Uther and Ygerne
UTHER AND YGERNE: FOOTNOTES1 warned thourgh, announced throughout.
3 dide ordeyne, arranged; longed to, concerned.
5 spedde, fared (prospered); chese, choose.
6 that, what; wende, thought.
8 ones, once.
10 voyde, empty.
12 mete, dine.
13 yede, went; cleped, named them to; sette, seated.
15 tokenynge, meaning.
17 yaf, gave.
19 hem lyked, they felt; talent, desire.
23 prese, company.
28 begeten, begotten.
39 semblaunce, appearance.
47 assaye, try it.
48 doute, fear.
51 lesynge, falsehood; Ne were, If it were not for.
59 lever, rather.
60 shrewe, rascal; quynsyne, fifteen-day period.
64 madde, insane; cherles, ruffians.
65 moche, many; leved, believed.
69 Witson-even, Whitsunday Eve.
70 ordeyned, devised.
75 anoon as, as soon as.
76 leed, [molten] lead.
80 quynsyne, fifteenth day.
83 evell spedde, done wrongly.
86 be, by.
87 sege, seat; no force is, is no point.
88 ne nought, nor anything.
89 that, what.
90 wurship, honor.
93 beilde, build.
94 howsynge, housing.
95 as Pasch, such as Easter.
96 Yole, Yule; Halowmesse, Allhallows; ageyn, before.
97 everich, each.
99 sef of, except for.
105 ageins, to.
106 sigh, saw.
108 trowed, believed.
112 hilde, held; that2, who.
114 praide, requested; Pasch, Easter.
116 coveyed, attended.
121 mete, dinner.
122 eschewe, avoid.
123 aparceyved, realized.
127 mysese, discomfort.
128 tweyne, two.
131 theras, where.
133 somowne, summon.
134 holde to, be held until.
135 quynsine, fifteenth day; araide, prepared.
140 astates, estates.
141 beste sittynge, appropriate.
142 Gretly, Exuberant.
145 ne, nor.
148 wonder, wondrous.
151 volunté, desire.
153 dismayest thee so, do you despair.
155 longeth to soche mystere, concerns such matters.
157 spede, success.
161 compers, companions.
163 wolde noon, would [have] none.
164 hilde, kept; wherefore, why [is it].
168 volenté, wishes.
171 hir sayned, crossed herself.
176 wurship, honor.
178 jape, jest.
180 ne ye ne, neither you nor.
181 me, myself.
182 diffende, protect.
187 jour, day.
188 cowpe, cup.
192 noon evell, no evil.
193 gramercy, great thanks; cleped, called.
195 mete, dinner.
198 wax, turned; reade, red.
200 be, by.
202 sigh, saw.
205 semblaunce, appearance.
206 bourdes weren up, tables were put away.
210 Mysaventure, Ill luck; counseile, secret.
211 be than, by then.
212 Gowe, se, Let us go see.
214 suffred, waited.
215 loigynge, lodging.
225 wolde, wish.
228 beseke, beseech.
230 als, as.
236 wiste, knew.
238 dispite, insult.
242 outerage, insult.
243 rede, advice.
244 forfet, offence.
248 forme, manner.
256 betyden, happen.
259 assawte, assault.
260 godes, goods.
267 diffied, challenged.
269 ther, where; arayed, prepared; osteye, make war.
275 agein, against.
278 doute of no man, fear of anyone.
279 stuffed, provisioned.
282 somowne, summon.
285 dispyte, insult; reson, reasonable.
286 forfet, insult; lefte in, occupied.
294 besynesse, effort.
297 irouse, angry; on the tother side, at the same time.
298 sore distreined, sorely upset; that, so that.
299 hevy, sad.
303 reste, sleep.
304-05 oon sole, one single.
311 suffred, allowed.
312 sethe, since.
314 do therto, do anything about it; ne1, nor.
316 hele, health.
319 meyné, retinue.
320 partie, portion.
321 ne, nor; maner wise, fashion.
324 oste, host.
324-25 nothinge kenned, knew not at all.
333 quyte, satisfy.
335 counseile, satisfy (provide for).
338 here, hear.
344 lowgh, laughed.
345 ought, at all.
347 efte, again.
354 crepell, cripple.
357 conne, give.
366 grucchynge, complaining.
370 sone perceyvinge, quick to understand.
371 will, wish.
375 what ye ben, who you are.
376 priked, hastened (galloped, pranced).
378 yove, sent.
379 aperceyvaunte of hym, aware of who he is.
383 oo, one; than, then.
384 hym, himself.
390 cleped, called.
393 ought wroth, at all angry; other, either.
398 agein, toward.
399 halsed, embraced.
406 sigh, saw.
407 strongely, probingly.
409 perceyved, recognized.
410 soill, alone.
412 corage, desire; lesynge, lie.
415 purchace, obtain.
416 here, her.
418 be founden, exists.
423 me forthinketh, I regret.
426-27 hiest seintewaries, most holy relics.
429 mal engyn, evil purpose, deceit.
433 demened, conducted.
435 semblaunce, appearance.
436 wene, think.
437 privy, trusted.
438 hight, is called.
440 ly, lodge.
445 wheder, where.
451 dissevered, separated.
452 Frote, Rub; visage, face.
455 mynde, recollection.
459-60 semeth thee be me, do I look to you.
462 semed, thought.
464 cleped, called.
465 apertly, clearly; hem semed, it seemed to them.
467 diffended, ordered; not wite, know.
468 Inowe, Enough.
469 contene, enjoy.
472 gat, begat.
482 seynynge hem, blessing them.
486 covenaunte, bargain.
488 covenauntes, promises.
490-91 will that thow knowe, want you to know.
491 an heyre male, a male heir.
492 yoven, given.
496 semblaunce, appearance.
499 koye, quiet (coy).
502 meynee, company.
503 maistries, great deeds.
UTHER AND YGERNE: NOTES
Uther and Ygerne
[Fols. 20r (line 15)-31v (line 13)]
The story of Uther's great desire for the wife of the Duke of Cornwall and the subsequent begetting of Arthur is one of the most important episodes in Arthurian literature. It first occurs in Geoffrey of Monmouth's The History of the Kings of Britain (Thorpe, pp. 204-08), and treatments of it remain relatively consistent throughout the Middle Ages -- compare Geoffrey's account, for example, with the version of the story with which Thomas Malory begins his Morte D'Arthur. The version in the PM, while somewhat fuller than most of the treatments of this episode and also somewhat richer in characterization, preserves all the essential narrative features.
