The Banishment of Bertelak; and King Arthur and King Lot
THE BANISHMENT OF BERTELAK; AND KING ARTHUR AND KING LOT: FOOTNOTES7 seche, seek.
11 of treson, concerning treason; agein, against.
12 tho, those; apele, accuse; sey no nay but, do not deny; slough, slew.
13 deffie, challenge; moche, many.
14 cosin germain, first cousin; diffouled, defiled.
14-15 me semeth, I believe.
15 in alle maners that oon may, in any way one can; oweth he to greve, he should injure.
16 diffied, formally challenged.
18 take, taken.
19-20 ye sey your volunté, you may say what you wish.
20 ageins, against; mysdide I never, I never did wrong; ne1, nor.
21 will, desire; right be hadde, justice is observed; se, see.
22 moste be at youre volunté, must abide by your wishes.
23 yoven be, given by; rede, advice.
28 voyde, leave.
29 tale, verdict.
30 high, loudly.
31 awarded, decided.
33 forswhere, forswear.
34 longed, belonged.
35 on that other side, in addition to which; holde, held; oweth, ought to; condite, permit; saf, safe.
36 tho, those.
38 saugh, saw; forjuged, found guilty; noon, nothing.
39 moo, more; durste, dared; withsey, oppose.
40 puyssaunt, powerful.
41 have falsed, challenged.
44 that, until; whereas, where.
46 cowde, knew.
47 forejuged, condemned.
47-48 for that fill to, as a result it caused.
49 here, hear; yef, if.
51 cesse, cease.
53 myry, merry.
55 was in talent, desired.
57-58 that ther leve here, so that is left here.
58 will come ride, wish to ride; stilleche, slowly.
59 ordeyne redy, prepare.
60 vitaile, food; deynteis, delicacies; ne faute, is lacking.
62 encombred, threatened; be the wey, along the way; of, by.
70 pensif, concerned.
71 myshappe, harm.
72 marched into, bordered upon.
75 strongely, quickly.
76 parties, sides.
77 as longed to, as was fitting for.
78 coude, could; entermete, conduct.
79-80 leste mysspeker, least speaker of ill.
80 noon avauntor, not a boaster; longeth to, concerns.
81 worship, honor.
82 of that, that; distrobeled, set upon; of, by.
87 her, their.
88 seche, seek; so, also.
89-90 feed men with, retainers of.
91 com, came.
92 sithen, afterwards.
93 elther, older.
94 castelein, marshall.
96 asspies, spies.
97 agein, towards; hem enbusshed, lay in wait for them.
101 conveyed hem, accompanied them.
104 well spedde of that, understood what.
106 departe, concludes.
108 wiste, knew.
111 seth that, since.
120 gromes, grooms; somers, pack horses; wiste, knew.
121 saugh, saw.
126 hem, them; lede hir to garison, lead her to safety.
129 dide falle upon, encountered; wacche, scouts.
132 assels, shoulders.
133 hem ascride so high, they shouted so loudly.
142 renne, run.
144 stynte, stopped; hauberkes, mail shirts; shof, shoved.
146 croupe, cruppers.
147 drowh, drew.
148 for that, because.
149 be, by.
152 coveited, desired; quyk, alive.
153 glenched, moved.
156-57 sterte to, leaped to him.
158 smyten of, smite off.
159 but as, except that.
160 com, came.
163 stour, battle; myschef, danger.
165 moo, more.
167 behielde, looked.
168 be, by.
169 sore desired the assemble, greatly wished to reach the assembly; enterpendaunt, enterprising.
170 right sure, constant; ne hadde ben oon tecche, if not for one trait.
170-71 copiouse of langage, excessive in speaking.
172 bourdinge, playing; japinge, joking; game, fun.
173 for that, because; of custome, by habit; borde of the sothe, make fun of the truth.
175 myshapped, was ill-treated.
176 didde, caused; annoye, harm; agein, to.
178 saf oon, except one; slough, slew.
180 ermyte, hermit.
181 that, who; seyn, seen; dede, deed.
188 avaunten, declare.
190 yef, unless.
192 medled, fighting.
195 myster, need; rudely, strongly.
196 newliche, newly.
197 moche, strongly.
201 lifte, left.
205 broused, bruised.
206 pight, stuck; drough, drew.
208 upright, face up; raced it of, tore it off.
210 avaled, opened.
211 but yef, unless.
211-12 so anguysshous, in such anguish.
213 sle, slay.
214 forfet agein thee, harm to you; wherfore, for which; sleen, slay.
216 distrouble, disturb.
217 Me liste nothinge, I do not choose.
218 anoon, now; that as, what; thee sey, tell you.
221 that, the one that.
223 caitife, wretched.
224 myschef, misfortune; ne not hath don, nor has done for.
226 nempned, spoke.
227 nevew, nephew.
228 wolde have clypt, desired to embrace.
229 caitif, wretch; viliche, vilely.
230 arome, back.
232 seynge, in the sight of.
233 for elles, or else; leve, leave; wedde, pledge.
234 saf, except for; sowowned, swooned.
238 iyen, eyes.
240 aperceyved, seen.
242 hem departed, separated them; fowlé, foully; overleide, treated.
243 evyll beseyn, harshly treated.
244 moo, more.
248 Wherefore be, Why have; parties, area; Wiste, Knew.
249 awayte, ambush; douted, feared.
251 of, by.
252 medlé, battle.
254 owe, ought.
257 worship, honor; hym shewed, given him.
258 don of, taken off.
259 valed, opened.
260 saugh, saw.
264 be, by.
265 forfeted, surrendered.
271 for that, because; forfet, victory.
