto the damosel and said, Damosel, I am ready to go 
with you where ye will have me, but I have no horse. Fair 



sir, said she, take this wounded knight's horse and send him 
into this manor, and command him to deliver all the prisoners. 
So Sir Launcelot went unto Gaheris, and prayed him not to 
be aggrieved for to lend him his horse. Nay, fair lord, said 
Gaheris, I will that ye take my horse at your own command- 
ment, for ye have both saved me and my horse, and this 
day I say ye are the best knight in the world, for ye have 
slain this day in my sight the mightiest man and the best 
knight except you that ever I saw, and, fair sir, said Gaheris, 
I pray you tell me your name. Sir, my name is Sir Launce- 
lot du Lake, that ought to help you of right for King Arthur's 
sake, and in especial for my lord Sir Gawaine's sake, your 
own dear brother ; and when that ye come within yonder 
manor, I am sure ye shall find there many knights of the 
Round Table, for I have seen many of their shields that I 
know on yonder tree. There is Kay's shield, and Sir 
Erandel's shield, and Sir Marhaus' shield, and Sir Galind's 
shield, and Sir Brian de Listonois's shield, and Sir Aliduke's 
shield, with many more that I am not now advised of, and 
also my two brethren's shields, Sir Ector de Maris and Sir 
Lionel ; wherefore I pray you greet them all from me, and 
say that I bid them take such stuff there as they find, and 
that in any wise my brethren go unto the court and abide me 
there till that I come, for by the feast of Pentecost I cast me 
to be there, for as at this time I must ride with this damosel 
for to save my promise. And so he departed from Gaheris, 
and Gaheris yede in to the manor, and there he found a 
yeoman porter keeping there many keys. Anon withal Sir 
Gaheris threw the porter unto the ground and took the keys 
from him, and hastily he opened the prison door, and there 
he let out all the prisoners, and every man loosed other of 
their bonds. And when they saw Sir Gaheris, all they thanked 
him, for they weened that he was wounded. Not so, said 
Gaheris, it was Launcelot that slew him worshipfully with his 
own hands. I saw it with mine own eyes. And he greeteth 
you all well, and prayeth you to haste you to the court ; and 
as unto Sir Lionel and Ector de Maris he prayeth you to 
abide him at the court. That shall we not do, says his 
brethren, we will find him an we may live. So shall I, said 
Sir Kay, find him or I come at the court as I am true 
knight. Then all those knights sought the house where as 
the armour was, and then they armed them, and every knight 
found his own horse, and all that ever longed unto him. 

King Arthur 165 

And when this was done, there came a forester with four 
horses laden with fat venison. Anon, Sir Kay said, Here is 
good meat for us for one meal, for we had not many a day no 
good repast. And so that venison was roasted, baken, and 
sodden, and so after supper some abode there all night, but 
Sir Lionel and Ector de Maris and Sir Kay rode after Sir 
Launcelot for to find him if they might. 



Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot, that rode with the 
damosel in a fair highway. Sir, said the damosel, here by this 
way haunteth a knight that distressed all ladies and gentle- 
women, and at the least he robbeth them or lieth by them. 
What, said Sir Launcelot, is he a thief and a knight and a 
ravisher of women ? he doth shame unto the order of knight- 
hood, and contrary unto his oath ; it is pity that he liveth. 
But, fair damosel, ye shall ride on afore, yourself, and I will 
keep myself in covert, and if that he trouble you or distress 
you I shall be your rescue and learn him to be ruled as a 
knight. So the maid rode on by the way a soft ambling pace. 
And within a while came out that knight on horseback out 
of the wood, and his page with him, and there he put the 
damosel from her horse, and then she cried. With that came 
Launcelot as fast as he might till he came to that knight, 
saying, O thou false knight and traitor unto knighthood, who 
did learn thee to distress ladies and gentlewomen? When 
the knight saw Sir Launcelot thus rebuking him he answered 
not, but drew his sword and rode unto Sir Launcelot, and 
Sir Launcelot threw his spear from him, and drew out his 
sword, and struck him such a buffet on the helmet that he 
clave his head and neck unto the throat. Now hast thou 
thy payment that long thou hast deserved, that is truth, said 
the damosel. For like as Sir Turquine watched to destroy 
knights, so did this knight attend to destroy and distress 
ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen, and his name was Sir 
Peris de Forest Savage. Now, damosel, said Sir Launcelot, 
will ye any more service of me ? Nay, sir, she said, at this 
time, but almighty Jesu preserve you wheresomever ye ride 

T. 45 

1 66 King Arthur 

or go, for the curtiest knight thou art, and meekest, unto all 
ladies and gentlewomen that now liveth. But one thing, sh 
knight, methinketh ye lack, ye that are a knight wifeless, 
that ye will not love some maiden or gentlewoman, for I 
could never hear say that ever ye loved any of no manner 
degree, and that is great pity ; but it is noised that ye love 
Queen Gwenever, and that she hath ordained by enchantment 
that ye shall never love none other but her, nor none other 
damosel nor lady shall rejoice you ; wherefore many in this 
land of high estate and low make great sorrow. Fair 
damosel, said Sir Launcelot, I may not warne people to 
speak of me what it pleaseth them ; but for to be a wedded 
man, I think it not ; for then I must couch with her, and 
leave arms and tournaments, battles, and adventures ; and as 
for to say for to take my pleasaunce with paramours, that 
will I refuse in principle for dread of God ; for knights that 
be adventurous or lecherous shall not be happy nor fortunate 
unto the wars, for either they shall be overcome with a 
simpler knight than they be themself, other else they shall by 
unhap and their cursedness slay better men than they be 
themself. And so who that useth paramours shall be 
unhappy, and all thing is unhappy that is about them. And 
so Sir Launcelot and she departed. And then he rode in a 
deep forest two days and more, and had strait lodging. So 
on the third day he rode over a long bridge, and there started 
upon him suddenly a passing foul churl, and he smote his 
horse on the nose that he turned about, and asked him why 
he rode over that bridge without his licence. Why should I 
not ride this way ? said Sir Launcelot, I may not ride beside. 
Thou shalt not choose, said the churl, and lashed at him with 
a great club shod with iron. Then Sir Launcelot drew his 
sword and put the stroke aback, and clave his head unto the 
paps. At the end of the bridge was a fair village, and all 
the people, men and women, cried on Sir Launcelot, and 
said, A worse deed didst thou never for thyself, for thou hast 
slain the chief porter of our castle. Sir Launcelot let them 
say what they would, and straight he went into the castle ; 
and when he came into the castle he alit, and tied his horse 
to a ring on the wall, and there he saw a fair green court, 
and thither he dressed him, for there him thought was a fair 
place to fight in. So he looked about, and saw much people 
in doors and windows that said. Fair knight, thou art 

King Arthur 167 



ANON withal came there upon him two great giants, well 
armed all save the heads, with two horrible clubs in their 
hands. Sir Launcelot put his shield afore him and put the 
stroke away of the one giant, and with his sword he clave 
his head asunder. When his fellow saw that he ran away 
as he were wood, for fear of the horrible strokes, and 
Launcelot after him with all his might, and smote him on 
the shoulder, and clave him to the navel. Then Sir Launcelot 
went into the hall, and there came afore him three score 
ladies and damosels, and all kneeled unto him, and thanked 
God and him of their deliverance ; For sir, said they, the 
most part of us have been here this seven year their prisoners, 
and we have worked all manner of silk works for our meat, 
and we are all great gentlewomen born, and blessed be the 
time, knight, that ever thou be born ; for thou hast done the 
most worship that ever did knight in this world, that will we 
bear record, and we all pray you to tell us your name, that 
we may tell our friends who delivered us out of prison. Fair 
damosel, he said, my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Ah, 
sir, said they all, well mayest thou be he, for else save your- 
self, as we deemed, there might never knight have the 
better of these two giants ; for many fair knights have assayed 
it, and here have ended, and many times have we wished after 
you, and these two giants dread never knight but you. Now 
may ye say, said Sir Launcelot, unto your friends how and 
who hath delivered you, and greet them all from me, and if 
that I come in any of your marches, show me such cheer as 
ye have cause, and what treasure that there in this castle is 
I give it you for a reward for your grievance. And the lord 
that is owner of this castle I would he received it as is 
right. Fair sir, said they, the name of this castle is Tintagil, 
and a duke ought it sometime that had wedded fair Igraine, 
and after wedded her Uther Pendragon, and gat on her 
Arthur. Well, said Sir Launcelot, I understand to whom 
this castle longeth ; and so he departed from them, and by- 
taughte them unto God. And then he mounted upon his 
horse, and rode into many strange and wild countries, and 
through many waters and valleys, and evil was he lodged. 

1 68 King Arthur 

And at the last by fortune him happened, against a night 
to come to a fair courtelage, and therein he found an old 
gentlewoman that lodged him with good will, and there he 
had good cheer for him and his horse. And when time 
was, his host brought him into a fair garret, over the gate, to 
his bed. There Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his 
harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on sleep. 
So, soon after, there came one on horseback, and knocked 
at the gate in great haste, and when Sir Launcelot heard 
this, he arose up and looked out at the window, and saw by 
the moonlight three knights came riding after that one man, 
and all three lashed on him at once with swords, and that 
one knight turned on them knightly again, and defended 
him. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, yonder one knight shall I 
help, for it were shame for me to see three knights on one. 
And if he be slain I am partner of his death, and therewith 
he took his harness, and went out at a window by a sheet 
down to the four knights, and then Sir Launcelot said on 
high, Turn you knights unto me, and leave your fighting 
with that knight. And then they all three left Sir Kay, and 
turned unto Sir Launcelot, and there began great battle, for 
they alit all three, and struck many great strokes at Sir 
Launcelot, and assailed him on every side. Then Sir Kay 
dressed him for to have holpen Sir Launcelot. Nay, sir, 
said he, I will none of your help ; therefore as ye will have 
my help, let me alone with them. Sir Kay, for the pleasure 
of the knight, suffered him for to do his will, and so stood 
on side. And then anon within six strokes, Sir Launcelot 
had stricken them to the earth. And then they all three 
cried : Sir knight, we yield us unto you as a man of might, 
makeless. As to that, said Sir Launcelot, I will not take 
your yielding unto me. But so that ye will yield you unto 
Sir Kay the Seneschal, on that covenant I will save your 
lives, and else not. Fair knight, said they, that were we 
loth to do ; for as for Sir Kay, we chased him hither, and 
had overcome him had not ye been, therefore to yield us 
unto him it were no reason. Well, as to that, said Launcelot, 
advise you well, for ye may choose whether ye will die or 
live, for an ye be yolden it shall be unto Sir Kay. Fair 
knight, then they said, in saving of our lives we will do as 
thou commandest us. Then shall ye, said Sir Launcelot, 
on Whitsunday next coming, go unto the court of 
King Arthur and there shall ye yield you unto Queen 

King Arthur 169 

Gwenever, and put you all three in her grace and mercy, 
and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to be her prisoners. 
Sir, they said, it shall be done by the faith of our bodies, an 
we be living, and there they swore every knight upon his 
sword. And so Sir Launcelot suffered them so to depart. 
And then Sir Launcelot knocked at the gate with the pom- 
mel of his sword, and with that came his host, and in they 
entered Sir Kay and he. Sir, said his host, I weened ye 
had been in your bed. So I was, said Sir Launcelot, but I 
rose and leapt out at my window for to help an old fellow 
of mine. And so when they came nigh the light, Sir Kay 
knew well that it was Sir Launcelot, and therewith he 
kneeled down and thanked him of all his kindness that he 
had holpen him twice from the death. Sir, he said, I have 
nothing done but that me ought for to do, and ye are 
welcome, and here shall ye repose you and take your rest. 
So when Sir Kay was unarmed, he asked after meat ; so 
there was meat fetched him, and he ate strongly. And 
when he had supped they went to their beds and were 
lodged together in one bed. On the morn Sir Launcelot 
arose early, and left Sir Kay sleeping, and Sir Launcelot 
took Sir Kay's armour and his shield, and armed him, and 
so he went to the stable, and took his horse, and took his 
leave of his host, and so he departed. Then soon after 
arose Sir Kay and missed Sir Launcelot. And then he 
espied that he had his armour and his horse. Now by my 
faith I know well that he will grieve some of the court of 
King Arthur ; for on him knights will be bold, and deem 
that it is I, and that will beguile them. And bycause of his 
armour and shield I am sure I shall ride in peace. And 
then soon after departed Sir Kay and thanked his host. 



Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot that had ridden long in 
a great forest, and at the last he came into a low country, 
full of fair rivers and meadows. And afore him he saw a 
long bridge, and three pavilions stood thereon, of silk and 
sendal of divers hue. And without the pavilions hung three 

1 70 King Arthur 

white shields on truncheons of spears, and great long spears 
stood upright by the pavilions, and at every pavilion's door 
stood three fresh squires, and so Sir Launcelot passed by 
them and spake no word. When he was passed the three 
knights saiden him that it was the proud Kay ; He weeneth 
no knight so good as he, and the contrary is ofttime proved. 
By my faith, said one of the knights, his name was Sir 
Gaunter, I will ride after him and assay him for all his 
pride, and ye may behold how that I speed. So this 
knight, Sir Gaunter, armed him, and hung his shield upon 
his shoulder, and mounted upon a great horse, and gat his 
spear in his hand, and walloped after Sir Launcelot. And 
when he came nigh him, he cried, Abide, thou proud knight 
Sir Kay, for thou shalt not pass quit. So Sir Launcelot 
turned him, and either feutryd their spears, and came 
together with all their mights, and Sir Gaunter's spear brake, 
but Sir Launcelot smote him down horse and man. And 
when Sir Gaunter was at the earth his brethren said each 
one to other, Yonder knight is not Sir Kay, for he is bigger 
than he. I dare lay my head, said Sir Gilmere, yonder 
knight hath slain Sir Kay and hath taken his horse and his 
harness. Whether it be so or no, said Sir Raynold, the 
third brother, let us now go mount upon our horses and 
rescue our brother Sir Gaunter, upon pain of death. We 
all shall have work enough to match that knight, for ever 
meseemeth by his person it is Sir Launcelot, or Sir Tristram, 
or Sir Pelleas, the good knight. Then anon they took their 
horses and overtook Sir Launcelot, and Sir Gilmere put 
forth his spear, and ran to Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot 
smote him down that he lay in a swoon. Sir knight, said 
Sir Raynold, thou art a strong man, and as I suppose thou 
hast slain my two brethren, for the which rasyth my heart 
sore against thee, and if I might with my worship I would 
not have ado with you, but needs I must take part as they 
do, and therefore, knight, he said, keep thyself. And so 
they hurtled together with all their mights, and all to- 
shivered both their spears. And then they drew their 
swords and lashed together eagerly. Anon therewith arose 
Sir Gaunter, and came unto his brother Sir Gilmere, and 
bade him, Arise, and help we our brother Sir Raynold, that 
yonder marvellously matched yonder good knight. There- 
withal, they leapt on their horses and hurtled unto Sir 
Launcelot. And when he saw them come he smote a sore 

King Arthur 171 

stroke unto Sir Raynold, that he fell off his horse to the 
ground, and then he struck to the other two brethren, and 
at two strokes he strake them down to the earth. With 
that Sir Raynold began to start up with his head all bloody, 
and came straight unto Sir Launcelot. Now let be, said 
Sir Launcelot, I was not far from thee when thou wert 
made knight, Sir Raynold, and also I know thou art a 
good knight, and loth I were to slay thee. Gramercy, 
said Sir Raynold, as for your goodness ; and I dare say as 
for me and my brethren, we will not be loth to yield us 
unto you, with that we knew your name, for well we know 
ye are not Sir Kay. As for that be it as it be may, for ye 
shall yield you unto dame Gwenever, and look that ye be 
with her on Whitsunday, and yield you unto her as 
prisoners, and say that Sir Kay sent you unto her. Then 
they swore it should be done, and so passed forth Sir 
Launcelot, and each one of the brethren help other as well 
as they might. 



So Sir Launcelot rode into a deep forest, and thereby in 
a slade, he saw four knights hoving under an oak, and they 
were of Arthur's court, one was Sir Sagramour le Desirous, 
and Ector de Maris, and Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine. 
Anon as these four knights had espied Sir Launcelot, they 
weened by his arms it had been Sir Kay. Now by my 
faith, said Sir Sagramour, I will prove Sir Kay's might, and 
gat his spear in his hand, and came toward Sir Launcelot. 
Therewith Sir Launcelot was ware and knew him well, and 
feutryd his spear against him, and smote Sir Sagramour so 
sore that horse and man fell both to the earth. Lo, my 
fellows, said he, yonder ye may see what a buffet he hath ; 
that knight is much bigger than ever was Sir Kay. Now 
shall ye see what I may do to him. So Sir Ector gat his 
spear in his hand and walloped toward Sir Launcelot, and 
Sir Launcelot smote him through the shield and shoulder, 
that man and horse went to the earth, and ever his spear 
held. By my faith, said Sir Uwaine, yonder is a strong 
knight, and I am sure he hath slain Sir Kay ; and I see 

172 King Arthur 

by his great strength it will be hard to match him. And 
therewithal, Sir Uwaine gat his spear in his hand and rode 
toward Sir Launcelot, and Sir Launcelot knew him well, 
and so he met him on the plain, and gave him such a buffet 
that he was astonied, that long he wist not where he was. 
Now see I well, said Sir Gawaine, I must encounter with 
that knight. Then he dressed his shield and gat a good 
spear in his hand, and Sir Launcelot knew him well ; and 
then they let run their horses with all their mights, and 
either knight smote other in middes of the shield. But Sir 
Gawaine's spear to-brast, and Sit Launcelot charged so sore 
upon him that his horse reversed up-so-down. And much 
sorrow had Sir Gawaine to avoid his horse, and so Sir 
Launcelot passed on a pace and smiled, and said, God give 
him joy that this spear made, for there came never a better 
in my hand. Then the four knights went each one to other 
and comforted each other. What say ye by this guest ? said 
Sir Gawaine, that one spear hath felled us all four. We 
commend him unto the devil, they said all, for he is a man 
of great might. Ye may well say it, said Sir Gawaine, that 
he is a man of might, for I dare lay my head it is Sir 
Launcelot, I know it by his riding. Let him go, said Sir 
Gawaine, for when we come to the court then shall we wit ; 
and then had they much sorrow to get their horses again. 



Now leave we there and speak of Sir Launcelot that rode 
a great while in a deep forest, where he saw a black brachet, 
seeking in manner as it had been in the feute of an hurt 
deer. And therewith he rode after the brachet, and he saw 
lie on the ground a large feute of blood. And then Sir 
Launcelot rode after. And ever the brachet looked behind 
her, and so she went through a great marsh, and ever Sir 
Launcelot followed. And then was he ware of an old 
manor, and thither ran the brachet, and so over the bridge. 
So Sir Launcelot rode over that bridge that was old and 
feeble ; and when he came in middes of a great hall, there 

King Arthur 173 

he saw lie a dead knight that was a seemly man, and that 
brachet licked his wounds. And therewithal came out a 
lady weeping and wringing her hands ; and then she said, 

knight, too much sorrow hast thou brought me. Why 
say ye so ? said Sir Launcelot, I did never this knight no 
harm, for hither by feute of blood this brachet brought me ; 
and therefore, fair lady, be not displeased with me, for I am 
full sore aggrieved of your grievance. Truly, sir, she said, 

1 trow it be not ye that hath slain my husband, for he that 
did that deed is sore wounded, and he is never likely to 
recover, that shall I ensure him. What was your husband's 
name ? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said she, his name was 
called Sir Gilbert the Bastard, one of the best knights of 
the world, and he that hath slain him I know not his name. 
Now God send you better comfort, said Sir Launcelot ; and 
so he departed and went into the forest again, and there 
he met with a damosel, the which knew him well, and she 
said on loud, Well be ye found, my lord ; and now I require 
thee, on thy knighthood, help my brother that is sore wounded, 
and never stinteth bleeding ; for this day he fought with 
Sir Gilbert the Bastard and slew him in plain battle, and 
there was my brother sore wounded, and there is a lady a 
sorceress that dwelleth in a castle here beside, and this day 
she told me my brother's wounds should never be whole 
till I could find a knight that would go into the Chapel 
Perilous, and there he should find a sword and a bloody 
cloth that the wounded knight was lapped in, and a piece 
of that cloth and sword should heal my brother's wounds, 
so that his wounds were searched with the sword and the 
cloth. This is a marvellous thing, said Sir Launcelot, but 
what is your brother's name? Sir, she said, his name was 
Sir Meliot de Logres. That me repenteth, said Sir 
Launcelot, for he is a fellow of the Table Round, and to 
his help I will do my power. Then, sir, said she, follow 
even this highway, and it will bring you unto the Chapel 
Perilous ; and here I shall abide till God send you here 
again, and, but you speed, I know no knight living that may 
achieve that adventure. 

I 45 * 


174 King Arthur 



RIGHT so Sir Launcelot departed, and when he came 
unto the Chapel Perilous he alit down, and tied his horse 
unto a little gate. And as soon as he was within the 
churchyard he saw on the front of the chapel many fair 
rich shields turned up so down, and many of the shields 
Sir Launcelot had seen knights bear beforehand. With 
that he saw by him there stand thirty great knights, more 
by a yard than any man that ever he had seen, and all 
those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot. And when he 
saw their countenance he dread him sore, and so put his 
shield afore him, and took his sword ready in his hand 
ready unto battle, and they were all armed in black 
harness ready with their shields and their swords drawn. 
And when Sir Launcelot would have gone throughout 
them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave 
him the way, and therewith he waxed all bold, and 
entered into the chapel, and then he saw no light but 
a dim lamp burning, and then was he ware of a corpse 
hylled with a cloth of silk. Then Sir Launcelot stooped 
down, and cut a piece away of that cloth, and then it fared 
under him as the earth had quaked a little ; therewithal he 
feared. And then he saw a fair sword lie by the dead 
knight, and that he gat in his hand and hied him out of 
the chapel. Anon as ever he was in the chapel yard all 
the knights spake to him with a grimly voice, and said, 
Knight Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee or else thou 
shalt die. Whether that I live or die, said Sir Launcelot, 
with no great word get ye it again, therefore fight for it an 
ye list. Then right so he passed throughout them, and 
beyond the chapel yard there met him a fair damosel, and 
said, Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou 
wilt die for it. I leave it not, said Sir Launcelot, for no 
entreaties. No, said she, an thou didst leave that sword, 
Queen Guenever should thou never see. Then were I a 
fool an I would leave this sword, said Launcelot. Now, 
gentle knight, said the damosel, I require thee to kiss me 
but once. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, that God me forbid. 

King Arthur 175 

Well, sir, said she, an thou hadst kissed me thy life days 
had been done, but now, alas, she said, I have lost all my 
labour, for I ordained this chapel for thy sake, and for Sir 
Gawaine. And once I had Sir Gawaine within me, and at 
that time he fought with that knight that lieth there dead 
in yonder chapel, Sir Gilbert the Bastard ; and at that time 
he smote the left hand off of Sir Gilbert the Bastard. And, 
Sir Launcelot, now I tell thee, I have loved thee this seven 
year, but there may no woman have thy love but Queen 
Guenever. But sythen I may not rejoice thee to have thy 
body on live, I had kept no more joy in this world but to 
have thy body dead. Then would I have balmed it and 
served it, and so have kept it my life days, and daily I 
should have clipped thee, and kissed thee, in despite of 
Queen Guenever. Ye say well, said Sir Launcelot, Jesu 
preserve me from your subtle crafts. And therewithal he 
took his horse and so departed from her. And as the book 
saith, when Sir Launcelot was departed she took such 
sorrow that she died within a fourteen night, and her name 
was Hellawes the sorceress, Lady of the Castle Nigramous. 
Anon Sir Launcelot met with the damosel, Sir Meliot's 
sister. And when she saw him she clapped her hands, 
and wept for joy. And then they rode unto a castle 
thereby where lay Sir Meliot. And anon as Sir Launcelot 
saw him he knew him, but he was passing pale as 
the earth for bleeding. When Sir Meliot saw Sir Launce- 
lot he kneeled upon his knees and cried on high : O lord 
Sir Launcelot, help me ! Anon Sir Launcelot leapt unto 
him and touched his wounds with Sir Gilbert's sword. And 
then he wiped his wounds with a part of the bloody cloth 
that Sir Gilbert was wrapped in, and anon an wholer man 
in his life was he never. And then there was great joy 
between them, and they made Sir Launcelot all the cheer 
that they might, and so on the morn Sir Launcelot took his 
leave, and bade Sir Meliot hie him to the court of my lord 
Arthur, for it draweth nigh to the Feast of Pentecost, and 
there by the grace of God ye shall find me. And therewith 
they departed. 

176 King Arthur 



AND so Sir Launcelot rode through many strange 
countries, over marshes and valleys, till by fortune he 
came to a fair castle, and as he passed beyond the castle 
him thought he heard two bells ring. And then was he 
ware of a falcon came flying over his head toward an high 
elm, and long lines about her feet, and as she flew unto the 
elm to take her perch the lines over-cast about a bough. 
And when she would have taken her flight she hung by the 
legs fast ; and Sir Launcelot saw how she hung, and beheld 
the fair falcon perigot, and he was sorry for her. The 
meanwhile came a lady out of the castle and cried on high : 
O Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art flower of all knights, 
help me to get my hawk, for an my hawk be lost my lord 
will destroy me ; for I kept the hawk and she slipped from 
me, and if my lord my husband wit it he is so hasty that he 
will slay me. What is your lord's name ? said Sir Launce- 
lot. Sir, she said, his name is Sir Phelot, a knight that 
longeth unto the King of Northgalis. Well, fair lady, syne 
that ye know my name, and require me of knighthood to 
help you, I will do what I may to get your hawk, and yet 
God knoweth I am an ill climber, and the tree is passing 
high, and few boughs to help me withal. And therewith 
Sir Launcelot alit, and tied his horse to the same tree, and 
prayed the lady to unarm him. And so when he was 
unarmed, he put off all his clothes unto his shirt and 
breech, and with might and force he clomb up to the 
falcon, and tied the lines to a great rotten boyshe, and 
threw the hawk down and it withal. Anon the lady gat 
the hawk in her hand ; and therewithal came out Sir 
Phelot out of the groves suddenly, that was her husband, 
all armed and with his naked sword in his hand, and said : 
O knight Launcelot, now have I found thee as I would, 
and stood at the bole of the tree to slay him. Ah, lady, 
said Sir Launcelot, why have ye betrayed me ? She hath 
done, said Sir Phelot, but as I commanded her, and there- 
fore there nys none other boote but thine hour is come 
that thou must die. That were shame unto thee, said Sir 
Launcelot, thou an armed knight to slay a naked man by 

King Arthur 177 

treason. Thou gettest none other grace, said Sir Phelot, 
and therefore help thyself an thou canst. Truly, said Sir 
Launcelot, that shall be thy shame, but syne thou wilt do 
none other, take mine harness with thee, and hang my 
sword upon a bough that I may get it, and then do thy 
best to slay me an thou canst. Nay, nay, said Sir Phelot, 
for I know thee better than thou weenest, therefore thou 
gettest no weapon an I may keep you therefrom. Alas, 
said Sir Launcelot, that ever a knight should die weaponless. 
And therewith he wayted above him and under him, and 
over his head he saw a rownsepyk, a big bough leafless, and 
therewith he brake it off by the body. And then he came 
lower and awaited how his own horse stood, and suddenly 
he leapt on the further side of the horse, froward the 
knight. And then Sir Phelot lashed at him eagerly, 
weening to have slain him. But Sir Launcelot put away 
the stroke with the rownsepyk, and therewith he smote 
him on the one side of the head, that he fell down in a 
swoon to the ground. So then Sir Launcelot took his 
sword out of his hand, and struck his neck from the bodv. 

' .- 

Then cried the lady, Alas ! why hast thou slain my husband ? 
I am not causer, said Sir Launcelot, for with falsehood ye 
would have had slain me with treason, and now it is fallen 
on you both. And then she swooned as though she would 
die. And therewithal Sir Launcelot gat all his armour as well 
as he might, and put it upon him for dread of more resort, 
for he dread that the knight's castle was so nigh. And so 
as soon as he might he took his horse and departed, and 
thanked God that he had escaped that adventure. 



So Sir Launcelot rode many wild ways, throughout marches 
and many wild ways. And as he rode in a valley he saw a 
knight chasing a lady, with a naked sword, to have slain her. 
And by fortune as this knight should have slain this lady, 
she cried on Sir Launcelot and prayed him to rescue her. 
When Sir Launcelot saw that mischief, he took his horse 
and rode between them, saying, Knight, fie for shame, why 

178 King Arthur 

wilt thou slay this lady ? thou dost shame unto thee and all 
knights. What hast thou to do betwixt me and my wife? 
said the knight. I will slay her maugre thy head. That 
shall ye not, said Sir Launcelot, for rather we two will have 
ado together. Sir Launcelot, said the knight, thou dost not 
thy part, for this lady hath betrayed me. It is not so, said 
the ladv, trulv he saith wrong on me. And for because I 


love and cherish my cousin germain, he is jealous betwixt 
him and me ; and as I shall answer to God there was never 
sin betwixt us. But, sir, said the lady, as thou art called the 
worshipfullest knight of the world, I require thee of true 
knighthood, keep me and save me. For whatsomever ye say 
he will slay me, for he is without mercy. Have ye no doubt, 
said Launcelot, it shall not lie in his power. Sir, said the 
knight, in your sight I will be ruled as ye will have me. 
And so Sir Launcelot rode on the one side and she on the 
other : he had not ridden but a while, but the knight bade 
Sir Launcelot turn him and look behind him, and said, Sir, 
vender come men of arms after us riding. And so Sir 


Launcelot turned him and thought no treason, and therewith 
was the knight and the lady on one side, and suddenly he 
swapped off his lady's head. And when Sir Launcelot had 
espied him what he had done, he said, and called him, 
Traitor, thou hast shamed me for ever. And suddenly Sir 
Launcelot alit off his horse, and pulled out his sword to slay 
him, and therewithal he fell flat to the earth, and gripped 
Sir Launcelot bv the thighs, and cried mercv. Fie on thee, 

V_ m 

-,..d Sir Launcelot, thou shameful knight, thou mayest have 
no mercy, and therefore arise and fight with me. Nay, said 
the knight, I will never arise till ye grant me mercy. Now 
will I proffer thee fair, said Launcelot, I will unarm me unto 
my shirt, and I will have nothing upon me but my shirt, and 
my sword in my hand. And if thou canst slay me, quit be 

,^u for ever. N.iy, sir. said Pedivere, that will I never. 
Well, said Sir Launcelot, take this lady and the head, and 

.11 it upon thee. and here shalt thou swear upon my sword, 
to bear it always upon thy back, and never to rest till thou 
- Hne to Queen Guenever. Sir, said he, that will I do, by 
the faith of my body. Now, said Launcelot, tell me what is 
your name ? Sir. my name is Pedivere. In a shameful hour 
wen thou bom, said Launcelot. So Pedivere departed with 
the dead lady and the head, and found the queen with King 
Arthur a: Winchester, and there he told all the truth. Sir 

King Arthur 179 

knight, said the queen, this is an horrible deed and a shameful, 
and a great rebuke unto Sir Launcelot ; but notwithstanding 
his worship is not known in many divers countries ; but this 
shall I give you in penance, make ye as good shift as ye can, 
ye shall bear this lady with you on horseback unto the Pope 
of Rome, and of him receive your penance for your foul 
deeds ; and ye shall never rest one night whereas ye do 
another, an ye go to any bed the dead body shall lie with 
you. This oath there he made, and so departed. And as 
it telleth in the French book, when he came to Rome, the 
Pope bad him go again unto Queen Guenever, and in Rome 
was his lady buried by the Pope's commandment. And 
after this Sir Pedivere fell to great goodness, and was an holy 
man and an hermit. 



Now turn we unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, that came 
home two days afore the Feast of Pentecost ; and the king 
and all the court were passing fain of his coming. And 
when Sir Gawaine, Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramore, Sir Ector de 
Maris, saw Sir Launcelot in Kay's armour, then they wist well 
it was he that smote them down all with one spear. Then 
there was laughing and smiling among them. And ever 
now and now came all the knights home that Sir Turquine 
had prisoners, and they all honoured and worshipped Sir 
Launcelot. When Sir Gaheris heard them speak, he said, 
I saw all the battle from the beginning to the ending, 
and there he told King Arthur all how it was, and how Sir 
Turquine was the strongest knight that ever he saw except 
Sir Launcelot : there were many knights bare him record, 
nigh three score. Then Sir Kay told the king how Sir 
Launcelot had rescued him when he should have been slain, 
and how he made the knights yield them to me, and not 
to him. And there they were all three, and bare record. 
And by Jesu, said Sir Kay, because Sir Launcelot took my 
harness and left me his I rode in good peace, and no man 
would have ado with me. Anon therewithal there came the 
three knights that fought with Sir Launcelot at the long 

180 King Arthur 

bridge. And there they yielded them unto Sir Kay, and Sir 
Kay forsook them and said he fought never with them. But 
I shall ease your heart, said Sir Kay, yonder is Sir Launcelot 
that overcame you. When they wist that they were glad. 
And then Sir Meliot de Logres came home, and told the 
king how Sir Launcelot had saved him from the death. 
And all his deeds were known, how four queens, sorceresses, 
had him in prison, and how he was delivered by King 
Bagdemagus's daughter. Also there were told all the great 
deeds of arms that Sir Launcelot did betwixt the two kings, 
that is for to say the King of Northgalis and King Bagde- 
magus. All the truth Sir Gahalantine did tell, and Sir 
Mador de la Porte and Sir Mordred, for they were at that 
same tournament. Then came in the lady that knew Sir 
Launcelot when that he wounded Sir Belleus at the pavilion. 
And there, at request of Sir Launcelot, Sir Belleus was 
made knight of the Round Table. And so at that time Sir 
Launcelot had the greatest name of any knight of the world, 
and most he was honoured of high and low. 

Explicit the noble tale of Sir Launcelot da Lake, 'which is the 

<vi. book. Here follo<weth the tale of Sir Gareth of 

Orkney that was called Beavmains by Sir 

Kay, and is the seventh book. 




WHEN Arthur held his Round Table most plenour, it 
fortuned that he commanded that the high feast of Pentecost 
should be holden at a site and a castle, the which in those 
days was called Kynke Kenadonne, upon the sands that 
marched nigh Wales. So ever the king had a custom that 
at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in 
the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had 
heard or seen of a great marvel. And for that custom all 

King Arthur 181 

manner of strange adventures came before Arthur as at that 
feast before all other feasts. And so Sir Gawaine, a little 
tofore noon of the day of Pentecost, espied at a window 
three men upon horseback, and a dwarf on foot, and so the 
three men alit, and the dwarf kept their horses, and one of 
the three men was higher than the other twain by a foot 
and an half. Then Sir Gawaine went unto the king and 
said, Sir, go to your meat, for here at the hand come strange 
adventures. So Arthur went unto his meat with many other 
kings. And there were all the knights of the Round Table 
only those that were prisoners or slain at a recounter. 
Then at the high feast evermore they should be fulfilled the 
whole number of an hundred and fifty, for then was the 
Round Table fully complished. Right so came into the 
hall two men well bisene and richly, and upon their 
shoulders there leaned the goodliest young man and the 
fairest that ever they all saw, and he was large and long and 
broad in the shoulders, and well visaged, and the fairest 
and the largest handed that ever man saw, but he fared as 
though he might not go nor bear himself but if he leaned 
upon their shoulders. Anon as Arthur saw him there was 
made peace and room, and right so they yede with him 
unto the high dais, without saying of any words. Then 
this much young man pulled him aback, and easily stretched 
up straight, saying, King Arthur, God you bless and all your 
fair fellowship, and in especial the fellowship of the Table 
Round. And for this cause I am come hither, to pray you 
and require you to give me three gifts, and they shall not be 
unreasonably asked, but that ye may worshipfully and 
honourably grant them me, and to you no great hurt nor 
loss. And the first done and gift I will ask now, and the 
other two gifts I will ask this day twelvemonth, where- 
somever ye hold your high feast. Now ask, said Arthur, 
and ye shall have your asking. Now, sir, this is my petition 
for this feast, that ye will give me meat and drink sufficiently 
for this twelvemonth, and at that day I will ask mine other 
two gifts. My fair son, said Arthur, ask better, I counsel 
thee, for this is but a simple asking ; for my heart giveth 
me to thee greatly, that thou art come of men of worship, 
and greatly my conceit faileth me but thou shalt prove a 
man of right great worship. Sir, he said, thereof be as it 
be may, I have asked that I will ask. Well, said the king, 
ye shall have meat and drink enough ; I never defended 

1 82 King Arthur 

that none, neither my friend nor my foe. But what is thy 
name I would wit ? I cannot tell you, said he. That is 
marvel, said the king, that thou knowest not thy name, and 
thou art the goodliest young man one that ever I saw. 
Then the king betook him to Sir Kay the steward, and 
charged him that he should give him of all manner of 
meats and drinks of the best, and also that he had all 
manner of finding as though he were a lord's son. That 
shall little need, said Sir Kay, to do such cost upon him ; 
for I dare undertake he is a villain born, and never will 
make man, for an he had come of gentlemen he would 
have asked of you horse and armour, but such as he is, so 
he asketh. And sythen he hath no name, I shall give him 
a name that shall be Beaumains, that is Fair-hands, and 
into the kitchen I shall bring him, and there he shall have 
fat brose every day, that he shall be as fat by the twelve- 
months' end as a pork hog. Right so the two men departed 
and beleft him to Sir Kay, that scorned him and mocked 



THEREAT was Sir Gawaine wroth, and in especial Sir 
Launcelot bade Sir Kay leave his mocking, for I dare lay 
my head he shall prove a man of great worship. Let be, 
said Sir Kay, it may not be by no reason, for as he is, so he 
hath asked. Beware, said Sir Launcelot, so ye gave the 
good knight Brewnor, Sir Dinadan's brother, a name, and 
ye called him La Cote Male Taile, and that turned you to 
anger afterward. As for that, said Sir Kay, this shall never 
prove none such. For Sir Brewnor desired ever worship, 
and this desireth bread and drink and broth ; upon pain of 
my life he was fostered up in some abbey, and, howsomever 
it was, they failed meat and drink, and so hither he is come 
for his sustenance. And so Sir Kay bad get him a place, 
and sit down to meat ; so Beaumains went to the hall door, 
and set him down among boys and lads, and there he ate 
sadly. And then Sir Launceiot after meat bad him come 

King Arthur 183 

to his chamber, and there he should have meat and drink 
enough. And so did Sir Gawaine : but he refused them 
all ; he would do none other but as Sir Kay commanded 
him, for no proffer. But as touching Sir Gawaine, he had 
reason to proffer him lodging, meat, and drink, for that 
proffer came of his blood, for he was nearer kin to him 
than he wist. But that as Sir Launcelot did was of his 
great gentleness and courtesy. So thus he was put into the 
kitchen, and lay nightly as the boys of the kitchen did. 
And so he endured all that twelvemonth, and never dis- 
pleased man nor child, but always he was meek and mild. 
But ever when that he was any jousting of knights, that 
would he see an he might. And ever Sir Launcelot would 
give him gold to spend, and clothes, and so did Sir Gawaine, 
and where there were any masteries done, thereat would he 
be, and there might none cast bar nor stone to him by two 
yards. Then would Sir Kay say, How liketh you my boy 
of the kitchen ? So it passed on till the feast of Whitsun- 
tide. And at that time the king held it at Carlion in the 
most royallest wise that might be, like as he did yearly. 
But the king would no meat eat upon the Whitsunday, 
until he heard some adventures. Then came there a squire 
to the king and said, Sir, ye may go to your meat, for here 
cometh a damosel with some strange adventures. Then 
was the king glad and sat him down. Right so there came 
a damosel into the hall and saluted the king, and prayed 
him of succour. For whom ? said the king, what is the 
adventure ? Sir, she said, I have a lady of great worship 
and renown, and she is besieged with a tyrant, so that she 
may not out of her castle ; and by cause here are called the 
noblest knights of the world, I come to you to pray you of 
succour. What hight your lady, and where dwelleth she, 
and who is she, and what is his name that hath besieged 
her ? Sir King, she said, as for my lady's name that shall 
not ye know for me as at this time, but I let you wit she is 
a lady of great worship and of great lands ; and as for the 
tyrant that besiegeth her and destroyeth her lands, he is 
called the Red Knight of the Red Laundes. I know him 
not, said the king. Sir, said Sir Gawaine, I know him well, 
for he is one of the perilloust knights of the world ; men 
say that he hath seven men's strength, and from him I 
escaped once full hard with my life. Fair damosel, said 
the king, there be knights here would do their power for to 

184 King Arthur 

rescue your lady, but by cause you will not tell her name, 
nor where she dwelleth, therefore none of my knights that 
here be now shall go with you by my will. Then must I 
speak further, said the damosel. 



WITH these words came before the king Beaumains, 
while the damosel was there, and thus he said, Sir king, 
God thank you I have been this twelvemonth in your 
kitchen, and have had my full sustenance, and now I will 
ask my two gifts that be behind. Ask, upon my peril, said 
the king. Sir, this shall be my two gifts, first that ye will 
grant me to have this adventure of the damosel, for it 
belongeth unto me. Thou shalt have it, said the king, I 
grant it thee. Then, sir, this is the other gift, that ye shall 
bid Launcelot du Lake to make me knight, for of him I 
will be made knight and else of none. And when I am 
passed I pray you let him ride after me, and make me knight 
when I require him. All this shall be done, said the king. 
Fie on thee, said the damosel, shall I have none but one 
that is your kitchen page ? Then was she wroth, and took 
her horse and departed. And with that there came one to 
Beaumains and told him his horse and armour was come 
for him ; and there was the dwarf come with all thing that 
him needed, in the richest manner ; thereat all the court 
had much marvel from whence came all that gear. So 
when he was armed there was none but few so goodly a 
man as he was ; and right so as he came into the hall and 
took his leave of King Arthur, and Sir Gawaine, and Sir 
Launcelot, and prayed that he would hie after him, and so 
departed and rode after the damosel. 

King Arthur 185 



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

1 86 King Arthur 



IN God's name, said Sir Launcelot, for I promise you, 
by the faith of my body, I had as much to do as I might 
to save myself from you unshamed, and therefore have ye 
no doubt of none earthly knight. Hope ye so that I may 
any while stand a proved knight ? said Beaumains. Yea, 
said Launcelot, do as ye have done, and I shall be your 
warrant. Then, I pray you, said Beaumains, give me the 
order of knighthood. Then must ye tell me your name, 
said Launcelot, and of what kin ye be born. Sir, so that 
ye will not discover me I shall, said Beaumains. Nay, 
said Sir Launcelot, and that I promise you by the faith of 
my body until it be openly known. Then, sir, he said, my 
name is Gareth, and brother unto Sir Gawaine of father 
and mother. Ah, sir, said Sir Launcelot, I am more gladder 
of you than I was ; for ever me thought ye should be of 
great blood, and that ye came not to the court neither for 
meat nor for drink. And then Sir Launcelot gave him the 
order of knighthood, and then Sir Gareth prayed him for 
to depart and let him go. So Sir Launcelot departed from 
him and came to Sir Kay, and made him to be borne home 
upon his shield, and so he was healed hard with the life ; 
and all men scorned Sir Kay, and in especial Sir Gawaine 
and Sir Launcelot said it was not his part to rebuke no 
young man, for full little knew he of what birth he is come, 
and for what cause he came to this court ; and so we leave 
Sir Kay and turn we unto Beaumains. When he had over- 
taken the damosel, anon she said, What dost thou here ? 
thou stinkest all of the kitchen, thy clothes be bawdy of 
the grease and tallow that thou gainest in King Arthur's 
kitchen; weenest thou, said she, that I allow thee, for 
yonder knight that thou killest. Nay truly, for thou slewest 
him unhappily and cowardly ; therefore turn again, bawdy 
kitchen page, I know thee well, for Sir Kay named thee 
Beaumains. What art thou but a luske and a turner of 
broches and a ladle- washer ? Damosel, said Beaumains, 
say to me what ye will, I will not go from you whatsomever 
ye say, for I have undertaken to King Arthur for to achieve 

King Arthur 187 

your adventure, and so shall I finish it to the end, either I 
shall die therefor. Fie on thee, kitchen knave, wilt thou 
finish mine adventure? thou shalt anon be met withal, 
that thou wouldest not for all the broth that ever thou 
suppest once look him in the face. I shall essay, said 
Beaumains. So thus as they rode in the wood, there came 
a man flying all that ever he might. Whither wilt thou ? 
said Beaumains. O lord, he said, help me, for here by in 
a slade are six thieves that have taken my lord and bound 
him, so I am afeard lest they will slay him. Bring me 
thither, said Beaumains. And so they rode together until 
they came thereas was the knight bounden ; and then he 
rode unto them, and struck one unto the death, and then 
another, and at the third stroke he slew the third thief, and 
then the other three fled. And he rode after them, and he 
overtook them ; and then those three thieves turned again 
and assailed Beaumains hard, but at the last he slew them, 
and returned and unbound the knight. And the knight 
thanked him, and prayed him to ride with him to his castle 
there a little beside, and he should worshipfully reward him 
for his good deeds. Sir, said Beaumains, I will no reward 
have : I was this day made knight of noble Sir Launcelot, 
and therefore I will no reward have, but God reward me. 
And also I must follow this damosel. And when he came 
nigh her she bad him ride from her, For thou smellest 
all of the kitchen : weenest thou that I have joy of thee, 
for all this deed that thou hast done is but mishapped thee : 
but thou shalt see a sight shall make thee turn again, and 
that lightly. Then the same knight which was rescued 
of the thieves rode after that damosel, and prayed her to 
lodge with him all that night. And because it was near 
night the damosel rode with him to his castle, and there 
they had great cheer, and at supper the knight sat Sir 
Beaumains afore the damosel. Fie, fie, said she, Sir knight, 
ye are uncourteous to set a kitchen page afore me ; him 
beseemeth better to stick a swine than to sit afore a damosel 
of high parage. Then the knight was ashamed at her 
words, and took him up, and set him at a sideboard, and 
set himself afore him, and so all that night they had good 
cheer and merry rest. 

1 88 King Arthur 




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

King Arthur 189 

with that lady till evensong time, and ever she chid him, 
and would not rest. And they came to a black launde ; 
and there was a black hawthorn, and thereon hung a black 
banner, and on the other side there hung a black shield, 
and by it stood a black spear great and long, and a great 
black horse covered with silk, and a black stone fast by. 



THERE sat a knight all armed in black harness, and 

his name was the knight of the black land. Then the 

damosel, when she saw that knight, she bad him flee down 

that valley, for his horse was not saddled. Gramercy, said 

Beaumains, for always ye would have me a coward. With 

that the black knight, when she came nigh him, spake and 

said, Damosel, have ye brought this knight of King Arthur 

to be your champion? Nay, fair knight, said she, this is 

but a kitchen knave that was fed in King Arthur's kitchen 

for alms. Why cometh he, said the knight, in such array ? 

it is shame that he beareth you company. Sir, I cannot be 

delivered of him, said she, for with me he rideth maugre 

mine head : God would that ye should put him from me, 

outher to slay him an ye may, for he is an unhappy knave, 

and unhappily he hath done this day : through mishap I 

saw him slay two knights at the passage of the water ; and 

other deeds he did before right marvellous and through 

unhappiness. That marvelleth me, said the black knight, 

that any man that is of worship will have ado with him. 

They know him not, said the damosel, and for because he 

rideth with me, they ween that he be some man of worship 

born. That may be, said the black knight ; howbeit as ye 

say that he be no man of worship, he is a full likely person, 

and full like to be a strong man : but thus much shall I 

grant you, said the black knight ; I shall put him down 

upon one foot, and his horse and his harness he shall leave 

with me, for it were shame to me to do him any more harm. 

When Sir Beaumains heard him say thus, he said, Sir knight, 

thou art full large of my horse ancl my harness ; I let thee 

190 King Arthur 

wit it cost thee nought, and whether it liketh thee or not, 
this launde will I pass maugre thine head. And horse nor 
harness gettest thou none of mine, but if thou win them 
with thy hands ; and therefore let see what thou canst do. 
Sayest thou that? said the black knight, now yield thy 
lady from thee, for it beseemeth never a kitchen page to 
ride with such a lady. Thou liest, said Beaumains, I am a 
gentleman born, and of more high lineage than thou, and 
that will I prove on thy body. Then in great wrath they 
departed with their horses, and came together as it had been 
the thunder, and the black knight's spear brake, and 
Beaumains thrust him through both his sides, and there- 
with his spear brake, and the truncheon left still in his side. 
But nevertheless the black knight drew his sword, and smote 
many eager strokes, and of great might, and hurt Beaumains 
full sore. But at the last the black knight, within an hour 
and an half, he fell down off his horse in swoon, and there 
he died. And when Beaumains saw him so well horsed 
and armed, then he alit down and armed him in his armour, 
and so took his horse and rode after the damosel. When 
she saw him come nigh, she said, Away, kitchen knave, out 
of the wind, for the smell of thy bawdy clothes grieveth me. 
Alas, she said, that ever such a knave should by mishap 
slay so good a knight as thou hast done, but all this is thine 
unhappiness. But here by is one shall pay thee all thy 
payment, and therfore yet I counsel thee, flee. It may 
happen me, said Beaumains, to be beaten or slain, but I 
warn you, fair damosel, I will not flee away, nor leave your 
company, for all that ye can say ; for ever ye say that they 
will kill me or beat me, but howsomever it happeneth I 
escape, and they lie on the ground. And therefore it were 
as good for you to hold you still thus all day rebuking me, 
for away will I not till I see the uttermost of this journey, 
or else I will be slain, outher truly beaten ; therefore ride on 
your way, for follow you I will whatsomever happen. 

King Arthur 191 



THUS as they rode together, they saw a knight come 
driving by them all in green, both his horse and his harness ; 
and when he came nigh the damosel, he asked her, Is that 
my brother the black knight that ye have brought with you ? 
Nay, nay, she said, this unhappy kitchen knave hath slain 
your brother through unhappiness. Alas, said the green 
knight, that is great pity, that so noble a knight as he was 
should so unhaply be slain, and namely of a knave's hand, as 
ye say that he is. Ah ! traitor, said the green knight, thou 
shalt die for slaying of my brother ; he was a full noble 
knight, and his name was Sir Percard. I defy thee, said 
Beaumains, for I let thee wit I slew him knightly and not 
shamefully. Therewithal the green knight rode unto an 
horn that was green, and it hung upon a thorn, and there 
be blew three deadly motys, and there came two damosels 
and armed him lightly. And then he took a great horse, 
and a green shield and a green spear. And then they ran 
together with all their mights, and brake their spears unto 
their hands. And then they drew their swords, and gave 
many sad strokes, and either of them wounded other 
full ill. And at the last at an overthwart Beaumains 
with his horse struck the green knight's horse upon the 
side, that he fell to the earth. And then the green knight 
avoided his horse lightly, and dressed him upon foot. That 
saw Beaumains, and therewithal he alit, and they rushed 
together like two mighty kempys a long while, and sore they 
bled both. With that came the damosel, and said, My lord 
the green knight, why for shame stand ye so long fighting 
with the kitchen knave ? Alas, it is shame that ever ye 
were made knight, to see such a lad to match such a knight, 
as the weed overgrew the corn. Therewith the green knight 
was ashamed, and therewithal he gave a great stroke of 
might, and clave his shield through. When Beaumains saw 
his shield cloven asunder he was a little ashamed of that 
stroke and of her language ; and then he gave him such a 
buffet upon the helm that he fell on his knees. And so 
suddenly Beaumains pulled him upon the ground grovelling. 

