Le Morte Darthur
Sir Thomas Malory's Book of
King Arthur and of his Noble
Knights of the Round Table
IN TWO VOLS.--VOL. I
THE Morte Darthur was finished, as the epilogue tells us, in the
ninth year of Edward IV., i.e. between March 4, 1469 and the same
date in 1470. It is thus, fitly enough, the last important
English book written before the introduction of printing into
this country, and since no manuscript of it has come down to us
it is also the first English classic for our knowledge of which
we are entirely dependent on a printed text. Caxton's story of
how the book was brought to him and he was induced to print it
may be read farther on in his own preface. From this we learn
also that he was not only the printer of the book, but to some
extent its editor also, dividing Malory's work into twenty-one
books, splitting up the books into chapters, by no means
skilfully, and supplying the ``Rubrish'' or chapter-headings. It
may be added that Caxton's preface contains, moreover, a brief
criticism which, on the points on which it touches, is still the
soundest and most sympathetic that has been written.
Caxton finished his edition the last day of July 1485, some
fifteen or sixteen years after Malory wrote his epilogue. It is
clear that the author was then dead, or the printer would not
have acted as a clumsy editor to the book, and recent discoveries
(if bibliography may, for the moment, enlarge its bounds to
mention such matters) have revealed with tolerable certainty when
Malory died and who he was. In letters to The Athenaeum in July
1896 Mr. T. Williams pointed out that the name of a Sir Thomas
Malorie occurred among those of a number of other Lancastrians
excluded from a general pardon granted
and that a William Mallerye was mentioned in the same year as
taking part in a Lancastrian rising. In September 1897, again,
in another letter to the same paper, Mr. A. T. Martin reported
the finding of the will of a Thomas Malory of Papworth, a hundred
partly in Cambridgeshire, partly in Hunts. This will was made on
September 16, 1469, and as it was proved the 27th of the next
month the testator must have been in immediate expectation of
death. It contains the most careful provision for the education
and starting in life of a family of three daughters and seven
sons, of whom the youngest seems to have been still an infant.
We cannot say with certainty that this Thomas Malory, whose last
thoughts were so busy for his children, was our author, or that
the Lancastrian knight discovered by Mr. Williams was identical
with either or both, but such evidence as the Morte Darthur
offers favours such a belief. There is not only the epilogue
with its petition, ``pray for me while I am alive that God send
me good deliverance and when I am dead pray you all for my
soul,'' but this very request is foreshadowed at the end of chap.
37 of Book ix. in the touching passage, surely inspired by
personal experience, as to the sickness ``that is the greatest
pain a prisoner may have''; and the reflections on English
fickleness in the first chapter of Book xxi., though the Wars of
the Roses might have inspired them in any one, come most
naturally from an author who was a Lancastrian knight.
If the Morte Darthur was really written in prison and by a
prisoner distressed by ill-health as well as by lack of liberty,
surely no task was ever better devised to while away weary hours.
Leaving abundant scope for originality in selection,
modification, and arrangement, as a compilation and translation
it had in it that mechanical element which adds the touch of
restfulness to literary work. No original, it is said, has yet
been found for Book vii., and it is possible that none will ever
be forthcoming for chap. 20 of Book xviii., which describes the
arrival of the body of the Fair Maiden of Astolat at Arthur's
on true love; but the great bulk of the work has been traced
chapter by chapter to the ``Merlin'' of Robert de Borron and his
successors (Bks. i.-iv.), the English metrical romance La Morte
Arthur of the Thornton manuscript (Bk. v.), the French romances
of Tristan (Bks. viii.-x.) and of Launcelot (Bks. vi., xi.-xix.),
and lastly to the English prose Morte Arthur of Harley MS. 2252
(Bks. xviii., xx., xxi.). As to Malory's choice of his
authorities critics have not failed to point out that now and
again he gives a worse version where a better has come down to
us, and if he had been able to order a complete set of Arthurian
manuscripts from his bookseller, no doubt he would have done even
better than he did! But of the skill, approaching to original
genius, with which he used the books from which he worked there
is little dispute.
Malory died leaving his work obviously unrevised, and in this
condition it was brought to Caxton, who prepared it for the press
with his usual enthusiasm in the cause of good literature, and
also, it must be added, with his usual carelessness. New
chapters are sometimes made to begin in the middle of a sentence,
and in addition to simple misprints there are numerous passages
in which it is impossible to believe that we have the text as
Malory intended it to stand. After Caxton's edition Malory's
manuscript must have disappeared, and subsequent editions are
differentiated only by the degree of closeness with which they
follow the first. Editions appeared printed by Wynkyn de Worde
in 1498 and 1529, by William Copland in 1559, by Thomas East
about 1585, and by Thomas Stansby in 1634, each printer
apparently taking the text of his immediate predecessor and
reproducing it with modifications. Stansby's edition served for
reprints in 1816 and 1856 (the latter edited by Thomas Wright);
but in 1817 an edition supervised by Robert Southey went back to
Caxton's text, though to a copy (only two are extant, and only
one perfect!) in which eleven leaves were supplied from Wynkyn de
Worde's reprint. In 1868 Sir Edward
the present publishers a reprint of Southey's text in modern
spelling, with the substitution of current words for those now
obsolete, and the softening of a handful of passages likely, he
thought, to prevent the book being placed in the hands of boys.
In 1889 a boon was conferred on scholars by the publication of
Dr. H. Oskar Sommer's page-for-page reprint of Caxton's text,
with an elaborate discussion of Malory's sources. Dr. Sommer's
edition was used by Sir E. Strachey to revise his Globe text, and
in 1897 Mr. Israel Gollancz produced for the ``Temple Classics''
a very pretty edition in which Sir Edward Strachey's principles
of modernisation in spelling and punctuation were adopted, but
with the restoration of obsolete words and omitted phrases. As
to the present edition, Sir Edward Strachey altered with so
sparing a hand that on many pages differences between his version
and that here printed will be looked for in vain; but the most
anxious care has been taken to produce a text modernised as to
its spelling, but in other respects in accurate accordance with
Caxton's text, as represented by Dr Sommer's reprint. Obvious
misprints have been silently corrected, but in a few cases notes
show where emendations have been introduced from Wynkyn de
Worde--not that Wynkyn had any more right to emend Caxton than
we, but because even a printer's conjecture gains a little
sanctity after four centuries. The restoration of obsolete words
has necessitated a much fuller glossary, and the index of names
has therefore been separated from it and enlarged. In its
present form the index is the work of Mr. Henry Littlehales.
A. W. POLLARD.
PREFACE OF WILLIAM CAXTON
AFTER that I had accomplished and finished divers histories, as
well of contemplation as of other historial and worldly acts of
great conquerors and princes, and also certain books of ensamples
and doctrine, many noble and divers gentlemen of this realm of
England came and demanded me many and oft times, wherefore that I
have not do made and imprint the noble history of the Saint
Greal, and of the most renowned Christian king, first and chief
of the three best Christian, and worthy, King Arthur, which ought
most to be remembered among us Englishmen to-fore all other
Christian kings; for it is notoyrly known through the universal
world, that there be nine worthy and the best that ever were,
that is to wit, three Paynims, three Jews, and three Christian
men. As for the Paynims, they were to-fore the Incarnation of
Christ, which were named, the first Hector of Troy, of whom the
history is comen both in ballad and in prose, the second
Alexander the Great, and the third Julius Caesar, Emperor of
Rome, of whom the histories be well known and had. And as for
the three Jews, which also were to-fore the incarnation of our
Lord, of whom the first was duke Joshua which brought the
children of Israel into the land of behest, the second David king
of Jerusalem, and the third Judas Machabeus, of these three the
Bible rehearseth all their noble histories and acts. And since
the said Incarnation
stalled and admitted through the universal world into the number
of the nine best and worthy. Of whom was first the noble Arthur,
whose noble acts I purpose to write in this present book here
following. The second was Charlemain, or Charles the Great, of
whom the history is had in many places, both in French and in
English. And the third and last was Godfrey of Boloine, of whose
acts and life I made a book unto the excellent prince and king of
noble memory, King Edward the Fourth.
The said noble gentlemen instantly required me to imprint the
history of the said noble king and conqueror King Arthur, and of
his knights, with the history of the Saint Greal, and of the
death and ending of the said Arthur; affirming that I ought
rather to imprint his acts and noble feats, than of Godfrey of
Boloine, or any of the other eight, considering that he was a man
born within this realm, and king and emperor of the same: and
that there be in French divers and many noble volumes of his
acts, and also of his knights. To whom I answered that divers
men hold opinion that there was no such Arthur, and that all such
books as been made of him be feigned and fables, because that
some chronicles make of him no mention, nor remember him nothing,
nor of his knights. Whereto they answered, and one in special
said, that in him that should say or think that there was never
such a king called Arthur might well be aretted great folly and
blindness. For he said that there were many evidences of the
contrary. First ye may see his sepulchre in the monastery of
Glastonbury. And also in Policronicon, in the fifth book the
sixth chapter, and in the seventh book the twenty-third chapter,
where his body was buried, and after found, and translated into
the said monastery. Ye shall see also in the history of Bochas,
in his book De Casu Principum, part of his noble
also of his fall. Also Galfridus in his British book recounteth
his life: and in divers places of England many remembrances be
yet of him, and shall remain perpetually, and also of his
knights. First in the abbey of Westminster, at St. Edward's
shrine, remaineth the print of his seal in red wax closed in
beryl, in which is written, Patricius Arthurus Britannie, Gallie,
Germanie, Dacie, Imperator. Item in the castle of Dover ye may
see Gawaine's skull, and Cradok's mantle: at Winchester the Round
Table: in other places Launcelot's sword and many other things.
Then all these things considered, there can no man reasonably
gainsay but there was a king of this land named Arthur. For in
all places, Christian and heathen, he is reputed and taken for
one of the nine worthy, and the first of the three Christian men.
And also, he is more spoken of beyond the sea, more books made of
his noble acts, than there be in England, as well in Dutch,
Italian, Spanish, and Greekish, as in French. And yet of record
remain in witness of him in Wales, in the town of Camelot, the
great stones and the marvellous works of iron lying under the
ground, and royal vaults, which divers now living have seen.
Wherefore it is a marvel why he is no more renowned in his own
country, save only it accordeth to the Word of God, which saith
that no man is accepted for a prophet in his own country.
Then all these things aforesaid alleged, I could not well deny
but that there was such a noble king named Arthur, and reputed
one of the nine worthy, and first and chief of the Christian men.