274 volunté, desire.
276 owe, ought.
278 pees, peace.
285 enforced, expanded.
287 on, in.
288 seinge, before.
289 refeffed, re-installed.
291 jocunde, happy.
293 yede, went.
295 pight withoute, pitched outside.
297 hool, altogether; sore encrece, greatly increase.
298 roiall and plentevouse, royally and generously.
300 yaf, gave; yeftes, gifts.
301 apertened, belonged.
303 cowde, knew; that, so that.
304 recovered, found.
307 that, so that.
308 wisten, knew; pees, peace.
310 somowned, summoned.
311 spedde, done.
313 er, before.
315 forfet, the damage; hym, i.e., Arthur.
321 longeth to, is right for.
323 wore; crowne, the crown.
326 owe for to, should.
327 deyse, dais; theras, where.
338 meesse were served in, dinner had been served.
340 yelde, give.
344 into, until; here, hear; be, by.
345 forwarde, promise; yef it be myster, if there is need; do, cause.
346 prise, fame; hiderto repeire, hither are come.
347 peres, peers.
348 Seeth, Since.
350 acorded alle, all agreed; reherse, say.
353 high, loudly; here, hear.
354 to, before.
356 yef, if.
358 by so that, of such a kind that.
362 graunte to that as, assent to what.
363 ne, nor.
364 it hadde, there had been.
366 cowde, knew; norture, manners.
367 ofre, offer.
371 be, by.
374 withholde, claim; meyné, company.
375 come in, go into; seche, seek; loos and pris, fame and honor.
375-76 eny man hem aske, anyone asks them.
378 dressed hir upstondinge, stood up.
381 guerdon of, reward for.
383 And, And since; withholde, claimed.
384 quyte, reward.
389 sool, alone; repeire, returning.
390 but yef, unless.
391 everyche, everyone.
396 wolde comforte, wished to please; seth, since.
398 moste, must; wite, know.
399 wherof, therefore.
402 will, wish.
412 With that, Then; clothes taken up, tablecloths removed.
413 iherde, heard.
415 fooll, clown.
419 moche, large.
420 sewen ther, follow where.
422 lowen, laughed.
424 henge, hung.
425 tohakked, hacked all to pieces; seyn, say.
427 fill yef, it happened if.
429 as, if
THE BANISHMENT OF BERTELAK; AND KING ARTHUR AND KING LOT: NOTES[Fols. 166v (line 13)-172r (line 27)]
1 Arthur's strife against the rebel barons now nears its end, as King Lot agrees to do homage to Arthur and the two become reconciled. This section is important also for establishing the foundations for a code of knightly conduct, for depicting the ways in which Arthur wishes to conduct his court, and for introducing several of the specific customs of the court. For example, it is here for the first time that Arthur declares he will not eat when he is holding court until he has heard some strange tiding. Here, too, is established the tradition of Arthur's knights returning to the court no later than a year and a day from the time they set out and openly reporting their adventures to the court.
This section of the PM begins, however, with the trial of Bertelak le Rous, who was mentioned earlier as a great traitor to Arthur. Bertelak's most serious crime is not that he has killed the man who raped his cousin's wife, but stems from the fact that by taking the law into his own hands he has violated the safe-conduct the king had established during the time surrounding his daughter's wedding. Thus, despite his many good qualities as a knight, he is judged quite harshly by the king's council of barons (which includes Arthur and Gawain), who recommend that he be stripped of his land and banished. As he embarks on his exile, Bertelak arrives by chance at the same abbey where the False Gonnore had taken shelter earlier; and now having been thrown together by chance, the pair of outcasts begin plotting revenge.
12-13 but firste I dide hym deffie. Bertelak is saying that he announced his hostile intentions to his enemy in an open and formal manner. Normally, serving such notice to one's enemy in this fashion is the honorable way for a knight to act.
21 Bertelak le Rous. Bertelak le Rous, or Bertelak the Rede, may have some relationship to the figure of Bertilak de Hautdesert in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The two men possess similar knightly attributes; each lives far off in a wild country; each is associated with a wily, attractive temptress; and each becomes involved in a plot to challenge the supremacy of Arthur's court. Bertilak de Hautdesert's "beaver-hued" beard (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, line 845) may even relate to Bertelak's epithet -- "le Rous" or "the Red."
35-36 ye holde court open . . . this high feste. In addition to taking justice into his own hands, Bertelak has also violated the general safe-conduct that King Leodegan had ordered for the period of time surrounding the royal wedding.
47-50 And for that fill to Arthur . . . to writen it. Once again the author alludes to the great difficulties Bertelak will create for Arthur later on; however, the ME version of the PM breaks off before reaching this section of the story.
170-76 for that he was copiouse of langage . . . grete annoye. The author is very understanding of Kay's joking and jesting nature, as is Arthur; but as the author points out, many of Kay's fellow knights were not so forgiving or understanding, and as a result, they often treated him with malice.
176-81 But a trewe knyght was he . . . all the dede. The author suggests that in his lifetime Kay was only guilty of one real act of treachery -- the killing of Loholt (or Hoot), the son Arthur had begotten on Lysanor. While this act of treachery is only alluded to in the PM, it is actually described in the OF Perlesvaus.
185 the shelde of goolde and azur. The heraldic device on Gawain's shield is a "lyon rampaunt" (a lion standing upright on its hind legs) in "azur" (blue), displayed on a field of gold. The device on Gawain's famous shield in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a golden pentangle (five-pointed star) displayed on a field of "gules" (red).