192 King Arthur 

And then the green knight cried him mercy, and yielded 
him unto Sir Beaumains, and prayed him to slay him not. 
All is in vain, said Beaumains, for thou shalt die but if this 
damosel that came with me pray me to save thy life. And 
therewithal he unlaced his helm like as he would slay him. 
Fie upon thee, false kitchen page, I will never pray thee to 
save his life, for I will never be so much in thy danger. 
Then shall he die, said Beaumains. Not so hardy, thou 
bawdy knave, said the damosel, that thou slay him. Alas, 
said the green knight, suffer me not to die for a fair word 
may save me. Fair knight, said the green knight, save my 
life, and I will forgive thee the death of my brother, and 
for ever to become thy man, and thirty knights that hold of 
me for ever shall do you service. In the devil's name, said 
the damosel, that such a bawdy kitchen knave should have 
thee and thirty knights' service. Sir knight, said Beaumains, 
all this availeth thee not, but if my damosel speak with me 
for thy life. And therewithal he made a semblaunt to slay 
him. Let be, said the damosel, thou bawdy knave ; slay 
him not, for an thou do thou shalt repent it. Damosel, said 
Beaumains, your charge is to me a pleasure, and at your 
commandment his life shall be saved, and else not. Then 
he said, Sir knight with the green arms, I release thee quit 
at this damosel's request, for I will not make her wroth, I 
will fulfil all that she chargeth me. And then the green 
knight kneeled down, and did him homage with his sword. 
Then said the damosel, Me repenteth, green knight, of your 
dommage, and of your brother's death, the black knight, 
for of your help I had great myster, for I dread me sore to 
pass this forest. Nay, dread you not, said the green knight, 
for ye shall lodge with me this night, and to-morn I shall 
help you through this forest. So they took their horses and 
rode to his manor, which was fast there beside. 



AND ever she rebuked Beaumains, and would not suffer 
him to sit at her table, but as the green knight took him 
and sat him at a side table. Marvel methinketh, said the 

King Arthur 193 

green knight to the damosel, why ye rebuke this noble 
knight as ye do, for I warn you, damosel, he is a full noble 
knight, and I know no knight is able to match him ; there- 
fore ye do great wrong to rebuke him, for he shall do you 
right good service, for whatsomever he maketh himself, ye 
shall prove at the end that he is come of a noble blood and 
of king's lineage. Fie, fie, said the damosel, it is shame for 
you to say of him such worship. Truly, said the green knight, 
it were shame for me to say of him any disworship, for he 
hath proved himself a better knight than I am, yet have I 
met with many knights in my days, and never or this time 
have I found no knight his match. And so that night they 
yede unto rest, and all that night the green knight com- 
manded thirty knights privily to watch Beaumains, for to 
keep him from all treason. And so on the morn they all 
arose, and heard their mass and brake their fast ; and then 
they took their horses and rode on their way, and the green 
knight conveyed them through the forest ; and there the 
green knight said, My lord Beaumains, I and these thirty 
knights shall be always at your summons, both early and 
late, at your calling and whither that ever ye will send us. 
It is well said, said Beaumains ; when that I call upon you 
ye must yield you unto King Arthur, and all your knights. 
If that ye so command us, we shall be ready at all times, 
said the green knight. Fie, fie upon thee, in the devil's 
name, said the damosel, that any good knights should be 
obedient unto a kitchen knave. So then departed the green 
knight and the damosel. And then she said unto Beaumains, 
Why followest thou me, thou kitchen boy ? Cast away thy 
shield and thy spear, and flee away ; yet I counsel thee 
betimes or thou shalt say right soon, alas ; for wert thou as 
wight as ever was Wade or Launcelot, Tristram, or the good 
knight Sir Lamorak, thou shalt not pass a pass here that is 
called the Pass Perilous. Damosel, said Beaumains, who 
is afeared let him flee, for it were shame to turn again sythen 
I have ridden so long with you. Well, said the damosel, 
ye shall soon, whether ye will or not. 

194 King Arthur 



So within a while they saw a tower as white as any snow, 
well matchecold all about, and double dyked. And over 
the tower gate there hung a fifty shields of divers colours, 
and under that tower there was a fair meadow. And therein 
were many knights and squires to behold, scaffolds and 
pavilions ; for there upon the morn should be a great 
tournament : and the lord of the tower was in his castle and 
looked out at a window, and saw a damosel, a dwarf, and a 
knight armed at all points. So God me help, said the lord, 
with that knight will I joust, for I see that he is a knight- 
errant. And so he armed him and horsed him hastily. 
And when he was on horseback with his shield and his 
spear, it was all red both his horse and his harness, and all 
that to him longeth. And when that he came nigh him he 
weened it had been his brother the black knight ; and then 
he cried aloud, Brother, what do ye in these marches ? Nay, 
nay, said the damosel, it is not he ; this is but a kitchen 
knave that was brought up for alms in King Arthur's court. 
Nevertheless, said the Red Knight, I will speak with him or 
he depart. Ah, said the damosel, this knave hath killed thy 
brother, and Sir Kay named him Beaumains, and this horse 
and this harness was thy brother's, the black knight. Also I 
saw thy brother the green knight overcome of his hands. Now 
may ye be revenged upon him, for I may never be quit of him. 
With this either knights departed in sunder, and they came 
together with all their might, and either of their horses fell 
to the earth, and they avoided their horses, and put their 
shields afore them and drew their swords, and either gave 
other sad strokes, now here, now there, racynge, tracynge, 
foining, and hurling like two boars, the space of two hours. 
And then she cried on high to the red knight, Alas, thou 
noble red knight, think what worship hath followed thee, let 
never a kitchen knave endure thee so long as he doth. 
Then the red knight waxed wroth and doubled his strokes, 
and hurt Beaumains wonderly sore, that the blood ran down 
to the ground, that it was wonder to see that strong battle. 
Yet at the last Sir Beaumains struck him to the earth, and 

King Arthur 195 

as he would have slain the red knight, he cried mercy, saying, 
Noble knight, slay me not, and I shall yield me to thee with 
fifty knights with me that be at my commandment. And I 
forgive thee all the despite that thou hast done to me, and 
the death of my brother the black knight. All this availeth 
not, said Beaumains, but if my damosel pray me to save thy 
life. And therewith he made semblaunt to strike off his 
head. Let be, thou Beaumains, slay him not, for he is a 
noble knight, and not so hardy upon thine head but thou 
save him. Then Beaumains bad the red knight, Stand up, 
and thank the damosel now of thy life. Then the red 
knight prayed him to see his castle, and to be there all 
night. So the damosel then granted him, and there they 
had merry cheer. But always the damosel spake many foul 
words unto Beaumains, whereof the red knight had great 
marvel ; and all that night the red knight made three score 
knights to watch Beaumains, that he should have no shame 
nor villainy. And upon the morn they heard mass and 
dined, and the red knight came before Beaumains with his 
three score knights, and there he proffered him his homage and 
fealty at all times, he and his knights to do him service. I 
thank you, said Beaumains, but this ye shall grant me : when 
I call upon you, to come afore my lord King Arthur, and 
yield you unto him to be his knights. Sir, said the red 
knight, I will be ready and my fellowship at your 
summons. So Sir Beaumains departed and the damosel, 
and ever she rode chiding him in the foulest manner. 



DAMOSEL, said Beaumains, ye are uncourteous so to 
rebuke me as ye do, for meseemeth I have done you good 
service, and ever ye threaten me I shall be beaten with 
knights that we meet, but ever for all your boast they lie in 
the dust or in the mire, and therefore I pray you rebuke 
me no more ; and when ye see me beaten or yielden as 
recreant, then may ye bid me go from you shamefully ; but 
first I let you wit I will not depart from you, for I were 
worse than a fool an I would depart from you all the while 

196 King Arthur 

that I win worship. Well, said she, right soon there shall 
meet a knight shall pay thee all thy wages, for he is the 
most man of worship of the world, except King Arthur. I 
will well, said Beaumains, the more he is of worship, the 
more shall be my worship to have ado with him. Then 
anon they were ware where was afore them a city rich and 
fair. And betwixt them and the city a mile and an half 
there was a fair meadow that seemed new mown, and therein 
were many pavilions fair to behold. Lo, said the damosel, 
yonder is a lord that owneth yonder city, and his custom is 
when the weather is fair to lie in this meadow to joust and 
tourney. And ever there be about him five hundred knights 
and gentlemen of arms, and there be all manner of games 
that any gentleman can devise. That goodly lord, said 
Beaumains, would I fain see. Thou shalt see him time 
enough, said the damosel, and so as she rode near she espied 
the pavilion where he was. Lo, said she, seest thou yonder 
pavilion that is all of the colour of Inde, and all manner of 
thing that there is about, men and women, and horses 
trapped, shields and spears were all of the colour of Inde, 
and his name is Sir Persant of Inde, the most lordliest knight 
that ever thou lookedst on. It may well be, said Beaumains, 
but be he never so stout a knight, in this field I shall abide 
till that I see him under his shield. Ah, fool, said she, 
thou wert better flee betimes. Why, said Beaumains, an he 
be such a knight as ye make him, he will not set upon me 
with all his men, or with his five hundred knights. For an 
there come no more but one at once, I shall him not fail 
whilst my life lasteth. Fie, fie, said the damosel, that ever 
such a stinking knave should blow such a boast. Damosel, 
he said, ye are to blame so to rebuke me, for I had lever do 
five battles than so to be rebuked, let him come and then let 
him do his worst. Sir, she said, I marvel what thou art and 
of what kin thou art come ; boldly thou speakest, and boldly 
thou hast done, that have I seen ; therefore I pray thee save 
thyself an thou mayest, for thy horse and thou have had great 
travail, and I dread we dwell over long from the siege, for 
it is but hence seven mile, and all perilous passages we are 
passed save all only this passage ; and here I dread me sore 
lest ye shall catch some hurt, therefore I would ye were 
hence, that ye were not bruised nor hurt with this strong 
knight. But I let you wit that Sir Persant of Inde is nothing 
of might nor strength unto the knight that laid the siege 

King Arthur 197 

about my lady. As for that, said Sir Beaumains, be it as 
it be may. For sythen I am come so nigh this knight I will 
prove his might or 1 depart from him, and else I shall be 
shamed an I now withdraw me from him. And therefore, 
damosel, have ye no doubt by the grace of God I shall so 
deal with this knight that within two hours after noon I 
shall deliver him. And then shall we come to the siege by 
daylight. O Jesu, marvel have I, said the damosel, what 
manner a man ye be, for it may never be otherwise but that 
ye be come of a noble blood, for so foul nor shamefully did 
never woman rule a knight as I have done you, and ever 
courteously ye have suffered me, and that came never but 
of a gentle blood. Damosel, said Beaumains, a knight may 
little do that may not suffer a damosel, for whatsomever ye 
said unto me I took none heed to your words, for the more 
ye said the more ye angered me, and my wrath I wreaked 
upon them that I had ado withal. And therefore all the 
missaying that ye missaid me furthered me in my battle, and 
caused me to think to show and prove myself at the end 
what I was ; for peradventure though I had meat in King 
Arthur's kitchen, yet I might have had meat enough in other 
places, but all that I did it for to prove and assay my friends, 
and that shall be known another day ; and whether that I be a 
gentleman born or none, I let you wit, fair damosel, I have 
done you gentleman's service, and peradventure better 
service yet will I do or I depart from you. Alas, she said, 
fair Beaumains, forgive me all that I have missaid or done 
against thee. With all my heart, said he, I forgive it you, 
for ye did nothing but as ye should do, for all your evil 
words pleased me ; and damosel, said Beaumains, syne it 
liketh you to say thus fair unto me, wit ye well it gladdeth 
my heart greatly, and now meseemeth there is no knight 
living but I am able enough for him. 




WITH this Sir Persant of Inde had espied them as they 
hoved in the field, and knightly he sent to them whether he 
came in war or in peace. Say to thy lord, said Beaumains, 

145 H 

198 King Arthur 

I take no force, but whether as him list himself. So the 
messenger went again unto Sir Persant and told him all his 
answer. Well then will I have ado with him to the 
utterance, and so he purveyed him and rode against him. 
And Beaumains saw him and made him ready, and there 
:r.y met with all that ever their horses might run, and brast 
their spears either in three pieces, and their horses rushed so 
together that both their horses fell dead to the earth ; and 
..jr.tly they avoided their horses and put their shields afore 
them, and drew their swords, and gave many great strokes 
that 5C~e:ime they hurtled together that they fell grovelling 
on the ground. Thus they fought two hours and more, that 
their shields and their hauberks were all forhewen, and 
in manv stedvs thev were wounded. So at the last Sir 

. j j 

Beaumains smote him through the cost of the body, and 
then he retrayed him here and there, and knightly main- 
tained his battle long time. And at the last, though him 
loath were, Beaumains smote Sir Persant above upon the 
:.-'.". he fell grovelling to the earth ; and then he leapt 
upon him overthwart and unlaced his helm to have slain him. 
Then Sir Persant yielded him and asked him mercy. With 
that came the damosel and prayed to save his life. I will 
well, for it were pity this noble knight should die. Gramercy, 
said Persant, gentle knight and damosel. For certainly now 
I wot well it was ye that slew my brother the black knight 
at the black thorn ; he was a full noble knight, his name 
was Sir Percard. Also I am sure that ye are he that won 

ne other brother the green knight, his name was Sir 
Pertolepe, Also ye won my brother the red knight, Sir 
Perimones. And now syne ye have won these, this shall I 
do for to please you : ye shall have homage and fealty of me, 
and an hundred knights to be always at your commandment, 
to go and ride where ye will command us. And so they 
went unto Sir Persant's pavilion and drank the wine, and ate 

ces, and afterward Sir Persant made him to rest upon a 
bed until supper time, and after supper to bed again. When 
Beaumains was abed, Sir Persant had a lady, a fair daughter 
of eighteen year of age, and there he called her unto him, 
and charged her and commanded her upon his blessing to go 
unto the knight's bed. and lie down by his side, and make 
him no strange cheer, but good cheer, and take him in thine 
arms and kiss him, and look that this be done, I charge you, 
as ye will have my love and my good will So Sir Persant's 

King Arthur 199 

daughter did as her father bad her, and so she went unto 
Sir Beaumains' bed, and privily she disposed her, and laid 
her down by him, and then he awoke and saw her, and asked 
her what she was. Sir, she said, I am Sir Persant's daughter, 
that by the commandment of my father am come hither. Be 
ye a maid or a wife ? said he. Sir, she said. I am a clene 
maiden, God defend, said he, that I should defoil you to do 
Sir Persant such a shame ; therefore, fair damosel, arise ou: 
of this bed or else I will. Sir, she said, I came not to you 
by mine own will, but as I was commanded. Alas, said Sir 
Beaumains, I were a shameful knight an I would do your 
father any disworship ; and so he kissed her, and so she 
departed and came unto Sir Persant her father, and told him 
all how she had sped. Truly, said Sir Persant, whatsomever 
he be, he is come of a noble blood. And so we leave them 
there till on the morn. 



AND so on the morn the damosel and Sir Beaumains 
heard mass and brake their fast, and so took their leave. 
Fair damosel, said Persant, whitherward are ye way-leading 
this knight ? Sir, she said, this knkht is soing; to the sie^e 

^j f ^_ *-j * 

that besiegeth my sister in the Castle Dangerous. Ah, ah, 
said Persant, that is the Knight of the Red Launde, the 
which is the most perilous knight that I know now living, 
and a man that is without mercv, and men sav that he hath 

* * * 

seven men's strength. God save you, said he to Beaumains, 
from that knight, for he doth great wrong to that lady, and 
that is great pit}-, for she is one of the fairest ladies of the 
world, and meseemeth that your damosel is her sister : is not 
your name Linet ? said he. Yea, sir, said she, and my lacy 
mv sister's name is Dame Lionesse. Now shall I tell vou, 


said Sir Persant, this Red Knight of the Red Launde hath 
lain long at the siege, well-nigh this two years, and many 
times he might have had her an he had would, but he pro- 
longeth the time to this intent, for to have Sir Launcelot du 
Lake to do battle with him, or Sir Tristram, or Sir Lamorak 
de Galis, or Sir Gawaine, and this is his tarrying so long at 

2oo King Arthur 

the siege. Now my lord Sir Persant of Inde, said the 
damosel Linet, I require you that ye will make this gentle- 
man knight or ever he fight with the red knight. I will 
with all my heart, said Sir Persant, an it please him to take 
the order of knighthood of so simple a man as I am. Sir, 
said Beaumains, I thank you for your good will, for I am 
better sped, for certainly the noble knight Sir Launcelot 
made me knight. Ah, said Sir Persant, of a more renowned 
knight might ye not be made knight ; for of all knights he 
may be called chief of knighthood ; and so all the world saith, 
that betwixt three knights is departed clearly knighthood, 
that is Launcelot du Lake, Sir Tristram de Liones, and Sir 
Lamorak de Galis : these bear now the renown. There be 
many other knights, as Sir Palamides the Saracen and Sir 
Sasere his brother ; also Sir Bleoberis and Sir Blamore de 
Ganis his brother ; also Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Ector de 
Maris and Sir Percivale de Galis ; these and many more be 
noble knights, but there be none that pass that four above 
said ; therefore God speed you well, said Sir Persant, for an 
ye may match the red knight ye shall be called the fourth 
of the world. Sir, said Beaumains, I would fain be of good 
fame and of knighthood. And I let you wit I came of good 
men, for I dare say my father was a noble man, and so that 
ye will keep it in close, and this damosel, I will tell you of 
what kin I am. We will not discover you, said they both, 
till ye command us, by the faith we owe unto God. Truly 
then, said he, my name is Gareth of Orkney, and King Lot 
was my father, and my mother is King Arthur's sister, her 
name is Dame Morgawse, and Sir Gawaine is my brother, 
and Sir Agravaine and Sir Gaheris, and I am the youngest 
of them all. And yet wot not King Arthur nor Sir Gawaine 
what I am. 



So the book saith that the lady that was besieged had 
word of her sister's coming by the dwarf, and a knight with 
her, and how he had passed all the perilous passages. What 
manner a man is he ? said the lady. He is a noble knight. 

King Arthur 201 

truly, madam, said the dwarf, and but a young man, but he is 
as likely a man as ever ye saw any. What is he ? said the 
damosel, and of what kin is he come, and of whom was he 
made knight ? Madam, said the dwarf, he is the king's son 
of Orkney, but his name 1 will not tell you as at this time ; 
but wit ye well, of Sir Launcelot was he made knight, for of 
none other would he be made knight, and Sir Kay named 
him Beaumams. How escaped he, said the lady, from the 
brethren of Persant ? Madam, he said, as a noble knight 
should. First, he slew two brethren at a passage of a water. 
Ah ! said she, they were good knights, but they were mur- 
derers, the one hight Gherard de Breuse, and the other 
knight hight Sir Arnold de Breuse. Then, madam, he 
recountered with the black knight, and slew him in plain 
battle, and so he took his horse and his armour and fought 
with the green knight and won him in plain battle, and in 
like wise he served the red knight, and after in the same wise 
he served the blue knight and won him in plain battle. Then, 
said the lady, he hath overcome Sir Persant of Inde, one of 
the noblest knights of the world, and the dwarf said, He 
hath won all the four brethren and slain the black knight, 
and yet he did more tofore : he overthrew Sir Kay and left 
him nigh dead upon the ground ; also he did a great battle 
with Sir Launcelot, and there they departed on even hands : 
and then Sir Launcelot made him knight. Dwarf, said the 
lady, I am glad of these tidings, therefore go thou in an her- 
mitage of mine hereby, and there shalt thou bear with thee 
of my wine in two flagons of silver, they are of two gallons, 
and also two cast of bread with fat venison baked, and dainty 
fowls ; and a cup of gold here I deliver thee, that is rich and 
precious ; and bear all this to mine hermitage, and put it in 
the hermit's hands. And sythen go thou unto my sister and 
greet her well, and commend me unto that gentle knight, 
and pray him to eat and to drink and make him strong, and 
say ye him I thank him of his courtesy and goodness, that 
he would take upon him such labour for me that never did 
him bounte nor courtesy. Also pray him that he be of good 
heart and courage, for he shall meet with a full noble knight, 
but he is neither of bounte, courtesy, nor gentleness ; for he 
attendeth unto nothing but to murder, and that is the cause 
I cannot praise him nor love him. So this dwarf departed, 
and came to Sir Persant, where he found the damosel Linet 
and Sir Beaumains, and there he told them all as ye have 

2O2 King Arthur 

heard ; and then they took their leave, but Sir Persant took 
an ambling hackney and conveyed them on their ways, and 
then beleft them to God ; and so within a little while they 
came to that hermitage, and there they drank the wine, and 
ate the venison and the fowls baken. And so when they had 
repasted them well, the dwarf returned again with his vessel 
unto the castle again ; and there mef with him the red 
knight of the red laundes, and asked him from whence 
that he came, and where he had been. Sir, said the dwarf, 
I have been with my lady's sister of this castle, and she hath 
been at King Arthur's court, and brought a knight with her. 
Then I account her travail but lost ; for though she had 
brought with her Sir Launcelot, Sir Tristram, Sir Lamorak, 
or Sir Gawaine, I would think myself good enough for them 
all. It may well be, said the dwarf, but this knight hath 
passed all the perilous passages, and slain the black knight 
and other two more, and won the green knight, the red 
knight, and the blue knight. Then is he one of these four 
that I have afore rehearsed. He is none of those, said the 
dwarf, but he is a king's son. What is his name ? said the 
red knight of the red laundes. That will I not tell you, said 
the dwarf, but Sir Kay upon scorn named him Beaumains. 
I care not, said the knight, what knight so ever he be, for I 
shall soon deliver him. And if I ever match him he shall 
have a shameful death as many other have had. That were 
pity, said the dwarf, and it is marvel that ye make such 
shameful war upon noble knights. 



Now leave we the knight and the dwarf, and speak we of 
Beaumains, that all night lay in the hermitage ; and upon 
the morn he and the damosel Linet heard their mass and 
brake their fast. And then they took their horses and rode 
throughout a fair forest ; and then they came to a plain, and 
saw where were many pavilions and tents, and a fair castle, 
and there was much smoke and great noise ; and when they 

King Arthur 203 

came near the siege Sir Beaumains espied upon great trees, 
as he rode, how there hung full goodly armed knights by the 
neck, and their shields about their necks with their swords, 
and gilt spurs upon their heels, and so there hung nigh a forty 
knights shamefully with full rich arms. Then Sir Beaumains 
abated his countenance and said, What meaneth this ? Fair 
sir, said the damosel, abate not your cheer for all this sight, 
for ye must courage yourself, or else ye be all shente, for all 
these knights came hither to this siege to rescue my sister 
Dame Liones, and when the red knight of the red laundes 
had overcome them, he put them to this shameful death 
without mercy and pity. And in the same wise he will serve 
you but if you quit you the better. Now Jesu defend me, 
said Beaumains, from such a villainous death and shenship 
of arms. For rather than I should so be faren withal, I 
would rather be slain manly in plain battle. So were ye 
better, said the damosel ; for trust not, in him is no courtesy, 
but all goeth to the death or shameful murder, and that is 
pity, for he is a full likely man, well made of body, and a full 
noble knight of prowess, and a lord of great lands and posses- 
sions. Truly, said Beaumains, he may well be a good knight, 
but he useth shameful customs, and it is marvel that he 
endureth so long that none of the noble knights of my lord 
Arthur's have not dealt with him. And then they rode to the 
dykes, and saw them double dyked with full warlike walls ; 
and there were lodged many great lords nigh the walls ; and 
there was great noise of minstrelsy ; and the sea beat upon 
the one side of the walls, where were many ships and mariners' 
noise with * hale and how.' And also there was fast by a 
sycamore tree, and there hung an horn, the greatest that ever 
they saw, of an elephant's bone ; and this Knight of the Red 
Laundes had hanged it up there, that if there came any 
errant-knight, he must blow that horn, and then will he make 
him ready and come to him to do battle. But, sir, I pray 
you, said the damosel Linet, blow ye not the horn till it be 
high noon, for now it is about prime, and now increaseth his 
might, that as men say he hath seven men's strength. Ah, 
fie for shame, fair damosel, say ye never so more to me ; for, 
an he were as good a knight as ever was, I shall never fail 
him in his most might, for either I will win worship worship- 
fully, or die knightly in the field. And therewith he spurred 
his horse straight to the sycamore tree, and blew so the horn 
eagerly that all the siege and the castle rang thereof. And 

2O4 King Arthur 

then there leapt out knights out of their tents and pavilions, 
and they within the castle looked over the walls and out at 
windows. Then the red knight of the red laundes armed 
him hastily, and two barons set on his spurs upon his heels, 
and all was blood red, his armour, spear and shield. And 
an earl buckled his helm upon his head, and then they 
brought him a red spear and a red steed, and so he rode 
into a little vale under the castle, that all that were in the 
castle and at the siege might behold the battle. 



SIR, said the damosel Linet unto Sir Beaumains, look ye 
be glad and light, for yonder is your deadly enemy, and 
at yonder window is my lady, my sister, Dame Liones. 
Where? said Beaumains. Yonder, said the damosel, and 
pointed with her finger. That is truth, said Beaumains. 
She beseemeth afar the fairest lady that ever I looked upon ; 
and truly, he said, I ask no better quarrel than now for to 
do battle, for truly she shall be my lady, and for her I will 
fight And ever he looked up to the window with glad 
countenance. And the Lady Liones made curtsey to him 
down to the earth, with holding up both [their] hands. 
With that the red knight of the red laundes called to Sir 
Beaumains, Leave, sir knight, thy looking, and behold me, 
I counsel thee ; for I warn thee well she is my lady, and for 
her I have done many strong battles. If thou have so done, 
said Beaumains, meseemeth it was but waste labour, for she 
loveth none of thy fellowship, and thou to love that loveth 
not thee is but great folly. For an I understood that she 
were not glad of my coming, I would be advised or I did 
battle for her. But I understand by the besieging of this 
castle she may forbear thy fellowship. And therefore wit 
thou well, thou red knight of the red laundes, I love her, 
and will rescue her, or else to die. Sayest thou that ? said 
the red knight, meseemeth thou ought of reason to be ware 
by yonder knights that thou sawest hang upon yonder trees. 
Fie for shame, said Beaumains, that ever thou shouldest say 
or do so evil, for in that thou shamest thyself and knight- 

King Arthur 205 

hood, and thou mayest be sure there will no lady love thee 
that knoweth thy wicked customs. And now thou weenest 
that the sight of these hanged knights should fear me. Nay 
truly, not so; that shameful sight causeth me to have 
courage and hardiness against thee, more than I would have 
had against thee an thou wert a well-ruled knight. Make 
thee ready, said the red knight of the red laundes, and talk 
no longer with me. Then Sir Beaumains bade the damosel 
go from him ; and then they put their spears in their rests, 
and came together with all their might that they had both, 
and either smote other in middes of their shields that the 
paytrellys, surcingles, and cruppers brast, and fell to the 
earth both, and the reins of their bridles in their hands ; 
and so they lay a great while sore astoned, that all that were 
in the castle and in the siege weened their necks had been 
broken; and then many a stranger and other said the 
strange knight was a big man, and a noble j ouster, for or 
now we saw never no knight match the red knight of the 
red laundes : thus they said both within the castle and 
without. Then lightly they avoided their horses and put 
their shields afore them, and drew their swords and ran 
together like two fierce lions, and either gave other such 
buffets upon their helms that they reeled backward both 
two strides ; and then they recovered both, and hewed great 
pieces off their harness and their shields that a great part 
fell into the fields. 



AND then thus they fought till it was past noon, and 
never would stint, till at the last they lacked wind both ; 
and then they stood wagging and scattering, panting, blowing 
and bleeding, that all that beheld them for the most part 
wept for pity. So when they had rested them a while they 
yede to battle again, tracyng, racyng, foynyng as two boars. 
And at some time they took their run as it had been two 
rams, and hurtled together that sometime they fell grovelling 

I 45 * H 

206 King Arthur 

to the earth : and at sometime they were so amazed that 
either took other's sword instead of his own. Thus they 
endured till evensong time, that there was none that beheld 
them might know whether was like to win the battle ; and 
their armour was so forhewen that men might see their 
naked sides ; and in other places they were naked, but 
ever the naked places they did defend. And the red 
knight was a wily knight of war, and his wily fighting 
taught Sir Beaumains to be wise ; but he abought it full 
sore or he did espy his fighting. And thus by assent of 
them both they granted either other to rest ; and so they 
set them down upon two mole-hills there beside the fighting 
place, and either of them unlaced his helm, and took the 
cold wind ; for either of their pages was fast by them, to 
come when they called to unlace their harness and to set 
them on again at their commandment. And then when Sir 
Beaumains' helm was off, he looked up to the window, and 
there he saw the fair lady Dame Liones, and she made him 
such countenance that his heart waxed light and jolly ; and 
therewith he bad the red knight of the red laundes make 
him ready, and let us do the battle to the utterance. I will 
well, said the knight, and then they laced up their helms, 
and their pages avoided, and they stepped together and 
fought freshly ; but the red knight of the red laundes awaited 
him, and at an overthwart smote him within the hand, that 
his sword fell out of his hand ; and yet he gave him another 
buffet upon the helm that he fell grovelling to the earth, and 
the red knight fell over him, for to hold him down. 
Then cried the maiden Linet on high : O Sir Beaumains, 
where is thy courage become ? Alas, my lady my sister 
beholdeth thee, and she sobbeth and weepeth, that maketh 
mine heart heavy. When Sir Beaumains heard her say so, 
he abrayed up with a great might and gat him upon his feet, 
and lightly he leapt to his sword and gripped it in his hand, 
and doubled his pace unto the red knight, and there they 
fought a new battle together. But Sir Beaumains then 
doubled his strokes, and smote so thick that he smote the 
sword out of his hand, and then he smote him upon the 
helm that he fell to the earth, and Sir Beaumains fell upon 
him, and unlaced his helm to have slain him ; and then he 
yielded him and asked mercy, and said with a loud voice : 
O noble knight, I yield me to thy mercy. Then Sir 
Beaumains bethought him upon the knights that he had 

King Arthur 207 

made to be hanged shamefully, and then he said : I may 
not with my worship save thy life, for the shameful deaths 
that thou hast caused many full good knights to die. Sir, 
said the red knight of the red laundes, hold your hand and 
ye shall know the causes why I put them to so shameful a 
death. Say on, said Sir Beaumains. Sir, I loved once a 
lady, a fair damosel, and she had her brother slain ; and she 
said it was Sir Launcelot du Lake, or else Sir Gawaine ; and 
she prayed me as that I loved her heartily, that I would 
make her a promise by the faith of my knighthood, for to 
labour daily in arms unto I met with one of them ; and all 
that I might overcome I should put them unto a villainous 
death ; and this is the cause that I have put all these knights 
to death, and so I ensured her to do all the villainy unto 
King Arthur's knights, and that I should take vengeance 
upon all these knights. And, sir, now I will thee tell that 
every day my strength increaseth till noon, and all this time 
have I seven men's strength. 



THEN came there many earls, and barons, and noble 
knights, and prayed that knight to save his life, and take him 
to your prisoner. And all they fell upon their knees, and 
prayed him of mercy, and that he would save his life ; and, 
Sir, they all said, it were fairer of him to take homage 
and fealty, and let him hold his lands of you than for to slay 
him ; by his death ye shall have none advantage, and his 
misdeeds that be done may not be undone ; and therefore 
he shall make amends to all parties, and we all will become 
your men and do you homage and fealty. Fair lords, said 
Beaumains, wit you well I am full loath to slay this knight, 
nevertheless he hath done passing ill and shamefully ; but 
insomuch all that he did was at a lady's request I blame him 
the less ; and so for your sake I will release him that he 
shall have his life upon this covenant, that he go within the 
castle, and yield him there to the lady, and if she will forgive 
and quit him, I will well ; with this he make her amends of 

2o8 King Arthur 

all the trespass he hath done against her and her lands. 
And also, when that is done, that ye go unto the court of 
King Arthur, and there that ye ask Sir Launcelot mercy, 
and Sir Gawaine, for the evil will ye have had against them. 
Sir, said the red knight of the red laundes, all this will I do 
as ye command, and syker assurance and borowes ye shall 
have. And so then when the assurance was made, he made 
his homage and fealty, and all those earls and barons with 
him. And then the maiden Linet came to Sir Beaumains, 
and unarmed him and searched his wounds, and stinted his 
blood, and in likewise she did to the red knight of the red 
laundes. And there they sojourned ten days in their tents ; 
and the red knight made his lords and servants to do all the 
pleasure that they might unto Sir Beaumains. And so 
within a while the red knight of the red laundes yede unto 
the castle, and put him in her grace. And so she received 
him upon sufficient surety, so all her hurts were well restored 
of all that she could complain. And then he departed unto 
the court of King Arthur, and there openly the red knight 
of the red laundes put him in the mercy of Sir Launcelot 
and Sir Gawaine, and there he told openly how he was over- 
come and by whom, and also he told all the battles from 
the beginning unto the ending. Jesu mercy, said King 
Arthur and Sir Gawaine, we marvel much of what blood he 
is come, for he is a noble knight. Have ye no marvel, said 
Sir Launcelot, for ye shall right well wit that he is come of a 
full noble blood ; and as for his might and hardiness, there 
be but few now living that is so mighty as he is, and so 
noble of prowess. It seemeth by you, said King Arthur, 
that ye know his name, and from whence he is come, and of 
what blood he is. I suppose I do so, said Launcelot, or 
else I would not have given him the order of knighthood ; 
but he gave me such charge at that time that I should never 
discover him until he required me, or else it be known 
openly by some other. 

King Arthur 209 



Now turn we unto Sir Beaumains that desired of Linet 
that he might see her sister, his lady. Sir, she said, I would 
fain ye saw her. Then Sir Beaumains all armed him, and 
took his horse and his spear, and rode straight unto the 
castle. And when he came to the gate he found there many 
men armed, and pulled up the drawbridge and drew the port 
close. Then marvelled he why they would not suffer him to 
enter. And then he looked up to the window ; and there 
he saw the fair Liones that said on high : Go thy way, Sir 
Beaumains, for as yet thou shalt not have wholly my love, 
unto the time that thou be called one of the number of the 
worthy knights. And therefore go labour in worship this 
twelvemonth, and then thou shalt hear new tidings. Alas, 
fair lady, said Beaumains, I have not deserved that ye 
should show me this strangeness, and I had weened that I 
should have right good cheer with you, and unto my power 
I have deserved thank, and well I am sure I have bought 
your love with part of the best blood within my body. Fair 
courteous knight, said Dame Liones, be not displeased nor 
over-hasty ; for wit you well your great travail nor good love 
shall not be lost, for I consider your great travail and labour, 
your bounty and your goodness as me ought to do. And 
therefore go on your way, and look that ye be of good com- 
fort, for all shall be for your worship and for the best, and 
perdy a twelvemonth will soon be done, and trust me, fair 
knight, I shall be true to you, and never to betray you, but to 
my death I shall love you and none other. And therewithal 
she turned her from the window, and Sir Beaumains rode 
awayward from the castle, making great dole, and so he rode 
here and there and wist not where he rode, till it was dark 
night. And then it happened him to come to a poor man's 
house, and there he was harboured all that night. But Sir 
Beaumains had no rest, but wallowed and writhed for the 
love of the lady of the castle. And so upon the morrow he 
took his horse and rode until underne, and then he came 
to a broad water, and thereby was a great lodge, and there 
he alit to sleep and laid his head upon the shield, and 

2io King Arthur 

betook his horse to the dwarf, and commanded him to 
watch all night. Now turn we to the lady of the same 
castle, that thought much upon Beaumains, and then she 
called unto her Sir Gringamore her brother, and prayed him 
in all manner, as he loved her heartily, that he would ride 
after Sir Beaumains : And ever have ye wayte upon him till 
ye may find him sleeping, for I am sure in his heaviness he 
will alight down in some place, and lie him down to sleep ; 
and therefore have ye your wayte upon him, and in the 
priviest manner ye can, take his dwarf, and go ye your way 
with him as fast as ever ye may or Sir Beaumains awake. 
For my sister Linet telleth me that he can tell of what 
kindred he is come, and what is his right name. And the 
meanwhile I and my sister will ride unto your castle to await 
when ye bring with you the dwarf. And then when ye have 
brought him unto your castle, I will have him in examina- 
tion myself: unto the time that I know what is his right 
name, and of what kindred he is come, shall I never be 
merry at my heart. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, all this shall 
be done after your intent. And so he rode all the other 
day and the night till that he found Sir Beaumains lying by 
a water, and his head upon his shield, for to sleep. And 
then when he saw Sir Beaumains fast on sleep, he came 
stilly stalking behind the dwarf, and plucked him fast under 
his arm, and so he rode away with him as fast as ever 
he might unto his own castle. And this Sir Gringamore's 
arms were all black, and that to him longeth. But ever as 
he rode with the dwarf toward his castle, he cried unto his 
lord and prayed him of help. And therewith awoke Sir 
Beaumains, and up he leapt lightly, and saw where Sir 
Gringamore rode his way with the dwarf, and so Sir 
Gringamore rode out of his sight. 



THEN Sir Beaumains put on his helm anon, and buckled 
his shield, and took his horse, and rode after him all that 
ever he might ride through marshes, and fields, and great 
dales, that many times his horse and he plunged over the 

King Arthur 211 

head in deep mires, for he knew not the way, but took the 
gainest way in that woodness, that many times he was like 
to perish. And at the last him happened to come to a fair 
green way, and there he met with a poor man of the country, 
whom he saluted and asked him whether he met not with a 
knight upon a black horse and all black harness, a little 
dwarf sitting behind him with heavy cheer. Sir, said the 
poor man, here by me came Sir Gringamore the knight, with 
such a dwarf mourning as ye say ; and therefore I rede you 
not follow him, for he is one of the periloust knights of the 
world, and his castle is here nigh hand but two mile ; there- 
fore we advise you ride not after Sir Gringamore, but if ye 
owe him good will. So leave we Sir Beaumains riding 
toward the castle, and speak we of Sir Gringamore and the 
dwarf. Anon as the dwarf was come to the castle, Dame 
Liones and Dame Linet her sister, asked the dwarf where 
was his master born, and of what lineage he was come. 
And but if thou tell me, said Dame Liones, thou shalt 
never escape this castle, but ever here to be prisoner. As 
for that, said the dwarf, I fear not greatly to tell his name 
and of what kin he is come. Wit you well he is a king's 
son, and his mother is sister to King Arthur, and he is 
brother to the good knight Sir Gawaine, and his name is Sir 
Gareth of Orkney. And now I have told you his right 
name, I pray you, fair lady, let me go to my lord again, for 
he will never out of this country until that he have me again. 
And if he be angry he will do much harm or that he be 
stint, and work you wrack in this country. As for that 
threatening, said Sir Gringamore, be it as it be may, we will 
go to dinner. And so they washed and went to meat, and 
made them merry and well at ease, and because the Lady 
Liones of the castle was there, they made great joy. Truly, 
madam, said Linet unto her sister, well may he be a king's 
son, for he hath many good tatches on him, for he is courteous 
and mild, and the most suffering man that ever I met withal. 
For I dare say there was never gentlewoman reviled man 
in so foul a manner as I have rebuked him ; and at all 
times he gave me goodly and meek answers again. And as 
they sat thus talking, there came Sir Gareth in at the gate 
with an angry countenance, and his sword drawn in his 
hand, and cried aloud that all the castle might hear it, 
saying : Thou traitor, Sir Gringamore, deliver me my dwarf 
again, or by the faith that I owe to the order of knighthood, 

212 King Arthur 

I shall do thee all the harm that I can. Then Sir Gringa- 
more looked out at a window and said, Sir Gareth of Orkney, 
leave thy boasting words, for thou gettest not thy dwarf 
again. Thou coward knight, said Sir Gareth, bring him with 
thee, and come and do battle with me, and win him and 
take him. So will I do, said Sir Gringamore, an me list, 
but for all thy great words thou gettest him not. Ah ! fair 
brother, said Dame Liones, I would he had his dwarf again, 
for I would he were not wroth, for now he hath told me all 
my desire I keep no more of the dwarf. And also, brother, 
he hath done much for me, and delivered me from the red 
knight of the red laundes, and therefore, brother, I owe 
him my service afore all knights living. And wit ye well 
that I love him before all other, and full fain I would speak 
with him. But in nowise I would that he wist what I were, 
but that I were another strange lady. Well, said Sir Gringa- 
more, sythen I know now your will, I will obey now unto 
him. And right therewithal he went down unto Sir Gareth, 
and said : Sir, I cry you mercy, and all that I have misdone 
I will amend it at your will. And therefore I pray you that 
ye would alight, and take such cheer as I can make you in 
this castle. Shall I have my dwarf ? said Sir Gareth. Yea, 
sir, and all the pleasaunce that I can make you, for as soon 
as your dwarf told me what ye were and of what blood ye 
are come, and what noble deeds ye have done in these 
marches, then I repented of my deeds. And then Sir 
Gareth alit, and there came his dwarf and took his horse. 
O my fellow, said Sir Gareth, I have had many adventures 
for thy sake. And so Sir Gringamore took him by the 
hand and led him into the hall where his own wife was. 



AND then came forth Dame Liones arrayed like a prin- 
cess, and there she made him passing good cheer, and he 
her again ; and they had goodly language and lovely coun- 
tenance together. And Sir Gareth thought many times, 
Jesu, would that the lady of the Castle Perilous were so fair 

King Arthur 213 

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

214 King Arthur 




FOR this cause, to know the certainty what was your 
name, and of what kin ye were come. And then she let 
fetch tofore him Linet, the damosel that had ridden with 
him many wildsome ways. Then was Sir Gareth more 
gladder than he was tofore. And then they troth-plight each 
other to love, and never to fail whiles their life lasteth. 
And so they burnt both in love, that they were accorded to 
abate their lusts secretly. And there Dame Liones 
counselled Sir Gareth to sleep in none other place but in 
the hall. And there she promised him to come to his bed 
a little afore midnight. This counsel was not so privily 
kept but it was understood ; for they were but young both, 
and tender of age, and had not used none such crafts 
tofore. Wherefore the damosel Linet was a little displeased, 
and she thought her sister Dame Liones was a little over- 
hasty, that she might not abide the time of her marriage ; 
and for saving their worship, she thought to abate their hot 
lusts. And so she let ordain by her subtle crafts that they 
had not their intents neither with other, as in their delights, 
until they were married. And so it passed on. At after- 
supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady 
should go unto his rest. But Sir Gareth said plainly he 
would go no farther than the hall, for in such places, he said, 
was convenient for an errant-knight to take his rest in ; and 
so there were ordained great couches, and thereon feather 
beds, and there laid him down to sleep ; and within a while 
came Dame Liones, wrapped in a mantle furred with ermine, 
and laid her down beside Sir Gareth. And therewithal he 
began to kiss her. And then he looked afore him, and 
there he perceived and saw come an armed knight, with 
many lights about him ; and this knight had a long gysarme 
in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him. 
When Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he leapt 
out of his bed, and gat in his hand his sword, and leapt 
straight toward that knight. And when the knight saw 
Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon him, he smote him 
with a foyne through the thick of the thigh that the wound 

King Arthur 215 

was a shaftmon broad and had cut a-two many veins and 
sinews. And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the 
helm such a buffet that he fell grovelling ; and then he leapt 
over him and unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from 
the body. And then he bled so fast that he might not stand, 
but so he laid him down upon his bed, and there he swooned 
and lay as he had been dead. Then Dame Liones cried aloud, 
that her brother Sir Gringamore heard, and came down. 
And when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully wounded he was sore 
displeased, and said : I am shamed that this noble knight is 
thus honoured. Sir, said Sir Gringamore, how may this be, 
that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded ? Brother, 
she said, I can not tell you, for it was not done by me, nor 
by mine assent. For he is my lord and I am his, and he 
must be mine husband ; therefore, my brother, I will that 
ye wit I shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the 
pleasure that I can. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will 
that ye wit it, and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by 
me, nor by my assent that this unhappy deed was done. And 
there they staunched his bleeding as well as they might, and 
great sorrow made Sir Gringamore and Dame Liones. And 
forth withal came Dame Linet, and took up the head in the 
sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment thereas 
it was smitten off ; and in the same wise she did to the other 
part thereas the head stuck, and then she set it together, and 
it stuck as fast as ever it did. And the knight arose lightly 
up, and the damosel Linet put him in her chamber. All this 
saw Sir Gringamore and Dame Liones, and so did Sir Gareth ; 
and well he espied that it was the damosel Linet, that rode 
with him through the perilous passages. Ah well, damosel, 
said Sir Gareth, I weened ye would not have done as ye 
have done. My lord Gareth, said Linet, all that I have 
done I will avow, and all that I have done shall be for your 
honour and worship, and to us all. And so within a while 
Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and jocund, and 
sang, danced, and gamed ; and he and Dame Liones were 
so hot in burning love that they made their covenant at the 
tenth night after, that she should come to his bed. And 
by cause he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his 
sword nigh his bed's side. 

216 King Arthur 



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

King Arthur 217 

and there came the Green Knight with fifty knights, and 
yielded them all unto King Arthur. And so there came 
the Red Knight his brother, and yielded him to King 
Arthur, and three score knights with him. Also there came 
the Blue Knight, brother to them, with an hundred knights, 
and yielded them unto King Arthur ; and the Green 
Knight's name was Pertolepe, and the Red Knight's name 
was Perimones, and the Blue Knight's name was Sir Persant 
of Inde. These three brethren told King Arthur how they 
were overcome by a knight that a damosel had with her, 
and called him Beaumains. Jesu, said the king, I marvel 
what knight he is, and of what lineage he is come. He was 
with me a twelvemonth, and poorly and shamefully he was 
fostered, and Sir Kay in scorn named him Beaumains. So 
right as the king stood so talking with these three brethren, 
there came Sir Launcelot du Lake, and told the king that 
there was come a goodly lord with six hundred knights with 
him. Then the king went out of Carlion, for there was the 
feast, and there came to him this lord, and saluted the king 
in a goodly manner. What will ye, said King Arthur, and 
what is your errand ? Sir, he said, my name is the red 
knight of the red laundes, but my name is Sir Ironside ; 
and sir, wit ye well, here I am sent to you of a knight that 
is called Beaumains, for he won me in plain battle hand for 
hand, and so did never no knight but he, that ever had 
the better of me this thirty winter ; the which commanded 
to yield me to you at your will. Ye are welcome, said the 
king, for ye have been long a great foe to me and my court, 
and now I trust to God I shall so entreat you that ye shall 
be my friend. Sir, both I and these five hundred knights 
shall always be at your summons to do you service as may lie 
in our powers. Jesu mercy, said King Arthur, I am much 
beholden unto that knight that hath put so his body in 
devoir to worship me and my court. And as to thee, Iron- 
side, that are called the red knight of the red laundes, 
thou art called a perilous knight ; and if thou wilt hold 
of me I shall worship thee and make thee knight of the 
Table Round ; but then thou must be no more a murderer. 
Sir, as to that, I have promised unto Sir Beaumains never 
more to use such customs, for all the shameful customs that 
I used I did at the request of a lady that I loved ; and 
therefore I must go unto Sir Launcelot, and unto Sir 
Gawaine, and ask them forgiveness of the evil will I had 

218 King Arthur 

unto them ; for all that I put to death was all only for the 
love of Sir Launcelot and of Sir Gawaine. They be here 
now, said the king, afore thee, now may ye say to them what 
ye will. And then he kneeled down unto Sir Launcelot, 
and to Sir Gawaine, and prayed them of forgiveness of his 
enmity that ever he had against them. 




THEN goodly they said all at once, God forgive you, and 
we do, and pray you that ye will tell us where we may find 
Sir Beaumains. Fair lords, said Sir Ironside, I cannot tell 
you, for it is full hard to find him ; for such young knights 
as he is one, when they be in their adventures be never 
abiding in no place. But to say the worship that the red 
knight of the red laundes, and Sir Persant and his brother 
said of Beaumains, it was marvel to hear. Well, my fair 
lords, said King Arthur, wit you well I shall do you honour 
for the love of Sir Beaumains, and as soon as ever I meet 
with him I shall make you all upon one day knights of the 
Table Round. And as to thee, Sir Persant of Inde, thou 
hast been ever called a full noble knight, and so have ever 
been thy three brethren called. But I marvel, said the king, 
that I hear not of the Black Knight your brother, he was 
a full noble knight. Sir, said Pertolepe, the Green Knight, 
Sir Beaumains slew him in a recounter with his spear, his 
name was Sir Percard. That was great pity, said the king, 
and so said many knights. For these ifour brethren were 
full well known in the court of King Arthur for noble 
knights, for long time they had holden war against the 
knights of the Round Table. Then said Pertolepe, the 
Green Knight, to the king : At a passage of the water of 
Mortaise there encountered Sir Beaumains with two brethren 
that ever for the most part kept that passage, and they were 
two deadly knights, and there he slew the eldest brother in 
the water, and smote him upon the head such a buffet that 
he fell down in the water, and there he was drowned, and 
his name was Sir Gherard le Breusse ; and after he slew the 
other brother upon the land, his name was Sir Arnold le 

King Arthur 219 



So then the king and they went to meat, and were served 
in the best manner. And as they sat at the meat, there 
came in the queen of Orkney, with ladies and knights a 
great number. And then Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine, and 
Gaheris arose, and went to her and saluted her upon their 
knees, and asked her blessing ; for in fifteen year they had 
not seen her. Then she spake on high to her brother King 
Arthur : Where have ye done my young son Sir Gareth ? 
He was here amongst you a twelvemonth, and ye made a 
kitchen knave of him, the which is shame to you all. Alas, 
where have ye done my dear son that was my joy and bliss ? 
O dear mother, said Sir Gawaine, I knew him not. Nor 
I, said the king, that now me repenteth, but thanked be 
God he is proved a worshipful knight as any is now living 
of his years, and I shall never be glad till I may find him. 
Ah, brother, said the queen unto King Arthur, and unto 
Sir Gawaine, and to all her sons, ye did yourself great shame 
when ye amongst you kept my son in the kitchen and fed 
him like a poor hog. Fair sister, said King Arthur, ye shall 
right well wit I knew him not, nor no more did Sir Gawaine, 
nor his brethren ; but sythen it is so, said the king, that he 
is thus gone from us all, we must shape a remedy to find 
him. Also, sister, meseemeth ye might have done me to 
wit of his coming, and then an I had not done well to him 
ye might have blamed me. For when he came to this court 
he came leaning upon two men's shoulders, as though he 
might not have gone. And then he asked me three gifts ; 
and one he asked the same day, that was that I would give 
him meat enough that twelvemonth ; and the other two 
gifts he asked that day a twelvemonth, and that was that 
he might have the adventure of the damosel Linet, and the 
third was that Sir Launcelot should make him knight when 
he desired him. And so I granted him all his desire, and 
many in this court marvelled that he desired his sustenance 
for a twelvemonth. And thereby, we deemed, many of us, 
that he was not come of a noble house. Sir, said the queen 
of Orkney unto King Arthur her brother, wit ye well that 

22O King" Arthur 

I sent him unto you right well armed and horsed, and 
worshipfully bisene of his body, and gold and silver plenty 
to spend. It may be, said the King, but thereof saw we 
none, save that same day as he departed from us, knights 
told me that there came a dwarf hither suddenly, and brought 
him armour and a good horse full well and richly bisene ; 
and thereat we all had marvel from whence that riches came, 
that we deemed all that he was come of men of worship. 
Brother, said the queen, all that ye say I believe, for ever 
sithin he was grown he was marvellously witted, and ever he 
was faithful and true of his promise. But I marvel, said 
she, that Sir Kay did mock him and scorn him, and gave 
him that name Beaumains ; yet, Sir Kay, said the queen, 
named him more righteously than he weened ; for I dare 
say an he be on live, he is as fair an handed man and well 
disposed as any is living. Sir, said Arthur, let this language 
be still, and by the grace of God he shall be found an he 
be within this seven realms, and let all this pass and be 
merry, for he is proved to be a man of worship, and that is 
my joy. 