And many noble volumes be made of him and of his noble knights in
French, which I have seen and read beyond the sea, which be not
had in our maternal tongue. But in Welsh be many and also in
French, and some in English but nowhere nigh all. Wherefore,
such as have late been drawn out briefly into English I have
after the simple conning that God hath sent to me, under
favour and correction of all noble lords and gentlemen, enprised
to imprint a book of the noble histories of the said King Arthur,
and of certain of his knights, after a copy unto me delivered,
which copy Sir Thomas Malorye did take out of certain books of
French, and reduced it into English. And I, according to my
copy, have done set it in imprint, to the intent that noble men
may see and learn the noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and
virtuous deeds that some knights used in those days, by which
they came to honour, and how they that were vicious were punished
and oft put to shame and rebuke; humbly beseeching all noble
lords and ladies, with all other estates of what estate or degree
they been of, that shall see and read in this said book and work,
that they take the good and honest acts in their remembrance, and
to follow the same. Wherein they shall find many joyous and
pleasant histories, and noble and renowned acts of humanity,
gentleness, and chivalry. For herein may be seen noble chivalry,
courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship,
cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the good and
leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renown.
And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant to read in,
but for to give faith and belief that all is true that is
contained herein, ye be at your liberty: but all is written for
our doctrine, and for to beware that we fall not to vice nor sin,
but to exercise and follow virtue, by which we may come and
attain to good fame and renown in this life, and after this short
and transitory life to come unto everlasting bliss in heaven; the
which He grant us that reigneth in heaven, the blessed Trinity.
Then to proceed forth in this said book, which I direct unto all
noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, that
desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history of
the great conqueror and excellent
sometime king of this noble realm, then called Britain; I,
William Caxton, simple person, present this book following, which
I have enprised to imprint: and treateth of the noble acts, feats
of arms of chivalry, prowess, hardiness, humanity, love,
courtesy, and very gentleness, with many wonderful histories and
adventures. And for to understand briefly the content of this
volume, I have divided it into XXI Books, and every book
chaptered, as hereafter shall by God's grace follow. The First
Book shall treat how Uther Pendragon gat the noble conqueror King
Arthur, and containeth xxviii chapters. The Second Book treateth
of Balin the noble knight, and containeth xix chapters. The
Third Book treateth of the marriage of King Arthur to Queen
Guenever, with other matters, and containeth xv chapters. The
Fourth Book, how Merlin was assotted, and of war made to King
Arthur, and containeth xxix chapters. The Fifth Book treateth of
the conquest of Lucius the emperor, and containeth xii chapters.
The Sixth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel, and
marvellous adventures, and containeth xviii chapters. The
Seventh Book treateth of a noble knight called Sir Gareth, and
named by Sir Kay Beaumains, and containeth xxxvi chapters. The
Eighth Book treateth of the birth of Sir Tristram the noble
knight, and of his acts, and containeth xli chapters. The Ninth
Book treateth of a knight named by Sir Kay Le Cote Male Taille,
and also of Sir Tristram, and containeth xliv chapters. The
Tenth Book treateth of Sir Tristram, and other marvellous
adventures, and containeth lxxxviii chapters. The Eleventh Book
treateth of Sir Launcelot and Sir Galahad, and containeth xiv
chapters. The Twelfth Book treateth of Sir Launcelot and his
madness, and containeth xiv chapters. The Thirteenth Book
treateth how Galahad came first to king Arthur's court, and the
quest how the Sangreal was begun, and containeth xx chapters.
The Fourteenth Book
and containeth x chapters. The Fifteenth Book treateth of Sir
Launcelot, and containeth vi chapters. The Sixteenth Book
treateth of Sir Bors and Sir Lionel his brother, and containeth
xvii chapters. The Seventeenth Book treateth of the Sangreal,
and containeth xxiii chapters. The Eighteenth Book treateth of
Sir Launcelot and the queen, and containeth xxv chapters. The
Nineteenth Book treateth of Queen Guenever and Launcelot, and
containeth xiii chapters. The Twentieth Book treateth of the
piteous death of Arthur, and containeth xxii chapters. The
Twenty-first Book treateth of his last departing, and how Sir
Launcelot came to revenge his death, and containeth xiii
chapters. The sum is twenty-one books, which contain the sum of
five hundred and seven chapters, as more plainly shall follow
The Table or Rubrysshe
Content of Chapters
Shortly of the First Book of King Arthur.
How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his
wife, and of their departing suddenly again. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chap. i.
How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and
how by the mean of Merlin he lay by the duchess and gat
Arthur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. ii.
Of the birth of King Arthur and of his nurture . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chap. iii.
And of the death of King Uther Pendragon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. iv.
And how Arthur was chosen king, and of wonders and marvels of a
sword taken out of a stone by the said Arthur. . . . . . . . . . . . . Chap. v.
How King Arthur pulled out the sword divers times. . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. vi.
How King Arthur was crowned, and how he made officers. . . . . . . . . . Chap. vii.
How King Arthur held in Wales, at a Pentecost, a great feast, and
what kings and lords came to his feast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. viii.
Of the first war that King Arthur had, and how he won the field
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. ix.
How Merlin counselled King Arthur to send for King Ban and King
Bors, and of their counsel taken for the war . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chap. x.
Of a great tourney made by King Arthur and the two kings Ban and
Bors, and how they went over the sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. xi.
How eleven kings gathered a great host against King Arthur . . . . . . . Chap. xii.
Of a dream of the King with the Hundred Knights. . . . . . . . . . . . .Chap. xiii.
How the eleven kings with their host fought against Arthur and his
host, and many great feats of the war . . Chap. xiv.
Yet of the same battle . . . . . Chap. xv.
[Yet more of the same battle] . . . . Chap. xvi.
Yet more of the said battle, and how it was ended by Merlin
How King Arthur, King Ban, and King Bors rescued King Leodegrance,
and other incidents . . . . Chap. xviii.
How King Arthur rode to Carlion, and of his dream, and how he saw the
Questing Beast . . . . Chap. xix.
How King Pellinore took Arthur's horse and followed the Questing Beast,
and how Merlin met with Arthur . . Chap. xx.
How Ulfius impeached Queen Igraine, Arthur's mother, of treason; and how
a knight came and desired to have the death of his master revenged .
. . . Chap. xxi.
How Griflet was made knight, and jousted with a knight Chap. xxii.
How twelve knights came from Rome and asked truage for this land of
Arthur, and how Arthur fought with a knight . Chap. xxiii.
How Merlin saved Arthur's life, and threw an enchantment on King
Pellinore and made him to sleep . . . Chap. xxiv.
How Arthur by the mean of Merlin gat Excalibur his sword of the Lady of
the Lake . . . . . Chap. xxv.
How tidings came to Arthur that King Rience had overcome eleven kings,
and how he desired Arthur's beard to trim his mantle
How all the children were sent for that were born on May-day, and how
Mordred was saved . . . . Chap. xxvii.
The Second Book.
Of a damosel which came girt with a sword for to find a man of such
virtue to draw it out of the scabbard . . Chap. i.
How Balin, arrayed like a poor knight, pulled out the sword, which
afterward was cause of his death . . . Chap. ii.
How the Lady of the Lake demanded the knight's head that had won the
sword, or the maiden's head . . . Chap. iii.
How Merlin told the adventure of this damosel . Chap. iv.
How Balin was pursued by Sir Lanceor, knight of Ireland, and how he
jousted and slew him . . . . Chap. v.
How a damosel, which was love to Lanceor, slew herself for love, and
how Balin met with his brother Balan . . Chap. vi.
How a dwarf reproved Balin for the death of Lanceor, and how King
Mark of Cornwall found them, and made a tomb over them
How Merlin prophesied that two the best knights of the world should
fight there, which were Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram Chap. viii.
How Balin and his brother, by the counsel of Merlin, took King
Rience and brought him to King Arthur . . Chap. ix.
How King Arthur had a battle against Nero and King Lot of Orkney,
and how King Lot was deceived by Merlin, and how twelve
kings were slain . . . . . Chap. x.
Of the interment of twelve kings, and of the prophecy of Merlin, and
how Balin should give the dolorous stroke . Chap. xi.
How a sorrowful knight came before Arthur, and how Balin fetched
him, and how that knight was slain by a knight invisible
How Balin and the damosel met with a knight which was in likewise
slain, and how the damosel bled for the custom of a castle
How Balin met with that knight named Garlon at a feast, and there
he slew him, to have his blood to heal therewith the son of his
host . . . . . . Chap. xiv.
How Balin fought with King Pellam, and how his sword brake, and
how he gat a spear wherewith he smote the dolorous stroke
How Balin was delivered by Merlin, and saved a knight that would
have slain himself for love . . . Chap. xvi.
How that knight slew his love and a knight lying by her, and after,
how he slew himself with his own sword, and how Balin rode
toward a castle where he lost his life . . Chap. xvii.
How Balin met with his brother Balan, and how each of them slew
other unknown, till they were wounded to death . Chap. xviii.
How Merlin buried them both in one tomb, and of Balin's sword
Here follow the Chapters of the Third Book.
How King Arthur took a wife, and wedded Guenever, daughter to
Leodegrance, King of the Land of Cameliard, with whom he had
the Round Table . . . . . Chap. i.
How the Knights of the Round Table were ordained and their sieges
blessed by the Bishop of Canterbury . . Chap. ii.
How a poor man, riding upon a lean mare, desired King Arthur to
make his son knight . . . .Chap. iii.
How Sir Tor was known for son of King Pellinore, and how Gawaine was
made knight . . . . . Chap. iv.
How at the feast of the wedding of King Arthur to Guenever, a white hart
came into the hall, and thirty couple hounds, and how a brachet
pinched the hart, which was taken away . Chap. v.
How Sir Gawaine rode for to fetch again the hart, and how two brethren
fought each against other for the hart . Chap. vi.
How the hart was chased into a castle and there slain, and how Sir
Galraine slew a lady . . . . Chap. vii.
How four knights fought against Sir Gawaine and Gaheris, and how they
were overcome, and their lives saved at the request of four ladies .
. . . . Chap. viii.
How Sir Tor rode after the knight with the brachet, and of his adventure by the way . . . . Chap. ix.
How Sir Tor found the brachet with a lady, and how a knight assailed him
for the said brachet . . . . Chap. x.
How Sir Tor overcame the knight, and how he lost his head at the request
of a lady . . . . . Chap. xi.
How King Pellinore rode after the lady and the knight that led her away,
and how a lady desired help of him, and how he fought with two
knights for that lady, of whom he slew the one at the first stroke .
. . . .
How King Pellinore gat the lady and brought her to Camelot to the court
King Arthur . . . . Chap. xiii.
How on the way he heard two knights, as he lay by night in a valley, and
other adventures . . . . Chap. xiv.