292 and fro that day forth . . . all her lif. This reconciliation and newly established friendship between King Lot and King Arthur stands in stark contrast to what occurs in Malory's Morte D'Arthur, where King Lot remains Arthur's bitter enemy until he is killed in battle (Vinaver, p. 48).
342-43 I will stablissh to my courte alle the tymes. Arthur is declaring that he will hold his high court (those special occasions when he "shall bere crowne") at regular times throughout the year -- e.g., at the high feasts of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and so on. He also announces that on such occasions he will not sit down to eat until after something unusual has occurred. This famous custom turns up frequently in medieval Arthurian works -- e.g., in Chrétien's Perceval, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and in both the "Gareth" and "Grail" sections in Malory.
356-57 yef eny maiden have eny nede. This vow that all of the Knights of the Round Table swear -- that they will aid any maiden who comes to the court and requests assistance -- becomes one of the fundamental tenets of the Chivalric Code.
377 the Knyghtes of Queene Gonnore. Gawain and his fellows wish to establish a special bond of "fealty" with the queen, and the queen is pleased to grant their request. Thus comes into being "The Queen's Knights," an important sub-group within the larger knightly fellowship. In Malory's Morte D'Arthur ten of these knights accompany the queen when she goes a-Maying at the beginning of "The Knight of the Cart" episode: "And that tyme was such a custom that the quene rode never wythoute a grete felshyp of men of armys aboute her.And they were many good knyghtes, and the moste party were yonge men that wolde have worshyp, and they were called the Quenys Knyghtes" (Vinaver, p. 650).
387-93 And whiche of us so it be . . . in the comynge. Here Gawain sets guidelines for how his knights will conduct themselves in their individual adventures: they must endeavor to complete their tasks and return to the court within a year and a day, if not sooner; and they must swear that upon their return they will report truthfully all that has happened to them.
399-400 I putte in youre governance . . . at youre plesier. This is a remarkable gesture of love and trust on Arthur's part.
413-14 Dagenet of Clarion. In Malory, Dagonet appears only in the "Tristrem" section, where he is portrayed as being little more than the court fool. So too in Tennyson's "The Last Tournament."
[The Banishment of Bertelak; and King Arthur and King Lot]
Whan the Kynge Leodogan hadde comaunded his stiwarde to bringe his
stepdoughter oute of the reame, he and Merlin departed from Ulfin and Bretell
and com into the halle hande in hande, where thei fonde the barouns alle redy.
And oon hadde ronge to masse, and so thei wente to the mynster; and whan masse
was seide, thei com agein into the halle.
And than com the kyn of the deed knyght that Bertelak hadde slain for to make
theire complainte to the kynge. And the Kynge Leodogan sente for to seche hym
at his hostell, and he com anoon withoute daunger, well armed undir his robes,
and brought with hym grete plenté of knyghtes, for he was full of feire courtesie
and a feire speker. And anoon the kynge hym asked why he hadde the knyght
slain in treson. And he seide that of treson he sholde hym wele diffende agein alle
tho that wolde hym apele. "And I sey no nay but that I slough the knyght; but
firste I dide hym deffie; and it was not withoute grete cause, for moche peple
knowe wele that he slough my cosin germain for his wif that he diffouled. And me
semeth that in alle maners that oon may, oweth he to greve his mortall enmye
after that he hath hym diffied."
And the kynge seide that that was not inough. "But yef ye hadde yow
complayneth to me and I wolde not have it redressed, than myght ye have take
vengaunce; but ye ne spake therof to me never worde." "Sir," quod he, "ye sey
your volunté. But ageins yow mysdide I never, ne never ne shall, yef God will."
Quod the kynge, "I will that right be hadde." "Sir," seide Bertelak le Rous, "I se
well that I moste be at youre volunté." And than comaunded the Kynge Leodogan
that jugement sholde be yoven be the rede of his barouns.
At this jugement was the Kynge Arthur and the Kynge Ban and the Kynge
Bohors and Sir Gawein and Sir Ewein and Galasshin and Nascien and Adragain
and Hervy de Rivel and Guyomar. These ten were at the jugement, and spake
togeder of oon thinge and other; and thei acorded in the ende that he sholde be
disherited and voyde the londe of the Kynge Leodogan forever more. And the
Kynge Ban, that was of feire eloquense, tolde the tale as he was charged; and he
spake so high that he myght wele be herde bothe of nygh and fer.
"Sirs," quod he, "these barouns that beth here awarded that Bertelais le Rous
shall be disherited of all his londe that he holdeth in youre powere, and shall
forswhere the contré forever more, for that he toke the justice upon hymself of the
knyght that he slough, and namly by nyght, for the justice longed not to hym. And
on that other side, ye holde court open and myghty that oweth to condite alle saf
goynge and saf comynge to alle tho that come at this high feste." And with that sat
down the Kynge Ban that no more seide at that tyme.
And whan Bertelays saugh he was forjuged and that he ne myght noon other
wise do, he returned withoute moo wordes; for he durste not the jugement withsey,
for the highest lordes of the worlde and the moste puyssaunt hadde it don. But yef
eny other hadde it don, anoon he wolde the jugement have falsed. And thus wente
Bertelais le Rous; but many a knyght hadde he hym to conveye to whom he hadde
yoven many feire yeftes, for he hadde be a noble knyght and a vigerouse.
And so he past forth on his journeyes that he com to the same abbey whereas
was the false Gonnore; and ther he abode and sojourned longe tyme, and was in
grete thought as he that cowde moche evell, how that he myght be avenged of the
Kynge Leodogan and the Kynge Arthur that hadde hym thus forejuged. And for
that fill to Arthur grete trouble and so grete discorde betwene hym and his wif that
he lefte her longe tyme, as ye shull here in the seconde book of this processe, yef
God will vouchsaf to graunte me so longe space to writen it. But now we must
cesse of this mater and speke of the goode Kynge Arthur that is at Toraise in
Carmelide with the Kynge Leodogan, and with the grete companye.