THEN said Sir Gawaine and his brethren unto Arthur, Sir, 
an ye will give us leave, we will go and seek our brother. 
Nay, said Sir Launcelot, that shall ye not need; and so 
said Sir Baudwin of Britain : for as by our advice the king 
shall send unto Dame Liones a messenger, and pray her 
that she will come to the court in all the haste that she 
may, and doubt ye not she will come; and then she may 
give you best counsel where ye shall find him. This is well 
said of you, said the king. So then goodly letters were 
made, and the messenger sent forth, that night and day he 
went till he came unto the Castle Perilous. And then the 
lady Dame Liones was sent for thereas she was with Sir 
Gringamore her brother and Sir Gareth. And when she 
^understood this message, she bad him ride on his way unto 
King Arthur, and she would come after in all goodly haste. 

King Arthur 221 

Then when she came to Sir Gringamore and to Sir Gareth, 
she told them all how King Arthur had sent for her. That 
is by cause of me, said Sir Gareth. Now advise me, said 
Dame Liones, what shall I say, and in what manner I shall 
rule me. My lady and my love, said Sir Gareth, I pray you 
in no wise be ye aknowen where I am ; but well I wot my 
mother is there and all my brethren, and they will take upon 
them to seek me, I wot well that they do. But this, madam, 
I would ye said and advised the king when he questioned 
with you of me. Then may ye say, this is your advice that, 
an it like his good grace, ye will do make a cry against the 
feast of the Assumption of our Lady, that what knight there 
proveth him best he shall welde you and all your land. 
And if so be that he be a wedded man, that his wife 
shall have the degree, and a coronal of gold beset with 
stones of virtue to the value of a thousand pound, and 
a white gerfalcon. So Dame Liones departed and came 
to King Arthur, where she was nobly received, and 
there she was sore questioned of the king and of the Queen 
of Orkney. And she answered, where Sir Gareth was she 
could not tell. But thus much she said unto Arthur : Sir, I 
will let cry a tournament that shall be done before my 
castle at the Assumption of our Lady, and the cry shall be 
this : that you, my lord Arthur, shall be there, and your 
knights, and I will purvey that my knights shall be against 
yours ; and then I am sure ye shall hear of Sir Gareth. 
This is well advised, said King Arthur ; and so she departed. 
And the King and she made great provision to that tourna- 
ment. When Dame Liones was come to the Isle of 
Avilion, that was the same isle thereas her brother Sir 
Gringamore dwelt, then she told them all how she had done, 
and what promise she had made to King Arthur. Alas, said 
Sir Gareth, I have been so wounded with unhappiness 
sythen I came into this castle that I shall not be able to do 
at that tournament like a knight ; for I was never thoroughly 
whole syne I was hurt. Be ye of good cheer, said the 
damosel Linet, for I undertake within these fifteen days to 
make ye whole, and as lusty as ever ye were. And then she 
laid an ointment and a salve to him as it pleased to her, that 
he was never so fresh nor so lusty. Then said the damosel 
Linet : Send you unto Sir Persant of Inde, and summon 
him and his knights to be here with you as they have pro- 
mised. Also, that ye send unto Sir Ironside, that is the red 

222 King Arthur 

knight of the red laundes, and charge him that he be ready 
with you with his whole sum of knights, and then shall ye 
be able to match with King Arthur and his knights. So this 
was done, and all knights were sent for unto the Castle 
Perilous ; and then the Red Knight answered and said unto 
Dame Liones, and to Sir Gareth, Madam, and my lord Sir 
Gareth, ye shall understand that I have been at the court of 
King Arthur, and Sir Persant of Inde and his brethren, and 
there we have done our homage as ye commanded us. Also 
Sir Ironside said, I have taken upon me with Sir Persant of 
Inde and his brethren to hold part against my lord Sir 
Launcelot and the knights of that court. And this have I 
done for the love of my lady Dame Liones, and you my 
lord Sir Gareth. Ye have well done, said Sir Gareth ; but 
wit you well ye shall be full sore matched with the most 
noble knights of the world ; therefore we must purvey us ot 
good knights, where we may get them. That is well said, 
said Sir Persant, and worshipfully. And so the cry was 
made in England, Wales, and Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, 
and in all the Out Isles, and in Brittany and in many 
countries ; that at the feast of our Lady the Assumption 
next coming, men should come to the Castle Perilous beside 
the Isle of Avilion ; and there all the knights that there 
came should have the choice whether them list to be on the 
one party with the knights of the castle, or on the other 
party with King Arthur. And two months was to the 
day that the tournament should be. And so there came 
many good knights that were at their large, and held them 
for the most part against King Arthur and his knights of the 
Round Table, and came in the side of them of the castle. 
For Sir Epinogrus was the first, and he was the king's son of 
Northumberland, and Sir Palamides the Saracen was another, 
and Sir Safere his brother, and Sir Segwarides his brother, 
but they were christened, and Sir Malegrine another, and Sir 
Brian de les Isles, a noble knight, and Sir Grummore Grum- 
mursum, a good knight of Scotland, and Sir Carados of the 
dolorous tower, a noble knight, and Sir Turquine his 
brother, and Sir Arnold and Sir Gauter, two brethren, good 
knights of Cornwall, there came Sir Tristram de Liones, and 
with him Sir Dinadan, the Seneschal, and Sir Sadok ; but 
this Sir Tristram was not at that time knight of the Table 
Round, but he was one of the best knights of the world. 
And so all these noble knights accompanied them with the 

King Arthur 223 

lady of the castle, and with the red knight of the red 
laundes ; but as for Sir Gareth, he would not take upon him 
more but as other mean knights. 



AND then there came with King Arthur Sir Gawaine, 
Agravaine, Gaheris, his brethren. And then his nephews 
Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, and Sir Aglovale, Sir Tor, Sir 
Percivale de Galis, and Sir Lamorak de Galis. Then came 
Sir Launcelot du Lake with his brethren, nephews, and 
cousins, as Sir Lionel, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, 
and Sir Galihodin, Sir Galihud, and many more of Sir 
Launcelot's blood, and Sir Dinadan, Sir La Cote Male 
Taile, his brother, a good knight, and Sir Sagramore, a good 
knight ; and all the most part of the Round Table. Also 
there came with King Arthur these knights, the King of 
Ireland, King Agwisance, and the King of Scotland, King 
Carados and King Uriens of the land of Gore, and King 
Bagdemagus and his son Sir Meliaganus, and Sir Galahault 
the noble prince. All these kings, princes, and earls, barons, 
and other noble knights, as Sir Brandiles, Sir Uwaine les 
Avoutres, and Sir Kay, Sir Bedevere, Sir Meliot de Logres, 
Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, Sir Godelake : all these came 
with King Arthur, and more that cannot be rehearsed. 
Now leave we of these kings and knights, and let us speak 
of the great array that was made within the castle and about 
the castle for both parties. The Lady Dame Liones or- 
dained great array upon her part for her noble knights, for 
all manner of lodging and victual that came by land and by 
water, that there lacked nothing for her party, nor for the 
other, but there was plenty to be had for gold and silver for 
King Arthur and his knights. And then there came the 
harbingers from King Arthur for to harbour him, and his 
kings, dukes, earls, barons, and knights. And then Sir 
Gareth prayed Dame Liones and the red knight of the 
red laundes, and Sir Persant and his brother, and Sir 
Gringamore, that in no wise there should none of them tell 

224 King Arthur 

not his name, and make no more of him than of the least 
knight that there was, for, he said, I will not be known of 
neither more nor less, neither at the beginning neither at 
the ending. Then Dame Liones said unto Sir Gareth : 
Sir, I will lend you a ring, but I would pray you as you love 
me heartily let me have it again when the tournament is 
done, for that ring increaseth my beauty much more than it 
is of himself. And the virtue of my ring is that, that is 
green it will turn to red, and that is red it will turn in like- 
ness to green, and that is blue it will turn to likeness of v/hite, 
and that is white it will turn in likeness to blue, and so it 
will do of all manner of colours. Also who that beareth my 
ring shall lose no blood, and for great love I will give you 
this ring. Gramercy, said Sir Gareth, mine own lady, for 
this ring is passing meet for me, for it will turn all manner 
of likeness that I am in, and that shall cause me that I shall 
not be known. Then Sir Gringamore gave Sir Gareth a bay 
courser that was a passing good horse; also he gave him 
good armour and sure, and a noble sword that sometime 
Sir Gringamore's father won upon an heathen tyrant. And 
so thus every knight made him ready to that tournament. 
And King Arthur was come two days tofore the Assumption 
of our Lady. And there was all manner of royalty of all 
minstrelsy that might be found. Also there came Queen 
Gwenever and the Queen of Orkney, Sir Gareth's mother. 
And upon the Assumption Day, when mass and matins 
were done, there were heralds with trumpets commanded to 
blow to the field. And so there came out Sir Epinogrus, the 
king's son of Northumberland, from the castle, and there 
encountered with him Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and either 
of them brake their spears to their hands. And then came 
in Sir Palamides out of the castle, and there encountered 
with him Gawaine, and either of them smote other so hard 
that both the good knights and their horses fell to the earth. 
And then knights of either party rescued their knights. 
And then came in Sir Safere and Sir Segwarides, brethren 
to Sir Palamides ; and there encountered Sir Agravaine with 
Sir Safere and Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Segwarides. 
So Sir Safere smote down Agravaine, Sir Gawaine's brother ; 
and Sir Segwarides, Sir Safere's brother. And Sir Malgrine, 
a knight of the castle, encountered with Sir Uwaine le 
Blanchemains, and there Sir Uwaine gave Sir Malgrine a 
fall, that he had almost broke his neck. 

King Arthur 225 



THEN Sir Brian de les Isles and Gmmmore Grummursum, 
knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Aglovale, and 
Sir Tor smote down Sir Grummore Grummursum to the 
earth. Then came in Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, 
and Sir Turquine, knights of the castle ; and there encoun- 
tered with them Sir Percivale de Galis and Sir Lamorak 
de Galis, that were two brethren. And there encountered 
Sir Percivale with Sir Carados, and either brake their spears 
unto their hands, and then Sir Turquine with Sir Lamorak, 
and either of them smote down other's horse and all to the 
earth, and either parties rescued other, and horsed them 
again. And Sir Arnold and Sir Gauter, knights of the castle, 
encountered with Sir Brandiles and Sir Kay, and these four 
knights encountered mightily, and brake their spears to 
their hands. Then came in Sir Tristram, Sir Sadok, and 
Sir Dinas, knights of the castle, and there encountered Sir 
Tristram with Sir Bedivere, and there Sir Bedivere was 
smitten to the earth both horse and man. And Sir Sadok 
encountered with Sir Petipase, and there Sir Sadok was 
overthrown. And there Uwaine les Avoutres smote down 
Sir Dinas, the Seneschal. Then came in Sir Persant of 
Inde, a knight of the castle, and there encountered with him 
Sir Launcelot du Lake, and there he smote Sir Persant, horse 
and man, to the earth. Then came Sir Pertolepe from the 
castle, and there encountered with him Sir Lionel, and there 
Sir Pertolepe, the Green Knight, smote down Sir Lionel, 
brother to Sir Launcelot. All this was marked by noble 
heralds, who bare him best, and their names. And then 
came into the field Sir Perimones, the Red Knight, Sir 
Persant's brother, that was a knight of the castle, and he 
encountered with Sir Ector de Maris, and either smote other 
so hard that both their horses and they fell to the earth. 
And then came in the red knight of the red laundes, and 
Sir Gareth, fro m the castle, and there encountered with them 
Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Bleoberis, and there the Red 
Knight and Sir Bors smote other so hard that their spears 
brast, and their horses fell grovelling to the earth. Then 
Sir Bleoberis brake his spear upon Sir Gareth, but of that 
stroke Sir Bleoberis fell to the earth. ^When Sir Galihodin 

226 King Arthur 

saw that he bade Sir Gareth keep him, and Sir Gareth smote 
him to the earth. Then Sir Galihud gat a spear to avenge 
his brother, and in the same wise Sir Gareth served him, and 
Sir Dinadan and his brother, La Cote Male Taile, and Sir 
Sagramore le Desirous, and Sir Dodinas le Savage. All 
these he bare down with one spear. When King Agwisance 
of Ireland saw Sir Gareth fare so, he marvelled what he 
might be that one time seemed green, and another time, at 
his again coming, he seemed blue. And thus at every course 
that he rode to and fro he changed his colour, so that there 
might neither king nor knight have ready cognisance of 
him. Then Sir Agwisance, the King of Ireland, encoun- 
tered with Sir Gareth, and there Sir Gareth smote him from 
his horse, saddle and all. And then came King Carados of 
Scotland, and Sir Gareth smote him down horse and man. 
And in the same wise he served King Uriens of the land of 
Gore. And then came in Sir Bagdemagus, and Sir Gareth 
smote him down, horse and man, to the earth. And Bag- 
demagus' son, Meliganus, brake a spear upon Sir Gareth 
mightily and knightly. And then Sir Galahault, the noble 
prince, cried on high : Knight with the many colours, well 
hast thou jousted ; now make thee ready that I may joust 
with thee. Sir Gareth heard him, and he gat a great 
spear, and so they encountered together, and there the 
prince brake his spear ; but Sir Gareth smote him upon 
the left side of the helm that he reeled here and there, 
and he had fallen down had not his men recovered him. 
So God me help, said King Arthur, that same knight with 
the many colours is a good knight. Wherefore the king 
called unto him Sir Launcelot, and prayed him to encounter 
with that knight. Sir, said Launcelot, I may well find in 
my heart for to forbear him as at this time, for he hath had 
travail enough this day ; and when a good knight doth so 
well upon some day, it is no good knight's part to let him 
of his worship, and namely, when he seeth a knight hath 
done so great labour ; for peradventure, said Sir Launcelot, 
his quarrel is here this day, and peradventure he is best 
beloved with this lady of all that be here ; for I see well he 
paineth him and enforceth him to do great deeds, and there- 
fore, said Sir Launcelot, as for me, this day he shall have the 
honour ; though it lay in my power to put him from it I 
would not. 

King Arthur 227 



THEN when this was done there was drawing of swords, 
and then there began a sore tournament. And there did 
Sir Lamorak marvellous deeds of arms ; and betwixt Sir 
Lamorak and Sir Ironside, that was the red knight of the 
red laundes, there was strong battle ; and betwixt Sir Pala- 
mides and Bleoberis there was a strong battle ; and Sir 
Gawaine and Sir Tristram met, and there Sir Gawaine had 
the worse, for he pulled Sir Gawaine from his horse, and 
there he was long upon foot, and defouled. Then came 
in Sir Launcelot, and he smote Sir Turquine, and he him ; 
and then came Sir Carados his brother, and both at once 
they assailed him, and he as the most noblest knight of the 
world worshipfully fought with them both, that all men 
wondered of the noblesse of Sir Launcelot. And then came 
in Sir Gareth, and knew that it was Sir Launcelot that 
fought with the two perilous knights. And then Sir Gareth 
came with his good horse and hurtled them in-sunder, and 
no stroke would he smite to Sir Launcelot. That espied Sir 
Launcelot, and deemed it should be the good knight Sir 
Gareth : and then Sir Gareth rode here and there, and 
smote on the right hand and on the left hand, and all the 
folk might well espy where that he rode. And by fortune 
he met with his brother Sir Gawaine, and there he put Sir 
Gawaine to the worse, for he put off his helm, and so he 
served five or six knights of the Round Table, that all men 
said he put him in the most pain, and best he did his devoir. 
For when Sir Tristram beheld him how he first jousted and 
after fought so well with a sword, then he rode unto Sir 
Ironside and to Sir Persant of Inde, and asked them, by 
their faith, What manner a knight is yonder knight that 
seemeth in so many divers colours ? Truly, meseemeth, 
said Tristram, that he putteth himself in great pain, for he 
never ceaseth. Wot ye not what he is ? said Sir Ironside. 
No, said Sir Tristram. Then shall ye know that this is he 
that loveth the lady of the castle, and she him again ; and this 
is he that won me when I besieged the lady of this castle, 
and this is he that won Sir Persant of Inde, and his three 
brethren. What is his name, said Sir Tristram, and of what 
blood is he come ? He was called in the court of King 

228 King Arthur 

Arthur, Beaumains, but his right name is Sir Gareth of 
Orkney, brother to Sir Gawaine. By my head, said Sir 
Tristram, he is a good knight, and a big man of arms, and 
if he be young he shall prove a full noble knight. He is 
but a child, they all said, and of Sir Launcelot he was made 
knight. Therefore he is mickle the better, said Tristram. 
And then Sir Tristram, Sir Ironside, Sir Persant, and his 
brother, rode together for to help Sir Gareth ; and then there 
were given many strong strokes. And then Sir Gareth rode 
out on the one side to amend his helm ; and then said his 
dwarf : Take me your ring, that ye lose it not while that ye 
drink. And so when he had drunk he gat on his helm, and 
eagerly took his horse and rode into the field, and left his 
ring with his dwarf; and the dwarf was glad the ring was 
from him, for then he wist well he should be known. And 
then when Sir Gareth was in the field all folks saw him well 
and plainly that he was in yellow colours ; and there he rased 
off helms and pulled down knights, that King Arthur had 
marvel what knight he was, for the king saw by his hair that 
it was the same knight. 



BUT before he was in so many colours, and now he is but 
in one colour ; that is yellow. Now go, said King Arthur 
unto divers heralds, and ride about him, and espy what 
manner knight he is, for I have speryd of many knights this 
day that be upon his party, and all say they know him not. 
And so an herald rode nigh Gareth as he could ; and there 
he saw written about his helm in gold, This helm is Sir 
Gareth of Orkney. Then the herald cried as he were 
wood, and many heralds with him : This is Sir Gareth of 
Orkney in the yellow arms ; that by all kings and knights of 
Arthur's beheld him and awaited ; and then they pressed all 
to behold him, and ever the heralds cried : This is Sir 
Gareth of Orkney, King Lot's son. And when Sir Gareth 
espied that he was discovered, then he doubled his strokes, 
and smote down Sir Sagramore, and his brother Sir Gawaine. 
O brother, said Sir Gawaine, I weened ye would not have 

King Arthur 229 

stricken me. So when he heard him say so he thrang here 
and there, and so with great pain he gat out of the press, 
and there he met with his dwarf. O boy, said Sir Gareth, 
thou hast beguiled me foul this day that thou kept my ring ; 
give it me anon again, that I may hide my body withal 
and so he took it him. And then they all wist not where 
he was become ; and Sir Gawaine had in manner espied 
where Sir Gareth rode, and then he rode after with all his 
might. That espied Sir Gareth, and rode lightly into the 
forest, that Sir Gawaine wist not where he was become. 
And when Sir Gareth wist that Sir Gawaine was passed, he 
asked the dwarf of best counsel. Sir, said the dwarf, 
meseemeth it were best, now that ye are escaped from 
spying, that ye send my lady Dame Liones her ring. It is 
well advised, said Sir Gareth ; now have it here and bear it 
to her, and say that I recommend me unto her good grace, 
and say her I will come when I may, and I pray her to be 
true and faithful to me as I will be to her. Sir, said the 
dwarf, it shall be done as ye command : and so he rode his 
way, and did his errand unto the lady. Then she said, 
Where is my knight, Sir Gareth ? Madam, said the dwarf, 
he bad me say that he would not be long from you. And 
so lightly the dwarf came again unto Sir Gareth, that would 
full fain have had a lodging, for he had need to be reposed. 
And then fell there a thunder and a rain, as heaven and 
earth should go together. And Sir Gareth was not a little 
weary, for of all that day he had but little rest, neither his 
horse nor he. So this Sir Gareth rode so long in that forest 
until the night came. And ever it lightened and thundered, 
as it had been wood. At the last by fortune he came to a 
castle, and there he heard the waits upon the walls. 



THEN Sir Gareth rode unto the barbican of the castle, 
and prayed the porter fair to let him into the castle. The 
porter answered ungoodly again, and said, Thou gettest no 
lodging here. Fair sir, say not so, for I am a knight of 
King Arthur's, and pray the lord or the lady of this castle 


230 King Arthur 

to give me harbour for the love of King Arthur. Then the 
porter went unto the duchess, and told her how there was a 
knight of King Arthur's would have harbour. Let him in, 
said the duchess, for I will see that knight, and for King 
Arthur's sake he shall not be harbourless. Then she yode 
up into a tower over the gate, with great torch-light. When 
Sir Gareth saw that torch-light he cried on high : Whether 
thou be lord or lady, giant or champion, I take no force so 
that I may have harbour this night; and if it so be that 
I must needs fight, spare me not to-morn when I have 
rested me, for both I and mine horse be weary. Sir knight, 
said the lady, thou speakest knightly and boldly ; but wit 
thou well the lord of this castle loveth not King Arthur, nor 
none of his court, for my lord hath ever been against him ; 
and therefore thou were better not to come within this 
castle ; for an thou come in this night, thou must come in 
under such form, that wheresomever thou meet my lord, by 
stigh or by street, thou must yield thee to him as prisoner. 
Madam, said Sir Gareth, what is your lord, and what is his 
name? Sir, my lord's name is the Duke de la Rowse. 
Well madam, said Sir Gareth, I shall promise you in what 
place I meet your lord I shall yield me unto him and to his 
good grace ; with that I understand he will do me no harm : 
and if I understand that he will, I will release myself an I 
can with my spear and my sword. Ye say well, said the 
duchess ; and then she let the drawbridge down, and so he 
rode into the hall, and there he alit, and his horse was led 
into a stable ; and in the hall he unarmed him and said, 
Madam, I will not out of this hall this night; and when 
it is daylight, let see who will have ado with me, he shall 
find me ready. Then was he set unto supper, and had 
many good dishes. Then Sir Gareth list well to eat, and 
knightly he ate his meat, and eagerly ; there was many 
a fair lady by him, and some said they never saw a goodlier 
man nor so well of eating. Then they made him passing 
good cheer, and shortly when he had supped his bed was 
made there ; so he rested him all night. And on the morn 
he heard mass, and brake his fast and took his leave at the 
duchess, and at them all ; and thanked her goodly of her 
lodging, and of his good cheer ; and then she asked him his 
name. Madam, he said, truly my name is Gareth of Orkney, 
and some men call me Beaumains. Then knew she well it 
was the same knight that fought for Dame Liones. So Sir 

King Arthur 231 

Gareth departed and rode up into a mountain, and there 
met him a knight, his name was Sir Bendelaine, and said to 
Sir Gareth : Thou shalt not pass this way, for either thou 
shalt joust with me, or else be my prisoner. Then will 
I joust, said Sir Gareth. And so they let their horses run, 
and there Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body ; and 
Sir Bendelaine rode forth to his castle there beside, and 
there died. So Sir Gareth would have rested him, and he 
came riding to Bendelaine's castle. Then his knights and 
servants espied that it was he that had slain their lord. 
Then they armed twenty good men, and came out and 
assailed Sir Gareth ; and so he had no spear, but his sword, 
and put his shield afore him ; and there they brake their 
spears upon him, and they assailed him passingly sore. 
But ever Sir Gareth defended him as a knight. 



So when they saw that they might not overcome him, they 
rode from him, and took their counsel to slay his horse ; and 
so they came in upon Sir Gareth, and with spears they slew 
his horse, and then they assailed him hard. But when he 
was on foot, there was none that he fought but he gave him 
such a buffet that he did never recover. So he slew them 
by one and one till they were but four, and there they fled ; 
and Sir Gareth took a good horse that was one of theirs, 
and rode his way. Then he rode a great pace till that he 
came to a castle, and there he heard much mourning of 
ladies and gentlewomen. So there came by him a page. 
What noise is this, said Sir Gareth, that I hear within this 
castle ? Sir knight, said the page, here be within this castle 
thirty ladies, and all they be widows ; for here is a knight 
that waiteth daily upon this castle, and his name is the 
brown knight without pity, and he is the periloust knight 
that now liveth ; and therefore sir, said the page, I rede you 
flee. Nay, said Sir Gareth, I will not flee though thou be 
afeard of him. And then the page saw where came the 
brown knight : Lo, said the page, yonder he cometh. Let 
me deal with him, said Sir Gareth. And when either of 

232 King Arthur 

other had a sight they let their horses run, and the brown 
knight brake his spear, and Sir Gareth smote him through- 
out the body, that he overthrew him to the ground stark 
dead. So Sir Gareth rode into the castle, and prayed the 
ladies that he might repose him. Alas, said the ladies, ye 
may not be lodged here. Make him good cheer, said the 
page, for this knight hath slain your enemy. Then they all 
made him good cheer as lay in their power. But wit ye 
well they made him good cheer, for they might none other- 
wise do, for they were but poor. And so on the morn he 
went to mass, and there he saw the thirty ladies kneel, and 
lay grovelling upon divers tombs, making great dole and 
sorrow. Then Sir Gareth wist well that in the tombs lay 
their lords. Fair ladies, said Sir Gareth, ye must at the next 
feast of Pentecost be at the court of King Arthur, and say 
that I, Sir Gareth, sent you thither. We shall do this, said 
the ladies. So he departed, and by fortune he came to a 
mountain, and there he found a goodly knight that bad 
him, Abide sir knight, and joust with me. What are ye? 
said Sir Gareth. My name is, said he, the Duke de la 
Rowse. Ah sir, ye are the same knight that I lodged once in 
your castle ; and there I made promise unto your lady that 
I should yield me unto you. Ah, said the duke, art thou 
that proud knight that profferest to fight with my knights ; 
therefore make thee ready, for I will have ado with you. So 
they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote the 
duke down from his horse. But the duke lightly avoided 
his horse, and dressed his shield and drew his sword, and 
bad Sir Gareth alight and fight with him. So he did alight, 
and they did great battle together more than an hour, and 
either hurt other full sore. At the last Sir Gareth gat the 
duke to the earth, and would have slain him, and then he 
yield him to him. Then must ye go, said Sir Gareth, unto 
Sir Arthur my lord at the next feast, and say that I, Sir 
Gareth of Orkney, sent you unto him. It shall be done, 
said the duke, and I will do to you homage and fealty with 
an hundred knights with me ; and all the days of my life to 
do you service where ye will command me. 

King Arthur 233 



So the duke departed, and Sir Gareth stood there alone ; 
and there he saw an armed knight coming toward him. 
Then Sir Gareth took the duke's shield, and mounted upon 
horseback, and so without bidding they ran together as it 
had been the thunder. And there that knight hurt Sir 
Gareth under the side with his spear. And then they alit 
and drew their swords, and gave great strokes that the blood 
trailed to the ground. And so they fought two hours. At 
the last there came the damosel Linet, that some men called 
the damosel Savage, and she came riding upon an ambling 
mule ; and there she cried all on high, Sir Gawaine, Sir 
Gawaine, leave thy fighting with thy brother Sir Gareth. 
And when he heard her say so he threw away his shield and 
his sword, and ran to Sir Gareth, and took him in his arms, 
and sythen kneeled down and asked him mercy. What are 
ye, said Sir Gareth, that right now were so strong and so 
mighty, and now so suddenly yield you to me ? O Gareth, 
I am your brother Sir Gawaine, that for your sake have had 
great sorrow and labour. Then Sir Gareth unlaced his helm, 
and kneeled down to him, and asked him mercy. Then 
they rose both, and embraced either other in their arms, and 
wept a great while or they might speak, and either of them 
gave other the prize of the battle. And there were many 
kind words between them. Alas, my fair brother, said Sir 
Gawaine, perdy I owe of right to worship you an ye were 
not my brother, for ye have worshipped King Arthur and all 
his court, for ye have sent me more worshipful knights this 
twelvemonth than six the best of the Round Table have 
done, except Sir Lancelot. Then came the damosel Savage 
that was the Lady Linet, that rode with Sir Gareth so long 
and there she did staunch Sir Gareth's wounds and Sir 
Gawaine' s. Now what will ye do ? said the damosel Sav- 
age ; meseemeth that it were well done that Arthur had 

O 4 

witting of you both, for your horses are so bruised that they 
may not bear. Now, fair damosel, said Sir Gawaine, I pray 
you ride unto my lord mine uncle, King Arthur, and tell 
him what adventure is to me betid here, and I suppose he 
will not tarry long. Then she took her mule, and lightly 

234 King Arthur 

she came to King Arthur that was but two mile thence. 
And when she had told him tidings the king bad get him 
a palfrey. And when he was upon his back he bad the 
lords and ladies come after, who that would ; and there was 
saddling and bridling of queens' horses and princes' horses, 
and well was him that soonest might be ready. So when 
the king came thereas they were, he saw Sir Gawaine and Sir 
Gareth sit upon a little hill-side, and then the king avoided 
his horse. And when he came nigh Sir Gareth he would 
have spoken but he might not ; and therewith he sank down 
in a swoon for gladness. And so they stert unto their uncle, 
and required him of his good grace to be of good comfort. 
Wit ye well the king made great joy, and many a piteous 
complaint he made to Sir Gareth, and ever he wept as he 
had been a child. With that came his mother, the queen 
of Orkney, Dame Morgawse, and when she saw Sir Gareth 
readily in the visage she might not weep, but suddenly fell 
down in a swoon, and lay there a great while like as she had 
been dead. And then Sir Gareth recomforted his mother in 
such wise that she recovered and made good cheer. Then 
the king commanded that all manner of knights that were 
under his obeissance should make their lodging right there 
for the love of his nephews. And so it was done, and all 
manner of purveyance purveyed, that there lacked nothing 
that might be gotten of tame nor wild for gold or silver. 
And then by the means of the damosel Savage Sir Gawaine 
and Sir Gareth were healed of their wounds ; and there they 
sojourned eight days. Then said King Arthur unto the 
damosel Savage : I marvel that your sister, Dame Liones, 
cometh not here to me, and in especial that she cometh not 
to visit her knight, my nephew Sir Gareth, that hath had so 
much travail for her love. My lord, said the damosel Linet, 
ye must of your good grace hold her excused, for she knoweth 
not that my lord, Sir Gareth, is here. Go then for her, said 
King Arthur, that we may be appointed what is best to be 
done, according to the pleasure of my nephew. Sir, said the 
damosel, that shall be done, and so she rode unto her sister. 
And as lightly as she might she made her ready ; and she 
came on the morn with her brother Sir Gringamore, and with 
her forty knights. And so when she was come she had all 
the cheer that might be done, both of the King, and of 
many other kings and queens. 

King Arthur 235 



AND among all these ladies she was named the fairest, 
and peerless. Then when Sir Gawaine saw her there was 
many a goodly look and goodly words, that all men of 
worship had joy to behold them. Then came King Arthur 
and many other kings, and Dame Guenever, and the queen 
of Orkney. And there the king asked his nephew, Sir 
Gareth, whether he would have that lady as paramour, or to 
have her to his wife. My lord, wit you well that I love her 
above all ladies living. Now, fair lady, said King Arthur, 
what say ye? Most noble King, said Dame Liones, wit 
you well that my lord, Sir Gareth, is to me more lever to have 
and welde as my husband, than any king or prince that is 
christened ; and if I may not have him I promise you I will 
never have none. For, my lord Arthur, said Dame Liones, 
wit ye well he is my first love, and he shall be the last ; and 
if ye will suffer him to have his will and free choice I dare 
say he will have me. That is truth, said Sir Gareth ; an I 
have not you and welde not you as my wife, there shall never 
lady nor gentlewoman rejoice me. What, nephew, said the 
king, is the wind in that door ? for wit ye well I would not 
for the stint of my crown to be causer to withdraw your 
hearts ; and wit ye well ye cannot love so well but I shall 
rather increase it than distress it. And also ye shall have 
my love and my lordship in the uttermost wise that may lie 
in my power. And in the same wise said Sir Gareth's 
mother. Then there was made a provision for the day of 
marriage ; and by the king's advice it was provided that it 
should be at Michaelmas following, at Kink Kenadon by the 
seaside, for there is a plentiful country. And so it was cried 
in all the places through the realm. And then Sir Gareth sent 
his summons to all these knights and ladies that he had won 
in battle tofore, that they should be at his day of marriage 
at Kink Kenadon by the sands. And then Dame Liones, 
and the damosel Linet with Sir Gringamore, rode to their 
castle ; and a goodly and a rich ring she gave to Sir Gareth, 
and he gave her another. And King Arthur gave her a rich 
bee of gold ; and so she departed ; and King Arthur and his 

236 King Arthur 

fellowship rode toward Kink Kenadon, and Sir Gareth 
brought his lady on the way, and so came to the king again 
and rode with him. Lord ! the great cheer that Sir Latmce- 
lot made of Sir Gareth and he of him, for there was never 
no knight that Sir Gareth loved so well as he did Sir 
Launcelot ; and ever for the most part he would be in Sir 
Launcelot's company ; for after Sir Gareth had espied Sir 
Gawaine's conditions, he withdrew himself from his brother, 
Sir Gawaine ; s, fellowship, for he was vengeable, and where 
he hated he would be avenged with murder, and that hated 
Sir Gareth. 



So it drew fast to Michaelmas ; and thither came Dame 
Liones, the lady of the Castle Perilous, and her sister, 
Dame Linet, with Sir Gringamore, her brother, with them, 
for he had the conduct of these ladies. And there they were 
lodged at the device of King Arthur. And upon Michael- 
mas Day the Bishop of Canterbury made the wedding 
betwixt Sir Gareth and the Lady Liones with great solemnity. 
And King Arthur made Gaheris to wed the damosel Savage, 
that was Dame Linet ; and King Arthur made Sir Agravaine 
to wed Dame Liones' niece, a fair lady, her name was Dame 
Laurel. And so when this solemnization was done, then 
came in the green knight, Sir Pertolepe, with thirty knights, 
and there he did homage and fealty to Sir Gareth, and these 
knights to hold of him for evermore. Also Sir Pertolepe 
said : I pray you that at this feast I may be your chamber- 
lain. With a good will, said Sir Gareth, syth it liketh you 
to take so simple an office. Then came in the red knight, 
with three score knights with him, and did to Sir Gareth 
homage and fealty, and all those knights to hold of him for 
evermore. And then this Sir Perimones prayed Sir Gareth 
to grant him to be his chief butler at that high feast. I will 
well, said Sir Gareth, that ye have this office, and it were 
better. Then came in Sir Persant of Inde, with an hundred 
knights with him, and there he did homage and fealty, and 
all his knights should do him service, and hold their lands 

King Arthur 237 

of him for ever ; and there he prayed Sir Gareth to make 
him his sewer-chief at the feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, 
that ye have it, and it were better. Then came the Duke 
de la Rowse, with an hundred knights with him, and there 
he did homage and fealty to Sir Gaxeth, and so to hold their 
lands of him for ever. And he required Sir Gareth that he 
might serve him of the wine that day of that feast. I will 
well, said Sir Gareth, and it were better. Then came in the 
red knight of the red laundes, that was Sir Ironside, and he 
brought with him three hundred knights, and there he did 
homage and fealty, and all these knights to hold their lands 
of him for ever. And then he asked Sir Gareth to be his 
carver. I will well, said Sir Gareth, an it please you. Then 
came into the court thirty ladies, and all they seemed widows, 
and those thirty ladies brought with them many fair gentle- 
women. And all they kneeled down at once unto King 
Arthur and unto Sir Gareth, and there all those ladies told 
the king how Sir Gareth delivered them from the dolorous 
tower, and slew the brown knight without pity : And there- 
fore we, and our heirs for evermore, will do homage unto Sir 
Gareth of Orkney. So then the kings and queens, princes 
and earls, barons and many bold knights, went unto meat ; 
and well may ye wit there were all manner of meat 
plenteously, all manner revels and games, with all manner 
of minstrelsy that was used in those days. Also there was 
great jousts three days. But the king would not suffer Sir 
Gareth to joust, by cause of his new bride ; for, as the French 
book sayeth, that Dame Liones desired of the king that 
none that were wedded should joust at that feast. So the 
first day there jousted Sir Lamorak de Galis, for he ovei- 
threw thirty knights, and did passing marvellously deeds of 
arms ; and then King Arthur made Sir Persant and his two 
brethren knights of the Round Table to their lives' end, and 
gave them great lands. Also the second day there jousted 
Tristram best, and he overthrew forty knights, and did there 
marvellous deeds of arms. And there King Arthur made 
Ironside, that was the red knight of the red laundes, a knight 
of the Table Round to his life's end, and gave him great 
lands. The third day there jousted Sir Launcelot du Lake, 
and he overthrew fifty knights, and did many marvellous 
deeds of arms, that all men wondered on him. And there 
King Arthur made the Duke de la Rowse a knight of the 
Round Table to his life's end, and gave him great lands to 

I 45 * 

238 King Arthur 

spend. But when these jousts were done, Sir Lamorak and 
Sir Tristram departed suddenly, and would not be known, for 
the which King Arthur and all the court were sore displeased. 
And so they held the court forty days with great solemnity. 
And this Sir Gareth was a noble knight, and a well-ruled, 
and fair-languaged. 

Thus endeth this tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney that wedded Dame 
Liones of the Castle Perilous. And also Sir Gaheris wedded her 
sister. Dame Linet, that was called the damosel Savage. And Sir 
Agravaine -wedded Dame Laurel, a. fair lady and great, and mighty 
ands with great riches gave with them King Arthur, that royally 
they might live till their lives' end. 

Here followeth the viii. book, the 'which is the first book of Sir 

Tristram de Liones, and who 'was his father and his 

mother, and how he was born and fostered, 

and bow he 'was made knight. 




IT was a king that hight Meliodas, and he was lord and 
king of the country of Liones, and this Meliodas was a 
likely knight as any was that time living. And by fortune 
he wedded King Mark's sister of Cornwall, and she was 
called Elizabeth, that was called both good and fair. And 
at that time King Arthur reigned, and he was whole king of 
England, Wales, and Scotland, and of many other realms : 
howbeit there were many kings that were lords of many 
countries, but all they held their lands of King Arthur ; for 
in Wales were two kings, and in the north were many kings ; 
and in Cornwall and in the west were two kings ; also in 
Ireland were two or three kings, and all were under the 
obeissance of King Arthur. So was the King of France, 
and the King of Brittany, and all the lordships unto Rome. 
So when this King Meliodas had been with his wife, within 

King Arthur 239 

a while she waxed great with child, and she was a full meek 
lady, and well she loved her lord, and he her again, so 
there was great joy betwixt them. Then there was a lady 
in that country that had loved King Meliodas long, and by 
no mean she never could get his love ; therefore she let 
ordain upon a day, as King Meliodas rode on hunting, for 
he was a great chaser, and there by an enchantment she 
made him chase an hart by himself alone till that he came 
to an old castle, and there anon he was taken prisoner by 
the lady that him loved. When Elizabeth, King Meliodas' 
wife, missed her lord, and she was nigh out of her wit, and 
also as great with child as she was, she took a gentle- 
woman with her, and ran into the forest to seek her lord. 
And when she was far in the forest she might no farther, 
for she began to travail fast of her child. And she had 
many grimly throes ; her gentlewoman helped her all that 
she might, and so by miracle of Our Lady of Heaven she 
was delivered with great pains. But she had taken such 
cold for the default of help that deep draughts of death 
took her, that needs she must die and depart out of this 
world, there was none other bote. And when this Queen 
Elizabeth saw that there was none other bote, then she 
made great dole, and said unto her gentlewoman : When ye 
see my lord, King Meliodas, recommend me unto him, and 
tell him what pains I endure here for his love, and how I 
must die here for his sake for default of good help ; and 
let him wit that I am full sorry to depart out of this world 
from him, therefore pray him to be friend to my soul. 
Now let me see my little child, for whom I have had all 
this sorrow. And when she saw him she said thus : Ah, 
my little son, thou hast murdered thy mother, and therefore 
I suppose, thou that art a murderer so young, thou art full 
likely to be a manly man in thine age. And by cause I 
shall die of the birth of thee, I charge thee, gentlewoman, 
that thou pray my lord, King Meliodas, that when he is 
christened let call him Tristram, that is as much to say as a 
sorrowful birth. And therewith this queen gave up the 
ghost and died. Then the gentlewoman laid her under an 
umbre of a great tree, and then she lapped the child as well 
as she might for cold. Right so there came the barons, 
following after the queen, and when they saw that she was 
dead, and understood none other but the king was 

240 King Arthur 



THEN certain of them would have slain the child, by cause 
they would have been lords of the country of Liones. But 
then through the fair speech of the gentlewoman, and by 
the means that she made, the most part of the barons would 
not assent thereto. And then they let carry home the dead 
queen, and much dole was made for her. Then this mean- 
while Merlin delivered King Meliodas out of prison on the 
morn after his queen was dead. And so when the king 
was come home the most part of the barons made great joy. 
But the sorrow that the king made for his queen that might 
no tongue tell. So then the king let inter her richly, and 
after he let christen his child as his wife had commanded 
afore her death. And then he let call him Tristram, the 
sorrowful born child. Then the King Meliodas endured 
seven years without a wife, and all this time Tristram was 
nourished well. Then it befell that King Meliodas wedded 
King Howell's daughter of Brittany, and anon she had 
children of King Meliodas : then was she heavy and wroth 
that her children should not rejoice the country of Liones, 
wherefore this queen ordained for to poison young Tristram. 
So she let poison be put in a piece of silver in the chamber 
whereas Tristram and her children were together, unto that 
intent that when Tristram were thirsty he should drink that 
drink. And so it fell upon a day, the queen's son, as he 
was in that chamber, espied the piece with poison, and he 
weened it had been good drink, and by cause the child was 
thirsty he took the piece with poison and drank freely ; and 
therewithal suddenly the child brast and was dead. When 
the queen of Meliodas wist of the death of her son, wit ye 
well that she was heavy. But yet the king understood 
nothing of her treason. Notwithstanding the queen would 
not leave this, but efte she let ordain more poison, and put 
it in a piece. And by fortune King Meliodas, her husband, 
found the piece with wine where was the poison, and he 
that was much thirsty took the piece for to drink thereout. 
And as he would have drunken thereof the queen espied 
him, and then she ran unto him, and pulled the piece from 
him suddenly. The king marvelled why she did so, and 

King Arthur 241 

remembered him how her son was suddenly slain with 
poison. And then he took her by the hand, and said : 
Thou false traitress, thou shalt tell me what manner of 
drink this is, or else I shall slay thee. And therewith he 
pulled out his sword, and sware a great oath that he should 
slay her but if she told him truth. Ah ! mercy, my lord, 
said she, and I shall tell you all. And then she told him 
why she would have slain Tristram, by cause her children 
should rejoice his land. Well, said King Meliodas, and 
therefore shall ye have the law. And so she was condemned 
by the assent of the barons to be burnt; and then was 
there made a great fire, and right as she was at the fire to 
take her execution, young Tristram kneeled afore King 
Meliodas, and besought him to give him a boon. I will 
well, said the king again. Then said young Tristram, Give 
me the life of thy queen, my stepmother. That is unright- 
fully asked, said King Meliodas, for thou ought of right to 
hate her, for she would have slain thee with that poison an 
she might have had her will ; and for thy sake most is my 
cause that she should die. Sir, said Tristram, as for that, 
I beseech you of your mercy that you will forgive it her, 
and as for my part, God forgive it her, and I do ; and so 
much it liked your highness to grant me my boon, for 
God's love I require you hold your promise. Sylhen it is 
so, said the king, I will that ye have her life. Then, said 
the king, I give her to you, and go ye to the fire and take 
her, and do with her what ye will. So Sir Tristram went to 
the fire, and by the commandment of the king delivered 
her from the death. But after that King Meliodas would 
never have ado with her as at bed and board. But by the 
good means of young Tristram he made the king and her 
accorded. But then the king would not suffer young 
Tristram to abide no longer in his court. 



AND then he let ordain a gentleman that was well learned 
and taught, his name was Gouvernail ; and then he sent 
young Tristram with Gouvernail into France to learn the 

242 King Arthur 

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



THEN it befell that King Anguish of Ireland sent unto 
King Mark of Cornwall for his truage, that Cornwall had 
paid many winters. And all that time King Mark was 
behind of the truage for seven years. And King Mark and 
his barons gave unto the messenger of Ireland these words 
and answer, that they would none pay ; and bad the 
messenger go unto his King Anguish, And tell him we will 
pay him no truage, but tell your lord, an he will always 

King Arthur 243 

have truage of us of Cornwall, bid him send a trusty knight 
of his land, that will fight for his right, and we shall find 
another for to defend our right. With this answer the 
messengers departed into Ireland. And when King Anguish 
understood the answer of the messengers he was wonderly 
wroth. And then he called unto him Sir Marhaus, the 
good knight, that was nobly proved, and a Knight of the 
Table Round. And this Marhaus was brother unto the 
queen of Ireland. Then the king said thus : Fair brother, 
Sir Marhaus, I pray you go into Cornwall for my sake, and 
do battle for our truage that of right we ought to have ; and 
whatsomever ye spend ye shall have sufficiently more than 
ye shall need. Sir, said Marhaus, wit ye well that I shall 
not be loth to do battle in the right of you and your land 
with the best knight of the Table Round ; for I know them, 
for the most part, what be their deeds ; and for to advance 
my deeds and to increase my worship I will right gladly go 
unto this journey for our right. So in all haste there was 
made purveyance for Sir Marhaus, and he had all things 
that to him needed ; and so he departed out of Ireland, 
and arrived up in Cornwall even fast by the Castle of 
Tintagil. And when King Mark understood that he was 
there arrived to fight for Ireland, then made King Mark 
great sorrow when he understood that the good and noble 
knight Sir Marhaus was come. For they knew no knight 
that durst have ado with him. For at that time Sir Marhaus 
was called one of the famousest and renowned knights of 
the world. And thus Sir Marhaus abode in the sea, and every 
day he sent unto King Mark for to pay the truage that was 
behind of seven year, other-else to find a knight to fight 
with him for the truage. This manner of message Sir 
Marhaus sent daily unto King Mark. Then they of Cornwall 
let make cries in every place, that what knight would fight 
for to save the truage of Cornwall, he should be rewarded 
so that he should fare the better the term of his life. Then 
some of the barons said to King Mark, and counselled him 
to send to the Court of King Arthur for to seek Sir 
Launcelot du Luke, that was that time named for the 
marvelloust knight of all the world. Then there were some 
other barons that counselled the king not to do so, and 
said that it was labour in vain, by cause Sir Marhaus was a 
knight of the Round Table, therefore any of them will be 
loth to have ado with other, but if it were any knight at his 

244 King Arthur 

own request would fight disguised and unknown. So the 
king and all his barons assented that it was no bote to seek 
any knight of the Round Table. This meanwhile came the 
language and the noise unto King Meliodas, how that Sir 
Marhaus abode battle fast by Tintagil, and how King Mark 
could find no manner knight to fight for him. When young 
Tristram heard of this he was wroth, and sore ashamed that 
there durst no knight in Cornwall have ado with Sir 
Marhaus of Ireland. 



