[How the Romans challenged the Greek Knight, then all the Knights of Great Britain.]
[Nobles rendering tribute to Jaime the Conqueror of Aragon (1208-1276) in the city of Teruel, as depicted at Plaza de España in Seville. Photo by Sue Burke.]
And now know that, when Grasinda’s messenger-damsel left King Lisuarte and the Queen with the reply that ye have heard, the cousin of the Emperor of Rome, Salustanquidio, rose up along with fully one hundred Roman knights and called out to the King so that all could hear:
“My lord, I and these noblemen of Rome who are here before you wish to ask for a boon that will be to your advantage and our honor.”
“I would be very pleased to give you any boon ye ask,” the King said, “especially one as ye say.”
“Then,” Salustanquidio said, “allow us to take the challenge for the damsels, and we shall do better for them than the knights from this land, because we know the Greeks well. They fear the name ‘Romans’ more than the deeds and accomplishments of the knights from here.”
Sir Grumedan, who was there, stood and came before the King to say:
“My lord, although it may be a great honor to princes to have bold adventures undertaken at their courts, and it may augment their honors and royal estates, very quickly it can turn into dishonor and loss if it is not received and managed with great discretion. I say this, my lord, for the Greek Knight, who has just come to the court with such a quest. And if his great arrogance would give rise to the defeat of those who are in our court and wish to contradict him, although the danger and harm were theirs, your honor would be diminished. And so, my lord, it seems to me that before anything is decided by you, we should wait for Sir Galaor and Norandel, your son, for from what I have learned they will be here within five days. And during that time Sir Guilan the Pensive will be better and can take up arms. These knights can defend the cause of the damsels’ honor, and yours shall be protected.”
“That cannot be,” the King said, “for I have already granted that boon. Those knights are such that they could succeed at even a greater challenge than this.”
“It may be so,” Sir Grumedan said, “but I shall see to it that the damsels will not agree to this.”
“Do not do so,” the King said, “for everything I would do for the damsels in my court has been decided, and besides, this was requested from me.”
Salustanquidio went to kiss the King’s hands, and he said to Sir Grumedan:
“I shall win this battle to my honor and that of the damsels. And ye, Sir Grumedan, if ye hold so highly these knights ye speak of and yourself and believe that they will do better than we would, if I leave that battle able to take up arms, I shall take two companions and they and I shall fight with you and them, and if I cannot, I shall send another in my place who will easily be able to replace me in the fight.”
“In the name of God,” Sir Grumedan said, “I shall accept this battle on behalf of myself and those who wish to fight with me.”
He took a ring from his finger and held it out to the King, and said:
“My lord, ye see here my pledge for myself and for those who wish to enter the battle with me. Since this was demanded by them, ye cannot refuse it rightly unless they concede defeat.”
“The seas will dry up before a Roman goes back on his word except to his honor. Your old age has taken your mind, and your body shall pay for that if ye place it in battle.”
“Truly,” Sir Grumedan said, “I am not a young man and have passed quite a few days, but I do not think that is to my harm. I hold it as my greatest advantage, for in them I have seen many things, among them that arrogance never comes to a good end, which I expect shall happen to you, for your boasting shows that ye are a captain and master of arrogance.”
King Arban of North Wales stood to answer the Romans, as did thirty knights who sought their fate with him, along with another hundred. But the King, who knew him, extended his scepter and ordered them not to speak of it, and ordered Sir Grumedan to do the same.
Count Argamon told the King:
“My lord, order them all to go to their quarters, for it diminishes you to have this pass in your presence.”
The King did so, and the Count told him:
“How, my lord, does the madness of these Romans seem to you? They dishonor those in your court and pay no attention to you. Then what will they do in their own lands, and how will your daughter be treated? For they tell me, my lord, that ye have already promised her to them. I do not know what trick this is for a man as wise and as blessed as you are in good judgement to play on the wishes of God, for instead of giving Him thanks, ye wish to tempt and anger Him. Be aware that He may cause the wheel of fortune to turn, and when He is angered by those whom He has done great good, He can punish with not just one but many cruel lashes.
“The things of this world are transitory and perishable, and their glory and fame last only as long as they are before men’s eyes, and no one is judged except for how they seem in the present, so all the blessings and heights which are yours now may be forgotten, buried beneath the ground, if fortune goes against you. And if any remembrance of them remains, it will be only to blame you for their loss.
“Remember, my lord, the great error ye did for no reason to expel such an honorable knight as Amadis of Gaul from your court, along with his brothers and all his lineage and many other knights who left for his cause, and how honored and feared in all the world ye were. Ye have not yet recovered from that error, and yet ye wish to enter into another that would be worse?
“This only comes to you from your own great arrogance, and if it were not so, ye would have feared God and taken counsel from those who have served you loyally. My lord, with this I discharge the faith and vassalage I owe you. I wish to go to my lands, and if God wills it, I shall not see your daughter Oriana’s weeping and anguish when ye deliver her, for they tell me ye have ordered her to come from Miraflores.”
“Uncle,” the King said, “do not speak to me of this, for it is done and cannot be undone. I ask you to remain for three days to see these battles brought to an end, and that ye be a judge of them with whatever other knights ye wish. Do this because ye understand Greek better than any man in my realm, since ye spent time living in Greece.”
Argamon told him:
“If it pleases you, I shall do so, but when the battles are over I shall not stay longer, for I could not stand it.”
When he was done speaking, the Count went to his lodging, and the King remained in his palace.
Lasindo, Sir Bruneo’s squire, who had come there on orders of the Greek Knight, saw everything that had happened before the King after the damsel had left. He immediately went to the ships and told how the Romans asked the King to fight in those battles and how he granted that, and the words Grumedan had with Salustanquidio, and how the time of their battle was set, and everything else that ye have heard of that happened. He also told how the King had sent for his daughter Oriana to deliver her to the Romans when the battles were over.
When the Greek Knight heard that the Romans wanted to fight the battles on behalf of the damsels, he was joyful because he had been worried that his brother Galaor would take up that battle for the damsels, and he considered this the greatest challenge he could have faced because Sir Galaor was the knight who had given him more difficulty than any he had fought with, other than the giants, as the first book of this story has recounted.
He truly believed that if Galaor had been in the court, being the most skilled at arms of all, he would have taken up the challenge, and only two things could have come of it: he would die or he would kill his brother Sir Galaor, who would sooner die than suffer anything that would dishonor him. So he was happy to learn that he was not in the court, and in addition he would not have to fight against any of his friends who were in the court.
He told Grasinda:
“My lady, let us hear Mass tomorrow morning in the tent, and let us dress ourselves well and take whatever damsels ye please, also well attired, and we shall go and bring this to an end, and I trust in God that ye shall achieve the honor that ye desire so much and which ye have come to these lands for.”
Then Grasinda retired to her room, and the Greek Knight and his companions went to their ship.