Full myry lif ledde the Kynge Arthur with his wif eight dayes. And the neynthe
day after that he was spoused, he cleped his barouns and badde hem make hem
redy to ride, for he was in talent for to repeire into the reame of Logres; and thei
seide that thei were all redy to ride. And than the kynge toke Gawein in counseile
and seide, "Feire nevew, take with yow as many of youre companye that ther leve
here but five hundred, for I will come ride after stilleche and esely. And ye shall
go to Logres, my chief citee, and ordeyne redy alle thinges that is nessessarie, and
of vitaile and of deynteis as ye may, so that nothinge ne faute. And sendith fer and
nygh that I will holde court this mydde August, the richest that I may." "Sir,"
seide Gawein, "I have drede lest ye be encombred be the wey of some maner
peple." "Of that have ye no drede," quod the kynge, "but go ye in all haste."
Than departed Sir Gawein from his uncle and com to his felowes, and bad hem
to make hem redy for to ride. And thei wente to theire hostelles and hem armed;
but firste thei toke leve of the Kynge Leodogan and of the barouns of Carmelide;
and thus departed Gawein fro the courte, he and his companye. And the Kynge
Arthur abode with five hundred men, whereof two hundre and fifty were Knyghts
of the Rounde Table.
And Gawein and his companye com to Logres. But Gawein was ever pensif for
his uncle that he hadde lefte in Carmelide, that hym sholde eny thinge myshappe
upon the wey, for he hadde fer contrey to ride that marched into his enmyes er he
com into his londe in safté. And he hym hasted to do the kynges comaundement,
and sente to alle hem that the kynge loved that thei sholde come to his court at the
myddell of August. And eche made hym redy to come to court as strongely as thei
myght. And Gawein ordeyned that vitaile com on alle parties with cartes and
chariettis, that he stuffed so well the citee as longed to soche a feste, as he that full
well coude hym entermete that nothinge ne failed. For as the storye seith, he was
oon of the beste knyghtes and wiseste of the worlde, and therto the leste mys-
speker and noon avauntor, and the beste taught of alle thinges that longeth to
worship or curtesie. And whan he hadde made all redy, he toke his wey toward his
uncle, for grete drede he hadde of that he sholde be distrobeled on the wey of
some peple. But now we shull a while cesse of hym and his companye and speke
of the Kynge Arthur.
The thridde day after that Gawein was departed from the Kynge Arthur his
uncle, the kynge toke his wey towarde the Castell of Bredigan, he and his wif, and
in her companye was the Kynge Ban of Benoyk and the Kynge Bohors of Gannes
that was his brother and the beste knyght that eny man neded to seche; and so ther
were two hundred fifty Knyghtes of the Rounde Table that alle were feed men
with the Kynge Leodogan. And the queene hadde so praied Sir Amnistian, that
was chapelein with the Kynge Leodogan hir fader, that he com with hir and was
sithen hir chapelein longe tyme. And so ledde Gonnore hir cosin, that was feire
and debonaire and amyable to alle peple, and Sadoyne hir brother, that was elther
than she and castelein of Daneblaise the noble citee.
And as soone as the Kynge Arthur was departed oute of the reame of Carmelide,
the Kynge Loot hadde knowinge by his asspies. And he and his knyghtes rode
agein hym and hem enbusshed in the Foreste of Sapernye. And [he] seide that ther
sholde he abide the Kynge Arthur and take from hym his wif, yef he myght. But
of hym we shull now cesse, and speke of the Kynge Arthur that was departed oute
And the storie seith how the Kynge Leodogan conveyed hem thre dayes hole,
and the fourthe day he returned into his reame. And than com Merlin to the Kynge
Arthur and toke leve and seide that he sholde go to his maister Blaase, for longe
hadde he hym not seyn; and the kynge hadde well spedde of that he hadde for to
done. Than seide the kynge, "Merlin, feire frende, shull ye not be at my court at
Logres?" "Yesse," seide Merlin, "I shall be ther er it departe"; and therwith eche
of hem comaunded other to God. But he was but litill wey thens whan no man
wiste where that he was becomen.
And Merlin wente to Blaase the same nyght, and he hym resceyved with grete
joye whan that he hym saugh. And Merlin tolde hym alle the aventures that were
falle seth that he departed; and he tolde hym how the Kynge Loot was enbusshed
in the Foreste of Sapernye, and tolde hym other thinges inowghe that after befill
in the reame of Logres. And Blaase hem wrote as he tolde, and by his booke have
we the knowinge. But now cesseth to speke of Merlin and Blase, and speke of
Whan the Kynge Arthur was departed from the Kynge Leodogan, and Merlin
also, as ye have herde, he rode with five hundre men of armes, and ledde with
hym his wif Gonnore the queene. And he rode smale journeyes till he com into the
Foreste of Sapernye, whereas the Kynge Loot was enbusshed with seven hundre
men of armes. And the gromes that ledde the somers wiste never worde till that
thei were fallen even amonge hem. And as soone as thei saugh thei were men of
armes, thei wiste well thei were not well come. Than thei abode and wente no
ferther, and sente to the Kynge Arthur that thei hadde founde men iarmed. Whan
the kynge saugh that he was aspied, he alight on foote and made his peple come
aboute hym and ordeyned for bataile; and comaunded forty knyghtes to kepe the
queene and bad hem lede hir to garison yef thei saugh nede.
And than thei ride forth, her heedes bowed down undir theire helmes redy hem
to diffende, yef thei founde eny peple to stoppe hem the wey. And so thei ride till
thei dide falle upon the wacche; and the Kynge Arthur was before in the firste
frounte, and the Kynge Ban and the Kynge Bohors and the Knyghtes of the Rounde
Table. And the Kynge Looth spronge oute with seven hundre men of armes and
com hem ageins theire spers, agein the assels of the sadeles, and the sheldes be
-fore theire breste, as faste as horse myght renne. And hem ascride so high that all
the foreste resounded; and these other com upon hem boldely with sharpe
trenchaunte speres, and mette togeder upon sheldes that many of hem perced and
slitte. Many were throwe to grounde on bothe sides, and many ther were that
brake theire speres and passed forth withoute fallinge. And whan the spers were
spente, thei drowgh oute theire swerdes and begonne the bateile right grete, that
never of so fewe peple ne saugh no man so fierce bateile, for thei were full noble
knyghtes upon bothe parties.
And so longe it lasted that the Kynge Arthur and the Kynge Looth mette togeder
with speres in hande, and lett renne that oon agein that other so harde as horse
myght renne, and mette so harde togeder with speres upon sheldes that the spere
poyntes stynte at the hauberkes. And thei theron shof with all theire force, and the
Kynge Loot brake his spere, and the Kynge Arthur smote hym so harde that he
bar hym to grounde over his horse croupe; but soone was he lepte upon foote as
he that was of grete prowesse, and drowh his swerde and covered hym with his
shelde and was so doelfull that nygh he yede oute of witte for that he was
overthrowe be the myght of a knyght alone, for he was not acustomed for to falle
And the Kynge Arthur hadde made his returne and com toward the Kynge Loot
gripinge his spere, for he coveited to take hym quyk. And whan the Kynge Looth
saugh hym come, he glenched aside and Arthur failed of hym and past forth; and
in the passinge the Kynge Loot smote Arthurs horse in the bely thourgh the guttes.
And Arthur fill to grounde, and his horse upon his body that his thigh was betwene
the horse and the grounde so that he myght not arise. And the Kynge Loot sterte
to and caught hym by the helme and drough and pulled all that he myght, and sore
hym peyned for to smyten of his heede. And soone ther sholde have be so grete
damage that never myght it have be restored, but as the Kynge Ban and the Kynge
Bohors and the Knyghtes of the Rounde Table com fiercely upon the peple of
Kynge Loot, and began sore bateile and harde so that ther was noon but that he
hadde inough to done. And so thei peyned hem on both parties that the two kynges
be remounted, and begonne the stour grete and merveillouse. But at grete myschef
were the peple of Kynge Arthur, for the Kynge Loot hadde two hundre knyghtes
moo than hadde Kynge Arthur.
With that com Sir Gawein with foure score felowes well armed, and Kay the
Stiwarde bar the baner. And Arthur behielde and saugh Gawein come and knewe
hym well by his armes, and also Kay the Stiwarde be the baner that he bar in his
handes that sore desired the assemble, as he that was hardy and enterpendaunt and
right sure, ne hadde ben oon tecche that he hadde, for that he was copiouse of
langage in his disporte for the jolynesse that was in hym and the myrthe; for he
was ever bourdinge and japinge in game, and was the beste felowe in companye
that eny man knewe. And for that ever he wolde of custome borde of the sothe,
hym hated many a knyght for the shame that thei hadde of his wordes; and therfore
he myshapped in many a place, for the knyghtes that he had scorned in myrthe
didde hym after grete annoye. But a trewe knyght was he ever agein his lorde, and
agein the queene, ever into the ende of his deth. Ne never in all his live dide he
treson saf oon, and that was of Lohoot, the sone of Kynge Arthur, that he slough
for envye in the Foreste Perilouse; and for that Percevale ly Galoys was accused
with grete wronge for the deth of the same Hoot, like as an ermyte hit tolde after,
that hadde seyn all the dede.
Whan the Kynge Arthur saugh Gawein his nevew come so fiercely, his herte
aroos for grete joye that he hadde. Than he com to the Kynge Ban and seide, "Sir,
se how riche socour to us cometh! Knowe ye not hym that rideth before upon the
blakke stede that gripeth the grete spere under the shelde of goolde and azur, ther-
ynne a lyon rampaunt?" And the Kynge Ban beheilde and seide, "Who is it? Telle
me, for I knowe hym not, saf that me semeth it sholde be Gawein youre nevew."
"Certes," quod Arthur, "he it is, and now may I me avaunten that in evell tyme
come these us for to assailen; for yef thei were yet as many moo, thei myght not
agein us endure, yef God hym diffende from evell, he and his companye." "Trewly,"
seide the Kynge Ban, "thei be not wise yef thei hym abide till that he be amonge
And while thei spake thus togeder com Gawein all before gripinge his grete
spere. And whan he com nygh, he knewe well his uncle and saugh that he hadde
grete myster of socour; and than he spronge in amonge hem rudely as tempest of
thunder. And [it] fill that he mette with his fader the Kynge Loot that newliche
was sette on horse and heilde a stronge spere. And [he] com agein hym as moche
as the horse myght renne, and [thei] mette togeder upon the sheldes with all theire
forces. And the kynge brake his spere upon Gaweins shelde, and Gawein smote
hym agein so harde that he perced shelde and hauberke and wounded hym somwhat
in the lifte side that the blode folowed after. And the kynge fill so harde to grounde
that he wiste not wheder it was day or nyght. And Gawein paste forth rudely
withoute arestinge; and whan he was returned agein, he fonde his fader lyinge on
the erthe upright; and he rode over hym on horsebak thre or foure tymes, and
broused hym sore and foule that nygh he was therwith slayn.