THERE withal Tristram went unto his father, King 
Meliodas, and asked him counsel what was best to do for 
to recover Cornwall from truage. For, as meseemeth, said 
Sir Tristram, it were shame that Sir Marhaus, the queen's 
brother of Ireland, should go away .unless that he were 
foughten withal. As for that, said King Meliodas, wit you 
well, son Tristram, that Sir Marhaus is called one of the 
best knights of the world, and knight of the Table Round ; 
and therefore I know no knight in this country that is able 
to match with him. Alas, said Sir Tristram, that I am not 
made knight ; and if Sir Marhaus should thus depart into 
Ireland, God let me never have worship : an I were made 
knight I should match him. And sir, said Tristram, I pray 
you give me leave to ride to King Mark ; and so ye be not 
displeased of King Mark will I be made knight. I will 
well, said King Meliodas, that ye be ruled as your courage 
will rule you. Then Sir Tristram thanked his father much. 
And then he made him ready to ride into Cornwall. In 
the meanwhile there came a messenger with letters of love 
from King Faramon of France's daughter unto Sir Tristram, 
that were full piteous letters, and in them were written many 
complaints of love ; but Sir Tristram had no joy of her 
letters nor regard unto her. Also she sent him a little 
brachet that was passing fair. But when the king's daughter 
understood that Sir Tristram would not love her, as the 
book saith, she died for sorrow. And then the same squire 
that brought the letter and the brachet came again unto 
Sir Tristram, as after ye shall hear in the tale. So this 

King Arthur 245 

young Sir Tristram rode unto his erne King Mark of 
Cornwall. And when he came there he heard say that 
there would no knight fight with Sir Marhaus. Then yede 
Sir Tristram unto his eme and said : Sir, if ye will give me 
the order of knighthood, I will do battle with Sir Marhaus. 
What are ye, said the king, and from whence be ye come ? 
Sir, said Tristram, I come from King Meliodas that wedded 
your sister, and a gentleman wit ye well I am. King Mark 
beheld Sir Tristram and saw that he was but a young man 
of age, but he was passingly well made and big. Fair sir, 
said the king, what is your name, and where were ye born ? 
Sir, said he again, my name is Tristram, and in the country 
of Liones was I born. Ye say well, said the king ; and if 
ye will do this battle I shall make you knight. Therefore I 
come to you, said Sir Tristram, and for none other cause. 
But then King Mark made him knight. And therewithal, 
anon as he had made him knight, he sent a messenger unto 
Sir Marhaus with letters that said that he had found a 
young knight ready for to take the battle to the uttermost. 
It may well be, said Sir Marhaus ; but tell King Mark I 
will not fight with no knight but he be of blood royal, that 
is to say, outher king's son, outher queen's son, born of a 
prince or princess. When King Mark understood that, he 
sent for Sir Tristram de Liones and told him what was the 
answer of Sir Marhaus. Then said Sir Tristram : Sythen 
that he sayeth so, let him wit that I am come of father side 
and mother side of as noble blood as he is : for, sir, 
now shall ye know that I am King Meliodas' son, born 
of your own sister, Dame Elizabeth, that died in the 
forest in the birth of me. O Jesu, said King Mark, ye are 
welcome fair nephew to me. Then in all the haste the 
king let horse Sir Tristram, and armed him in the best 
manner that might be had or gotten for gold or silver. And 
then King Mark sent unto Sir Marhaus, and did him to wit 
that a better born man than he was himself should fight 
with him, and his name is Sir Tristram de Liones, gotten of 
King Meliodas, and born of King Mark's sister. Then was 
Sir Marhaus glad and blithe that he should fight with such 
a gentleman. And so by the assent of King Mark and of Sir 
Marhaus that let ordain that they should fight within an 
island nigh Sir Marhaus' ships ; and so was Sir Tristram put 
into a vessel both his horse and he, and all that to him longed 
both for his body and for his horse. Sir Tristram lacked 

246 King Arthur 

nothing. And when King Mark and his barons of Cornwall 
beheld how young Sir Tristram departed with such a carriage 
to fight for the right of Cornwall, there was neither man nor 
woman of worship but they wept to see and understand so 
young a knight to jeopardy himself for their right 



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



AND then Sir Marhaus avised Sir Tristram, and said thus ; 
Young knight, Sir Tristram, what dost thou here ? me sore 

King Arthur 247 

repenteth of thy courage, for wit thou well I have been 
assayed, and the best knights of this land have been assayed 
of my hand ; and also I have matched with the best knights 
of the world, and therefore by my counsel return again unto 
thy vessel. And fair knight, and well-proved knight, said Sir 
Tristram, thou shalt well wit I may not forsake thee in this 
quarrel, for I am for thy sake made knight. And thou shalt 
well wit that I am a king's son born, and gotten upon a 
queen ; and such promise I have made at my uncle's request 
and mine own seeking, that I shall fight with thee unto the 
uttermost, and deliver Cornwall from the old truage. And 
also wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, that this is the greatest cause 
that thou couragest me to have ado with thee, for thou art 
called one of the most renowned knights of the world, and 
by cause of that noise and fame that thou hast thou givest me 
courage to have ado with thee, for never yet was I proved 
with good knight ; and sythen I took the order of knighthood 
this day, I am well pleased that I may have ado with so good 
a knight as thou art. And now wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, 
that I cast me to get worship on thy body ; and if that I be 
not proved, I trust to God that I shall be worshipfully proved 
upon thy body, and to deliver the country of Cornwall for 
ever from all manner of truage from Ireland for ever. When 
Sir Marhaus had heard him say what he would, he said then 
thus again : Fair knight, sythen it is so that thou castest to 
win worship of me, I let thee wit worship may thou none 
lose by me if thou mayest stand me three strokes ; for I let 
thee wit for my noble deeds, proved and seen, King Arthur 
made me knight of the Table Round. Then they began to 
feutre their spears, and they met so fiercely together that they 
smote either other down, both horse and all. But Sir Mar- 
haus smote Sir Tristram a great wound in the side with his 
spear, and then they avoided their horses, and pulled out 
their swords, and threw their shields afore them. And then 
they lashed together as men that were wild and courageous. 
And when they had stricken so together long, then they left 
their strokes, and foyned at their breaths and visors ; and 
when they saw that that might not prevail them, then they 
hurtled together like rams to bear either other down. Thus 
they fought still more than half a day, and either were 
wounded passing sore, that the blood ran down freshly 
from them upon the ground. By then Sir Tristram waxed 
more fresher than Sir Marhaus, and better winded and 

248 King Arthur 

bigger ; and with a mighty stroke he smote Sir Marhaus 
upon the helm such a buffet that it went through his helm, 
and through the coif of steel, and through the brain-pan, and 
the sword stuck so fast in the helm and in his brain-pan that 
Sir Tristram pulled thrice at his sword or ever he might pull 
it out from his head ; and there Marhaus fell down on his 
knees, the edge of Tristram's sword left in his brain-pan. 
And suddenly Sir Marhaus rose grovelling, and threw his 
sword and his shield from him, and so ran to his ships and 
fled his way, and Sir Tristram had ever his shield and his 
sword. And when Sir Tristram saw Sir Marhaus withdraw 
him, he said : Ah ! sir knight of the Round Table, why 
withdrawest thou thee ? thou dost thyself and thy kin great 
shame, for I am but a young knight, or now I was nevei 
proved, and rather than I should withdraw me from thee, 1 
had rather be hewn in an hundred pieces. Sir Marhaus 
answered no word but yede his way sore groaning. Well, 
sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee thy sword and 
thy shield shall be mine ; and thy shield shall I wear in all 
places where I ride on mine adventures, and in the sight of 
King Arthur and all the Round Table. 



ANON Sir Marhaus and his fellowship departed into 
Ireland. And as soon as he came to the king, his brother, 
he let search his wounds. And when his head was searched 
a piece of Sir Tristram's sword was found therein, and might 
never be had out of his head for no surgeons, and so he died 
of Sir Tristram's sword ; and that piece of the sword the 
queen, his sister, kept it for ever with her, for she thought 
to be revenged an she might. Now turn we again unto Sir 
Tristram, that was sore wounded, and full sore bled that he 
might not within a little while, when he had taken cold, 
unnethe stir him of his limbs. And then he set him down 
softly upon a little hill, and bled fast. Then anon came 
Gouvernail, his man, with his vessel ; and the king and his 
barons came with procession against him. And when he 
was come unto the land, King Mark took him in his arms, 

King Arthur 249 

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

250 King Arthur 



THEN the king for great favour made Tramtrist to be put 
in his daughter's ward and keeping, because she was a 
noble surgeon. And when she had searched him she found 
in the bottom of his wound that therein was poison, and so 
she healed him within a while ; and therefore Tramtrist cast 
great love to La Beale Isoud, for she was at that time the 
fairest maid and lady of the world. And there Tramtrist 
learned her to harp, and she began to have a great fantasy 
unto him. And at that time Sir Palamides, the Saracen, 
was in that country, and well cherished with the king and 
the queen. And every day Sir Palamides drew unto La 
Beale Isoud and proffered her many gifts, for he loved her 
passingly well. All that espied Tramtrist, and full well knew 
he Sir Palamides for a noble knight and a mighty man. 
And wit you well Sir Tramtrist had great despite at Sir 
Palamides, for La Beale Isoud told Tramtrist that Palamides 
was in will to be christened for her sake. Thus was there 
great envy betwixt Tramtrist and Sir Palamides. Then it 
befell that King Anguish let cry a great jousts and a great 
tournament for a lady that was called the lady of the 
laundes, and she was nigh cousin unto the king. And what 
man won her, three days after he should wed her and have 
all her lands. This cry was made in England, Wales, 
Scotland, and also in France and in Brittany. It befell 
upon a day La Beale Isoud came unto Sir Tramtrist, and 
told him of this tournament. He answered and said : Fair 
lady, I am but a feeble knight, and but late I had been dead 
had not your good ladyship been. Now, fair lady, what 
would ye I should do in this matter? Well ye wot, my lady, 
that I may not joust. Ah, Tramtrist, said La Beale Isoud, 
why will ye not have ado at that tournament ? well I wot 
Sir Palamides shall be there, and to do what he may ; and 
therefore Tramtrist, I pray you for to be there, for else Sir 
Palamides is like to win the degree. Madam, said Tram- 
trist, as for that, it may be so, for he is a proved knight, and 
I am but a young knight and late made ; and the first 
battle that I did it mishapped me to be sore wounded as ye 
see. But an I wist ye would be my better lady, at that 

King Arthur 251 

tournament I will be, so that ye will keep my counsel and 
let no creature have knowledge that I shall joust but your- 
self, and such as ye will to keep your counsel ; my poor 
person shall I jeopard there for your sake, that, peradventure, 
Sir Palamides shall know when that I come. Thereto, said 
La Beale Isoud, do your best, and as I can, said La Beale 
Isoud, I shall purvey horse and armour for you at my 
device. As ye will so be it, said Sir Tramtrist, I will be at 
your commandment. So at the day of jousts there came 
Sir Palamides with a black shield, and he overthrew many 
knights, that all the people had marvel of him. For he put 
to the worse Sir Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, Bagdemagus, 
Kay, Dodias le Savage, Sagramore le Desirous, Gumret le 
Petit, and Griflet le Fise de Dieu. All these the first day 
Sir Palamides struck down to the earth. And then all 
manner of knights were adread of Sir Palamides, and many 
called him the knight with the black shield. So that day Sir 
Palamides had great worship. Then came King Anguish 
unto Tramtrist, and asked him why he would not joust. Sir, 
he said, I was but late hurt, and as yet I dare not adven- 
ture me. Then came there the same squire that was sent 
from the king's daughter of France unto Sir Tristram. 
And when he had espied Sir Tristram he fell flat to his feet. 
All that espied La Beale Isoud, what courtesy the squire 
made unto Sir Tristram. And therewithal suddenly Sir 
Tristram ran unto his squire, whose name was Hebes le 
Renoumes, and prayed him heartily in no wise to tell his 
name. Sir, said Hebes, I will not discover your name but 
if ye command me. 



THEN Sir Tristram asked him what he did in those 
countries. Sir, he said, I came hither with Sir Gawaine for 
to be made knight, and if it please you, of your hands that I 
may be made knight. Await upon me as tomorn secretly, 
and in the field I shall make you a knight. Then had La 
Beale Isoud great suspicion unto Tramtrist, that he was 
some man of worship proved, and therewith she comforted 



herself, and cast more love unto him than she had done to- 
fore. And so on the mom Sir Palamides made him ready 
to come into the field as he did the first day. And 
there he smote down the king with the hundred knights, and 
the King of Scots. Then had La Beale Isoud ordained and 
well arrayed Sir Tristram in white horse and harness. And 
right so she let put him out at a privy postern, and so 
he came into the field as it had been a bright angel. And 
anon Sir Palamides espied him, and therewith he feutred 
a spear unto Sir Tramtrist, and he again unto him. And 
there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides unto the earth. 
And then there was a great noise of people : some said 
Sir Palamides had a fall, some said the knight with the 
black shield had a fall. And wit you well La Beale 
Isoud was passing glad. And then Sir Gawaine and his 
fellows nine had marvel what knight it might be that had 
smitten down Sir Palamides. Then would there none joust 
with Tramtrist, but all that there were forsook him, most and 
least. Then Sir Tristram made Hebes a knight, and caused 
him to put himself forth, and did right well that day. So 
after Sir Hebes held him with Sir Tristram. And when 
Sir Palamides had received this fall, wit ye well that he 
was sore ashamed, and as privily as he might he withdrew 
him out of the field. All that espied Sir Tristram, and 
lightly he rode after Sir Palamides and overtook him, 
and bad him turn, for better he would essay him or ever he 
departed. Then Sir Palamides turned him, and either 
lashed at other with their swords. But at the first stroke Sir 
Tristram smote down Palamides, and gave him such a stroke 
upon the head that he fell to the earth. So then Tristram 
bad yield him, and do his commandment, or else he would 
slay him. When Sir Palamides beheld his countenance, he 
dread his buffets so, that he granted all his askings. Well 
said, said Sir Tristram, this shall be your charge. First, upon 
pain of your life that ye forsake my lady La Beale Isoud, and 
in no manner wise that ye draw not to her. Also this 
twelvemonth and a day that ye bear none armour nor none 
harness of war. Now promise me this, or here shalt thou 
die. Alas, said Palamides, for ever am I ashamed. Then 
he sware as Sir Tristram had commanded him. Then 
for despite and anger Sir Palamides cut off his harness, and 
threw them away. And so Sir Tristram turned again to the 
castle where was La Beale Isoud ; and by the way he met 

King Arthur 253 

with a damosel that asked after Sir Launcelot, that won the 
Dolorous Guard worshipfully ; and this damosel asked Sir 
Tristram what he was. For it was told her that it was he 
that smote down Sir Palamides, by whom the ten knights 
of King Arthur's were smitten down. Then the damosel 
prayed Sir Tristram to tell her what he was, and whether 
that he were Sir Launcelot du Lake, for she deemed that 
there was no knight in the world might do such deeds of 
arms but if it were Launcelot. Fair damosel, said Sir 
Tristram, wit ye well that I am not Sir Launcelot, for I was 
never of such prowess, but in God is all that he may make 
me as good a knight as the good knight Sir Launcelot. 
Now, gentle knight, said she, put up thy visor ; and when she 
beheld his visage she thought she saw never a better man's 
visage, nor a better faring knight. And then when the 
damosel knew certainly that he was not Sir Launcelot, then 
she took her leave, and departed from him. And then Sir 
Tristram rode privily unto the postern, where kept him La 
Beale Isoud, and there she made him good cheer, and 
thanked God of his good speed. So anon, within a while 
the king and the queen understood that it was Tramtrist 
that smote down Sir Palamides ; then was he much made of, 
more than he was before. 



THUS was Sir Tramtrist long there well cherished with 
the king and the queen, and namely with La Beale Isoud. 
So upon a day the queen and La Beale Isoud made a bayne 
for Sir Tramtrist. And when he was in his bayne the queen 
and Isoud, her daughter, roamed up and down in the 
chamber ; and therewhiles Gouvernail and Hebes attended 
upon Tramtrist, and the queen beheld his sword there as it 
lay upon his bed. And then by unhap the queen drew out 
his sword and beheld it a long while, and both they thought 
it a passing fair sword ; but within a foot and an half of the 
point there was a great piece thereof out broken of the 
edge. And when the queen espied that gap hi the sword, 
she remembered her of a piece of a sword that was found in 

254 King Arthur 

the brain-pan of Sir Marhaus, the good knight that was her 
brother. Alas then, said she unto her daughter, La Beale 
Isoud, this is the same traitor knight that slew my brother, 
thine erne. When Isoud heard her say so she was passing 
sore abashed, for passing well she loved Tramtrist, and full 
well she knew the cruelness of her mother the queen. Anon 
therewithal the queen went unto her own chamber, and 
sought her coffer, and there she took out the piece of the 
sword that was pulled out of Sir Marhaus' head after that he 
was dead. And then she ran with that piece of iron to the 
sword that lay upon the bed. And when she put that piece 
of steel and iron unto the sword, it was as meet as it might 
be when it was new broken. And then the queen gripped 
that sword in her hand fiercely, and with all her might she 
ran straight upon Tramtrist where he sat in his bayne, and 
there she had rived him through had not Sir Hebes gotten 
her in his arms, and pulled the sword from her, and else she 
had thrust him through. Then when she was let of her evil 
will she ran to the King Anguish, her husband, and said on 
her knees : O my lord, here have ye in your house that 
traitor knight that slew my brother and your servant, that 
noble knight, Sir Marhaus. Who is that, said King Anguish, 
and where is he ? Sir, she said, it is Sir Tramtrist, the 
same knight that my daughter healed. Alas, said the king, 
therefore am I right heavy, for he is a full noble knight as 
ever I saw in field. But I charge you, said the king to the 
queen, that ye have not ado with that knight, but let me 
deal with him. Then the king went into the chamber unto 
Sir Tramtrist, and then was he gone unto his chamber, and 
the king found him all ready armed to mount upon his 
horse. When the king saw him all ready armed to go unto 
horseback, the king said: Nay, Tramtrist, it will not avail to 
compare thee against me ; but thus much I shall do for my 
worship and for thy love ; in so much as thou art within my 
court it were no worship for me to slay thee : therefore upon 
this condition I will give thee leave for to depart from this 
court in safety, so thou wilt tell me who was thy father, and 
what is thy name, and if thou slew Sir Marhaus, my 

King Arthur 255 



SIR, said Tristram, now I shall tell you all the truth: my 
father's name is Sir Meliodas, King of Liones, and my 
mother hight Elizabeth, that was sister unto King Mark of 
Cornwall ; and my mother died of me in the forest, and by 
cause thereof she commanded or she died that when I were 
christened they should christen me Tristram ; and by cause 
I would not be known in this country I turned my name and 
let me call Tramtrist ; and for the truage of Cornwall I 
fought for my erne's sake, and for the right of Cornwall that 
ye had posseded many years. And wit ye well, said Tristram 
unto the king, I did the battle for the love of mine uncle, 
King Mark, and for the love of the country of Cornwall, 
and for to increase mine honour ; for that same day that I 
fought with Sir Marhaus I was made knight, and never or 
then did I battle with no knight, and from me he went alive, 
and left his shield and his sword behind. So God me help, 
said the king, I may not say but ye did as a knight should, 
and it was your part to do for your quarrel, and to increase 
your worship as a knight should ; howbeit I may not main- 
tain you in this country with my worship, unless that I 
should displease my barons, and my wife and her kin. Sir, 
said Tristram, I thank you of your good lordship that I have 
had with you here, and the great goodness my lady, your 
daughter, hath shewed me, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, 
it may so happen that ye shall win more by my life than by 
my death, for in the parts of England it may happen I may 
do you service at some season, that ye shall be glad that ever 
ye shewed me your good lordship. With more I promise 
you as I am true knight, that in all places I shall be my 
lady, your daughter's, servant and knight in right and in 
wrong, and I shall never fail her to do as much as a knight 
may do. Also I beseech your good grace that I may take 
my leave at my lady, your daughter, and at all the barons 
and knights. I will well, said the king. Then Sir Tristram 
went unto La Beale Isoud and took his leave of her. And 
then he told her all, what he was, and how he had changed 
his name by cause he would not be known, and how a lady 
told him that he should never be whole till he came into this 



country where the poison was made, wherethrough I was 
near my death had not your ladyship been. O gentle knight, 
said La Beale Isoud, full woe am I of thy departing, for I 
saw never man that I owed so good will to. And there- 
withal she wept heartily. Madam, said Sir Tristram, ye 
shall understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, 
gotten of King Meliodas, and born of his queen. And 
I promise you faithfully that I shall be all the days of my 
life your knight. Gramercy, said La Beale Isoud, and I 
promise you thereagainst that I shall not be married this 
seven years but by your assent ; and to whom that ye will I 
shall be married to him will I have, and he will have me if 
ye will consent. And then Sir Tristram gave her a ring, and 
she gave him another ; and therewith he departed from her, 
leaving her making great dole and lamentation ; and he 
straight went unto the court among all the barons, and there 
he took his leave at most and least and openly he said 
among them all : Fair lords, now it is so that I must depart : 
if there be any man here that I have offended unto, or that 
any man be with me grieved, let complain him here afore 
me or that ever I depart, and I shall amend it unto my 
power. And if there be any that will proffer me wrong, or 
say of me wrong or shame behind my back, say it now or 
never, and here is my body to make it good, body against 
body. And all they stood still, there was not one that 
would say one word ; yet were there some knights that 
were of the queen's blood, and of Sir Marhaus' blood, 
but they would not meddle with him. 




So Sir Tristram departed, and took the sea, and with 
good wind he arrived up at Tintagil in Cornwall ; and when 
King Mark was whole in his prosperity there came tidings 
that Sir Tristram was arrived, and whole of his wounds : 
thereof was King Mark passing glad, and so were all the 
barons ; and when he saw his time he rode unto his father, 
King Meliodas, and there he had all the cheer that the 
king and the queen could make him. And then largely 
King Meliodas and his queen departed of their lands and 

King Arthur 23- 

goods to .Sir 'Tri.r.ram. Then by the license of Kir 
M. r . his father, he returned again unto the court 

King .Mark, and there he lived m great joy v.e. until 

at the last t Befell a jealousy and an unkindness be:v. 

King Mark and Sir Tristram, for they 
lady. And she was an earl's wife that hight Sir S 
And this lady loved Sir Tristram passingly well. And 
loved her a^.in, for she was a y^. : fair lady, and that 
espied Sir Tristram well Then King Mark unce: 
that and was is, for King Mark loved her passim 

well. So it fell upon a day this lady sent a d unto 
Tristram, and bad him, as he loved her, that he would be 
with her the night next : ing. Also she charred y . 
that ye come not to her but if ye ;il armed, for I 

lover was called a rood knight. Sir Tristram c.. red to 
the dwarf: Recommend me unto my lady, and tell her I 
will not fail but I will be wil e term that she ha::. 

set me. And with this answer the dwarf d-: A. Ana 
King Mark espied that the dwarf was with Sir Tristram 
upon message from Segwarides'' rife : tr.en King Mark sent 
for the dwarf, and when he was come he made the dwarf by 
force to tell him all, why and wherefore that he came on 
message from Sir Tristram. Now, said King Mark, go 
where thou wilt, and upon pain of death that thou - 
word that thou spaker. with me : so the dwarf departed 
from the king. And that same night that the Steven was 
set betwixt Segv/arides' wife and Sir Tri-tram, King Mark 
armed him, and made him ready, and took two k: 
of his council with him ; and so he rode afore for to 
abide by the way, for to wait upon Sir Tristram. And 
as Sir Tristram came riding upon his way v.v.h his spear 
in his hand, King Mark came hurtling upon him with his 
two knights suddenly. And all three smote him with their 
spears, and King Mark hurt Sir Tristram on the breast 
right sore. And then Sir Tristram feutred his .-. and 
smote his uncle, King Mark, so sore, that he rashed him to 
the earth, and bruised him that he lay still in a swoon, 
and long it was or ever he might welde himself. And then 
he ran to the one knight, and efte to the other, and smote 
them to the cold earth, that they lay still. And therewithal 
Sir Tristram rode forth sore wounded to the lady, and 
found her abiding him at a postern. 

258 King Arthur 




AND there she welcomed him fair, and either halsed 
other in arms, and so she let put up his horse in the best 
wise, and then she unarmed him. And so they supped 
lightly, and went to bed with great joy and pleasaunce ; 
and so in his raging he took no keep of his green wound 
that King Mark had given him. And so Sir Tristram bled 
both the over sheet and the nether, and pillows, and head 
sheet. And within a while there came one afore, that 
warned her that her lord was near hand within a bow 
draught. So she made Sir Tristram to arise, and so he 
armed him, and took his horse, and so departed. By then 
was come Segwarides, her lord, and when he found her bed 
troubled and broken, and went near and beheld it by 
candle light, then he saw that there had lain a wounded 
knight. Ah, false traitress, then he said, why hast thou 
betrayed me? And therewithal he swang out a sword, 
and said : But if thou tell me who hath been here, here 
thou shalt die. Ah, my lord, mercy, said the lady, and 
held up her hands, saying : Slay me not, and I shall tell 
you all who hath been here. Tell anon, said Segwarides, 
to me all the truth. Anon for dread she said : Here was 
Sir Tristram with me, and by the way as he came to me 
ward, he was sore wounded. Ah, false traitress, said 
Segwarides, where is he become? Sir, she said, he is 
armed, and departed on horseback, not yet hence half a 
mile. Ye say well, said Segwarides. Then he armed 
him lightly, and gat his horse, and rode after Sir 
Tristram that rode straightway unto Tintagil. And within 
a while he overtook Sir Tristram, and then he bad him, 
Turn, false traitor-knight. And Sir Tristram anon turned 
him against him. And therewithal Segwarides smote Sir 
Tristram with a spear that it all to brast; and then he 
swang out his sword and smote fast at Sir Tristram. Sir 
knight, said Sir Tristram, I counsel you that ye smite no 
more, howbeit for the wrongs that I have done you I will 
forbear you as long as I may. Nay, said Segwarides, that 
shall not be, for either thou shalt die or I. Then Sir 
Tristram drew out his sword, and hurtled his horse unto 

King Arthur 259 

him fiercely, and through the waist of the body he smote 
Sir Segwarides that he fell to the earth in a swoon. And 
so Sir Tristram departed and left him there. And so he 
rode unto Tintagil and took his lodging secretly, for he 
would not be known that he was hurt. Also Sir Segwarides' 
men rode after their master, whom they found lying in the 
field sore wounded, and brought him home on his shield, 
and there he lay long or that he were whole, but at the last 
he recovered. Also King Mark would not be aknown of that 
Sir Tristram and he had met that night. And as for Sir 
Tristram, he knew not that King Mark had met with him. 
And so the king askance came to Sir Tristram, to comfort 
him as he lay sick in his bed. But as long as King Mark 
lived he loved never Sir Tristram after that ; though there 
was fair speech, love was there none. And thus it passed 
many weeks and days, and all was forgiven and forgotten ; 
for Sir Segwarides durst not have ado with Sir Tristram, 
because of his noble prowess, and also because he was 
nephew unto King Mark ; therefore he let it overslip : for 
he that hath a privy hurt is loth to have a shame outward. 



THEN it befell upon a day that the good knight Bleoberis 
de Ganis, brother to Blamore de Ganis, and nigh cousin 
unto the good knight Sir Launcelot du Lake, this Bleoberis 
came unto the court of King Mark, and there he asked of 
King Mark a boon, to give him what gift that he would ask 
in his court. When the king heard him ask so, he mar- 
velled of his asking, but because he was a knight of the 
Round Table, and of a great renown, King Mark granted 
him his whole asking. Then, said Sir Bleoberis, I will have 
the fairest lady in your court that me list to choose. I may 
not say nay, said King Mark ; now choose at your adventure. 
And so Sir Bleoberis did choose Sir Segwarides' wife, and 
took her by the hand, and so went his way with her ; and so 
he took his horse and gart set her behind his squire, and 
rode upon his way. When Sir Segwarides heard tell that his 
lady was gone with a knight of King Arthur's court, then he 

260 King" Arthur 

armed him and rode after that knight for to rescue his lady. 
So when Bleoberis was gone with this lady, King Mark and 
all the court was wroth that she was away. Then were 
there certain ladies that knew that there were great love 
between Sir Tristram and her, and also that lady loved Sir 
Tristram above all other knights. Then there was one lady 
that rebuked Sir Tristram in the horriblest wise, and called 
him coward knight, that he would for shame of his knight- 
hood see a lady so shamefully be taken away from his uncle's 
court. But she meant that either of them had loved other 
with entire heart. But Sir Tristram answered her thus : Fair 
lady, it is not my part to have ado in such matters while her 
lord and husband is present here ; and if it had been that 
her lord had not been here in this court, then for the 
worship of this court perad venture I would have been her 
champion, and if so be Sir Segwarides speed not well, it may 
happen that I will speak with that good knight or ever he 
pass from this country. Then within a while came one of 
Sir Segwarides' squires, and told in the court that Sir 
Segwarides was beaten sore and wounded to the point of 
death ; as he would have rescued his lady Sir Bleoberis over- 
threw him and sore hath wounded him. Then was Kins; 


Mark heavy thereof, and all the court. When Sir Tristram 
heard of this he was ashamed and sore grieved ; and then 
was he soon armed and on horseback, and Gouvernail, his 
servant, bare his shield and spear. And so as Sir Tristram 
rode fast he met with Sir Andret his cousin, that by the 
commandment of King Mark was sent to bring forth, an ever 
it lay in his power, two knights of Arthur's court, that rode 
by the country to seek their adventures. When Sir Tristram 
saw Sir Andret he asked him what tidings. So God me help, 
said Sir Andret, there was never worse with me, for here by 
the commandment of King Mark I was sent to fetch two 
knights of King Arthur's court, and that one beat me and 
wounded me, and set nought by my message. Fair cousin, 
said Sir Tristram, ride on your way, and if I may meet them 
it may happen I shall revenge you. So Sir Andret rode into 
Cornwall, and Sir Tristram rode after the two knights, the 
which one hight Sagramore Le Desirous, and the other 
night Dodinas Le Savage. 

King Arthur 261 




THEN within a while Sir Tristram saw them afore him, 
two likely knights. Sir, said Gouvernail unto his master, 
Sir, I would counsel you not to have ado with them, for 
they be two proved knights of Arthur's court. As for that, 
said Sir Tristram, have ye no doubt but I will have ado with 
them to increase my worship, for it is many day sythen I did 
any deeds of arms. Do as ye list, said Gouvernail. And 
therewithal anon Sir Tristram asked them from whence they 
came, and whither they would, and what they did in those 
marches. Sir Sagramore looked upon Sir Tristram, and had 
scorn of his words, and asked him again, Fair knight, be ye 
a knight of Cornwall ? Whereby ask ye it ? said Sir Tristram. 
For it is seldom seen, said Sir Sagramore, that ye Cornish 
knights be valiant men of arms ; for within these two hours 
there met us one of your Cornish knights, and great words 
he spake, and anon with little might he was laid to the earth. 
And, as I trow, said Sir Sagramore, ye shall have the same 
handsel that he had. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it may 
so happen that I may better withstand than he did, and 
whether ye will or no I will have ado with you, because he 
was my cousin that ye beat. And therefore here do your 
best, and wit ye well but if ye quit you the better here upon 
this ground, one knight of Cornwall shall beat you both. 
When Sir Dodinas le Savage heard him say so he gat a 
spear in his hand, and said, Sir knight, keep well thyself. 
And then they departed and came together as it had been 
thunder. And Sir Dodinas' spear brast in sunder, but Sir 
Tristram smote him with a more might, that he smote him 
clean over the horse croup, that nigh he had broken his 
neck. When Sir Sagramore saw his fellow have such a fall 
he marvelled what knight he might be. And he dressed his 
spear with all his might, and Sir Tristram against him, and 
they came together as the thunder, and there Sir Tristram 
smote Sir Sagramore a strong buffet, that he bare his horse 
and him to the earth, and in the falling he brake his thigh. 
When this was done Sir Tristram asked them : Fair knights, 
will ye any more ? Be there no bigger knights in the court 
of King Arthur? it is to you shame to say of us knights of 

i K 

262 King Arthur 

Cornwall dishonour, for it may happen a Cornish knight may 
match you. That is truth, said Sir Sagramore, that have we 
well proved ; but I require thee, said Sir Sagramore, tell us 
your right name, by the faith and troth that ye owe to the 
high order of knighthood. Ye charge me with a great thing, 
said Sir Tristram, and sythen ye list to wit it, ye shall know 
and understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, 
King Meliodas' son, and nephew unto King Mark. Then 
were they two knights fain that they had met with Tristram, 
and so they prayed him to abide in their fellowship. Nay, 
said Sir Tristram, for I must have ado with one of your 
fellows, his name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis. God speed you 
well, said Sir Sagramore and Dodinas. Sir Tristram 
departed and rode onward on his way. And then was he 
ware before him in a valley where rode Sir Bleoberis with Sir 
Segwarides' lady that rode behind his squire upon a palfrey. 



THEN Sir Tristram rode more than a pace until that he 
had overtaken him. Then spake Sir Tristram : Abide, he 
said, Knight of Arthur's court, bring again that lady, or 
deliver her to me. I will do neither, said Bleoberis, for I 
dread no Cornish knight so sore that me list to deliver her. 
Why, said Sir Tristram, may not a Cornish knight do as 
well as another knight ? this same day two knights of your 
court within this three mile met with me, and or ever we 
departed they found a Cornish knight good enough for 
them both. What were their names ? said Bleoberis. They 
told me, said Sir Tristram, that the one of them hight Sir 
Sagramore le Desirous, and the other hight Dodinas le 
Savage. Ah, said Sir Bleoberis, have ye met with them ? 
so God me help, they were two good knights and men of 
great worship, and if ye have beat them both ye must needs 
be a good knight ; but if it so be ye have beat them both, 
yet shall ye not fear me, but ye shall beat me or ever ye 
have this lady. Then defend you, said Sir Tristram. So 
they departed and came together like thunder, and either 
bare other down, horse and all, to the earth. Then they 

King Arthur 263 

avoided their horses, and lashed together eagerly with 
swords, and mightily, now tracing and traversing on the 
right hand and on the left hand more than two hours. And 
sometime they rushed together with such a might that they 
lay both grovelling on the ground. Then Sir Bleoberis de 
Ganis start aback, and said thus : Now, gentle good knight, 
a while hold your hands, and let us speak together. Say 
what ye will, said Tristram, and I will answer you. Sir, 
said Bleoberis, I would wit of whence ye be, and of whom 
ye be come, and what is your name? So God me help, 
said Sir Tristram, I fear not to tell you my name. Wit ye 
well I am King Meliodas' son, and my mother is King 
Mark's sister, and my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and 
King Mark is mine uncle. Truly, said Bleoberis, I am 
right glad of you, for ye are he that slew Marhaus the 
knight, hand for hand in an island, for the truage of Corn- 
wall ; also ye overcame Sir Palamides the good knight, at a 
tournament in an island, where ye beat Sir Gawaine and his 
nine fellows. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, wit ye 
well that I am the same knight ; now I have told you my 
name, tell me yours with good will. Wit ye well that my 
name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, and my brother hight Sir 
Blamore de Ganis, that is called a good knight, and we be 
sister's children unto my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake, that 
we call one of the best knights of the world. That is truth, 
said Sir Tristram, Sir Launcelot is called peerless of courtesy 
and of knighthood ; and for his sake, said Sir Tristram, I 
will not with my good will fight no more with you, for the 
great love I have to Sir Launcelot du Lake. In good faith, 
said Bleoberis, as for me I will be loth to fight with you ; 
but sythen ye follow me here to have this lady, I shall 
proffer you kindness, courtesy, and gentleness right here 
upon this ground. This lady shall be betwixt us both, and 
to whom that she will go, let him have her in peace. I will 
well, said Tristram, for, as I deem, she will leave you and 
come to me. Ye shall prove it anon, said Bleoberis 



So when she was set betwixt them both she said these 
words unto Sir Tristram : Wit ye well, Sir Tristram de 



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

King Arthur 265 

bring her again. These words pleased Sir Segwarides right 
well, that Sir Tristram would do so much ; and so that lady 
told all the battle unto King Mark betwixt Sir Tristram and 
Sir Bleoberis. 



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

266 King Arthur 

Cornish knight should overcome me. And then for despite 
Sir Ector put off his armour from him, and went on foot, 
and would not ride. 



THEN it fell that Sir Bleoberis and Sir Blamore de Gams, 
that were brethren, they had summoned the King Anguish 
of Ireland for to come to Arthur's court upon pain of 
forfeiture of King Arthur's good grace. And if the King of 
Ireland came not in at the day assigned and set the king 
should lose his hands. So by it happened that at the day 
assigned, King Arthur neither Sir Launcelot might not be 
there for to give the judgment, for King Arthur was with 
Sir Launcelot at the Castle Joyous Card. And so King 
Arthur assigned King Carados and the King of Scots to 
be there that day as judges. So when the kings were at 
Camelot King Anguish of Ireland was come to know his 
accusers. Then was there Sir Blamore de Ganis, and 
appeled the King of Ireland of treason, that he had slain a 
cousin of his in his court in Ireland by treason. The king 
was sore abashed of his accusation, for why ? he was come 
at the summons of King Arthur, and or he came at Camelot 
he wist not wherefore he was sent after. And when the 
king heard Sir Blamore say his will, he understood well 
there was none other remedy but for to answer him knightly ; 
for the custom was such in those days, that an any man 
were appeled of any treason or murder he should fight 
body for body, or else to find another knight for him. And 
all manner of murderers in those days were called treason. 
So when King Anguish understood his accusing he was 
passing heavy, for he knew Sir Blamore de Ganis that he 
was a noble knight, and of noble knights come. Then the 
King of Ireland was simply purveyed of his answer ; there- 
fore the judges gave him respite by the third day to give 
his answer. So the king departed unto his lodging. The 
meanwhile there came a lady by Sir Tristram's pavilion 
making great dole. What aileth you, said Sir Tristram, 
that ye make such dole ? Ah, fair knight, said the lady, I 
am ashamed unless that some good knight help me ; for a 

King Arthur 267 

great lady of worship sent by me a fair child and a rich, 
unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, and hereby there met with me 
a knight, and threw me down from my palfrey, and took 
away the child from me. Well, my lady, said Sir Tristram, 
and for my lord Sir Launcelot's sake I shall get you that 
child again, or else I shall be beaten for it. And so Sir 
Tristram took his horse, and asked the lady which way the 
knight rode: and then she told him. And he rode after 
him, and within a while he overtook that knight. And 
then Sir Tristram bad him turn and give again the child. 



THE knight turned his horse and made him ready to 
nsfht. And then Sir Tristram smote him with a sword such 


a buffet that he tumbled to the earth. And then he yielded 
him unto Sir Tristram. Then come thy way, said Sir 
Tristram, and bring the child to the lady again. So he 
took his horse meekly and rode with Sir Tristram ; and 
then by the way Sir Tristram asked him his name. Then 
he said, My name is Breuse Saunce Pite. So when he had 
delivered that child to the lady, he said : Sir, as in this the 
child is well remedied. Then Sir Tristram let him go again 
that sore repented him after, for he was a great foe unto 
many good knights of King Arthur's court. Then when 
Sir Tristram was in his pavilion Gouvernail, his man, came 
and told him how that King Anguish of Ireland was come 
thither, and he was put in great distress ; and there Gouver- 
nail told Sir Tristram how King Anguish was summoned 
and appeled of murder. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, 
these be the best tidings that ever came to me these seven 
years, for now shall the king of Ireland have need of my 
help ; for I daresay there is no knight in this country that 
is not of Arthur's court dare do battle with Sir Blamore 
de Ganis ; and for to win the love of the King of Ireland I 
will take the battle upon me; and therefore Gouvernail 
bring me, I charge thee, to the king. Then Gouvernail 
went unto King Anguish of Ireland, and saluted him fair. 
The king welcomed him and asked him what he would. Sir, 
said Gouvernail, here is a knight near hand that desireth 

268 King Arthur 

to speak with you : he bad me say he would do you 
service. What knight is he ? said the king. Sir, said he, it 
is Sir Tristram de Liones, that for your good grace that ye 
showed him in your lands will reward you in this country. 
Come on, fellow, said the king, with me anon and show me 
unto Sir Tristram. So the king took a little hackney and 
but few fellowship with him, until he came unto Sir Tris- 
tram's pavilion. And when Sir Tristram saw the king he 
ran unto him and would have holden his stirrup. But 
the king leapt from his horse lightly, and either halsed 
other in their arms. My gracious lord, said Sir Tristram, 
gramercy of your great goodnesses showed unto me in your 
marches and lands : and at that time I promised you to do 
you service an ever it lay in my power. And, gentle knight, 
said the king unto Sir Tristram, now have I great need 
of you, never had I so great need of no knight's help. 
How so, my good lord? said Sir Tristram. I shall tell 
you, said the king : I am summoned and appeled from my 
country for the death of a knight that was kin unto the 
good knight Sir Launcelot ; wherefore Sir Blamore de 
Ganis, brother to Sir Bleoberis hath appeled me to fight 
with him, outher to find a knight in my stead. And well I 
wot, said the king, these that are come of King Ban's 
blood, as Sir Launcelot and these other, are passing good 
knights, and hard men for to win in battle as any that I 
know now living. Sir, said Sir Tristram, for the good lord- 
ship ye showed me in Ireland, and for my lady your 
daughter's sake, La Beale Isoud, I will take the battle for 
you upon this condition that ye shall grant me two things : 
that one is that ye shall swear to me that ye are in the 
right, that ye were never consenting to the knight's death ; 
Sir, then said Sir Tristram, when that I have done this 
battle, if God give rne grace that I speed, that ye shall give 
me a reward, what thing reasonable that I will ask of you. 
So God me help, said the king, ye shall have whatsomever 
ye will ask. It is well said, said Sir Tristram. 

King Arthur 269 



Now make your answer that your champion is ready, for 
I shall die in your quarrel rather than to be recreant. I 
have no doubt of you, said the king, that, an ye should have 
ado with Sir Launcelot du Lake. Sir, said Sir Tristram, as 
for Sir Launcelot, he is called the noblest knight of the 
world, and wit ye well that the knights of his blood are 
noble men, and dread shame ; and as for Bleoberis, brother 
unto Sir Blamore, I have done battle with him, therefore 
upon my head it is no shame to call him a good knight. It 
is noised, said the king, that Blamore is the hardier knight. 
Sir, as for that let him be, he shall never be refused, an as 
he were the best knight that now beareth shield or spear. 
So King Anguish departed unto King Carados and the 
kings that were that time as judges, and told them that he 
had found his champion ready. Then by the command- 
ment of the kings Sir Blamore de Ganis and Sir Tristram 
were sent for to hear the charge. And when they were 
come before the judges there were many kings and knights 
beheld Sir Tristram, and much speech they had of him 
because that he slew Sir Marhaus, the good knight, and 
because he forjousted Sir Palamides the good knight. So 
when they had taken their charge they withdrew them to 
make them ready to do battle. Then said Sir Bleoberis 
unto his brother, Sir Blamore : Fair dear brother, remember 
of what kin we be come of, and what a man is Sir Launcelot 
du Lake, neither farther nor nearer but brother's children, 
and there was never none of our kin that ever was shamed 
in battle ; and rather suffer death, brother, than to be 
shamed. Brother, said Blamore, have ye no doubt of me, 
for I shall never shame none of my blood ; howbeit I am 
sure that yonder knight is called a passing good knight as 
of his time one of the world, yet shall I never yield me, nor 
say the loth word : well may he happen to smite me down 
with his great might of chivalry, but rather shall he slay me 
than I shall yield me as recreant. God speed you well, said 
Sir Bleoberis, for ye shall find him the mightiest knight that 
ever ye had ado withal, for I know him, for I have had ado 
with him. God me speed, said Sir Blamore de Ganis ; and 

145 * K 

270 King Arthur 

therewith he took his horse at the one end of the lists, and 
Sir Tristram at the other end of the lists, and so they feutred 
their spears and came together as it had been thunder ; and 
there Sir Tristram through great might smote down Sir 
Blamore and his horse to the earth. Then anon Sir Blamore 
avoided his horse and pulled out his sword and threw his 
shield afore him, and bad Sir Tristram alight : For though 
an horse hath failed me, I trust to God the earth will not 
fail me. And then Sir Tristram alit, and dressed him unto 
battle ; and there they lashed together strongly as racing 
and tracing, foyning and dashing, many sad strokes, that 
the kings and knights had great wonder that they might 
stand ; for ever they fought like wood men, so that there 
was never knights seen fight more fiercely than they did ; 
for Sir Blamore was so hasty that he would have no rest, 
that all men wondered that they had breath to stand on 
their feet ; and all the place was bloody that they fought in. 
And at the last, Sir Tristram smote Sir Blamore such a 
buffet upon the helm that he there fell down upon his side, 
and Sir Tristram stood and beheld him. 



THEN when Sir Blamore might speak, he said thus : Sir 
Tristram de Liones, I require thee, as thou art a noble 
knight, and the best knight that ever I found, that thou wilt 
slay me out, for I would not live to be made lord of all the 
earth, for I have lever die with worship than live with shame ; 
and needs, Sir Tristram, thou must slay me, or else thou 
shalt never win the field, for I will never say the loth word. 
And therefore if thou dare slay me, slay me, I require thee. 
When Sir Tristram heard him say so knightly, he wist not 
what to do with him ; he remembering him of both parties, 
of what blood he was come, and for Sir Launcelot's sake he 
would be loth to slay him ; and in the other party in no 
wise he might not choose, but that he must make him to 
say the loth word, or else to slay him. Then Sir Tristram 
start aback, and went to the kings that were judges, and 
there he kneeled down tofore them, and besought them for 
their worships, and for King Arthur's and Sir Launcelot's 

King Arthur 271 

sake, that they would take this matter in their hands. For, 
my fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it were shame and pity that 
this noble knight that yonder lieth should be slain ; for ye 
hear well, shamed will he not be, and I pray to God that he 
never be slain nor shamed for me. And as for the king for 
whom I fight for, I shall require him, as I am his true 
champion and true knight in this field, that he will have 
mercy upon this good knight. So God me help, said King 
Anguish, I will for your sake, Sir Tristram, be ruled as ye 
will have me, for I know you for my true knight ; and 
therefore I will heartily pray the kings that be here as 
judges to take it in their hands. And the kings that were 
judges called Sir Bleoberis to them, and asked him his 
advice. My lords, said Bleoberis, though my brother be 
beaten, and hath the worse through might of arms, I dare 
say, though Sir Tristram hath beaten his body he hath not 
beaten his heart, and I thank God he is not shamed this 
day ; and rather than he should be shamed I require you, 
said Bleoberis, let Sir Tristram slay him out. It shall not 
be so, said the kings, for his part adversary, both the king 
and the champion, have pity of Sir Blamore's knighthood. 
My lords, said Bleoberis, I will right well as ye will. Then 
the kings called the king of Ireland, and found him goodly 
and treatable. And then, by all their advices, Sir Tristram 
and Sir Bleoberis took up Sir Blamore, and the two brethren 
were accorded with King Anguish, and kissed and made 
friends for ever. And then Sir Blamore and Sir Tristram 
kissed together, and there they made their oaths that they 
would never none of them two brethren fight with Sir 
Tristram, and Sir Tristram made the same oath. And for 
that gentle battle all the blood of Sir Launcelot loved Sir 
Tristram for ever. Then King Anguish and Sir Tristram 
took their leave, and sailed into Ireland with great noblesse 
and joy. So when they were in Ireland the king let make 
it known throughout all the land how and in what manner 
Sir Tristram had done for him. Then the queen and all 
that there were made the most of him that they might. 
But the joy that La Beale Isoud made of Sir Tristram there 
might no tongue tell, for of all men earthly she loved him 


Kine Arthur 



THEN upon a day King Anguish asked Sir Tristram why 
he asked not his boon, for whatsomever he had promised 
him he should have it without fail. Sir, said Sir Tristram, 
now is it time ; this is all that I will desire, that ye will 
give me La Beale Isoud, your daughter, not for myself, but 
for mine uncle, King Mark, that shall have her to wife, for 
so have I promised him. Alas, said the king, I had liefer 
than all the land that I have ye would wed her yourself. 
Sir, an I did then I were shamed for ever in this world, 
and false of my promise. Therefore, said Sir Tristram, I 
pray you hold your promise that ye promised me ; for this 
is my desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud to go 
with me into Cornwall for to be wedded to King Mark, 
mine uncle. As for that, said King Anguish, ye shall have 
her with you to do with her what it please you ; that is for 
to say if that ye list to wed her yourself, that is me liefest, 
and if ye will give her unto King Mark, your uncle, that 
is in your choice. So to make short conclusion, La Beale 
Isoud was made ready to go with Sir Tristram, and Dame 
Bragwaine went with her for her chief gentlewoman, with 
many other. Then the queen, Isoud's mother, gave to her 
and Dame Bragwaine, her daughter's gentlewoman, and 
unto Gouvernail, a drink, and charged them that what day 
King Mark should wed, that same day they should give 
him that drink, so that King Mark should drink to La 
Beal Isoud, and then, said the queen, I undertake either 
shall love other the days of their life. So this drink was 
given unto Dame Bragwaine, and unto Gouvernail. And 
then anon Sir Tristram took the sea, and La Beale Isoud ; 
and when they were in their cabin, it happed so that 
they were thirsty, and they saw a little flacket of gold stand 
by them, and it seemed by the colour and the taste that it 
was noble wine. Then Sir Tristram took the flacket in his 
hand, and said, Madam I so ad, here is the best drink that 
ever ye drank, that Dame Bragwaine, your maiden, and 
Gouvernail, my servant, have kept for themself. Then they 
laughed and made good cheer, and either drank to other 
freely, and they thought never drink that ever they drank 

King Arthur 273 

to other was so sweet nor so good. But by that their drink 
was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that 
never their love departed for weal neither for woe. And 
thus it happed the love first betwixt Sir Tristram and La 
Beale Isoud, the which love never departed the days of 
their life. So then they sailed till by fortune they came 
nigh a castle that hight Pluere, and thereby arrived for to 
repose them, weening to them to have had good harbourage. 
But anon as Sir Tristram was within the castle they were 
taken prisoners '; for the custom of the castle was such, who 
that rode by that castle and brought any lady, he must 
needs fight with the lord, that hight Breunor. And if it 
were so that Breunor won the field, then should the knight 
stranger and his lady be put to death, what that ever they 
were ; and if it were so that the strange knight won the 
field of Sir Breunor, then should he die and his lady both. 
This custom was used many winters, for it was called the 
Castle Pluere, that is to say the Weeping Castle. 



THUS as Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud were in prison, 
it happed a knight and a lady came unto them where they 
were, to cheer them. I have marvel, said Tristram unto 
the knight and the lady, what is the cause the lord of this 
castle holdeth us in prison : it was never the custom of no 
place of worship that ever I came in, when a knight and a 
lady asked harbour, and they to receive them, and after to 
destroy them that be his guests. Sir, said the knight, this 
is the old custom of this castle, that when a knight cometh 
here he must needs fight with our lord, and he that is the 
weaker must lose his head. And when that is done, if his 
lady that he bringeth be fouler than our lord's wife, she 
must lose her head : and if she be fairer proved than is 
our lady, then shall the lady of this castle lose her head. So 
God me help, said Sir Tristram, this is a foul custom and 
a shameful. But one advantage have I, said Sir Tristram, 
I have a lady is fair enough, fairer saw I never in all my 
life days, and I doubt not for lack of beauty she shall not 

274 King Arthur 

lose her head ; and rather than I should lose my head I 
will fight for it on a fair field. Wherefore, sir knight, I pray 
you tell your lord that I will be ready as tomorn with my 
lady, and myself to do battle, if it be so I may have my 
horse and mine armour. Sir, said that knight, I undertake 
that your desire shall be sped right well. And then he 
said : Take your rest, and look that ye be up by times and 
make you ready and your lady, for ye shall want no thing 
that you behoveth. And therewith he departed, and on the 
morn betimes that same knight came to Sir Tristram, and 
fetched him out and his lady, and brought him horse and 
armour that was his own, and bade him make him ready 
to the field, for all the estates and commons of that lordship 
were there ready to behold that battle and judgment. Then 
came Sir Breunor, the lord of that castle, with his lady in 
his hand, muffled, and asked Sir Tristram where was his lady : 
For an thy lady be fairer than mine, with thy sword smite 
off my lady's head ; and if my lady be fairer than thine, 
with my sword I must strike off her head. And if I may 
win thee, yet shall thy lady be mine, and thou shalt lose 
thy head. Sir, said Tristram, this is a foul custom and 
horrible ; and rather than my lady should lose her head, 
yet had I lever lose my head. Nay, nay, said Sir Breunor, 
the ladies shall be first showed together, and the one shall 
have her judgment. Nay, I will not so, said Sir Tristram, 
for here is none that will give righteous judgment. But I 
doubt not, said Sir Tristram, my lady is fairer than thine, 
and that will I prove and make good with my hand. And 
whosomever he be that will say the contrary I will prove it 
on his head. And therewith Sir Tristram showed La Beale 
Isoud, and turned her thrice about with his naked sword in 
his hand. And when Sir Breunor saw that, he did the 
same wise turn his lady. But when Sir Breunor beheld 
La Beale Isoud, him thought he saw never a fairer lady, 
and then he dread his lady's head should be off. And 
so all the people that were there present gave judgment 
that La Beale Isoud was the fairer lady and the better 
made. How now, said Sir Tristram, meseemeth it were 
pity that my lady should lose her head, but because thou 
and she of long time have used this wicked custom, and 
by you both have many good knights and ladies been 
destroyed, for that cause it were no loss to destroy you 
both. So God me help, said Sir Breunor, for to say the 

King Arthur 275 

sooth, thy lady is fairer than mine, and that me sore 
repenteth. And so I hear the people privily say, for of 
all women I saw none so fair ; and therefore, an thou wilt 
slay my lady, I doubt not but I shall slay thee and have 
thy lady. Thou shalt win her, said Sir Tristram, as dear 
as ever knight won lady. And by cause of thine own 
judgment, as thou wouldst have done to my lady if that 
she had been fouler, and because of the evil custom, give 
me thy lady, said Sir Tristram. And therewithal Sir 
Tristram strode unto him and took his lady from him, 
and with an awk stroke he smote off her head clene. Well, 
knight, said Sir Breunor, now hast thou done me a despite. 