How when he was come to Camelot he was sworn upon a book to tell the
truth of his quest . . . . Chap. xv.
Here follow the Chapters of the Fourth Book.
How Merlin was assotted and doted on one of the ladies of the lake, and
how he was shut in a rock under a stone and there died
How five kings came into this land to war against King Arthur, and what
counsel Arthur had against them . . Chap. ii.
How King Arthur had ado with them and overthrew them, and slew the five
kings and made the remnant to flee . Chap. iii.
How the battle was finished or he came, and how King Arthur founded an
abbey where the battle was . . . - Chap. iv.
How Sir Tor was made knight of the Round Table, and how Bagdemagus
was displeased . . . .Chap. v.
How King Arthur, King Uriens, and Sir Accolon of Gaul, chased an hart,
and of their marvellous adventures . . Chap. vi.
How Arthur took upon him to fight to be delivered out of prison, and
for to deliver twenty knights that were in prison Chap. vii.
How Accolon found himself by a well, and he took upon him to do battle
against Arthur . . . . Chap. viii.
Of the battle between King Arthur and Accolon . Chap. ix.
How King Arthur's sword that he fought with brake, and how he recovered
of Accolon his own sword Excalibur, and overcame his enemy . . . . .
. Chap. x.
How Accolon confessed the treason of Morgan le Fays King Arthur's
sister, and how she would have done slay him . Chap. Yi.
How Arthur accorded the two brethren, and delivered the twenty knights,
and how Sir Accolon died . . Chap. Yii.
How Morgan would have slain Sir Uriens her husband, and how Sir
Uwaine her son saved him . . . Chap. xiii.
How Queen Morgan le Fay made great sorrow f-or the death of Accolon,
and how she stole away the scabbard from Arthur . Chap. YiV.
How Morgan le Fay saved a knight that should have been drowned, and
how King Arthur returned home again . Chap. xv.
How the Damosel of the Lake saved King Arthur from a mantle which
should have burnt him . . . . Chap. xvi.
How Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine met with twelve fair damosels, and how
they complained on Sir Marhaus . . Chap. YVii.
How Sir Marhaus jousted with Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, and
overthrew them both . . . . Chap. xviii.
How Sir Marhaus, Sir Gawaine, and Sir Uwaine met three damosels, and
each of them took one . . . Chap. YiX.
How a knight and a dwarf strove for a lady . . Chap. xx.
How King Pelleas suffered himself to be taken prisoner because he would
have a sight of his lady, and how Sir Gawaine promised him to get to
him the love of his lady . . Chap. xxi.
How Sir Gawaine came to the Lady Ettard, and how Sir Pelleas found
them sleeping . . . . . Chap. xxii.
How Sir Pelleas loved no more Ettard by the mean of the Damosel of the
Lake, whom he loved ever after . . Chap. xxiii.
How Sir Marhaus rode with the damosel, and how he came to the Duke of
the South Marches . . . Chap. xxiv.
How Sir Marhaus fought with the duke and his four sons and made them
to yield them . . . . Chap. xxv.
How Sir Uwaine rode with the damosel of sixty year of age, and how
he gat the prize at tourneying . . . Chap. xxvi.
How Sir Uwaine fought with two knights and overcame them
How at the year's end all three knights with their three damosels met
at the fountain . . . . . Chap. xxviii.
Of the Fifth Book the Chapters follow.
How twelve aged ambassadors of Rome came to King Arthur to demand
truage for Britain. . . . . Chap. i.
How the kings and lords promised to King Arthur aid and help against the
Romans . . . . . Chap. ii.
How King Arthur held a parliament at York, and how he ordained the
realm should be governed in his absence . Chap. iii.
How King Arthur being shipped and lying in his cabin had a marvellous
dream and of the exposition thereof . . Chap. iv.
How a man of the country told to him of a marvellous giant, and how he
fought and conquered him . . . Chap. v.
How King Arthur sent Sir Gawaine and other to Lucius, and how they were
assailed and escaped with worship . Chap. vi.
How Lucius sent certain spies in a bushment for to have taken his
being prisoners, and how they were letted Chap. vii.
How a senator told to Lucius of their discomfiture, and also of the
battle between Arthur and Lucius . . Chap. viii.
How Arthur, after he had achieved the battle against the Romans, entered
into Almaine, and so into Italy . . Chap. ix.
Of a battle done by Gawaine against a Saracen, which after was yielden
and became Christian . . . Chap. x.
How the Saracens came out of a wood for to rescue their beasts, and of a
great battle . . . . . Chap. xi.
How Sir Gawaine returned to King Arthur with his prisoners, and how the
King won a city, and how he was crowned Emperor
Here follow the Chapters of the Sixth Book.
How Sir Launcelot and Sir Lionel departed from the court for to seek
adventures, and how Sir Lionel left him sleeping and was taken
How Sir Ector followed for to seek Sir Launcelot, and how he was
taken by Sir Turquine . . . .Chap. ii.
How four queens found Launcelot sleeping, and how by enchantment
he was taken and led into a castle . . Chap. iii.
How Sir Launcelot was delivered by the mean of a damosel Chap. iv.
How a knight found Sir Launcelot lying in his leman's bed, and how
Sir Launcelot fought with the knight . . Chap. v.
How Sir Launcelot was received of King Bagdemagus' daughter, and
how he made his complaint to her father . . Chap. vi.
How Sir Launcelot behaved him in a tournament, and how he met
with Sir Turquine leading Sir Gaheris . . Chap. vii.
How Sir Launcelot and Sir Turquine fought together . Chap. viii.
How Sir Turquine was slain, and how Sir Launcelot bade Sir Gaheris
deliver all the prisoners . . . . Chap. ix.
How Sir Launcelot rode with a damosel and slew a knight that dis-
tressed all ladies and also a villain that kept a bridge Chap. x.
How Sir Launcelot slew two giants, and made a castle free Chap. xi.
How Sir Launcelot rode disguised in Sir Kay's harness, and how he
smote down a knight . . . . Chap. xii.
How Sir Launcelot jousted against four knights of the Round Table
and overthrew them . . . . Chap. xiii.
How Sir Launcelot followed a brachet into a castle, where he found a
dead knight, and how he after was required of a damosel to heal
her brother . . . . . Chap. xiv.
How Sir Launcelot came into the Chapel Perilous and gat there of a
dead corpse a piece of the cloth and a sword . Chap. xv.
How Sir Launcelot at the request of a lady recovered a falcon, by
which he was deceived . . . . Chap. xvi.
How Sir Launcelot overtook a knight which chased his wife to have
slain her, and how he said to him . . . Chap. xvii.
How Sir Launcelot came to King Arthur's Court, and how there were
recounted all his noble feats and acts . . Chap. xviii.
Here follow the Chapters of the Seventh Book.
How Beaumains came to King Arthur's court and demanded three
petitions of King Arthur . . . . Chap. i.
How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine were wroth because Sir Kay
mocked Beaumains, and of a damosel which desired a knight to
fight for a lady . . . . . Chap. ii.
How Beaumains desired the battle, and how it was granted to him, and
how he desired to be made knight of Sir Launcelot Chap. iii.
How Beaumains departed, and how he gat of Sir Kay a spear and a shield,
and how he jousted with Sir Launcelot . Chap. iv.
How Beaumains told to Sir Launcelot his name, and how he was dubbed
knight of Sir Launcelot, and after overtook the damosel
How Beaumains fought and slew two knights at a passage Chap. vi.
How Beaumains fought with the Knight of the Black Launds, and fought
with him till he fell down and died . Chap. vii.
How the brother of the knight that was slain met with Beaumains, and
fought with Beaumains till he was yielden . Chap. viii.
How the damosel ever rebuked Beaumains, and would not suffer him to sit
at her table, but called him kitchen boy . Chap. ix.
How the third brother, called the Red Knight, jousted and fought against
Beaumains, and how Beaumains overcame him Chap. x.
How Sir Beaumains suffered great rebukes of the damosel, and he suffered
it patiently . . . . Chap. xi.
How Beaumains fought with Sir Persant of Inde, and made him to be
yielden . . . . . . Chap. xii.
Of the goodly communication between Sir Persant and Beaumains, and
how he told him that his name was Sir Gareth . Chap. xiii.
How the lady that was besieged had word from her sister how she had
brought a knight to fight for her, and what battles he had achieved
How the damosel and Beaumains came to the siege, and came to a
sycamore tree, and there Beaumains blew a horn, and then the Knight
of the Red Launds came to fight with him Chap. xv.
How the two knights met together, and of their talking, and how they
their battle . . . . Chap. xvi.
How after long fighting Beaumains overcame the knight and would have
slain him, but at the request of the lords he saved his life and made
him to yield him to the lady . . Chap. xvii.
How the knight yielded him, and how Beaumains made him to go unto King
Arthur's court, and to cry Sir Launcelot mercy Chap. xviii.
How Beaumains came to the lady, and when he came to the castle the
gates were closed against him, and of the words that the lady said to
him . . . . . . Chap. xix.
How Sir Beaumains rode after to rescue his dwarf, and came into the
castle where he was . . . . Chap. xx.
How Sir Gareth, otherwise called Beaumains, came to the presence of his
lady, and how they took acquaintance, and of their love
How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir Gareth, and he,
hurt in the thigh, smote off the knight's head Chap. xxii.
How the said knight came again the next night and was beheaded
again, and how at the feast of Pentecost all the knights that Sir
Gareth had overcome came and yielded them to King Arthur
How King Arthur pardoned them, and demanded of them where Sir
Gareth was . . . . . Chap. xxiv.
How the Queen of Orkney came to this feast of Pentecost, and Sir
Gawaine and his brethren came to ask her blessing Chap. xxv.
How King Arthur sent for the Lady Lionesse, and how she let cry a
tourney at her castle, whereas came many knights . Chap. XYVi.
How King Arthur went to the tournament with his knights, and how
the lady received him worshipfully, and how the knights en-
countered . . . . . . Chap. xxvii.
How the knights bare them in the battle . . Chap. xxviii.
Yet of the said tournament . . . . Chap. xxix.
How Sir Gareth was espied by the heralds, and how he escaped out of
the field . . . . . . Chap. xxx.
How Sir Gareth came to a castle where he was well lodged, and he
jousted with a knight and slew him . . Chap. xxxi.
How Sir Gareth fought with a knight that held within his castle thirty
ladies, and how he slew him . . . Chap. xxxii.
How Sir Gareth and Sir Gawaine fought each against other, and how
they knew each other by the damosel Linet . Chap. xxxiii.
How Sir Gareth knowledged that they loved each other to King
Arthur, and of the appointment of their wedding . Chap. xxxiv.
Of the Great Royalty, and what officers were made at the feast of the
wedding, and of the jousts at the feast . . Chap. xxxv.
Here follow the Chapters of the Eighth Book.
How Sir Tristram de Liones was born, and how his mother died at
his birth, wherefore she named him Tristram . Chap. i.
How the stepmother of Sir Tristram had ordained poison for to have
poisoned Sir Tristram . . . . Chap. ii.
How Sir Tristram was sent into France, and had one to govern him
named Gouvernail, and how he learned to harp, hawk, and hunt
How Sir Marhaus came out of Ireland for to ask truage of Cornwall,
or else he would fight therefore . . . Chap. iv.
How Tristram enterprized the battle to fight for the truage of Corn
wall, and how he was made knight . .Chap. v
How Sir Tristram arrived into the Island for to furnish the battle with
Marhaus . . . . . Chap. vi.
How Sir Tristram fought against Sir Marhaus and achieved his battle, and
how Sir Marhaus fled to his ship . . Chap. vii.
How Sir Marhaus after that he was arrived in Ireland died of the stroke
Sir Tristram had given him, and how Tristram was hurt. . . . . . .
How Sir Tristram was put to the keeping of La Beale Isoud first for to
healed of his wound . . . Chap. ix.
How Sir Tristram won the degree at a tournament in Ireland, and there
made Palamides to bear no harness in a year . Chap. x.
How the queen espied that Sir Tristram had slain her brother Sir Marhaus
by his sword, and in what jeopardy he was Chap. xi.
How Sir Tristram departed from the king and La Beale Isoud out of
for to come into Cornwall . . Chap. xii.
How Sir Tristram and King Mark 11U ted each other for the love of a
knight's wife . . . . . Chap. xiii.
How Sir Tristram lay with the lady, and how h er husband fought with Sir
Tristram . . . . Chap. xiv.
How Sir Bleoberis demanded the fairest lady in King Mark's court, whom
he took away, and how he w as fought with. Chap. xv.
How Sir Tristram fought with two knights of the Round Table
How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Bleoberis for a lady, and how the lady
was put to choice to whom she would go . Chap. xvii.
How the lady forsook Sir Tristram and abode with Sir Bleoberis, and how
she desired to go to her husband . . Chap. xviii.
How King Mark sent Sir Tristram for La Beale Isoud toward Ireland, and
how by fortune he arrived into England . Chap. xix.
How King Anguish of Ireland was summoned to come to King Arthur's
court for treason . . . . Chap. xx.
How Sir Tristram rescued a child from a knight, and how Gouvernail
told him of King Anguish . . . Chap. xxi.
How Sir Tristram fought for Sir Anguish and overcame his adversary, and
how his adversary would never yield him . Chap. xxii.
How Sir Blamore desired Tristram to slay him, and how Sir Tristram
spared him, and how they took appointment . Chap. xxiii.
How Sir Tristram demanded La Beale Isoud for King Mark, and how Sir
Tristram and Isoud drank the love drink . Chap. xxiv.
How Sir Tristram and Isoud were in prison, and how he fought for
her beauty, and smote off another lady's head . Chap. xxv.
How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Breunor, and at the last smote off his
. . . . . . Chap. xxvi.
How Sir Galahad fought with Sir Tristram, and how Sir Tristram yielded
him and promised to fellowship with Launcelot
How Sir Launcelot met with Sir Carados bearing away Sir Gawaine, and
of the rescue of Sir Gawaine . . . Chap. xxviii.
Of the wedding of King Mark to La Beale Isoud, and of Bragwaine her
maid, and of Palamides . . . Chap. xxix.
How Palamides demanded Queen Isoud, and how Lambegus rode after to
rescue her, and of the escape of Isoud . Chap. xxx.
How Sir Tristram rode after Palamides, and how he found him and fought
with him, and by the means of Isoud the battle ceased
How Sir Tristram brought Queen Isoud home, and of the debate of King
Mark and Sir Tristram . . . Chap. xxxii.
How Sir Lamorak jousted with thirty knights, and Sir Tristram at the
request of King Mark smote his horse down . Chap. xxxiii.
How Sir Lamorak sent an horn to King Mark in despite of Sir Tristram,
how Sir Tristram was driven into a chapel
How Sir Tristram was holpen by his men, and of Queen Isoud which was
put in a lazar-cote, and how Tristram was hurt Chap. xxxv.
How Sir Tristram served in war King Howel of Brittany, and slew his
adversary in the field . . . . Chap. xxxvi.
How Sir Suppinabiles told Sir Tristram how he was defamed in the court
of King Arthur, and of Sir Lamorak . Chap. xxxvii.
How Sir Tristram and his wife arrived in Wales, and how he met there
with Sir Lamorak . . . . Chap. xxxviii.
How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Nabon, and overcame him, and made Sir
Segwarides lord of the isle . . Chap. xxxix.
How Sir Lamorak departed from Sir Tristram, and how he met with Sir
Frol, and after with Sir Launcelot . . Chap. xl.
How Sir Lamorak slew Sir Frol, and of the courteous fighting with Sir
Belliance his brother . . . . Chap. xli.
Here follow the Chapters of the Ninth Book.
How a young man came into the court of King Arthur, and how Sir Kay
called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile . Chap. i.
How a damosel came into the court and desired a knight to take on him an
enquest, which La Cote Male Taile emprised Chap. ii.
How La Cote Male Taile overthrew Sir Dagonet the king's fool, and
of the rebuke that he had of the damosel . . Chap. iii.
How La Cote Male Taile fought against an hundred knights, and how
he escaped by the mean of a lady . . . Chap. iv.
How Sir Launcelot came to the court and heard of La Cote Male
Taile, and how he followed after him, and how La Cote Male
Taile was prisoner . . . . Chap. v.
How Sir Launcelot fought with six knights, and after with Sir Brian,
and how he delivered the prisoners . . Chap. vi.
How Sir Launcelot met with the damosel named Maledisant, and
named her the damosel Bienpensant . . Chap. vii.
How La Cote Male Taile was taken prisoner, and after rescued by
Sir Launcelot, and how Sir Launcelot overcame four brethren
How Sir Launcelot made La Cote Male Taile lord of the Castle of
Pendragon, and after was made knight of the Round Table
How La Beale Isoud sent letters to Sir Tristram by her maid Brag-
waine, and of divers adventures of Sir Tristram . Chap. x.
How Sir Tristram met with Sir Lamorak de Galis, and how they
fought, and after accorded never to fight together . Chap. si.
How Sir Palomides followed the Questing Beast, and smote down Sir
Tristram and Sir Lamorak with one spear. . Chap. xii.
How Sir Lamorak met with Sir Meliagaunce, and fought together for
the beauty of Dame Guenever . . . Chap. xiii.
[How Sir Meliagaunce told for what cause they fought, and how Sir
Lamorak jousted with King Arthur] . . Chap. xiv.
How Sir Kay met with Sir Tristram, and after of the shame spoken
of the knights of Cornwall, and how they jousted . Chap. xv.
How King Arthur was brought into the Forest Perilous, and how Sir
Tristram saved his life . . . . Chap. xvi.
How Sir Tristram came to La Beale Isoud, and how Kehydius began
to love Beale Isoud, and of a letter that Tristram found
How Sir Tristram departed from Tintagil, and how he sorrowed and
was so long in a forest till he was out of his mind . Chap. xviii.
How Sir Tristram soused Dagonet in a well, and how Palomides sent
a damosel to seek Tristram, and how Palomides met with King
Mark . . . . . . Chap. xix.
How it was noised how Sir Tristram was dead, and how La Beale
Isoud would have slain herself . . . Chap. xx.
How King Mark found Sir Tristram naked, and made him to be
borne home to Tintagil, and how he was there known by a
brachet . . . . . . Chap. xxi.
How King Mark, by the advice of his council, banished Sir Tristram
out of Cornwall the term of ten years. . . Chap. xxii.
How a damosel sought help to help Sir Launcelot against thirty
knights, and how Sir Tristram fought with them . Chap. xxiii.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan came to a lodging where they
must joust with two knights . . . Chap. xxiv.
How Sir Tristram jousted with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le
Desirous, and how Sir Gawaine turned Sir Tristram from
Morgan le Fay . . . . . Chap. xxv.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Gawaine rode to have foughten with the
thirty knights, but they durst not come out . Chap. xxvi.
How damosel Bragwaine found Tristram sleeping by a well, and how
she delivered letters to him from La Beale Isoud . Chap. xxvii.
How Sir Tristram had a fall with Sir Palomides, and how Launcelot
overthrew two knights . . . . Chap. xxviii.
How Sir Launcelot jousted with Palomides and overthrew him, and
after he was assailed with twelve knights . . Chap. xxix.
How Sir Tristram behaved him the first day of the tournament, and
there he had the prize . . . . Chap. xxx.
How Sir Tristram returned against King Arthur's party because he
saw Sir Palomides on that party . . . Chap. xxxi.
How Sir Tristram found Palomides by a well, and brought him with
him to his lodging . . . . Chap. xxxii.
How Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palomides, and how he jousted
with King Arthur, and other feats . . Chap. xxxiii.
How Sir Launcelot hurt Sir Tristram, and how after Sir Tristram
smote down Sir Palomides . . . Chap. xxxiv.
How the prize of the third day was given to Sir Launcelot, and Sir
Launcelot gave it to Sir Tristram . . . Chap. xxxv.
How Palomides came to the castle where Sir Tristram was, and of the
quest that Sir Launcelot and ten knights made for Sir Tristram
How Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan were taken and
put in prison . . . . . Chap. xxxvii.
How King Mark was sorry for the good renown of Sir Tristram.
Some of King Arthur's knights jousted with knights of Cornwall
Of the treason of King Mark, and how Sir Gaheris smote him down
and Andred his cousin . . .. Chap. xxxix.
How after that Sir Tristram, Sir Palomides, and Sir Dinadan had been
long in prison they werc delivered . . Chap. xl.
How Sir Dinadan rescued a lady from Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, and how
Sir Tristram received a shield of Morgan le Fay Chap. xli.
How Sir Tristram took with him the shield, and also how he slew the
paramour of Morgan le Fay . . . Chap. xlii.
How Morgan le Fey her paramour, and how Sir Tristram praised Sir
Launcelot and his kin . . . Chap. xliii.
How Sir Tristram at a tournament bare the shield that Morgan le Fay
delivered to him . . . . .Chap xliv
How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and
Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.
IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all
England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall
that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the
Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke,
charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a
fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.
