The Battle of Bredigan Forest
THE BATTLE OF BREDIGAN FOREST: FOOTNOTES2 ordeyned her batailes, deployed their troops; wise, fashion.
3 ne toke noon hede, did not bother.
5 feire fortune, bit of good luck.
6 ne wende not, did not expect.
11 a water, i.e., a flood; drof down, destroyed; howsynge, buildings.
12 hym semed, he thought.
14 affray, state of fright; hym blissed, crossed himself.
16 yede, went; hem dide awake, awakened them.
17 fro whiche part, from what direction.
19 hastely, soon.
20-21 contré environ, surrounding country.
21 that, so that; were not, would not be.
23 araide, prepared; cowden, could.
24 governaunce, actions.
25 toke noon hede, i.e., did not stop.
25-26 were even fallen on hem, encountered them.
26 thei, i.e., the scouts of the eleven kings.
28 chalange, i.e., protect.
29 agein, against.
30 spores, spurs.
31 as armes, to arms.
33 even at, near to.
34 a fair happe, lucky.
36 araied of her harneyse, ready with their equipment.
37 fill, befell; encomberaunce, difficulty; that, because.
39 unethe, scarcely; ne heren, nor hear.
41 slowgh, slew.
42 areche, reach; departed, separated.
43 playn, open; withoute, beyond; trompe, trumpet.
46 aschape, escape.
48 well delyvered, i.e., destroyed; puyssaunce, might.
49 sowne, sound.
50 stynted, stationed.
57 herbegage, i.e., encampment.
58 how, what.
60 entende, submit.
62 astoned, surprised.
64 toon, one; yede, went.
65 ne wende, did not expect.
66 trowed hem wele to diffende, believed themselves capable of defending.
68 theras, where.
73 gate, crossed; small, few.
74 thei, i.e., Arthur's men.
75 dispite, insult; apertly, boldly.
77 leide, struck; slow, slew; raught, struck.
78 voyded, retreated from; rome, room.
78-79 pressed to, attacked.
81 ageyn, against.
82 blenche, move.
83 stynte, stood.
84 ne hadde be, had it not been for.
85 hadden be discounfited, would have been defeated.
86 odde, brave.
89 thei2, i.e., the barons.
90 sye, saw; yaf ascry, gave a shout.
95 presse, throng.
95-96 noon ne durst, no one dared.
96 moche, large.
97 neyghed ner, came near.
98 douted, feared.
99 brekynge the presse, breaking through the crowd.
101 myschef, trouble.
101-02 wax wode for ire, became enraged.
106 anoon, soon.
110 discounfited, defeated.
111 talent, desire.
112 defouled, slaughtered; distreyned, trapped.
113 yef, that if.
117 Whan, Then; Marganors, the King de Cent Chevaliers's steward; seide, addressed.
117-18 badde hem suffre, told them to persevere.
119 disconfite, defeated.
124 wolde, wished to.
125 what wilt thow do, what do you wish to do; Haste thow, Have you.
131 be aboute, been with.
134 were falle to, had happened to; seth, since; yede, went.
136 werred, fought.
138 therby, thus.
141 discounfited, defeated.
143 of that, because.
144 yove, gave.
146 leged, lodged; pight, pitched.
147 wacched, guarded.
150 vitaile, food.
152 on an hepe, in a pile; wynynge, winnings; richesse, valuable things.
153 theras, where.
154 departed aboute, distributed; as hem . . . do, as they thought fitting; on, one.
155 after that, according to.
157 hemself, themselves.
158 departed, bestowed; stedes, steeds, warhorses; palfreyes, fine riding horses.
159 ought, anything; sente agein, sent away.
160 meyné, retainers.
161 yede, went.
162 that, so that.
162-63 ne dede hem no stade, did not harm them.
164 rentes, properties.
165 aver, wealth.
166 lefte, kept.
167 in the marche, on the border.
168 abode, waited until.
169 and that, after.
171 yed, went.
