Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Le Morte Darthur

Part 10 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

that was called the noble Knight of the Red Launds
that Sir Gareth won for the love of Dame Liones, Sir
Arrok de Grevaunt, Sir Degrane Saunce Velany that
fought with the giant of the black lowe, Sir Epinogris,
that was the king's son of Northumberland. Sir Pelleas
that loved the lady Ettard, and he had died for her love
had not been one of the ladies of the lake, her name was
Dame Nimue, and she wedded Sir Pelleas, and she saved
him that he was never slain, and he was a full noble
knight; and Sir Lamiel of Cardiff that was a great lover.
Sir Plaine de Fors, Sir Melleaus de Lile, Sir Bohart le
Cure Hardy that was King Arthur's son, Sir Mador de la
Porte, Sir Colgrevance, Sir Hervise de la Forest Savage,
Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his
wife, for she made him seven year a wer-wolf, Sir Persaunt,
Sir Pertilope, his brother, that was called the Green
Knight, and Sir Perimones, brother to them both, that
was called the Red Knight, that Sir Gareth won when he
was called Beaumains. All these hundred knights and
ten searched Sir Urre's wounds by the commandment of
King Arthur.


How Sir Launcelot was commanded by Arthur to handle his
wounds, and anon he was all whole, and how they
thanked God

MERCY Jesu, said King Arthur, where is Sir Launcelot du
Lake that he is not here at this time? Thus, as they
stood and spake of many things, there was espied Sir
Launcelot that came riding toward them, and told the
king. Peace, said the king, let no manner thing be said
until he be come to us. So when Sir Launcelot espied
King Arthur, he descended from his horse and came to
the king, and saluted him and them all. Anon as the
maid, Sir Urre's sister, saw Sir Launcelot, she ran to her
brother thereas he lay in his litter, and said: Brother,
here is come a knight that my heart giveth greatly unto.
Fair sister, said Sir Urre, so doth my heart light against
him, and certainly I hope now to be healed, for my
heart giveth unto him more than to all these that have
searched me.

Then said Arthur unto Sir Launcelot: Ye must do as
we have done; and told Sir Launcelot what they had
done, and showed him them all, that had searched him.
Jesu defend me, said Sir Launcelot, when so many kings
and knights have assayed and failed, that I should presume
upon me to enchieve that all ye, my lords, might not
enchieve. Ye shall not choose, said King Arthur, for I
will command you for to do as we all have done. My
most renowned lord, said Sir Launcelot, ye know well
I dare not nor may not disobey your commandment, but
an I might or durst, wit you well I would not take upon
me to touch that wounded knight in that intent that I
should pass all other knights; Jesu defend me from that
shame. Ye take it wrong, said King Arthur, ye shall not
do it for no presumption, but for to bear us fellowship,
insomuch ye be a fellow of the Table Round; and wit you
well, said King Arthur, an ye prevail not and heal him,
I dare say there is no knight in this land may heal him,
and therefore I pray you, do as we have done.

And then all the kings and knights for the most part
prayed Sir Launcelot to search him; and then the
wounded knight, Sir Urre, set him up weakly, and prayed
Sir Launcelot heartily, saying: Courteous knight, I
require thee for God's sake heal my wounds, for methinketh
ever sithen ye came here my wounds grieve me
not. Ah, my fair lord, said Sir Launcelot, Jesu would
that I might help you; I shame me sore that I should be
thus rebuked, for never was I able in worthiness to do so
high a thing. Then Sir Launcelot kneeled down by the
wounded knight saying: My lord Arthur, I must do
your commandment, the which is sore against my heart.
And then he held up his hands, and looked into the east,
saying secretly unto himself: Thou blessed Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost, I beseech thee of thy mercy, that my
simple worship and honesty be saved, and thou blessed
Trinity, thou mayst give power to heal this sick knight
by thy great virtue and grace of thee, but, Good Lord,
never of myself. And then Sir Launcelot prayed Sir
Urre to let him see his head; and then devoutly kneeling
he ransacked the three wounds, that they bled a little, and
forthwith all the wounds fair healed, and seemed as they
had been whole a seven year. And in likewise he searched
his body of other three wounds, and they healed in
likewise; and then the last of all he searched the which was
in his hand, and anon it healed fair.

Then King Arthur and all the kings and knights
kneeled down and gave thankings and lovings unto God
and to His Blessed Mother. And ever Sir Launcelot
wept as he had been a child that had been beaten. Then
King Arthur let array priests and clerks in the most
devoutest manner, to bring in Sir Urre within Carlisle,
with singing and loving to God. And when this was
done, the king let clothe him in the richest manner that
could be thought; and then were there but few better
made knights in all the court, for he was passingly well
made and bigly; and Arthur asked Sir Urre how he felt
himself. My good lord, he said, I felt myself never so
lusty. Will ye joust and do deeds of arms? said King
Arthur. Sir, said Urre, an I had all that longed unto
jousts I would be soon ready.


How there was a party made of an hundred knights against
an hundred knights, and of other matters

THEN Arthur made a party of hundred knights to be
against an hundred knights. And so upon the morn they
jousted for a diamond, but there jousted none of the
dangerous knights; and so for to shorten this tale, Sir
Urre and Sir Lavaine jousted best that day, for there was
none of them but he overthrew and pulled down thirty
knights; and then by the assent of all the kings and
lords, Sir Urre and Sir Lavaine were made knights of the
Table Round. And Sir Lavaine cast his love unto Dame
Felelolie, Sir Urre's sister, and then they were wedded
together with great joy, and King Arthur gave to everych
of them a barony of lands. And this Sir Urre would
never go from Sir Launcelot, but he and Sir Lavaine
awaited evermore upon him; and they were in all the
court accounted for good knights, and full desirous in
arms; and many noble deeds they did, for they would
have no rest, but ever sought adventures.

Thus they lived in all that court with great noblesse
and joy long time. But every night and day Sir Agravaine,
Sir Gawaine's brother, awaited Queen Guenever and Sir
Launcelot du Lake to put them to a rebuke and shame.
And so I leave here of this tale, and overskip great books
of Sir Launcelot du Lake, what great adventures he did
when he was called Le Chevaler du Chariot. For as the
French book saith, because of despite that knights and
ladies called him the knight that rode in the chariot like
as he were judged to the gallows, therefore in despite of
all them that named him so, he was carried in a chariot a
twelvemonth, for, but little after that he had slain Sir
Meliagrance in the queen's quarrel, he never in a twelvemonth
came on horseback. And as the French book
saith, he did that twelvemonth more than forty battles.
And because I have lost the very matter of Le Chevaier
du Chariot, I depart from the tale of Sir Launcelot, and
here I go unto the morte of King Arthur; and that
caused Sir Agravaine.

And hereafter followeth the most piteous history of the
morte of King Arthur, the which is the twentieth book.>



How Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred were busy upon Sir
Gawaine for to disclose the love between Sir Launcelot
and Queen Guenever

IN May when every lusty heart flourisheth and bourgeoneth,
for as the season is lusty to behold and comfortable,
so man and woman rejoice and gladden of summer
coming with his fresh flowers: for winter with his rough
winds and blasts causeth a lusty man and woman to cower
and sit fast by the fire. So in this season, as in the month
of May, it befell a great anger and unhap that stinted not
till the flower of chivalry of all the world was destroyed
and slain; and all was long upon two unhappy knights
the which were named Agravaine and Sir Mordred, that
were brethren unto Sir Gawaine. For this Sir Agravaine
and Sir Mordred had ever a privy hate unto the queen
Dame Guenever and to Sir Launcelot, and daily and
nightly they ever watched upon Sir Launcelot.

So it mishapped, Sir Gawaine and all his brethren were in
King Arthur's chamber; and then Sir Agravaine said thus
openly, and not in no counsel, that many knights might
hear it: I marvel that we all be not ashamed both to see
and to know how Sir Launcelot lieth daily and nightly by
the queen, and all we know it so; and it is shamefully
suffered of us all, that we all should suffer so noble a king
as King Arthur is so to be shamed.

Then spake Sir Gawaine, and said: Brother Sir Agravaine,
I pray you and charge you move no such matters
no more afore me, for wit you well, said Sir Gawaine, I
will not be of your counsel. So God me help, said Sir
Gaheris and Sir Gareth, we will not be knowing, brother
Agravaine, of your deeds. Then will I, said Sir Mordred.
I lieve well that, said Sir Gawaine, for ever unto
all unhappiness, brother Sir Mordred, thereto will ye grant;
and I would that ye left all this, and made you not so
busy, for I know, said Sir Gawaine, what will fall of it.
Fall of it what fall may, said Sir Agravaine, I will disclose
it to the king. Not by my counsel, said Sir Gawaine, for
an there rise war and wrack betwixt Sir Launcelot and us,
wit you well brother, there will many kings and great
lords hold with Sir Launcelot. Also, brother Sir Agravaine,
said Sir Gawaine, ye must remember how ofttimes
Sir Launcelot hath rescued the king and the queen; and
the best of us all had been full cold at the heart-root had not
Sir Launcelot been better than we, and that hath he proved
himself full oft. And as for my part, said Sir Gawaine, I
will never be against Sir Launcelot for one day's deed,
when he rescued me from King Carados of the Dolorous
Tower, and slew him, and saved my life. Also, brother
Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, in like wise Sir Launcelot
rescued you both, and threescore and two, from Sir
Turquin. Methinketh brother, such kind deeds and kindness
should be remembered. Do as ye list, said Sir Agravaine,
for I will lain it no longer. With these words came to
them King Arthur. Now brother, stint your noise, said
Sir Gawaine. We will not, said Sir Agravaine and Sir
Mordred. Will ye so? said Sir Gawaine; then God
speed you, for I will not hear your tales ne be of your
counsel. No more will I, said Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris,
for we will never say evil by that man; for because, said
Sir Gareth, Sir Launcelot made me knight, by no manner
owe I to say ill of him: and therewithal they three
departed, making great dole. Alas, said Sir Gawaine and
Sir Gareth, now is this realm wholly mischieved, and the
noble fellowship of the Round Table shall be disparpled:
so they departed.


How Sir Agravaine disclosed their love to King Arthur,
and how King Arthur gave them licence to take him

AND then Sir Arthur asked them what noise they made.
My lord, said Agravaine, I shall tell you that I may keep
no longer. Here is I, and my brother Sir Mordred,
brake unto my brothers Sir Gawaine, Sir Gaheris, and to
Sir Gareth, how this we know all, that Sir Launcelot
holdeth your queen, and hath done long; and we be your
sister's sons, and we may suffer it no longer, and all we
wot that ye should be above Sir Launcelot; and ye are
the king that made him knight, and therefore we will
prove it, that he is a traitor to your person.