So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the
means of great lords they were accorded both. The king liked and
loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of
measure, and desired to have lain by her. But she was a passing
good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And then she
told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent
for that I should be dishonoured; wherefore, husband, I counsel
you, that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all
night unto our own castle. And in like wise as she said so they
departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware
of their departing. All so soon as King Uther knew of their
departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to
him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of
the duke and his wife.
Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a
great charge; and if he will not come at your summons, then may
ye do your best, then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him.
So that was done, and the messengers had their answers; and that
was this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at
Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the king sent him
plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish
him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest
castle that he hath.
When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and
garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight
Tintagil, and the other castle hight Terrabil. So his wife Dame
Igraine he put in the castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in
the castle of Terrabil, the which had many issues and posterns
out. Then in all haste came Uther with a great host, and laid a
siege about the castle of Terrabil. And there he pight many
pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties, and much
people slain. Then for pure anger and for great love of fair
Igraine the king Uther fell sick. So came to the king Uther Sir
Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I
shall tell thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love
of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole. Well, my lord, said
Sir Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that
your heart shall be pleased. So Ulfius departed, and by
adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and there Merlin
asked Ulfius whom he sought. And he said he had little ado to
tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou
seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he; and if
King Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my
desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine; for I
shall cause him to have all his desire. All this will I
undertake, said Ulfius, that there shall be nothing reasonable
but thou shalt have thy desire. Well, said Merlin, he shall have
his intent and desire. And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your
way, for I will not be long behind.
How Uther Pendragon made war on the duke of Cornwall, and how by
the mean of Merlin he lay by the duchess and gat Arthur.
THEN Ulfius was glad, and rode on more than a pace till that he
came to King Uther Pendragon, and told him he had met with
Merlin. Where is he? said the king. Sir, said Ulfius, he will
not dwell long. Therewithal Ulfius was ware where Merlin stood
at the porch of the pavilion's door. And then Merlin was bound
to come to the king. When King Uther saw him, he said he was
welcome. Sir, said Merlin, I know all your heart every deal; so
ye will be sworn unto me as ye be a true king anointed, to fulfil
my desire, ye shall have your desire. Then the king was sworn
upon the Four Evangelists. Sir, said Merlin, this is my desire:
the first night that ye shall lie by Igraine ye shall get a child
on her, and when that is born, that it shall be delivered to me
for to nourish there as I will have it; for it shall be your
worship, and the child's avail, as mickle as the child is worth.
I will well, said the king, as thou wilt have it. Now make you
ready, said Merlin, this night ye shall lie with Igraine in the
castle of Tintagil; and ye shall be like the duke her husband,
Ulfius shall be like Sir Brastias, a knight of the duke's, and I
will be like a knight that hight Sir Jordanus, a knight of the
duke's. But wait ye make not many questions with her nor her
men, but say ye are diseased, and so hie you to bed, and rise not
on the morn till I come to you, for the castle of Tintagil is but
ten miles hence; so this was done as they devised. But the duke
of Tintagil espied how the king rode from the siege of Terrabil,
and therefore that night he issued out of the castle at a postern
for to have distressed the king's host. And so, through his own
issue, the duke himself was slain or ever the king came at the
castle of Tintagil.
So after the death of the duke, King Uther lay with Igraine more
than three hours after his death, and begat on her that night
Arthur, and on day came Merlin to the king, and bade him make him
ready, and so he kissed the lady Igraine and departed in all
haste. But when the lady heard tell of the duke her husband, and
by all record he was dead or ever King Uther came to her, then
she marvelled who that might be that lay with her in likeness of
her lord; so she mourned privily and held her peace. Then all
the barons by one assent prayed the king of accord betwixt the
lady Igraine and him; the king gave them leave, for fain would he
have been accorded with her. So the king put all the trust in
Ulfius to entreat between them, so by the entreaty at the last
the king and she met together. Now will we do well, said Ulfius,
our king is a lusty knight and wifeless, and my lady Igraine is a
passing fair lady; it were great joy unto us all, an it might
please the king to make her his queen. Unto that they all well
accorded and moved it to the king. And anon, like a lusty
knight, he assented thereto with good will, and so in all haste
they were married in a morning with great mirth and joy.
And King Lot of Lothian and of Orkney then wedded Margawse that
was Gawaine's mother, and King Nentres of the land of Garlot
wedded Elaine. All this was done at the request of King Uther.
And the third sister Morgan le Fay was put to school in a
nunnery, and there she learned so much that she was a great clerk
of necromancy. And after she was wedded to King Uriens of the
land of Gore, that was Sir Ewain's le Blanchemain's father.
Of the birth of King Arthur and of his nurture.
THEN Queen Igraine waxed daily greater and greater, so
it befell after within half a year, as King Uther lay by his
queen, he asked her, by the faith she owed to him, whose was
<5 CH. III OF THE BIRTH OF KING ARTHUR>the child within her
body; then she sore abashed to give answer. Dismay you not, said
the king, but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better,
by the faith of my body. Sir, said she, I shall tell you the
truth. The same night that my lord was dead, the hour of his
death, as his knights record, there came into my castle of
Tintagil a man like my lord in speech and in countenance, and two
knights with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and
Jordanus, and so I went unto bed with him as I ought to do with
my lord, and the same night, as I shall answer unto God, this
child was begotten upon me. That is truth, said the king, as ye
say; for it was I myself that came in the likeness, and therefore
dismay you not, for I am father of the child; and there he told
her all the cause, how it was by Merlin's counsel. Then the
queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her
Soon came Merlin unto the king, and said, Sir, ye must purvey you
for the nourishing of your child. As thou wilt, said the king,
be it. Well, said Merlin, I know a lord of yours in this land,
that is a passing true man and a faithful, and he shall have the
nourishing of your child, and his name is Sir Ector, and he is a
lord of fair livelihood in many parts in England and Wales; and
this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, for to come and speak
with you, and desire him yourself, as he loveth you, that he will
put his own child to nourishing to another woman, and that his
wife nourish yours. And when the child is born let it be
delivered to me at yonder privy postern unchristened. So like as
Merlin devised it was done. And when Sir Ector was come he made
fiaunce to the king for to nourish the child like as the king
desired; and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards.
Then when the lady was delivered, the king commanded two knights
and two ladies to take the child, bound in a cloth of gold, and
that ye deliver him to what poor man ye meet at the postern gate
of the castle. So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he
bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and made an holy man to christen
him, and named him Arthur; and so Sir Ector's wife nourished him
with her own pap.
Of the death of King Uther Pendragon.
THEN within two years King Uther fell sick of a great malady.
And in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him, and did a
great battle upon his men, and slew many of his people. Sir,
said Merlin, ye may not lie so as ye do, for ye must to the field
though ye ride on an horse-litter: for ye shall never have the
better of your enemies but if your person be there, and then
shall ye have the victory. So it was done as Merlin had devised,
and they carried the king forth in an horse-litter with a great
host towards his enemies. And at St. Albans there met with the
king a great host of the North. And that day Sir Ulfius and Sir
Brastias did great deeds of arms, and King Uther's men overcame
the Northern battle and slew many people, and put the remnant to
flight. And then the king returned unto London, and made great
joy of his victory. And then he fell passing sore sick, so that
three days and three nights he was speechless: wherefore all the
barons made great sorrow, and asked Merlin what counsel were
best. There is none other remedy, said Merlin, but God will have
his will. But look ye all barons be before King Uther to-morn,
and God and I shall make him to speak. So on the morn all the
barons with Merlin came to-fore the king; then Merlin said aloud
unto King Uther, Sir, shall your son Arthur be king after your
days, of this realm with all the appurtenance? Then Uther
Pendragon turned him, and said in hearing of them all, I give him
God's blessing and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, and
righteously and worshipfully that he claim the crown, upon
forfeiture of my blessing; and therewith he yielded up the ghost,
and then was he interred as longed to a king. Wherefore the
queen, fair Igraine, made great sorrow, and all the barons.
How Arthur was chosen king, and of wonders and marvels
of a sword taken out of a stone by the said Arthur.
THEN stood the realm in great jeopardy long while, for every lord
that was mighty of men made him strong, and many weened to have
been king. Then Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and
counselled him for to send for all the lords of the realm, and
all the gentlemen of arms, that they should to London come by
Christmas, upon pain of cursing; and for this cause, that Jesus,
that was born on that night, that he would of his great mercy
show some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for to
show some miracle who should be rightwise king of this realm. So
the Archbishop, by the advice of Merlin, sent for all the lords
and gentlemen of arms that they should come by Christmas even
unto London. And many of them made them clean of their life,
that their prayer might be the more acceptable unto God. So in
the greatest church of London, whether it were Paul's or not the
French book maketh no mention, all the estates were long or day
in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first mass
was done, there was seen in the churchyard, against the high
altar, a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone; and
in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and
therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there
were written in gold about the sword that said thus:--Whoso
pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king
born of all England. Then the people marvelled, and told it to
the Archbishop. I command, said the Archbishop, that ye keep you
within your church and pray unto God still, that no man touch the
sword till the high mass be all done. So when all masses were
done all the lords went to behold the stone and the sword. And
when they saw the scripture some assayed, such as <8>would have
been king. But none might stir the sword nor move it. He is not
here, said the Archbishop, that shall achieve the sword, but
doubt not God will make him known. But this is my counsel, said
the Archbishop, that we let purvey ten knights, men of good fame,
and they to keep this sword. So it was ordained, and then there
was made a cry, that every man should assay that would, for to
win the sword. And upon New Year's Day the barons let make a
jousts and a tournament, that all knights that would joust or
tourney there might play, and all this was ordained for to keep
the lords together and the commons, for the Archbishop trusted
that God would make him known that should win the sword.
So upon New Year's Day, when the service was done, the barons
rode unto the field, some to joust and some to tourney, and so it
happened that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London,
rode unto the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kay his son, and
young Arthur that was his nourished brother; and Sir Kay was made
knight at All Hallowmass afore. So as they rode to the jousts-
ward, Sir Kay lost his sword, for he had left it at his father's
lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride for his sword.
I will well, said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword, and when
he came home, the lady and all were out to see the jousting.
Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, I will ride to the
churchyard, and take the sword with me that sticketh in the
stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this
day. So when he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alighted and
tied his horse to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and
found no knights there, for they were at the jousting. And so he
handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled
it out of the stone, and took his horse and rode his way until he
came to his brother Sir Kay, and delivered him the sword. And as
soon as Sir Kay saw the sword, he wist well it was the sword of
the stone, and so he rode to his father Sir Ector, and said: Sir,
lo here is the sword of the stone, wherefore I must be king of
this land. When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he <9 CH. VI HOW HE
PULLED OUT THE SWORD>returned again and came to the church, and
there they alighted all three, and went into the church. And
anon he made Sir Kay swear upon a book how he came to that sword.