173 grete karl, huge rustic.
174 girdell, belt.
175 gees, geese; kynde, nature; drough, drew.
177 shette, shot; slowgh, slew.
178 yede, went.
180 whowped, cried out.
181 yef, if.
182-83 How wilt thow yeve hem, What do you want for them.
183 cherll, churl.
183-84 boysteis shone, rough shoes.
184 nete's leder, cow's leather; rosset, russet (homespun cloth).
185 grete, large; longe, tall; blakke, dark (from the sun).
186 rowe rympled, roughbearded, shaggy, unkempt; fell, fierce.
187 I ne knowe nought of the kynge, i.e., I have never heard of a king.
187-88 regrater and a wyssher, i.e., one having a monopoly on goods.
188 that dar not, that would not; gode, wealth.
191 that is nether . . . worship, that works neither to your profit nor to your honor.
192-93 beheelde the oon the tother, they stared at each other.
193 What devell, What the devil.
194 cleped, called.
195 bad, asked.
198 sholde, should.
202 trowe, believe.
202-03 Yef ye . . . leve ne nought, If you wish to, believe me; and if you do not wish to, then do not believe me.
203-04 For I ne leve . . . so be we quyte, For I do not believe you at all, and so we are even.
205 wiste, knew.
206 dight hem, prepared them.
207 hardynesse, courage.
208 guerdon, reward.
210 yef, if.
214 wyte, know.
215 araide, dressed.
216 plume, pluck; mote, might.
217 yeve, give.
218 and hadde, who had; that, what.
221 mantell, cloak.
225 ne knowe ye not, do not you know.
225-26 and ne sholde not he, i.e., and that he intends to.
227 for that, because.
228 wolde, wished.
232 what, who.
236 evell, poorly (evilly); besette, given; on, to.
238 agein, against; tho, those.
239 blessed hym, crossed himself.
241 habite, clothing.
243 semblaunce, appearance; fayn, happily.
245 no merveile nought, do not marvel at.
246 inowe, enough; i.e., aplenty.
247 will, wishes; forse, the power.
248 wyte, know.
249 for that, because.
250 dowted of, feared by.
254 ronne, ran.
256 japed, joked; shetynge, shooting.
258 yove, given.
260 abode, continued; the Lenton, the time of Lent.
266 douted, feared; bereve hem of her, deprive them of their.
270 at hoste, lodged.
274 myd-Lenten, the middle of Lent.
275 fowrtithe, the fortieth man [in the company].
277 disconfited, defeated; yeden, went.
THE BATTLE OF BREDIGAN FOREST: NOTES
The Battle of Bredigan Forest
[Fols. 47v (line 21)-58r (line 27)]
The Battle of Bredigan Forest and its immediate aftermath is also described at length in Malory's Morte D'Arthur (Vinaver, pp. 16-26). It is one of Arthur's most decisive victories against the rebel barons, and it depicts great feats of arms by Arthur, Ban, Bors, and several other prominent knights. It also presents Merlin in several distinctive roles -- as magician, military strategist, moral conscience, and shape-shifting prankster. Near the end of this episode Arthur has a sexual encounter with a young woman named Lysanor; Arthur's illegitimate son Hoot results from that union.
Summary Based on EETS 21, pp. 140-52.
3 the eleven kynges. Earlier there were six (or seven) lesser kings opposing Arthur; now they have been joined by five more, thus increasing the forces against Arthur.
Summary Based on EETS 21, pp. 155-59.
Summary Based on EETS 21, pp. 160-64.
124 And than com Merlin and seide. Merlin checks Arthur's pursuit of his enemies at this point and directs him to return home, thus bringing the battle to an end. There may be a hint of disapproval in Merlin's words to Arthur, but if so, it is not nearly so explicit as the direct rebuke that occurs in Malory, where Merlin says: "`Hast thou nat done inow? Of three score thousande thys day hast thou leffte on lyve but fyftene thousand! Therefore hit ys tyme to sey, "Who!" for God ys wroth with the for thou woll never have done'" (Vinaver, p. 24).
132 Blase seide he dide but foly. Apparently Blase has misgivings about the extent to which Merlin has become involved in Arthur's activities. There is no hint of this in Malory.
159-60 sente agein alle knyghtes and squyres . . . saf forty. At this point Arthur dismisses his army, keeping only a core group of forty knights with him. This group of forty, along with Arthur and Merlin, become Arthur's famous "Forty-two" who perform impressive deeds subsequently at Tamelide.
193 Who hath tolde this cherll? The kings are astonished to discover that this rustic figure knows about the treasure that is hidden in the earth, and they wonder who could have told him.
249-50 he is dowted of many a man. Merlin's supernatural powers, such as the shape-shifting abilities he demonstrates in this episode, cause many people to fear him; and as this passage goes on to indicate, there are many people who would like to see Merlin dead.
261 Arthur aqueynted hym with a mayden. Arthur's brief affair with Lysanor (in Malory she is named Lyonors) results in the begetting of Hoot (in Malory named Borre, and elsewhere named Loholt or Lohoot), who later becomes a good knight of the Round Table. This is presumably the same man mentioned by Malory in the healing of Sir Urry episode called "sir Boarte le Cure Hardy that was kynge Arthurs son" (Vinaver, p. 667). It is notable that Merlin assists Arthur in his affair with Lysanor and that there is no suggestion of moral disapproval.
[The Battle of Bredigan Forest]
[Summary. Merlin assures King Ban that assisting Arthur against the rebelling
barons will work to Ban's advantage in Benoyk later, and Merlin predicts that Ban
will win control of that realm. Ban agrees to help, summons his forces, and sends them
off to rendezvous with Arthur at Bredigan Forest. Meanwhile, the barons swear ven-
geance against Arthur and recruit several new allies. A brief digression follows, on
Brutus's founding of Britain and on the origin of the placenames Logres, Bloy Bretaigne,
and Cornwaile. Then Merlin and the army from Little Britain arrive at Bredigan,
joining forces with Arthur. Merlin tells Arthur that he must win the support of the
people with gifts, and Merlin amazes Arthur and his friends by telling them that a
great treasure lies buried in the ground beneath them. Then Arthur's troops, and
those of Ban and Bors, are deployed in companies and prepare for the battle. While
this is going on, the Danes invade the barons' lands in the north of Britain. Fols. 47v
(line 21)51v (line 10).]
The boke seith that while Kynge Arthur and Kynge Ban of Benoyk and Kynge
Boors of Gannes ordeyned her batailes in this wise as ye have herde, that nyght
the eleven kynges ne toke noon hede to sette no wacche in thayr hoste, but wente
to their bedde and slepte as thei that nothynge knewe that her enmyes were so
nygh But oon feire fortune thei hadde, that alle the eleven kynges lay in the kynges
teynte that was cleped Roy de Cent Chivaliers, and thei ne wende not to have no
dred of no man. And as thei thus were slepynge, befill that Kynge Looth was in a
ferfull dreme, for hym semed that he saugh so grete a wynde arise that it caste
down howses and stepelis of chirches, and after that ther come a thounder so
grete and merveilously sharpe that hym thought all the worlde trembled for fere
and drede; and after that com a water so sharply that drofdown the howsynge
and a grete parte of the peple, and hym semed how hymself was in grete pereile to
And as the Kynge Loth was in this affray, he dede awake and hym blissed and
was sore abaisshed of this dreme that he was in; and [he] aroos and apareiled hym
and yede to his felowes and hem dide awake and tolde hem his avision. And thei
asked hym fro whiche part com the water; and he seide from the foreste com all
the rage and the tempeste, as hym semed. And thei seide thei knewe verily that
thei sholde hastely have bataile, and that merveillouse. And therwith thei arisen
and awoke alle the knyghtes therynne, and comaunded hem to serche all the contré
environ that thei were not supprised of no peple. And thei armed hem right wele,
and lepte on ther horses and rode serchynge the contrey. And the eleven kynges
hem armed and araide in the beste maner that thei cowden.