If it be so, said Sir Arthur, wit you well he is none
other, but I would be loath to begin such a thing but I
might have proofs upon it; for Sir Launcelot is an hardy
knight, and all ye know he is the best knight among us
all; and but if he be taken with the deed, he will fight
with him that bringeth up the noise, and I know no
knight that is able to match him. Therefore an it be
sooth as ye say, I would he were taken with the deed.
For as the French book saith, the king was full loath
thereto, that any noise should be upon Sir Launcelot and
his queen; for the king had a deeming, but he would not
hear of it, for Sir Launcelot had done so much for him
and the queen so many times, that wit ye well the king
loved him passingly well. My lord, said Sir Agravaine,
ye shall ride to-morn a-hunting, and doubt ye not Sir
Launcelot will not go with you. Then when it draweth
toward night, ye may send the queen word that ye will lie
out all that night, and so may ye send for your cooks,
and then upon pain of death we shall take him that night
with the queen, and outher we shall bring him to you
dead or quick. I will well, said the king; then I counsel
you, said the king, take with you sure fellowship. Sir,
said Agravaine, my brother, Sir Mordred, and I, will take
with us twelve knights of the Round Table. Beware,
said King Arthur, for I warn you ye shall find him wight.
Let us deal, said Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred.

So on the morn King Arthur rode a-hunting, and sent
word to the queen that he would be out all that night.
Then Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred gat to them twelve
knights, and hid themself in a chamber in the Castle of
Carlisle, and these were their names: Sir Colgrevance, Sir
Mador de la Porte, Sir Gingaline, Sir Meliot de Logris,
Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, Sir Galleron of Galway, Sir
Melion of the Mountain, Sir Astamore, Sir Gromore
Somir Joure, Sir Curselaine, Sir Florence, Sir Lovel. So
these twelve knights were with Sir Mordred and Sir
Agravaine, and all they were of Scotland, outher of Sir
Gawaine's kin, either well-willers to his brethren.

So when the night came, Sir Launcelot told Sir Bors
how he would go that night and speak with the queen.
Sir, said Sir Bors, ye shall not go this night by my counsel.
Why? said Sir Launcelot. Sir, said Sir Bors, I dread me
ever of Sir Agravaine, that waiteth you daily to do you
shame and us all; and never gave my heart against no
going, that ever ye went to the queen, so much as now;
for I mistrust that the king is out this night from the
queen because peradventure he hath lain some watch for
you and the queen, and therefore I dread me sore of
treason. Have ye no dread, said Sir Launcelot, for I
shall go and come again, and make no tarrying. Sir, said
Sir Bors, that me repenteth, for I dread me sore that your
going out this night shall wrath us all. Fair nephew,
said Sir Launcelot, I marvel much why ye say thus, sithen
the queen hath sent for me; and wit ye well I will not be
so much a coward, but she shall understand I will see her
good grace. God speed you well, said Sir Bors, and send
you sound and safe again.


How Sir Launcelot was espied in the queen's chamber, and
how Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred came with twelve
knights to slay him

SO Sir Launcelot departed, and took his sword under his arm,
and so in his mantle that noble knight put himself in great
Jeopardy; and so he passed till he came to the queen's
chamber, and then Sir Launcelot was lightly put into the
chamber. And then, as the French book saith, the queen
and Launcelot were together. And whether they were
abed or at other manner of disports, me list not hereof
make no mention, for love that time was not as is now-a-days.
But thus as they were together, there came Sir
Agravaine and Sir Mordred, with twelve knights with
them of the Round Table, and they said with crying
voice: Traitor-knight, Sir Launcelot du Lake, now art
thou taken. And thus they cried with a loud voice, that
all the court might hear it; and they all fourteen were
armed at all points as they should fight in a battle. Alas
said Queen Guenever, now are we mischieved both
Madam, said Sir Launcelot, is there here any armour
within your chamber, that I might cover my poor body
withal? An if there be any give it me, and I shall soon
stint their malice, by the grace of God. Truly, said the
queen, I have none armour, shield, sword, nor spear;
wherefore I dread me sore our long love is come to a
mischievous end, for I hear by their noise there be many
noble knights, and well I wot they be surely armed, and
against them ye may make no resistance. Wherefore ye
are likely to be slain, and then shall I be brent. For an
ye might escape them, said the queen, I would not doubt
but that ye would rescue me in what danger that ever I
stood in. Alas, said Sir Launcelot, in all my life thus
was I never bestead, that I should be thus shamefully
slain for lack of mine armour.

But ever in one Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred cried:
Traitor-knight, come out of the queen's chamber, for wit
thou well thou art so beset that thou shalt not escape.
O Jesu mercy, said Sir Launcelot, this shameful cry and
noise I may not suffer, for better were death at once than
thus to endure this pain. Then he took the queen in his
arms, and kissed her, and said: Most noble Christian
queen, I beseech you as ye have been ever my special good
lady, and I at all times your true poor knight unto my
power, and as I never failed you in right nor in wrong
sithen the first day King Arthur made me knight, that ye
will pray for my soul if that I here be slain; for well I
am assured that Sir Bors, my nephew, and all the remnant
of my kin, with Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre, that they will
not fail you to rescue you from the fire; and therefore, mine
own lady, recomfort yourself, whatsomever come of me,
that ye go with Sir Bors, my nephew, and Sir Urre, and
they all will do you all the pleasure that they can or may,
that ye shall live like a queen upon my lands. Nay,
Launcelot, said the queen, wit thou well I will never live
after thy days, but an thou be slain I will take my death
as meekly for Jesu Christ's sake as ever did any Christian
queen. Well, madam, said I-auncelot, sith it is so that
the day is come that our love must depart, wit you well I
shall sell my life as dear as I may; and a thousandfold,
said Sir Launcelot, I am more heavier for you than for
myself. And now I had liefer than to be lord of all
Christendom, that I had sure armour upon me, that men
might speak of my deeds or ever I were slain. Truly,
said the queen, I would an it might please God that they
would take me and slay me, and suffer you to escape.
That shall never be, said Sir Launcelot, God defend me
from such a shame, but Jesu be Thou my shield and mine


How Sir Launcelot slew Sir Colgrevance, and armed him in
his harness, and after slew Sir Agravaine, and twelve
of his fellows

AND therewith Sir Launcelot wrapped his mantle about
his arm well and surely; and by then they had gotten a
great form out of the hall, and therewithal they rashed
at the door. Fair lords, said Sir Launcelot, leave your
noise and your rashing, and I shall set open this door, and
then may ye do with me what it liketh you. Come off
then, said they all, and do it, for it availeth thee not to
strive against us all; and therefore let us into this
chamber, and we shall save thy life until thou come to
King Arthur. Then Launcelot unbarred the door, and
with his left hand he held it open a little, so that but one
man might come in at once; and so there came striding a
good knight, a much man and large, and his name was
Colgrevance of Gore, and he with a sword struck at Sir
Launcelot mightily; and he put aside the stroke, and
gave him such a buffet upon the helmet, that he fell
grovelling dead within the chamber door. And then Sir
Launcelot with great might drew that dead knight within
the chamber door; and Sir Launcelot with help of the
queen and her ladies was lightly armed in Sir Colgrevance's

And ever stood Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred
crying: Traitor-knight, come out of the queen's chamber.
Leave your noise, said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Agravaine,
for wit you well, Sir Agravaine, ye shall not prison me
this night; and therefore an ye do by my counsel, go ye
all from this chamber door, and make not such crying and
such manner of slander as ye do; for I promise you by
my knighthood, an ye will depart and make no more
noise, I shall as to-morn appear afore you all before the
king, and then let it be seen which of you all, outher else
ye all, that will accuse me of treason; and there I shall
answer you as a knight should, that hither I came to the
queen for no manner of mal engin, and that will I prove
and make it good upon you with my hands. Fie on thee,
traitor, said Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, we will have
thee maugre thy head, and slay thee if we list; for we let
thee wit we have the choice of King Arthur to save thee
or to slay thee. Ah sirs, said Sir Launcelot, is there none
other grace with you? then keep yourself.

So then Sir Launcelot set all open the chamber door,
and mightily and knightly he strode in amongst them;
and anon at the first buffet he slew Sir Agravaine. And
twelve of his fellows after, within a little while after, he
laid them cold to the earth, for there was none of the
twelve that might stand Sir Launcelot one buffet. Also
Sir Launcelot wounded Sir Mordred, and he fled with all
his might. And then Sir Launcelot returned again unto
the queen, and said: Madam, now wit you well all our
true love is brought to an end, for now will King Arthur
ever be my foe; and therefore, madam, an it like you
that I may have you with me, I shall save you from all
manner adventures dangerous. That is not best, said the
queen; meseemeth now ye have done so much harm, it
will be best ye hold you still with this. And if ye see
that as to-morn they will put me unto the death, then
may ye rescue me as ye think best. I will well, said Sir
Launcelot, for have ye no doubt, while I am living I shall
rescue you. And then he kissed her, and either gave
other a ring; and so there he left the queen, and went
until his lodging.


How Sir Launcelot came to Sir Bors, and told him how he
had sped, and in what adventure he had been, and how
he had escaped

WHEN Sir Bors saw Sir Launcelot he was never so glad of
his home-coming as he was then. Jesu mercy, said Sir
Launcelot, why be ye all armed: what meaneth this?
Sir, said Sir Bors, after ye were departed from us, we all
that be of your blood and your well-willers were so
dretched that some of us leapt out of our beds naked,
and some in their dreams caught naked swords in their
hands; therefore, said Sir Bors, we deem there is some
great strife at hand; and then we all deemed that ye were
betrapped with some treason, and therefore we made us
thus ready, what need that ever ye were in.

My fair nephew, said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Bors,
now shall ye wit all, that this night I was more harder
bestead than ever I was in my life, and yet I escaped.
And so he told them all how and in what manner, as ye
have heard to-fore. And therefore, my fellows, said Sir
Launcelot, I pray you all that ye will be of good heart in
what need somever I stand, for now is war come to us all.
Sir, said Bors, all is welcome that God sendeth us, and we
have had much weal with you and much worship, and
therefore we will take the woe with you as we have taken
the weal. And therefore, they said all (there were many
good knights), look ye take no discomfort, for there nis
no bands of knights under heaven but we shall be able to
grieve them as much as they may us. And therefore discomfort
not yourself by no manner, and we shall gather
together that we love, and that loveth us, and what that
ye will have done shall be done. And therefore, Sir
Launcelot, said they, we will take the woe with the weal.
Grant mercy, said Sir Launcelot, of your good comfort,
for in my great distress, my fair nephew, ye comfort me
greatly, and much I am beholding unto you. But this,
my fair nephew, I would that ye did in all haste that ye
may, or it be forth days, that ye will look in their lodging
that be lodged here nigh about the king, which will hold
with me, and which will not, for now I would know which
were my friends from my foes. Sir, said Sir Bors, I shall
do my pain, and or it be seven of the clock I shall wit of
such as ye have said before, who will hold with you.