Now take thine horse : sythen I am ladyless I will win 
thy lady an I may. Then they took their horses and came 
together as it had been the thunder ; and Sir Tristram smote 
Sir Breunor clean from his horse, and lightly he rose up ; 
and as Sir Tristram came again by him he thrust his horse 
throughout both the shoulders, that his horse hurled here 
and there and fell dead to the ground. And ever Sir 
Breunor ran after to have slain Sir Tristram, but Sir Tris- 
tram was light and nimble, and voided his horse lightly. 
And or ever Sir Tristram might dress his shield and his 
sword the other gave him three or four sad strokes. Then 
they rushed together like two boars, tracing and traversing 
mightily and wisely as two noble knights. For this Sir 
Breunor was a proved knight, and had been or then the 
death of many good knights, that it was pity that he had so 
long endured. Thus they fought, hurling here and there 
nigh two hours, and either were wounded sore. Then at 
the last Sir Breunor rushed upon Sir Tristram and took him 
in his arms, for he trusted much in his strength. Then was 
Sir Tristram called the strongest and the highest knight of 
the world ; for he was called bigger than Sir Launcelot, but 
Sir Launcelot was better breathed. So anon Sir Tristram 
thrust Sir Breunor down grovelling, and then he unlaced 
his helm and struck off his head. And then all they that 
longed to the catle came to him 5 and did him homage and 

276 King Arthur 

fealty, praying him that he would abide there still a little 
while to fordo that foul custom. Sir Tristram granted 
thereto. The meanwhile one of the knights of the castle 
rode unto Sir Galahad, the haut prince, the which was Sir 
Breunor's son, which was a noble knight, and told him what 
misadventure his father had and his mother. 



THEN came Sir Galahad, and the king with the hundred 
knights with him ; and this Sir Galahad proffered to fight 
with Sir Tristram hand for hand. And so they made them 
ready to go unto battle on horseback with great courage. 
Then Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram met together so hard 
that either bare other down, horse and all, to the earth. 
And then they avoided their horses as noble knights, and 
dressed their shields, and drew their swords with ire and 
rancour, and they lashed together many sad strokes, and 
one while striking, another while foyning, tracing and 
traversing as noble knights ; thus they fought long, near 
half a day, and either were sore wounded. At the last Sir 
Tristram waxed light and big, and doubled his strokes, and 
drove Sir Galahad aback on the one side and on the other, 
so that he was like to have been slain. With that came the 
king with the hundred knights, and all that fellowship went 
fiercely upon Sir Tristram. When Sir Tristram saw them 
coming upon him, then he wist well he might not endure. 
Then as a wise knight of war, he said to Sir Galahad, the 
haut prince : Sir, ye show to me no knighthood, for to 
suffer all your men to have ado with me all at once ; and as 
meseemeth ye be a noble knight of your hands it is great 
shame to you. So God me help, said Sir Galahad, there is 
none other way but thou must yield thee to me, other else 
to die, said Sir Galahad to Sir Tristram. I will rather yield 
me to you than die, for that is more for the might of your 
men than of your hands. And therewithal Sir Tristram 
took his own sword by the point, and put the pommel in 
the hand of Sir Galahad. Therewithal came the king with 
the hundred knights, and hard began to assail Sir Tristram. 

King Arthur 277 

Let be, said Sir Galahad, be ye not so hardy to touch him, 
for I have given this knight his life. That is your shame, 
said the king with the hundred knights ; hath he not slain 
your father and your mother ? As for that, said Sir Galahad, 
I may not wyte him greatly, for my father had him in prison, 
and inforced him to do battle with him ; and my father had 
such a custom that was a shameful custom, that what knight 
came there to ask harbour his lady must needs die but if she 
were fairer than my mother ; and if my father overcame that 
knight he must needs die. This was a shameful custom 
and usage, a knight for his harbour asking to have such 
harbourage. And for this custom I would never draw 
about him. So God me help, said the king, this was a 
shameful custom. Truly, said Sir Galahad, so seemed me ; 
and meseemed it had been great pity that this knight should 
have been slain, for I dare say he is the noblest man that 
beareth life, but if it were Sir Lancelot du Lake. Now, 
fair knight, said Sir Galahad, I require thee tell me thy 
name, and of whence thou art, and whither thou wilt. Sir, 
he said, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and from King 
Mark of Cornwall I was sent on message unto King Anguish 
of Ireland, for to fetch his daughter to be his wife, and here 
she is ready to go with me into Cornwall, and her name is 
La Beale Isoud. And, Sir Tristram, said Sir Galahad, the 
haut prince, well be ye found in these marches, and so ye 
will promise me to go unto Sir Launcelot du Lake, and 
accompany with him, ye shall go where ye will, and your 
fair lady with you ; and I shall promise you never in all my 
days shall such customs be used in this castle as have been 
used. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now I let you wit, so God me 
help, I weened ye had been Sir Launcelot du Lake when I 
saw you first, and therefore I dread you the more ; and sir, 
I promise you, said Sir Tristram, as soon as I may I will see 
Sir Launcelot and infellowship me with him ; for of all the 
knights of the world I most desire his fellowship. 



AND then Sir Tristram took his leave when he saw his 
time, and took the sea. And in the meanwhile word came 
unto Sir Launcelot and to Sir Tristram that Sir Carados, the 

278 King Arthur 

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



AND anon they were richly wedded with great noblesse. 
But ever, as the French book saith, Sir Tristram and La 
Beale Isoud loved ever together. Then was there great 
jousts and great tourneying, and many lords and ladies were 

King Arthur 279 

at that feast, and Sir Tristram was most praised of all other. 
Thus dured the feast long, and after the feast was done, 
within a little while after, by the assent of two ladies that 
were with Queen Isoud, they ordained for hate and envy for 
to destroy Dame Bragwaine, that was maiden and lady unto 
La Beale Isoud ; and she was sent into the forest for to fetch 
herbs, and there she was met, and bound feet and hand to a 
tree, and so she was bounden three days. And by fortune, 
Sir Palamides found Dame Bragwaine, and there he delivered 
her from the death, and brought her to a nunnery there 
beside, for to be recovered. When Isoud the queen missed 
her maiden, wit ye well she was right heavy as ever was any 
queen, for of all earthly women she loved her best : the 
cause was for she came with her out of her country. And 
so upon a day Queen Isoud walked into the forest to put 
away her thoughts, and there she went herself unto a well 
and made great moan. And suddenly there came Palamides 
to her, and had heard all her complaint, and said : Madam 
Isoud, an ye will grant me my boon, I shall bring to you 
Dame Bragwaine safe and sound. And the queen was so 
glad of his proffer that suddenly unadvised she granted all 
his asking. Well, madam, said Palamides, I trust to your 
promise, and if ye will abide here half an hour I shall bring 
her to you. I shall abide you, said La Beale Isoud. And 
Sir Palamides rode forth his way to that nunnery, and lightly 
he came again with Dame Bragwaine ; but by her good will 
she would not have come again, by cause for love of the 
queen she stood in adventure of her life. Notwithstanding, 
half against her will, she went with Sir Palamides unto the 
queen. And when the queen saw her she was passing glad. 
Now, madam, said Palamides, remember upon your promise, 
for I have fulfilled my promise. Sir Palamides, said the 
queen, I wot not what is your desire, but I will that ye wit, 
howbeit I promised you largely, I thought none evil, nor I 
warn you none evil will I do. Madam, said Sir Palamides, 
as at this time, ye shall not know my desire, but before my 
lord your husband there shall ye know that I will have my 
desire that ye have promised me. And therewith the queen 
departed, and rode home to the king, and Sir Palamides 
rode after her. And when Sir Palamides came before the 
king, he said : Sir King, I require you as ye be a righteous 
king, that ye will judge me the right. Tell me your cause, 
said the king, and ye shall have right. 

280 King Arthur 



SIR, said Palamides, I promised your Queen Isoud to bring 
again Dame Bragwaine that she had lost, upon this cove- 
nant, that she should grant me a boon that I would ask, and 
without grudging, outner advisement, she granted me. What 
say ye, my lady ? said the king. It is as he saith, so God 
me help, said the queen ; to say thee sooth I promised him 
his asking for love and joy that I had to see her. Well, 
madam, said the king, and if ye were hasty to grant him 
what boon he would ask, I will well that ye perform your 
promise. Then, said Palamides, I will that ye wit that I 
will have your queen to lead her and govern her whereas 
me list. Therewith the king stood still, and bethought him 
of Sir Tristram, and deemed that he would rescue her. 
And then hastily the king answered : Take her with the 
adventures that shall fall of it, for as I suppose thou wilt not 
enjoy her no while. As for that, said Palamides, I dare 
right well abide the adventure. And so, to make short tale, 
Sir Palamides took her by the hand and said : Madam, 
grudge not to go with me, for I desire nothing but your own 
promise. As for that, said the queen, I fear not greatly to 
go with thee, howbeit thou hast me at advantage upon my 
promise, for I doubt not I shall be worshipfully rescued from 
thee. As for that, said Sir Palamides, be it as it be may. 
So Queen Isoud was set behind Palamides, and rode his 
way. Anon the king sent after Sir Tristram, but in no wise 
he could be found, for he was in the forest an hunting ; for 
that was always his custom, but if he used arms, to chase 
and to hunt in the forests. Alas, said the king, now I am 
shamed for ever, that by mine own assent my lady and my 
queen shall be devoured. Then came forth a knight, his 
name was Lambegus, and he was a knight of Sir Tristram. 
My lord, said this knight, sith ye have trust in my lord, Sir 
Tristram, wit ye well for his sake I will ride after your queen 
and rescue her, or else 1 shall be beaten. Gramercy, said 
the king, as I live. Sir Lambegus, I shall deserve it. And 
then Sir Lambegus armed him, and rode after as fast as he 
might. And then within a while he overtook Sir Palamides. 
And then Sir Palamides left the queen. What art thou, said 

King Arthur 281 

Palamides, art thou Tristram ? Nay, he said, I am his 
servant, and my name is Sir Lambegus. That me repenteth, 
said Palamides. I had liefer thou haddest been Sir Tristram. 
I believe you well, said Lambegus, but when thou meetest 
with Sir Tristram thou shalt have thy hands full. And then 
they hurtled together and all to brast their spears, and then 
they pulled out their swords, and hewed on helms and 
hauberks. At the last Sir Palamides gave Sir Lambegus 
such a wound that he fell down like a dead knight to the 
earth. Then he looked after La Eeale Isoud, and then she 
was gone he nyst where. Wit ye well Sir Palamides was never 
so heavy. So the queen ran into the forest, and there she 
found a well, and therein she had thought to have drowned 
herself. And as good fortune would, there came a knight to 
her that had a castle thereby, his name was Sir Adtherp. 
And when he found the queen in that mischief he rescued 
her, and brought her to his castle. And when he wist what 
she was he armed him, and took his horse, and said he 
would be avenged upon Palamides ; and so he rode on till 
he met with him, and there Sir Palamides wounded him 
sore, and by force he made him to tell him the cause why he 
did battle with him, and how he had led the queen unto his 
castle. Now bring me there, said Palamides, or thou shalt 
die of my hands. Sir, said Sir Adtherp, I am so wounded I 
may not follow, but ride you this way and it shall bring you 
into my castle, and there within is the queen. Then Sir 
Palamides rode still till he came to the castle. And at a 
window La Beale Isoud saw Sir Palamides ; then she made 
the gates to be shut strongly. And when he saw he might 
not come within the castle, he put off his bridle and his 
saddle, and put his horse to pasture, and set himself down 
at the gate like a man that was out of his wit that recked 
not of himself. 



Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that when he was come 
home and wist La Beale Isoud was gone with Sir Palamides, 
wit ye will he was wroth out of measure. Alas, said Sir 

282 King Arthur 

Tristram, I am this day shamed. Then he cried to 
Gouvernail his man : Haste thee that I were armed and 
on horseback, for well I wot Lambegus hath no might 
nor strength to withstand Sir Palamides : alas that I 
have not been in his stead ! So anon as he was armed 
and horsed Sir Tristram and Gouvernail rode after into 
the forest, and within a while he found his knight 
Lambegus almost wounded to the death ; and Sir Tristram 
bare him to a forester, and charged him to keep him 
well. And then he rode forth, and there he found Sir 
Adtherp sore wounded, and he told him how the queen 
would have drowned herself had he not been, and how 
for her sake and love he had taken upon him to do 
battle with Sir Palamides. Where is my lady? said Sir 
Tristram. Sir, said the knight, she is sure enough within 
my castle, an she can hold her within it. Gramercy, 
said Sir Tristram, of thy great goodness. And so he 
rode till he came nigh to that castle ; and then Sir 
Tristram saw where Sir Palamides sat at the gate sleep- 
ing, and his horse pastured fast afore him. Now go 
thou, Gouvernail, said Sir Tristram, and bid him awake, 
and make him ready. So Gouvernail rode unto him and 
said : Sir Palamides, arise, and take to thine harness. 
But he was in such a study he heard not what Gouver- 
nail said. So Gouvernail came again and told Sir Tristram 
he slept, or else he was mad. Go thou again, said Sir 
Tristram, and bid him arise, and tell him that I am here, 
his mortal foe. So Gouvernail rode again and put upon 
him the butt of his spear, and said : Sir Palamides, make 
thee ready, for wit ye well Sir Tristram hoveth yonder, 
and sendeth thee word he is thy mortal foe. And there- 
withal Sir Palamides arose stilly, without words, and gat 
his horse, and saddled him and bridled him, and lightly 
he leapt upon, and gat his spear in his hand, and either 
feutred their spears and hurtled fast together; and there 
Tristram smote down Sir Palamides over his horse's tail. 
Then lightly Sir Palamides put his shield afore him and 
drew his sword. And there began strong battle on both 
parts, for both they fought for the love of one lady, and 
ever she lay on the walls and beheld them how they 
fought out of measure, and either were wounded passing 
sore, but Palamides was much sorer wounded. Thus they 
fought tracing and traversing more than two hours, that 

King Arthur 283 

well-nigh for dole and sorrow La Beale Isoud swooned. 
Alas, she said, that one I loved and yet do, and the 
other I love not, yet it were great pity that I should see 
Sir Palamides slain; for well I know by that time the 
end be done Sir Palamides is but a dead knight : because 
he is not christened I would be loath that he should die 
a Saracen. And therewithal she came down and besought 
Sir Tristram to fight no more. Ah, madam, said he, what 
mean you, will ye have me shamed? Well ye know I 
will be ruled by you. I will not your dishonour, said 
La Beale Isoud, but I would that ye would for my sake 
spare this unhappy Saracen Palamides. Madam, said Sir 
Tristram, I will leave fighting at this time for your sake. 
Then she said to Sir Palamides : This shall be your 
charge, that thou shalt go out of this country while I 
am therein. I will obey your commandment, said Sir 
Palamides, the which is sore against my will. Then take 
thy way, said La Beale Isoud, unto the court of King 
Arthur, and there recommend me unto Queen Guenever, 
and tell her that I send her word that there be within 
this land but four lovers, that is, Sir Launcelot du Lake 
and Queen Guenever, and Sir Tristram de Liones and 
Queen Isoud. 



AND so Sir Palamides departed with great heaviness. 
And Sir Tristram took the queen and brought her again 
to King Mark, and then was there made great joy of 
her home-coming. Who was cherished but Sir Tristram ! 
Then Sir Tristram let fetch Sir Lambegus, his knight, 
from the forester's house, and it was long or he was whole, 
but at the last he was well recovered. Thus they lived 
with joy and play a long while. But ever Sir Andred, 
that was nigh cousin to Sir Tristram, lay in a watch to 
wait betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, for to take 
them and slander them. So upon a day Sir Tristram 
talked with La Beale Isoud in a window, and that espied 
Sir Andred, and told it to the king. Then King Mark. 

284 king Arthur 

took a sword in his hand and came to Sir Tristram, and 
called him false traitor, and would have stricken him. 
But Sir Tristram was nigh him, and ran under his sword, 
and took it out of his hand. And then the king cried : 
"Where are my knights and my men ? I charge you slay 
this traitor. But at that time there was not one would 
move for his words. When Sir Tristram saw that there 
was not one would be against him, he shook the sword 
to the king, and made countenance as though he would 
have stricken him. And then King Mark fled, and Sir 
Tristram followed him, and smote upon him five or six 
strokes fiatling on the neck, that he made him to fall 
upon the nose. And then Sir Tristram yede his way 
and armed him, and took his horse and his man, and so 
he rode into that forest. And there upon a day Sir 
Tristram met with two brethren that were knights with 
King Mark, and there he struck off the head of the one, 
and wounded the other to the death ; and he made him 
to bear his brothers head in his helm unto the king, and 
thirty more there he wounded. And when that knight 
came before the king to say his message, he there died 
afore the king and the queen. Then King Mark called 
his council unto him, and asked advice of his barons 
what was best to do with Sir Tristram. Sir, said the 
barons, in especial Sir Dinas, the Seneschal. Sir, we will 
give you counsel for to send for Sir Tristram, for we will 
that ye wit many men will hold with Sir Tristram an he 


were hard bestad. And sir, said Sir Dinas, ye shall 
understand that Sir Tristram is called peerless and 
makeless of anv Christian knight, and of his mijht and 

f cj f 

hardiness we knew none so good a knight, but if it be Sir 
Lmincelot du Lake. And if he depart from your court and 
go to King Arthur's court, wit ye well he will get him such 
friends there that he will not set by your malice. And 
therefore, sir, I counsel you to take him to your grace. I 
-1 well, said the king, that he be sent for, that we may 
be friends. Then the barons sent for Sir Tristram under 
a safe conduct. And so when Sir Tristram came to the 
k:::g he was welcome, and no rehearsal was made, and 
there was game and play. And then the king and the 
queen went a-hunting, and Sir Tristram. 

King Arthur 285 



THE king and the queen made their pavilions and their 
tents in that forest beside a river, and there was daily hunting 
and jousting, for there were ever thirty knights ready to 
joust unto all them that came in at that time. And there 
by fortune came Sir Larnorak de Galis and Sir Driant ; and 
there Sir Driant jousted right well, but at the last he had .\ 
fall. Then Sir Lamorak proffered to joust. And when he 
began he fared so with the thirty knights that there was not 
one of them but that he gave him a fall, and some of them 
were sore hurt. I marvel, said King Mark, what knight he 
is that doth such deeds of arms. Sir, said Sir Tristram. I 
know him well for a noble knight as few now be living, and 
his name is Sir Lamorak de Galis. It were great shame, 
said the king, that he should go thus away, unless that some 
of you meet with him better. Sir, said Sir Tristram, me- 
seemeth it were no worship for a noble man to have ado 
with him : and for bv cause at this time he hath done over 


much for any mean knight living, therefore, as rr.rf-ierneth, 
it were great shame and villainy to tempt him any more at 
this time, insomuch as he and his horse are weary both ; for 
the deeds of arms that he hath done this day, an they be 
well considered, it were enough for Si: Launcelot du Lake. 
As for that, said King Mark, I require you, as ye love me 
and my lady the queen, La Beale Isoud, take your arms and 
joust with Sir Lamorak de Galis. Sir, said Sir Tristram, ye 
bid me do a thing that is against knighthood, and well I can 
deem that I shall give him a fall, for it is no mastery, for 
my horse and I be fresh both, and so is not his horse and 
he ; and wit ye well that he will take it for great unkindness. 
for ever one good knight is loath to take another i: dis- 
advantage ; but by cause I will not displease you, as ye 
require me so will I do, and obey your command. en:. And 
so Sir Tristram armed him and took his horse, and put hi" 
forth, and there Sir Lamorak met him mightily, and wh.3,: 
with the might of his own spear, and of Sir Tristram's spear, 
Sir Lamorak's horse fell to the earth, and he sitting in the 
saddle. Then anon as lightly as he might he avoided the 

286 King Arthur 

saddle and his horse, and put his shield afore him and drew 
his sword. And then he bad Sir Tristram : Alight, thou 
knight, an thou durst. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will no 
more have ado with thee, for I have done to thee over much 
unto my dishonour and to thy worship. As for that, said 
Sir Lamorak, I can thee no thank ; syn thou hast for-j ousted 
me on horseback I require thee and I beseech thee, an thou 
be Sir Tristram, fight with me on foot. I will not so, said 
Sir Tristram ; and wit ye well my name is Sir Tristram de 
Liones, and well I know ye be Sir Lamorak de Galis, and 
this that I have done to you was against my will, but I was 
required thereto ; but to say that I will do at your request 
as at this time, I will have no more ado with you, for me 
shameth of that I have done. As for the shame, said Sir 
Lamorak, on thy part or on mine, bear thou it an thou wilt, 
for though a mare's son hath failed me, now a queen's son 
shall not fail thee ; and therefore, an thou be such a knight 
as men call thee, I require thee, alight, and fight with me. 
Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, I understand your heart is 
great, and cause why ye have, to say thee sooth ; for it would 
grieve me an any knight should keep him fresh and then to 
strike down a weary knight, for that knight nor horse was 
never formed that alway might stand or endure. And there- 
fore, said Sir Tristram, I will not have ado with you, for me 
forthinketh of that I have done. As for that, said Sir 
Lamorak, I shall quit you and ever I see my time. 



So he departed from him with Sir Driant, and by the way 
they met with a knight that was sent from Morgan le Fay 
unto King Arthur ; and this knight had a fair horn harnessed 
with gold, and the horn had such a virtue that there might 
no lady nor gentlewoman drink of that horn but if she were 
true to her husband, and if she were false she should spill 
all the drink, and if she were true to her lord she might 
drink peaceable. And by cause of the Queen Guenever, 
and in the despite of Sir Launcelot, this horn was sent unto 

King Arthur 287 

King Arthur ; and by force Sir Lamorak made that knight 
to tell all the cause why he bare that horn. Now shalt thou 
bear this horn, said Lamorak, unto King Mark, or else 
choose thou to die for it ; for I tell thee plainly, in despite 
and reproof of Sir Tristram thou shalt bear that horn unto 
King Mark, his uncle, and say thou to him that I sent it him 
for to assay his lady, and if she be true to him he shall prove 
her. So the knight went his way unto King Mark, and 
brought him that rich horn, and said that Sir Lamorak sent 
it him, and thereto he told him the virtue of that horn. 
Then the king made Queen Isoud to drink thereof, and an 
hundred ladies, and there were but four ladies of all those 
that drank clene. Alas, said King Mark, this is a great 
despite, and sware a great oath that she should be burnt and 
the other ladies. Then the barons gathered them together, 
and said plainly they would not have those ladies burnt for 
an horn made by sorcery, that came from as false a sorceress 
and witch as then was living. For that horn did never 
good, but caused strife and debate, and always in her days 
she had been an enemy to all true lovers. So there were 
many knights made their avow an ever they met with Morgan 
le Fay that they would show her short courtesy. Also Sir 
Tristram was passing wroth that Sir Lamorak sent that horn 
unto King Mark, for well he knew that it was done in the 
despite of him. And therefore he thought to requite Sir 
Lamorak. Then Sir Tristram used daily and nightly to go 
to Queen Isoud when he might, and ever Sir Andred his 
cousin watched him night and day for to take him with La 
Beale Isoud. And so upon a night Sir Andred espied the 
hour and the time when Sir Tristram went to his lady. Then 
Sir Andred gat unto him twelve knights, and at midnight he 
set upon Sir Tristram secretly and suddenly, and there Sir 
Tristram was taken naked abed with La Beale Isoud, and 
then was he bound hand and foot, and so was he kept until 
day. And then by the assent of King Mark, and of Sir 
Andred, and of some of the barons, Sir Tristram was led 
unto a chapel that stood upon the sea rocks, there for to 
take his judgment : and so he was led bounden with forty 
knights. And when Sir Tristram saw that there was none 
other boot but needs that he must die, then said he : Fair 
lords, remember what I have done for the country of Corn- 
wall, and in what jeopardy I have been in for the weal of you 
all ; for when I fought for the truage of Cornwall with Sir 

288 King Arthur 

Marhaus, the good knight, I was promised for to be better 
rewarded, when ye all refused to take the battle ; therefore, 
as ye be good gentle knights, see me not thus shamefully to 
die', for it is shame to all knighthood thus to see me die ; for 
I daresay, said Sir Tristram, that I never met with no knight 
but I was as good as he, or better. Fie upon thee, said Sir 
Andred, false traitor that thou art, with thine avaunting ; for 
all thy boast thou shalt die this day. O Andred, Andred, 
said Sir Tristram, thou shouldst be my kinsman, and now 
thou art to me full unfriendly, but an there were no more 
but thou and I, thou wouldst not put me to death. No, 
said Sir Andred, and therewith he drew his sword, and 
would have slain him. When Sir Tristram saw him make 
such countenance he looked upon both his hands that were 
fast bounden unto two knights, and suddenly he pulled them 
both to him, and unwrast his hands, and then he leapt unto 
his cousin, Sir Andred, and wrested his sword out of his 
hands ; then he smote Sir Andred that he fell to the earth, 
and so Sir Tristram fought till that he had killed ten knights. 
So then Sir Tristram gat the chapel and kept it mightily. 
Then the cry was great, and the people drew fast unto Sir 
Andred, more than an hundred. When Sir Tristram saw 
the people draw unto him, he remembered he was naked, 
and sperd fast the chapel door, and brake the bars of a 
window, and so he leapt out and fell upon the crags in the 
sea. And so at that time Sir Andred nor none of his fellows 
might get to him at that time. 



So when they were departed, Gouvernail, and Sir 
Lambegus, and Sir Sentraille de Lushon, that were Sir 
Tristram's men, sought their master. When they heard he 
was escaped then they were passing glad ; and on the rocks 
they found him, and with towels they pulled him up. And 
then Sir Tristram asked them where was La Beale Isoud, 
for he weened she had been had away of Andred's people. 
Sir, said Gouvernail, she is put in a lazar-cote. Alas, said Sir 

King Arthur 289 

Tristram, this is a full ungoodly place for such a fair lady, 
and if I may she shall not be long there. And so he took 
his men and went there as was La Beale Isoud, and fetched 
her away, and brought her into a forest to a fair manor, and 
Sir Tristram there abode with her. So the good knight 
bad his men go from him : For at this time I may not 
help you. So they departed all save Gouvernail. And so 
upon a day Sir Tristram yede into the forest for to disport 
him, and then it happened that there he fell on sleep ; and 
there came a man that Sir Tristram aforehand had slain his 
brother, and when this man had found him he shot him 
through the shoulder with an arrow, and Sir Tristram leapt 
up and killed that man. And in the meantime it was told 
King Mark how Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud were in 
that same manor, and as soon as ever he might thither he 
came with many knights to slay Sir Tristram. And when 
he came there he found him gone ; and there he took La 
Beale Isoud home with him, and kept her straight that by no 
means never she might wit nor send unto Tristram, nor he 
unto her. And then when Sir Tristram came toward the old 
manor he found the track of many horses, and thereby he 
wist his lady was gone. And then Sir Tristram took great 
sorrow, and endured with great pain long time, for the arrow 
that he was hurt withal was envenomed. Then by the mean 
of La Beale Isoud she told a lady that was cousin unto 
Dame Bragwaine, and she came to Sir Tristram, and told 
him that he might not be whole by no means. For thy lady, 
La Beale Isoud, may not help thee, therefore she biddeth 
you haste into Brittany to King Howel, and there ye shall 
find his daughter, Isoud La Blanche Mains, and she shall 
help thee. Then Sir Tristram and Gouvernail gat them 
shipping, and so sailed into Brittany. And when King 
Howel wist that it was Sir Tristram he was full glad of him. 
Sir, he said, I am come into this country to have help of 
your daughter, for it is told me that there is none other 
may heal me but she ; and so within a while she healed 

290 King Arthur 



THERE was an earl that hight Grip, and this earl made 
great war upon the king, and put the king to the worse, and 
besieged him. And on a time Sir Kehydius, that was son 
to King Howel, as he issued out he was sore wounded nigh 
to the death. Then Gouvernail went to the king and said : 
Sir, I counsel you to desire my lord, Sir Tristram, as in your 
need to help you. I will do by your counsel, said the king. 
And so he yede unto Sir Tristram, and prayed him in his 
wars to help him : For my son, Sir Kehydius, may not go 
into the field. Sir, said Sir Tristram, I will go to the field 
and do what I may. Then Sir Tristram issued out of the 
town with such fellowship as he might make, and did such 
deeds that all Brittany spake of him. And then, at the last, 
by great might and force, he slew the Earl Grip with his own 
hands, and more than an hundred knights he slew that day. 
And then Sir Tristram was received worshipfully with pro- 
cession. Then King Howel embraced him in his arms, 
and said : Sir Tristram, all my kingdom I will resign to thee. 
God defend, said Sir Tristram, for I am beholden unto you 
for your daughter's sake to do for you. Then by the great 
means of King Howel and Kehydius his son, by great 
proffers, there grew great love betwixt Isoud and Sir 
Tristram, for that lady was both good and fair, and a woman 
of noble blood and fame. And for by cause Sir Tristram 
had such cheer and riches, and all other pleasaunce that he 
had, almost he had forsaken La Beale Isoud. And so upon 
a time Sir Tristram agreed to wed Isoud La Blanche Mains. 
And at the last they were wedded, and solemnly held their 
marriage. And so when they were abed both Sir Tristram 
remembered him of his old lady La Beale Isoud. And then 
he took such a thought suddenly that he was all dismayed, 
and other cheer made he none but with clipping and kissing ; 
as for other fleshly lusts Sir Tristram never thought nor had 
ado with her : such mention maketh the French book ; also 
it maketh mention that the lady weened there had been no 
pleasure but kissing and clipping. And in the meantime 
there was a knight in Brittany, his name was Suppinabiles, 
and he came over the sea into England, and then he came 

King Arthur 291 

into the court of King Arthur, and there he met with Sir 
Launcelot du Lake, and told him of the marriage of Sir 
Tristram. Then said Sir Launcelot : Fie upon him, untrue 
knight to his lady that so noble a knight as Sir Tristram is 
should be found to his first lady false, La Beale Isoud, 
Queen of Cornwall; but say ye him this, said Sir Launcelot, 
that of all knights in the world I loved him most, and had 
most joy of him, and all was for his noble deeds ; and let 
him wit the love between him and me is done for ever, and 
that I give him warning from this day forth as his mortal 



THEN departed Sir Suppinabiles unto Brittany again, and 
there he found Sir Tristram, and told him that he had been 
in King Arthur's court. Then said Sir Tristram : Heard ye 
anything of me? So God me help, said Sir Suppinabiles, 
there I heard Sir Launcelot speak of you great shame, and 
that ye be a false knight to your lady, and he bad me do 
you to wit that he will be your mortal enemy in every place 
where he may meet you. That me repenteth, said Tristram, 
for of all knights I loved to be in his fellowship. So Sir 
Tristram made great moan and was ashamed that noble 
knights should defame him for the sake of his lady. And 
in this meanwhile La Beale Isoud made a letter unto Queen 
Guenever, complaining her of the untruth of Sir Tristram, 
and how he had wedded the king's daughter of Brittany. 
Queen Guenever sent her another letter, and bad her be 
of good cheer, for she should have joy after sorrow, for Sir 
Tristram was so noble a knight called, that by crafts of 
sorcery, ladies would make such noble men to wed them. 
But in the end, Queen Guenever said, it shall be thus, that 
he shall hate her, and love you better than ever he did 
tofore. So leave we Sir Tristram in Brittany, and speak we 
of Sir Lamorak de Galis, that as he sailed his ship fell on a 
rock and perished all, save Sir Lamorak and his squire ; 
and there he swam mightily, and fishers of the Isle of 
Servage took him up, and his squire was drowned, and the 

292 King Arthur 

shipmen had great labour to save Sir Lamorak's life for all 
the comfort that they could do. And the lord of that isle, 
hight Sir Nabon le Noire, a great mighty giant. And this 
Sir Nabon hated all the knights of King Arthur's, and in no 
wise he would do them favour. And these fishers told Sir 
Lamorak all the guise of Sir Nabon ; how there came never 
knight of King Arthur's but he destroyed him. And at the 
last battle that he did was slain Sir Nanowne le Petite, the 
which he put to a shameful death in despite of King Arthur, 
for he was drawn lymme meale. That forthinketh me, said 
Sir Lamorak, for that knight's death, for he was my cousin ; 
and if I were at mine ease as well as ever I was, I would 
revenge his death. Peace, said the fishers, and make here 
no words, for or ever ye depart from hence Sir Nabon must 
know that ye have been here, or else we should die for your 
sake. So that I be whole, said Lamorak, of my disease 
that I have taken in the sea, I will that ye tell him that 
1 am a knight of King Arthur's, for I was never afeared 
to deny my lord. 



Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that upon a day he took 
a little barge, and his wife Isoud La Blanche Mains, with 
Sir Kehydius her brother, to play them in the coasts. And 
when they were from the land, there was a wind drove them 
in to the coast of Wales upon this Isle of Servage, where as 
was Sir Lamorak, and there the barge all to rove ; and there 
Dame Isoud was hurt ; and as well as they might they gat 
into the forest, and there by a well he saw Sagwarides 
and a damosel. And then either saluted other. Sir, said 
Sagwarides, I know you for Sir Tristram de Liones, the 
man in the world that I have most cause to hate, because 
ye departed the love between me and my wife ; but as for 
that, said Sir Sagwarides, I will never hate a noble knight 
for a light lady ; and therefore, I pray you, be my friend, 
and I will be yours unto my power ; for wit ye well ye are 
hard bestead in this valley, and we shall have enough to do 
either of us to succour other. And then Sir Sagwarides 

King Arthur 293 

brought Sir Tristram to a lady there by that was born in 
Cornwall, and she told him all the perils of that valley, and 
how there came never knight there but he were taken prisoner 
or slain. Wit you well, fair lady, said Sir Tristram, that I 
slew Sir Marhaus and delivered Cornwall from the truage of 
Ireland, and I am he that delivered the king of Ireland 
from Sir Blamore de Ganis, and I am he that beat Sir 
Palamides ; and wit ye well I am Sir Tristram de Liones, 
that by the grace of God shall deliver this woful Isle of 
Servage. So Sir Tristram was well eased. Then one told 
him there was a knight of King Arthur's that was wrecked 
on the rocks. What is his name ? said Sir Tristram. We 
wot not, said the fishers, but he keepeth it no counsel but 
that he is a knight of King Arthur's, and by the mighty lord 
of this isle he setteth nought by. I pray you, said Sir 
Tristram, an ye may, bring him hither that I may see him, 
and if he be any of the knights of Arthur's I shall know him. 
Then the lady prayed the fishers to bring him to her place. 
So on the morrow they brought him thither in a fisher's 
raiment ; and as soon as Sir Tristram saw him he smiled 
upon him and knew him well, but he knew not Sir 
Tristram. Fair sir, said Sir Tristram, meseemeth by your 
cheer ye have been diseased but late, and also methinketh 
I should know you heretofore. I will well, said Sir 
Lamorak, that ye have seen me and met with me. Fair 
sir, said Sir Tristram, tell me your name. Upon a covenant 
I will tell you, said Sir Lamorak, that is, that ye will tell 
me whether ye be lord of this island or no, that is called 
Nabon le Noire. Forsooth, said Sir Tristram, I am not he, 
nor I hold not of him ; I am his foe as well as ye be, and 
so shall I be found or I depart out of this isle. Well, said 
Sir Lamorak, syn ye have said so largely unto me, my name 
is Sir Lamorak de Galis, son unto King Pellinore. For- 
sooth, I trow well, said Sir Tristram, for an ye said other I 
know the contrary. What are ye, said Sir Lamorak, that 
knoweth me ? I am Sir Tristram de Liones. Ah, sir, 
remember ye not of the fall ye did give me once, and after 
ye refused me to fight on foot. That was not for fear I had 
of you, said Sir Tristram, but me shamed at that time to 
have more ado with you, for meseemed ye had enough ; but, 
Sir Lamorak, for my kindness many ladies ye put to a 
reproof when ye sent the horn from Morgan le Fay to King 
Mark, where as ye did this in despite of me. Well, said he, 

I 45 T 

294 King Arthur 

an it were to do again, so would I do, for I had liefer strife 
and debate fell in King Mark's court rather than Arthur's 
court, for the honour of both courts be not alike. As to 
that, said Sir Tristram, I know well ; but that that was done 
it was for despite of me, but all your malice, I thank God, 
hurt not greatly. Therefore, said Sir Tristram, ye shall 
leave all your malice, and so will I, and let us assay how we 
may win worship between you and me upon this giant, Sir 
Nabon le Noire that is lord of this island, to destroy him. 
Sir, said Sir Lamorak, now I understand your knighthood, 
it may not be false that all men say, for of your bounty, 
noblesse, and worship, of all knights ye are peerless, and for 
your courtesy and gentleness I showed you ungentleness, 
and that now me repenteth. 



IN the meantime there came word that Sir Nabon had 
made a cry that all the people of that isle should be at his 
castle the fifth day after. And the same day the son of 
Nabon should be made knight, and all the knights of that 
valley and thereabout should be there to joust, and all those 
of the realm of Logris should be there to joust with them of 
North Wales : and thither came five hundred knights, and 
they of the country brought thither Sir Lamorak, and Sir 
Tristram, and Sir Kehydius, and Sir Sagwarides, for they 
durst none otherwise do ; and then Sir Nabon lent Sir 
Lamorak horse and armour at Sir Lamorak's desire, and Sir 
Lamorak jousted and did such deeds of arms that Nabon 
and all the people said there was never knight that ever they 
saw do such deeds of arms ; for, as the French book saith, 
he forjousted all that were there for the most part of five 
hundred knights, that none abode him in his saddle. Then 
Sir Nabon proffered to play with him his play : For I saw 
never no knight do so much upon a day. I will well, said 
Sir Lamorak, play as I may, but I am weary and sore 
bruised. And there either gat a spear, but Nabon would 
not encounter with Sir Lamorak, but smote his horse in the 
forehead, and so slew him ; and then Sir Lamorak yede on 

King Arthur 295 

foot, and turned his shield and drew his sword, and there 
began strong battle on foot. But Sir Lamorak was so sore 
bruised and short breathed, that he traced and traversed 
somewhat aback. Fair fellow, said Sir Nabon, hold thy 
hand and I shall show thee more courtesy than ever I 
showed knight, by cause I have seen this day thy noble 
knighthood, and therefore stand thou by, and 1 will wit 
whether any of thy fellows will have ado with me. Then 
when Sir Tristram heard that, he stepped forth and said : 
Nabon, lend me horse and sure armour, and I will have ado 
with thee. Well, fellow, said Sir Nabon, go thou to yonder 
pavilion, and arm thee of the best thou fmdest there, and I 
shall play a marvellous play with thee. Then said Sir 
Tristram : Look ye play well, or else peradventure I shall 
learn you a new play. That is well said, fellow, said Sir 
Nabon. So when Sir Tristram was armed as him liked best, 
and well shielded and sworded, he dressed to him on foot ; 
for well he knew that Sir Nabon would not abide a stroke 
with a spear, therefore he would slay all knights' horses. 
Now, fair fellow, Sir Nabon, let us play. So then they 
fought long on foot, tracing and traversing, smiting and 
foyning long without any rest. At the last Sir Nabon 
prayed him to tell him his name. Sir Nabon, I tell thee my 
name is Sir Tristram de Liones, a knight of Cornwall under 
King Mark. Thou art welcome, said Sir Nabon, for of all 
knights I have most desired to fight with thee or with Sir 
Launcelot. So then they went eagerly together, and Sir 
Tristram slew Sir Nabon, and so forthwith he leapt to his 
son, and struck off his head ; and then all the country said 
they would hold of Sir Tristram. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I 
will not so ; here is a worshipful knight, Sir Lamorak de 
Galis, that for me he shall be lord of this country, for he 
hath done here great deeds of arms. Nay, said Sir 
Lamorak, I will not be lord of this country, for I have not 
deserved it as well as ye, therefore give ye it where ye will, 
for I will none have. Well, said Sir Tristram, syn ye nor I 
will not have it, let us give it to him that hath not so well 
deserved it. Do as ye list, said Sagwarides, for the gift is 
yours, for I will none have an I had deserved it. So was it 
given to Sagwarides, whereof he thanked them ; and so was 
he lord, and worshipfully he did govern it. And then Sir 
Sagwarides delivered all prisoners, and set good governance 
in that valley ; and so he returned into Cornwall, and told 

296 King Arthur 

King Mark and La Beale Isoud how Sir Tristram had ad- 
vanced him to the Isle of Servage, and there he proclaimed 
in all Cornwall of all the adventures of these two knights, 
so was it openly known. But full woe was La Beale Isoud 
when she heard tell that Sir Tristram was wedded to Isoud 
La Blanche Mains. 



So turn we unto Sir Lamorak, that rode toward Arthur's 
court, and Sir Tristram's wife and Kehydius took a vessel 
and sailed into Brittany, unto King Howel, where he was 
welcome. And when he heard of these adventures they 
marvelled of his noble deeds. Now turn we unto Sir 
Lamorak, that when he was departed from Sir Tristram he 
rode out of the forest, till he came to an hermitage. When 
the hermit saw him, he asked him from whence he came. 
Sir, said Sir Lamorak, I come from this valley. Sir, said 
the hermit : Thereof I marvel. For this twenty winter I 
saw never no knight pass this country but he was either 
slain or villainously wounded, or pass as a poor prisoner. 
Those ill customs, said Sir Lamorak, are fordone, for Sir 
Tristram slew your lord, Sir Nabon, and his son. Then was 
the hermit glad, and all his brethren, for he said there was 
never such a tyrant among Christian men. And therefore, 
said the hermit, this valley and franchise we will hold of Sir 
Tristram. So on the morrow Sir Lamorak departed ; and 
as he rode he saw four knights fight against one, and that 
one knight defended him well, but at the last the four 
knights had him down. And then Sir Lamorak went be- 
twixt them, and asked them why they would slay that one 
knight, and said it was shame, four against one. Thou 
shalt well wit, said the four knights, that he is false. That is 
your tale, said Sir Lamorak, and when I hear him also 
speak, I will say as ye say. Then said Lamorak : Ah, 
knight, can ye not excuse you, but that ye are a false 
knight. Sir, said he, yet can I excuse me both with 
my word and with my hands, that I will make good 
upon one of the best of them, my body to his body. 

King Arthur 297 

Then spake they all at once : We will not jeopardy our 
bodies as for thee. But wit thou well, they said, an 
King Arthur were here himself, it should not lie in his 
power to save his life. That is too much said, said Sir 
Lamorak, but many speak behind a man more than they will 
say to his face ; and by cause of your words ye shall under- 
stand that I am one of the simplest of King Arthur's court ; 
in the worship of my lord now do your best, and in despite 
of you I shall rescue him. And then they lashed all at once 
to Sir Lamorak, but anon at two strokes Sir Lamorak had 
slain two of them, and then the other two fled. So then Sir 
Lamorak turned again to that knight, and asked him his 
name. Sir, he said, my name is Sir Frol of the Out Isles. 
Then he rode with Sir Lamorak and bare him company. 
And as they rode by the way they saw a seemly knight riding 
against them, and all in white. Ah, said Frol, yonder 
knight jousted late with me and smote me down, therefore I 
will joust with him. Ye shall not do so, said Sir Lamorak, 
by my counsel, an ye will tell me your quarrel, whether ye 
jousted at his request, or he at yours. Nay, said Sir Frol, I 
jousted with him at my request. Sir, said Lamorak, then will 
I counsel you deal no more with him, for meseemeth by his 
countenance he should be a noble knight, and no japer ; for 
methinketh he should be of the Table Round. Therefore I 
will not spare, said Sir Frol. And then he cried and said : 
Sir knight, make thee ready to joust. That needeth not, 
said the White Knight, for I have no lust to joust with thee ; 
but yet they feutred their spears, and the White Knight 
overthrew Sir Frol, and then he rode his way a soft pace. 
Then Sir Lamorak rode after him, and prayed him to tell him 
his name : For meseemeth ye should be of the fellowship of 
the Round Table. Upon a covenant, said he, I will tell you 
my name, so that ye will not discover my name, and also that 
ye will tell me yours. Then, said he, my name is Sir 
Lamorak de Galis. And my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake. 
Then they put up their swords, and kissed heartily together, 
and either made great joy of other. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, 
an it please you I will do you service. God defend, said 
Launcelot, that any of so noble a blood as ye be should do 
me service. Then he said : More, I am in a quest that I 
must do myself alone. Now God speed you, said Sir 
Lamorak, and so they departed. Then Sir Lamorak came 
to Sir Frol and horsed him again. What knight is that ? said 

298 King Arthur 

Sir Frol. Sir, he said, it is not for you to know, nor it is no 
point of my charge. Ye are the more uncourteous, said Sir 
Frol, and therefore I will depart from you. Ye may do as 
ye list, said Sir Lamorak, and yet by my company ye have 
saved the fairest flower of your garland ; so they departed. 



THEN within two or three days Sir Lamorak found a 
knight at a well sleeping, and his lady sat with him and 
waked. Right so came Sir Gawaine and took the knight's 
lady, and set her up behind his squire. So Sir Lamorak 
rode after Sir Gawaine, and said : Sir Gawaine, turn again. 
And then said Sir Gawaine : What will ye do with me ? for 
I am nephew unto King Arthur. Sir, said he, for that 
cause I will spare you, else that lady should abide with me, 
or else ye should joust with me. Then Sir Gawaine turned 
him and ran to him that ought the lady, with his spear, but 
the knight with pure might smote down Sir Gawaine, and 
took his lady with him. All this Sir Lamorak saw, and said 
to himself: But I revenge my fellow he will say of me 
dishonour in King Arthur's court. Then Sir Lamorak 
returned and proffered that knight to joust. Sir, said he, 
I am ready. And there they came together with all their 
might, and there Sir Lamorak smote the knight through 
both sides that he fell to the earth dead. Then that lady 
rode to that knight's brother that hight Belliance le Orgulus, 
that dwelt fast thereby, and then she told him how his 
brother was slain. Alas, said he, I will be revenged. And 
so he horsed him, and armed him, and within a while he 
overtook Sir Lamorak, and bad him : Turn and leave that 
lady, for thou and I must play a new play; for thou hast 
slain my brother Sir Frol, that was a better knight than ever 
wert thou. It might well be, said Sir Lamorak, but this day 
in the field I was found the better. So they rode together, 
and unhorsed other, and turned their shields, and drew 
their swords, and fought mightily as noble knights proved, 
by the space of two hours. So then Sir Belliance prayed 
him to tell him his name. Sir, said he, my name is Sir 
Lamorak de Galis. Ah, said Sir Belliance, thou art the 

King Arthur 299 

man in the world that I most hate, for I slew my sons for 
thy sake, where I saved thy life, and now thou hast slain my 
brother Sir Frol. Alas, how should I be accorded with 
thee ; therefore defend thee, for thou shalt die, there is 
none other remedy. Alas, said Sir Lamorak, full well me 
ought to know you, for ye are the man that most have 
done for me. And therewithal Sir Lamorak kneeled down, 
and besought him of grace. Arise, said Sir Belliance, or 
else thereas thou kneelest I shall slay thee. That shall 
not need, said Sir Lamorak, for I will yield me unto you, 
not for fear of you, nor for your strength, but your goodness 
maketh me full loath to have ado with you ; wherefore I 
require you for God's sake, and for the honour of knight- 
hood, forgive me all that I have offended unto you. Alas, 
said Belliance, leave thy kneeling, or else I shall slay thee 
without mercy. Then they yede again unto battle, and 
either wounded other, that all the ground was bloody there 
as they fought. And at the last Belliance withdrew him 
aback and set him down softly upon a little hill, for he was 
so faint for bleeding that he might not stand. Then Sir 
Lamorak threw his shield upon his back, and asked him 
what cheer. Well, said Sir Belliance. Ah, sir, yet shall I 
show you favour in your mal-ease. Ah, knight Sir Belliance, 
said Sir Lamorak, thou art a fool, for an I had had thee at 
such advantage as thou hast done me, I should slay thee ; but 
thy gentleness is so good and so large, that I must needs 
forgive thee mine evil will. And then Sir Lamorak kneeled 
down, and unlaced first his umberere, and then his own, and 
then either kissed other with weeping tears. Then Sir 
Lamorak led Sir Belliance to an abbey fast by, and there 
Sir Lamorak would not depart from Belliance till he was 
whole. And then they sware together that none of them 
should never fight against other. So Sir Lamorak departed 
and went to the court of King Arthur. 