Sir, said Sir Kay, by my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me.
How gat ye this sword? said Sir Ector to Arthur. Sir, I will
tell you. When I came home for my brother's sword, I found
nobody at home to deliver me his sword; and so I thought my
brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, and so I came hither
eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without any pain. Found
ye any knights about this sword? said Sir Ector. Nay, said
Arthur. Now, said Sir Ector to Arthur, I understand ye must be
king of this land. Wherefore I, said Arthur, and for what cause?
Sir, said Ector, for God will have it so; for there should never
man have drawn out this sword, but he that shall be rightwise
king of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the sword
there as it was, and pull it out again. That is no mastery, said
Arthur, and so he put it in the stone; wherewithal Sir Ector
assayed to pull out the sword and failed.
How King Arthur pulled out the sword divers times.
Now assay, said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. And anon he pulled at
the sword with all his might; but it would not be. Now shall ye
assay, said Sir Ector to Arthur. I will well, said Arthur, and
pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir Ector knelt down to
the earth, and Sir Kay. Alas, said Arthur, my own dear father
and brother, why kneel ye to me? Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is
not so; I was never your father nor of your blood, but I wot well
ye are of an higher blood than I weened ye were. And then Sir
Ector told him all, how he was betaken him for to nourish him,
and by whose commandment, and by Merlin's deliverance.
Then Arthur made great dole when he understood that Sir Ector was
not his father. Sir, said Ector unto Arthur, will ye be my good
and gracious lord when ye are king? Else were I to blame, said
Arthur, for ye are the man in the world that I am most beholden
to, and my good lady and mother your wife, that as well as her
own hath fostered me and kept. And if ever it be God's will that
I be king as ye say, ye shall desire of me what I may do, and I
shall not fail you; God forbid I should fail you Sir, said Sir
Ector, I will ask no more of you, but that ye will make my son,
your foster brother, Sir Kay, seneschal of all your lands. That
shall be done, said Arthur, and more, by the faith of my body,
that never man shall have that office but he, while he and I live
Therewithal they went unto the Archbishop, and told him how the
sword was achieved, and by whom; and on Twelfth-day all the
barons came thither, and to assay to take the sword, who that
would assay. But there afore them all, there might none take it
out but Arthur; wherefore there were many lords wroth, and said
it was great shame unto them all and the realm, to be
overgoverned with a boy of no high blood born. And so they fell
out at that time that it was put off till Candlemas and then all
the barons should meet there again; but always the ten knights
were ordained to watch the sword day and night, and so they set a
pavilion over the stone and the sword, and five always watched.
So at Candlemas many more great lords came thither for to have
won the sword, but there might none prevail. And right as Arthur
did at Christmas, he did at Candlemas, and pulled out the sword
easily, whereof the barons were sore aggrieved and put it off in
delay till the high feast of Easter. And as Arthur sped before,
so did he at Easter; yet there were some of the great lords had
indignation that Arthur should be king, and put it off in a delay
till the feast of Pentecost.
Then the Archbishop of Canterbury by Merlin's providence let
purvey then of the best knights that they might get, and such
knights as Uther Pendragon loved best <11 CH. VII HOW KING
ARTHUR WAS CROWNED>and most trusted in his days. And such
knights were put about Arthur as Sir Baudwin of Britain, Sir Kay,
Sir Ulfius, Sir Brastias. All these, with many other, were
always about Arthur, day and night, till the feast of Pentecost.
How King Arthur was crowned, and how he made officers.
AND at the feast of Pentecost all manner of men assayed to pull
at the sword that would assay; but none might prevail but Arthur,
and pulled it out afore all the lords and commons that were
there, wherefore all the commons cried at once, We will have
Arthur unto our king, we will put him no more in delay, for we
all see that it is God's will that he shall be our king, and who
that holdeth against it, we will slay him. And therewithal they
kneeled at once, both rich and poor, and cried Arthur mercy
because they had delayed him so long, and Arthur forgave them,
and took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon
the altar where the Archbishop was, and so was he made knight of
the best man that was there. And so anon was the coronation
made. And there was he sworn unto his lords and the commons for
to be a true king, to stand with true justice from thenceforth
the days of this life. Also then he made all lords that held of
the crown to come in, and to do service as they ought to do. And
many complaints were made unto Sir Arthur of great wrongs that
were done since the death of King Uther, of many lands that were
bereaved lords, knights, ladies, and gentlemen. Wherefore King
Arthur made the lands to be given again unto them that owned
When this was done, that the king had stablished all the
countries about London, then he let make Sir Kay seneschal of
England; and Sir Baudwin of Britain was made constable; and Sir
Ulfius was made chamberlain; and Sir Brastias was made warden to
wait upon the north from Trent forwards, for it was that time the
most party <12>the king's enemies. But within few years after
Arthur won all the north, Scotland, and all that were under their
obeissance. Also Wales, a part of it, held against Arthur, but
he overcame them all, as he did the remnant, through the noble
prowess of himself and his knights of the Round Table.
How King Arthur held in Wales, at a Pentecost, a great
feast, and what kings and lords came to his feast.
THEN the king removed into Wales, and let cry a great feast that
it should be holden at Pentecost after the incoronation of him at
the city of Carlion. Unto the feast came King Lot of Lothian and
of Orkney, with five hundred knights with him. Also there came
to the feast King Uriens of Gore with four hundred knights with
him. Also there came to that feast King Nentres of Garlot, with
seven hundred knights with him. Also there came to the feast the
king of Scotland with six hundred knights with him, and he was
but a young man. Also there came to the feast a king that was
called the King with the Hundred Knights, but he and his men were
passing well beseen at all points. Also there came the king of
Carados with five hundred knights. And King Arthur was glad of
their coming, for he weened that all the kings and knights had
come for great love, and to have done him worship at his feast;
wherefore the king made great joy, and sent the kings and knights
great presents. But the kings would none receive, but rebuked
the messengers shamefully, and said they had no joy to receive no
gifts of a beardless boy that was come of low blood, and sent him
word they would none of his gifts, but that they were come to
give him gifts with hard swords betwixt the neck and the
shoulders: and therefore they came thither, so they told to the
messengers plainly, for it was great shame to all them to see
such a boy to have a rule of so noble a realm as this land was.
With this answer the messengers <13 CHAP.IX HOW KING ARTHUR HELD
FEAST>departed and told to King Arthur this answer. Wherefore,
by the advice of his barons, he took him to a strong tower with
five hundred good men with him. And all the kings aforesaid in a
manner laid a siege to-fore him, but King Arthur was well
victualed. And within fifteen days there came Merlin among them
into the city of Carlion. Then all the kings were passing glad
of Merlin, and asked him, For what cause is that boy Arthur made
your king? Sirs, said Merlin, I shall tell you the cause, for he
is King Uther Pendragon's son, born in wedlock, gotten on
Igraine, the duke's wife of Tintagil. Then is he a bastard, they
said all. Nay, said Merlin, after the death of the duke, more
than three hours, was Arthur begotten, and thirteen days after
King Uther wedded Igraine; and therefore I prove him he is no
bastard. And who saith nay, he shall be king and overcome all
his enemies; and, or he die, he shall be long king of all
England, and have under his obeissance Wales, Ireland, and
Scotland, and more realms than I will now rehearse. Some of the
kings had marvel of Merlin's words, and deemed well that it
should be as he said; and some of them laughed him to scorn, as
King Lot; and more other called him a witch. But then were they
accorded with Merlin, that King Arthur should come out and speak
with the kings, and to come safe and to go safe, such surance
there was made. So Merlin went unto King Arthur, and told him
how he had done, and bade him fear not, but come out boldly and
speak with them, and spare them not, but answer them as their
king and chieftain; for ye shall overcome them all, whether they
will or nill.
Of the first war that King Arthur had, and
how he won the field.
THEN King Arthur came out of his tower, and had under his gown a
jesseraunt of double mail, and there went with <14>him the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Baudwin of Britain, and Sir
Kay, and Sir Brastias: these were the men of most worship that
were with him. And when they were met there was no meekness, but
stout words on both sides; but always King Arthur answered them,
and said he would make them to bow an he lived. Wherefore they
departed with wrath, and King Arthur bade keep them well, and
they bade the king keep him well. So the king returned him to
the tower again and armed him and all his knights. What will ye
do? said Merlin to the kings; ye were better for to stint, for ye
shall not here prevail though ye were ten times so many. Be we
well advised to be afeared of a dream-reader? said King Lot.
With that Merlin vanished away, and came to King Arthur, and bade
him set on them fiercely; and in the meanwhile there were three
hundred good men, of the best that were with the kings, that went
straight unto King Arthur, and that comforted him greatly. Sir,
said Merlin to Arthur, fight not with the sword that ye had by
miracle, till that ye see ye go unto the worse, then draw it out
and do your best. So forthwithal King Arthur set upon them in
their lodging. And Sir Baudwin, Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias slew
on the right hand and on the left hand that it was marvel; and
always King Arthur on horseback laid on with a sword, and did
marvellous deeds of arms, that many of the kings had great joy of
his deeds and hardiness.
Then King Lot brake out on the back side, and the King with the
Hundred Knights, and King Carados, and set on Arthur fiercely
behind him. With that Sir Arthur turned with his knights, and
smote behind and before, and ever Sir Arthur was in the foremost
press till his horse was slain underneath him. And therewith
King Lot smote down King Arthur. With that his four knights
received him and set him on horseback. Then he drew his sword
Excalibur, but it was so bright in his enemies' eyes, that it
gave light like thirty torches. And therewith he put them a-
back, and slew much people. And then the commons of Carlion
arose with clubs and staves <15 CHAP. X OF KING BAN AND KING
BORS>and slew many knights; but all the kings held them together
with their knights that were left alive, and so fled and
departed. And Merlin came unto Arthur, and counselled him to
follow them no further.
How Merlin counselled King Arthur to send for King Ban and King
Bors, and of their counsel taken for the war.
SO after the feast and journey, King Arthur drew him unto London,
and so by the counsel of Merlin, the king let call his barons to
council, for Merlin had told the king that the six kings that
made war upon him would in all haste be awroke on him and on his
lands. Wherefore the king asked counsel at them all. They could
no counsel give, but said they were big enough. Ye say well,
said Arthur; I thank you for your good courage, but will ye all
that loveth me speak with Merlin? ye know well that he hath done
much for me, and he knoweth many things, and when he is afore
you, I would that ye prayed him heartily of his best advice. All
the barons said they would pray him and desire him. So Merlin
was sent for, and fair desired of all the barons to give them
best counsel. I shall say you, said Merlin, I warn you all, your
enemies are passing strong for you, and they are good men of arms
as be alive, and by this time they have gotten to them four kings
more, and a mighty duke; and unless that our king have more
chivalry with him than he may make within the bounds of his own
realm, an he fight with them in battle, he shall be overcome and
slain. What were best to do in this cause? said all the barons.