Then Sir Bors called unto him Sir Lionel, Sir Ector de
Maris, Sir Blamore de Ganis, Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, Sir
Gahalantine, Sir Galihodin, Sir Galihud, Sir Menadeuke
Sir Villiers the Valiant, Sir Hebes le Renoumes, Sir Lavaine
Sir Urre of Hungary, Sir Nerounes, Sir Plenorius. These
two knights Sir Launcelot made, and the one he won upon
a bridge, and therefore they would never be against him.
And Harry le Fise du Lake, and Sir Selises of the Dolorous Tower,
and Sir Melias de Lile, and Sir Bellangere le
Beuse, that was Sir Alisander's son Le Orphelin, because
his mother Alice le Beale Pellerin and she was kin unto
Sir Launcelot, and he held with him. So there came Sir
Palomides and Sir Safere, his brother, to hold with Sir
Launcelot, and Sir Clegis of Sadok, and Sir Dinas,
Sir Clarius of Cleremont. So these two-and-twenty
knights drew them together, and by then they were
armed on horseback, and promised Sir Launcelot to do
what he would. Then there fell to them, what of North
Wales and of Cornwall, for Sir Lamorak's sake and
for Sir Tristram's sake, to the number of a fourscore

My lords, said Sir Launcelot, wit you well, I have been
ever since I came into this country well willed unto my
lord, King Arthur, and unto my lady, Queen Guenever,
unto my power; and this night because my lady the queen
sent for me to speak with her, I suppose it was made by
treason, howbeit I dare largely excuse her person,
notwithstanding I was there by a forecast near slain, but as Jesu
provided me I escaped all their malice and treason. And
then that noble knight Sir Launcelot told them all how he
was hard bestead in the queen's chamber, and how and in
what manner he escaped from them. And therefore, said
Sir Launcelot, wit you well, my fair lords, I am sure there
nis but war unto me and mine. And for because I have
slain this night these knights, I wot well, as is Sir Agravaine
Sir Gawaine's brother, and at the least twelve of his fellows,
for this cause now I am sure of mortal war, for these
knights were sent and ordained by King Arthur to betray
me. And therefore the king will in his heat and malice
judge the queen to the fire, and that may I not suffer, that
she should be brent for my sake; for an I may be heard
and suffered and so taken, I will fight for the queen, that
she is a true lady unto her lord; but the king in his heat
I dread me will not take me as I ought to be taken.


Of the counsel and advice that was taken by Sir Launcelot
and his friends for to save the queen

MY lord, Sir Launcelot, said Sir Bors, by mine advice ye
shall take the woe with the weal, and take it in patience,
and thank God of it. And sithen it is fallen as it is, I
counsel you keep yourself, for an ye will yourself, there
is no fellowship of knights christened that shall do you
wrong. Also I will counsel you my lord, Sir Launcelot,
than an my lady, Queen Guenever, be in distress, insomuch
as she is in pain for your sake, that ye knightly
rescue her; an ye did otherwise, all the world will speak
of you shame to the world's end. Insomuch as ye were
taken with her, whether ye did right or wrong, it is now
your part to hold with the queen, that she be not slain
and put to a mischievous death, for an she so die the
shame shall be yours. Jesu defend me from shame, said
Sir Launcelot, and keep and save my lady the queen from
villainy and shameful death, and that she never be
destroyed in my default; wherefore my fair lords, my kin,
and my friends, said Sir Launcelot, what will ye do?
Then they said all: We will do as ye will do. I put
this to you, said Sir Launcelot, that if my lord Arthur by
evil counsel will to-morn in his heat put my lady the
queen to the fire there to be brent, now I pray you counsel
me what is best to do. Then they said all at once with
one voice: Sir, us thinketh best that ye knightly rescue
the queen, insomuch as she shall be brent it is for your
sake; and it is to suppose, an ye might be handled, ye
should have the same death, or a more shamefuler death.
And sir, we say all, that ye have many times rescued her
from death for other men's quarrels, us seemeth it is more
your worship that ye rescue the queen from this peril,
insomuch she hath it for your sake.

Then Sir Launcelot stood still, and said: My fair
lords, wit you well I would be loath to do that thing that
should dishonour you or my blood, and wit you well I
would be loath that my lady, the queen, should die a
shameful death; but an it be so that ye will counsel me
to rescue her, I must do much harm or I rescue her; and
peradventure I shall there destroy some of my best friends,
that should much repent me; and peradventure there be
some, an they could well bring it about, or disobey my
lord King Arthur, they would soon come to me, the
which I were loath to hurt. And if so be that I rescue
her, where shall I keep her? That shall be the least care
of us all, said Sir Bors. How did the noble knight Sir
Tristram, by your good will? kept not he with him La
Beale Isoud near three year in Joyous Gard? the which
was done by your alther device, and that same place is
your own; and in likewise may ye do an ye list, and take
the queen lightly away, if it so be the king will judge her
to be brent; and in Joyous Gard ye may keep her long
enough until the heat of the king be past. And then
shall ye bring again the queen to the king with great
worship; and then peradventure ye shall have thank for
her bringing home, and love and thank where other shall
have maugre.

That is hard to do, said Sir Launcelot, for by Sir
Tristram I may have a warning, for when by means of
treaties, Sir Tristram brought again La Beale Isoud unto
King Mark from Joyous Gard, look what befell on the
end, how shamefully that false traitor King Mark slew
him as he sat harping afore his lady La Beale Isoud, with
a grounden glaive he thrust him in behind to the heart.
It grieveth me, said Sir Launcelot, to speak of his death,
for all the world may not find such a knight. All this is
truth, said Sir Bors, but there is one thing shall courage
you and us all, ye know well King Arthur and King Mark
were never like of conditions, for there was never yet man
could prove King Arthur untrue of his promise.

So to make short tale, they were all consented that
for better outher for worse, if so were that the queen were
on that morn brought to the fire, shortly they all would
rescue her. And so by the advice of Sir Launcelot, they
put them all in an embushment in a wood, as nigh Carlisle
as they might, and there they abode still, to wit what the
king would do.


How Sir Mordred rode hastily to the king, to tell him of
the affray and death of Sir Agravaine and the other

NOW turn we again unto Sir Mordred, that when he was
escaped from the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, he anon gat
his horse and mounted upon him, and rode unto King
Arthur, sore wounded and smitten, and all forbled; and
there he told the king all how it was, and how they were
all slain save himself all only. Jesu mercy, how may this
be? said the king; took ye him in the queen's chamber?
Yea, so God me help, said Sir Mordred, there we found
him unarmed, and there he slew Colgrevance, and armed
him in his armour; and all this he told the king from
the beginning to the ending. Jesu mercy, said the king,
he is a marvellous knight of prowess. Alas, me sore
repenteth, said the king, that ever Sir Launcelot should
be against me. Now I am sure the noble fellowship of
the Round Table is broken for ever, for with him will
many a noble knight hold; and now it is fallen so, said
the king, that I may not with my worship, but the queen
must suffer the death. So then there was made great
ordinance in this heat, that the queen must be judged to
the death. And the law was such in those days that
whatsomever they were, of what estate or degree, if they
were found guilty of treason, there should be none other
remedy but death; and outher the men or the taking with
the deed should be causer of their hasty judgment. And
right so was it ordained for Queen Guenever, because
Sir Mordred was escaped sore wounded, and the death of
thirteen knights of the Round Table. These proofs and
experiences caused King Arthur to command the queen to
the fire there to be brent.

Then spake Sir Gawaine, and said: My lord Arthur,
I would counsel you not to be over-hasty, but that ye
would put it in respite, this judgment of my lady the
queen, for many causes. One it is, though it were so
that Sir Launcelot were found in the queen's chamber, yet
it might be so that he came thither for none evil; for ye
know my lord, said Sir Gawaine, that the queen is much
beholden unto Sir Launcelot, more than unto any other
knight, for ofttimes he hath saved her life, and done battle
for her when all the court refused the queen; and
peradventure she sent for him for goodness and for none
evil, to reward him for his good deeds that he had done
to her in times past. And peradventure my lady, the
queen, sent for him to that intent that Sir Launcelot
should come to her good grace privily and secretly,
weening to her that it was best so to do, in eschewing
and dreading of slander; for ofttimes we do many things
that we ween it be for the best, and yet peradventure it
turneth to the worst. For I dare say, said Sir Gawaine,
my lady, your queen, is to you both good and true; and
as for Sir Launcelot, said Sir Gawaine, I dare say he will
make it good upon any knight living that will put upon
himself villainy or shame, and in like wise he will make
good for my lady, Dame Guenever.

That I believe well, said King Arthur, but I will not
that way with Sir Launcelot, for he trusteth so much upon
his hands and his might that he doubteth no man; and
therefore for my queen he shall never fight more, for she
shall have the law. And if I may get Sir Launcelot, wit
you well he shall have a shameful death. Jesu defend,
said Sir Gawaine, that I may never see it. Why say ye
so? said King Arthur; forsooth ye have no cause to love
Sir Launcelot, for this night last past he slew your brother,
Sir Agravaine, a full good knight, and almost he had slain
your other brother, Sir Mordred, and also there he slew
thirteen noble knights; and also, Sir Gawaine, remember
you he slew two sons of yours, Sir Florence and Sir Lovel.
My lord, said Sir Gawaine, of all this I have knowledge,
of whose deaths I repent me sore; but insomuch I gave
them warning, and told my brethren and my sons aforehand
what would fall in the end, insomuch they would
not do by my counsel, I will not meddle me thereof, nor
revenge me nothing of their deaths; for I told them it
was no boot to strive with Sir Launcelot. Howbeit I am
sorry of the death of my brethren and of my sons, for
they are the causers of their own death; for ofttimes I
warned my brother Sir Agravaine, and I told him the
perils the which be now fallen.


How Sir Launcelot and his kinsmen rescued the queen from
the fire, and how he slew many knights

THEN said the noble King Arthur to Sir Gawaine: Dear
nephew, I pray you make you ready in your best armour,
with your brethren, Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, to bring
my queen to the fire, there to have her judgment and
receive the death. Nay, my most noble lord, said Sir
Gawaine, that will I never do; for wit you well I will
never be in that place where so noble a queen as is my
lady, Dame Guenever, shall take a shameful end. For
wit you well, said Sir Gawaine, my heart will never serve
me to see her die; and it shall never be said that ever
I was of your counsel of her death.