And than Merlin began to haste Arthurs peple, that well knewe the governaunce
of the tother party; and thei com so faste on that thei toke noon hede till thei were
even fallen on hem that the contrey serched. And whan thei saugh hem armed,
thei hadde grete drede and asked Merlin that mette with hem formeste what peple
thei were. And Merlin seide it was the Kynge Arthur that was come to chalange
his londe agein alle hem that therwith wolde be greved.
Whan thei herde these wordes, thei turned bakke and smote the horse with spores;
and whan thei come into the hoste thei cryde, "Treson, treson. Now as armes,
lordes, gentill knyghtes, for ther was never so grete nede; for lo! here cometh
Arthur even at youre teyntes." And thei ronne to here armes, that yet were in her
beddys, and hadde no leyser hem to clothe; and that was yet a fair happe for hem
that her horses were redy sadellyd. But yet for all that thei myght hem hasten,
thise other were upon hem er thei myght be half araied of her harneyse.
And therwith hem fill a grete encomberaunce that Merlin sente hem soche a
wynde and tempeste that her tentes fill upon their hedes; and amonge hem was
soche a truble that unethe myght eny of hem se other ne heren. And that was a
thynge that gretly hem distrubled in her armynge, and therynne thei caught grete
damage, for Arthurs peple smote in amonge hem and overthrowe and slowgh all
that thei myght areche. But the eleven kynges were departed and desevered, and
yeden oute into the playn feldes withoute the tentes, and made blowe a trompe
high and clere. And that was don for that all theire men sholde drawe towarde
And thei dide so, as many as myght aschape fro hem that of hem hadde no pyté,
for ther was of hem so many slayn in that grete myschef that of the thirde parte
thei were well delyvered; and therto thei saugh hem of so grete puyssaunce that
thei turned to flight towarde her baner whereas thei herde the trompe sowne, for
the kynges were stynted at the entré of the forest by a river, and ther assembled
alle her peple that thei myght have. And so thei encresed litill and litill, till thei were
that fledde, some heere and some there, that ne myght not come to here
baner but with harde peyne. And so were thei sory and wroth for theire grete
damage and losse, and sore thei compleyned their grete annoye. And 10,000 [were]
lefte liggynge in the felde, what dede and wounded, that no power hadde hem to
diffende ne for to greve noon other.
Whan the Kynge Arthur saugh that all the herbegage was to hym belefte, than
he com to Merlin and asked hym how he sholde do. Quod Merlin, "I will telle yow
what ye shall do. Ye shall go here before to the passage at the forde whereas be
gadered 20,000 men, and ye shall fight with hem and make hem entende to yow.
And the Kynge Ban and his brother shull go abowte and come on the tothir syde
of hem and come on hem fro the foreste. And thei shull so be astoned that in hem
shall be but litill defence."
Than thei departed the toon fro the tother. And the kynge yede thedir as the
barouns were abidynge, that ne wende to have no drede of noon other saf of hym.
And of hym thei ne drede but litill, for thei trowed hem wele to diffende agein
gretter peple than ther was with hym. And the Kynge Ban torned towarde the
forester, and Arthur rode with his company till he com theras the eleven kynges
were togeder assembled.
Whan thei come to the passage of the forde, ther sholde ye have seyn speres
perce thourgh sheldes and many knyghtes liggynge in the water, so that the water
was all reade of blode. And Kay heilde so the pas with the baner and payned that
his company gate over. And whan the eleven kynges saugh so small a peple, hem
thourgh preced and rushed, for thei were but 4,000, and thei were more than 20,000;
thei hadde therof grete dispite and shame, and diffended hem apertly.
[Summary. A fierce battle ensues in which Ulfin and Bretell and Kay and Gifflet do
bold deeds. When the barons begin to get the upperhand, Arthur enters the fray and
does many marvels, including unhorsing the King de Cent Chevaliers and rescuing
Kay and Gifflet. Fols. 52v (line 6)54r (line 8).]
Whan the Kynge Arthur saugh this nede, he turned that wey as wroth as a lyon
and leide aboute hym on bothe sides and slow all that he raught with a full stroke,
so that thei voyded hys strokes and made hym rome. And Kay and Gifflet pressed
to the kynges, that moche hem hadde greved and with hem sore foughten. And on
the tother side faught Bretell and Ulfin and Antor with the Duke Escam of
Cambenyk and ageyn Tradilyvaunt and agein Clarion of Northumberlonde and
agein Carados that was a noble kynght; so thei made hem to blenche thider as
Kynge Arthur faught, that dide merveilouse prowesse of werre. Ther thei stynte,
that oon agein the tother, for ther was the maister baner. And ne hadde be the
Kynge Arthur hymself, alle thei hadden be discounfited, forthese kynges were
odde noble knyghtes, and more peple be the toon half than on Arthurs syde; and
therfore it myght no longe endure withoute grete damage.
Than com upon hem the Kynge Ban and the Kynge Boors from the foreste,
where thei wende to have no drede of no man lyvinge. And whan thei were come
and thei hem sye, thei yaf ascry that all the foreste and river resounde; and thei
saugh well that the losse and the damage moste nede falle upon hem. Thanne the
princes and the barouns drowen apart togeder in the medowes and devised among
hemself what thinge that thei myght do.
[Summary. The barons devise a strategy enabling them to address the separate
attacks of Arthur's forces and those of Ban and Bors. The heavy fighting that follows
is fairly even until King Ban begins to do impressive deeds. When several of the rebels
set upon Ban together, Arthur comes to his aid. Fols. 54r (line 24)55v (line 34).]
Than fill it that the Kynge Arthur fonde the Kynge Ban on fote in myddell of
the presse, his swerde in his fiste, that hym deffended so vigerously that noon ne
durst hym aproche. And he was a moche knyght and a stronge out of mesure. And
he lepe upon hem thourgh the presse; and whan he neyghed ner thei made hym
wey, for so thei douted his strokes that ther was noon so hardy that durst hem
abyde. Therwith com the Kynge Arthur brekynge the presse, gripynge his swerde
all besoyled with blode of men and of horse, for he dide many merveilles of armes
with his body. And whan he saugh the Kynge Ban at so grete myschef, he wax
wode for ire. Than he rode to a knyght that [was] richely horsed, and Arthur lifte
up the swerde and smote hym thourgh the helme soche a stroke that he slyt hym
to the teth, and he fill to grounde. Than he toke the horse be the reynes and ledde
it to Kynge Ban and seide, "Frende, lepe on lightly, for in evell tyme ben oure
enmyes entred; anoon shall ye se hem forsake the felde."
Whan the Kynge Ban was horsed be the helpe of Kynge Arthur, he was gladde
of that hadde hym founden. And than thei two smyten in amonge her emnyes.
And whan the tother perceyved the grete damage that the Kynge Arthur and the
Kynge Ban hem dide her peple that were so loste and discounfited, and that thel
hadde loste all talent of wele doyng and turned the bakkes. And thei hem chased to
the wode; but ther were many slayn and defouled. So were thei distreyned betwene
the wode and the river. Ther thei stalled and abode, and knewe well yef thei hadde
be in the playn thei hadde be in pereyle of deth. Than the Kynge Loot and the
Kynge Ventres and the Kynge de C. Chivalers and the Kynge Carados and the
Kynge Urien and the Kynge Ydiers and the Kynge Brangore and the Kynge of
Northumbirlonde helde hem togeder. Whan Marganors hem seide and badde hem
suffre and abide while thei myght, for to socour theire peple: "for yef thei be thus
disconfite, oure peple shull be all loste and distroied."
Thus chased hem the Kynge Arthur and the Kynge Ban before alle other till thei
come to a grete water and a depe, whereas thei that fledde hadde made a brigge of
tymber and of plankes. And thei passed over the water after the tother, and so
enchased hem the Kynge Arthur and the Kynge Boors that thei come to that brigge
that was so made and wolde passe over after hem. And than com Merlin and seide,
"Kynge Arthur, what wilt thow do? Haste thow overcome thyn enmyes? Go into
thi londe and lede with thee thy frendes that thow haste brought with thee, and
hem serve and worschipe at theire pleiser, for I moste go into the wode for to my
distynee aboute Blase, that right moche is my frende."
Anoon he departed from Arthur and entred into the forest and fonde Blase, that
longe after hym hadde desired. And than he asked hym where he hadde so longe
abiden. And Merlin tolde hym how he hadde be aboute the Kynge Arthur for to
counseile hym. And Blase seide he dide but foly to abide so moche abowte hym,
saf only for to counseile the crowne royall. Than Merlyn tolde hym alle thynges
that were falle to the Kynge Arthur seth he departed fro hym, and how he yede for
to fecche socour in the Litill Breteyne. And than he tolde hym how the hethen
peple were entred into the londes of the barouns and how thei werred. And Blase
wrote alle these thinges that Merlin hym tolde and sette hem in his boke, and
therby have we the knowleche therof. But now leveth the tale to speke of Merlyn
and of Blase, and speketh of Kynge Arthur and of the twey other kynges that ben
in his company.
Now seith the boke whan that Kynge Arthur hadde discounfited hys enmyes
and the eleven kynges and a duke, by the counseile of Merlin that was gon to
Blase his maister in Northumberlonde, than he retumed gladde, and joyfull of that
oure Lorde hath yove hym the victorye of hys enmyes. Than he com to the logges
wherof the walles layn at the erthe, as Merlin hadde beten hem down. Than thei
leged and pight teyntes and pavilouns and hem rested, and lete the hoste be
wacched. And Leonces and Pharien hadde the governaunce of the wacche, and
Gifflet and Lucas the Botiller. Pharien and Leonces kepte towarde the wode, and
Gifflet and Lucas towarde the medowes, and alle the tother lay and rested hem till
day. And than thei ete and dranke grete plenté, for thei hadde inough of vitaile.
In this manere rested the hoste till in the morowe, till the Kynge Arthur made
be leide on an hepe all the wynynge and the richesse that ther was geten. And
whan thei hadde herde messe, thei com agein theras the tresour was leide togeder.
And the thre kynges it departed aboute to soche as hem semed was for to do, to on
lesse and to another more, after that the persones were of astate or degre. And so
thei departed to pore knyghtes and squeres that never after were pore, insomoche
that thei kepte not to hemself the valew of a peny.
And after thei departed stedes and palfreyes and clothes of silk, and yaf all
while ther was ought to departe, and sente agein alle knyghtes and squyres and
sergeauntes and other meyné, saf forty that sholde go with hem into Carmelide.
Thus yede Pharien and Grassien and Leonces, lorde of Paerne, and ledde with
hem her peple for to kepe her londe and her contrey, that the Kynge Claudas ne
dede hem no stade. Whan these barouns were come into theire contrey, thei
boughten londes and rentes, wherwith thei leved after in grete honour with the
aver that was departed that made hem after riche.
And the Kynge Arthur lefte in his contrey the two kynges with hym, as ye have
herde. So thei sojourned at Bredigan that was in the marche of Breteyne the Grete
and in the marche of Carmelide. And ther thei abode Merlin that sholde come to
hem thider. And on the morow whan Arthur sholde departe his peple, and that he
hadde made hem grete feste and grete joye at Bredigan and the kynges hadde
dyned, they yed up into the loges that were upon the ryver for to se the medowes
and the gardynes.
And as thei behelden, they saugh come a grete karl thourgh the medowes by the
ryver with a bowe in his honde and his arowes under his girdell. And in the brooke
were wylde gees that hem dide bathe as theire kynde is to do. The karll drough his
bowe, and with a bolte smote oon in the nekke that it brake in sondre. Then he
shette anothir bolte and slowgh a malarde. Than he toke hem and henge hem be
the nekkes at his girdell, and yede towarde the loges whereas the thre kynges
were lenynge and hadde well seen the shotte of the karll. And whan he com nygh
the loges, he shette another bolte and whowped to the Kynge Arthur.
And whan the karll com nere, the kynge asked yef he wolde selle the briddes.
And the cherll seyde, "Ye, with gode will." Quod the kynge, "How wilt thow
yeve hem?" And he ansuerde no worde. And the cherll hadde on grete boysteis
shone of netes leder and was clothed in cote and hoode of rosset, and he was
girde with a thonge of blakke shepes skyn. And he was grete and longe and blakke
and rowe rympled. The cherll also seemed to be crewell and fell, and seide to the
kynge, "I ne knowe nought of the kynge that loveth tresoure and is regrater and a
wyssher, that dar not make a pore man riche that myght hym do gode servyse."
Quod the cherll, "I yeve yow these briddes, and yet have I no more than ye se,
And ye have not the herte for to yeve the thirde parte of youre gode that in the
erthe doth rote er ye have it uptaken, and that is nether youre profite ne worship."
Whan these kynges herde the wordes of the karll, thei beheelde the oon the
tother; and than thei seiden, "What devell! Who hath tolde this cherll?" Than the
Kynge Ban cleped the karll and asked hym what he seide; and the karll ne ansuerde
no worde but bad the Kynge Arthur to do take the briddes and than he wolde gon
hys weye. "Now by thy faith," quod Kynge Ban, "telle me who hath tolde thee
that the Kynge Arthur hath tresour in the erthe." Quod the cherll, "A wylde man
tolde me that is cleped Merlin. And also he tolde me that he sholde this day come
to yow for to speke with yow."
In the tyme that thei spake thus togeder, come Ulfin oute of a chamber and
come thider as the kynge spake to Merlin. "Go forth thy wey," quod the kynge;
"how may I thee trowe that thow haste spoke with Merlin?" Quod he, "Yef ye
will, leve me; and yef ye ne will, leve ne nought. For I ne leve yow nought, and so
be we quyte." And whan the cherll hadde seide thus, and after Ulfin a while hadde
listened, and than he began to smyle and wiste wele it was Merlin. And whan
Merlin saugh Ulfin he seide, "Sir stiwarde, take these briddes and do dight hem
for youre kynges soper, that hath not the hardynesse to make a man riche that
myght hym well guerdon, and to hym that this day hath spoke with the man that
hath hym tolde of the grete richesse unther the erthe."
Than began Ulfin to lawgh right harde and seide, "Sir, yef it plese yow, come
with me here above, for I wolde speke with yow of many thynges." And he seide
he wolde go with gode will. And the kynge beheilde Ulfin and saugh hym laugh
hertely, and than he required hym to telle why he dide laugh so sore. And he seide
that he sholde wyte another tyme.
Than yede the cherll, so araide as he was, and mette with Kay the Stiward and
seide, "Holde here, sir seneschall, now may ye plume; and as gladly mote the
kynge hem ete as I it hym yeve."
With that com Bretell, and hadde wele herde that Merlin hadde seide and also
that Ulfin hadde seyde to hym, that better semed a cherll than eny that was in the
worlde. And whan he hadde herde hem awhile speke, he perceyved that it was
Merlin and began to lawgh undir his mantell right harde. And the kynge herde
hym and badde hym telle the cause why that he lowgh. And he tolde he wolde
telle hym yef the carll wolde assente. And the cherll than began to laugh lowde
and seide to Ulfin, "Tell on, for I will that thow do so."
Than seide Ulfin to the Kynge, "Sir, ne knowe ye not youre frende Merlin and
ne sholde not he come to speke with yow today?" And the kynge seide, "Yesse.
Wherefore sey ye?" "Sir," quod Ulfin, "I sey for that ye knowe hym not so wele
as I wolde that ye dide. For ye se somme two tymes or thre, and yet ye ne knowe
hym not, and therof I merveyle." Whan the kynge undirstode Ulfyn, he was gretly
dismayed that he wiste not what for to ansuere. "Certes," quod Ulfin, "ye have
seyn hym many tymes, and that I knowe well." Than seide the kynge, "Telle me,
what is this cherll?" "Sir," quod Ulfin, "sholde ye ought knowe Merlin yef ye
myght hym se?" "Yee, trewly," seide the kynge, "right wele." "Thanne beholde
this worthi man, and loke yef ye have ever hym seyn."
And the kynge hym behelde and seide that he hadde hym never seyn beforn.
"Trewly," quod Ulfin, "he may sey that evell hath he besette his servise on yow.
For it is Merlin that so moche hath don for yow and loved so moche and holpen of
all that he myght do or sey agein alle tho that upon yow do werre." And whan the
Kynge Arthur undirstode this, he blessed hym for merveile. And also the two kynges
were sore amerveiled and seide, "How may this be Merlin? Is it thus? Never dide
we se yow in soche habite." And he seide that myght well be so.
"Sirs," selde Ulfin, "dismaye yow not, for he shall shewe yow the same
semblaunce that ye saugh hym in firste." And thei seide that thei wolde that fayn
se. "Now," quod Ulfin, "come with me into this chamber, for I wolde speke with
yow." And thei com in. And than seide Ulfin, "Sirs, no merveile nought of Merlins
dedes, for he shall shewe yow semblaunces inowe. And at alle tymes whan he
will, he chaungeth hym by forse of his art whereof he is full. And Gynebans the
clerk it witnesseth wele. And wyte ye well that ye shall hym se yet many tymes
that ye shull not knowe that it is he. And for that he chaungeth hym so ofte he is
dowted of many a man, for ther is many oon in this londe that full gladly wolde se
hym deed. Now lete us go in this chamber, and ye shull se hym in the same
semblance that ye saugh hym firste whan he aqueynted hym with yow."
And whan thei come agein, they fonde Merlin in the halle in the same semblaunce
that thei hadde seyn hym in firste. Than thei ronne to hym and embraced hym and
made hym grete joye, as thei that hym loved with gode herte. Than thei satte and
japed and pleyde with hym alle togeder, and of the shetynge that thei hadde seyn,
and of the wordes that he hadde seide to the kynge. And than seide Arthur, "Mer
lin, now I knowe that ye love me, whan with so gode chere that ye have yove me
these fowles, and that I sholde ete hem for youre love." And Merlin began to
laugh. Thus thei abode in joye and solace till the Lenton.
And so it fill that by the love of Merlin Arthur aqueynted hym with a mayden,
the feyrest that myght be founden. This mayden was cleped Lysanor and was
doughter to the Eirll Sevain that was deed; and [she] was heyr of the Castell of
Campercorentyn. This maide was come to do homage to the Kynge Arthur, and
with here other barouns that dide homage as soone as he hadde conquerid these
eleven kynges. For thei douted that he sholde bereve hem of her londes, and also
thei thought that thei myght no better lorde have than hym. And some ther were
that come with gode will, and some for drede of more losse.
And this mayden that was feire com to Bredigan whereas the kynge sojourned,
and was at hoste with a riche burgeys. And so be the helpe of Merlin he spake
with her previly and lay with her anyght; and that nyght upon her was begeten
Hoot, that after was a full noble knyght and was also a felowe of the Rounde
Table. This Hoot was of right high prowesse, as ye shull heren hereafter.
And at myd-Lenten the kynge toke leve of the damsell, and he and the other two
kynges toke their wey into Tamelide, hymself the fowrtithe. But of hem now ne
speketh not the tale no more now at this tyme, but returneth to speke of the eleven
kynges that were disconfited, and telleth where thei be com and whider thei yeden.
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