I shall tell you, said Merlin, mine advice; there are two
brethren beyond the sea, and they be kings both, and marvellous
good men of their hands; and that one hight King Ban of Benwick,
and that other hight King Bors of <16>Gaul, that is France. And
on these two kings warreth a mighty man of men, the King Claudas,
and striveth with them for a castle, and great war is betwixt
them. But this Claudas is so mighty of goods whereof he getteth
good knights, that he putteth these two kings most part to the
worse; wherefore this is my counsel, that our king and sovereign
lord send unto the kings Ban and Bors by two trusty knights with
letters well devised, that an they will come and see King Arthur
and his court, and so help him in his wars, that he will be sworn
unto them to help them in their wars against King Claudas. Now,
what say ye unto this counsel? said Merlin. This is well
counselled, said the king and all the barons.
Right so in all haste there were ordained to go two knights on
the message unto the two kings. So were there made letters in
the pleasant wise according unto King Arthur's desire. Ulfius
and Brastias were made the messengers, and so rode forth well
horsed and well armed and as the guise was that time, and so
passed the sea and rode toward the city of Benwick. And there
besides were eight knights that espied them, and at a strait
passage they met with Ulfius and Brastias, and would have taken
them prisoners; so they prayed them that they might pass, for
they were messengers unto King Ban and Bors sent from King
Arthur. Therefore, said the eight knights, ye shall die or be
prisoners, for we be knights of King Claudas. And therewith two
of them dressed their spears, and Ulfius and Brastias dressed
their spears, and ran together with great raundom. And Claudas'
knights brake their spears, and theirs to-held and bare the two
knights out of their saddles to the earth, and so left them
lying, and rode their ways. And the other six knights rode afore
to a passage to meet with them again, and so Ulfius and Brastias
smote other two down, and so passed on their ways. And at the
fourth passage there met two for two, and both were laid unto the
earth; so there was none of the eight knights but he was sore
hurt or bruised. And when they come to Benwick it fortuned there
were both kings, Ban and Bors.
And when it was told the kings that there were come messengers,
there were sent unto them two knights of worship, the one hight
Lionses, lord of the country of Payarne, and Sir Phariance a
worshipful knight. Anon they asked from whence they came, and
they said from King Arthur, king of England; so they took them in
their arms and made great joy each of other. But anon, as the
two kings wist they were messengers of Arthur's, there was made
no tarrying, but forthwith they spake with the knights, and
welcomed them in the faithfullest wise, and said they were most
welcome unto them before all the kings living; and therewith they
kissed the letters and delivered them. And when Ban and Bors
understood the letters, then they were more welcome than they
were before. And after the haste of the letters they gave them
this answer, that they would fulfil the desire of King Arthur's
writing, and Ulfius and Brastias, tarry there as long as they
would, they should have such cheer as might be made them in those
marches. Then Ulfius and Brastias told the kings of the
adventure at their passages of the eight knights. Ha! ah! said
Ban and Bors, they were my good friends. I would I had wist of
them; they should not have escaped so. So Ulfius and Brastias
had good cheer and great gifts, as much as they might bear away;
and had their answer by mouth and by writing, that those two
kings would come unto Arthur in all the haste that they might.
So the two knights rode on afore, and passed the sea, and came to
their lord, and told him how they had sped, whereof King Arthur
was passing glad. At what time suppose ye the two kings will be
here? Sir, said they, afore All Hallowmass. Then the king let
purvey for a great feast, and let cry a great jousts. And by All
Hallowmass the two kings were come over the sea with three
hundred knights well arrayed both for the peace and for the war.
And King Arthur met with them ten mile out of London, and there
was great joy as could be thought or made. And on All Hallowmass
at the great feast, sat in the hall the three kings, and Sir Kay
seneschal served in the hall, and Sir Lucas the butler, that
<18>was Duke Corneus' son, and Sir Griflet, that was the son of
Cardol, these three knights had the rule of all the service that
served the kings. And anon, as they had washen and risen, all
knights that would joust made them ready; by then they were ready
on horseback there were seven hundred knights. And Arthur, Ban,
and Bors, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Ector, Kay's
father, they were in a place covered with cloth of gold like an
hall, with ladies and gentlewomen, for to behold who did best,
and thereon to give judgment.
Of a great tourney made by King Arthur and the two kings
Ban and Bors, and how they went over the sea.
AND King Arthur and the two kings let depart the seven hundred
knights in two parties. And there were three hundred knights of
the realm of Benwick and of Gaul turned on the other side. Then
they dressed their shields, and began to couch their spears many
good knights. So Griflet was the first that met with a knight,
one Ladinas, and they met so eagerly that all men had wonder; and
they so fought that their shields fell to pieces, and horse and
man fell to the earth; and both the French knight and the English
knight lay so long that all men weened they had been dead. When
Lucas the butler saw Griflet so lie, he horsed him again anon,
and they two did marvellous deeds of arms with many bachelors.
Also Sir Kay came out of an ambushment with five knights with
him, and they six smote other six down. But Sir Kay did that day
marvellous deeds of arms, that there was none did so well as he
that day. Then there came Ladinas and Gracian, two knights of
France, and did passing well, that all men praised them.
Then came there Sir Placidas, a good knight, and met with Sir
Kay, and smote him down horse and man, where<19 CH. XI TOURNEY
MADE BY KING ARTHUR>fore Sir Griflet was wroth, and met with Sir
Placidas so hard, that horse and man fell to the earth. But when
the five knights wist that Sir Kay had a fall, they were wroth
out of wit, and therewith each of them five bare down a knight.
When King Arthur and the two kings saw them begin to wax wroth on
both parties, they leapt on small hackneys, and let cry that all
men should depart unto their lodging. And so they went home and
unarmed them, and so to evensong and supper. And after, the
three kings went into a garden, and gave the prize unto Sir Kay,
and to Lucas the butler, and unto Sir Griflet. And then they
went unto council, and with them Gwenbaus, the brother unto Sir
Ban and Bors, a wise clerk, and thither went Ulfius and Brastias,
and Merlin. And after they had been in council, they went unto
bed. And on the morn they heard mass, and to dinner, and so to
their council, and made many arguments what were best to do. At
the last they were concluded, that Merlin should go with a token
of King Ban, and that was a ring, unto his men and King Bors';
and Gracian and Placidas should go again and keep their castles
and their countries, as for [dread of King Claudas] King Ban of
Benwick, and King Bors of Gaul had ordained them, and so passed
the sea and came to Benwick. And when the people saw King Ban's
ring, and Gracian and Placidas, they were glad, and asked how the
kings fared, and made great joy of their welfare and cording, and
according unto the sovereign lords desire, the men of war made
them ready in all haste possible, so that they were fifteen
thousand on horse and foot, and they had great plenty of victual
with them, by Merlin's provision. But Gracian and Placidas were
left to furnish and garnish the castles, for dread of King
Claudas. Right so Merlin passed the sea, well victualled both by
water and by land. And when he came to the sea he sent home the
footmen again, and took no more with him but ten thousand men on
horseback, the most part men of arms, and so shipped and passed
the sea into England, and landed at Dover; and through the wit of
Merlin, he had the host northward, the priviest way that could be
thought, <20>unto the forest of Bedegraine, and there in a valley
he lodged them secretly.
Then rode Merlin unto Arthur and the two kings, and told them how
he had sped; whereof they had great marvel, that man on earth
might speed so soon, and go and come. So Merlin told them ten
thousand were in the forest of Bedegraine, well armed at all
points. Then was there no more to say, but to horseback went all
the host as Arthur had afore purveyed. So with twenty thousand
he passed by night and day, but there was made such an ordinance
afore by Merlin, that there should no man of war ride nor go in
no country on this side Trent water, but if he had a token from
King Arthur, where through the king's enemies durst not ride as
they did to-fore to espy.
How eleven kings gathered a great host against
AND SO within a little space the three kings came unto the castle
of Bedegraine, and found there a passing fair fellowship, and
well beseen, whereof they had great joy, and victual they wanted
none. This was the cause of the northern host: that they were
reared for the despite and rebuke the six kings had at Carlion.
And those six kings by their means, gat unto them five other
kings; and thus they began to gather their people.
And now they sware that for weal nor woe, they should not leave
other, till they had destroyed Arthur. And then they made an
oath. The first that began the oath was the Duke of Cambenet,
that he would bring with him five thousand men of arms, the which
were ready on horseback. Then sware King Brandegoris of
Stranggore that he would bring five thousand men of arms on
horseback. Then sware King Clariance of Northumberland he would
bring three thousand men of arms. Then sware the King of the <21
CHAP. XIII OF A DREAM>Hundred Knights, that was a passing good
man and a young, that he would bring four thousand men of arms on
horseback. Then there swore King Lot, a passing good knight, and
Sir Gawain's father, that he would bring five thousand men of
arms on horseback. Also there swore King Urience, that was Sir
Uwain's father, of the land of Gore, and he would bring six
thousand men of arms on horseback. Also there swore King Idres
of Cornwall, that he would bring five thousand men of arms on
horseback. Also there swore King Cradelmas to bring five
thousand men on horseback. Also there swore King Agwisance of
Ireland to bring five thousand men of arms on horseback. Also
there swore King Nentres to bring five thousand men of arms on
horseback. Also there swore King Carados to bring five thousand
men of arms on horseback. So their whole host was of clean men
of arms on horseback fifty thousand, and a-foot ten thousand of
good men's bodies. Then were they soon ready, and mounted upon
horse and sent forth their fore-riders, for these eleven kings in
their ways laid a siege unto the castle of Bedegraine; and so
they departed and drew toward Arthur, and left few to abide at
the siege, for the castle of Bedegraine was holden of King
Arthur, and the men that were therein were Arthur's.
Of a dream of the King with the Hundred Knights.
So by Merlin's advice there were sent fore-riders to skim the
country, and they met with the fore-riders of the north, and made
them to tell which way the host came, and then they told it to
Arthur, and by King Ban and Bors' council they let burn and
destroy all the country afore them, there they should ride.
The King with the Hundred Knights met a wonder dream two nights
afore the battle, that there blew a great <22>wind, and blew down
their castles and their towns, and after that came a water and
bare it all away. All that heard of the sweven said it was a
token of great battle. Then by counsel of Merlin, when they wist
which way the eleven kings would ride and lodge that night, at
midnight they set upon them, as they were in their pavilions.
But the scout-watch by their host cried, Lords! at arms! for here
be your enemies at your hand!
How the eleven kings with their host fought against Arthur
and his host, and many great feats of the war.
THEN King Arthur and King Ban and King Bors, with their good and
trusty knights, set on them so fiercely that they made them
overthrow their pavilions on their heads, but the eleven kings,
by manly prowess of arms, took a fair champaign, but there was
slain that morrowtide ten thousand good men's bodies. And so
they had afore them a strong passage, yet were they fifty
thousand of hardy men. Then it drew toward day. Now shall ye do
by mine advice, said Merlin unto the three kings: I would that
King Ban and King Bors, with their fellowship of ten thousand
men, were put in a wood here beside, in an ambushment, and keep
them privy, and that they be laid or the light of the day come,
and that they stir not till ye and your knights have fought with
them long. And when it is daylight, dress your battle even afore
them and the passage, that they may see all your host, for then
will they be the more hardy, when they see you but about twenty
thousand men, and cause them to be the gladder to suffer you and
your host to come over the passage. All the three kings and the
whole barons said that Merlin said passingly well, and it was
done anon as Merlin had devised. So on the morn, when either
host saw other, the host of the north was well comforted. Then
to Ulfius <23 CH. XIV ELEVEN KINGS WAR WITH ARTHUR>and Brastias
were delivered three thousand men of arms, and they set on them
fiercely in the passage, and slew on the right hand and on the
left hand that it was wonder to tell.
When that the eleven kings saw that there was so few a fellowship
did such deeds of arms, they were ashamed and set on them again
fiercely; and there was Sir Ulfius's horse slain under him, but
he did marvellously well on foot. But the Duke Eustace of
Cambenet and King Clariance of Northumberland, were alway
grievous on Ulfius. Then Brastias saw his fellow fared so withal
he smote the duke with a spear, that horse and man fell down.
That saw King Clariance and returned unto Brastias, and either
smote other so that horse and man went to the earth, and so they
lay long astonied, and their horses' knees brast to the hard
bone. Then came Sir Kay the seneschal with six fellows with him,
and did passing well. With that came the eleven kings, and there
was Griflet put to the earth, horse and man, and Lucas the
butler, horse and man, by King Brandegoris, and King Idres, and
King Agwisance. Then waxed the medley passing hard on both
parties. When Sir Kay saw Griflet on foot, he rode on King
Nentres and smote him down, and led his horse unto Sir Griflet,
and horsed him again. Also Sir Kay with the same spear smote
down King Lot, and hurt him passing sore. That saw the King with
the Hundred Knights, and ran unto Sir Kay and smote him down, and
took his horse, and gave him King Lot, whereof he said gramercy.
When Sir Griflet saw Sir Kay and Lucas the butler on foot, he
took a sharp spear, great and square, and rode to Pinel, a good
man of arms, and smote horse and man down, and then he took his
horse, and gave him unto Sir Kay. Then King Lot saw King Nentres
on foot, he ran unto Melot de la Roche, and smote him down, horse
and man, and gave King Nentres the horse, and horsed him again.
Also the King of the Hundred Knights saw King Idres on foot; then
he ran unto Gwiniart de Bloi, and smote him down, horse and man,
and gave King Idres the horse, and <24>horsed him again; and King
Lot smote down Clariance de la Forest Savage, and gave the horse
unto Duke Eustace. And so when they had horsed the kings again
they drew them, all eleven kings, together, and said they would
be revenged of the damage that they had taken that day. The
meanwhile came in Sir Ector with an eager countenance, and found
Ulfius and Brastias on foot, in great peril of death, that were
foul defoiled under horse-feet.
Then Arthur as a lion, ran unto King Cradelment of North Wales,
and smote him through the left side, that the horse and the king
fell down; and then he took the horse by the rein, and led him
unto Ulfius, and said, Have this horse, mine old friend, for
great need hast thou of horse. Gramercy, said Ulfius. Then Sir
Arthur did so marvellously in arms, that all men had wonder.
When the King with the Hundred Knights saw King Cradelment on
foot, he ran unto Sir Ector, that was well horsed, Sir Kay's
father, and smote horse and man down, and gave the horse unto the
king, and horsed him again. And when King Arthur saw the king
ride on Sir Ector's horse, he was wroth and with his sword he
smote the king on the helm, that a quarter of the helm and shield
fell down, and so the sword carved down unto the horse's neck,
and so the king and the horse fell down to the ground. Then Sir
Kay came unto Sir Morganore, seneschal with the King of the
Hundred Knights, and smote him down, horse and man, and led the
horse unto his father, Sir Ector; then Sir Ector ran unto a
knight, hight Lardans, and smote horse and man down, and led the
horse unto Sir Brastias, that great need had of an horse, and was
greatly defoiled. When Brastias beheld Lucas the butler, that
lay like a dead man under the horses' feet, and ever Sir Griflet
did marvellously for to rescue him, and there were always
fourteen knights on Sir Lucas; then Brastias smote one of them on
the helm, that it went to the teeth, and he rode to another and
smote him, that the arm flew into the field. Then he went to the
third and smote him on the shoulder, that shoulder and arm flew
in the field. <25 CHAP. XV YET OF THE SAME BATTLE>And when
Griflet saw rescues, he smote a knight on the temples, that head
and helm went to the earth, and Griflet took the horse of that
knight, and led him unto Sir Lucas, and bade him mount upon the
horse and revenge his hurts. For Brastias had slain a knight to-
fore and horsed Griflet.
Yet of the same battle.
THEN Lucas saw King Agwisance, that late had slain Moris de la
Roche, and Lucas ran to him with a short spear that was great,
that he gave him such a fall, that the horse fell down to the
earth. Also Lucas found there on foot, Bloias de La Flandres,
and Sir Gwinas, two hardy knights, and in that woodness that
Lucas was in, he slew two bachelors and horsed them again. Then
waxed the battle passing hard on both parties, but Arthur was
glad that his knights were horsed again, and then they fought
together, that the noise and sound rang by the water and the
wood. Wherefore King Ban and King Bors made them ready, and
dressed their shields and harness, and they were so courageous
that many knights shook and bevered for eagerness. All this
while Lucas, and Gwinas, and Briant, and Bellias of Flanders,
held strong medley against six kings, that was King Lot, King
Nentres, King Brandegoris, King Idres, King Uriens, and King
Agwisance. So with the help of Sir Kay and of Sir Griflet they
held these six kings hard, that unnethe they had any power to
defend them. But when Sir Arthur saw the battle would not be
ended by no manner, he fared wood as a lion, and steered his
horse here and there, on the right hand, and on the left hand,
that he stinted not till he had slain twenty knights. Also he
wounded King Lot sore on the shoulder, and made him to leave that
ground, for Sir Kay and Griflet did with King Arthur there great
deeds of arms. Then Ulfius, and Brastias, and Sir Ector
<26>encountered against the Duke Eustace, and King Cradelment,
and King Clariance of Northumberland, and King Carados, and
against the King with the Hundred Knights. So these knights
encountered with these kings, that they made them to avoid the
ground. Then King Lot made great dole for his damages and his
fellows, and said unto the ten kings, But if ye will do as I
devise we shall be slain and destroyed; let me have the King with
the Hundred Knights, and King Agwisance, and King Idres, and the
Duke of Cambenet, and we five kings will have fifteen thousand
men of arms with us, and we will go apart while ye six kings hold
medley with twelve thousand; an we see that ye have foughten with
them long, then will we come on fiercely, and else shall we never
match them, said King Lot, but by this mean. So they departed as
they here devised, and six kings made their party strong against
Arthur, and made great war long.
In the meanwhile brake the ambushment of King Ban and King Bors,
and Lionses and Phariance had the vanguard, and they two knights
met with King Idres and his fellowship, and there began a great
medley of breaking of spears, and smiting of swords, with slaying
of men and horses, and King Idres was near at discomforture.
That saw Agwisance the king, and put Lionses and Phariance in
point of death; for the Duke of Cambenet came on withal with a
great fellowship. So these two knights were in great danger of
their lives that they were fain to return, but always they
rescued themselves and their fellowship marvellously When King
Bors saw those knights put aback, it grieved him sore; then he
came on so fast that his fellowship seemed as black as Inde.
When King Lot had espied King Bors, he knew him well, then he
said, O Jesu, defend us from death and horrible maims! for I see
well we be in great peril of death; for I see yonder a king, one
of the most worshipfullest men and one of the best knights of the
world, is inclined unto his fellowship. What is he? said the
King with the Hundred Knights. It is, said King Lot, King Bors
of Gaul; I marvel how they came into this country without
<27>witting of us all. It was by Merlin's advice, said the
knight. As for him, said King Carados, I will encounter with
King Bors, an ye will rescue me when myster is. Go on, said they
all, we will do all that we may. Then King Carados and his host
rode on a soft pace, till that they came as nigh King Bors as
bow-draught; then either battle let their horse run as fast as
they might. And Bleoberis, that was godson unto King Bors, he
bare his chief standard, that was a passing good knight. Now
shall we see, said King Bors, how these northern Britons can bear
the arms: and King Bors encountered with a knight, and smote him
throughout with a spear that he fell dead unto the earth; and
after drew his sword and did marvellous deeds of arms, that all
parties had great wonder thereof; and his knights failed not, but
did their part, and King Carados was smitten to the earth. With
that came the King with the Hundred Knights and rescued King
Carados mightily by force of arms, for he was a passing good
knight of a king, and but a young man.
Yet more of the same battle.
BY then came into the field King Ban as fierce as a lion, with
bands of green and thereupon gold. Ha! a! said King Lot, we must
be discomfited, for yonder I see the most valiant knight of the
world, and the man of the most renown, for such two brethren as
is King Ban and King Bors are not living, wherefore we must needs
void or die; and but if we avoid manly and wisely there is but
death. When King Ban came into the battle, he came in so
fiercely that the strokes redounded again from the wood and the
water; wherefore King Lot wept for pity and dole that he saw so
many good knights take their end. But through the great force of
King Ban they made both the northern battles that were departed
hurtled together for great dread; <28>and the three kings and
their knights slew on ever, that it was pity on to behold that
multitude of the people that fled. But King Lot, and King of the
Hundred Knights, and King Morganore gathered the people together
passing knightly, and did great prowess of arms, and held the
battle all that day, like hard.
When the King of the Hundred Knights beheld the great damage that
King Ban did, he thrust unto him with his horse, and smote him on