Then said the king to Sir Gawaine: Suffer your
brothers Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth to be there. My
lord, said Sir Gawaine, wit you well they will be loath
to be there present, because of many adventures the which
be like there to fall, but they are young and full unable
to say you nay. Then spake Sir Gaheris, and the good
knight Sir Gareth, unto Sir Arthur: Sir, ye may well
command us to be there, but wit you well it shall be sore
against our will; but an we be there by your strait
commandment ye shall plainly hold us there excused: we
will be there in peaceable wise, and bear none harness of
war upon us. In the name of God, said the king, then
make you ready, for she shall soon have her judgment
anon. Alas, said Sir Gawaine, that ever I should endure
to see this woful day. So Sir Gawaine turned him and
wept heartily, and so he went into his chamber; and then
the queen was led forth without Carlisle, and there she
was despoiled into her smock. And so then her ghostly
father was brought to her, to be shriven of her misdeeds.
Then was there weeping, and wailing, and wringing of
hands, of many lords and ladies, but there were but few
in comparison that would bear any armour for to strength
the death of the queen.

Then was there one that Sir Launcelot had sent unto
that place for to espy what time the queen should go unto
her death; and anon as he saw the queen despoiled into
her smock, and so shriven, then he gave Sir Launcelot
warning. Then was there but spurring and plucking up
of horses, and right so they came to the fire. And who
that stood against them, there were they slain; there might
none withstand Sir Launcelot, so all that bare arms and
withstood them, there were they slain, full many a noble
knight. For there was slain Sir Belliance le Orgulous,
Sir Segwarides, Sir Griflet, Sir Brandiles, Sir Aglovale,
Sir Tor; Sir Gauter, Sir Gillimer, Sir Reynolds' three
brethren; Sir Damas, Sir Priamus, Sir Kay the Stranger,
Sir Driant, Sir Lambegus, Sir Herminde; Sir Pertilope,
Sir Perimones, two brethren that were called the Green
Knight and the Red Knight. And so in this rushing and
hurling, as Sir Launcelot thrang here and there, it
mishapped him to slay Gaheris and Sir Gareth, the noble
knight, for they were unarmed and unware. For as the
French book saith, Sir Launcelot smote Sir Gareth and
Sir Gaheris upon the brain-pans, wherethrough they were
slain in the field; howbeit in very truth Sir Launcelot
saw them not, and so were they found dead among the
thickest of the press.

Then when Sir Launcelot had thus done, and slain and
put to flight all that would withstand him, then he rode
straight unto Dame Guenever, and made a kirtle and a
gown to be cast upon her; and then he made her to be
set behind him, and prayed her to be of good cheer. Wit
you well the queen was glad that she was escaped from
the death. And then she thanked God and Sir Launcelot;
and so he rode his way with the queen, as the French book
saith, unto Joyous Gard, and there he kept her as a noble
knight should do; and many great lords and some kings
sent Sir Launcelot many good knights, and many noble
knights drew unto Sir Launcelot. When this was known
openly, that King Arthur and Sir Launcelot were at
debate, many knights were glad of their debate, and many
were full heavy of their debate.


Of the sorrow and lamentation of King Arthur for the
death of his nephews and other good knights, and also
for the queen, his wife

SO turn we again unto King Arthur, that when it was told
him how and in what manner of wise the queen was taken
away from the fire, and when he heard of the death of
his noble knights, and in especial of Sir Gaheris and Sir
Gareth's death, then the king swooned for pure sorrow.
And when he awoke of his swoon, then he said: Alas,
that ever I bare crown upon my head! for now have
I lost the fairest fellowship of noble knights that ever
held Christian king together. Alas, my good knights be
slain away from me: now within these two days I have
lost forty knights, and also the noble fellowship of Sir
Launcelot and his blood, for now I may never hold
them together no more with my worship. Alas that
ever this war began. Now fair fellows, said the king,
I charge you that no man tell Sir Gawaine of the death
of his two brethren; for I am sure, said the king, when
Sir Gawaine heareth tell that Sir Gareth is dead he will go
nigh out of his mind. Mercy Jesu, said the king, why
slew he Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris, for I dare say as for
Sir Gareth he loved Sir Launcelot above all men earthly.
That is truth, said some knights, but they were slain in
the hurtling as Sir Launcelot thrang in the thick of the
press; and as they were unarmed he smote them and wist
not whom that he smote, and so unhappily they were
slain. The death of them, said Arthur, will cause the
greatest mortal war that ever was; I am sure, wist Sir
Gawaine that Sir Gareth were slain, I should never have
rest of him till I had destroyed Sir Launcelot's kin and
himself both, outher else he to destroy me. And therefore,
said the king, wit you well my heart was never so
heavy as it is now, and much more I am sorrier for my
good knights' loss than for the loss of my fair queen;
for queens I might have enow, but such a fellowship of
good knights shall never be together in no company.
And now I dare say, said King Arthur, there was never
Christian king held such a fellowship together; and alas
that ever Sir Launcelot and I should be at debate. Ah
Agravaine, Agravaine, said the king, Jesu forgive it thy soul,
for thine evil will, that thou and thy brother Sir Mordred
hadst unto Sir Launcelot, hath caused all this sorrow: and
ever among these complaints the king wept and swooned.

Then there came one unto Sir Gawaine, and told him
how the queen was led away with Sir Launcelot, and nigh
a twenty-four knights slain. O Jesu defend my brethren,
said Sir Gawaine, for full well wist I that Sir Launcelot
would rescue her, outher else he would die in that field;
and to say the truth he had not been a man of worship had
he not rescued the queen that day, insomuch she should
have been brent for his sake. And as in that, said Sir
Gawaine, he hath done but knightly, and as I would have
done myself an I had stood in like case. But where are
my brethren? said Sir Gawaine, I marvel I hear not of
them. Truly, said that man, Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris
be slain. Jesu defend, said Sir Gawaine, for all the world
I would not that they were slain, and in especial my good
brother, Sir Gareth. Sir, said the man, he is slain, and
that is great pity. Who slew him? said Sir Gawaine.
Sir, said the man, Launcelot slew them both. That may I
not believe, said Sir Gawaine, that ever he slew my brother,
Sir Gareth; for I dare say my brother Gareth loved him
better than me, and all his brethren, and the king both.
Also I dare say, an Sir Launcelot had desired my brother
Sir Gareth, with him he would have been with him against
the king and us all, and therefore I may never believe that
Sir Launcelot slew my brother. Sir, said this man, it is
noised that he slew him.


How King Arthur at the request of Sir Gawaine concluded
to make war against Sir Launcelot, and laid siege to
his castle called Joyous Gard

ALAS, said Sir Gawaine, now is my joy gone. And then
he fell down and swooned, and long he lay there as he had
been dead. And then, when he arose of his swoon, he
cried out sorrowfully, and said: Alas! And right so Sir
Gawaine ran to the king, crying and weeping: O King
Arthur, mine uncle, my good brother Sir Gareth is slain,
and so is my brother Sir Gaheris, the which were two
noble knights. Then the king wept, and he both; and so
they fell a-swooning. And when they were revived then
spake Sir Gawaine: Sir, I will go see my brother, Sir
Gareth. Ye may not see him, said the king, for I caused
him to be interred, and Sir Gaheris both; for I well
understood that ye would make over-much sorrow, and the sight
of Sir Gareth should have caused your double sorrow.
Alas, my lord, said Sir Gawaine, how slew he my brother,
Sir Gareth? Mine own good lord I pray you tell me.
Truly, said the king, I shall tell you how it is told me, Sir
Launcelot slew him and Sir Gaheris both. Alas, said Sir
Gawaine, they bare none arms against him, neither of them
both. I wot not how it was, said the king, but as it is
said, Sir Launcelot slew them both in the thickest of the
press and knew them not; and therefore let us shape a
remedy for to revenge their deaths.

My king, my lord, and mine uncle, said Sir Gawaine,
wit you well now I shall make you a promise that I shall
hold by my knighthood, that from this day I shall never
fail Sir Launcelot until the one of us have slain the other.
And therefore I require you, my lord and king, dress you
to the war, for wit you well I will be revenged upon Sir
Launcelot; and therefore, as ye will have my service and
my love, now haste you thereto, and assay your friends.
For I promise unto God, said Sir Gawaine, for the death
of my brother, Sir Gareth, I shall seek Sir Launcelot
throughout seven kings' realms, but I shall slay him or else
he shall slay me. Ye shall not need to seek him so far,
said the king, for as I hear say, Sir Launcelot will abide
me and you in the Joyous Gard; and much people draweth
unto him, as I hear say. That may I believe, said Sir
Gawaine; but my lord, he said, assay your friends, and I
will assay mine. It shall be done, said the king, and as I
suppose I shall be big enough to draw him out of the
biggest tower of his castle.

So then the king sent letters and writs throughout all
England, both in the length and the breadth, for to assummon
all his knights. And so unto Arthur drew many knights,
dukes, and earls, so that he had a great host. And when
they were assembled, the king informed them how Sir
Launcelot had bereft him his queen. Then the king and all
his host made them ready to lay siege about Sir Launcelot,
where he lay within Joyous Gard. Thereof heard Sir
Launcelot, and purveyed him of many good knights, for
with him held many knights; and some for his own sake,
and some for the queen's sake. Thus they were on both
parties well furnished and garnished of all manner of thing
that longed to the war. But King Arthur's host was so
big that Sir Launcelot would not abide him in the field,
for he was full loath to do battle against the king; but Sir
Launcelot drew him to his strong castle with all manner of
victual, and as many noble men as he might suffice within
the town and the castle. Then came King Arthur with
Sir Gawaine with an huge host, and laid a siege all about
Joyous Gard, both at the town and at the castle, and there
they made strong war on both parties. But in no wise Sir
Launcelot would ride out, nor go out of his castle, of long
time; neither he would none of his good knights to issue
out, neither none of the town nor of the castle, until fifteen
weeks were past.


Of the communication between King Arthur and Sir Launcelot,
and how King Arthur reproved him.

THEN it befell upon a day in harvest time, Sir Launcelot
looked over the walls, and spake on high unto King Arthur
and Sir Gawaine: My lords both, wit ye well all is in vain
that ye make at this siege, for here win ye no worship but
maugre and dishonour; for an it list me to come myself
out and my good knights, I should full soon make an end
of this war. Come forth, said Arthur unto Launcelot, an
thou durst, and I promise thee I shall meet thee in midst
of the field. God defend me, said Sir Launcelot, that ever
I should encounter with the most noble king that made me
knight. Fie upon thy fair language, said the king, for wit
you well and trust it, I am thy mortal foe, and ever will
to my death day; for thou hast slain my good knights,
and full noble men of my blood, that I shall never recover
again. Also thou hast lain by my queen, and holden her
many winters, and sithen like a traitor taken her from me
by force.