Here leave *we of Sir Lamorak 

and of Sir Tristram. And 

here beginneth the history 

of La. Cote Male Taile, 

300 King Arthur 




AT the court of King Arthur there came a young man 
bigly made, and he was richly bisene : and he desired to be 
made knight of the king, but his over-garment sat over- 
thwartly, howbeit it was rich cloth of gold. What is your 
name ? said King Arthur. Sir, said he, my name is Breunor 
le Noire, and within short space ye shall know that I am of 
good kin. It may well be, said Sir Kay, the Seneschal, but 
in mockage ye shall be called La Cote Male Taile, that is 
as much to say, the evil-shapen coat. It is a great thing 
that thou askest, said the king ; and for what cause wearest 
thou that rich coat ? tell me, for I can well think for some 
cause it is. Sir, he answered, I had a father, a noble knight, 
and as he rode a-hunting, upon a day it happed him to 
lay him down to sleep ; and there came a knight that had 
been long his enemy, and when he saw he was fast on sleep 
he all to hewed him ; and this same coat had my father on 
the same time ; and that maketh this coat to sit so evil upon 
me, for the strokes be on it as I found it, and never shall 
be amended for me. Thus to have my father's death in 
remembrance I wear this coat till 1 be revenged ; and by 
cause ye are called the most noblest king of the world I 
come to you that ye should make me knight. Sir, said Sir 
Lamorak and Sir Gaheris, it were well done to make him 
knight ; for him beseem eth well of person and of counten- 
ance, that he shall prove a good man, and a good knight, 
and a mighty ; for, sir, an ye be remembered, even such 
one was Sir Launcelot du Lake when he came first into this 
court, and full few of us knew from whence he came ; and 
now is he proved the man of most worship in the world ; 
and all your court and all your Round Table is by Sir 
Launcelot worshipped and amended more than by any 
knight now living. That is truth, said the king, and to- 
morrow at your request I shall make him knight. So on 

King Arthur 301 

the morrow there was an hart found, and thither rode King 
Arthur with a company of his knights to slay the hart. And 
this young man that Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile 
was there left behind with Queen Guenever ; and by sudden 
adventure there was an horrible lion kept in a strong tower 
of stone, and it happened that he at that time brake loose, 
and came hurling afore the queen and her knights. And 
when the queen saw the lion she cried and fled, and prayed 
her knights to rescue her. And there was none of them all 
but twelve that abode, and all the other fled. Then said 
La Cote Male Taile : Now I see well that all coward knights 
be not dead ; and therewithal he drew his sword and dressed 
him afore the lion. And that lion gaped wide and came 
upon him ramping to have slain him. And he then smote 
him in the middes of the head such a mighty stroke that it 
clave his head in sunder, and dashed to the earth. Then 
was it told the queen how the young man that Sir Kay 
named by scorn La Cote Male Taile had slain the lion. 
With that the king came home. And when the queen told 
him of that adventure, he was well pleased, and said : Upon 
pain of mine head he shall prove a noble man and a faithful 
knight, and true of his promise : then the king forthwithal 
made him knight. Now sir, said this young knight, I require 
you and all the knights of your court, that ye call me by 
none other name but La Cote Male Taile : in so much as 
Sir Kay hath so named me so will I be called. I assent me 
well thereto, said the king. 



THEN that same day there came a damosel into the court, 
and she brought with her a great black shield, with a white 
hand in the middes holding a sword. Other picture was 
there none in that shield. When King Arthur saw her he 
asked her from whence she came and what she would. Sir, 
she said, I have ridden long and many a day with this shield 
many ways, and for this cause I am come to your court : there 
was a good knight that ought this shield, and this knight 

I 45 * L 

302 King Arthur 

had undertaken a great deed of arms to achieve it ; and so it 
misfortuned him another strong knight met with him by 
sudden adventure, and there they fought long, and either 
wounded other passing sore ; and they were so wary that 
they left that battle even hand. So this knight that ought 
this shield saw none other way but he must die ; and then 
he commanded me to bear this shield to the court of King 
Arthur, he requiring and praying some good knight to take 
this shield, and that he would fulfil the quest that he was in. 
Now what say ye to this quest ? said King Arthur ; is there 
any of you here that will take upon him to welde this shield? 
Then was there not one that would speak one word. Then 
Sir Kay took the shield in his hands. Sir knight, said the 
damosel, what is your name ? Wit ye well, said he, my 
name is Sir Kay, the Seneschal, that wide-where is known. 
Sir, said that damosel, lay down that shield, for wit ye well 
it falleth not for you, for he must be a better knight than ye 
that shall welde this shield. Damosel, said Sir Kay, wit ye 
well I took this shield in my hands by your leave for to 
behold it, not to that intent ; but go wheresomever thou 
wilt, for I will not go with you. Then the damosel stood 
still a great while and beheld many of those knights. Then 
spake the knight, La Cote Male Taile : Fair damosel, I will 
take the shield and that adventure upon me, so I wist I 
should know whitherward my journey might be ; for by 
cause I was this day made knight I would take this adven- 
ture upon me. What is your name, fair young man ? said 
the damosel. My name is, said he, La Cote Male Taile. 
Well mayest thou be called so, said the damosel, the knight 
with the evil-shapen coat ; but an thou be so hardy to take 
upon thee to bear that shield and to follow me, wit thou 
well thy skin shall be as well hewn as thy coat. As for that, 
said La Cote Male Taile, when I am so hewn I will ask you 
no salve to heal me withal. And forthwithal there came 
into the court two squires and brought him great horses, 
and his armour, and his spears, and anon he was armed and 
took his leave. I would not by my will, said the king, that 
ye took upon you that hard adventure. Sir, said he, this 
adventure is mine, and the first that ever I took upon me, 
and that will I follow whatsomever come of me. Then 
that damosel departed, and La Cote Male Taile fast followed 
after. And within a while he overtook the damosel, and 
anon she missaid him in the foulest manner. 

King Arthur 303 



THEN Sir Kay ordained Sir Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, 
to follow after La Cote Male Taile ; and there Sir Kay 
ordained that Sir Dagonet was horsed and armed, and bad 
him follow La Cote Alale Taile and proffer him to joust, and 
so he did ; and when he saw La Cote Male Taile, he cried 
and bad him make him ready to joust. So Sir La Cote 
Male Taile smote Sir Dagonet over his horse's croup. Then 
the damosel mocked La Cote Male Taile, and said : Fie for 
shame ! now art thou shamed in Arthur's court, when they 
send a fool to have ado with thee, and specially at thy first 
jousts ; thus she rode long, and chid. And within a while 
there came Sir Bleoberis, the good knight, and there he 
jousted with La Cote Male Taile, and there Sir Bleoberis 
smote him so sore, that horse and all fell to the earth. 
Then La Cote Male Taile arose up lightly, and dressed his 
shield, and drew his sword, and would have done battle to 
the utterance, for he was wood wroth. Not so, said Sir 
Bleoberis de Ganis, as at this time I will not fight upon foot. 
Then the damosel Maledisant rebuked him in the foulest 
manner, and bad him : Turn again, coward. Ah, damosel, 
he said, I pray you of mercy to missay me no more, 
my grief is enough though ye give me no more ; I call 
myself never the worse knight when a mare's son faileth me, 
and also I count me never the worse knight for a fall of Sir 
Bleoberis. So thus he rode with her two days ; and by 
fortune there came Sir Palomides and encountered with him, 
and he in the same wise served him as did Bleoberis tofore 
hand. What dost thou here in my fellowship ? said the 
damosel Maledisant, thou canst not sit no knight, nor with- 
stand him one buffet, but if it were Sir Dagonet. Ah, fair 
damosel, I am not the worse to take a fall of Sir Palomides, 
and yet great disworship have I none, for neither Bleoberis 
nor yet Palomides would not fight with me on foot. As for 
that, said the damosel, wit thou well they have disdain and 
scorn to light off their horses to fight with such a lewd 
knight as thou art. So in the meanwhile there came Sir 
Mordred, Sir Gawaine's brother, and so he fell in the fellow- 
ship with the damosel Maledisant. And then they came 

304 King Arthur 

afore the Castle Orgulous, and there was such a custom that 
there might no knight come by that castle but either he 
must joust or be prisoner, or at the least to lose his horse and 
his harness. And there came out two knights against them, 
and Sir Mordred jousted with the foremost, and that knight 
of the castle smote Sir Mordred down off his horse. And 
then La Cote Male Taile jousted with that other, and either 
of them smote other down, horse and all, to the earth. And 
when they avoided their horses, then either of them took 
other's horses. And then La Cote Male Taile rode unto 
that knight that smote down Sir Mordred, and jousted with 
him. And there Sir La Cote Male Taile hurt and wounded 
him passing sore, and put him from his horse as he had 
been dead. So he turned unto him that met him afore, 
and he took the flight towards the castle, and Sir La Cote 
Male Taile rode after him into the Castle Orgulous, and 
there La Cote Male Taile slew him. 



AND anon there came an hundred knights about him and 
assailed him ; and when he saw his horse should be slain he 
alit and voided his horse, and put the bridle under his feet, 
and so put him out of the gate. And when he had so done 
he hurled in among them, and dressed his back unto a lady's 
chamber-wall, thinking himself that he had liefer die there 
with worship than to abide the rebukes of the damosel 
Maledisant. And in the meantime as he stood and fought, 
that lady whose was the chamber went out slily at her 
postern, and without the gates she found La Cote Male 
Taile's horse, and lightly she gat him by the bridle, and 
tied him to the postern. And then she went unto her 
chamber slily again for to behold how that one knight fought 
against an hundred knights. And when she had beheld 
him long she went to a window behind his back, and said : 
Thou knight, thou fightest wonderly well, but for all that at 
the last thou must needs die, but an thou canst through thy 
mighty prowess win unto yonder postern, for there have I 
fastened thy horse to abide thee : but wit thou well thou 

King Arthur 305 

must think on thy worship, and think not to die, for thou 
mayst not win unto that postern without thou do nobly and 
mightily. When La Cote Male Taile heard her say so he 
gripped his sword in his hands, and put his shield fair afore 
him, and through the thickest press he thrulled through them. 
And when he came to the postern he found there ready four 
knights, and at two the first strokes he slew two of the knights, 
and the other fled ; and so he won his horse and rode from 
them. And all as it was it was rehearsed in King Arthur's court, 
how he slew twelve knights within the Castle Orgulous ; and 
so he rode on his way. And in the meanwhile the damosel 
said to Sir Mordred : I ween my foolish knight be either 
slain or taken prisoner : then were they ware where he came 
riding. And when he was come unto them he told all how 
he had sped and escaped in despite of them all : And some 
of the best of them will tell no tales. Thou liest falsely, 
said the damosel, that dare I make good, but as a fool and 
a dastard to all knighthood they have let thee pass. That 
may ye prove, said La Cote Male Taile. With that she 
sent a courier of hers that rode alway with her for to know 
the truth of this deed ; and so he rode thither lightly, and 
asked how and in what manner that La Cote Male Taile 
was escaped out of the castle. Then all the knights cursed 
him, and said that he was a fiend and no man : for he hath 
slain here twelve of our best knights, and we weened unto 
this day that it had been too much for Sir Launcelot du 
Lake or for Sir Tristram de Liones. And in despite of us 
all he is departed from us and maugre our heads. With 
this answer the courier departed and came to Maledisant his 
lady, and told her all how Sir La Cote Male Taile had sped 
at the Castle Orgulous. Then she smote down her head, 
and said little. By my head, said Sir Mordred to the 
damosel, ye are greatly to blame so to rebuke him, for I 
warn you plainly he is a good knight, and I doubt not but 
he shall prove a noble knight ; but as yet he may not yet sit 
sure on horseback, for he that shall be a good horseman it 
must come of usage and exercise. But when he cometh to 
the strokes of his sword he is then noble and mighty, and 
that saw Sir Bleoberis and Sir Palomides, for wit ye well 
they are wily men of arms, and anon they know when they 
see a young knight by his riding, how they are sure to give 
him a fall from his horse or a great buffet. But for the 
most part they will not light on foot with young knights, for 

306 King Arthur 

they are wight and strongly armed. For in likewise Sir 
Launcelot du Lake, when he was first made knight, he was 
often put to the worse upon horseback, but ever upon foot 
he recovered his renown, and slew and defoiled many 
knights of the Round Table. And therefore the rebukes 
that Sir Launcelot did unto many knights causeth them 
that be men of prowess to beware ; for often I have seen the 
old proved knights rebuked and slain by them that were but 
young beginners. Thus they rode sure talking by the way 
together. Here leave we off a while of this tale, and speak 
we of Sir Launcelot du Lake ; 



THAT when he was come to the court of King Arthur, 
then heard he tell of the young knight La Cote Male Taile, 
how he slew the lion, and how he took upon him the 
adventure of the black shield, the which was named at that 
time the hardiest adventure of the world. So God me save, 
said Sir Launcelot unto many of his fellows, it was shame 
to all the noble knights to suffer such a young knight to 
take such adventure upon him for his destruction ; for I 
will that ye wit, said Sir Launcelot, that that damosel 
Maledisant hath borne that shield many a day for to seek 
the most proved knights, and that was she that Breuse 
Saunce Pite took that shield from her, and after Tristram 
de Liones rescued that shield from him and gave it to the 
damosel again, a little afore that time that Sir Tristram 
fought with my nephew Sir Blamore de Ganis, for a quarrel 
that was betwixt the King of Ireland and him. Then many 
knights were sorry that Sir La Cote Male Taile was gone 
forth to that adventure. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I cast 
me to ride after him. And within seven days Sir Launcelot 
overtook La Cote Male Taile, and then he saluted him and 
the damosel Maledisant. And when Sir Mordred saw Sir 
Launcelot, then he left their fellowship ; and so Sir Launce- 
lot rode with them all a day, and ever that damosel rebuked 
La Cote Male Taile, and then Sir Launcelot answered for 

King Arthur 307 

him ; then she left off, and rebuked Sir Launcelot. So 
this meantime Sir Tristram sent by a damosel a letter unto 
Sir Launcelot, excusing him of the wedding of Isoud la 
Blanche Mains ; and said in the letter, as he was a true 
knight he had never ado fleshly with Isoud la Blanche 
Mains ; and passing courteously and gentily Sir Tristram 
wrote unto Sir Launcelot, ever beseeching him to be his 
good friend and unto La Beale Isoud of Cornwall, and that 
Sir Launcelot would excuse him if that ever he saw her. 
And within short time by the grace of God, said Sir Tristram, 
that he would speak with La Beale Isoud, and with him 
right hastily. Then Sir Launcelot departed from the damosel 
and from Sir La Cote Male Taile, for to oversee that letter, 
and to write another letter unto Sir Tristram de Liones. 
And in the meanwhile La Cote Male Taile rode with the 
damosel until they came to a castle that hight Pendragon ; 
and there were six knights stood afore him, and one of them 
proffered to joust with La Cote Male Taile. And there La 
Cote Male Taile smote him over his horse's croup. And 
then the five knights set upon him all at once with their 
spears, and there they smote La Cote Male Taile down, 
horse and man. And then they alit suddenly, and set 
their hands upon him all at once, and took him prisoner, 
and so led him unto the castle and kept him as prisoner. 
And on the morn Sir Launcelot arose, and delivered the 
damosel with letters unto Sir Tristram, and then he took 
his way after La Cote Male Taile ; and by the way upon a 
bridge there was a knight proffered Sir Launcelot to joust, 
and Sir Launcelot smote him down, and then they fought 
upon foot a noble battle together, and a mighty; and at 
the last Sir Launcelot smote him down grovelling upon his 
hands and his knees. And then that knight yielded him, 
and Sir Launcelot received him fair. Sir, said the knight, 
I require thee tell me your name, for much my heart giveth 
unto you. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, as at this time I will 
not tell you my name, unless then that ye tell me your name. 
Certainly, said the knight, my name is Sir Nerovens, that 
was made knight of my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake. Ah, 
Nerovens de Lile, said Sir Launcelot, I am right glad that 
ye are proved a good knight, for now wit ye well my name 
is Sir Launcelot du Lake. Alas, said Sir Nerovens de Lile, 
what have I done ! And therewithal flatling he fell to his 
feet, and would have kissed them, but Sir Launcelot would 

308 King Arthur 

not let him ; and then either made great joy of other. And 
then Sir Nerovens told Sir Launcelot that he should not go 
by the Castle of Pendragon : For there is a lord, a mighty 
knight, and many knights with him, and this night I heard 
say that they took a knight prisoner yesterday that rode 
with a damosel, and they say he is a Knight of the Round 



AH, said Sir Launcelot, that knight is my fellow, and him 
shall I rescue or else I shall lose my life therefor. And 
therewithal he rode fast till he came before the Castle of 
Pendragon ; and anon therewithal there came six knights, 
and all made them ready to set upon Sir Launcelot at 
once; then Sir Launcelot feutred his spear, and smote the 
foremost that he brake his back insunder, and three of 
them hit and three failed. And then Sir Launcelot passed 
through them, and lightly he turned in again, and smote 
another knight through the breast and throughout the back 
more than an ell, and therewithal his spear brake. So then 
all the remnant of the four knights drew their swords and 
lashed at Sir Launcelot. And at every stroke Sir Launcelot 
bestowed so his strokes that at four strokes sundry they 
avoided their saddles, passing sore wounded ; and forth- 
withal he rode hurling into that castle. And anon the lord 
of the castle, that was that time cleped Sir Brian de les Isles, 
the which was a noble man and a great enemy unto King 
Arthur, within a while he was armed and upon horseback. 
And then they feutred their spears and hurled together so 
strongly that both their horses rashed to the earth. And 
then they avoided their saddles, and dressed their shields, 
and drew their swords, and flang together as woodmen, and 
there were many strokes given in a while. At the last Sir 
Launcelot gave to Sir Brian such a buffet that he kneeled 
upon his knees, and then Sir Launcelot rushed upon him, 
and with great force he pulled off his helm ; and when Sir 
Brian saw that he should be slain he yielded him, and put 
him in his mercy and in his grace. Then Sir Launcelot 

King Arthur 309 

made him to deliver all his prisoners that he had within his 
castle, and therein Sir Laimcelot found of Arthur's knights 
thirty, and forty ladies, and so he delivered them ; and then 
he rode his way. And anon as La Cote Male Taile was 
delivered he gat his horse, and his harness, and his Damosel 
Maledisant. The meanwhile Sir Nerovens, that Sir Launcelot 
had foughten withal afore at the bridge, he sent a damosel 
after Sir Launcelot to wit how he sped at the Castle of 
Pendragon. And then they within the castle marvelled 
what knight he was, when Sir Brian and his knights delivered 
all those prisoners. Have ye no marvel, said the damosel, 
for the best knight in this world was here, and did this 
journey, and wit ye well, she said, it was Sir Launcelot. 
Then was Sir Brian full glad, and so was his lady, and all 
his knights, that such a man should win them. And when 
the damosel and La Cote Male Taile understood that it was 
Sir Launcelot du Lake that had ridden with them in fellow- 
ship, and that she remembered her how she had rebuked 
him and called him coward, then was she passing heavy. 



So then they took their horses and rode forth a pace 
after Sir Launcelot. And within two mile they overtook 
him, and saluted him, and thanked him, and the damosel 
cried Sir Launcelot mercy of her evil deed and saying : For 
now I know the flower of all knighthood is departed even 
between Sir Tristram and you. For God knoweth, said the 
damosel, that I have sought you my lord, Sir Launcelot, and 
Sir Tristram long, and now I thank God I have met with 
you ; and once at Camelot I met with Sir Tristram, and 
there he rescued this black shield with the white hand 
holding a naked sword that Sir Breuse Saunce Pite had taken 
from me. Now, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, who told 
you my name ? Sir, said she, there came a damosel from a 
knight that ye fought withal at the bridge, and she told me 
your name was Sir Launcelot du Lake. Blame have she 
then, said Sir Launcelot, but her lord, Sir Nerovens, hath 
told her. But, damosel, said Sir Launcelot, upon this 

3io King Arthur 

covenant I will ride with you, so that ye will not rebuke this 
knight Sir La Cote Male Taile no more ; for he is a good 
knight, and I doubt not he shall prove a noble knight, and 
for his sake and pity that he should not be destroyed I 
followed him to succour him in this great need. Ah, Jesu 
thank you, said the damosel, for now I will say unto you 
and to him both, I rebuked him never for no hate that I 
hated him, but for great love that I had to him. For ever 
I supposed that he had been too young and too tender to 
take upon him these adventures. And therefore by my 
will I would have driven him away for jealousy that I had 
of his life, for it may be no young knight's deed that shall 
achieve this adventure to the end. Pardie, said Sir Launce- 
lot, it is well said, and where ye are called the Damosel 
Maledisant I will call you the Damosel Bienpensant. And 
so they rode forth a great while unto they came to the border 
of the country of Surluse, and there they found a fair village 
with a strong bridge like a fortress. And when Sir Launce- 
lot and they were at the bridge there start forth afore them 
of gentlemen and yeomen many, that said : Fair lords, ye 
may not pass this bridge and this fortress by cause of that 
black shield that I see one of you bear, and therefore there 
shall not pass but one of you at once ; therefore choose you 
which of you shall enter within this bridge first. Then Sir 
Launcelot proffered himself first to enter within this bridge. 
Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I beseech you let me enter 
within this fortress, and if I may speed well I will send for 
you, and if it happened that I be slain, there it goeth. And 
if so be that I am a prisoner taken, then may ye rescue me. 
I am loth, said Sir Launcelot, to let you pass this passage. 
Sir, said La Cote Male Taile, I pray you let me put my body 
in this adventure. Now go your way, said Sir Launcelot, 
and Jesu be your speed. So he entered, and anon there 
met with him two brethren, the one hight Sir Plaine de Force, 
and the other hight Sir Plaine de Amours. And anon they 
met with Sir La Cote Male Taile ; and first La Cote Male 
Taile smote down Plaine de Force, and after he smote down 
Plaine de Amours ; and then they dressed them to their 
shields and swords, and bad La Cote Male Taile alight, 
and so he did ; and there was dashing and foining with 
swords, and so they began to assail full hard La Cote Male 
Taile, and many great wounds they gave him upon his head, 
and upon his breast, and upon his shoulders. And as he 

King Arthur 311 

might ever among he gave sad strokes again. And then the 
two brethren traced and traversed for to be of both hands of 
Sir La Cote Male Taile, but he by fine force and knightly 
prowess gat them afore him. And then when he felt himself 
so wounded, then he doubled his strokes, and gave them so 
many wounds that he felled them to the earth, and would 
have slain them had they not yielded them. And right so 
Sir La Cote Male Taile took the best horse that there was of 
them three, and so rode forth his way to the other fortress and 
bridge; and there he met with the third brother whose name 
was Sir Plenorius, a full noble knight, and there they jousted 
together, and either smote other down, horse and man, to 
the earth. And then they avoided their horses, and dressed 
their shields, and drew their swords, and gave many sad 
strokes, and one while the one knight was afore on the bridge, 
and another while the other. And thus they fought two 
hours and more, and never rested. And ever Sir Launcelot 
and the damosel beheld them. Alas, said the damosel, my 
knight fighteth passing sore and over long. Now may ye 
see, said Sir Launcelot, that he is a noble knight, for to con- 
sider his first battle, and his grievous wounds ; and even 
forthwithal so wounded as he is, it is marvel that he may 
endure this long battle with that good knight. 



THIS meanwhile Sir La Cote Male Taile sank right down 
upon the earth, what forwounded and what forbled he 
might not stand. Then the other knight had pity of him, 
and said : Fair young knight, dismay you not, for had ye been 
fresh when ye met with me, as I was, I wot well that I should 
not have endured so long as ye have done ; and therefore 
for your noble deeds of arms I shall show to you kindness 
and gentleness in all that I may. And forthwithal this noble 
knight, Sir Plenorius, took him up in his arms, and led him 
into his tower. And then he commanded him the wine, and 
made to search him and to stop his bleeding wounds. Sir. 
said La Cote Male Taile, withdraw you from me, and hie you 

312 King Arthur 

to yonder bridge again, for there will meet with you another 
manner knight than ever was I. Why, said Plenorius, is 
there another manner knight behind of your fellowship ? 
Yea, said La Cote Male Taile, there is a much better knight 
than I am. What is his name? said Plenorius. Ye shall 
not know for me, said La Cote Male Taile. Well, said the 
knight, he shall be encountered withal whatsomever he be. 
Then Sir Plenorius heard a knight call that said : Sir 
Plenorius, where art thou ? either thou must deliver me the 
prisoner that thou hast led unto thy tower, or else come and 
do battle with me. Then Plenorius gat his horse, and came 
with a spear in his hand walloping toward Sir Launcelot ; 
and then they began to feuter their spears, and came together 
as thunder, and smote either other so mightily that their 
horses fell down under them. And then they avoided their 
horses, and pulled out their swords, and like two bulls they 
lashed together with great strokes and foynes ; but ever Sir 
Launcelot recovered ground upon him, and Sir Plenorius 
traced to have gone about him. But Sir Launcelot would 
not suffer that, but bare him backer and backer, till he came 
nigh his tower gate. And then said Sir Launcelot : I know 
thee well for a good knight, but wit thou well thy life and 
death is in my hand, and therefore yield thee to me, and thy 
prisoner. The other answered no word, but struck mightily 
upon Sir Launcelot's helm, that the fire sprang out of his 
eyes. Then Sir Launcelot doubled his strokes so thick, and 
smote at him so mightily, that he made him kneel upon his 
knees. And therewith Sir Launcelot leapt upon him, and 
pulled him grovelling down. Then Sir Plenorius yielded 
him, and his tower, and all his prisoners at his will. Then 
Sir Launcelot received him and took his troth ; and then he 
rode to the other bridge, and there Sir Launcelot jousted 
with other three of his brethren, the one hight Pillounes, 
and the other hight Pellogris, and the third Sir Pellandris. 
And first upon horseback Sir Launcelot smote them down, 
and afterward he beat them on foot, and made them to yield 
them unto him ; and then he returned unto Sir Plenorius, 
and there he found in his prison King Carados of Scotland, 
and many other knights, and all they were delivered. And 
then Sir La Cote Male Taile came to Sir Launcelot, and then 
Sir Launcelot would have given him all these fortresses and 
these bridges. Nay, said La Cote Male Taile, I will not 
have Sir Plenorius' livelihood ; with that he will grant you, 

King Arthur 313 

my lord Sir Launcelot, to come unto King Arthur's court, 
and to be his knight, and all his brethren, I will pray you, 
my lord, to let him have his livelihood. I will well, said Sir 
Launcelot, with this that he will come to the court of King 
Arthur and become his man, and his brethren five. And as 
for you, Sir Plenorius, I will undertake, said Sir Launcelot, 
at the next feast, so there be a place voided, that ye shall 
be Knight of the Round Table. Sir, said Plenorius, at the 
next feast of Pentecost I will be at Arthur's court, and at 
that time I will be guided and ruled as King Arthur and ye 
will have me. Then Sir Launcelot and Sir La Cote Male 
Taile reposed them there, unto the time that Sir La Cote 
Male Taile was whole of his wounds, and there they had 
merry cheer, and good rest, and many good games, and there 
were many fair ladies. 



AND in the meanwhile came Sir Kay, the Seneschal, and 
Sir Brandiles, and anon they fellowshipped with them. And 
then within ten days, then departed those knights of Arthur's 
court from these fortresses. And as Sir Launcelot came by 
the Castle of Pendragon there he put Sir Brian de les Isles 
from his lands, for cause he would never be withhold with 
King Arthur ; and all that Castle of Pendragon and all the 
lands thereof he gave to Sir La Cote Male Taile. And then 
Sir Launcelot sent for Nerovens that he made once knight, 
and he made him to have all the rule of that castle and of 
that country, under La Cote Male Taile ; and so they rode 
to Arthur's court all wholly together. And at Pentecost 
next following there was Sir Plenorius and Sir La Cote 
Male Taile, called otherwise by right Sir Breunor le Noire, 
both made Knights of the Table Round ; and great lands 
King Arthur gave them, and there Breunor le Noire wedded 
that damosel Maledisant. And after she was called Beau- 
vivante, but ever after for the more part he was called La 
Cote Male Taile ; and he proved a passing noble knight, 
and mighty ; and many worshipful deeds he did after in his 

314 King Arthur 

life ; and Sir Plenorius proved a noble knight and full of 
prowess, and all the days of their life for the most part they 
awaited upon Sir Launcelot ; and Sir Plenorius' brethren 
were ever knights of King Arthur. And also, as the French 
book maketh mention, Sir La Cote Male Taile avenged his 
father's death. 



Now leave we here Sir La Cote Male Taile, and turn we 
unto Sir Tristram de Liones that was in Brittany. When 
La Beale Isoud understood that he was wedded she sent to 
him by her maiden Bragwaine as piteous letters as could be 
thought and made, and her conclusion was that, an it 
pleased Sir Tristram, that he would come to her court, and 
bring with him Isoud La Blanche Mains, and they should 
be kept as well as she herself. Then Sir Tristram called 
unto him Sir Kehydius, and asked him whether he would 
go with him into Cornwall secretly. He answered him that 
he was ready at all times. And then he let ordain privily a 
little vessel, and therein they went, Sir Tristram, Kehydius, 
Dame Bragwaine, and Gouvernail, Sir Tristram's squire. 
So when they were in the sea a contrarious wind blew them 
on the coasts of North Wales, nigh the Castle Perilous. 
Then said Sir Tristram : Here shall ye abide me these ten 
days, and Gouvernail, my squire, with you. And if so be 
I come not again by that day take the next way into Corn- 
wall ; for in this forest are many strange adventures, as I 
have heard say, and some of them I cast me to prove or I 
depart. And when I may I shall hie me after you. Then 
Sir Tristram and Kehydius took their horses and departed 
from their fellowship. And so they rode within that forest 
a mile and more; and at the last Sir Tristram saw afore 
him a likely knight armed sitting by a well, and a strong 
mighty horse passing nigh him tied to an oak, and a man 
hoving and riding by him leading an horse laden with 
spears. And this knight that sat at the well seemed by his 
countenance to be passing heavy. Then Sir Tristram rode 

King Arthur 315 

near him and said : Fair knight, why sit ye so drooping ? ye 
seem to be a knight-errant by your arms and harness, and 
therefore dress you to joust with one of us, or with both. 
Therewithal that knight made no words, but took his shield 
and buckled it about his neck, and lightly he took his horse 
and leapt upon him. And then he took a great spear of 
his squire, and departed his way a furlong. Sir Kehydius 
asked leave of Sir Tristram to joust first. Do your best, 
said Sir Tristram. So they met together, and there Sir 
Kehydius had a fall, and was sore wounded on high above 
the paps. Then Sir Tristram said : Knight, that is well 
jousted, now make you ready unto me. I am ready, said 
the knight. And then that knight took a greater spear in 
his hand, and encountered with Sir Tristram, and there by 
great force that knight smote down Sir Tristram from his 
horse and had a great fall. Then Sir Tristram was sore 
ashamed, and lightly he avoided his horse, and put his 
shield afore his shoulder, and drew his sword. And then 
Sir Tristram required that knight of his knighthood to alight 
upon foot and fight with him. I will well, said the knight ; 
and so he alit upon foot, and avoided his horse, and cast his 
shield upon his shoulder, and drew his sword, and there 
they fought a long battle together full nigh two hours. 
Then Sir Tristram said : Fair knight, hold thine hand, and 
tell me of whence thou art, and what is thy name. As for 
that, said the knight, I will be avised ; but an thou wilt tell 
me thy name peradventure I will tell thee mine. 



Now fair knight, he said, my name is Sir Tristram de 
Liones. Sir, said the other knight, and my name is Sir 
Lamorak de Galis. Ah, Sir Lamorak, said Sir Tristram, 
well be we met, and bethink thee now of the despite thou 
didst me of the sending of the horn unto King Mark's 
court, to the intent to have slain or dishonoured my lady 
the Queen, La Beale Isoud ; and therefore wit thou well, 
said Sir Tristram, the one of us shall die or we depart. Sir, 

316 King Arthur 

said Sir Lamorak, remember that we were together in the Isle 
of Servage, and at that time ye promised me great friend- 
ship. Then Sir Tristram would make no longer delays, but 
lashed at Sir Lamorak ; and thus they fought long till either 
were weary of other. Then Sir Tristram said to Sir 
Lamorak : In all my life met I never with such a knight 
that was so big and well breathed as ye be, therefore, said 
Sir Tristram, it were pity that any of us both should here be 
mischieved. Sir, said Sir Lamorak, for your renown and 
name I will that ye have the worship of this battle, and 
therefore I will yield me unto you. And therewith he took 
the point of his sword to yield him. Nay, said Sir Tristram, 
ye shall not do so, for well I know your proffers, and more 
of your gentleness than for any fear or dread ye have of me. 
And therewithal Sir Tristram proffered him his sword and 
said : Sir Lamorak, as an overcome knight I yield me unto 
you as to a man of the most noble prowess that ever I met 
withal. Nay, said Sir Lamorak, I will do you gentleness ; 
I require you let us be sworn together that never none of us 
shall after this day have ado with other. And therewithal 
Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak sware that never none of 
them should fight against other, nor for weal nor for woe. 



AND this meanwhile there came Sir Palomides, the good 
knight, following the questing beast that had in shape a 
head like a serpent's head, and a body like a leopard, 
buttocks like a lion, and footed like an hart; and in his 
body there was such a noise as it had been the noise of 
thirty couple of hounds questing, and such a noise that 
beast made wheresomever he went ; and this beast ever- 
more Sir Palomides followed, for it was called his quest. 
And right so as he followed this beast it came by Sir 
Tristram, and soon after came Palomides. And to brief 
this matter he smote down Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak 
both with one spear ; and so he departed after the beast 
Galtisant, that was called the questing beast ; wherefore 
these two knights were passing wroth that Sir Palomides 

King Arthur 317 

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

318 King Arthur 



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

King Arthur 319 

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

320 King Arthur 



Now leave we of this tale, and speak we of Sir Tristram, 
that as he rode he met with Sir Kay, the Seneschal ; and 
there Sir Kay asked Sir Tristram of what country he was. 
He answered that he was of the country of Cornwall. It 
may well be, said Sir Kay, for yet heard I never that ever 
good knight came out of Cornwall. That is evil spoken, 
said Sir Tristram, but an it please you to tell me your name 
I require you. Sir, wit ye well, said Sir Kay, that my name 
is Sir Kay, the Seneschal. Is that your name? said Sir 
Tristram, now wit ye well that ye are named the shamefullest 
knight of your tongue that now is living ; howbeit ye are 
called a good knight, but ye are called unfortunate, and 
passing overthwart of your tongue. And thus they rode 
together till they came to a bridge. And there was a knight 
would not let them pass till one of them jousted with him ; 
and so that knight jousted with Sir Kay, and there that 
knight gave Sir Kay a fall : his name was Sir Tor, Sir 
Lamorak's half-brother. And then they two rode to their 
lodging, and there they found Sir Brandiles, and Sir Tor 
came thither anon after. And as they sat at supper these 
four knights, three of them spake all shame by Cornish 
knights. Sir Tristram heard all that they said and he said 
but little, but he thought the more, but at that time he 
discovered not his name. Upon the morn Sir Tristram 
took his horse and abode them upon their way. And there 
Sir Brandiles proffered to joust with Sir Tristram, and Sir 
Tristram smote him down, horse and all, to the earth. 
Then Sir Tor le Fise de Vayshoure encountered with Sir 
Tristram, and there Sir Tristram smote him down, and then 
he rode his way, and Sir Kay followed him, but he would 
not of his fellowship. Then Sir Brandiles came to Sir Kay 
and said : I would wit fain what is that knight's name. Come 
on with me, said Sir Kay, and we shall pray him to tell us 
his name. So they rode together till they came nigh him, 
and then they were ware where he sat by a well, and had 
put off his helm to drink at the well. And when he saw 
them come he laced on his helm lightly, and took his horse, 

King Arthur 321 

and proffered them to joust. Nay, said Sir Brandiles, we 
jousted late enough with you, we come not in that intent. 
But for this we come to require you of knighthood to tell us 
your name. My fair knights, sythen that is your desire, and 
to please you, ye shall wit that my name is Sir Tristram de 
Liones, nephew unto King Mark of Cornwall. In good 
time, said Sir Brandiles, and well be ye found, and wit ye 
well that we be right glad that we have found you, and we 
be of a fellowship that would be right glad of your company. 
For ye are the knight in the world that the noble fellowship 
of the Round Table most desireth to have the company of. 
God thank them, said Sir Tristram, of their great goodness, 
but as yet I feel well that I am unable to be of their fellow- 
ship, for I was never yet of such deeds of worthiness to be 
in the company of such a fellowship. Ah, said Sir Kay, an 
ye be Sir Tristram de Liones, ye are the man called now 
most of prowess except Sir Launcelot du Lake; for he 
beareth not the life, Christian nor heathen, that can find 
such another knight, to speak of his prowess, and of his 
hands, and his truth withal. For yet could there never 
creature say of him dishonour and make it good. Thus they 
talked a great while, and then they departed either from 
other such ways as them seemed best. 



Now shall ye hear what was the cause that King Arthur 
came into the Forest Perilous, that was in North Wales, by 
the means of a lady. Her name was Annowre, and this lady 
came to King Arthur at Cardiff; and she by fair promise 
and fair behests made King Arthur to ride with her into that 
Forest Perilous ; and she was a great sorceress ; and many 
days she had loved King Arthur, and by cause she would 
have him to lie by her she came into that country. So when 
the king was gone with her many of his knights followed 
after King Arthur when they missed him, as Sir Launcelot, 
Brandiles, and many other ; and when she had brought him 
to her tower she desired him to lie by her ; and then the 
king remembered him of his lady, and would not lie by 

322 King Arthur 

her for no craft that she could do. Then every day she 
would make him ride into that forest with his own knights, 
to the intent to have had King Arthur slain. For when 
this Lady Annowre saw that she might not have him at her 
will, then she laboured by false means to have destroyed 
King Arthur, and slain. Then the lady of the lake that was 
alway friendly to King Arthur, she understood by her 
subtle crafts that King Arthur was like to be destroyed. 
And therefore this lady of the lake that hight Nimue, came 
into that forest to seek after Sir Launcelot du Lake or Sir 
Tristram for to help King Arthur ; foras that same day this 
lady of the lake knew well that King Arthur should be slain, 
unless that he had help of one of these two knights. And 
thus she rode up and down till she met with Sir Tristram, 
and anon as she saw him she knew him. O my lord Sir 
Tristram, she said, well be ye met, and blessed be the time 
that I have met with you ; for this same day, and within 
these two hours, shall be done the foulest deed that ever 
was done in this land. O fair damosel, said Sir Tristram, 
may I amend it. Come on with me, she said, and that in all 
the haste ye may, for ye shall see the most worshipfullest 
knight of the world hard bested. Then said Sir Tristram : 
I am ready to help such a noble man. He is neither better 
nor worse, said the lady of the lake, but the noble King 
Arthur himself. God defend, said Sir Tristram, that ever he 
should be in such distress. Then they rode together a great 
pace, until they came to a little turret or castle ; and under- 
neath that castle they saw a knight standing upon foot 
fighting with two knights ; and so Sir Tristram beheld them, 
and at the last the two knights smote down the one knight, 
and that one of them unlaced his helm to have slain him. 
And the Lady Annowre gat King Arthur's sword in her hand 
to have stricken off his head. And therewithal came Sir 
Tristram with all his might, crying : Traitress, traitress, 
leave that. And anon there Sir Tristram smote the one of 
the knights through the body that he fell dead ; and then 
he rushed to the other and smote his back in sunder ; and 
in the meanwhile the lady of the lake cried to King Arthur : 
Let not that false lady escape. Then King Arthur over- 
took her, and with the same sword he smote off her head, 
and the lady of the lake took up her head and hung it up 
by the hair of her saddle-bow. And then Sir Tristram 
horsed King Arthur and rode forth with him, but he 

King Arthur 323 

charged the lady of the lake not to discover his name as 
at that time. When the king was horsed he thanked heartily 
Sir Tristram, and desired to wit his name ; but he would 
not tell him, but that he was a poor knight adventurous ; 
and so he bare King Arthur fellowship till he met with some 
of his knights. And within a while he met with Sir Ector 
de Maris, and he knew not King Arthur nor Sir Tristram, 
and he desired to joust with one of them. Then Sir 
Tristram rode unto Sir Ector, and smote him from his horse. 
And when he had done so he came again to the king and 
said : My lord, yonder is one of your knights, he may bare 
you fellowship, and another day that deed that I have done 
for you I trust to God ye shall understand that I would do 
you service. Alas, said King Arthur, let me wit what ye 
are ? Not at this time, said Sir Tristram. So he departed 
and left King Arthur and Sir Ector together. 



AND then at a day set Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak met 
at the well ; and then they took Kehydius at the forester's 
house, and so they rode with him to the ship where they 
left Dame Bragwaine and Gouvernail, and so they sailed 
into Cornwall all wholly together. And by assent and 
information of Dame Bragwaine when they were landed 
they rode unto Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, a trusty friend of 
Sir Tristram's. And so Dame Bragwaine and Sir Dinas 
rode to the court of King Mark, and told the queen, La 
Beale Isoud, that Sir Tristram was nigh her in that country. 
Then for very pure joy La Beale Isoud swooned ; and when 
she might speak she said : Gentle knight Seneschal, help 
that I might speak with him, outher my heart will brast. 
Then Sir Dinas and Dame Bragwaine brought Sir Tristram 
and Kehydius privily unto the court, unto a chamber where 
as La Beale Isoud had assigned it ; and to tell the joys that 
were betwixt La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram, there is no 
tongue can tell it, nor heart think it, nor pen write it. And 
as the French book maketh mention, at the first time that 

324 King Arthur 

ever Sir Kehydius saw La Beale Isoud he was so enamoured 
upon her that for very pure love he might never withdraw 
it. And at the last, as ye shall hear or the book be ended, 
Sir Kehydius died for the love of La Beale Isoud. And 
then privily he wrote unto her letters and ballads of the 
most goodliest that were used in those days. And when 
La Beale Isoud understood his letters she had pity of his 
complaint, and unavised she wrote another letter to com- 
fort him withal. And Sir Tristram was all this while in a 
turret at the commandment of La Beale Isoud, and when 
she might she came unto Sir Tristram. So on a day King 
Mark played at the chess under a chamber window ; and at 
that time Sir Tristram and Sir Kehydius were within the 
chamber over King Mark, and as it mishapped Sir Tristram 
found the letter that Kehydius sent unto La Beale Isoud, 
also he had found the letter that she wrote unto Kehydius, 
and at that same time La Beale Isoud was in the same 
chamber. Then Sir Tristram came unto La Beale Isoud and 
said : Madam, here is a letter that was sent unto you, and here 
is the letter that ye sent unto him that sent you that letter. 
Alas, Madam, the good love that I have loved you; and 
many lands and riches have I forsaken for your love, and 
now ye are a traitress to me, the which doth me great pain. 
But as for thee, Sir Kehydius, I brought thee out of Brittany 
into this country, and thy father, King Howel, I won his 
lands, howbeit I wedded thy sister Isoud La Blanche Mains 
for the goodness she did unto me. And yet, as I am true 
knight, she is a clene maiden for me ; but wit thou well, Sir 
Kehydius, for this falsehood and treason thou hast done 
me, I will revenge it upon thee. And therewithal Sir 
Tristram drew out his sword and said : Sir Kehydius, keep 
thee, and then La Beale Isoud swooned to the earth. And 
when Sir Kehydius saw Sir Tristram come upon him he saw 
none other boot, but leapt out at a bay-window even over 
the head where sat King Mark playing at the chess. And 
when the king saw one come hurling over his head he 
said : Fellow, what art thou, and what is the cause thou 
leapest out at that window ? My lord the king, said 
Kehydius, it fortuned me that I was asleep in the window 
above your head, and as I slept I slumbered, and so I fell 
down. And thus Sir Kehydius excused him. 

King Arthur 325 



THEN Sir Tristram dread sore lest he were discovered 
unto the king that he was there ; wherefore he drew him to 
the strength of the Tower, and armed him in such armour as 
he had for to fight with them that would withstand him. 
And so when Sir Tristram saw there was no resistance against 
him he sent Gouvernail for his horse and his spear, and 
knightly he rode forth out of the castle openly, that was 
called the Castle of Tintagil. And even at gate he met 
with Gingalin, Sir Gawaine's son. And anon Sir Gingalin 
put his spear in his rest, and ran upon Sir Tristram and 
brake his spear ; and Sir Tristram at that time had but a 
sword, and gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he 
fell down from his saddle, and his sword slid adown, and 
carved asunder his horse's neck. And so Sir Tristram rode 
his way into the forest, and all this doing saw King Mark. 
And then he sent a squire unto the hurt knight, and com- 
manded him to come to him, and so he did. And when 
King Mark wist that it was Sir Gingalin he welcomed him 
and gave him an horse, and asked him what knight it was 
that had encountered with him. Sir, said Gingalin, I wot 
not what knight he was, but well I wot that he sigheth and 
maketh great dole. Then Sir Tristram within a while met 
with a knight of his own, that hight Sir Fergus. And when 
he had met with him he made great sorrow, insomuch that 
he fell down off his horse in a swoon, and in such sorrow 
he was in three days and three nights. Then at the last 
Sir Tristram sent unto the court by Sir Fergus, for to spere 
what tidings. And so as he rode by the way he met with a 
damosel that came from Sir Palomides, to know and seek 
how Sir Tristram did. Then Sir Fergus told her how he 
was almost out of his mind. Alas, said the damosel, where 
shall I find him ? In such a place, said Sir Fergus. Then 
Sir Fergus found Queen Isoud sick in her bed, making the 
greatest dole that ever any earthly woman made. And 
when the damosel found Sir Tristram she made great dole 
by cause she might not amend him, for the more she made 
of him the more was his pain. And at the last Sir Tristram 

I 45 M 

326 King Arthur 

took his horse and rode away from her. And then was it 
three days or that she could find him, and then she brought 
him meat and drink, but he would none ; and then another 
time Sir Tristram escaped away from the damosel, and it 
happed him to ride by the same castle where Sir Palom- 
ides and Sir Tristram did battle when La Beale Isoud 
departed them. And there by fortune the damosel met 
with Sir Tristram again, making the greatest dole that ever 
earthly creature made ; and she yede to the lady of that 
castle and told her of the misadventure of Sir Tristram. 
Alas, said the lady of that castle, where is my lord, Sir 
Tristram? Right here by your castle, said the damosel. 
In good time, said the lady, is he so nigh me ; he shall 
have meat and drink of the best ; and an harp I have of his 
whereupon he taught me, for of goodly harping he beareth 
the prize in the world. So this lady and damosel brought 
him meat and drink, but he ate little thereof. Then upon 
a night he put his horse from him, and then he unlaced his 
armour, and then Sir Tristram would go into the wilderness, 
and brast down the trees and boughs ; and otherwhile when 
he found the harp that the lady sent him, then would he 
harp, and play thereupon and weep together. And some- 
time when Sir Tristram was in the wood that the lady wist 
not where he was, then would she sit her down and play 
upon that harp : then would Sir Tristram come to that harp, 
and hearken thereto, and sometime he would harp himself. 
Thus he there endured a quarter of a year. Then at the 
last he ran his way, and she wist not where he was become. 
And then was he naked and waxed lean and poor of flesh ; 
and so he fell in the fellowship of herdmen and shepherds, 
and daily they would give him some of their meat and 
drink. And when he did any shrewd deed they would beat 
him with rods, and so they clipped him with shears and 
made him like a fool. 



AND upon a day Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, came into 
Cornwall with two squires with him ; and as they rode 
through that forest they came by a fair well where Sir 

King Arthur 327 

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

328 King Arthur 

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



THEN Sir Andred, that was cousin unto Sir Tristram, 
made a lady that was his paramour to say and to noise it 
that she was with Sir Tristram or ever he died. And this 
tale she brought unto King Mark's court, that she buried 
him by a well, and that or he died he besought King Mark 
to make his cousin, Sir Andred, king of the country of 
Liones, of the which Sir Tristram was lord of. All this 
did Sir Andred by cause he would have had Sir Tristram's 
lands. And when King Mark heard tell that Sir Tristram 
was dead he wept and made great dole. But when Queen 
Isoud heard of these tidings she made such sorrow that she 
was nigh out of her mind ; and so upon a day she thought 
to slay herself and never to live after Sir Tristram's death. 

King Arthur 329 

And so upon a day La Beale Isoud gat a sword privily and 
bare it to her garden, and there she pitched the sword 
through a plum tree up to the hilt, so that it stuck fast, and 
it stood breast high. And as she would have run upon the 
sword and to have slain herself all this espied King Mark, 
how she kneeled down and said : Sweet Lord Jesu, have 
mercy upon me, for I may not live after the death of Sir 
Tristram de Liones, for he was my first love and he shall be 
the last. And with these words came King Mark and took 
her in his arms, and then he took up the sword, and bare 
her away with him into a tower ; and there he made her to 
be kept, and watched her surely, and after that she lay long 
sick, nigh at the point of death. This meanwhile ran Sir 
Tristram naked in the forest with the sword in his hand, and 
so he came to an hermitage, and there he laid him down 
and slept ; and in the meanwhile the hermit stole away his 
sword, and laid meat down by him. Thus was he kept 
there ten days ; and at the last he departed and came to the 
herdmen again. And there was a giant in that country that 
hight Tawleas, and for fear of Sir Tristram more than seven 
year he durst never much go at large, but for the most part 
he kept him in a sure castle of his own ; and so this Tawleas 
heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead, by the noise of the 
court of King Mark. Then this Tawleas went daily at large. 
And so he happed upon a day he came to the herdmen 
wandering and lingering, and there he set him down to rest 
among them. The meanwhile there came a knight of 
Cornwall that led a lady with him, and his name was Sir 
Dinaunt ; and when the giant saw him he went from the 
herdmen and hid him under a tree, and so the knight came 
to that well, and there he alit to repose him. And as soon 
as he was from his horse this giant Tawleas came betwixt 
this knight and his horse, and took the horse and leapt upon 
him. So forthwith he rode unto Sir Dinaunt and took him 
by the collar, and pulled him afore him upon his horse, and 
there would have stricken off his head. Then the herdmen 
said unto Sir Tristram : Help yonder knight. Help ye him, 
said Sir Tristram. We dare not, said the herdmen. Then 
Sir Tristram was ware of the sword of the knight thereas it 
lay ; and so thither he ran and took up the sword and 
struck off Sir Tawleas' head, and so he yede his way to the 

330 King Arthur 



THEN the knight took up the giant's head and bare it 
with him unto King Mark, and told him what adventure 
betid him in the forest, and how a naked man rescued him 
from the grimly giant, Tawleas. Where had ye this adven- 
ture ? said King Mark. Forsooth, said Sir Dinaunt, at the 
fair fountain in your forest where many adventurous knights 
meet, and there is the mad man. Well, said King Mark, I 
will see that wild man. So within a day or two King Mark 
commanded his knights and his hunters that they should 
be ready on the morn for to hunt, and so upon the morn 
he went unto that forest. And when the king came to that 
well he found there lying by that well a fair naked man, 
and a sword by him. Then King Mark blew and straked, 
and therewith his knights came to him ; and then the king 
commanded his knights to : Take that naked man with 
fairness, and bring him to my castle. So they did softly 
and fair, and cast mantles upon Sir Tristram, and so led him 
unto Tintagil ; and there they bathed him, and washed him, 
and gave hot suppings till they had brought him well to his 
remembrance; but all this while there was no creature 
that knew Sir Tristram, nor what man he was. So it fell 
upon a day that the Queen, La Beale Isoud, heard of such 
a man, that ran naked in the forest, and how the king had 
brought him home to the court. Then La Beale Isoud 
called unto her Dame Bragwaine and said : Come on with 
me, for we will go see this man that my lord brought 
from the forest the last day. So they passed forth, and 
spered where was the sick man. And then a squire told 
the queen that he was in the garden taking his rest, and 
reposing him against the sun. So when the queen looked 
upon Sir Tristram she was not remembered of him. But 
ever she said unto Dame Bragwaine : Meseemeth I should 
have seen him heretofore in many places. But as soon as 
Sir Tristram saw her he knew her well enough. And then 
he turned away his visage and wept. Then the queen had 
always a little brachet with her that Sir Tristram gave her the 
first time that ever she came into Cornwall, and never would 

King Arthur 331 

that brachet depart from her but if Sir Tristram was nigh 
there as was La Beale Isoud ; and this brachet was sent 
from the king's daughter of France unto Sir Tristram for 
great love. And anon as this little brachet felt a savour of 
Sir Tristram, she leapt upon him and licked his learys and 
his ears, and then she whined and quested, and she smelled 
at his feet and at his hands, and on all parts of his body 
that she might come to. Ah, my lady, said Dame Brag- 
waine unto La Beale Isoud, alas, alas, said she, I see it is 
mine own lord, Sir Tristram. And thereupon Isoud fell 
down in a swoon, and so lay a great while. And when she 
might speak she said : My lord Sir Tristram, blessed be 
God ye have your life, and now I am sure ye shall be 
discovered by this little brachet, for she will never leave 
you. And also I am sure as soon as my lord, King 
Mark, do know you he will banish you out of the country 
of Cornwall, or else he will destroy you ; for God's sake, 
mine own lord, grant King Mark his will, and then draw 
you unto the court of King Arthur, for there are ye 
beloved, and ever when I may I shall send unto you ; and 
when ye list ye may come to me, and at all times early and 
late I will be at your commandment, to live as poor a life 
as ever did queen or lady. O madam, said Sir Tristram, 
go from me, for mickle anger and danger have I escaped 
for your love. 