And than Gawein alight and pight his spere in the grounde and drough oute
Calibourne his goode swerde that shone bright and clier. And [he] com to the
Kynge Loot that yet lay upright, and plukked hym by the helme and raced it of his
heede so harde that on his nose and his browes it was well seene, for he was hurte
right sore. And than he avaled the coyf of his hauberke benethe his shuldres, and
seide that he was but deed but yef he wolde yelde hym to prison. And he was so
anguysshous that litill he hym ansuerde; nevertheless, he dide hymself enforce so
that he seide with grete sorowe at his herte, "Ha, sir gentilman, ne sle me nought!
For never dide I forfet agein thee wherfore that thow sholdest me sleen." "Yesse,"
quod Gawein, "that haste thow, and alle thi companye that have assailed myn
uncle for to distrouble him his weye." "How so?" quod Kynge Loot. "Who be ye
that calle hym youre uncle?" "What is that to thee what I am? Me liste nothinge
thee to telle. But do anoon that as I thee sey, or thow art deed. And alle these other
that ben in thi companye shull dye, and shull curse the tyme that ever thei were of
"Telle me," quod the Kynge Loot, "who ye ben, for the love of that ye love
moste in this worlde." "But what art thow," quod Gawein, "that this doste me
demaunde?" Quod he, "Myn name is Looth, a caitife kynge of Orcanye and of
Leonoys, to whom nothinge doth falle but myschef, ne not hath don longe tyme.
Now telle me youre name what ye be." And whan Gawein undirstode verily that it
was his fader, anoon he nempned his name and seide his name was Gawein, the
nevew of Kynge Arthur. And whan the Kynge Loot herde that, anoon he lepte up
and wolde have clypt him in his armes and seide, "Feire sone, ye be welcome; and
I am the sorowfull caitif youre fader that ye have thus viliche overthrowen."
And Gawein bad hym drawe hym ferther arome, for his fader sholde he not be
ne his goode frende till that he were acorded with the kynge his uncle, and hadde
cried hym mercy for his forfet, and than do to hym homage seynge alle his barouns.
"For othirwise, loke never to truste in me, for elles shull ye leve noon other wedde
saf youre heed." And than the Kynge Looth sowowned and fill down to the grounde;
and whan he awoke of swownynge, he cride hym mercy and seide, "Feire sone, I
will do all that yow may plese; and holde here my swerde, for I yelde it to yow."
And Sir Gawein, that therof hadde grete pité, hit toke with gladde chere and myri,
and wepte right tendirly water with his iyen undir his helme, for sore he repente in
his herte of that he hadde so hurte his fader. But as moche as he myght, he kepte
hym so that he was not aperceyved.
Than thei com bothe to theire horse, and lept up and com to theire peple, and
hem departed. But fowlé were the Kynge Loothis men overleide, for the Knyghtes
of the Rounde Table and the Felowes of Sir Gawein hadde hem so evyll beseyn at
the first metynge that moo than forty thei hadde felde to grounde that thei hadde
no power to remounte. And Sir Gawein com and hem departed; and than wente
Gawein to Arthur his uncle.
And as soone as the kynge saugh hym come, he com hym ageins and seide,
"Feire nevew, ye be welcome. Wherefore be ye come into this parties? Wiste ye
eny thinge of this awayte?" And Gawein seide that he douted hit sore, "For I
myght never be in hertes ese till I hadde yow seyn; and oure Lorde God," quod he,
"now be thanked and honoured of this assemble; for it is the Kynge Looth my
fader with whom that ye were in medlé. And now hit is so befallen that he is come
to crye yow mercy as to his liege lorde erthly, for the trespasse that he hath done
agein yow. And therfore resceyveth his homage like as ye owe for to do, for he is
here all redy hit to performe and do."
Whan the Kynge Arthur that herde, he joyned his handes toward hevene and
thanked God of the worship that He hadde hym shewed. And with that com the
Kynge Loot and his knyghtes down the medowes alle on foote, and hadde don of
theire helmes from theire heedes and valed theire coiffes of mayle upon theire
sholderes and com full symple. And whan Gawein saugh his fader come before,
he seide to his uncle, "Sir, lo here my fader cometh to yow for to do homage."
And anoon the Kynge Arthur sette foot to the grounde and alle the other barouns
after. And the Kynge Loot com before Arthur and sette hym on his knee, and
hielde his swerde be the poynte as he that hadde forfeted; and seide, "Sir, I yelde
me here to youre mercy as he that hath often agein yow forfeted, and dide yow
never but grevaunce and annoye. Now do yowre plesire of me and of my londe."
And ther becom the Kynge Loot liegeman to the Kynge Arthur before alle his
barouns; and assured his feith to do hym servyse whan that he hym comaunded.
Than Arthur toke hym be the right hande and made hym to arise on his feet and
seide, "Sir, stondeth up, for longe inough have ye kneled, for I ought it yow to
pardon for that ye be so worthi a man. And a gretter forfet than this is, for thowgh
that I have hated yow never so dedly, ye have here soche children that have do me
soche servise that I may have no will to do yow noon evell. And therfore I offre
here to yow all thinge that is myn at youre volunté, for the love of Gawein youre
sone that I love beste of eny knyght that is in the worlde. And ther be here two
knyghtes that I owe to love as wele, and bothe ben thei kynges that moche have
me socoured in grete nede." And he stode up and seide, "Sire, gramercy."
Thus was made pees betwene Kynge Loot and the Kynge Arthur. And than thei
lepe to theire horse gladde and joyfull of this aventure, and riden so by here
journeyes till thei com to Logres, where thei were resceyved with the grettest joye
of the worlde. And every day the peple dide encrese, for the dwellers of the contrey
com thider for drede of the Saisnes that hem distroyed and the londe. And ther
was so grete prees of peple that many behoved to loigge in the medowes. And
whan the Kynge Arthur saugh so grete plenté of peple, he was gladde and myry
and seide that he wolde holde court open and enforced, and sente by his messangers
that alle sholde come to his court roiall.
And on the morowe the Kynge Loot dide his homage to the Kynge Arthur, and
made his oth in the chief mynster, seinge alle the peple, that was right grete and
huge. And the Kynge Arthur refeffed hym agein in his londe that he hadde before,
to hym and to hys heires forever more; and who that dide hym eny wronge he
sholde hym supporte to his power. And [he] resceyved hym gladde and jocunde as
a noble man; and fro that day forth were thei goode frendes all her lif.
And whan the masse was seide, thei com agein to the paleyse and yede to mete;
and thei were well served and richely. And after mete wente the knyghtes to se the
medowes and the river and the tentes and the pavilouns that were pight withoute
the town, for ther were many full feire and riche. And [in] this disporte and solace
were thei eight dayes hool. And the peple dide sore encrece, for the kynge dide hit
comaunde for that he wolde holde court roiall and plentevouse, and bere crowne
he and his wif at the mydde of August. And whan it com to the evene that the
feeste sholde begynne on the morowe, Arthur yaf his yeftes soche as to hym
apertened, of horse and palfreyes and armour and money as golde and silver, for
he hadde plenté. And the queene yaf hem robes fressh and newe, as she that well
hadde therfore ordeyned and moche cowde of honour and all curteysie, that alle
peple hadde hir in so grete love that hem thought thei hadde recovered the lady of
alle ladyes. And yef the knyghtes hadde riche presentes, the ladyes and dameselles
hadden also, and maydenes bothe fer and nygh.
And so spradde the renoun thourgh every contrey of Arthur, that the princes
that weren with hym wroth wisten of the pees that the Kynge Loot hadde made
with the Kynge Arthur, and how he sholde holde his court roiall at the myddill of August,
and that alle peple were thider somowned. And some of hem seiden se
-cretly to theire counseile that thei wolde gladly have spedde in the same manere
as the Kynge Loot hadde done. And some ther were of hem that thoughten in
theire hertis and praied to God that thei sholde never dye on no deth er thei were
acorded with the Kynge Arthur, "For all this trouble and myschef that is fallen
unto us is com thourgh the synne that we have don agein God and forfet to hym."
Thus seide oon to another.
And the Kynge Arthur was in his maister citee in joye and solace, as ye have
iherde. And whan it com to the day of the myddill August, thider com alle the
knyghtes to the courte clothed and araied in the richest robes that thei hadden.
And the queene was appareiled, she and hir ladyes and maidenys and dameseles,
richely as longeth to soche an high feeste. And whan thei hadde ronge to high
masse, thei wente alle to the mynster and herde the servise that the archebisshop
dide singe. And that day bar Arthur crowne, and the Queene Gonnore his wif.
And the Kynge Ban and the Kynge Bohors were crowned also for the love of hem.
And after masse thei com to the halle where the clothes were leyde; and the lordes
were sette thourgh the halle as thei owe for to be.
That day served Gawein at the high deyse theras the foure kynges seten. And
Kay the Stiward, and Lucas the Boteller, and Sir Ewein le Graunt the sone of
Kynge Urien, and Gifflet, and Ewein Avoutres, and Segramor, and Dodinell le
Savage, and Kay Destranx, and Kehedins ly Bens, and Kehedins le Petit, and
Ayglyns des Vaux that was his brother, and Galegantius the Walsh, and Blyoberis,
and Galescowde, and Colegrevaunt, and Lanval, and Aglovall, and Ewein Esclains,
and Ewein de Lionell, and Ewein White Hande, and Guyomar, and Synados, and
Gosevain Hardy Body, and Agravain the Prowde, and Gueheret, and Gaheries,
and Acon de Bemonde - and alle these twenty-one served at the high deyse. And
forty other yonge bachelers served at other tables therynne. And thei were so well
served of alle maner thinges that never peple were better.
And whan alle the meesse were served in, than spake the Kynge Arthur so
lowde that alle that were in the halle myght it heren, and he seide: "Now lordinges,
alle ye that ben come here into my courte me for to gladen and counforte, I yelde
yow graces and thonkinge for the honour and the joye that ye have me don, and
that ye be come for to do. And I do yow to wite that I will stablissh to my courte
alle the tymes that I shall bere crowne, that never from hensforth shall I not sitte
to mete into the tyme that I here some straunge tydinge or elles some aventure, be
soche forwarde, that yef it be myster, I shall do it to be redressed by the knyghtes
of my court, whiche for prise and honour hiderto repeire, and ben my frendes and
my felowes and my peres." And whan the Knyghtes of the Rounde Table herde
this avow that the kynge hadde imade, thei spake togeder and seiden, "Seeth that
the kynge hath made avow in his courte, hit behoveth that we make oure avow."
And thei acorded alle to oon thinge, and therwith thei charged Nascien to reherse
it before the kynge.
Than wente alle the Knyghtes of the Rounde Table; and Nascien began to speke
before the kynge so high that thei alle myght here that were in the halle. "Sir,"
seide Nascien, "the Kynghtes of the Rounde Table be come here to God and in
youre audyence and to alle the barouns that here ben. Inasmoche as ye have made
avow, thei make here another that shall ever endure while her life lasteth, that yef
eny maiden have eny nede, or come to youre courte for to seche helpe or socour
by so that it may be acheved by the body of oon knyght agein another, thei will
with goode will go into what contrey she will hem leden hir for to delyver, and
make alle the wronges to be redressed that to hir hath be done." And whan the
kynge this undirstode, he asked of the Knyghtes of the Rounde Table yef thei dide
graunte to that as Nascien hadde seide. And thei seiden, "Ye." And to this thei
wolde be sworn hit for to mayntene, and not to spare for lif ne for deth.
And than began the joye gretter than it hadde byfore. And whan Gawein
undirstode the joye that thei maden for the avowes that were ther istablisshed, he
seide to his felowes, as he that cowde all norture and curtesie, "Sirs," seide Gawein,
"yef eche of yow will acorde to that I shall seyn, I shall ofre soche avow wherof
shall come to yow and to me grete honour alle the dayes of oure lif." And thei
ansuerde and seide that thei wolde graunte and assente to alle that ever he wolde
speke with his mowthe. "Than," quod he, "assureth me youre feith to holde me
companye." And anoon thei hym assured, and were twenty-four be counte.
Whan that Sir Gawein hadde take the feith of his felowes, he come before the
Queene and seide: "Madame, I and my felowes be come to yow and praye yow
and requere that ye will withholde us to be youre knyghtes and youre meyné. That
whan thei come in eny strange contrey to seche loos and pris, yef eny man hem
aske with whom thei be and of what londe, than thei may seyn of the reame of
Logres and be the Knyghtes of Queene Gonnore, the wif of Kynge Arthur." Whan
the queene undirstode this, she dressed hir upstondinge and seide, "Feire nevew,
gramercy to yow and to hem alle, for I yow resceyve with gladde chere as lordes
and my frendes; and as ye offre yow to me, so I offre me to yow with trewe herte.
And I pray God, lete me so long lyve that I may yow guerdon of the worship and
the curtesie that ye promyse me for to do."
"Madame," seide Gawein, "we be alle youre knyghtes. And ye have us withholde,
God it yow quyte. Now shull we make avow: that what man or woman cometh to
yow for to seche socour or helpe ageyn the body of oon knyght, he shall not faile
to have oon of us to delyver hym body for body, and go with hem into what
contrey thei will us bringe. And whiche of us so it be that take eny soche journey
on hande, and hit happe that he come not agein withynne a moneth, eche oon of us
shall go for to seche hym sool by hymself a yere and a day withoute repeire to
courte, but yef withynne that terme he can bringe trewe tydinges of his felowe.
And whan thei be come to court, everyche shall telle his aventures that hym
befalleth in the tyme, whatsoever thei be, gode or evell; and thei shull be sworn to
sey the trouthe of all, bothe in the goynge and in the comynge."
Whan the queene undirstode the avow that Gawein hadde made, she was the
gladdest woman in the worlde, and the kynge was glader than eny other that was
in the courte. And for the kynge wolde comforte the queene he seide, "Dame, seth
God hath ordeyned yow this honour to have so feire a companye, some curtesie
moste I do for the love of hem, and also for the love of youre self. And wite ye
wherof I putte in youre governaunce my tresour in soche maner that ye be lady
and partyner of all at youre plesier." And whan the queene this herde, she kneled
before the kynge and seide, "Sir, gramercy."
And than the queene called Sir Gawein and seide, "Feire nevew, I will that
foure clerkes be stablisshed hereynne that shull do nothinge elles but write the
aventures that falle to yow and youre felowes, so that after youre deth it may be
remembred the high prowesse of the worthi men hereynne." "Madame," seide
Gawein, "I graunte." And than were ther chosen foure clerkes to write the aventures
as thei fill into the courte fro thensforth. And than seide Gawein that he sholde not
here speke of noon aventure but he sholde go to seche it; and he and his felowes
sholde do so moche that thei sholde bringe therof trewe tidinges to courte. And so
seiden the Knyghtes of the Rounde Table in the same manere. And allwey fro
thensforth was Sir Gawein and his felowes called the Queenes Knyghtes.
With that were the clothes taken up, and than began the joye right grete of oon
and other therynne. But over alle other that were therynne was iherde Dagenet of
Clarion, for he made gret myrthe amonge hem so that alle thei beheilde hym for
merveile. But a fooll he was of nature, and the moste coward pece of flessh that
was in the worlde. This Dagenet began to trippe and daunce and cried so lowde
with high voyse and seide, "Tomorow shall I so seche these aventures," and seide
to Gawein, "Will ye come? And ye, Sir Ewein and Segramor, will ye come thider
that be so feire and moche? And ye lordinges of the Rounde Table? Certes, I
trowe not that ye have the herte ne the hardynesse me for to sewen ther I shall go
Thus seide Dagenet the Coward, and the knyghtes therat lowen and hadde grete
game. And withoute faile, he hym armed many tymes and wente into the forestes
and henge his shelde on an oke and smote it so that alle the colours were faded
and the shelde tohakked in many places. And than wolde he seyn that he hadde
slayn a knyght or tweyne; and whan he mette eny knyght armed, he turned to
flight as fer as he myght here hym speke at the leeste. And many tymes fill yef he
mette eny knyght erraunt that were pensif that spake no worde, he wolde take hym
by the bridell and lede hym forth as he hadde hym taken. Of soche maners was
Dagenet, and yet he was right a feire knyght and of high lynage, and yet it semed
not by his countenaunce that he was soche a fooll.
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