My most noble lord and king, said Sir Launcelot, ye
may say what ye will, for ye wot well with yourself will I
not strive; but thereas ye say I have slain your good
knights, I wot well that I have done so, and that me sore
repenteth; but I was enforced to do battle with them in
saving of my life, or else I must have suffered them to
have slain me. And as for my lady, Queen Guenever,
except your person of your highness, and my lord Sir
Gawaine, there is no knight under heaven that dare make
it good upon me, that ever I was a traitor unto your person.
And where it please you to say that I have holden my lady
your queen years and winters, unto that I shall ever make
a large answer, and prove it upon any knight that beareth
the life, except your person and Sir Gawaine, that my lady,
Queen Guenever, is a true lady unto your person as any is
living unto her lord, and that will I make good with my
hands. Howbeit it hath liked her good grace to have me
in chierte, and to cherish me more than any other knight;
and unto my power I again have deserved her love, for
ofttimes, my lord, ye have consented that she should be
brent and destroyed, in your heat, and then it fortuned me
to do battle for her, and or I departed from her adversary
they confessed their untruth, and she full worshipfully excused.
And at such times, my lord Arthur, said Sir Launcelot,
ye loved me, and thanked me when I saved your queen
from the fire; and then ye promised me for ever to be my
good lord; and now methinketh ye reward me full ill for
my good service. And my good lord, meseemeth I had
lost a great part of my worship in my knighthood an I had
suffered my lady, your queen, to have been brent, and
insomuch she should have been brent for my sake. For
sithen I have done battles for your queen in other quarrels
than in mine own, meseemeth now I had more right to do
battle for her in right quarrel. And therefore my good
and gracious lord, said Sir Launcelot, take your queen unto
your good grace, for she is both fair, true, and good.

Fie on thee, false recreant knight, said Sir Gawaine;
I let thee wit my lord, mine uncle, King Arthur, shall
have his queen and thee, maugre thy visage, and slay you
both whether it please him. It may well be, said Sir
Launcelot, but wit you well, my lord Sir Gawaine, an me
list to come out of this castle ye should win me and the
queen more harder than ever ye won a strong battle. Fie
on thy proud words, said Sir Gawaine; as for my lady, the
queen, I will never say of her shame. But thou, false and
recreant knight, said Sir Gawaine, what cause hadst thou
to slay my good brother Sir Gareth, that loved thee more
than all my kin? Alas thou madest him knight thine
own hands; why slew thou him that loved thee so well?
For to excuse me, said Sir Launcelot, it helpeth me not,
but by Jesu, and by the faith that I owe to the high order
of knighthood, I should with as good will have slain my
nephew, Sir Bors de Ganis, at that time. But alas that
ever I was so unhappy, said Launcelot, that I had not seen
Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris.

Thou liest, recreant knight, said Sir Gawaine, thou
slewest him in despite of me; and therefore, wit thou well
I shall make war to thee, and all the while that I may live.
That me repenteth, said Sir Launcelot; for well I understand
it helpeth not to seek none accordment while ye, Sir
Gawaine, are so mischievously set. And if ye were not,
I would not doubt to have the good grace of my lord
Arthur. I believe it well, false recreant knight, said Sir
Gawaine; for thou hast many long days overled me and
us all, and destroyed many of our good knights. Ye say
as it pleaseth you, said Sir Launcelot; and yet may it never
be said on me, and openly proved, that ever I by forecast
of treason slew no good knight, as my lord, Sir Gawaine,
ye have done; and so did I never, but in my defence that
I was driven thereto, in saving of my life. Ah, false knight,
said Sir Gawaine, that thou meanest by Sir Lamorak: wit
thou well I slew him. Ye slew him not yourself, said Sir
Launcelot; it had been overmuch on hand for you to have
slain him, for he was one of the best knights christened of
his age, and it was great pity of his death.


How the cousins and kinsmen of Sir Launcelot excited him
to go out to battle, and how they made them ready

WELL, well, said Sir Gawaine to Launcelot, sithen thou
enbraidest me of Sir Lamorak, wit thou well I shall never
leave thee till I have thee at such avail that thou shalt not
escape my hands. I trust you well enough, said Sir
Launcelot, an ye may get me I get but little mercy. But
as the French book saith, the noble King Arthur would
have taken his queen again, and have been accorded with
Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine would not suffer him by no
manner of mean. And then Sir Gawaine made many men
to blow upon Sir Launcelot; and all at once they called
him false recreant knight.

Then when Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Ector de Maris, and
Sir Lionel, heard this outcry, they called to them Sir
Palomides, Sir Safere's brother, and Sir Lavaine, with many
more of their blood, and all they went unto Sir Launcelot,
and said thus: My lord Sir Launcelot, wit ye well we have
great scorn of the great rebukes that we heard Gawaine
say to you; wherefore we pray you, and charge you as ye
will have our service, keep us no longer within these walls;
for wit you well plainly, we will ride into the field and do
battle with them; for ye fare as a man that were afeard,
and for all your fair speech it will not avail you. For wit
you well Sir Gawaine will not suffer you to be accorded
with King Arthur, and therefore fight for your life and
your right, an ye dare. Alas, said Sir Launcelot, for to
ride out of this castle, and to do battle, I am full loath.

Then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto Sir Arthur and
Sir Gawaine: My lords, I require you and beseech you,
sithen that I am thus required and conjured to ride into
the field, that neither you, my lord King Arthur, nor you
Sir Gawaine, come not into the field. What shall we do
then? said Sir Gawaine, [N]is this the king's quarrel with
thee to fight? and it is my quarrel to fight with thee, Sir
Launcelot, because of the death of my brother Sir Gareth.
Then must I needs unto battle, said Sir Launcelot. Now
wit you well, my lord Arthur and Sir Gawaine, ye will
repent it whensomever I do battle with you.

And so then they departed either from other; and then
either party made them ready on the morn for to do battle,
and great purveyance was made on both sides; and Sir
Gawaine let purvey many knights for to wait upon Sir
Launcelot, for to overset him and to slay him. And on
the morn at underne Sir Arthur was ready in the field with
three great hosts. And then Sir Launcelot's fellowship
came out at three gates, in a full good array; and Sir Lionel
came in the foremost battle, and Sir Launcelot came in the
middle, and Sir Bors came out at the third gate. Thus
they came in order and rule, as full noble knights; and
always Sir Launcelot charged all his knights in any wise to
save King Arthur and Sir Gawaine.


How Sir Gawaine jousted and smote down Sir Lionel, and
how Sir Launcelot horsed King Arthur

THEN came forth Sir Gawaine from the king's host, and
he came before and proffered to joust. And Sir Lionel
was a fierce knight, and lightly he encountered with Sir
Gawaine; and there Sir Gawaine smote Sir Lionel through
out the body, that he dashed to the earth like as he had
been dead; and then Sir Ector de Maris and other more
bare him into the castle. Then there began a great stour,
and much people was slain; and ever Sir Launcelot did
what he might to save the people on King Arthur's party,
for Sir Palomides, and Sir Bors, and Sir Safere, overthrew
many knights, for they were deadly knights. And Sir
Blamore de Ganis, and Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, with Sir
Bellangere le Beuse, these six knights did much harm; and
ever King Arthur was nigh about Sir Launcelot to have
slain him, and Sir Launcelot suffered him, and would not
strike again. So Sir Bors encountered with King Arthur,
and there with a spear Sir Bors smote him down; and so
he alighted and drew his sword, and said to Sir Launcelot:
Shall I make an end of this war? and that he meant to have
slain King Arthur. Not so hardy, said Sir Launcelot,
upon pain of thy head, that thou touch him no more, for
I will never see that most noble king that made me knight
neither slain ne shamed. And therewithal Sir Launcelot
alighted off his horse and took up the king and horsed him
again, and said thus: My lord Arthur, for God's love stint
this strife, for ye get here no worship, and I would do mine
utterance, but always I forbear you, and ye nor none of
yours forbeareth me; my lord, remember what I have done
in many places, and now I am evil rewarded.

Then when King Arthur was on horseback, he looked
upon Sir Launcelot, and then the tears brast out of his
eyen, thinking on the great courtesy that was in Sir
Launcelot more than in any other man; and therewith the
king rode his way, and might no longer behold him, and
said: Alas, that ever this war began. And then either
parties of the battles withdrew them to repose them, and
buried the dead, and to the wounded men they laid soft
salves; and thus they endured that night till on the morn.
And on the morn by underne they made them ready to do
battle. And then Sir Bors led the forward.

So upon the morn there came Sir Gawaine as brim as
any boar, with a great spear in his hand. And when Sir
Bors saw him he thought to revenge his brother Sir Lionel
of the despite that Sir Gawaine did him the other day.
And so they that knew either other feutred their spears,
and with all their mights of their horses and themselves,
they met together so felonously that either bare other
through, and so they fell both to the earth; and then the
battles joined, and there was much slaughter on both parties.
Then Sir Launcelot rescued Sir Bors, and sent him into
the castle; but neither Sir Gawaine nor Sir Bors died not
of their wounds, for they were all holpen. Then Sir
Lavaine and Sir Urre prayed Sir Launcelot to do his pain,
and fight as they had done; For we see ye forbear and
spare, and that doth much harm; therefore we pray you
spare not your enemies no more than they do you. Alas,
said Sir Launcelot, I have no heart to fight against my lord
Arthur, for ever meseemeth I do not as I ought to do.
My lord, said Sir Palomides, though ye spare them all this
day they will never con you thank; and if they may get
you at avail ye are but dead. So then Sir Launcelot
understood that they said him truth; and then he strained
himself more than he did aforehand, and because his nephew
Sir Bors was sore wounded. And then within a little while,
by evensong time, Sir Launcelot and his party better stood,
for their horses went in blood past the fetlocks, there was
so much people slain. And then for pity Sir Launcelot
withheld his knights, and suffered King Arthur's party for
to withdraw them aside. And then Sir Launcelot's party
withdrew them into his castle, and either parties buried the
dead, and put salve unto the wounded men.

So when Sir Gawaine was hurt, they on King Arthur's
party were not so orgulous as they were toforehand to do
battle. Of this war was noised through all Christendom,
and at the last it was noised afore the Pope; and he
considering the great goodness of King Arthur, and of Sir
Launcelot, that was called the most noblest knights of the
world, wherefore the Pope called unto him a noble clerk
that at that time was there present; the French book saith,
it was the Bishop of Rochester; and the Pope gave him
bulls under lead unto King Arthur of England, charging
him upon pain of interdicting of all England, that he take
his queen Dame Guenever unto him again, and accord with
Sir Launcelot.


How the Pope sent down his bulls to make peace, and how
Sir Launcelot brought the queen to King Arthur

SO when this Bishop was come to Carlisle he shewed the
king these bulls. And when the king understood these
bulls he nist what to do: full fain he would have been
accorded with Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine would not
suffer him; but as for to have the queen, thereto he agreed.
But in nowise Sir Gawaine would not suffer the king to
accord with Sir Launcelot; but as for the queen he
consented. And then the Bishop had of the king his great
seal, and his assurance as he was a true anointed king that
Sir Launcelot should come safe, and go safe, and that the
queen should not be spoken unto of the king, nor of none
other, for no thing done afore time past; and of all these
appointments the Bishop brought with him sure assurance
and writing, to shew Sir Launcelot.