THEN the queen departed, but the brachet would not 
from him ; and therewithal came King Mark, and the 
brachet set upon him, and bayed at them all. Therewithal 
Sir Andred spake and said : Sir, this is Sir Tristram, I see 
by the brachet. Nay, said the king, I cannot suppose that. 
Then the king asked him upon his faith what he was, and 
what was his name. So God me help, said he, my name is 
Sir Tristram de Liones ; now do by me what ye list. Ah, 
said King Mark, me repenteth of your recovery. And then 
he let call his barons to judge Sir Tristram to the death. 
Then many of his barons would not assent thereto, and in 
especial Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, and Sir Fergus. And so 
by the advice of them all Sir Tristram was banished out of 

332 King" Arthur 

the country for ten year, and thereupon he took his oath 
upon a book before the king and his barons. And so he 
was made to depart out of the country of Cornwall ; and 
there were many barons brought him unto his ship, of 
the which some were his friends and some his foes. And in 
the meanwhile there came a knight of King Arthur's, his 
name was Dinadan, and his coming was for to seek after Sir 
Tristram ; then they showed him where he was armed at all 
points going to the ship. Now fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, 
or ye pass this court that ye will joust with me I require 
thee. With a good will, said Sir Tristram, an these lords 
will give me leave. Then the barons granted thereto, and 
so they ran together, and there Sir Tristram gave Sir Dina- 
dan a fall. And then he prayed Sir Tristram to give him 
leave to go in his fellowship. Ye shall be right welcome, 
said then Sir Tristram. And so they took their horses and 
rode to their ships together, and when Sir Tristram was in 
the sea he said : Greet well King Mark and all mine 
enemies, and say them I will come again when I may ; and 
well am I rewarded for the fighting with Sir Marhaus, and 
delivered all this country from servage ; and well am I 
rewarded for the fetching and costs of Queen Isoud 
out of Ireland, and the danger that I was in first and 
last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to 
bring again Queen Isoud from the Castle Pluere ; and well 
am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Bleoberis for Sir 
Sagwarides' wife ; and well am I rewarded when I fought 
with Sir Blamore de Ganis for King Anguish, father unto 
La Beale Isoud ; and well am I rewarded when I smote 
down the good knight, Sir Lamorak de Galis, at King 
Mark's request ; and well am I rewarded when I fought 
with the King with the hundred knights, and the King of 
Northgalis, and both these would have put his land in 
servage, and by me they were put to a rebuke ; and well am 
I rewarded for the slaying of Tawleas, the mighty giant, 
and many other deeds have I done for him, and now have 
I my warison. And tell King Mark that many noble 
knights of the Table Round have spared the barons of this 
country for my sake. Also am I not well rewarded when I 
fought with the good knight Sir Palomides and rescued 
Queen Isoud from him ; and at that time King Mark said 
afore all his barons I should have been better rewarded. 
And forthwithal he took the sea. 

King Arthur 333 



AND at the next landing, fast by the sea, there met with 
Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, Sir Ector de Maris 
and Sir Bors de Ganis ; and there Sir Ector jousted 
with Sir Dinadan, and he smote him and his horse 
down. And then Sir Tristram would have jousted with 
Sir Bors, and Sir Bors said that he would not joust 
with no Cornish knights, for they are not called men of 
worship ; and all this was done upon a bridge. And with 
this came Sir Bleoberis and Sir Driant, and Sir Bleoberis 
proffered to joust with Sir Tristram, and there Sir Tristram 
smote down Sir Bleoberis. Then said Sir Bors de Ganis : I 
wist never Cornish knight of so great valour nor so valiant 
as that knight that beareth the trappours embroidered with 
crowns. And then Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan departed 
from them into a forest, and there met them a damosel that 
came for the love of Sir Launcelot to seek after some noble 
knights of King Arthur's court for to rescue Sir Launcelot. 
And so Sir Launcelot was ordained, for by the treason of 
Queen Morgan le Fay to have slain Sir Launcelot, and for 
that cause she ordained thirty knights to lie in await for 
Sir Launcelot, and this damsel knew this treason. And for 
this cause the damosel came for to seek noble knights to 
help Sir Launcelot. For that night, or the day after, Sir 
Launcelot should come where these thirty knights were. 
And so this damosel met with Sir Bors and Sir Ector and 
with Sir Driant, and there she told them all four of the 
treason of Morgan le Fay ; and then they promised her that 
they would be nigh where Sir Launcelot should meet 
with the thirty knights. And if so be they set upon him we 
will do rescues as we can. So the damosel departed, and by 
adventure the damosel met with Sir Tristram and with Sir 
Dinadan, and there the damosel told them all the treason 
that was ordained for Sir Launcelot. Fair damosel, said 
Sir Tristram, bring me to that same place where they should 
meet with Sir Launcelot. Then said Sir Dinadan : What 
will ye do ? it is not for us to fight with thirty knights, and 
wit you well I will not thereof; as to match one knight two 

1 45 *M 

334 Ki n g Arthur 

or three is enough an they be men, but for to match fifteen 
knights that, will I never undertake. Fie for shame, said Sir 
Tristram, do but your part. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, I will 
not thereof but if ye will lend me your shield, for ye bear a 
shield of Cornwall ; and for the cowardice that is named to 
the knights of Cornwall, by your shields ye be ever forborne. 
Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not depart from my shield for 
her sake that gave it me. But one thing, said Sir Tristram, 
I promise thee, Sir Dinadan, but if thou wilt promise me to 
abide with me, here I shall slay thee, for I desire no more 
of thee but answer one knight. And if thy heart will not 
serve thee, stand by and look upon me and them. Sir, said 
Sir Dinadan, I promise you to look upon and to do what I 
may to save myself, but I would I had not met with you. So 
then anon these thirty knights came fast by these four 
knights, and they were ware of them, and either of other. 
And so these thirty knights let them pass, for this cause, 
that they would not wrath them, if cause be that they had 
ado with Sir Launcelot ; and the four knights let them pass 
to this intent, that they would see and behold what they 
would do with Sir Launcelot. And so the thirty knights 
passed on and came by Sir Tristram and by Sir Dinadan, 
and then Sir Tristram cried on high : Lo, here is a knight 
against you for the love of Sir Launcelot. And there he slew 
two with one spear and ten with his sword. And then came 
in Sir Dinadan and he did passing well, and so of the thirty 
knights there went but ten away, and they fled. All this 
battle saw Sir Bors de Ganis and his three fellows, and then 
they saw well it was the same knight that jousted with them 
at the bridge ; then they took their horses and rode unto 
Sir Tristram, and praised him and thanked him of his good 
deeds, and they all desired Sir Tristram to go with them to 
their lodging ; and he said : Nay, he would not go to no 
lodging. Then they all four knights prayed him to tell 
them his name. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, as at this time 
I will not tell you my name. 

King Arthur 335 



THEN Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode forth their way 
till they came to the shepherds and to the herdmen, and 
there they asked them if they knew any lodging or harbour 
there nigh hand. Forsooth, Sirs, said the herdmen, hereby 
is good lodging in a castle ; but there is such a custom that 
there shall no knight be harboured but if he joust with 
two knights, and if he be but one knight he must joust with 
two. And as ye be therein soon shall ye be matched. 
There is shrewd harbour, said Sir Dinadan ; lodge where ye 
will, for I will not lodge there. Fie for shame, said Sir 
Tristram, are ye not a knight of the Table Round ? wherefore 
ye may not with your worship refuse your lodging. Not so, 
said the herdmen, for an ye be beaten and have the worse 
ye shall not be lodged there, and if ye beat them ye shall be 
well harboured. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, they are two sure 
knights. Then Sir Dinadan would not lodge there in no 
manner but as Sir Tristram required him of his knighthood ; 
and so they rode thither. And to make short tale, Sir 
Tristram and Sir Dinadan smote them down both, and so 
they entered into the castle and had good cheer as they 
could think or devise. And when they were unarmed, and 
thought to be merry and in good rest, there came in at the 
gates Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris, requiring to have the 
custom of the castle. What array is this ? said Sir Dinadan, 
I would have my rest. That may not be, said Sir Tris- 
tram ; now must we needs defend the custom of this castle, 
insomuch as we have the better of the lords of this castle, 
and therefore, said Sir Tristram, needs must ye make you 
ready. In the devil's name, said Sir Dinadan, came I into 
your company. And so they made them ready ; and Sir 
Gaheris encountered with Sir Tristram, and Sir Gaheris had 
a fall ; and Sir Palomides encountered with Sir Dinadan, 
and Sir Dinadan had a fall : then was it fall for fall. So 
then must they fight on foot. That would not Sir 
Dinadan, for he was so sore bruised of the fall that Sir 
Palomides gave him. Then Sir Tristram unlaced Sir 
Dinadan's helm, and prayed him to help him. I will not, 
said Sir Dinadan. for I am sore wounded of the thirty 

336 King Arthur 

knights that we had but late ago to do withal. But ye fare, 
said Sir Dinadan unto Sir Tristram, as a madman and as a 
man that is out of his mind that would cast himself away, 
and I may curse the time that ever I saw you, for in all 
the world are not two such knights that be so wood as is Sir 
Launcelot and ye Sir Tristram ; for once I fell in the 
fellowship of Sir Launcelot as I have done now with you, 
and he set me a work that a quarter of a year I kept my 
bed. Jesu defend me, said Sir Dinadan, from such two 
knights, and specially from your fellowship. Then, said Sir 
Tristram, I will fight with them both. Then Sir Tristram 
bade them come forth both, for I will fight with you. Then 
Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris dressed them, and smote at 
them both. Then Dinadan smote at Sir Gaheris a stroke or 
two, and turned from him. Nay, said Sir Palomides, it is too 
much shame for us two knights to fight with one. And then 
he did bid Sir Gaheris stand aside with that knight that hath 
no list to fight. Then they rode together and fought long, 
and at the last Sir Tristram doubled his strokes, and drove 
Sir Palomides aback more than three strides. And then by 
one assent Sir Gaheris and Sir Dinadan went betwixt them, 
and departed them in sunder. And then by assent of Sir 
Tristram they would have lodged together. But Sir Dinadan 
would not lodge in that castle. And then he cursed the 
time that ever he came in their fellowship, and so he took his 
horse, and his harness, and departed. Then Sir Tristram 
prayed the lords of that castle to lend him a man to 
bring him to a lodging, and so they did, and overtook Sir 
Dinadan, and rode to their lodging two mile thence with a 
good man in a priory, and there they were well at ease. 
And that same night Sir Bors and Sir Bleoberis, and Sir 
Ector and Sir Driant, abode still in the same place thereas 
Sir Tristram fought with the thirty knights ; and there they 
met with Sir Launcelot the same night, and had made 
promise to lodge with Sir Colgrevance the same night. 

King Arthur 337 



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

338 King" Arthur 

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



SIR, said Sir Gawaine, will ye stand with me, and we will 
see the malice of these thirty knights. Sir, said Sir Tristram, 
go ye to them, an it please you, and ye shall see I will not 

King Arthur 339 

fail you, for it is not long ago syn I and a fellow met with 
thirty knights of that queen's fellowship ; and God speed us 
so that we may win worship. So then Sir Gawaine and Sir 
Tristram rode toward the castle where Morgan le Fay was, 
and ever Sir Gawaine deemed well that he was Sir Tristram 
de Liones, by cause he heard that two knights had slain 
and beaten thirty knights. And when they came afore the 
castle Sir Gawaine spake on high and said : Queen Morgan 
le Fay, send out your knights that ye have laid in a watch 
for Sir Launcelot and for Sir Tristram. Now, said Sir 
Gawaine, I know your false treason, and through all places 
where that I ride men shall know of your false treason ; and 
now let see Sir Gawaine whether ye dare come out of your 
castle, ye thirty knights. Then the queen spake and all the 
thirty knights at once, and said : Sir Gawaine, full well 
wotest thou what thou dost and sayest ; for by God 
we know thee passing well, but all that thou speakest and 
dost, thou sayest it upon pride of that good knight that is 
there with thee. For there be some of us that know full 
well the hands of that knight over all well. And wit thou 
well, Sir Gawaine, it is more for his sake than for thine that 
we will not come out of this castle. For wit ye well, Sir 
Gawaine, the knight that beareth the arms of Cornwall, we 
know him and what he is. Then Sir Gawaine and Sir 
Tristram departed and rode on their ways a day or two 
together; and there by adventure, they met with Sir Kay 
and Sir Sagramore le Desirous. And then they were glad 
of Sir Gawaine, and he of them, but they wist not what he 
was with the shield of Cornwall, but by deeming. And thus 
they rode together a day or two. And then they were ware 
of Sir Breuse Saunce Pite chasing a lady for to have slain 
her, for he had slain her paramour afore. Hold you all 
still, said Sir Gawaine, and show none of you forth, and ye 
shall see me reward yonder false knight ; for an he espy you 
he is so well horsed that he will escape away. And then 
Sir Gawaine rode betwixt Sir Breuse and the lady, and said : 
False knight, leave her, and have ado with me. When Sir 
Breuse saw no more but Sir Gawaine he feutred his spear, 
and Sir Gawaine against him ; and there Sir Breuse over- 
threw Sir Gawaine, and then he rode over him, and 
overthwart him twenty times to have destroyed him ; and 
when Sir Tristram saw him do so villainous a deed, he 
hurled out against him. And when Sir Breuse saw him with 

340 King Arthur 

the shield of Cornwall he knew him well that it was Sir 
Tristram, and then he fled, and Sir Tristram followed after 
him ; and Sir Breuse Saunce Pite was so horsed that he 
went his way quite, and Sir Tristram followed him long, for 
he would fain have been avenged upon him. And so when 
he had long chased him, he saw a fair well, and thither he 
rode to repose him, and tied his horse till a tree. 



AND then he pulled off his helm and washed his visage 
and his hands, and so he fell on sleep. In the meanwhile 
came a damosel that had sought Sir Tristram many ways and 
days within this land. And when she came to the well she 
looked upon him, and had forgotten him as in remembrance 
of Sir Tristram, but by his horse she knew him, that hight 
Passe-Brewel that had been Sir Tristram's horse many years. 
For when he was mad in the forest Sir Fergus kept him. So 
this lady, Dame Bragwaine, abode still till he was awake. 
So when she saw him wake she saluted him, and he her 
again, for either knew other of old acquaintance ; then she 
told him how she had sought him long and broad, and there 
she told him how she had letters from Queen La Beale 
Isoud. Then anon Sir Tristram read them, and wit ye 
well he was glad, for therein was many a piteous complaint. 
Then Sir Tristram said : Lady Bragwaine, ye shall ride with 
me till that tournament be done at the Castle of Maidens, 
and then shall bear letters and tidings with you. And then 
Sir Tristram took his horse and sought lodging, and there he 
met with a good ancient knight and prayed him to lodge 
with him. Right so came Gouvernail unto Sir Tristram, 
that was glad of that lady. So this old knight's name was 
Sir Pellounes, and he told of the great tournament that 
should be at the Castle of Maidens. And there Sir Launcelot 
and thirty-two knights of his blood had ordained shields of 
Cornwall. And right so there came one unto Sir Pellounes, 
and told him that Sir Persides de Bloise was come home ; 
then that knight held up his hands and thanked God of his 
coming home. And there Sir Pellounes told Sir Tristram 

King Arthur 341 

that in two years he had not seen his son, Sir Persides. Sir, 
said Sir Tristram, I know your son well enough for a good 
knight. So on a time Sir Tristram and Sir Persides came 
to their lodging both at once, and so they unarmed them, and 
put upon them their clothing. And then these two knights 
each welcomed other. And when Sir Persides understood 
that Sir Tristram was of Cornwall, he said he was once in 
Cornwall : And there I jousted afore King Mark ; and so it 
happed me at that time to overthrow ten knights, and then 
came to me Sir Tristram de Liones and overthrew me, and 
took my lady away from me, and that shall I never forget, 
but I shall remember me an ever I see my time. Ah, said 
Sir Tristram, now I understand that ye hate Sir Tristram. 
What deem ye, ween ye that Sir Tristram is not able to 
withstand your malice ? Yes, said Sir Persides, I know 
well that Sir Tristram is a noble knight, and a much 
better knight than I, yet shall I not owe him my 
good will. Right as they stood thus talking at a bay- 
window of that castle, they saw many knights riding to 
and fro toward the tournament. And then was Sir Tristram 
ware of a likely knight riding upon a great black horse, and 
a black-covered shield. What knight is that, said Sir 
Tristram, with the black horse and the black shield? he 
seemeth a good knight. I know him well, said Sir Persides, 
he is one of the best knights of the world. Then is it Sir 
Launcelot, said Tristram. Nay, said Sir Persides, it is Sir 
Palomides, that is yet unchristened. 



THEN they saw much people of the country salute Sir 
Palomides. And within a while after there came a squire of 
the castle, that told Sir Pellounes that was lord of that 
castle, that a knight with a black shield had smitten down 
thirteen knights. Fair brother, said Sir Tristram unto Sir 
Persides, let us cast upon us cloaks, and let us go see 
the play. Not so, said Sir Persides, we will not go like 
knaves thither, but we will ride like men and good knights 
to withstand our enemies. So they armed them, and took 

34 2 King Arthur 

their horses and great spears, and thither they went there as 
many knights assayed themself before the tournament. 
And anon Sir Palomides saw Sir Persides, and then he 
sent a squire unto him and said : Go thou to the yonder 
knight with the green shield and therein a lion of gold, and 
say him I require him to joust with me, and tell him that my 
name is Sir Palomides. When Sir Persides understood that 
request of Sir Palomides, he made him ready, and there 
anon they met together, but Sir Persides had a fall. Then 
Sir Tristram dressed him to be revenged upon Sir Palomides, 
and that saw Sir Palomides that was ready and so was not 
Sir Tristram, and took him at an advantage and smote 
him over his horse's tail when he had no spear in his rest. 
Then start up Sir Tristram and took his horse lightly, and 
was wroth out of measure, and sore ashamed of that fall. 
Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir Palomides by Gouvernail, 
and prayed him to joust with him at his request. Nay, said 
Sir Palomides, as at this time I will not joust with that knight, 
for I know him better than he weeneth. And if he be wroth 
he may right it tomorn at the Castle of Maidens, where 
he may see me and many other knights. With that came 
Sir Dinadan, and when he saw Sir Tristram wroth he list 
not to jape. Lo, said Sir Dinadan, here may a man prove, 
be a man never so good yet may he have a fall, and he was 
never so wise but he might be overseen, and he rideth well 
that never fell. So Sir Tristram was passing wroth, and 
said to Sir Persides and to Sir Dinadan : I will revenge me. 
Right so as they stood talking there, there came by Sir 
Tristram a likely knight riding passing soberly and heavily 
with a black shield. What knight is that ? said Sir Tristram 
unto Sir Persides. I know him well, said Sir Persides, for 
his name is Sir Briant of North Wales ; so he passed on 
among other knights of North Wales. And there came in 
Sir Launcelot du Lake with a shield of the arms of Cornwall, 
and he sent a squire unto Sir Briant, and required him to 
joust with him. Well, said Sir Briant, sithen I am required 
to joust I will do what I may ; and there Sir Launcelot 
smote down Sir Briant from his horse a great fall. And 
then Sir Tristram marvelled what knight he was that bare 
the shield of Cornwall. Whatsoever he be, said Sir Dinadan, 
I warrant you he is of King Ban's blood, the which be 
knights of the most noble prowess in the world, for to 
account so many for so many. Then there came two 

King Arthur 343 

knights of Northgalis, that one hight Hew de la Montaine, 
and the other Sir Maddok de la Montaine, and they chal- 
lenged Sir Launcelot foot hot. Sir Launcelot not refusing 
them but made him ready, with one spear he smote them 
down both over their horse's croups ; and so Sir Launcelot 
rode his way. By the good lord, said Sir Tristram, he is a 
good knight that beareth the shield of Cornwall, and 
raeseemeth he rideth in the best manner that ever I saw 
knight ride. Then the King of Northgalis rode unto Sir 
Palomides, and prayed him heartily for his sake to joust with 
that knight that hath done us of Northgalis despite. Sir, 
said Sir Palomides, I am full loath to have ado with that 
knight, and cause why is, for as tomorn the great tournament 
shall be ; and therefore I will keep myself fresh by my will. 
Nay, said the King of Northgalis, I pray you require him of 
jousts. Sir, said Sir Palomides, I will joust at your request, 
and require that knight to joust with me, and often I have 
seen a man have a fall at his own request. 



THEN Sir Palomides sent unto Sir Launcelot a squire, 
and required him of jousts. Fair fellow, said Sir Launcelot, 
tell me thy lord's name. Sir, said the squire, my lord's name 
is Sir Palomides, the good knight. In good hour, said Sir 
Launcelot, for there is no knight that I saw this seven years 
that I had liefer ado withal than with him. And so either 
knights made them ready with two great spears. Nay, said 
Sir Dinadan, ye shall see that Sir Palomides will quit him 
right well. It may be so, said Sir Tristram, but I undertake 
that knight with the shield of Cornwall shall give him a fall. 
I believe it not, said Sir Dinadan. Right so they spurred 
their horses and feutred their spears, and either hit other, 
and Sir Palomides brake a spear upon Sir Launcelot, and 
he sat and moved not ; but Sir Launcelot smote him so 
lightly that he made his horse to avoid the saddle, and the 
stroke brake his shield and the hauberk, and had he not 
fallen he had been slain. How now, said Sir Tristram, I 
wist well by the manner of their riding both that Sir 

344 K m g Arthur 

Palomides should have a fall. Right so Sir Launcelot rode 
his way, and rode to a well to drink and to repose him, and 
they of Northgalis espied him whither he rode ; and then 
there followed him twelve knights for to have mischieved 
him, for this cause that upon the morn at the tournament of 
the Castle of Maidens that he should not win the victory. 
So they came upon Sir Launcelot suddenly, and unnethe 
he might put upon him his helm and take his horse, but 
they were in hands with him ; and then Sir Launcelot gat 
his spear, and rode through them, and there he slew a knight 
and brake a spear in his body. Then he drew his sword 
and smote upon the right hand and upon the left hand, so 
that within a few strokes he had slain other three knights, 
and the remnant that abode he wounded them sore 
all that did abide. Thus Sir Launcelot escaped from his 
enemies of North Wales, and then Sir Launcelot rode his 
way till a friend, and lodged him till on the morn ; for he 
would not the first day have ado in the tournament by 
cause of his great labour. And on the first day he was with 
King Arthur there as he was set on high upon a scaffold to 
discern who was best worthy of his deeds. So Sir Launcelot 
was with King Arthur, and jousted not the first day. 



Now turn we unto Sir Tristram de Liones, that 
commanded Gouvernail, his servant, to ordain him a black 
shield with none other remembrance therein. And so Sir 
Persides and Sir Tristram departed from their host Sir 
Pellounes, and they rode early toward the tournament, and 
then they drew them to King Carados' side, of Scotland ; 
and anon knights began the field what of King Northgalis' 
part, and what of King Carados' part, and there began great 
party. Then there was hurling and rushing. Right so 
came in Sir Persides and Sir Tristram, and so they did fare 
that they put the king of Northgalis aback. Then came in 
Sir Bleoberis de Ganis and Sir Gaheris with them of 
Northgalis, and then was Sir Persides smitten down and 
almost slain, for more than fortv horsemen went over him. 

King Arthur 345 

For Sir Bleoberis did great deeds of arms, and Sir Gaheris 
failed him not. When Sir Tristram beheld them, and saw 
them do such deeds of arms, he marvelled what they were. 
Also Sir Tristram thought shame that Sir Persides was so 
done to ; and then he gat a great spear in his hand, and then 
he rode to Sir Gaheris and smote him down from his horse. 
And then was Sir Bleoberis wroth, and gat a spear and rode 
against Sir Tristram in great ire ; and there Sir Tristram 
met with him, and smote Sir Bleoberis from his horse. So 
then the king with the hundred knights was wroth, and he 
horsed Sir Bleoberis and Sir Gaheris again, and there began 
a great medley ; and ever Sir Tristram held them passing 
short, and ever Sir Bleoberis was passing busy upon Sir 
Tristram ; and there came Sir Dinadan against Sir Tristram, 
and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that he swooned 
in his saddle. Then anon Sir Dinadan came to Sir 
Tristram and said : Sir, I know thee better than thou 
weenest; but here I promise thee my troth I will never 
come against thee more, for I promise thee that sword of 
thine shall never come on mine helm. With that came Sir 
Bleoberis, and Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet that 
down he laid his head ; and then he caught him so sore by 
the helm that he pulled him under his horse's feet. And 
then King Arthur blew to lodging. Then Sir Tristram 
departed to his pavilion, and Sir Dinadan rode with him ; 
and Sir Persides and King Arthur then, and the kings upon 
both parties, marvelled what knight that was with the black 
shield. Many said their advice, and some knew him for Sir 
Tristram, and held their peace and would nought say. So 
that first day King Arthur, and all the kings and lords that 
were judges, gave Sir Tristram the prize ; howbeit they knew 
him not, but named him the knight with the black shield. 



THEN upon the morn Sir Palomides returned from the 
king of Northgalis, and rode to King Arthur's side, where 
was King Carados, and the king of Ireland, and Sir 
Launcelot's kin and Sir Gawaine's kin. So Sir Palomides 

346 King Arthur 

sent the damosel unto Sir Tristram that he sent to seek him 
when he was out of his mind in the forest, and this damosel 
asked Sir Tristram what he was and what was his name ? 
As for that, said Sir Tristram, tell Sir Palomides ye shall 
not wit as at this time unto the time I have broken two 
spears upon him. But let him wit thus much, said Sir 
Tristram, that I am the same knight that he smote down in 
over evening at the tournament ; and tell him plainly on 
what party that Sir Palomides be I will be of the contrary 
party. Sir, said the damosel, ye shall understand that Sir 
Palomides will be on King Arthur's side, where the most 
noble knights of the world be. In the name of God, said 
Sir Tristram, then will I be with the king of Northgalis, 
because Sir Palomides will be on King Arthur's side, and 
else I would not but for his sake. So when King Arthur 
was come they blew unto the field ; and then there began a 
great party, and so King Carados jousted with the king of 
the hundred knights, and there King Carados had a fall : 
then was there hurling and rushing, and right so came in 
knights of King Arthur's, and they bare aback the king of 
Northgalis' knights. Then Sir Tristram came in, and began 
so roughly and so bigly that there was none might withstand 
him, and thus Sir Tristram dured long. And at the last 
Sir Tristram fell among the fellowship of King Ban, and 
there fell upon him Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Ector de 
Maris, and Sir Blamore de Ganis, and many other knights. 
And then Sir Tristram smote on the right hand and on the 
left hand, that all lords and ladies spake of his noble deeds. 
But at the last Sir Tristram should have had the worse had 
not the king with the hundred knights been. And then he 
came with his fellowship and rescued Sir Tristram, and 
brought him away from those knights that bare the shields 
of Cornwall. And then Sir Tristram saw another fellowship 
by themself, and there were a forty knights together, and 
Sir Kay, the Seneschal, was their governor. Then Sir 
Tristram rode in amongst them, and there he smote down 
Sir Kay from his horse ; and there he fared among those 
knights like a greyhound among conies. Then Sir Launce- 
lot found a knight that was sore wounded upon the head. 
Sir, said Sir Launcelot, who wounded you so sore ? Sir, he 
said, a knight that beareth a black shield, and I may curse 
the time that ever I met with him, for he is a devil and no 
man. So Sir Launcelot departed from him and thought to 

King Arthur 347 

meet with Sir Tristram, and so he rode with his sword, 
drawn in his hand to seek Sir Tristram ; and then he espied 
him how he hurled here and there, and at every stroke Sir 
Tristram well-nigh smote down a knight. O mercy Jesu ! 
said the king, sith the times I bare arms saw I never no 
knight do so marvellous deeds of arms. And if I should 
set upon this knight, said Sir Launcelot to himself, I did 
shame to myself, and therewithal Sir Launcelot put up his 
sword. And then the king with the hundred knights and 
an hundred more of North Wales set upon the twenty of 
Sir Launcelot's kin : and they twenty knights held them 
ever together as wild swine, and none would fail other. 
And so when Sir Tristram beheld the noblesse of these 
twenty knights he marvelled of their good deeds, for he saw 
by their fare and by their rule that they had liefer die than 
avoid the field. Now Jesu, said Sir Tristram, well may he 
be valiant and full of prowess that hath such a sort of noble 
knights unto his kin, and full like is he to be a noble man 
that is their leader and governor. He meant it by Sir 
Launcelot du Lake. So when Sir Tristram had beholden 
them long he thought shame to see two hundred knights 
battering upon twenty knights. Then Sir Tristram rode 
unto the king with the hundred knights and said : Sir, leave 
your fighting with those twenty knighls, for ye win no 
worship of them, ye be so many and they so few ; and wit 
ye well they will not out of the field I see by their cheer and 
countenance ; and worship get ye none an ye slay them. 
Therefore leave your fighting with them, for I to increase 
my worship I will ride to the twenty knights and help them 
with all my might and power. Nay, said the king with the 
hundred knights, ye shall not do so; now I see your courage 
and courtesy I will withdraw my knights for your pleasure, 
for evermore a good knight will favour another, and like will 
draw to like. 



THEN the king with the hundred knights withdrew his 
knights. And all this while, and long tofore, Sir Launcelot 
had watched upon Sir Tristram with a very purpose to have 

348 King Arthur 

fellowshipped with him. And then suddenly Sir Tristram, 
Sir Dinadan, and Gouvernail, his man, rode their way into 
the forest, that no man perceived where they went. So 
then King Arthur blew unto lodging, and gave the king 
of Northgalis the prize by cause Sir Tristram was upon 
his side. Then Sir Launcelot rode here and there, so 
wood as lion that fauted his fill, by cause he had lost Sir 
Tristram, and so he returned unto King Arthur. And 
then in all the field was a noise that with the wind it might 
be heard two mile thence, how the lords and ladies cried : 
The knight with the black shield hath won the field. Alas, 
said King Arthur, where is that knight become ? It is shame 
to all those in the field so to let him escape away from you ; 
but with gentleness and courtesy ye might have brought 
him unto me to the Castle of Maidens. Then the noble 
King Arthur went unto his knights and comforted them in 
the best wise that he could, and said : My fair fellows, be 
not dismayed, howbeit ye have lost the field this day. And 
many were hurt and sore wounded, and many were whole. 
My fellows, said King Arthur, look that ye be of good 
cheer, for to-morn I will be in the field with you and 
revenge you of your enemies. So that night King Arthur and 
his knights reposed themself. The damosel that came 
from La Beale Isoud unto Sir Tristram, all the while the 
tournament was adoing she was with Queen Guenever, and 
ever the queen asked her for what cause she came into that 
country. Madam, she answered, I come for none other 
cause but from my lady La Beale Isoud to wit of your 
welfare. For in no wise she would not tell the queen that 
she came for Sir Tristram's sake. So this lady, Dame 
Bragwaine, took her leave of Queen Guenever, and she 
rode after Sir Tristram. And as she rode through the 
forest she heard a great cry; then she commanded her 
squire to go into the forest to wit what was that noise. 
And so he came to a well, and there he found a knight 
bounden till a tree crying as he had been wood, and his 
horse and his harness standing by him. And when he 
espied that squire, therewith he abraide and brake himself 
loose, and took his sword in his hand, and ran to have 
slain the squire. Then he took his horse and fled all that 
ever he might unto Dame Bragwaine, and told her of his 
adventure. Then she rode unto Sir Tristram's pavilion, 
and told Sir Tristram what adventure she had found in 

King Arthur 349 

the forest. Alas, said Sir Tristram, upon my head there 
is some good knight at mischief. Then Sir Tristram took 
his horse and his sword and rode thither, and there he 
heard how the knight complained unto himself and said : 
I, woful knight Sir Palomides, what misadventure befalleth 
me, that thus am defoiled with falsehood and treason, 
through Sir Bors and Sir Ector. Alas, he said, why live I so 
long ! And then he gat his sword in his hands, and made 
many strange signs and tokens ; and so through his raging 
he threw his sword into that fountain. Then Sir Palomides 
wailed and wrang his hands. And at the last for pure sorrow 
he ran into that fountain, over his belly, and sought after 
his sword. Then Sir Tristram saw that, and ran upon Sir 
Palomides, and held him in his arms fast. What art thou, 
said Palomides, that holdeth me so ? I am a man of this 
forest that would thee none harm. Alas, said Sir Palomides, 
I may never win worship where Sir Tristram is ; for ever 
where he is an I be there, then get I no worship ; and if he 
be away for the most part I have the gree, unless that Sir 
Launcelot be there or Sir Lamorak. Then Sir Palomides 
said : Once in Ireland Sir Tristram put me to the worse, 
and another time in Cornwall, and in other places in this 
land. What would ye do, said Sir Tristram, an ye had Sir 
Tristram ? I would fight with him, said Sir Palomides, and 
ease my heart upon him ; and yet, to say thee sooth, Sir 
Tristram is the gentlest knight in this world living. What 
will ye do, said Sir Tristram, will ye go with me to your 
lodging ? Nay, said he, I will go to the king with the hun- 
dred knights, for he rescued me from Sir Bors de Ganis and 
Sir Ector, and else had I been slain traitourly. Sir Tristram 
said him such kind words that Sir Palomides went with him 
to his lodging. Then Gouvernail went tofore, and charged 
Dame Bragwaine to go out of the way to her lodging. And 
bid ye Sir Persides that he make him no quarrels. And so 
they rode together till they came to Sir Tristram's pavilion, 
and there Sir Palomides had all the cheer that might be 
had all that night. But in no wise Sir Palomides might not 
know what was Sir Tristram ; and so after supper they yede 
to rest, and Sir Tristram for great travail slept till it was day. 
And Sir Palomides might not sleep for anguish ; and in the 
dawning of the day he took his horse privily, and rode his 
way unto Sir Gaheris and unto Sir Sagramore le Desirous, 
where they were in their pavilions ; for they three were 

350 King Arthur 

fellows at the beginning of the tournament. And then 
upon the morn the king blew unto the tournament upon 
the third day. 



So the king of Northgalis and the king with the hundred 
knights, they two encountered with King Carados and with 
the king of Ireland ; and there the king with the hundred 
knights smote down King Carados, and the king of North- 
galis smote down the king of Ireland. With that came in Sir 
Palomides, and when he came he made great work, for by 
his indented shield he was well known. So came in King 
Arthur, and did great deeds of arms together, and put the 
king of Northgalis and the king with the hundred knights 
to the worse. With this came in Sir Tristram with his black 
shield, and anon he jousted with Sir Palomides, and there 
by fine force Sir Tristram smote Sir Palomides over his 
horse's croup. Then King Arthur cried : Knight with the 
black shield, make thee ready to me, and in the same wise 
Sir Tristram smote King Arthur. And then by force of 
King Arthur's knights the king and Sir Palomides were 
horsed again. Then King Arthur with a great eager heart 
he gat a spear in his hand, and there upon the one side 
he smote Sir Tristram over his horse. Then foot-hot Sir 
Palomides came upon Sir Tristram, as he was upon foot, 
to have overridden him. Then Sir Tristram was ware of 
him, and there he stooped aside, and with great ire he gat 
him by the arm, and pulled him down from his horse. 
Then Sir Palomides lightly arose, and then they dashed 
together mightily with their swords ; and many kings, 
queens, and lords, stood and beheld them. And at the last 
Sir Tristram smote Sir Palomides upon the helm three 
mighty strokes, and at every stroke that he gave him he 
said : Have this for Sir Tristram's sake. With that Sir 
Palomides fell to the earth grovelling. Then came the 
king with the hundred knights, and brought Sir Tristram 
an horse, and so was he horsed again. By then was Sir 
Palomides horsed, and with great ire he jousted upon Sir 

King Arthur 351 

Tristram with his spear as it was in the rest, and gave him 
a great dash with his sword. Then Sir Tristram avoided 
his spear, and gat him by the neck with his both hands, 
and pulled him clean out of his saddle, and so he bare him 
afore him the length of ten spears, and then in the presence 
of them all he let him fall at his adventure. Then Sir 
Tristram was ware of King Arthur with a naked sword in 
his hand, and with his spear Sir Tristram ran upon 
King Arthur ; and then King Arthur boldly abode him 
and with his sword he smote a-two his spear, and there- 
withal Sir Tristram stonied ; and so King Arthur gave him 
three or four strokes or he might get out his sword, and at 
the last Sir Tristram drew his sword and assailed the other 
passing hard. With that the great press departed. Then 
Sir Tristram rode here and there and did his great pain, 
that eleven of the good knights of the blood of King Ban, 
that was of Sir Launcelot's kin, that day Sir Tristram smote 
down ; that all the estates marvelled of his great deeds and 
all cried upon the knight with the black shield. 



THEN this cry was so large that Sir Launcelot heard it. 
And then he gat a great spear in his hand and came towards 
the cry. Then Sir Launcelot cried : The knight with the 
black shield, make thee ready to joust with me. When Sir 
Tristram heard him say so he gat his spear in his hand, and 
either abashed down their heads, and came together as 
thunder; and Sir Tristram's spear brake in pieces, and Sir 
Launcelot by malfortune struck Sir Tristram on the side a 
deep wound nigh to the death ; but yet Sir Tristram avoided 
not his saddle, and so the spear brake. Therewithal Sir 
Tristram that was wounded gat out his sword, and he rushed 
to Sir Launcelot, and gave him three great strokes upon the 
helm that the fire sprang thereout, and Sir Launcelot abashed 
his head lowly toward his saddle-bow. And therewithal Sir 
Tristram departed from the field, for he felt him so wounded 
that he weened he should have died; and Sir Dinadan 
espied him and followed him into the forest. Then Sir 

352 King Arthur 

Launcelot abode and did many marvellous deeds. So when 
Sir Tristram was departed by the forest's side he alit, and 
unlaced his harness and freshed his wound ; then weened 
Sir Dinadan that he should have died. Nay, nay, said Sir 
Tristram, Dinadan never dread thee, for I am heart whole, 
and of this wound I shall soon be whole, by the mercy of 
God. By that Sir Dinadan was ware where came Palomides 
riding straight upon them. And then Sir Tristram was ware 
that Sir Palomides came to have destroyed him. And so 
Sir Dinadan gave him warning, and said : Sir Tristram, my 
lord, ye are so sore wounded that ye may not have ado with 
him, therefore I will ride against him and do to him what I 
may, and if I be slain ye may pray for my soul ; and in the 
meanwhile ye may withdraw you and go into the castle, or 
in the forest, that he shall not meet with you. Sir Tristram 
smiled and said : 1 thank you, Sir Dinadan, of your good 
will, but ye shall wit that I am able to handle him. And 
then anon hastily he armed him, and took his horse, and a 
great spear in his hand, and said to Sir Dinadan : Adieu ; 
and rode toward Sir Palomides a soft pace. Then when Sir 
Palomides saw that, he made countenance to amend his 
horse, but he did it for this cause, for he abode Sir Gaheris 
that came after him. And when he was come he rode 
toward Sir Tristram. Then Sir Tristram sent unto Sir 
Palomides, and required him to joust with him ; and if he 
smote down Sir Palomides he would do no more to him ; 
and if it so happened that Sir Palomides smote down Sir 
Tristram, he bade him do his utterance. So they were 
accorded. Then they met together, and Sir Tristram smote 
down Sir Palomides that he had a grievous fall, so that he 
lay still as he had been dead. And then Sir Tristram ran 
upon Sir Gaheris, and he would not have jousted; but 
whether he would or not Sir Tristram smote him over his 
horse's croup, that he lay still as though he had been dead. 
And then Sir Tristram rode his way and left Sir Persides' 
squire within the pavilions, and Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan 
rode to an old knight's place to lodge them. And that old 
knight had five sons at the tournament, for whom he prayed 
God heartily for their coming home. And so, as the French 
book saith, they came home all five well beaten. And when 
Sir Tristram departed into the forest Sir Launcelot held 
alway the stoure like hard, as a man araged that took no 
heed to himself, and wit ye well there was many a noble 

King Arthur 353 

knight against him. And when King Arthur saw Sir 
Launcelot do so marvellous deeds of arms he then armed 
him, and took his horse and his armour, and rode into the 
field to help Sir Launcelot; and so many knights came in 
with King Arthur. And to make short tale in conclusion, 
the king of Northgalis and the king of the hundred knights 
were put to the worse ; and by cause Sir Launcelot abode 
and was the last in the field the prize was given him. But 
Sir Launcelot would neither for king, queen, nor knight, 
have the prize, but where the cry was cried through the 
field : Sir Launcelot, Sir Launcelot hath won the field this 
day, Sir Launcelot let make another cry contrary : Sir 
Tristram hath won the field, for he began first, and last he 
hath endured, and so hath he done the first day, the second, 
and the third day. 



THEN all the estates and degrees high and low said of Sir 
Launcelot great worship, for the honour that he did unto 
Sir Tristram ; and for that honour doing to Sir Tristram he 
was at that time more praised and renowned than an he had 
overthrown five hundred knights ; and all the people wholly 
for this gentleness, first the estates both high and low, and 
after the commonalty cried at once : Sir Launcelot hath won 
the field whosoever say nay. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth 
and ashamed, and so therewithal he rode to King Arthur. 
Alas, said the king, we are all dismayed that Sir Tristram is 
thus departed from us. By God, said King Arthur, he is 
one of the noblest knights that ever I saw hold spear or 
sword in hand, and the most courteoust knight in his fight- 
ing ; for full hard I saw him, said King Arthur, when he 
smote Sir Palomides upon the helm thrice, that he abashed 
his helm with his strokes, and also he said : Here is a stroke 
for Sir Tristram, and thus thrice he said. Then King 
Arthur, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Dodinas le Savage took their 
horses to seek Sir Tristram, and by the means of Sir 
Persides he had told King Arthur where Sir Tristram was 
in his pavilion. But when they came there, Sir Tristram 

354 King Arthur 

and Sir Dinadan were gone. Then King Arthur and Sir 
Launcelot were heavy, and returned again to the Castle 
of Maidens making great dole for the hurt of Sir Tristram, 
and his sudden departing. So God me help, said King 
Arthur, I am more heavy that I cannot meet with him than 
for all the hurts that all my knights have had at the tourna- 
ment. Right so came Sir Gaheris and told King Arthur 
how Sir Tristram had smitten down Sir Palomides, and it 
was at Sir Palomides' own request. Alas, said King Arthur, 
that was great dishonour to Sir Palomides, in as much as 
Sir Tristram was sore wounded, and now may we all, kings 
and knights, and men of worship, say that Sir Tristram may 
be called a noble knight, and one of the best knights that 
ever I saw the days of my life. For I will that ye all, kings 
and knights, know, said King Arthur, that I never saw 
knight do so marvellously as he hath done these three days ; 
for he was the first that began and that longest held on, 
save this last day. And though he was hurt, it was a manly 
adventure of two noble knights, and when two noble men 
encounter needs must the one have the worse, like as God 
will suffer at that time. As for me, said Sir Launcelot, 
for all the lands that ever my father left me I would not 
have hurt Sir Tristram an I had known him at that time ; 
that I hurt him was for I saw not his shield. For an I had 
seen his black shield, I would not have meddled with 
him for many causes ; for late he did as much for me as 
ever did knight, and that is well known that he had ado 
with thirty knights, and no help save Sir Dinadan. And 
one thing shall I promise, said Sir Launcelot, Sir Palomides 
shall repent it as in his unkindly dealing for to follow that 
noble knight that I by mishap hurted thus. Sir Launcelot 
said all the worship that might be said by Sir Tristram. 
Then King Arthur made a great feast to all that would come. 
And thus we let pass King Arthur, and a little we will turn 
unto Sir Palomides, that after he had a fall of Sir Tristram, 
he was nigh hand araged out of his wit for despite of Sir 
Tristram. And so he followed him by adventure. And as 
he came by a river, in his woodness he would have made 
his horse to have leapt over ; and the horse failed footing 
and fell in the river, wherefore Sir Palomides was adread 
lest he should have been drowned ; and then he avoided his 
horse, and swam to the land, and let his horse go down by 

King Arthur 355 



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

356 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 357 




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


358 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 359 



Now will we speak, and leave Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, 
and Sir Dinadan in prison, and speak we of other knights 
that sought after Sir Tristram many divers parts of this 
land. And some yede into Cornwall ; and by adventure Sir 
Gaheris, nephew unto King Arthur, came unto King Mark, 
and there he was well received and sat at King Mark's own 
table and ate of his own mess. Then King Mark asked Sir 
Gaheris what tidings there were in the realm of Logris. 
Sir, said Sir Gaheris, the king reigneth as a noble knight ; 
and now but late there was a great jousts and tournament as 
ever I saw any in the realm of Logris, and the most noble 
knights were at that jousts. But there was one knight that 
did marvellously three days, and he bare a black shield, and 
of all knights that ever I saw he proved the best knight. 
Then, said King Mark, that was Sir Launcelot, or Sir 
Palomides the payninx Not so, said Sir Gaheris, for both 
Sir Launcelot and Sir Palomides were on the contrary party 
against the knight with the black shield. Then was it Sir 
Tristram, said the king. Yea, said Sir Gaheris. And 
therewithal the king smote down his head, and in his heart 
he feared sore that Sir Tristram should get him such 
worship in the realm of Logris wherethrough that he 
himself should not be able to withstand him. Thus Sir 
Gaheris had great cheer with King Mark, and with Queen 
La Beale Isoud, the which was glad of Sir Gaheris' words ; 
for well she wist by his deeds and manners that it was Sir 
Tristram. And then the king made a feast royal, and to 
that feast came Sir Uwaine le Fise de Roy Ureine, and 
some called him Uwaine le Blanche Mains. And this Sir 
Uwaine challenged all the knights of Cornwall. Then was 
the king wood wroth that he had no knights to answer him. 
Then Sir Andred, nephew unto King Mark, leapt up and 
said : I will encounter with Sir Uwaine. Then he yede and 
armed him and horsed him in the best manner. Aiid there 
Sir Uwaine met with Sir Andred, and smote him down that 
he swooned on the earth. Then was King Mark sorry and 

360 King Arthur 

\vroth out of measure that he had no knight to revenge his 
nephew, Sir Andred. So the king called unto him Sir 
Dinas, the Seneschal, and prayed him for his sake to take 
upon him to joust with Sir Uwaine. Sir, said Sir Dinas, I 
am full loath to have ado with any knight of the Round 
Table. Yet, said the King, for my love take upon thee to 
joust. So Sir Dinas made him ready, and anon they 
encountered together with great spears, but Sir Dinas was 
overthrown, horse and man, a great fall. Who was wroth 
but King Mark ! Alas, he said, have I no knight that will 
encounter with yonder knight? Sir, said Sir Gaheris, for 
your sake I will joust. So Sir Gaheris made him read} 7 , 
and when he was armed he rode into the field. And when 
Sir Uwaine saw Sir Gaheris's shield he rode to him and said : 
Sir, ye do not your part. For, sir, the first time ye were 
made knight of the Round Table ye sware that ye should 
not have ado with your fellowship wittingly. And pardie, 
Sir Gaheris, ye knew me well enough by my shield, and so 
do I know you by your shield, and though ye would break 
your oath I would not break mine ; for there is not one 
here nor ye that shall think I am afeared of you, but I 
durst right well have ado with you, and yet we be sisters' 
sons. Then was Sir Gaheris ashamed, and so therewithal 
every knight went their way, and Sir Uwaine rode into the 
country. Then King Mark armed him, and took his horse 
and his spear, with a squire with him. And then he rode 
afore Sir Uwaine, and suddenly at a gap he ran upon him 
as he that was not ware of him, and there he smote him 
almost through the body, and there left him. So within a 
while there came Sir Kay and found Sir Uwaine, and asked 
him how he was hurt. I wot not, said Sir Uwaine, why 
nor wherefore, but by treason I am sure I gat this hurt ; for 
there came a knight suddenly upon me or that I was ware, 
and suddenly hurt me. Then there was come Sir Andred 
to seek King Mark. Thou traitor knight, said Sir Kay, 
an I wist it were thou that thus traitorly hast hurt this 
noble knight thou shouldst never pass my hands. Sir, said 
Sir Andred, I did never hurt him, and that I will report me 
to himself. Fie on you false knight, said Sir Kay, for ye of 
Cornwall are nought worth. So Sir Kay made carry Sir 
Uwaine to the Abbey of the Black Cross, and there he was 
healed. And then Sir Gaheris took his leave of King Mark, 
but or he departed he said : Sir king, ye did a foul shame 

King Arthur 361 

unto you and your court, when ye banished Sir Tristram 
out of this country, for ye needed not to have doubted no 
knight an he had been here. And so he departed. 



THEN there came Sir Kay, the Seneschal, unto King 
Mark, and there he had good cheer showing outward. Now 
fair lords, said he, will ye prove any adventure in the forest 
of Morris in the which I know well is as hard an adventure 
as I know any. Sir, said Sir Kay, I will prove it. And Sir 
Gaheris said he would be avised, for King Mark was ever 
full of treason : and therewithal Sir Gaheris departed and 
rode his way. And by the same way that Sir Kay should 
ride he laid him down to rest, charging his squire to 
wait upon Sir Kay ; And warn me when he cometh. 
So within a while Sir Kay came riding that way, and 
then Sir Gaheris took his horse and met him, and said : 
Sir Kay, ye are not wise to ride at the request of King 
Mark, for he dealeth all with treason. Then said Sir 
Kay : I require you let us prove this adventure. I shall 
not fail you, said Sir Gaheris. And so they rode that time 
til a lake that was that time called the Perilous Lake, and 
there they abode under the shaw of the wood. The mean- 
while King Mark within the castle of Tintagil avoided all 
his barons, and all other save such as were privy with him 
were avoided out of his chamber. And then he let call his 
nephew Sir Andred, and bad arm him and horse him 
lightly ; and by that time it was midnight. And so King 
Mark was armed in black, horse and all ; and so at a privy 
postern they two issued out with their varlets with them, 
and rode till they came to that lake. Then Sir Kay espied 
them first, and gat his spear, and proffered to joust. And 
King Mark rode against him, and smote each other full 
hard, for the moon shone as the bright day. And there at 
that jousts Sir Kay's horse fell down, for his horse was not 
so big as the king's horse, and Sir Kay's horse bruised him 
full sore. Then Sir Gaheris was wroth that Sir Kay had a 
fall. Then he cried : Knight, sit thou fast in thy saddle, 

362 King Arthur 

for I will revenge my fellow. Then King Mark was afeard 
of Sir Gaheris, and so with evil will King Mark rode against 
him, and Sir Gaheris gave him such a stroke that he fell 
down. So then forthwithal Sir Gaheris ran unto Sir Andred 
and smote him from his horse quite, that his helm smote in 
the earth, and nigh had broken his neck. And therewithal 
Sir Gaheris alit, and gat up Sir Kay. And then they yode 
both on foot to them, and bad them yield them, and tell 
their names outher they should die. Then with great pain 
Sir Andred spake first, and said : It is King Mark of Corn- 
wall, therefore be ye ware what ye do, and I am Sir Andred, 
his cousin. Fie on you both, said Sir Gaheris, for a false 
traitor, and false treason hast thou wrought and he both, 
under the feigned cheer that ye made us ! it were pity, said 
Sir Gaheris, that thou shouldst live any longer. Save my 
life, said King Mark, and I will make amends ; and consider 
that I am a king anointed. It were the more shame, said 
Sir Gaheris, to save thy life ; thou art a king anointed with 
chrism, and therefore thou shouldest hold with all men of 
worship ; and therefore thou art worthy to die. With that 
he lashed at King Mark without saying any more, and 
covered him with his shield and defended him as he might. 
And then Sir Kay lashed at Sir Andred, and therewithal 
King Mark yielded him unto Sir Gaheris. And then he 
kneeled adown, and made his oath upon the cross of the 
sword, that never while he lived he would be against errant- 
knights. And also he sware to be good friend unto Sir 
Tristram if ever he came into Cornwall. By then Sir 
Andred was on the earth, and Sir Kay would have slain 
him. Let be, said Sir Gaheris, slay him not I pray you. 
It were pity, said Sir Kay, that he should live any longer, 
for this is nigh cousin unto Sir Tristram, and ever he hath 
been a traitor unto him, and by him he was exiled out of 
Cornwall, and therefore I will slay him, said Sir Kay. Ye 
shall not, said Sir Gaheris ; sythen I have given the king his 
life, I pray you give him his life. And therewithal Sir Kay 
let him go. And so Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris rode their 
way unto Dinas, the Seneschal, for by cause they heard say 
that he loved well Sir Tristram. So they reposed them 
there, and soon after they rode unto the realm of Logris. 
And so within a little while they met with Sir Launcelot 
that always had Dame Bragwaine with him, to that intent 
he weened to have met the sooner with Sir Tristram ; and 

King Arthur 363 

Sir Launcelot asked what tidings in Cornwall, and whether 
they heard of Sir Tristram or not. Sir Kay and Sir Gaheris 
answered and said, that they heard not of him. Then they 
told Sir Launcelot word bv word of their adventure. Then 


Sir Launcelot smiled and said : Hard it is to take out of 
the flesh that is bred in the bone ; and so made them merry 



Now leave we off this tale, and speak we of Sir Dinas that 
had within the castle a paramour, and she loved another 
knight better than him. And so when Sir Dinas went out 
on hunting she slipped down by a towel, and took with her 
two brachets, and so she yede to the knight that she loved, 
and he her again. And when Sir Dinas come home and 
missed his paramour and his brachets, then was he the more 
wrother for his brachets than for the lady. So then he 
rode after the knight that had his paramour, and bad him 
turn and joust. So Sir Dinas smote him down, that with 
the fall he brake his leg and his arm. And then his lady 
and paramour cried Sir Dinas' mercy, and said she would 
love him better than ever she did. Nay, said Sir Dinas, I 
shall never trust them that once betrayed me, and therefore 
as ye have begun so end, for I will never meddle with you. 
And so Sir Dinas departed, and took his brachets with him, 
and so rode to his castle. Now will we turn unto Sir 
Launcelot, that was right heavy that he could never hear 
no tidings of Sir Tristram, for all this while he was in 
prison with Sir Darras, Palomides, and Dinadan. Then 
Dame Bragwaine took her leave to go into Cornwall, and 
Sir Launcelot, Sir Kay, and Sir Gaheris rode to seek Sir 
Tristram in the country of Surleuse. Now speaketh this tale 
of Sir Tristram and of his two fellows, for every day Sir Palo- 
mides brawled and said language against Sir Tristram. I 
marvel, said Sir Dinadan, of thee, Sir Palomides, an thou 
hadest Sir Tristram here thou wouldst do him no harm ; for 
an a wolf and a sheep were together in a prison the wolf would 
suffer the sheep to be in peace. And wit thou well, said 
Sir Dinadan, this same is Sir Tristram at a word, and now 

King Arthur 

must thou do thy best with him, and let see now if ye can 
skift it with your hands. Then was Sir Palomides abashed 
and said little. Sir Palomides, then said Sir Tristram, I 
have heard much of your maugre against me, but I will 
not meddle with you as at this time by my will, by cause I 
dread the lord of this place that hath us in governance ; 
for an I dread him not more than I do thee, soon it should 
be skift : so they peaced themself. Right so came in a 
damosel and said : Knights, be of good cheer, for ye are 
sure of your lives, and that I heard say my lord, Sir Darras. 
Then were they glad all three, for daily they weened they 
should have died. Then soon after this Sir Tristram fell 
sick that he weened to have died ; then Sir Dinadan wept, 
and so did Sir Palomides under them both making great 
sorrow. So a damosel came in to them and found them 
mourning. Then she went unto Sir Darras, and told him 
how that mighty knight that bare the black shield was 
likely to die. That shall not be, said Sir Darras, for God 
defend when knights come to me for succour that I should 
suffer them to die within my prison. Therefore, said Sir 
Darras to the damosel, fetch that knight and his fellows 
afore me. And then anon Sir Darras saw Sir Tristram 
brought afore him. He said : Sir knight, me repenteth of 
thy sickness, for thou art called a full noble knight, and so 
it seemeth by thee ; and wit ye well it shall never be said 
that Sir Darras shall destroy such a noble knight as thou 
art in prison, howbeit that thou hast slain three of my sons, 
whereby I was greatly aggrieved. But now shalt thou go 
and thy fellows, and your harness and horses have been 
fair and clean kept, and ye shall go where it liketh you, 
upon this covenant, that thou, knight, wilt promise me to 
be good friend to my sons two that be now on live and also 
that thou tell me thy name. Sir, said he, as for me my 
name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and in Cornwall was I 
bom, and nephew I am unto King Mark. And as for the 
death of your sons I might not do withal, for an they had 
been the next kin that I have I might have done none 
otherwise. And if I had slain them by treason or treachery 
I had been worthy to have died. All this I consider, said 
Sir Darras, that all that ye did was by force of knighthood, 
and that was the cause I would not put you to death. But 
syth ye be Sir Tristram, the good knight, I pray you heartily 
to be rny good friend and to my sons. Sir, said Sir Tristram, 

King Arthur 365 

I promise you by the faith of my body, ever while I live I 
will do you service, for ye have done to us but as a natural 
knight ought to do. Then Sir Tristram reposed him there 
till that he was amended of his sickness ; and when he was 
big and strong they took their leave, and every knight took 
their horses, and so departed and rode together till they 
came to a cross way. Now fellows, said Sir Tristram, here 
will we depart in sundry ways. And by cause Sir Dinadan 
had the first adventure of him I will begin. 



So as Sir Dinadan rode by a well he found a lady making 
great dole. What aileth you ? said Sir Dinadan. Sir 
knight, said the lady, I am the wofullest lady of the world, 
for within these five days here came a knight called Sir 
Breuse Saunce Pitd, and he slew mine own brother, and 
ever since he hath kept me at his own will, and of all men 
in the world I hate him most ; and therefore I require you 
of knighthood to avenge me, for he will not tarry, but be 
here anon. Let him come, said Sir Dinadan, and by cause 
of honour of all women I will do my part. With this 
came Sir Breuse, and when he saw a knight with his lady 
he was wood wroth. And then he said : Sir knight, keep 
thee from me. So they hurtled together as thunder, and 
either smote other passing sore, but Sir Dinadan put him 
through the shoulder a grievous wound, and or ever Sir 
Dinadan might turn him Sir Breuse was gone and fled. 
Then the lady prayed him to bring her to a castle there 
beside but four mile thence ; and so Sir Dinadan brought 
her there, and she was welcome, for the lord of that castle 
was her uncle ; and so Sir Dinadan rode his way upon his 
adventure. Now turn we this tale unto Sir Tristram, that 
by adventure he came to a castle to ask lodging, wherein 
\vas Queen Morgan le Fay ; and so when Sir Tristram was 
let into that castle he had good cheer all that night. And 
upon the morn when he would have departed the queen 
said : Wit ye well ye shall not depart lightly, for ye are here 
as a prisoner. Jesu defend ! said Sir Tristram, for I was but 

I 45 * N 

366 King Arthur 

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

King Arthur 367 



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



Now leave to speak of Sir Tristram, and speak we of the 
knight that was wounded to the death. Then his varlet 
alit, and took off his helm, and then he asked his lord 
whether there were any life in him. There is in me life, 
said the knight, but it is but little ; and therefore leap thou 

363 King Arthur 

up behind me when thou hast holpen me up, and hold me 
fast that 1 fall not, and bring me to Queen Morgan le Fay ; 
for deep draughts of death draw to my heart that 1 may not 
live, for I would fain speak with her or I died : for else my 
soul will be in great peril an I die. For with great pain his 
varlet brought him to the castle, and there Sir Hemison fell 
down dead. When Morgan le Fay saw him dead she made 
great sorrow out of reason ; and then she let despoil him 
unto his shirt, and so she let him put into a tomb. And 
about the tomb she let write : Here lieth Sir Hemison, slain 
by the hands of Sir Tristram de Liones. Now turn we unto 
Sir Tristram, that asked the knight his host if he saw late 
any knight's adventurous. Sir, he said, the last night here 
lodged with me Ector de Maris and a damosel with him, 
and that damosel told me that he was one of the best 
knights of the world. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for 
I know four better knights of his own blood, and the first is 
Sir Launcelot du Lake, call him the best knight, and Sir 
Bors de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Blcimore de Ganis, and Sir 
Gaheris. Nay, said his host, Sir Gawaine is a better knight 
than he. That is not so, said Sir Tristram, for I have met 
with them both, and I felt Sir Gaheris for the better knight, 
and Sir Lamorak I call him as good as any of them except 
Sir Launcelot. Why name ye not Sir Tristram ? said his 
host, for I account him as good as any of them. I know 
not Sir Tristram, said Tristram. Thus they talked and 
bourded as long as them list, and then went to rest. And 
on the morn Sir Tristram departed, and took his leave of 
his host, and rode toward the Roche Dure, and none 
adventure had Sir Tristram but that ; and so he rested not 
till he came to the castle where he saw five hundred tents. 



THEN the King of Scots and the King of Ireland held 
against King Arthur's knights, and there began a great 
medley. So came in Sir Tristram and did marvellous deeds 
of arms, for there he smote down many knights. And ever 
he was afore King Arthur with that shield. And when 
King Arthur saw that shield he marvelled greatly in what 

King Arthur 369 

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

So here endeth this history of 
this book, for it is the first 
book of Sir Tristram de 
Liones and the second 
book of Sir Tristram 

370 King Arthur 




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 1 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. 
Sin, 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 therewithal King Arthur 
dressed his shield and his spear, and Sir Tristram against 
him, and they came so eagerly together. And there King 
Arthur brake his spear all to pieces upon Sir Tristram's 
shield. But Sir Tristram hit 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 brysed 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 

King Arthur 371 

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 on live ; where- 
fore 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. 



So Sir Tristram alit off his horse by cause 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 

372 King Arthur 

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 

King Arthur 373 

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 alit 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 wallopped 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. 

374 King Arthur 



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 en- 
countered 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 

King Arthur 375 

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 Dina- 
dan, 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. 




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 bruised and broken. 
And when Gouvernail, his servant, was come with his 
apparel, he took his leave at the widow, and mounted 
upon his horse, and rode his way early on the morn. And 
by sudden adventure Sir Tristram met with Sir 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 loth 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 Gouver- 
nail 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 sythen 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 
loth to have ado with you; for I must fight within these 
three days with a good knight, and as valiant as any is now 
living, and if I be hurt I shall not be able to do battle with 
him. What knight is that, said Sir 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 by cause 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, 

King Arthur 377 

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. 



THEN departed Sir Tristram and rode straight unto 
Camelot, to the peron that Merlin had made to fore, 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 carne 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 

37 8 King Arthur 

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 loth to tell any man my name. 
Truly, said Sir Launcelot, an I were required I was never 
loth 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 therewithal Sir Tristram 
kneeled adown, and yielded him up his sword. And so either 
gave other the degree. And then they both forthwithal went 
to the stone, and set them down upon it, and took off their 
helms to cool them, and either kissed other an hundred times. 
And then anon after they took 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 



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 

King Arthur 379 

Launcelot, and I met together. With this came King 
Arthur, and when he wist that mere 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 1 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 by cause 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, 

380 King Arthur 

I will desire of you that ye will abide in my court. Sir, 
said Sir Tristram, thereto is me loth, for I have ado in many 
countries. Not so, said Arthur, ye have promised it me, ye 
may not say nay. Sir. said Sir Tristram, I will as ye will. 
Then went Arthur unto the sieges about the Round Table, 
and looked in every siege the which were void that lacked 
knights. And then the king saw in the siege of Marhaus 
letters that said : This is the siege of the noble knight, Sir 
Tristram. And then Arthur made Sir Tristram Knight of 
the Table Round, with great nobley and great feast as 
might be thought. For Sir Marhaus was slain afore by the 
hands of Sir Tristram in an island ; and that was well known 
at that time in the court of Arthur, for this Marhaus was a 
worthy knight. And for evil deeds that he did unto the 
country of Cornwall Sir Tristram and he fought. And they 
fought so long, tracing and traversing, till they fell bleeding 
to the earth ; for they were so sore wounded that they 
might not stand for bleeding. And Sir Tristram by fortune 
recovered, and Sir Marhaus died through the stroke on the 
head. So leave we of Sir Tristram and speak we of King 



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 by cause 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 mes- 
sengers 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 

King Arthur 381 

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 on live, and I will that ye 
wit my coming hither is to this intent, for to destroy Sir 
Tristram by wiles or by treason ; and it shall be hard if ever 
he escape our hands. Alas, said 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 con- 
sent 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 

382 King Arthur 

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. 



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 alit, 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 knightcoward as King Mark is, should be matched 
with such a fair lady and good as La Beale Isoud is, for all 

King Arthur 383 

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 tourna- 
ment 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 loth 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 ; 
arid so he followed and overtook him, and bad 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, therefore 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 by cause 
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 



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 on live, for ye are a destroyer of 
good knights, and all that ye do is but treason. 

King Arthur 385 




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 by cause 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 

386 King Arthur 

knight, and fain he would have jousted, but he had had 
lever 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. 



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. 

King Arthur 387 

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, 
sythen he gave me a fall. Ah, fair knight, said his host, 
thereof have ye no marvel, for he is a passing good knight, 
and his name is Sir Tor, the son of Aries le Vaysher. Ah, 
said Sir Dinadan, was that Sir Tor? for truly so ever me 
thought. Right as they stood thus talking together they 
saw come riding to them over a plain six knights of the 
court of King Arthur, well armed at all points. And 
there by their shields Sir Dinadan knew them well. The 
first was the good knight Sir Uwaine, the son of King 
Uriens, the second was the noble knight Sir Brandiles, the 
third was Ozana le Cure Hardy, the fourth was Uwaine les 
Adventurous, the fifth was Sir Agravaine, the sixth Sir 
Mordred, brother to Sir Gawaine. When Sir Dinadan 
had seen these six knights he thought in himself he 
would bring King Mark by some wile to 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 
meyne. 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. 

388 King Arthur 



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 sythen 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 
5:r 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 sythen 
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 by cause 
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 fellow- 
ship. That is me loth to do, said Sir Dinadan, by cause 
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 

King Arthur 389 

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. V.'hen 
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 lores t rang of the noise. 



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 

390 King Arthur 

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 arn 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 

King Arthur 391 

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 there- 
with 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 alit and set them down and reposed 
them a while. Anon withal King Mark fell on sleep. 
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. 



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 micht 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 

392 King Arthur 

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 
alit 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 1 love thee. And I may 
not blame thee, fair lady, for mine eyen 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 there- 
fore he withdrew him, and took his horse and rode to his 
men, where he commanded them to abide. And so he rode 
as as he might unto Camelot ; and the same day he 
found there Amant, the knight, ready that afore Arthur had 
appelled him of treason ; and so, lightly the king com- 
manded 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. 

King Arthur 393 



THEN by the licence 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 appelled 
him of treason, and here am I slain in a righteous quarrel ; 
and all was by cause 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 spronge to the king, and the queen, and to all the lords, 
that it was King Mark that had slain Sir Amant, and Sir 
Bersules aforehand ; 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. 
1 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 overtook him, 
and bad 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 on loud : I yield 
me to thee, Sir Launcelot, honourable knight. But Sir 

394 King Arthur 

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 alit 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 yielden 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 there- 
under. 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. 



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, 

King Arthur 395 

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 essayed 
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 on 
sleep, 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, 

396 King Arthur 

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, T. 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. 



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 sythen a thousand 
times, for sythen 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 dan- 
gerous 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 shame- 
ful 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. 

King Arthur 397 

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, 

393 King Arthur 



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 
:eposed. Why sir, said the knight, seem ye that I am 
weak and feeble? and sir, methmketh ye proffer me wrong, 
and to me shame, when 1 do well enough. I tell vou 

O , 

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 1 would 
joust with you, but meseemeth that ye have overmuch on 
hand. And therefore, an ye were gentle, said the knight 
wi:h the red shield, ye should not proffer me shame ; there- 
fore 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 so sore on the shield that the spear went into his 
side a great wound, and a perilous. And therewithal Sir 
Palonvides 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 
hare that he smote him clean from his saddle ; but their 
horses he would not suffer his squires to meddle with, and 
by cause 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 
s e^v in plain jousts four. And the eight knights he made 
to swear on the cross of a sword that they should 

King Arthur 399 

never use the evil customs of the castle. And when he h:-d 
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 marvel- 
lously 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 earnest here, for by thee is fordone the old custom of 
this castie. 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 n.7 

CJ * 

sword, for ahorseback 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 done, and overmuch travailed. Bvalmi^ 

* ^ - * 

Jesu, said Palcmides, I shall never be at ease till that I have 
had ado with him. Sir, said Dinadan, I shall give ycu my 
beholding. Well, said Palomides, then shall ye see ho^v we 
shall redress our rrights. So they took their horses of their 
varlets, and rode alter the knight with the red shield ; and 
down in a vallev beside a fountain thev were ware where he 

.> * 

was alit to repose him, and had dooe off his helm for to 
drink at the well 




THEN Palomides rode fast till he came nigh him. Ar.-d 
then he said : Knight, remember ye of the shame ye did to 
me right now at the castle, therefore dress thee, for I will 
nave a_lo with thee. Fair knight, said he to Palomides, of 
me ye win no worship, for ye have seen this cay :hat I have 
been travailed sore. As for that, said iralomices, I will not 

400 King Arthur 

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 
alit 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 mounienance 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 overhylled with his blood it grieved 
him sore : some while they foined, some while they struck 
as wild men. But at the last Sir Pulomides waxed faint, by 
cause 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 essayed 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 loth to do, for thou hast done 
rne wrong and no knighthood to proffer me battle, consider- 
ing 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, arid 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 

King Arthur 401 

Falomides, and yet am I sorer wounded than ye be ; but as 
for that 1 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 Larnorak, except my brother, Sir Tor. Then carne 
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. 






"A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit." 


ICTOR HUGO said a Library was "an act of faith/' 
and another writer spoke of one so beautiful,, so perfect, 
so harmonious in all its parts, that he who made it was 
smitten with a passion. In that faith Everyman's Library was 
planned out originally on a large scale; and the idea was to make 
it conform as far as possible to a perfect scheme. However, 
perfection is a thing to be aimed at and not to be achieved in 
this difficult world ; and since the first volumes appeared some 
years ago, there have been many interruptions, chief among 
them the Great War of 1914-18, during which even the City 
of Books felt a world commotion. But the series is now getting 
back into its old stride and looking forward to complete its 
scheme of a Thousand Volumes. 

One of the practical expedients in the original plan was 
to divide the volumes into separate sections, as Biography, 
Fiction, History, Belles-lettres, Poetry, Philosophy, Romance, 
and so forth; with a shelf for Young People. Last, and 
not least, there was one of Reference Books, in which, beside 
the dictionaries and encyclopcedias to be expected, there 
was a special set of literary and historical atlases, which have 
been revised from time to time, so as to chart the New Europe 

and the New World at large, which we hope will preserve Kant's 
" Perpetual Peace" under the auspices of the League of Nations. 

That is only one small item, however, in a library list which 
is running on to the final centuries of its Thousand. The largest 
slice of this huge provision is, as a matter of course, given to the 
tyrannous demands of fiction. But in carrying out the scheme, 
publishers and editors contrived to keep in mind that books, 
like men and women, have their elective affinities. The present 
volume, for instance, will be found to have its companion books, 
both in the same section and just as significantly in other 
sections. With that idea too, novels like Walter Scott's Ivanhoe 
and Fortunes of Nigel, Lytton's Harold, and Dickens's Tale of 
Two Cities, have been used as pioneers of history and treated as 
a sort of holiday history books. 

The poets next, and we may turn to the finest critic of 
Victorian times, Matthew Arnold, as their showman, and find 
in his essay on Maurice de Guerin a clue to the " magical power 
of poetry." 

William Hazlitt's "Table Talk" may help again to show the 
relationship of one author to another, which is another form 
of the Friendship of Books. His incomparable essay, "On 
Going a Journey," forms a capital prelude to Coleridge's " Bio- 
graphia Literaria"; and so throughout the long labyrinth of 
the Library shelves, one can follow the magic clue in prose or 
verse that leads to the hidden treasury. In that way every 
reader becomes his own critic and Doctor of Letters. 





In Cloth Binding 

In Special Library Binding 

Also Selected Volumes in Leather 



In each section of this list the volumes are arranged, as 
a general rule, alphabetically under the authors' names. 
Where authors appear in more than one section, a reference 
is given, viz. : (See also FICTION). The number at the end 
of each item is the number of the volume in the series. 

Volumes temporarily out of print are marked J 
Volumes obtainable in Leather are marked L 


Audubon the Naturalist, Life and Adventures of. By R. Buchanan. 601 
Baxter (Richard), Autobiography of. Edited by Rev. J. M. Lloyd 

Thomas, 868 

Beaconsfield (Lord), Life of. By J. A. Froude. 666 
Berlioz (Hector), Life of. Translated by Katherine F. Boult. 602 
Blackwell (Dr. Elizabeth) : Pioneer Work for Women. With an Introduc- 
tion by Mrs. Fawcett. 667 
L BoswelTs Life of Johnson. 2 vols. 1-2 

(See aZso TRAVEL) 
t> Browning (Robert), Life of. By E. Dowden. 701 

Buxton (Sir Thomas Fowell), Memoirs of. Edited by Charles Buxton. 

Introduction by Lord Buxton. 773 

Carey (William), Life of: Shoemaker and Missionary. 395 
Carlyle's Letters and Speeches of Cromwell. 3 vols. 266-8 
Reminiscences. 875 

(See also ESSAYS and HISTORY) 
L Cellini's (Benvenuto) Autobiography. 51 
Cibber's (Colley) An Apology for his Life. 668 
Constable (John), Memoirs of. By C. R. Leslie, R.A. 563 
Cowper (William), Selected Letters of. Intro, by W. Hadley, M.A. 774 

De Quincey's Reminiscences of the Lake Poets. Intro, by E. Rhys. 163 

(See also ESSAYS) 

De Retz (Cardinal): Memoirs. By Himself. 2 vols. 735-6 
Evelyn's Diary. 2 vols. Introduction by G. W. E. Russell. 220-1 
Forster's Life of Dickens. Intro, by G. K. Chesterton. 2 vols. 781-2 

(See also FICTION) 
Fox (George), Journal of. Text revised by Norman Penney, F.S.A. 

Introduction by Rufus M. Jones, LL.D. 754 
Franklin's (Benjamin) Autobiography. 316 
Froude's Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. 666 
L Gaskell's (Mrs.) Life of Charlotte Bronte. Intro, by May Sinclair. 318 
Gibbon (Edward), Autobiography of. Intro, by Oliphant Snieatoa. 511 

(See also HISTORY) 

Gladstone, Life of. By G. W. E. Russell ('Onlooker'). 661 
Hastings (Warren), Life of. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 452 
Helps' (Sir Arthur) Life of Columbus. 332 
Hodson, of Hodson's Horse. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 401 
Holmes' Life of Mozart. Introduction by Ernest Newman. 564 
Houghton's Life and Letters of Keats. Introduction by Robert Lynd. 801 
Hutchinson (Col.), Memoirs of. Intro. Monograph by F. P. G. Guizot. 317 
Irving's Life of Mahomet. Introduction by Professor E. V. Arnold. 513 
Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Intro, by Mrs. Archer-Hind, M.A. 770-1 
Lamb (Charles), Letters of. 2 vols. 342-3 

Lewes' Life of Goethe. Introduction by Havelock Ellis. 239 
Lincoln (Abraham), Life of. By Henry Bryan Binns. 783 

(See also ORATORY) 

Lcckhart's Life of Robert Burns. Introduction by E. Rhys. 153 
L .-, Life of Napoleon. 3 

Life of Sir Walter Scott (abridged). 55 

Mazzini, Life of. By Bolton King, M.A. 562 

Newcastle (First Duke of), Life of, and other writings by the Duchess of 
Newcastle. 722 

BIOGRAPHY continue d 

Outram (Sir J.), The Bayard of India. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 396 

Pepys* Diary. Lord Braybrooke's 1854 ed. 2 vols. 53-4 

Plutarch's Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans. Dryden's Translation. 
Revised, with Introduction, by Arthur Hugh Clough. 3 vols. 407-9 

Rousseau, Confessions of. 2 vols. 859-60 

Scott's Lives of the Novelists. Introdxiction by George Saintsbury. 331 
(See also FICTION and POETRY) 

Seebohm (Frederic): The Oxford Reformers. With a Preface by Hugh 
E. Seebohm. 665 

Smeaton's A Life of Shakespeare, with Criticisms of the Plays. 514 

Southey's Life of Nelson. 52 

Strickland's Life of Queen Elizabeth. 100 

Swift's Journal to Stella. Newly deciphered and edited by J. K. Moor- 
head. Introduction by Sir Walter Scott. 757 

Vasari's Lives of the Painters. Trans, by A. B. Hinds. 4 vols. 784-7 

Voltaire's Life of Charles XII. Introduction by Rt. Hon. J. Burns. 270 

Walpole (Horace), Selected Letters of. Intro, by W. Hadley, M.A. 775 

Wellington, Life of. By G. R. Gleig. 341 

Wesley's Journal. 4 vols. Intro, by Rev. F. W. Macdonald. 105-8 

Woolman's (John) Journal and Other Papers. Introduction by Vida D. 
Scudder. 402 


JEschylus' Lyrical Dramas. Translated by Professor J. S. Blackie. 62 
Aristophanes' The Frogs, The Clouds, The Thesmophorians. 516 

The Acharnians, The Knights, and The Birds. Frere's 

Translation. Introduction by John P. Maine. 344 
Aristotle's Politics. Introduction by A. D. Lindsay. 605 

,, Poetics, etc., and Demetrius on Style, etc. Edited by 

(See also PHILOSOPHY) [Rev. T. A. Moxon. 901 

Caesar's The Gallic War and Other Commentaries. Translated by W. A. 

McDevitte. 702 

Cicero's Essays and Select Letters. Intro. Npte by de Quincy. 345 
L Epictetus, Moral Discourses, etc. Elizabeth Carter's Translation. Edited 

by W. H. D. Rouse, M.A. 404 

Euripides' Plays in 2 vols. Introduction by V. R. Reynolds. Translated 
by M. Wodhull and R. Potter, with Shelley's 'Cyclops' and Dean 
Milman's 'Bacchanals'. 63,271 

Herodotus. Rawlinson's Translation. Edited, with Introduction, by 
E. H. Blakeney, M.A., omitting Translator's Original Essays, and 
Appendices. 2 vols. 405-6 

L Homer's Iliad. Lord Derby's Translation. 453 
L Odyssey. William Cowper's Translation. Introduction by Miss 

F. M. Stawell. 454 

Horace. Complete Poetical Works. 515 
Hutchinson's (W. M. L.) The Muses' Pageant. Vols. I, II, and III. 581, 

606 and 671 
Livy's History of Rome. Vols. I- VI. Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts. 

603, 669, 670, 749, 755, and 756 

Lucretius: On the Nature of Things. Translated by W. E. Leonard. 750 
L Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. Introduction by W. H. D. Rouse. 9 
L Plato's Dialogues. 2 vols. Introduction by A. D. Lindsay. 456-7 
L ,, Republic. Spens' Translation. Introduction by Dr. Garnett. 64 
{ Plutarch's Moralia. 20 Essays translated by Philemon Holland. 565 
Sophocles' Dramas. Translated by Sir G. Young, Bart. 114 
Thucydides' Peloponnesian War. Crawley's Translation. 455 
L Virgil's ^Eneid. Translated by E. Fairfax-Taylor. 161 

Eclogues and Georgics. Translated by T. F. Royds, M.A. 222 
Xenophon's Cyropeedia. Translation revised by Miss F. M. Stawell. 67 2 


L Anthology of Prose. Compiled and Edited by Miss S. L. Edwards. 675 
Arnold's (Matthew) Essays. Introduction by G. K. Chesterton. 115 
Study of Celtic Literature, and other CriticalEssays, 

with Supplement by Lord Strangford, etc. 458 
(See also POETRY) 
L Bacon's Essays. Introduction by Oliphant Smeaton. 10 

(See also PHILOSOPHY) 

Bagehot's Literarj Studies. 2 vol?. Intro, by George Sampson. 520-1 
Brooke's (Stopford,M.A.) Theology in the English Poets. 493 
L Brown's Rab and his Friends, etc. 116 


Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution and contingent Essays. 
Introduction by A. J. Grieve, M.A. 460 

(See also ORATORY) 

Canton's (William) The Invisible Playmate, W. V., Her Book, and In 
(See also FOR YOUNG PEOPLE) [Memory of W. V. 566 

Carlyle's Essays. 2 vols. With Notes by J. Russell Lowell. 703-4 
Past'and Present. Introduction by R. W. Emerson. 60S 
L Sartor Resartus and Heroes and Hero Worship. 278 


Castiglione's The Courtier. Translated by Sir Thomas Hoby. Intro- 
duction by W. H. D. Rouse. 807 
L Century of Essays. A. An Anthology of English Essayists. 653 

Chesterfield's (Lord) Letters to his Son. 823 
L Chesterton's (G. K.) Stories, Essays, and Poems. 913 

Coleridge's Biographia Literaria. Introduction by Arthur Symons. 11 
Essays and Lectures on Shakespeare, etc. 162 
(See 'also POETRY) 

Craik's Manual of Enelish Literature. 346 

t Curtis's Prue and I, and Lotus Eating. Introduction by H. W. Mabie. 418 
De Quincey's (Thomas) Opium Eater Intro, by Sir G. Douglas. 223 

The English Mail Coach and Other Writings. 

Introduction by S. Hill Burton. 609 
(See also BIOGRAPHY) 

Dryden's Dramatic Essays. With an Introduction by W. H. Hudson. 568 
Elyot's Gouernour. Intro, and Glossary by Prof. Foster Watson. 227 
L Emerson's Essays. First and Second Series. 12 
L Nature, Conduct of Life, Essays from the ' Dial'. 322 

L Representative Men. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 279 

Society and Solitude and Other Essays. 567 
(See also POETRY) 

Florio's Montaigne. Introduction by A. R. Waller, M.A. 3 vols. 440-2 
Froude's Short Studies. Vols. I and II. 13, 705 


Gilfillan's Literary Portraits. Intro, by Sir W. Robertson Nicoll. 348 
Goethe's Conversations with Eckermann. Intro, by Havelock Ellis 

851. (Sec also FICTION and POETRY) 
Goldsmith's Citizen of the World and The Bee. Intro, by R. Church. 902 

(See also FICTION and POETRY) 
Hamilton's The Federalist. 519 

Hazlitt's Lectures on the English Comic Writers. 411 
L Shakespeare's Characters. 65 

Spirit of the Age and Lectures on English Poets. 459 
Table Talk, 321 

Plain Speaker. Introduction by P. P. Howe. 814 
L Holmes' Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. 66 
Poet at the Breakfast Table. 68 
Professor at the Breakfast Table. 67 

Hunt's (Leigh) Selected Essays. Introduction by J. B. Priestly. 829 
L Irving's Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. 117 

Lander's Imaginary Conversations and Poems: A selection. Edited 

with Introduction by Havelock Ellis. 890 
L Lamb's Essays of Elia. Introduction by Augustine Birrell. 14 

Lowell's (James Russell) Among My Books. 607 

Macaulay's Essays. 2 vols. Introduction by A. J. Grieve, M.A. 225-6 
L Miscellaneous Essays and The Lays of Ancient Rome. 439 

(See also HISTORY and ORATORY) 
Machiavelli's Prince. Special Trans, and Intro, by W. K. Marriott. 280 

(See also HISTORY) 

Martinengo-Cesaresco (Countess): Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs 673 
Mazzini's Duties of Man, etc. Introduction by Thomas Jones, M.A. 224 
Milton's Areopagitica, etc. Introduction by Professor C. E. Vaughan. 795 

(See also POETRY) 

Montagu's (Lady) Letters. Introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. 69 
Newman's On the Scope and Nature of University Education, and a 
paper on Christianity and Scientific Investigation. Introduction by 
(See also PHILOSOPHY) [Wilfred Ward. 723 

Osborne's (Dorothy) Letters to Sir William Temple. Edited and con- 
notated by Judge Parry. 674 

Penn's The Peace of Europe. Some Fruits of Solitude, etc. 721 
Prelude to Poetry, The. Edited by Ernest Rhys. 789 
Reynold's Discourses. Introduction by L. March Phiilipps. 118 


L Rhys' New Book of Sense and Nonsense. 813 

Rousseau's Eniile. Translated by Barbara Foxley. 518 


L Ruskin's Crown of Wild Olive and Cestus of Aglaia. 323 
Elements of Drawing and Perspective. 217 
Ethics of the Dust. Introduction by Grace Rhys. 282 
Modern Painters. 5 vols. Introduction by Lionel Gust. 208-12 
Pre-Raphaelitism. Lectures on Architecture and Painting, 
Academy Notes, 1855-9, and Notes on the Turner Gallery. 
Introduction by Laurence Binyon. 218 
L Sesame and Lilies, The Two Paths, and The King of the Golden 

River. Introduction by Sir Oliver Lodge. 219 
Seven Lamps of Architecture. Intro, by Selwyn Image. 207 
Stones of Venice. 3 vols. Intro, by L. March Phillipps. 213-15 
Time and Tide with other Essays. 450 
Unto This Last, The Political Economy of Art, 216 


Spectator, The. 4 vols. Introduction by G. Gregory Smith. 164-7 
Spencer's (Herbert) Essays on Education. Intro, by C. W. Eliot. 504 
Sterne's Sentimental Journey and Journal and Letters to Eliza. Intro. 
(See also FICTION) [by George Saintsbury. 796 

L Stevenson's In the South Seas and Island Nights' Entertainments. 769 
L ,, Virginibus Puerisque and Familiar Studies of Men and 

(See also FICTION, POETRY and TRAVEL) [Books. 765 

Swift's Tale of a Tub, The Battle of the Books, etc. 347 

Table Talk. Edited by J. C. Thornton. 906 

Taylor's (Isaac) Words and Places, or Etymological Illustrations of 
History, Ethnology, and Geography. Intro, by Edward Thomas. 517 
Thackeray's (W. M.) The English Humourists and The Four Georges. 
Introduction by Walter Jerrold. 610 

(See also FICTION) 
L Thoreau's Walden. Introduction by Walter Raymond. 281 

Trench's On the Study of Words and English Past and Present. Intro- 
duction by George Sampson. 788 
Tytler's Essay on the Principles of Translation. 168 
Walton's Compleat Angler. Introduction by Andrew Lang. 70 


Aimard's The Indian Scout. 428 
L Ainsworth's (Harrison) Old St. Paul's. Intro, by W. E. A. Axon. 522 

The Admirable Crichton. Intro, by E. Rhys. 804 
L The Tower of London. 400 

L Windsor Castle. 709 

Rookwood. Intro, by Frank Swinnerton. 870 
American Short Stories of the Nineteenth Century. Edited by John 

Cournos. 840 
L Austen's (Jane) Emma. Introduction by R. B. Johnson. 24 

Mansfield Park. Introduction by R. B. Johnson. 23 

L Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Introduction by 

R. B. Johnson. 25 

L Pride and Prejudice. Introduction by R. B. Johnson. 22 

L Sense and Sensibility. Intro, by R. B. Johnson. 21 

Balzac's (Honore de) Atheist's Mass. Preface by George Samtsbury. 229 

Catherine de M6dici. Introduction by George 

Saintsbury. 419 
Christ in Flanders. Introduction by George 

Saintsbury. 284 
Cousin Pons. Intro, by George Samtsbury. 463 

Eugenie Grandet. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 169 
Lost Illusions. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 656 
I, Old Goriot. Introduction by George Samtsbury. 170 

The Cat and Racket, and Other Stories. 349 
The Chouans. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 285 

The Country Doctor. Intro. George Saintsbury. 530 
The Country Parson. 686 

The Quest of the Absolute. Introduction by George 

Saintsbury. 286 

The Rise and Fall of C6sar Birotteau. 596 

The Wild Ass's Skin. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 26 

Ursule Mirouet. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 733 
Barbusse's Under Fire. Translated by Fitzwater Wray. 798 

FICTION continued 

J Beaumont's (Mary) Joan Seaton. Intro, by R. F. Horton, D.D. 597 
L Bennett's (Arnold) The Old Wives' Tale. 919 
L Blackmore's (R. D.) Lorna Doone. 304 
,, Springhaven. 350 

L Borrow's Lavengro. Introduction by Thomas Seccombe. 119 
L ,, Romany Rye. 120 (See also TRAVEL) 
L Bronte's (Anne) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey. 685 
(Charlotte) Jane Eyre. Introduction by May Sinclair. 287 
Shirley. Introduction by May Sinclair. 288 

The Professor. Introduction by May Sinclair. 417 
Villette. Introduction by May Sinclair. 351 

(Emily) Wuthering Heights. 243 


L. Burney's (Fanny) Evelina. Introduction by R. B. Johnson. 352 

L Butler's (Samuel) Erewhon and Erewhon Revisited. Introduction by 

Desmond MacCarthy. 881 

The Way of All Flesh, introduction by A. J. Hoppe. 895 
L Collins' (Wilkie) The Woman in White. 464 
L Converse's (Florence) Long Will. 328 

Dana's (Richard H.) Two Years before the Mast. 588 

Daudet's Tartarin of Tarascon and Tartarin on the Alps. 423 

Defoe's Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders. Introduction by 

G. A. Aitken. 837 

Captain Singleton. Introduction by Edward Garnett. 74 
Journal of the Plague Year. Introduction by G. A. Aitken. 289 
Memoirs of a Cavalier. Introduction by G. A. Aitken. 283 

CHARLES DICKENS' WORKS. Each volume with an Introduction by G. K. 


L American Notes. 290 L Little Dorrit. 293 

L Barnaby Rudge. 76 L Martin Chuzzlewit. 241 

L Bleak House. 236 L Nicholas Nickleby. 238 

L Child's History of England. 291 L Old Curiosity Shop. 173 
L Christmas Books. 239 L Oliver Twist. 233 

L Christmas Stories. 414 L Our Mutual Friend. 294 

L David Copperfield. 242 L Pickwick Papers. 235 

L Dombey and Son. 240 L Reprinted Pieces. 744 

Edwin Drood. 725 Sketches by Boz. 237 

L Great Expectations. 234 L Tale of Two Cities. 102 

Hard Times. 292 L Uncommercial Traveller. 536 

Disraeli's Coningsby. Introduction by Langdon Davles. 535 
Dostoevsky's (Fyodor) Crime and Punishment. Introduction by 

Laurence Irving. 501 
,, Letters from the Underworld and Other Tales. 

Translated by C. J. Hogarth. 654 
Poor Folk and The Gambler. Translated by C. J. 

Hogarth. 711 

The Possessed. Introduction by J. Middleton 

Murry. 2 vols. 861-2 [533 

Prison Life in Siberia. Intro, by Madame Stepniak. 

,, The Brothers Karamazov. Translated by Con- 

stance Garnett. 2 vols. 802-3 
The Idiot. 682 
Du Manner's (George) Trilby. Introduction by Sir Gerald du Maurier 

With the original Illustrations. 863 

Dumas' Black Tulip. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 174 
Chicot the Jester. 421 

Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge. Intro, by Julius Bramont. 614 
Marguerite de Valois ('La Reine Margot'). 326 
The Count of Monte Cristo. 2 vols. 393-4 
The Forty-Five. 420 
The Three Musketeers. 81 
The Vicomte de Bragelonne. 3 vols. 593-5 
Twenty Years After. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 175 
Edgar's Cressy and Poictiers. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 17 
Runnymede and Lincoln Fair. Intro, by L. K. 320 


Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent and The Absentee. 410 
Eliot's (George) Adam Bede. 27 
Felix Holt. 353 

Middlemarch. 2 vols. 854-5 

Mill on the Floss. Intro. Sir W. Robertson Nicoll. 325 

Romola. Introduction by Rudolf Dircks. 231 

,, Scenes of Clerical Life. 468 


FICTION continued 

L Eliot's (George) Silas Marner. Introduction by Annie Matheson. 121 
L English Short Stories. An Anthology. 743 

Erckmann-Chatrian's The Conscript and Waterloo. 354 

The Story of a Peasant. Translated by C. J. 

Hogarth. 2 vols. 706-7 
L Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer. 77 
L The Last of the Mohicans. 79 

The Pathfinder. 78 
The Pioneers. 171 

The Prairie. 172 

Ferrier's (Susan) Marriage. Introduction by H. L. Morrow. 816 
Fielding's Amelia. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 2 vols. 852-3 

Jonathan Wild, and The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon. 

Introduction by George Saintsbury. 877 

Joseph Andrews. Introduction by George Saintsbury. 467 
L Tom Jones. Intro, by George Saintsbury. 2 vols. 355-6 

Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling. 

Introduction by George Saintsbury. 808 
Salammbo. Translated by J. S. Chartres. Introduction by 

Professor F. C. Green. 869 
French Short Stories of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Selected, with 

an Introduction by Professor F. C. Green. 896 
L Galsworthy's (John) The Country House. 917 

Gait's Annals of a Parish. Introduction by Baillie Macdonald. 427 
Gaskell's (Mrs.) Cousin Phillis, etc. Intro, by Thos. Seccombe. 615 
L Cranford. 83 

Mary Barton. Introduction by Thomas Seccombe. 598 

North and South. 680 

Sylvia's Lovers. Intro, by Mrs. Ellis Chad wick. 524 

Gleig's(G. R.) The Subaltern. 708 
Goethe's Wilhelm Meister. Carlyle's Translation. 2 vols. 599-600 

(See also ESSAYS and POETRY) 
Gogol's (Nicol) Dead Souls. Translated by C. J. Hogarth. 726 

Taras Bulba and Other Tales. 740 
L Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield. Introduction by J. M. D. 295 

(See also ESSAYS and POETRY) 

Goncharov's Oblomov. Translated by Natalie Duddington. 878 
Gorki's Through Russia. Translated by C. J. Hogarth. 741 
$ Gotthelf's Ulric the Farm Servant. Ed. with Notes by John Ruskin. 228 
Harte's (Bret) Luck of Roaring Camp and other Tales. 681 
Hawthorne's The Houseof the Seven Gables. Intro, by Ernest Rhys. 176 
L The Scarlet Letter. 122 

The Blithedale Romance. 592 

The Marble Faun. Intro, by Sir Leslie Stephen. 424 

Twice Told Tales. 531 


L Hugo's (Victor) Les Miserables. Intro, by S. R. John. 2 vols. 363-4 
L Notre Dame. Introduction by A. C. Swinburne. 422 

L Toilers of the Sea. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 509 

Italian Short Stories. Edited by D. PettoeUo. 876 
James's (G. P. R.) Richelieu. Introduction by Rudolf Dircks. 357 
L James's (Henry) The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers. 912 

Kingsley's (Charles) Alton Locke. 462 

L ,, Hereward the Wake. Intro, by Ernest Rhys. 296 

L Hypatia. 230 

L Westward Ho; Introduction by A. G. Grieve. 20 

Yeast. 611 

(Henry) Geoffrey Hamlyn. 416 

,, Ravenshoe. 28 
L Lawrence's (D. H.) The White Peacock. 914 

Lever's Harry Lorrequer. Introduction by Lewis Melville. 177 
L Loti's (Pierre) Iceland Fisherman. Translated by W. P. Baines. 920 
L Lover's Handy Andy. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 178 
L Lytton's Harold. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 15 
L Last Days of Pompeii. 80 

Last of the Barons. Introduction by R. G. Watkin. 18 
Rienzi. Introduction by E. H. Blakeney, M.A. 532 
(See also TRAVEL) 
MacDonald's (George) Sir Gibbie. 678 

(See also ROMANCE) 

Manning's Mary Powell and Deborah's Diary. Intro, by Katherine Tynan 
(Mrs. Hinkson). 324 

FICTION continued 

Manning's Sir Thomas More. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 19 
Marryat's Jacob Faithful. 618 

L Mr. Midshipman Easy. Introduction by R. B. Johnson. 82 

Percival Keene. Introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. 358 

Peter Simple. Introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. 232 
The King's Own. 580 

Maupassant's Short Stories. Translated by Marjorie Laurie. Intro- 
duction by Gerald Gould. 907 

Melville's (Herman) Moby Dick. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 179 
Omoo. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 297 

,, Typee. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 180 

L Meredith's (George) The Ordeal of Richard Feverel. 916 

Merimee's Carmen, with Prevost's Manon Lescaut. Introduction by 

Philip Henderson. 834 
Mickiewicz's (Adam; Pan Tadeusz. 842 
Morier's Hajji Baba. 679 

Mulock's John Halifax, Gentleman. Introduction by J. Shaylor. 123 
Neale's (J.M.) The Fall of Constantinople. 655 

J Oliphant's (Mrs.) Salem Chapel. Intro, by Sir W Robertson Nicoll. 244 
Paltock's (Robert) Peter Wilkins; or, The Flying Indians. Introduction 

by A. H. Bullen. 676 

Pater's Marius the Epicurean. Introduction by Osbert Burdett. 903 
Peacock's Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey. 327 
L Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Intro, by Padraic Colum. 338 

(See also POETRY) 
Prevost's Manon Lescaut, with Merim6e's Carmen. Introduction by 

Philip Henderson. 834 
Pushkin's (Alexander) The Captain's Daughter and Other Tales. Trans. 

by Natalie Duddington. 898 
Quiller-Couch's (Sir Arthur) Hetty Wesley. 864 
Radcliffe's (Ann) Mysteries of Udolpho. Introduction by R. Austin 

Freeman. 2 vols. 865-6 

L Reade's (C.) The Cloister and the Hearth. Intro, by A. C. Swinburne. 29 
Reade's (C.) Peg Womngton and Christie Johnstone. 299 
Richardson's (Samuel) Pamela. Intro, by G. Saintsbury. 2 vols. 683-4 
Clarissa Harlowe. Intro, by Prof. W. L. Phelps. 

4 vols. 882-5 

Russian Authors, Short Stories from. Trans, by R. S. Townsend. 758 
Sand's (George) The Devil's Pool and Francois the Waif. 534 
Scheffel's Ekkehard: a Tale of the Tenth Century. 529 
Scott's (Michael) Tom Cringle's Log. 710 
L Abbot, The. 124 L Ivanhoe. Intro, by Ernest Rhys. 16 

Anne of Geierstein. 125 L Kenilworth. 135 

L Antiquary. The. 126 L Monastery, The. 136 

Black Dwarf and Legend of L Old Mortality. 137 

Montrose. 128 Peveril of the Peak. 138 

Bride of Lammermoor. 129 Pirate, The. 139 

Castle Dangerous and The Sur- L Quentin Durward. 140 

geon's Daughter. 130 L Redgauntlet. 141 

Count Robert of Paris. 131 L Rob Roy. 142 

L Fair Maid of Perth. 132 St. Ronan's Well. 143 

Fortunes of Nigel. 71 L Talisman, The. 144 

L Guy Mannering. 133 L Waverley. 75 

L Heart of Midlothian, The. 134 L Woodstock. Intro, by Edward 
Highland Widow and Betrothed. 127 Garnett. 72 

(See also BIOGRAPHY and POETRY) 
Shehedrin's The Golovlyov Family. Translated by Natalie Duddington. 

Introduction by Edward Garnett. 908 
Shelley's (Mary Wollstonecraft) Frankenstein. 616 
t Sheppard's Charles Auchester. Intro, by Jessie M. Middleton. 505 
Sienkiewicz (Henryk). Tales from. Edited by Monica M. Gardner. 871 
Shorter Novels, Vol. I. Elizabethan and Jacobean. Edited by Philip 

Henderson. 824 
Vol. II. Jacobean and Restoration. Edited by Philip 

Henderson. 841 

Vol. Ill Eighteenth Century (Beckford's Vathek, 

Walpole's Castle of Otranto, and Dr. Johnson's 

Smollett's Peregrine Pickle. 2 vols. 838-9 [Rasselas). 856 

Roderick Random. Introduction by H.