2-3 Pentecoste and Witsontyde. The Feast of Pentecost is one of the most important religious holidays of the Middle Ages, and it is also one of the most important time periods in Arthurian literature, for more of the central events in the Arthur Story occur around this date than around any other. Pentecost is a moveable feast, with its date determined by the date of Easter. Pentecost occurs on the seventh Sunday after Easter and celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples. Whitsunday is another name for Pentecost, and Whitsuntide is the period of several days immediately following Pentecost. Also important during this holy time is the first Sunday after Pentecost, which is Trinity Sunday, and the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which is Corpus Christi, a festival celebrating the Eucharist.
7 fyfty. It appears that Merlin's Round Table is designed to seat a total of fifty-one, if the fifty knights that Merlin is going to select occupy every seat except for the one that remains empty. In comparison with other medieval romances, this is a smaller number of seats than is usual. In Malory, for example, the number of seats is 150. On the other hand, the number of seats at the table used for the Last Supper was merely thirteen.
10 the voyde place. The empty place at the table, as will soon be explained, is reserved for a person of unusual merit. Anyone else attempting to sit in this seat will suffer dire consequences. In Malory and other accounts the empty seat is called the Siege Perelous.
20-21 we be entred as brethern. The fifty knights, by virtue of sitting together at the Round Table, have formed a special bond of brotherhood which they are now loath to break. The suggestion seems to be that this is the initial formation of a fellowship of knights who will be known as the Knights of the Round Table.
26 who shall fulfille the place that is voyde. In response to the king's question, Merlin explains that the empty seat will not be filled until some time well in the future. Merlin also points out that the person who will do this will also sit in the empty seat at the table of Joseph of Arimathea, providing another link between the two tables. The knight who will accomplish these deeds will be the pre-eminent Grail knight, Sir Galahad.
32 hensforth that ye hoilde alle youre grete festes in this town. Thus Cardoell is established as Uther's principal city and the place where the Round Table resides permanently.
85 hem that wolden begile. The belief that a "beguiler will himself be beguiled" was a common medieval proverb. Chaucer's Reeve quotes a version of it near the end of his tale when he says, A gylour shal hymself bigyled bi (CT I.4321).
101 the Duke of Tintagel. Throughout this section of the PM Ygerne's husband is always called the Duke of Tintagel; he is never referred to as the Duke of Cornwall, nor is he named Gorlois, as he is in most accounts.
105 she was right a gode lady. Ygerne's moral rectitude is emphasized here, as it is throughout Arthurian tradition. She makes every effort to thwart Uther's desires and to remain a virtuous wife. Malory, similarly, refers to her as "a passyng good woman" (Vinaver, p. 3).
145 ete ne slepe . . . ne ride. Uther, in his inability to eat, sleep, or ride, exhibits traits shared by many a medieval lover.
167 alle the londe of Logres. Here Logres refers to a large geographical area, whereas earlier (and more commonly in the PM) it refers to a city.
266-67 sende, . . . forty dayes before. The king is advised by his council to give the duke forty days in which to respond to the king's challenge. If the duke fails to do the king's bidding by the end of that time, then the king may launch his assault.
278 another castell. The other castle is not named in the PM. Geoffrey of Monmouth calls it Dimilioc, and Malory identifies it as Castel Terrabyl.
324-25 he mette with a man that he nothinge kenned. Merlin's shape-shifting abilities are fully displayed in this episode, as Merlin appears to Ulfin first in the guise of an old man and then as a cripple. This anticipates the more remarkable shape-shifting that Merlin will soon engage in involving Ulfin, the king, and Merlin himself.
451 he toke an herbe. Here Merlin, Ulfin, and the king achieve the likenesses of the duke and his men by rubbing an herb on their skin. In Geoffrey of Monmouth they drink a concoction that Merlin has devised. Malory offers no explanation as to how their physical transformations were brought about.
[Uther and Ygerne]
All as Merlyn devised dide the kynge, and warned thourgh all his reame to be at
Cardoell in Walys at the Pentecoste. And thus he lete crye thourgh all his reame,
and Merlyn dide ordeyne all that longed to the table. The weke afore Witsontyde
come the kynge to Cardoell. And whan he was come, he axed Merlin how he
hadde spedde, and he seide, "Wele." Quod the kynge, "What men shull ye chese
to sitte at this table?" And Merlyn seide, "Ye shull se tomorou that ye wende
never to seen, that I shall chese fyfty of the beste knyghtes of this londe. And
whan thei be ones sette, thei will have no grete desire to returne into their contrees.
And thus ye may knowe whiche were gode men and worthy, whan ye se the
signifiaunce of the voyde place."
Thus Merlyn on the Witsonday chese fifty knyghtes and comaunded hem to be
sette at that table to mete; and thei so diden with gode chere. And Merlyn, that full
of stronge arte was, yede hem aboute, and cleped the kynge as they weren sette,
and shewed hym the voyde place. And many othir it syen, but they ne knewe not
the tokenynge, ne why it was voyde.
When Merlyn hadde don all thus, he badde the kynge that he sholde go sitte;
and thus thei diden, alle eight dayes. And the kynge yaf grete yeftes to lordes and
to ladyes and to dameseles. And when they departed, the kynge come to the fyfty
knyghtes and axed how hem lyked. And thei seyde, "Sir, we have no talent to
remeve fro hens, and therof we have merveile what it maketh, for we be entred as
brethern; and therfore we will never departe till deth us departe." When the kynge
herde hem thus sey, he hadde grete merveile and comaunded hem to be served and
kepte as his owne body. And thus departed the grete prese.
And than the kynge come to Merlyn and seide, "Truly, thow seidest me soth
that oure Lorde wolde that this table sholde be stablisshed; but I wolde praye thee
to telle me yef thow knowe who shall fulfille the place that is voyde." And Merlyn
ansuerde, "Wite thow right wele that it shall not be in thy tyme, ne he that shall
acomplesshen it is not yet begeten. But it shall be in the kynges tyme that shall
come next after thee; ne he that shall hym engendere shall not knowe that he shall
hym engendere; and he that shall acomplysshe that sete must also complysshe the
voyde place at the table that Joseph made. And I pray yow therfore that ever
hensforth that ye hoilde alle youre grete festes in this town." "Certes," quod the
kynge, "I will gladly." And than seide Merlyn, "Sir, I moste go, and of longe
tyme ye shull not se me ageyn." And the kynge hym axed whider he sholde go.
Quod he, "Shall ye not be here at alle tymes when I holde my grete courte?" And
Merlyn seyde, "No."
Than departed the kynge. And Merlyn yede to Blase and told hym the
stablisshement of this table and many other thynges. And thus abode Merlyn thre
yere that he come not to courte. They that loved not Merlyn but by semblaunce
come to the kynge on a day as he was at Cardoell, and axeden hym of his voide
place and why ther was not sette some worthy man that the table myght be full.
And the kynge seide, "Merlin tolde me a grete merveile, that seide noon myght it
acomplisshe in my tyme, ne yet ne ys he born that shall engendre hym that shall it
complesshen." And thei lough therat as they that weren full of envye, and seide,
"Sir, trowe ye that ther shal be better peple after youre tyme than beth now, and
that ther ne be now as gode men in youre londe as thei shull be?" "Truly," seide
the kynge, "I wote never." And thei seide, "Ye do not wele but ye assaye."
"Certes," quod the kynge, "I will it not assaie, for I doute that Merlin wolde be
And than they ansuerde, "Yef ye wele yeve us leve, we will assaye it, and for
to preve the grete lesynge." And the kynge seide, "Ne were the drede I have of
the wrath of Merlyn, ther is nothynge that I desire so moche to assayen." And
they seide, "Yef Merlyn be livynge and he knowe that we will it assayen, he will
come without faile er eny man shall it assayen; but suffre that we may it assaien
at Pentecoste." And the kynge hem graunted, wherfore they weren gladde. Thus
it lefte till at Witsontyde that the kynge hadde do warne all his barons to be at his
feste at Cardoell. And Merlyn, that all thys wiste wele, tolde unto Blase the evell
thoughtes that they hadden that hadde take this enprise, and seide he wolde not go
till he knewe who sholde assaye to preve that place, for he hadde lever have it
preve by a shrewe than a gode man. Thus suffred Merlyn to the quynsyne of
Uterpendragon the kynge come to Cardoel and brought with hym grete plenté
of peple. And thei that were come for to assaie the place made it to be seide that
Merlyn was deed, and that he was founden in a wildernesse madde, and cherles
hym kylde. And so moche peple spake therof that the kynge hymself it leved, and
more for that he was so longe awey than for eny thinge elles; and namely he
wende in no wyse he wolde not have suffred that eny man sholde have assaide the
voyde place yef he were lyvynge.
Thus was the kynge on Witson-even at Cardoel, and axed of hem that sholde it
assaie whiche of hem sholde it do. And he that all this hadde ordeyned seide, "Sir,
I will that ye wete that ther shall noon assaie it but I." Than he com to the table
whereas the fifty knyghtes weren sette and seide, "I am come to sitte with yow
and for to holde yow company." And they ansuerde no worde but full mekely
behelde what he wolde do. And the kynge and grete partye of the barons weren
ther assembled. This [man] sette hym down in the voyde place; and anoon as he
was sette, he sanke down as it hadde be leed, so that noon wiste where he was
become. Than the kynge comaunded alle the other gode men to aryse, and they so
diden. And than anoon began so grete a noyse and sorowfull crye that all the
court was trowbled. And the kynge hymself was gretely abaisshed.
Thus they abiden to the quynsyne after Pentecoste that Merlin come to courte.
And whan the kynge wiste of hys comynge, he was right joyfull, and wente hym
ageins to mete with hym. And anoon whan Merlyn saugh the kynge, he seide he
had evell spedde to suffre eny man to sytte in that place. "Trewly," seide the
kynge, "I was disceyved thourgh here wordes." "In feith," seide Merlyn, "it falleth
often to hem that wolden begile that thei [be] begiled hemself; and that maist
thow wele preven be this." After the kynge axed yef he wiste where he was becomen
that set hym in the sege. And Merlin ansuerde, "Therof no force is for to enquere,
ne nought it sholde avayle for to wite, but thenke on them that in the other places
sitten, and to mayntene that thow haste begonne; and alle thy festes and alle thy
courtes, come holde hem heir in this town for to wurship this table, for thow
knowest by the assay that thow haste seyen that it is of grete dignité. And now I
go; now loke thow do as thow haste seyde."
And thus departed the kynge. And Merlin comaunded the kynge to beilde feire
howsynge where he sholde ever after holde his courte and his hye festes. Than the
kynge lete it be knowen thourgh his reame that alle high festes, as Pasch and
Pentecoste and Yole and Halowmesse, sholde be holden at Cardoel. And ageyn
the Feste of Yole he somowned alle his barons in soche maner that everich of hem
shulde brynge with hem their wyves and doughtres and her neces or susteres. And
the knyghtes so diden alle. I may not telle yow alle tho that ther weren, sef of hem
that the tale reherses, oon after another.
Ther was the Duke of Tintagel and Ygrine his wif; and hir the kynge loved
gretly, but therof he made no semblaunce, saf that often he beheilde her more than
another, insomoche that hirself it perceyved and knewe that the kynge behelde
her often. And whan she it perceyved, she eschewed to come in his presence, for
she was right a gode lady and full of grete bewté and right trewe ageins hir lorde.
And the kynge for her love, and for he sigh she hadde taken hede of his lokynges,
he sente juwelles to every lady that was at the feste. And to Ygerne he sente as he
trowed sholde beste hir plese. And she knewe and sigh wele that he hadde sente to
alle other ladies, and therfore she durste not refuse hirs but receyved hem, and
thought wele in her herte that the kynge ne hadde not yeven to other ladyes but for
she sholde not refusen hirs.
Thus hilde the kynge that feeste, that yet is withouten wif, and was so supprised
with the love of Ygerne that he wiste not how to do. And thus departed the court.
But firste the kynge praide alle the barons to be at Cardoel at Pasch, and so he
prayed alle the ladies, and thei graunted to be ther.
Whan the Duke of Tintagel departed fro courte, the kynge hym conveyed and
gretly hym honoured at theyr departynge; and whan he hadde hym a while
conveied, he toke leve and yede thourgh the courte in his othir necessitees, till
that the tyme of Pasch. And than gan to assemble alle the barons and alle the
ladyes at Cardoel. And grete was the joye that the kynge made till it come to the
mete tyme, that the kynge made the Duke of Tintagel to be set before hymself and
also his wif Ygerne, so that Ygerne ne myght not eschewe but to receve his yeftes,
so that she it aparceyved verily that the kynge hir loved, wherof she was right
hevy, but ne she mot it suffer. Thus was this feeste holden in grete joye. And the
kynge hem prayde to come at alle tymes whan he hem comaunded; and thei seiden
so thei wolden as to theire sovereyn lorde. And thus departed the courte.
And so endured the kynge in grete mysese for love of Ygerne. And at laste he
complayned hymself to tweyne that he moche trusted, of grete angwysshe that he
suffred for the love of Ygerne; and they seiden, "What will ye that we shull do?"
Quod the kynge, "I wolde have youre counseile how I myght have her company."
And they seide, "Yef ye go in to the courte theras she is, the peple shull it aperceyve,
and so myght ye be in blame." And he seyde, "What counseile yeve ye me thanne?"
"The beste counseile," seid thei, "that we se therinne is that ye somowne a grete
courte to be at Cardoel and that ye make hem all to wite that it shall holde to the
quynsine, and that eche come araide to abide fifteen dayes, and everiche man to
brynge with hym his wif. And thus may ye have longe the company of Ygerne
and have grete counfort of youre love." And the kynge was plesed wele with her
counseile, and sente to alle the barons to be at Pentecoste at Cardoel, and every
baron to brynge with hym his wif. And as the kynge hem comaunded thei diden.
And at that feeste the kynge bar crowne and yaf grete yeftes to alle astates, as
hym semed beste sittynge.
Gretly was the kynge at that feeste, and joyfull and mery. And he spake to oon
of his counseile to whom he hadde moste truste of eny other, and his name was
Ulfyn. And the kynge hym tolde of the grete peyne that he was inne for the love of
Ygerne, that so hym constrayned that he myght nother ete ne slepe ne go ne ride,
and that he wende verily to dye whan he was oute of her sight, and that he myght
not longe lyve but he hadde other counseile of her love. And Ulfyn seide, "Sir, it
is a wonder thynge that for the delyte of a woman ye wene to dye. And I am but a
pore man, and yef I loved a woman so strongly as ye, I sholde not wene therfore to
dyen. Who herde ever speke of eny woman, yef she were wele requereth, but ye
sholde have of her youre volunté; with that to yeve her gret yeftis and juwels and
to hem that ben abouten hir. I ne herde never speke of woman that cowde hir
diffende ageyn this; and thow that arte a kynge, dismayest thee so of feynt herte!"
And the kynge seide, "Ulfyn, thow seyst right wele, and thow knowest wele what
longeth to soche mystere. I pray thee helpe me in all maners that thow can or may,
and take of my cofres what thow wilte, to yeve to alle that ben hir abouten, and
speke so to hir as thow knowest is for my spede." Quod Ulfin, "Be of gode counfort,
for I shall do all my power."
And thus undirtoke Ulfin to helpe the kynge. And so all the fifteen dayes hilde
the kynge grete feste, and every day hadde the duke in his company and yaf hym
a grete juwell, and also to his compers. And Ulfyn spake with Ygerne and tolde
hir many thinges that he myght, as he trowed beste her plese; and many tymes he
brought her a preciouse juwell. But Ygerne wolde noon, till on a tyme that Ygerne
hilde Ulfyn in counseile and seide, "Ulfin, wherefore that ye wolde me yeve alle
these juwelles and these riche yeftes?" And Ulfin seide, "Madame, for youre grete
wisdome and your grete beauté and faire contenaunce I may noght yeve yow, for
all erthely gode is yours and alle the londe of Logres and alle the mennes bodyes
at your plesier to do your volenté." And she ansuerde, "How?" "How?" quod he;
"for ye have the herte of hym to whom alle moste obbeye." Quod she, "Whos
herte is that ye of speken?" And Ulfin seide, "Of the kynge."
And she lifte up hir hande and hir sayned and seide, "A, mercy God, shold eny
kynge be traytour so as he maketh semblaunce to myn husbonde of love and so
shamefully wolde me diffoule? Ulfin, now be right well ware that thow never
speke to me more of these wordes, for wite thow wele I shall telle my lorde; and
yef he it knowe, thow moste dye." And Ulfyn ansuerde, "That were to me grete
wurship, yef I sholde dye for my lord; ne never lady that refused a kynge in soche
wyse as do ye, that loveth yow more than eny other thynge. And I trowe ye do but
jape. But for Goddes love, haveth pité of the kynge that is youre lorde, and also
upon youreself, for yef ye have no mercy of this thynge, witeth wele that therof
may come grete harme; ne ye ne youre lorde may not yow diffende ageyn the
kynges wille." And Ygerne ansuerde, wepynge, "I shall therfore me right wele
diffende, for I will never come in place wheras he may me seen."
And so departed Ygerne. And Ulfin come to the kynge and tolde hym like as
she hadde seide. And the kynge seyde so sholde a gode lady ansuere, for ther was
never gode lady that lightly wolde be overcome; and therfore he ne cessed not of
And on the eleventh jour of Pentecoste the kynge satte at mete and with hym the
Duke of Tintagel. And the kynge hadde a riche cowpe of goolde; and Ulfyn kneled
before the kynge and seide, "Sir, sende this cuppe to Ygerne, and praye the duke
to bidde hir to take it and drynke for your love." And the kynge cleped the duke
and badde hym sende that cuppe to Ygerne, his wif, and sende hir worde to drynke
for his love. And the duke ansuerde as he that thought noon evell and seyde, "Sir,
gramercy." The duke cleped a knyght of his owne that he loved well; "Bretel, take
this cuppe and bere to thy lady, and sey her that she drynke for the kynges love."
And Bretel cam in to the chamber where Ygerne sat at mete amonge othir ladyes
and kneled before hir and seide, "Madam, the kynge sente yow this cuppe, and my
lorde comaundeth that ye sholde it take and also to drynke for the kynges sake."
Whan the lady undirstode these wordes, she wax all reade for shame, but she
durste not refuse the comaundement of hir lorde but toke the cuppe and dranke
and wolde have sente it ageyn be the same knyght. And he seide, "My lorde sente
yow worde ye sholde it kepe, for so the kynge hym prayde." When she sye that,
she sigh wele that nedes she muste kepe the cuppe. And Bretell com ageinand
thanked the kynge on Ygernes behalfe, that therof hadde seide no worde. And
glad was the kynge that she hadde resceyved his yefte. And Ulfin wente into the
chamber to se what semblaunce she made, and he fonde hir pensif and angry. And
whan she saugh Ulfin, she cleped hym to hir for the bourdes weren up, and seide,
"Ulfyn, thourgh grete treson thy lorde hath here sente me a cuppe, but therby shall
he gete litill wurschip er tomorow day, for I will telle my lorde of the treson that
ye betwene yow two have purposed." And Ulfyn ansuerde, "Bewar therof, that it
yow never passe." And she seide, "Mysaventure have that it kepeth eny counseile."
With that departed Ulfyn from hir. And be than the kynge hadde waisshe, and
was right mery and gladde, and toke the duke be the hande and seide, "Gowe, se
these ladyes." Than they yede to the chamber wheras Ygerne hadde eten; and she
knewe wele that he come for noon othir cause but for hir. And so she suffred all
the day till the nyght, and than she wente hom to hir loigynge. And when the duke
come, he fonde hir wepynge and makynge grete sorowe; wherfore he was right
hevy, and toke hir in his armes, as he that moche hir loved, and axed whi she made
soche sorowe. "Trewly," quod she, "ther [is] nothynge that I will kepe from yowr
counseile, for ther is nothynge that I love so moche as yow. The kynge, that is my
lorde and yowr, seith that he loveth me. And alle these courtes that ye se hym
holde, and alle these ladyes that he sendith fore, it is nought elles but for me, and
that ye sholde brynge me with yow. And these othir tymes I parceyved it wele
inough, and I me kepte both fro hym and from his yeftes. And so hiderto I have me
wele deffended that I have nought taken of his. And now have ye made me to take
a cuppe, and sente me that I sholde drynke for his love. And therfore I wolde I
were deed, for I may never have reste for hym and Ulfyn hys counseiller. And
now I have tolde yow all as it is, I knowe wele that therof muste come more anger,
wherfore I beseke yow, as I ought to do my lorde, that ye brynge me to Tintagel,
for I will no lenger abide in this town."
Whan the duke, that moche loved his wif, herde this, he was als wroth as eny
man myght be. Than he sente after his men thourgh the town, and when they were
come, he seide to hem prevely, "Make yow redy for to ride in all haste, so that no
man of the town it wyte; and axe not the cause why till I telle yow." And thus the
duke and his knyghtes lepe to horse and rode home to his contré, and ledde with
hym his wyf.
On the morowe whan the kynge wiste the Duke was thus igon, he was hevy and
sorowfull for that he hadde ledde awey Ygerne. And [he] sente after his counseile
and shewde hem the shame and the dispite the duke hadde hym don. And they
seide they merveyled ther gretly, and that [the Duke] hadde don grete folye. Thus
seide they that wiste not why he was gon. And the kynge seide, "As ye have sen
alle, I have do to hym more wurship than to eny othir." And they seiden it was
soth; "wherfore we gretly merveyle why he hath don so grete outerage." And the
kynge seide, "Yef it be youre rede, I will sende after hym that he come ageyn and
amende this forfet, and that in the same wise as he is gon that he come agein, for
that me semeth is right." And the counseile therto assented.
On this massage was sente two worthy men fro the kynge, and rode till they
come to Tintagell, and ther they fonde the duke and tolde hym their message as
they weren charged. Whan the duke herde that in the same forme he moste come
ageyn, he undirstode wele he sholde bringe with hym Ygerne. And than he seide
to the messagers, "I ne will not come at his courte, for he hath so don to me and to
myne that I owe hym neyther to truste ne to love." And thus departed the messagers
withouten other ansuere.
And than the duke sente after alle the worthy men of his counseile and seide
hem the cause why he was come fro Cardoel, and the untrouthe and the shame that
the kynge hadde hym purposed. And they therof merveileden gretly, and seide
that sholde never betyden, with Goddes grace, and wele oughten he to have shame
that this shame hath purposed to his liege man. Thanne seide the duke, "I pray
yow and requyre be the feith that ye me owen, that ye helpe me to diffende my
londe yef he me assawte with werre." And thei ansuerde that so wolde they do to
put alle ther lyves and godes in jepardye. Thus the duke counseiled with his men.
And the messagers come to Cardoel and fonde the kynge and his barons, and
tolde as the duke hadde yeve hem ansuere; and they seiden alle, thei merveiled of
the duke that was wonte to be so wise a man and so had him ruled. The kynge
praide his barons and hem requyred as his liege men that thei wolde hym helpe to
redresse that forfet and avenge the shame that he hadde hym don. And they seiden
that they myght not that refusen; but thei seiden yef it were hys plesier to sende,
knowynge that he hym diffied forty dayes before, er he hym assailed. And the
kynge seide that wolde he do; but the kynge hem praide that at the ende of forty
dayes they be redy assembled ther he hem assigned, arayed for to osteye.
The kynge sente his messagers for to diffie the Duke of Tintagel. And when the
duke herde that he hym diffied at the ende of forty dayes, he seide he sholde hym
diffende yef he myght. And than he sente to his peple and shewde hem the
diffiaunce of the kynge, prayinge hem to helpe hym in that grete mister. And they
seide thei sholde hym helpe with all their power. And than the duke counseiled
with his peple and seide, "I have but two castelles that agein the kynge may holde."
But the tweyne wolde he holde as longe as he hadde lyf. And he devised to leve
his wif at Tintagel, and with hir ten knyghtes, for he knewe that castell hadde no
doute of no man; and hymself wente to another castell that was of lesse strengthe,
and it stuffed in the beste wise that he myght, and seide that he myght not his
other londes agein hym diffende.
The messagers that hadde the duke diffied come to the kynge and seide how the
duke wolde hym diffende. Thanne the kynge sente to somowne his barons and his
peple, and made hem alle to assemble in the duke's londe in a grete medowe upon
a rivere. Whan the barons were assembled, the kynge to hem rehersed the grete
dispyte of brekynge of his courte, and the barons seiden it was reson that the
forfet were redressed. Thus the kynge lefte in the duke's londes, and tok his castelles
and his townes and distroyed all the contré. And than the kynge herde seyd that
Ygerne was at Tintagel and the duke in another castell; and than the kynge axed
of his counseile whiche castell he sholde firste assaile. And the barons yaf hym
counseile firste to assaile the duke, and therto the kyngegraunted. And so thei
rode to the castell that the duke was ynne; and than the kynge seide to Ulfin,
"What may I do whan I ne may not se Ygerne?" And Ulfin seide, "The thinges
that a man may not have, he muste nede suffer; and therfore ye must put to grete
besynesse to take the duke, for after that ye shall well to purpose bringe the
Many assaute made the kynge at the castell, but he cowde it in no wise gete,
wherfore he was full of sorowe and right irouse. And on the tother side he was
sore distreined with the love of Ygerne, that on a tyme as he was in his pavilyon
he gan to wepe. Whanne his peple saugh hym wepe they weren hevy, and hem
withdrowen and leften hym alone. And whan Ulfin it wiste therof, he come anoon
and axed the kynge why he wepte. And the kynge seide, "Thow knowest wele
wherfore, for thow woste wele that I dye full of love of Ygerne, for I have loste
bothe mete and drynke and all reste that a man ought to have." And whan Ulfyn
this undirstode he seide, "Ye be of ful febill herte whan ye thynke to dye for oon
sole woman; but I shall sey yow gode counseile." "What is that?" seide the kynge.
"That ye wolde sende to seche Merlin that he myght come to yow; and it myght
noon otherwise be but that he sholde yeve yow some gode counseile that sholde
yow profite. And ye shull hym yeve what he will desire."
And than seide the kynge, "Ther is no thynge that is possible to a man but that
he can it do; but I wote wele Merlin of my distresse knoweth, and so I am in drede
that he be wroth for the voide place of the table that I suffred to be assaide. And
longe tyme it is passed sethe he was in place whereas I myght hym se. And also, I
trowe he is not well plesed that I love the wif of my liege man; but trewly, I may
not do therto ne I ne may not therfro me deffende. But I have well in mynde that
he badde I sholde not sende hym for to seche." And Ulfin ansuerde, "I am in
certeyn of oon thynge, that he farith well and is in hele. Yef he love yow as he was
wonte to do, he knoweth what distresse that ye beth ynne, and it shall not be longe
er ye here of hym tydynges." Thus Ulfyn counforted the kynge and counseiled
hym to sende for his meyné to hym, and that sholde cause hym toforyete a grete
partie of his sorowe. And the kynge seyde so he wolde do; but his love myght he,
ne his sorow, in no maner wise forgete. Thus the kynge peyned to conforte hymself
and his peple, and made the castell to be assailed. But take it they myght not in no
And on a day, as Ulfin rode thourgh the oste, he mette with a man that he nothinge
kenned. And he seide, "Ulfin, I wolde fain speke with thee." And thanne they
yede oute of the hoste, the man on his fete and Ulfyn on horsebak. And Ulfin light
down on foote to speke with this man, and hym axed what he was. And he seide,
"I am an olde man, as thow maist se, and som tyme in my yowthe I was holden
wise; and now of moche thinge that I sey, men sein that I dote. But I sey to yow in
counseile that I was at Tintagel not longe sithe, and ther I was aqueynted with a
gode man that tolde me that youre kynge loveth the duke's wif, and that is the
cause that the kynge distroyeth his contré, for that he brought his wif fro Cardoel.
And yef ye and the kynge will wele quyte my nede, I shall make yow aqueynte
with a gode man that shall make yow speke with Ygerne, and that shall wele
counseile the kynge of his desir."
When Ulfyn herde this man so say, he merveled who that hym sholde have
tolde, and prayde hym that he wolde teche hym to that man that cowde counseile
the kynge of his desires. And the olde man seide, "I will first here what rewarde
the kinge will yeve." Quod Ulfyn, "Where shall I yow fynde when I have spoke
with the kynge?" The olde man seide, "Ye shull finde me or my messager betwene
this and the hoste." And so he hym comaunded to God, and bad hym come on the
morowe, and hym wolde telle soche tydinges as sholde hym plese.
And Ulfin com to the kynge as hastely as he myght and told how the olde man
hadde seide. And whan the kynge hadde herde these wordes, he lowgh and made
feire semblaunce and seide to Ulfin, "Knowest thow ought the man that thow
spake with?" And he ansuerde, "It is a man right olde and feble." And the kynge
seide, "Whan shull ye mete efte togeder?" And Ulfyn seide, "In the morowe, for
he badde me wite of yow what he shulde have to rewarde." And the kynge seide,
"Lede me thider as thow shalt mete with hym." And Ulfin seide, "With gode will."
"And yef thow speke with hym withoute me, profer hym what he willdesire of
myn." Thus thei leften till on the morowe; but that nyght was the kynge merier
than he hadde ben eny tyme before.
The morowe after masse the kynge and Ulfyn rode forth as Ulfin wolde hym
guyde; and as thei issued oute of the hoste, thei sye a crepell that semed blinde.
And as thei passed forth by hym, he cried with an high voyce, "Sir kynge, so God
acomplesshe thyn hertys desire of that thow desirest moste to have, so yeve me
som thynge that I may conne thee thanke fore." And the kynge beheilde Ulfyn and
seide lawghynge, "Ulfyn, do that I shall comaunde thee for my grete profite and
for my love and for to compleisshe my grete desire." And Ulfyn seide, "Ther is
nothinge that I desire so moche as for to do that myght acomplisshe youre desire."
And the kynge seide, "Hast thow nought herde what the crepell axed, that I sholde
remembre the thinge that I beste loved in this worlde, and that I am moste
desiraunte? Go and sette thee adown by hym and sey that I have sente thee to
hym, and ther is nothinge in this worlde that I have in possession but that I wolde
come to yeve it hym, yef I durste come to se hym."
And Ulfin, withoute eny grucchynge, yede and yaf hymself to the crepill, and
sette hym down by hym. And whan the crepill felte Ulfyn, he axed what he was
and what he was come for to seche. And he ansuerde, "The kynge hath sente me
to yow, and that I sholde ever be youres." And whan the crepill that herde, he
lowgh and seide to Ulfyn, "The kynge is sone perceyvinge, and me knoweth bet-
ter than do ye. I will that thow wite that the olde man that thow spake with yester-
day sente me to thee; but I will not telle thee what he seyde. Go to the kynge and
sey he wolde do a grete thynge for to have his desire, and that I sende hym worde
that sone he is parceyvinge, and he shall spede the better." And Ulfin seide, "I dar
nought aske what ye ben." "Aske the kynge," quod the crepill, "and he shall telle
thee wele inough." And Ulfyn lepe on horse and priked after the kynge.
And whan the kynge saugh hym come, he drough aside and seide, "Ulfyn, is it
that thow art come after me? Ne have I not yove thee to the crepill?" Quod Ulfin,
"He seith that ye be sone aperceyvaunte of hym, and that ye sholde telle me what
he is, for he wolde not telle me, but seide ye sholde telle wele inough." Than seide
the kynge, "Wost thow what olde man that was that spake with thee yesterday?
That same is this that thow haste seyn a crepill." And Ulfyn seide, "May this be
true, that oo man may hymself thus desfigure? And what is he than that thus hym
disfigureth?" And the kynge ansuerde, "Knowe it verily it is Merlin that thus hym
kepeth fro yow. And whan he will, he will make yow wele to knowe that it is
Thus they passed forth thourgh the feilde. And Merlin come in his right
semblaunce into the kynges teynte, and asked where was the kynge. And a
messanger come to the kynge and seide Merlin was come. And than was the kynge
so gladde that he myght not ansuere, but in all haste returned and cleped Ulfyn
and seide, "Now shalt thow knowe yef it be so as I have seide, for Merlyn is
comen, and I knowe wele that he doth not seke me for nought." And than seide
Ulfyn, "Now shall it be sene yef ever he were ought wroth, and yef ye can other
do well or sey to his plesir of alle thinges; for ther is no man that may yow helpe
so wele to have the love of Ygerne." And the kynge seide, "Thow seiste soth, and
ther is no thynge that he doth comaunde me but I shall it gladly performe."
Thus thei rode till thei come to the teynte whereas thei fonde Merlin. And the
kynge hym made grete joye and mery chere, and ran hym agein with armes spred
abrode and hym halsed, and seide he was the man in all the worlde that was moste
to hym welcome. And than he seide, "Wherto sholde I me complayne unto yow,
for as ye it knowe as myself, and ther was never man that I longed so sore after;
and I pray yow and requyre, telle me of that ye knowe my herte desireth so." And
Merlin seide, "Of that ye me asken, I shall not speke withoute Ulfyn." Than made
the kynge to clepe after Ulfin, and droughen hem aside in counseile. Than seide
the kynge to Merlyn, "I have tolde Ulfin of that ye comaunded, and that ye were
the olde man that he sigh yesterday, and also the crepill this day." And Ulfyn
beheilde hym strongely and seide, "May this be trewe that the kynge eith?" And
Merlin seide, "Ye, it is trewe withouten faile; and as sone as I saugh he sente thee
to me, I wiste well he hadde me perceyved." And than Ulfyn seideto the kynge,
"Sir, now sholde ye speke of youre gref, and not wepe whan ye ben soill."
And the kynge seide, "I wote not what to sey ne preyen. He knoweth well my
corage, and I may not make hym no lesynge, but he it knowe as wele as I. But I
pray hym hertely to helpe me to have the love of Ygerne, and he ne shall devise
nothinge that is to me possible but that I shall it gladly don." And Merlin seide,
"Yef ye will graunte me that I shall aske, I shall purchace yow hir love and make
yow to ly in here chamber and in hir bedde, bothe naked." And [whan] Ulfyn that
herde, he lough and seide, "Now shall I se what a mannes herte is worth!" And the
kynge seide to Merlin, "Ye can not aske me nothinge that be founden in this worlde
but I sholde it yow yeven." And Merlin ansuerde, "How may I hereof be sure, but
yef ye be sworn, and also lete Ulfyn swere, that I shall have that I aske on the
morn that ye have leye with Ygerne, and don with hir your beste?" And the kynge
seide that wolde he do with gode will. And Merlin asked Ulfyn yef he wolde
swere, and Ulfyn seide, "That me forthinketh, for I was never yet sworn in no
When Merlin herde that worde he lough and seide, "Whan youre othes be made,
I shall telle yow how it shall be." Than the kynge made be brought the hiest
seintewaries that he hadde and the best relikes, and theron they dide swere as
Merlin dide hem devyse, and thei seiden thei sholde it feithfully holde withouten
fraude or mal engyn. After the kynge swore Ulfyn, and thus hath Merlin take their
othes. And than seide the kynge, "Merlin, now I requere yow sone to helpe myn
hertes desire, as the man of all the worlde that moste therafter longeth to have it
And than seide Merlyn, "Ye muste be wisely demened, for she is a trewe lady
and full wise, and trewe to God and to hir lorde. But now shall ye se what power
I have hir to begile, for I shall make yow semblaunce of the duke so wele that ther
is no man that yow doth sen but he shall wene it be the duke. And [there are] two
knyghtes that ben moste privy with hym that noon ne knoweth so moche of his
counseile, not Ygerne hersilf; and that oon hight Bretell and that other Jordan.
And I shall have the semblaunce of Bretel and Ulfin shall be like Jordan, and so
shall I make hem to open the gates of the castell, and we shall alle thre ly withinne.
But full erly on the morow we moste gon oute, for er we departe thens we shall
here straunge tidinges. And therfore aray youre oste and your barons and comaunde
hem to make gode wacche to diffende hemself, and that noon of hem ne go towarde
the castell till that ye be come ageyn. And be well ware that ye telle no creature
wheder that ye shall go."
And Uterpendragon dide as Merlin hadde devised, and anoon com agein and
seide that he was redy, and Merlin seide how he was also redy: "Ther is not ellis
but to spede us forward." And so thei wenten forth alle thre till thei com ner at
Tintagell; and than seide Merlyn to the kynge, "Abyde ye here, and I and Ulfyn
shall go this wey." And than eche drough aside by hymself; and whan thei were
dissevered and Merlin hadde don his art, he toke an herbe and brought it to the
kynge and seide, "Frote youre visage with this herbe, and youre handes." And the
kynge toke the herbe and rubbid his handes and his visage and his feet; and anoon
as he hadde thus idon, he hadde aperteliche the semblaunce of the Duke. And than
seide Merlyn, "Have ye eny mynde that ever ye saugh Jordan?" And the kynge
seide, "Ye, I knowe hym wele." And Merlyn com to Ulfyn and transfigured hym
to the semblaunce of Jurdan, and than sente hym to the kynge. And whan the
kynge saugh Ulfyn, he hym blissed and seide, "Mercy God! How may eny man
make oon man so like another?" And than he seide to Ulfyn, "How semeth thee be
me?" And Ulfyn seide, "I knowe yow nought but for the duke." And the kynge
seide he was verily like unto Jurdan. And as thei stoden so, thei beheilde Merlyn,
and thei semed verily it was Bretel. And thus thei speken togeder and taried till it
was nyght. And in the evenynge thei come to the castell gate.
And Merlyn, that wele resembled to Bretel, cleped the porter. And the peple
com to the gate and saugh apertly the duke, as hem semed. And thei seide, "Open
-- lo, here the Duke!" And thei thought it was Bretel and Jurdan. And whan thei
weren entred, Bretel diffended that no man in the place sholde not wite that the
duke was comen. Inowe ther were that yede to telle the duchesse. And Merlyn
toke the kynge in counseile and seide that he sholde contene hymself myrily. And
anoon alle thre thei come before the chambir where Ygerne that yet was in her
bedde; and in all haste that thei myght, thei mad their lorde redy.
And so he yede to bedde to Ygerne. And that nyght he gat upon hir the gode
kynge that after was cleped Arthur. The lady made grete joye of the kynge, for she
wende verily it hadde ben the duke hir lorde, that she loved moche with a trewe
herte. Thus thei lay togeder till on the morowe.
In the dawenynge, the tidinges com into the town that the duke was dede, and
also his stewarde itake. And than thei com full previly in; and when these other
tweyn that tho were arisen herde these tidynges, thei ran theras their lorde lay and
seide, "Aryse up and go to youre castell, for ther be soche tydinges come hider
that oure peple wene that ye be deed." And he lepe up and seide, "It is no merveyle
though they wene so; for I yede oute of the castell that no man knewe therof no
worde." Anoon he toke leve of Ygerne, and hir kiste, seynynge hem alle at her
departynge. And thus they departed oute of the castell in all the haste they myght,
that never oon ne knewe but it was the duke.
And whan they weren oute, thei weren right gladde. And Merlyn seide to the
kynge, "Sir, I have kept wele the covenaunte. Now loke thow kepe as wele myne."
And the kynge seide, "Ye sey trewe, for ye have don me the beste servise that
ever man dide to another; and therfore youre covenauntes shall I well holde." And
Merlyn seide, "I hem aske now and will that they be holden." And the kynge
seide, "I am redy hem to performe." And than seide Merlyn, "I will that thow
knowe that thow haste engendred an heyre male on Ygerne, and that hast thow me
yoven. And therfore I shall write the houre and the day in the whiche it is begeten,
and so shalt thow knowe yef I sey soth." Quod the kynge, "As thow hast seide, I
have sworn; and I yeve it thee with gode will."
Thus they rode till they come to a rivere, and ther Merlyn did hem waisshen,
and than hadde thei semblaunce as that thei hadden before. And than the kynge
rode forth as faste as he myght; and as sone as he was come, his barons and his
peple gedered aboute hym. And he hem asked how the duke was deed. And thei
hym tolden: "The day when ye were departed, the oste was stille and koye; and
therby the duke undirststode that ye were not in the oste, and dide his peple to
arme and come upon us, and dide us grete damage er we myghten ben armed. The
cry arose and the noyse, and oure meynee hem arayde and set on hem, and drof
hem ageyn, even before the yate. And ther the duke abode and dide many maistries
in armes. And ther was his horse slayn and the duke overthrowe. And ther was he
deed amonge oure peple on foote that hym nought knewen. And we driven the
remenaunt in at the yates, that sympilly hem deffended whan they hadde loste
their lorde." And the kynge seide that he was right sory for the deth of the duke.
[Summary. After the death of the Duke of Tintagel, the barons harbor no ill feelings
toward King Uther, who acts generously toward the duke's kindred. Merlin reminds Uther
of his bargain concerning the child, suggesting that Ygerne would be ashamed to raise the
child herself. Uther makes peace with Ygerne and restores her lands. The council of bar-
ons suggests that the king and the duchess should marry, and Uther is happy to accept
their advice if Ygerne assents. She does, and their wedding occurs on the twentieth day
after Arthur was conceived. Also on that day Ygerne's daughters are wed to King Lot and
King Ventres. Morgan, the illegitimate daughter of the duke, is sent to school in a reli-
gious house where she learns the art of astronomy; as a result she becomes known as
Morgan le Fay.
Ygerne, now noticeably pregnant, tells Uther what happened on the night Arthur was
conceived. Uther never reveals that he was the man who visited her, but he asks her to
give him the child and she agrees. Merlin arranges for the child to be raised by a good
man named Antor. Ygerne weeps and grieves when the child is taken away. Antor's wife
nurses the child herself, and her own son is turned over to a wet-nurse. Antor is not told
the child's identity, but he has the child baptized and names him Arthur.
While Uther is stricken with gout, the invading Danes defeat Uther's army. Merlin tells
Uther he must lead his army against the Danes while being carried on a litter; he also
tells him that he will not live long after the Danes are defeated, and that he must give
away his worldly goods for his soul's sake. Uther asks about the child, and Merlin assures
him the child is flourishing. The king leads his army against the Danes and defeats them,
and then he does many alms deeds. As Uther lies on his death bed, Merlin whispers to him
that his son Arthur will be the next king and that he shall complete the Round Table that
Uther had begun. Uther hopes that Arthur will pray for his soul; then he dies. Uther is
buried with honor, but he leaves the kingdom without an heir. Fol. 26r (line 18)-31v (line
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