So when the Bishop was come to Joyous Gard, there
he shewed Sir Launcelot how the Pope had written to
Arthur and unto him, and there he told him the perils
if he withheld the queen from the king. It was never in
my thought, said Launcelot, to withhold the queen from
my lord Arthur; but, insomuch she should have been
dead for my sake, meseemeth it was my part to save her
life, and put her from that danger, till better recover
might come. And now I thank God, said Sir Launcelot,
that the Pope hath made her peace; for God knoweth,
said Sir Launcelot, I will be a thousandfold more gladder
to bring her again, than ever I was of her taking away;
with this, I may be sure to come safe and go safe, and
that the queen shall have her liberty as she had before;
and never for no thing that hath been surmised afore this
time, she never from this day stand in no peril. For
else, said Sir Launcelot, I dare adventure me to keep her
from an harder shour than ever I kept her. It shall not
need you, said the Bishop, to dread so much; for wit you
well, the Pope must be obeyed, and it were not the Pope's
worship nor my poor honesty to wit you distressed,
neither the queen, neither in peril, nor shamed. And
then he shewed Sir Launcelot all his writing, both from
the Pope and from King Arthur. This is sure enough,
said Sir Launcelot, for full well I dare trust my lord's
own writing and his seal, for he was never shamed of his
promise. Therefore, said Sir Launcelot unto the Bishop,
ye shall ride unto the king afore, and recommend me
unto his good grace, and let him have knowledging that
this same day eight days, by the grace of God, I myself
shall bring my lady, Queen Guenever, unto him. And
then say ye unto my most redoubted king, that I will say
largely for the queen, that I shall none except for dread
nor fear, but the king himself, and my lord Sir Gawaine;
and that is more for the king's love than for himself.

So the Bishop departed and came to the king at
Carlisle, and told him all how Sir Launcelot answered
him; and then the tears brast out of the king's eyen.
Then Sir Launcelot purveyed him an hundred knights,
and all were clothed in green velvet, and their horses
trapped to their heels; and every knight held a branch of
olive in his hand, in tokening of peace. And the queen
had four-and-twenty gentlewomen following her in the
same wise; and Sir Launcelot had twelve coursers
following him, and on every courser sat a young gentleman,
and all they were arrayed in green velvet, with sarps
of gold about their quarters, and the horse trapped in the
same wise down to the heels, with many ouches, y-set with
stones and pearls in gold, to the number of a thousand.
And she and Sir Launcelot were clothed in white cloth of
gold tissue; and right so as ye have heard, as the French
book maketh mention, he rode with the queen from
Joyous Gard to Carlisle. And so Sir Launcelot rode
throughout Carlisle, and so in the castle, that all men
might behold; and wit you well there was many a
weeping eye. And then Sir Launcelot himself alighted
and avoided his horse, and took the queen, and so led her
where King Arthur was in his seat: and Sir Gawaine sat
afore him, and many other great lords. So when Sir
Launcelot saw the king and Sir Gawaine, then he led the
queen by the arm, and then he kneeled down, and the
queen both. Wit you well then was there many bold
knight there with King Arthur that wept as tenderly as
though they had seen all their kin afore them. So the
king sat still, and said no word. And when Sir Launcelot
saw his countenance, he arose and pulled up the queen
with him, and thus he spake full knightly.


Of the deliverance of the queen to the king by Sir Launcelot,
and what language Sir Gawaine had to Sir Launcelot

MY most redoubted king, ye shall understand, by the
Pope's commandment and yours, I have brought to you
my lady the queen, as right requireth; and if there be
any knight, of whatsomever degree that he be, except
your person, that will say or dare say but that she is true
and clean to you, I here myself, Sir Launcelot du Lake,
will make it good upon his body, that she is a true lady
unto you; but liars ye have listened, and that hath
caused debate betwixt you and me. For time hath been,
my lord Arthur, that ye have been greatly pleased with
me when I did battle for my lady, your queen; and full
well ye know, my most noble king, that she hath been
put to great wrong or this time; and sithen it pleased you
at many times that I should fight for her, meseemeth, my
good lord, I had more cause to rescue her from the fire,
insomuch she should have been brent for my sake. For
they that told you those tales were liars, and so it fell
upon them; for by likelihood had not the might of God
been with me, I might never have endured fourteen
knights, and they armed and afore purposed, and I
unarmed and not purposed. For I was sent for unto my
lady your queen, I wot not for what cause; but I was not
so soon within the chamber door, but anon Sir Agravaine
and Sir Mordred called me traitor and recreant knight.
They called thee right, said Sir Gawaine. My lord Sir
Gawaine, said Sir Launcelot, in their quarrel they proved
themselves not in the right. Well well, Sir Launcelot,
said the king, I have given thee no cause to do to me as
thou hast done, for I have worshipped thee and thine more
than any of all my knights.

My good lord, said Sir Launcelot, so ye be not
displeased, ye shall understand I and mine have done you
oft better service than any other knights have done, in
many divers places; and where ye have been full hard
bestead divers times, I have myself rescued you from
many dangers; and ever unto my power I was glad to
please you, and my lord Sir Gawaine; both in jousts, and
tournaments, and in battles set, both on horseback and on
foot, I have often rescued you, and my lord Sir Gawaine,
and many mo of your knights in many divers places.
For now I will make avaunt, said Sir Launcelot, I will
that ye all wit that yet I found never no manner of
knight but that I was overhard for him, an I had done
my utterance, thanked be God; howbeit I have been
matched with good knights, as Sir Tristram and Sir
Lamorak, but ever I had a favour unto them and a
deeming what they were. And I take God to record,
said Sir Launcelot, I never was wroth nor greatly heavy
with no good knight an I saw him busy about to win
worship; and glad I was ever when I found any knight
that might endure me on horseback and on foot: howbeit
Sir Carados of the Dolorous Tower was a full noble
knight and a passing strong man, and that wot ye, my
lord Sir Gawaine; for he might well be called a noble
knight when he by fine force pulled you out of your
saddle, and bound you overthwart afore him to his saddle
bow; and there, my lord Sir Gawaine, I rescued you, and
slew him afore your sight. Also I found his brother,
Sir Turquin, in likewise leading Sir Gaheris, your brother,
bounden afore him; and there I rescued your brother
and slew that Turquin, and delivered three-score-and-four
of my lord Arthur's knights out of his prison. And now
I dare say, said Sir Launcelot, I met never with so strong
knights, nor so well fighting, as was Sir Carados and Sir
Turquin, for I fought with them to the uttermost. And
therefore, said Sir Launcelot unto Sir Gawaine, meseemeth
ye ought of right to remember this; for, an I might
have your good will, I would trust to God to have my
lord Arthur's good grace.


Of the communication between Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot,
with much other language

THE king may do as he will, said Sir Gawaine, but wit
thou well, Sir Launcelot, thou and I shall never be
accorded while we live, for thou hast slain three of my
brethren; and two of them ye slew traitorly and piteously,
for they bare none harness against thee, nor none would
bear. God would they had been armed, said Sir Launcelot,
for then had they been alive. And wit ye well Sir
Gawaine, as for Sir Gareth, I love none of my kinsmen so
much as I did him; and ever while I live, said Sir
Launcelot, I will bewail Sir Gareth's death, not all only
for the great fear I have of you, but many causes cause
me to be sorrowful. One is, for I made him knight;
another is, I wot well he loved me above all other knights;
and the third is, he was passing noble, true, courteous,
and gentle, and well conditioned; the fourth is, I wist
well, anon as I heard that Sir Gareth was dead, I should
never after have your love, but everlasting war betwixt
us; and also I wist well that ye would cause my noble
lord Arthur for ever to be my mortal foe. And as Jesu
be my help, said Sir Launcelot, I slew never Sir Gareth
nor Sir Gaheris by my will; but alas that ever they were
unarmed that unhappy day. But thus much I shall offer
me, said Sir Launcelot, if it may please the king's good
grace, and you, my lord Sir Gawaine, I shall first begin at
Sandwich, and there I shall go in my shirt, barefoot; and
at every ten miles' end I will found and gar make an
house of religion, of what order that ye will assign me,
with an whole convent, to sing and read, day and night,
in especial for Sir Gareth's sake and Sir Gaheris. And
this shall I perform from Sandwich unto Carlisle; and
every house shall have sufficient livelihood. And this
shall I perform while I have any livelihood in Christendom;
and there nis none of all these religious places, but
they shall be performed, furnished and garnished in all
things as an holy place ought to be, I promise you faithfully.
And this, Sir Gawaine, methinketh were more
fairer, holier, and more better to their souls, than ye, my
most noble king, and you, Sir Gawaine, to war upon me,
for thereby shall ye get none avail.

Then all knights and ladies that were there wept as
they were mad, and the tears fell on King Arthur's cheeks.
Sir Launcelot, said Sir Gawaine, I have right well heard
thy speech, and thy great proffers, but wit thou well, let
the king do as it pleased him, I will never forgive my
brothers' death, and in especial the death of my brother,
Sir Gareth. And if mine uncle, King Arthur, will accord
with thee, he shall lose my service, for wit thou well thou
art both false to the king and to me. Sir, said Launcelot
he beareth not the life that may make that good and if
ye, Sir Gawaine, will charge me with so high a thing, ye
must pardon me, for then needs must I answer you.
Nay, said Sir Gawaine, we are past that at this time, and
that caused the Pope, for he hath charged mine uncle, the
king, that he shall take his queen again, and to accord
with thee, Sir Launcelot, as for this season, and therefore
thou shalt go safe as thou camest. But in this land thou
shalt not abide past fifteen days, such summons I give
thee: so the king and we were consented and accorded or
thou camest. And else, said Sir Gawaine, wit thou well
thou shouldst not have come here, but if it were maugre
thy head. And if it were not for the Pope's commandment,
said Sir Gawaine, I should do battle with mine own
body against thy body, and prove it upon thee, that thou
hast been both false unto mine uncle King Arthur, and to
me both; and that shall I prove upon thy body, when
thou art departed from hence, wheresomever I find thee.


How Sir Launcelot departed from the king and from Joyous
Gard over seaward, and what knights went with him

THEN Sir Launcelot sighed, and therewith the tears fell
on his cheeks, and then he said thus: Alas, most noble
Christian realm, whom I have loved above all other realms,
and in thee I have gotten a great part of my worship, and
now I shall depart in this wise. Truly me repenteth that
ever I came in this realm, that should be thus shamefully
banished, undeserved and causeless; but fortune is so
variant, and the wheel so moveable, there nis none
constant abiding, and that may be proved by many old
chronicles, of noble Ector, and Troilus, and Alisander,
the mighty conqueror, and many mo other; when
they were most in their royalty, they alighted lowest.
And so fareth it by me, said Sir Launcelot, for in this
realm I had worship, and by me and mine all the whole
Round Table hath been increased more in worship, by me
and mine blood, than by any other. And therefore wit
thou well, Sir Gawaine, I may live upon my lands as well
as any knight that here is. And if ye, most redoubted
king, will come upon my lands with Sir Gawaine to war
upon me, I must endure you as well as I may. But as
to you, Sir Gawaine, if that ye come there, I pray you
charge me not with treason nor felony, for an ye do, I
must answer you. Do thou thy best, said Sir Gawaine;
therefore hie thee fast that thou were gone, and wit thou
well we shall soon come after, and break the strongest
castle that thou hast, upon thy head. That shall not
need, said Sir Launcelot, for an I were as orgulous set as
ye are, wit you well I should meet you in midst of the
field. Make thou no more language, said Sir Gawaine,
but deliver the queen from thee, and pike thee lightly out
of this court. Well, said Sir Launcelot, an I had wist of
this short coming, I would have advised me twice or that
I had come hither; for an the queen had been so dear to
me as ye noise her, I durst have kept her from the fellowship
of the best knights under heaven.

And then Sir Launcelot said unto Guenever, in hearing
of the king and them all: Madam, now I must
depart from you and this noble fellowship for ever; and
sithen it is so, I beseech you to pray for me, and say me
well; and if ye be hard bestead by any false tongues,
lightly my lady send me word, and if any knight's hands
may deliver you by battle, I shall deliver you. And
therewithal Sir Launcelot kissed the queen; and then he
said all openly . Now let see what he be in this place that
dare say the queen is not true unto my lord Arthur, let
see who will speak an he dare speak. And therewith he
brought the queen to the king, and then Sir Launcelot
took his leave and departed; and there was neither king,
duke, nor earl, baron nor knight, lady nor gentlewoman,
but all they wept as people out of their mind, except Sir
Gawaine. And when the noble Sir Launcelot took his
horse to ride out of Carlisle, there was sobbing and weeping
for pure dole of his departing; and so he took his
way unto Joyous Gard. And then ever after he called it
the Dolorous Gard. And thus departed Sir Launcelot
from the court for ever.

And so when he came to Joyous Gard he called his
fellowship unto him, and asked them what they would do
Then they answered all wholly together with one voice
they would as he would do. My fair fellows, said Sir
Launcelot, I must depart out of this most noble realm,
and now I shall depart it grieveth me sore, for I shall
depart with no worship, for a flemed man departed never
out of a realm with no worship; and that is my heaviness,
for ever I fear after my days that men shall chronicle upon
me that I was flemed out of this land; and else, my fair
lords, be ye sure, an I had not dread shame, my lady,
Queen Guenever, and I should never have departed.

Then spake many noble knights, as Sir Palomides, Sir
Safere his brother, and Sir Bellingere le Beuse, and Sir
Urre, with Sir Lavaine, with many others: Sir, an ye be
so disposed to abide in this land we will never fail you;
and if ye list not to abide in this land there nis none of
the good knights that here be will fail you, for many
causes. One is, all we that be not of your blood shall
never be welcome to the court. And sithen it liked us to
take a part with you in your distress and heaviness in this
realm, wit you well it shall like us as well to go in other
countries with you, and there to take such part as ye do.
My fair lords, said Sir Launcelot, I well understand you,
and as I can, thank you: and ye shall understand, such
livelihood as I am born unto I shall depart with you in
this manner of wise; that is for to say, I shall depart all
my livelihood and all my lands freely among you, and I
myself will have as little as any of you, for have I
sufficient that may long to my person, I will ask none other
rich array; and I trust to God to maintain you on my
lands as well as ever were maintained any knights. Then
spake all the knights at once: He have shame that will
leave you; for we all understand in this realm will be now
no quiet, but ever strife and debate, now the fellowship of
the Round Table is broken; for by the noble fellowship
of the Round Table was King Arthur upborne, and by
their noblesse the king and all his realm was in quiet and
rest, and a great part they said all was because of your


How Sir Launcelot passed over the sea, and how he made
great lords of the knights that went with him

TRULY, said Sir Launcelot, I thank you all of your good
saying, howbeit, I wot well, in me was not all the stability
of this realm, but in that I might I did my devoir; and
well I am sure I knew many rebellions in my days that by
me were peaced, and I trow we all shall hear of them in
short space, and that me sore repenteth. For ever I dread
me, said Sir Launcelot, that Sir Mordred will make trouble,
for he is passing envious and applieth him to trouble. So
they were accorded to go with Sir Launcelot to his lands;
and to make short tale, they trussed, and paid all that
would ask them; and wholly an hundred knights departed
with Sir Launcelot at once, and made their avows they
would never leave him for weal nor for woe.

And so they shipped at Cardiff, and sailed unto Benwick:
some men call it Bayonne, and some men call it
Beaune, where the wine of Beaune is. But to say the
sooth, Sir Launcelot and his nephews were lords of all
France, and of all the lands that longed unto France; he
and his kindred rejoiced it all through Sir Launcelot's
noble prowess. And then Sir Launcelot stuffed and
furnished and garnished all his noble towns and castles.
Then all the people of those lands came to Sir Launcelot
on foot and hands. And so when he had stablished all
these countries, he shortly called a parliament; and there
he crowned Sir Lionel, King of France; and Sir Bors [he]
crowned him king of all King Claudas' lands; and Sir
Ector de Maris, that was Sir Launcelot's youngest brother,
he crowned him King of Benwick, and king of all Guienne,
that was Sir Launcelot's own land. And he made Sir Ector
prince of them all, and thus he departed.

Then Sir Launcelot advanced all his noble knights,
and first he advanced them of his blood; that was Sir
Blamore, he made him Duke of Limosin in Guienne
and Sir Bleoberis he made him Duke of Poictiers, and
Sir Gahalantine he made him Duke of Querne, and
Sir Galihodin he made him Duke of Sentonge, and Sir
Galihud he made him Earl of Perigot, and Sir Menadeuke
he made him Earl of Roerge, and Sir Villiars the
Valiant he made him Earl of Bearn, and Sir Hebes le
Renoumes he made him Earl of Comange, and Sir
Lavaine he made him Earl of Arminak, and Sir Urre
he made him Earl of Estrake, and Sir Neroneus he made him
Earl of Pardiak, and Sir Plenorius he made Earl of Foise,
and Sir Selises of the Dolorous Tower he made him Earl
of Masauke, and Sir Melias de Lile he made him Earl of
Tursauk, and Sir Bellangere le Beuse he made Earl of the
Launds, and Sir Palomides he made him Duke of the
Provence, and Sir Safere he made him Duke of Landok, and
Sir Clegis he gave him the Earldom of Agente, and Sir
Sadok he gave the Earldom of Surlat, and Sir Dinas le
Seneschal he made him Duke of Anjou, and Sir Clarrus
he made him Duke of Normandy. Thus Sir Launcelot
rewarded his noble knights and many more, that meseemeth
it were too long to rehearse


How King Arthur and Sir Gawaine made a great host ready
to go over sea to make war on Sir Launcelot

SO leave we Sir Launcelot in his lands, and his noble
knights with him, and return we again unto King Arthur
and to Sir Gawaine, that made a great host ready, to the
number of threescore thousand; and all thing was made
ready for their shipping to pass over the sea, and so they
shipped at Cardiff. And there King Arthur made Sir
Mordred chief ruler of all England, and also he put
Queen Guenever under his governance; because Sir
Mordred was King Arthur's son, he gave him the rule
of his land and of his wife; and so the king passed the
sea and landed upon Sir Launcelot's lands, and there he
brent and wasted, through the vengeance of Sir Gawaine,
all that they might overrun.

When this word came to Sir Launcelot, that King
Arthur and Sir Gawaine were landed upon his lands, and
made a full great destruction and waste, then spake Sir
Bors, and said: My lord Sir Launcelot, it is shame that
we suffer them thus to ride over our lands, for wit you
well, suffer ye them as long as ye will, they will do you
no favour an they may handle you. Then said Sir Lionel
that was wary and wise: My lord Sir Launcelot, I will
give this counsel, let us keep our strong walled towns
until they have hunger and cold, and blow on their nails;
and then let us freshly set upon them, and shred them
down as sheep in a field, that aliens may take example for
ever how they land upon our lands.

Then spake King Bagdemagus to Sir Launcelot: Sir,
your courtesy will shende us all, and thy courtesy hath
waked all this sorrow; for an they thus over our lands
ride, they shall by process bring us all to nought whilst
we thus in holes us hide. Then said Sir Galihud unto Sir
Launcelot: Sir, here be knights come of kings' blood,
that will not long droop, and they are within these walls;
therefore give us leave, like as we be knights, to meet
them in the field, and we shall slay them, that they shall
curse the time that ever they came into this country.
Then spake seven brethren of North Wales, and they
were seven noble knights; a man might seek in seven
kings' lands or he might find such seven knights. Then
they all said at once: Sir Launcelot, for Christ's sake let
us out ride with Sir Galihud, for we be never wont to
cower in castles nor in noble towns.

Then spake Sir Launcelot, that was master and
governor of them all: My fair lords, wit you well I
am full loath to ride out with my knights for shedding
of Christian blood; and yet my lands I understand be full
bare for to sustain any host awhile, for the mighty wars
that whilom made King Claudas upon this country, upon
my father King Ban, and on mine uncle King Bors; howbeit
we will as at this time keep our strong walls, and
I shall send a messenger unto my lord Arthur, a treaty
for to take; for better is peace than always war.

So Sir Launcelot sent forth a damosel and a dwarf
with her, requiring King Arthur to leave his warring
upon his lands; and so she start upon a palfrey, and the
dwarf ran by her side. And when she came to the
pavilion of King Arthur, there she alighted; and there
met her a gentle knight, Sir Lucan the Butler, and said:
Fair damosel, come ye from Sir Launcelot du Lake?
Yea sir, she said, therefore I come hither to speak with
my lord the king. Alas, said Sir Lucan, my lord Arthur
would love Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine will not suffer
him. And then he said: I pray to God, damosel, ye may
speed well, for all we that be about the king would Sir
Launcelot did best of any knight living. And so with
this Lucan led the damosel unto the king where he sat
with Sir Gawaine, for to hear what she would say. So
when she had told her tale, the water ran out of the king's
eyen, and all the lords were full glad for to advise the
king as to be accorded with Sir Launcelot, save all only
Sir Gawaine, and he said: My lord mine uncle, what will
ye do? Will ye now turn again, now ye are passed thus
far upon this journey? all the world will speak of your
villainy. Nay, said Arthur, wit thou well, Sir Gawaine,
I will do as ye will advise me; and yet meseemeth, said
Arthur, his fair proffers were not good to be refused; but
sithen I am come so far upon this journey, I will that ye
give the damosel her answer, for I may not speak to her
for pity, for her proffers be so large.


What message Sir Gawaine sent to Sir Launcelot; and how
King Arthur laid siege to Benwick, and other matters

THEN Sir Gawaine said to the damosel thus: Damosel,
say ye to Sir Launcelot that it is waste labour now to sue
to mine uncle; for tell him, an he would have made any
labour for peace, he should have made it or this time, for
tell him now it is too late; and say that I, Sir Gawaine,
so send him word, that I promise him by the faith I owe
unto God and to knighthood, I shall never leave him till
he have slain me or I him. So the damosel wept and
departed, and there were many weeping eyen; and so Sir
Lucan brought the damosel to her palfrey, and so she
came to Sir Launcelot where he was among all his knights.
And when Sir Launcelot had heard this answer, then
the tears ran down by his cheeks. And then his noble
knights strode about him, and said: Sir Launcelot,
wherefore make ye such cheer, think what ye are, and what
men we are, and let us noble knights match them in
midst of the field. That may be lightly done, said Sir
Launcelot, but I was never so loath to do battle, and
therefore I pray you, fair sirs, as ye love me, be ruled as
I will have you, for I will always flee that noble king that
made me knight. And when I may no further, I must
needs defend me, and that will be more worship for me
and us all than to compare with that noble king whom we
have all served. Then they held their language, and as
that night they took their rest.

And upon the morn early, in the dawning of the day,
as knights looked out, they saw the city of Benwick
besieged round about; and fast they began to set up
ladders, and then they defied them out of the town, and
beat them from the walls wightly. Then came forth Sir
Gawaine well armed upon a stiff steed, and he came before
the chief gate, with his spear in his hand, crying: Sir
Launcelot, where art thou? is there none of you proud
knights dare break a spear with me? Then Sir Bors
made him ready, and came forth out of the town, and
there Sir Gawaine encountered with Sir Bors. And at
that time he smote Sir Bors down from his horse, and
almost he had slain him; and so Sir Bors was rescued and
borne into the town. Then came forth Sir Lionel, brother
to Sir Bors, and thought to revenge him; and either
feutred their spears, and ran together; and there they
met spitefully, but Sir Gawaine had such grace that he
smote Sir Lionel down, and wounded him there passing
sore; and then Sir Lionel was rescued and borne into the
town. And this Sir Gawaine came every day, and he
failed not but that he smote down one knight or other.

So thus they endured half a year, and much slaughter
was of people on both parties. Then it befell upon a day,
Sir Gawaine came afore the gates armed at all pieces on a
noble horse, with a great spear in his hand; and then he
cried with a loud voice: Where art thou now, thou false
traitor, Sir Launcelot? Why hidest thou thyself within
holes and walls like a coward? Look out now, thou
false traitor knight, and here I shall revenge upon thy
body the death of my three brethren. All this language
heard Sir Launcelot every deal; and his kin and his
knights drew about him, and all they said at once to Sir
Launcelot: Sir Launcelot, now must ye defend you like a
knight, or else ye be shamed for ever; for, now ye be
called upon treason, it is time for you to stir, for ye have
slept over-long and suffered over-much. So God me
help, said Sir Launcelot, I am right heavy of Sir Gawaine's
words, for now he charged me with a great charge; and
therefore I wot it as well as ye, that I must defend me, or
else to be recreant.

Then Sir Launcelot bade saddle his strongest horse,
and bade let fetch his arms, and bring all unto the gate
of the tower; and then Sir Launcelot spake on high unto
King Arthur, and said: My lord Arthur, and noble king
that made me knight, wit you well I am right heavy for
your sake, that ye thus sue upon me; and always I forbare
you, for an I would have been vengeable, I might
have met you in midst of the field, and there to have
made your boldest knights full tame. And now I have
forborne half a year, and suffered you and Sir Gawaine
to do what ye would do; and now may I endure it no
longer, for now must I needs defend myself, insomuch
Sir Gawaine hath appealed me of treason; the which is
greatly against my will that ever I should fight against
any of your blood, but now I may not forsake it, I am
driven thereto as a beast till a bay.

Then Sir Gawaine said: Sir Launcelot, an thou durst
do battle, leave thy babbling and come off, and let us ease
our hearts. Then Sir Launcelot armed him lightly, and
mounted upon his horse, and either of the knights gat
great spears in their hands, and the host without stood
still all apart, and the noble knights came out of the city
by a great number, insomuch that when Arthur saw the
number of men and knights, he marvelled, and said to
himself: Alas, that ever Sir Launcelot was against me, for
now I see he hath forborne me. And so the covenant
was made, there should no man nigh them, nor deal with
them, till the one were dead or yelden.


How Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawaine did battle together,
and how Sir Gawaine was overthrown and hurt

THEN Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot departed a great
way asunder, and then they came together with all their
horses' might as they might run, and either smote other
in midst of their shields; but the knights were so strong,
and their spears so big, that their horses might not endure
their buffets, and so their horses fell to the earth; and
then they avoided their horses, and dressed their shields
afore them. Then they stood together and gave many sad
strokes on divers places of their bodies, that the blood
brast out on many sides and places. Then had Sir
Gawaine such a grace and gift that an holy man had
given to him, that every day in the year, from underne
till high noon, his might increased those three hours as
much as thrice his strength, and that caused Sir Gawaine
to win great honour. And for his sake King Arthur
made an ordinance, that all manner of battles for any
quarrels that should be done afore King Arthur should
begin at underne; and all was done for Sir Gawaine's love,
that by likelihood, if Sir Gawaine were on the one part,
he should have the better in battle while his strength
endureth three hours; but there were but few knights
that time living that knew this advantage that Sir Gawaine
had, but King Arthur all only.

Thus Sir Launcelot fought with Sir Gawaine, and
when Sir Launcelot felt his might evermore increase, Sir
Launcelot wondered and dread him sore to be shamed.
For as the French book saith, Sir Launcelot weened, when
he felt Sir Gawaine double his strength, that he had been
a fiend and none earthly man; wherefore Sir Launcelot
traced and traversed, and covered himself with his shield,
and kept his might and his braide during three hours;
and that while Sir Gawaine gave him many sad brunts,
and many sad strokes, that all the knights that beheld
Sir Launcelot marvelled how that he might endure him;
but full little understood they that travail that Sir
Launcelot had for to endure him. And then when it was
past noon Sir Gawaine had no more but his own might.
When Sir Launcelot felt him so come down, then he
stretched him up and stood near Sir Gawaine, and said
thus: My lord Sir Gawaine, now I feel ye have done;
now my lord Sir Gawaine, I must do my part, for many
great and grievous strokes I have endured you this day
with great pain.

Then Sir Launcelot doubled his strokes and gave Sir
Gawaine such a buffet on the helmet that he fell down
on his side, and Sir Launcelot withdrew him from him.
Why withdrawest thou thee? said Sir Gawaine; now turn
again, false traitor knight, and slay me, for an thou leave
me thus, when I am whole I shall do battle with thee
again. I shall endure you, Sir, by God's grace, but wit
thou well, Sir Gawaine, I will never smite a felled knight.
And so Sir Launcelot went into the city; and Sir Gawaine
was borne into King Arthur's pavilion, and leeches were
brought to him, and searched and salved with soft ointments.
And then Sir Launcelot said: Now have good
day, my lord the king, for wit you well ye win no worship
at these walls; and if I would my knights outbring, there
should many a man die. Therefore, my lord Arthur,
remember you of old kindness; and however I fare, Jesu
be your guide in all places.


Of the sorrow that King Arthur made for the war, and of
another battle where also Sir Gawaine had the worse

ALAS, said the king, that ever this unhappy war was
begun; for ever Sir Launcelot forbeareth me in all places,
and in likewise my kin, and that is seen well this day by
my nephew Sir Gawaine. Then King Arthur fell sick for
sorrow of Sir Gawaine, that he was so sore hurt, and
because of the war betwixt him and Sir Launcelot. So
then they on King Arthur's part kept the siege with little
war withoutforth; and they withinforth kept their walls,
and defended them when need was. Thus Sir Gawaine
lay sick three weeks in his tents, with all manner
of leech-craft that might be had. And as soon as Sir Gawaine
might go and ride, he armed him at all points, and start
upon a courser, and gat a spear in his hand, and so he came
riding afore the chief gate of Benwick; and there he cried
on height: Where art thou, Sir Launcelot? Come forth,
thou false traitor knight and recreant, for I am here, Sir
Gawaine, will prove this that I say on thee.

All this language Sir Launcelot heard, and then he
said thus: Sir Gawaine, me repents of your foul saying,
that ye will not cease of your language; for you wot well,
Sir Gawaine, I know your might and all that ye may do;
and well ye wot, Sir Gawaine, ye may not greatly hurt
me. Come down, traitor knight, said he, and make it
good the contrary with thy hands, for it mishapped me
the last battle to be hurt of thy hands; therefore wit thou
well I am come this day to make amends, for I ween this
day to lay thee as low as thou laidest me. Jesu defend
me, said Sir Launcelot, that ever I be so far in your
danger as ye have been in mine, for then my days were
done. But Sir Gawaine, said Sir Launcelot, ye shall not
think that I tarry long, but sithen that ye so unknightly
call me of treason, ye shall have both your hands full of
me. And then Sir Launcelot armed him at all points,
and mounted upon his horse, and gat a great spear in his
hand, and rode out at the gate. And both the hosts were
assembled, of them without and of them within, and stood
in array full manly. And both parties were charged to
hold them still, to see and behold the battle of these two
noble knights. And then they laid their spears in their
rests, and they came together as thunder, and Sir Gawaine
brake his spear upon Sir Launcelot in a hundred pieces
unto his hand; and Sir Launcelot smote him with a greater
might, that Sir Gawaine's horse's feet raised, and so the
horse and he fell to the earth. Then Sir Gawaine deliverly
avoided his horse, and put his shield afore him, and eagerly
drew his sword, and bade Sir Launcelot: Alight, traitor
knight, for if this mare's son hath failed me, wit thou well
a king's son and a queen's son shall not fail thee.

Then Sir Launcelot avoided his horse, and dressed his
shield afore him, and drew his sword; and so stood they
together and gave many sad strokes, that all men on both
parties had thereof passing great wonder. But when Sir
Launcelot felt Sir Gawaine's might so marvellously
increase, he then withheld his courage and his wind, and
kept himself wonder covert of his might; and under his
shield he traced and traversed here and there, to break
Sir Gawaine's strokes and his courage; and Sir Gawaine
enforced himself with all his might and power to destroy
Sir Launcelot; for as the French book saith, ever as Sir
Gawaine's might increased, right so increased his wind
and his evil will. Thus Sir Gawaine did great pain unto
Sir Launcelot three hours, that he had right great pain for

Book of the day: