The text is from Histories of the King of Britain by Geoffrey of Monouth, tr. Sebastien Evans, Everyman, 1912. Page numbers refer to that edition; chapter titles and paragraphing have been supplied.
BOOK VIIICHAPTER XIX: "The Conception of Arthur"
BOOK IXCHAPTER I: "Arthur Crowned King"
CHAPTER II: "Arthur Plans War against the Saxons"
CHAPTER III: "Battles Against the Saxons"
CHAPTER IV: "Arthur Prepares for War"
CHAPTER V: "Cador Battles the Scots and Picts"
CHAPTER VI: "Arthur Ravages the Scots"
CHAPTER VII: "A Wondrous Lake"
CHAPTER VIII: "Celebration at York"
CHAPTER IX: "Arthur Marries Guenevere"
CHAPTER X: "Arthur Subdues Ireland and the Islands"
CHAPTER XI: "Arthur Conquers Europe; Fights Flollo"
CHAPTER XII: "Arthur Holds a Grand Court at Whitsuntide"
CHAPTER XIII: "The Grand Feast"
CHAPTER XIV: "Courtly Games"
CHAPTER XV: "Arrival of Lucius' Embassy"
CHAPTER XVI: "Arthur's Knights Defy Lucius"
CHAPTER XVII: "Hoel Defies Lucius"
CHAPTER XVIII: "Angusel Defies Lucius"
CHAPTER XIX: "Arthur's Vassals Pledge Support"
CHAPTER XX: "Arthur Defies Lucius"
BOOK XCHAPTER I: "Lucius Gathers His Armies"
CHAPTER II: "Arthur's Dream of the Dragon and the Bear"
CHAPTER III: "The Giant of St. Michael's Mount"
CHAPTER IV: "Gawain Goes to Parlay with Lucius"
CHAPTER V: "Romans Attempt to Rescue the Prisoners"
CHAPTER VI: "Arthur Prepares To Attack The Romans"
CHAPTER VII: "Arthur Addresses His army"
CHAPTER VIII: "Lucius Addresses His Army"
CHAPTER IX: "The Battle Against Lucius Begins"
CHAPTER X: "Gawain Fights Bravely"
CHAPTER XI: "Arthur's Army Prevails"
CHAPTER XII: "The Romans Are Slaughtered"
CHAPTER XIII: "Arthur Buries the Dead"
CHAPTER I: "Mordred's Treachery"
CHAPTER II: "Arthur's Final Battle With Mordred"
CHAPTER III: "Constantine Succeeds Arthur"
CHAPTER IV: "Constantine Kills Mordred's Sons"
CHAPTER V: "Aurelius Conan Succeeds Constantine"
CHAPTER VI: "Vortipore Succeeds Conan"
CHAPTER VII: "Malgo Succeeds Vortipore"
CHAPTER VIII: "Careticus Succeeds Malgo"
CHAPTER IX: "The Author Upbraids the Britons"
CHAPTER X: "New Invasions; Britons Driven into Wales"
CHAPTER XI: "Britons Lose Sovereignty"
CHAPTER XII: "St. Augustine Comes to England"
"The Conception of Arthur"
AFTER this victory Uther marched unto the city of Alclud and made ordinance for settling that province, as well as for restoring peace everywhere. He also went round all the nations Oof the Scots, and made that I rebellious people lay aside their savage ways, for such justice did he execute throughout the lands as never another of his predecessors had ever done before him. In his days did misdoers tremble, for they were dealt punishment without mercy. At last, when he had stablished his peace in the parts in the North, he went to London and bade that Octa and Eosa should be kept in prison there. And when the Easter festival drew nigh, he bade the barons of the realm assemble in that city that he might celebrate so high holiday with honour by assuming the crown thereon. All obeyed accordingly, and repairing thither from the several cities, assembled together on the eve of the festival.
The King, accordingly, celebrated the ceremony as he had proposed, and made merry along with his barons, all of whom did make great cheer for that the King had received them in such joyful wise. For all the nobles that were there had come with their wives and daughters as was meet on so glad a festival. Among the rest, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, was there, with his wife Igerne, that in beauty did surpass all the other dames of the whole of Britain. And when the King espied her amidst the others, he did suddenly wax so fain of her love that, paying no heed unto none of the others, he turned all his attention only upon her. Only unto her did he send dainty tit-bits from his own dish; only unto her did he send the golden cups with messages through his familiars. Many a time did he smile upon her and spake merrily unto her withal.
But when her husband did perceive all this, straightway he waxed wroth and retired from the court without leave taken. Nor was any that might recall him thither, for that he feared to lose the one thing that he loved better than all other. Uther, waxing wroth hereat, commanded him to return and appear in his court that he might take lawful satisfaction for the affront he had put upon him, And when Gorlois was
not minded to obey the summons, the King was enraged beyond all measure and sware with an oath that he would ravage his demesnes so he hastened not to make him satisfaction.
Forthwith, the quarrel betwixt the two abiding unsettled, the King gathered a mighty army together and went his way into the province of Cornwall and set fire to the cities and castles therein. But Gorlois, not daring to meet him in the field for that he had not so many armed men, chose rather to garrison his own strong places until such time as he obtained the succour he had besought from Ireland. And, for that he was more troubled upon his wife's account than upon his own, he placed her in the Castle of Tintagel on the seacoast, as holding it to be the safer refuge. Howbeit, he himself betook him into the Castle of Dimilioc, being afeard that in case disaster should befall him both might be caught in one trap. And when message of this was brought unto the King, he went unto the castle wherein Gorlois had ensconced him, and beleaguered him and cut off all access unto him.
At length, at the end of a week, mindful of his love for Igerne, he spake unto one of his familiars named Ulfin of Ricaradoc: "I am consumed of love for Igerne, nor can I have no joy, nor do I look to escape peril of my body save I may have possession of her. Do thou therefore give me counsel in what wise I may fulfil my desire, for, and I do not, of mine inward sorrow shall I die."
Unto whom Ulfin: " And who shall give thee any counsel that may avail, seeing that there is no force that may prevail whereby to come unto her in the Castle of Tintagel? For it is situate on the sea, and is on every side encompassed thereby, nor none other entrance is there save such as a narrow rock doth furnish, the which three armed knights could hold against thee, albeit thou wert standing there with the whole realm of Britain beside thee. But, and if Merlin the prophet would take the matter in hand, I do verily believe that by his counsel thou mightest compass thy heart's desire."
The King, therefore, believing him, bade Merlin be called, for he, too, had come unto the leaguer. Merlin came forthwith accordingly, and when he stood in presence of the King, was bidden give counsel how the King's desire might be fulfilled. When he found how sore tribulation of mind the King was suffering, he was moved at beholding the effect of
a love so exceeding great, and saith he: "The fulfilment of thy desire doth demand the practice of arts new and unheard of in this thy day. Yet know I how to give thee the semblance of Gorlois by my leechcrafts in such sort as that thou shalt seem in all things to be his very self. If, therefore, thou art minded to obey me, I will make thee like unto him utterly, and Ulfin will I make like unto Jordan of Tintagel his familiar. I also will take upon me another figure and will be with ye as a third, and in such wise we may go safely unto the castle and have access unto Igerne."
The King obeyed accordingly, and gave heed strictly unto that which Merlin enjoined him. At last, committing the siege into charge of his familiars, he did entrust himself unto the arts and medicaments of Merlin, and was transformed into the semblance of Gorlois, Ulfin was changed into Jordan, and Merlin into Bricel in such sort as that none could have told the one from the other. They then went their way toward Tintagel, and at dusk hour arrived at the castle. The porter, weening that the Duke had arrived, swiftly unmade the doors, and the three. were admitted. For what other than Gorlois could it be, seeing that in all things it seemed as if Gorlois himself were there? So the King lay that night with Igerne, for as he had beguiled her by the false likeness he had taken upon him, so he beguiled her also by the feigned discourses wherewith he did full artfully entertain her, For he told her he had issued forth of the besieged city for naught save to see to the safety of her dear self and the castle wherein she lay, in such sort that she believed him every word, and had no thought to deny him in aught he might desire. And upon that same night was the most renowned Arthur conceived, that was not only famous in after years, but was well worthy of all the fame he did achieve by his surpassing prowess.
"Arthur Crowned King"
AFTER the death of Uther Pendragon, the barons of Britain did come together from the divers provinces unto the city of Silchester, and did bear on hand Dubricius, Archbishop of the City of Legions, that he should crown as king Arthur, the late King's son. For sore was need upon them., seeing that when the Saxons heard of Uther's death they had invited their fellow-countrymen from Germany, and under their Duke Colgrin were bent upon exterminating the Britons. They had, moreover, entirely subdued all that part of the island which stretcheth from the river Humber, as far as the sea of Caithness. Dubricius therefore, sorrowing over the calamities of the country, assembled the other prelates, and did invest Arthur with the crown of the realm.
At that time Arthur was a youth of fifteen years, of a courage and generosity beyond compare, whereunto his inborn goodness did lend such grace as that he was beloved of well-nigh all the peoples in the land. After he had been invested with the ensigns of royalty, he abided by his ancient wont, and was so prodigal of his bounties as that he began to run short of wherewithal to distribute amongst the huge multitude of knights that made repair unto him. But he that hath within him a bountiful nature along with prowess, albeit that he be lacking for a time, natheless in no wise shall poverty be his bane for ever.
Wherefore did Arthur, for that in him did valour keep company with largesse, make resolve to harry the Saxons, to the end that with their treasure he might make rich the retainers that were of his own household. And herein was he monished of his own lawful right, seeing that of right ought he to hold the sovereignty of the whole island in virtue of his claim hereditary. Assembling, therefore, all the youth that were of his allegiance, he made first for York.
And when Colgrin was ware of this, he got together his Saxons, Scots, and Picts, and
came with a mighty multitude to meet him nigh the river Douglas, where, by the time the battle came to an end, the more part of both armies had been put to the sword. Natheless, Arthur won the day, and after pursuing Colgrin's flight as far as York, did beleaguer him within that city.
Thereupon, Baldulf, hearing of his brother's flight, made for the besieged city with six thousand men to relieve him. For, at the time his brother had fought the battle, he himself was upon the seacoast awaiting the arrival of Duke Cheldric, who was just coming from Germany to their assistance. And when he had come within ten miles of the city, he was resolved to make a night march and fall upon them by surprise.
Howbeit, Arthur was ware of his purpose, and bade Cador, Duke of Cornwall, go meet him that same night with six hundred horse and three thousand foot. He, choosing a position on the road whereby the enemy were bound to march, surprised them by an assault on the sudden, and cutting up and slaying the Saxons, drave Baldulf off in flight. Baldulf, distressed beyond measure that he could convey no succour to his brother, took counsel with himself in what wise he might have speech of him, for he weened that so he might get at him, they might together devise some shift for the safety of them both.
Failing all other means of access unto him, he shaved off his hair and his beard, and did upon him the habit of a jongleur with a ghittern, and walking to and fro within the camp, made show as had he been a minstrel singing unto the tunes that he thrummed the while upon his ghittern. And, for that none suspected him, by little and little he drew nigh unto the walls of the city, ever keeping up the disguise he had taken upon him. At last he was found out by some of the besieged, who thereupon drew him up with cords over the wall into the city and brought him unto his brother, who, overjoyed at the sight of him, greeted him with kisses and embraces.
At last, after talking over every kind of shift, when they had fallen utterly into despair of ever issuing forth, the messengers they had sent into Germany returned, bringing with them unto Albany six hundred ships full of stout warriors under Duke Cheldric; and when Arthur's counsellors heard tell of their coming, they advised him to hold the leaguer no longer, for that sore hazard would it be to do battle with so mighty a multitude of enemies as had now arrived.
"Arthur Plans War against the Saxons"
ARTHUR, therefore, in obedience to the counsel of his retainers, retired him into the city of London. Hither he summoned all the clergy and chief men of his allegiance and bade them declare their counsel as to what were best and safest for him to do against this inroad of the Paynim. At last, by common consent of them all, messengers are sent unto King Hoel in Armorica with tidings of the calamitous estate of Britain. For Hoel was sister's son unto Arthur, born unto Dubric, King of the Armorican Britons. Wherefore, so soon as he heard of the invasion wherewith his uncle was threatened he bade fit out his fleet, and mustering fifteen thousand men-at-arms, made for Hamo's Port with the first fair wind. Arthur received him with all honour due, and the twain embraced the one the other over and over again.
"Battles Against the Saxons"
A FEW days later they set forth for the city of Kaerlindcoit, then besieged by the Paynim already mentioned, the which city lieth upon a hill betwixt two rivers in the province of Lindesey, and is otherwise called Lincoln. Accordingly, when they had come thither with their whole host, they did battle with the Saxons and routed them with no common slaughter, for upon that day fell six thousand of them, some part drowned in the rivers and some part smitten of deadly weapons. The residue, in dismay, forsook the siege and fled, but Arthur stinted not in pursuit until they had reached the forest of Caledon, wherein they assembled again after the fight and did their best to make a stand against him. When the battle began, they wrought sore havoc amongst the Britons, defending themselves like men, and avoiding the arrows of the Britons in the shelter afforded by the trees. When Arthur espied this he bade the trees about that part of the forest be felled, and the trunks set in a compass around them in such wise as that all ways of issuing forth were shut against them, for he was minded to beleaguer them therein
until they should be starven to death of hunger. This done, he bade his companies patrol the forest, and abode in that same place three days.
Whereupon the Saxons, lacking all victual and famishing to death, besought leave to issue forth upon covenant that they would leave all their gold and silver behind them so they might return unto Germany with nought but their ships only. They promised further to give them tribute from Germany and to leave hostages for the payment thereof. Arthur, taking counsel thereupon, agreed unto their petition, retaining all their treasure and the hostages for payment of the tribute, and granting only unto them bare permission to depart.
Natheless, whilst that they were roughing the seas as they returned homeward, it repented them of the covenant they had made, and tacking about, they returned into Britain, making the shore at Totnes. Taking possession of the country, they devastated the land as far as the Severn sea, slaying the husbandmen with deadly wounds. Marching forth from thence they made for the country about Bath and besieged that city.
When word of this was brought unto the King, astonied beyond measure at their wicked daring, he bade judgment be done upon their hostages and hanged them out of hand, and, abandoning the expedition whereby he intended to repress the Picts and Scots, hurried away to disperse the leaguer. Howbeit, that which did most sorely grieve him in this strait was that he was compelled to leave his nephew Hoel behind him lying sick in the city of Alclud. When at last he arrived in the province of Somerset, and beheld the leaguer nigh at hand, he spake in these words: "For that these Saxons, of most impious and hateful name, have disdained to keep faith with me, I, keeping my faith unto my God, will endeavour me this day to revenge upon them the blood of my countrymen. To arms, therefore, ye warriors, to arms, and fall upon yonder traitors like men, for, of a certainty, by Christ's succour, we cannot fail of victory!"
"Arthur Prepares for War"
WHEN he had thus spoken, the holy Dubric, Archbishop of the City of Legions, went up on to the top of a certain mount and cried out with a loud voice:
"Ye men that be known from these others by your Christian profession, take heed ye bear in mind the piety ye owe unto your country and unto your fellow-countrymen, whose slaughter by the treachery of the Paynim shall be unto ye a disgrace everlasting save ye press hardily forward to defend them. Fight ye therefore for your country and if it be that death overtake ye, suffer it willingly for your country's sake, for death itself is victory and a healing unto the soul, inasmuch as he that shall have died for his brethren doth offer himself a living sacrifice unto God, nor is it doubtful that herein he doth follow in the footsteps of Christ who disdained not to lay down His own soul for His brethren. Whosoever, therefore, amongst ye shall be slain in this battle, unto him shall that death be as full penance and absolution of all his sins, if so be he receive it willingly on this wise."
Forthwith, thus cheered by the benison of the blessed man, each one hastened to arm him to do his bidding, and Arthur himself doing upon him a habergeon worthy of a king so noble, did set upon his head a helm of gold graven with the semblance of a dragon. Upon his shoulders, moreover, did he bear the shield that was named Prewin , wherein, upon the inner side, was painted the image of the holy Mary, Mother of God, that many a time and oft did call her back unto his memory. Girt was he also viith Caliburn, best of swords that was forged within the Isle of Avalon; and the lance that did grace his right hand was called by the name Ron, a tall lance and a stout, full meet to do slaughter withal. Then, stationing his companies, he made hardy assault upon the Saxons that after their wont were ranked wedge-wise in battalions.
Natheless, all day long did they stand their ground manfully maugre the Britons that did deliver assault upon assault against them. At last, just verging upon sundown, the Saxons occupied a hill close by that might serve them for a camp, for, secure in their numbers, the hill alone seemed all the camp they needed. But when the morrow's sun brought back the day, Arthur with his army clomb up to the top of the hill, albeit that in the ascent he lost many of his men. For the Saxons, dashing down from the height, had the better advantage in dealing their wounds, whilst they could also run far more swiftly down the hill than he could struggle up. Howbeit, putting forth their utmost
strength, the Britons did at last reach the top, and forthwith close with the enemy hand to hand. The Saxons, fronting them with their broad chests, strive with all their endeavour to stand their ground.
And when much of the day had been, spent on this wise, Arthur waxed wroth at the stubbornness of their resistance, and the slowness of his own advance, and in drawing forth Calibum, his sword, crieth aloud the name of Holy Mary, and thrusteth him forward with a swift onset into the thickest press of the enemy's ranks. Whomsoever he touched, calling upon God, he slew at a single blow, nor did he once slacken in his onslaught until that he had slain four hundred and seventy men single-handed with his sword Calibum. This when the Britons beheld, they followed him up in close rank dealing slaughter on every side. Colgrin and Baldulf his brother fell amongst the first, and many thousands fell besides. Howbeit, as soon as Cheldric saw the jeopardy of his fellows, he turned to flee away.
"Cador Battles the Scots and Picts"
THE King having won the victory, bade Cador, Duke of Cornwall, pursue the enemy, while he himself hastened his march into Albany, for word had thence been brought him that the Scots and Picts were besieging Hoel in the city of Alclud, wherein, as I have said, he was lying afflicted of grievous sickness, and sore need it was he should come swiftly to his succour lest he should be taken by the barbarians along with the city. The Duke of Cornwall, accordingly, accompanied by ten thousand men, started from Bath, but was not minded, in the first place, to pursue the fleeing Saxons, deeming it better to make all speed to get hold of their ships and thus forbid their embarking therein. As soon as he had taken possession of the ships, he manned them with his best soldiers, who could be trusted to take heed that no Paynim came aboard, in case they should flee unto them to escape.
Then he made best haste to obey Arthur's orders by following up the enemy and slaying all he overtook without mercy. Whereupon they, who but just now had fallen upon the Britons with the fury of a double thunderbolt, straightway sneak off, faint of heart, some into the
depths of the forest, others into the mountains and caves, anywhither so only they may live yet a little longer. At last, when they found all shelter failing, they march their shattered comoanies into the Isle of Thanet. Thither the Duke of Cornwall follows hard upon their heels, smiting them down without mercy as was his wont; nor did he stay his hand until after Cheldric had been slain. He compelled them to give hostages for the surrender of the whole residue.
"Arthur Ravages the Scots"
HAVING thus established peace, he marched towards Alclud, which Arthur had already delivered from the oppression of the barbarians. He next led his army into Moray, where the Scots and Picts were beleaguered, for after they had thrice been defeated in battle by Arthur and his nephew they had fled into that Province.
When they had reached Loch Lomond, they occupied the islands that be therein, thinking to find safe refuge; for this lake doth contain sixty islands and receiveth sixty rivers, albeit that but a single stream doth flow from thence unto the sea. Upon these islands are sixty rocks plain to be seen, whereof each one doth bear an eyrie of eagles that there congregating year by year do notify any prodigy that is to come to pass in the kingdom by uttering a shrill scream all together in concert. Unto these islands accordingly the enemy had fled in order to avail them of the protection of the lake. But small profit reaped they thereby, for Arthur collected a fleet and went round about the inlets of the rivers for fifteen days together, and did so beleaguer them as that they were famished to death of hunger by thousands.
And whilst that he was serving them out on this wise arrived Guillamur, King of Ireland, with a mighty host of barbarians in a fleet, to bring succour unto the wretched islanders. Whereupon Arthur left off the leaguer and began to turn his arms against the Irish, whom he forced to return unto their own country, cut to pieces without mercy.
When he had won the victory, he again gave all his thoughts to doing away utterly the race of the Scots and Picts, and yielded him to treating them with a cruelty beyond compare. Not a single one that he could lay
hands on did he spare, insomuch as that at last all the bishops of the miserable country assembled together with all the clergy of their obedience, and came unto him barefoot, bearing relics of the saints and the sacraments of the church, imploring the King's mercy for the safety of their people. As soon as they came into his presence, they prayed him on their bended knees to have pity on the down-trodden folk, for that he had visited them with pains and penalties enow, nor was any need to cut off the scanty few that still survived to the last man. Some petty portion of the country he might allot unto them whereon they might be allowed to bear the yoke of perpetual bondage, for this were they willing to do. And when they had besought the King on this wise, he was moved unto tears for very pity, and, agreeing unto the petition, of the holy men, granted them his pardon.
"A Wondrous Lake"
THESE matters ended, Hoel did explore the site of the foresaid lake, and marvelled greatly to behold how so many rivers, so many islands, so many rocks and so many eyries of eagles did all so exactly agree in number. And while he thus marvelled, holding the same for a miracle, Arthur came unto him and told him there was another lake in the same province even yet more marvellous. "It lieth," saith he, "not far hence, and it hath twenty foot in breadth and the same measure in length, with but five foot of depth. Howbeit, within this square, whether it be by artifice of man or by ordinance of nature, do breed four manner fishes in the four comers thereof; nor never is a fish of one quarter found in any of the others. Moreover," saith he, "another lake is there in the parts of Wales nigh the Severn, which the men of that country do call Linligwan, whereinto when the sea floweth it is received as into a whirlpool or swallow, in suchwise as that the lake is never the fuller for the waters it doth ingulf so as to cover the margent of the banks thereof. Natheless, when the sea ebbeth again, it doth spout forth the waters it hath sucked in as it were a mountain, and overplasheth and covereth the banks. At such a time were the folk of all that country to stand anigh with their faces toward
the lake and should be sprinkled of the spray of the waves upon their garments, they should scarce escape, if indeed they did at all escape, being swallowed up of the lake. Natheless, should they turn their back to the lake, they need have no fear of being sprinkled, even though they should stand upon the very brink."
"Celebration at York"
PARDON granted unto the Scottish people, the King made for York, there to celebrate the forthcoming Christmas festival. And when he was entered into the city and beheld the desolation of the holy churches, he was sore grieved and moved unto compassion. For Samson the Archbishop had been driven forth along with all the other holy men of religion, and the half-bumt churches had ceased from the offices of God, so fiercely had the fury of the Paynim prevailed. Forthwith he summoned a convocation of the clergy and people, and appointed Pyramus his chaplain unto the Metropolitan See; restored the churches that were cast down even to the ground, and did grace them with convents of religious both men and women. The barons also that had been driven out by the incursions of the Saxons did he restore unto their former honours.
"Arthur Marries Guenevere"
IN that city were three brethren born of blood royal, Lot, to wit, and Urian and Angusel, that had held the principality of those parts before the Saxons had prevailed. Being minded, therefore, to grant unto them as unto the others their hereditary rights, he restored unto Angusel the kingly power of the Scots, and conferred the sceptre of the people of Moray upon Urian. Howbeit, Lot, who in the days of Aurelius Ambrosius had married Arthur's own sister, who had borne unto him Gawain and Mordred, he did reinstate in the Dukedom of Lothian and of the other provinces thereby that had appertained unto him aforetime. At last, when he
had re-established the state of the whole country in its ancient dignity, he took unto him a wife born of a noble Roman family, Guenevere, who, brought up and nurtured in the household of Duke Cador, did surpass in beauty all the other dames of the island.
"Arthur Subdues Ireland and the Islands"
WHEN the next summer came on he fitted out his fleet and sailed unto the island of Hibernia, that he desired to subdue unto himself. No sooner had he landed than Guillamur, beforementioned, came to meet him with a host past numbering, purposing to do battle with him. But as soon as the fight began, his folk, naked and unarmed, fled whithersoever they might find a place of refuge. Guillamur was forthwith taken prisoner and compelled to surrender, and the rest of the princes of the country, smitten with dismay, likewise surrendered them after their King's ensample. All parts of Ireland thus subdued, he made with his fleet for Iceland and there also defeated the people and subjugated the island. Next, for far and wide amongst the other islands it was rumoured that no country could stand against him, Doldavy, King of Gothland, and Gunfast, King of the Orkneys, came of their own accord, and promising a tribute, did homage unto him. At the end of winter he returned into Britain, and re-establishing his peace firmly throughout the realm, did abide therein for the next twelve years.
"Arthur Conquers Europe; Fights Flollo"
AT the end of this time he invited unto him all soever of most prowess from far-off kingdoms and began to multiply his household retinue, and to hold such courtly fashion in his household as begat rivalry amongst peoples at a distance, insomuch as the noblest in the land, fain to vie with him, would hold himself as nought, save in the cut of his clothes and the manner of his arms he followed the pattern of Arthur's knights. At last the fame of his bounty and his
prowess was upon every man's tongue, even unto the uttermost ends of the earth, and a fear fell upon the Kings of realms oversea lest he might fall upon them in arms and they might lose the nations under their dominion. Grievously tormented of these devouring cares, they set them to repairing their cities and the towers of their cities, and builded them strongholds in places meet for defence, to the end that in case Arthur should lead an expedition against them they might find refuge therein should need be.
And when this was notified unto Arthur, his heart was uplifted for that he was a terror unto them all, and he set his desire upon subduing the whole of Europe unto himself. Fitting forth his fleets accordingly, he made first of all for Norway, being minded to set the crown thereof upon the head of Lot, his sister's son. For Lot was grandson of Sichelm, King of Norway, who at that time had died leaving the kingdom unto him. But the Norwegians disdained to receive him and had raised one Riculf to the kingly power, deeming that so they garrisoned their cities, he would be able to withstand Arthur himself.
At that time Gawain, the son of Lot, was a youth of twelve years, and had been sent by his uncle to be brought up as a page in the service of Pope Sulpicius, from whom he had received arms. Accordingly, when Arthur, as I had begun to tell, landed upon the coast of Norway, King Riculf met him with the whole people of the Kingdom and did battle; but after much blood had been shed upon both sides, the Britons at last prevailed, and making an onset, slew Riculf with a number of his men. When they had won this victory they overran and set fire to the cities, scattering the country folk, nor did they cease to give full loose to their cruelty until they had submitted the whole of Norway as well as Denmark unto the dominion of Arthur.
These countries thus conquered, as soon as Arthur had raised Lot to be King of Norway Arthur sailed for Gaul, and dividing his force into companies began everywhere to lay the country waste. The province of Gaul at that time had been committed to the charge of Flollo, tribune of Rome, who ruled it under the Emperor Leo. He, when he was aware of Arthur's arrival, summoned every soldier in arms that owned his allegiance and fought against Arthur, but in no wise might he stand against him. For the youth of all the islands he had conquered were in Arthur's company, whence it was
of common report that his army was so great that scarce of any the greatest might he be overcome. In his retinue, moreover, was the better part of the knighthood of Gaul, whom by his much largesse he had bound unto himself.
Flollo, therefore, when he saw that he had been worsted in the battle, forthwith forsaking the field, fled with a few of his men unto Paris. There, reassembling his straggling army, he put the city in estate of defence and again was fain to do battle with Arthur. But whilst he was thinking of strengthening his army by auxiliaries from the neighbouring countries, Arthur came upon him at unawares and besieged him in the city.
At the end of a month, Flollo, taking it grievously to heart that his people should be famished to death, sent unto Arthur challenging him to single combat on condition that whichsoever of the twain should be conqueror should have the kingdom of the other. For he was of great stature, hardihood, and valour, and of his overweening confidence herein had sent this challenges hoping that it might open unto him a door of safety.
When the message was brought unto Arthur, mightily was he rejoiced at Flollo's proposal, and sent back word that he was ready and willing to abide by the conditions thereof. Thereupon each did duly enter into covenant with the other, and the twain met in an island that is without the city, all the folk watching to see what might be the issue. Both were armed full seemly, and each bestrode a destrier of marvellous swiftness; nor was it easy to forecast which of the twain were most like to win the day.
Taking their stand opposite each other, and couching lance in rest, they forthwith set spur to their steeds and smote together with a right mighty shock. But Arthur, who bare his spear the more heedfully, thrusted the same into the top of Flollo's breast, and shielding off the other's blow with all the force he might, bare him to the ground. Then, unsheathing his sword, he was hastening to smite him, when Flollo, on his legs again in an instant, ran upon him with his spear levelled, and with a deadly thrust into his destrier's chest brought both horse and rider to the ground.
When the Britons saw their King lying his length on the field, they thought he was slain and could scarce be withholden from breaking the covenant and setting on the Gauls with one accord. But before they had resolved to transgress the bounds of peace Arthur was quickly
on his legs again, and, covering him with his shield, was hastily stepping up to meet Flollo, who was bearing down upon him. And now, standing up to each other man to man, they redouble buffet on buffet, each bent upon fighting it out to the death.
At last Flollo found an opening and smote Arthur on the forehead, and, had not the crash of the stroke on the helmet blunted the edge of his sword, the wound might well have been Arthur's death. But when the blood welled forth, and Arthur saw his habergeon and shield all red therewithal, his wrath waxed yet more burning hot and raising Caliburn aloft, with all his force he brought it down through the helmet on to the head of Flollo and clove it sheer in twain. With this stroke, Flollo fell, and beating the ground with his heels, gave up his ghost to the winds.
When the tidings was known throughout the army, the citizens all ran together, and, opening the gates, delivered themselves up unto Arthur. He, after thus achieving the victory, divided his army into two commands giving one into commission unto Duke Hoel, and bidding him go conquer Guitard, Duke of the Poitevins, whilst he himself with the other command busied him with subduing the other provinces. Thereupon Hoel marched into Aquitaine, invaded the cities of the country, and after harassing Guitard in a number of battles, compelled him to surrender. He next laid waste Gascony with fire and sword, and subjugated the princes thereof.
After a space of nine years, when he had subdued all the parts of Gaul unto his dominion, Arthur again came unto Paris and there held his court. He there also summoned a convocation of the clergy and people, and did confirm the stablishment of the realm in peace and law. At that time, moreover, he made grant of Neustria, which is now called Normandy, unto Bedevere his butler, and the province of Anjou unto Kay his seneschal. Many other provinces also did he grant unto the noblemen that did him service in his household. At last, when all the states and peoples were stablished in his peace, he returned into Britain at the beginning of spring.
"Arthur Holds a Grand Court at Whitsuntide"
WHEN the high festival of Whitsuntide began to draw nigh, Arthur, filled with exceeding great joy at having achieved so great success, was fain to hold high court, and to set the crown of the kingdom upon his head, to convene the Kings and Dukes that were his vassals to the festival so that he might the more worshipfully celebrate the same, and renew his peace more firmly amongst his barons. Howbeit, when he made known his desire unto his familiars, he, by their counsel, made choice of the City of Legions wherein to fulfil his design. For, situate in a passing pleasant position on the river Usk in Glamorgan, not far from the Severn sea, and abounding in wealth above all other cities, it was the place most meet for so high a solemnity. For on the one side thereof flowed the noble river aforesaid whereby the Kings and Princes that should come from oversea might be borne thither in their ships; and on the other side, girdled about with meadows and woods, passing fair was the magnificence of the kingly palaces thereof with the gilded verges of the roofs that imitated Rome.
Howbeit, the chiefest glories thereof were the two churches, one raised in honour of the Martyr Julius, that was right fair graced by a convent of virgins that had dedicated them unto God, and the second, founded in the name of the blessed Aaron, his companion, the main pillars whereof were a brotherhood of canons regular, and this was the cathedral church of the third Metropolitan See of Britain. It had, moreover, a school of two hundred philosophers learned in astronomy and in the other arts, that did diligently observe the course of the stars and did by true inferences foretell the prodigies which at that time were about to befall unto King Arthur. Such was the city, famed for such abundance of things delightsome, that was now husking her for the festival that had been proclaimed.
Messengers were sent forth into the divers kingdoms, and all that owed allegiance throughout the Gauls and the neighbour islands were invited unto the court. Came accordingly Angusel, King of Albany, that is now called Scotland; Urian, King of them of Moray; Cadwallo Lewirh, King of the Venedotians, that now be called the North Welsh; Sater,
King of the Demeti, that is, of the South Welsh; Cador, King of Cornwall, the Archbishops of the three Metropolitan Sees, to wit, of London and York, and Dubric of the City of Legions. He, Primate of Britain and Legate of the Apostolic See, was of so meritorious a piety that he could make whole by his prayers any that lay oppressed of any malady.
Came also the Earls of noble cities; Morvid, Earl of Gloucester; Mauron of Winchester; Anaraut of Salisbury; Arthgal of Carguet, that is also called Warguit; Jugein from Leicester; Cursal from Caistor, Kimmare Duke of Dorobernia: Galluc of Salisbury; Urgen from Bath; Jonathaal of Dorchester; Boso of Ridoc, that is Oxford.
Besides the earls came champions of lesser dignity, Danant map Papo; Cheneus map Coil; map Elidur; Guisul map Nogoit; Regin map Claut; Eddelein map Cledauc; Kincar map Bagan; Kimmare; Gorbonian map Goit; Clofaut; Rupmaneton; Kimbelim map Trunat; Chatleus map Catel; Kinlich map Neton, and many another beside, the names whereof be too long to tell.
From the neighbour islands came likewise Guillamur, King of Ireland; Malvasius, King of Iceland; Doldavy, King of Gothland; Gunvasius, King of the Orlcneys; Lot, King of Norway; Aschil, King of the Danes.
From the parts oversea came also Holdin, King of the Ruteni; Leodegar, Earl of Boulogne; Bedevere the Butler, Duke of Normandy; Borel of Maine; Kay the Seneschal, Duke of Anjou; Guitard of Poitou; the Twelve Peers of the Gauls whom Guerin of Chartres brought with him; Hoel, Duke of the Armorican Britons, with the Barons of his allegiance, who marched along with such magnificence of equipment in trappings and mules and horses as may not easily be told.
Besides all these, not a single Prince of any price on this side Spain remained at home and came not upon the proclamation. And no marvel, for Arthur's bounty was of common report throughout the whole wide world, and all men for his sake were fain to come.
"The Grand Feast"
WHEN all at last were assembled in the city on the high day of the festival, the archbishops were conducted unto the palace to crown the King with the royal diadem. Dubric,
therefore, upon whom the charge fell, for that the court was held within his diocese, was ready to celebrate the service. As soon as the King had been invested with the ensigns of kingship, he was led in right comely wise to the church of the Metropolitan See, two archbishops supporting him, the one upon his right hand side the other upon his left. Four Kings, moreover, to wit, those of Albany, Cornwall, and North and South Wales, went before him, bearing before him, as was their right, four golden swords. A company of clerics in holy orders of every degree went chanting music marvellous sweet in front. Of the other party, the archbishops and pontiffs led the Queen, crowned with laurel and wearing her own ensigns, unto the church of the virgins dedicate. The four Queens, moreover, of the four Kings already mentioned, did bear before her according to wont and custom four white doves, and the ladies that were present did follow after her rejoicing greatly.
At last, when the procession was over, so manifold was the music of the organs and so many were the hymns that were chanted in both churches, that the knights who were there scarce knew which church they should enter first for the exceeding sweetness of the harmonies in both. First into the one and then into the other they flocked in crowds, nor, had the whole day been given up to the celebration, would any have felt a moment's weariness thereof.
And when the divine services had been celebrated in both churches, the King and Queen put off their crowns, and doing on lighter robes of state, went to meat, he to his palace with the men, she to another palace with the women. For the Britons did observe the ancient custom of the Trojans, and were wont to celebrate their high festival days, the men with the men and the women with the women severally.
And when all were set at table according as the rank of each did demand, Kay the Seneschal, in a doublet furred of ermines, and a thousand youths of full high degree in his company, all likewise clad in ermines, did serve the meats along with him. Of the other part, as many in doublets furred of vair did follow Bedevere the Butler, and along with him did serve the drinks from the divers ewers into the manifold-fashioned cups. In the palace of the Queen no less did numberless pages, clad in divers brave liveries, offer their service each after his office, the which were I to go about to describe I might draw out my history
into an endless prolixity. For at that time was Britain exalted unto so high a pitch of dignity as that it did surpass all other kingdoms in plenty of riches, in luxury of adornment, and in the courteous wit of them that dwelt therein.
Whatsoever knight in the land was of renown for his prowess did wear his clothes and his arms all of one same colour. And the dames, no less witty, would apparel them in like manner in a single colour, nor would they deign have the love of none save he had thrice approved him in the wars. Wherefore at that time did dames wax chaste and knights the nobler for their love.
REFRESHED by their banqueting, they go forth into the fields without the city, and sundry among them fall to playing at sundry manner games. Presently the knights engage in a game on horseback, making show of fighting a battle whilst the dames and damsels looking on from the top of the walls, for whose sake the courtly knights make believe to be fighting, do cheer them on for the sake of seeing the better sport. Others elsewhere spend the rest of the day in shooting arrows, some in tilting with spears, some in flinging heavy stones, some in putting the weight; others again in playing at the dice or in a diversity of other games, but all without wrangling; and whosoever had done best in his own game was presented by Arthur with a boon of price. And after the first three days had been spent on this wise, upon the fourth day all they that had done service in virtue of the office they held were summoned, and unto each was made grant of the bonour of the office he held, in possession, earldom, to wit, of city or castle, archbishopric, bishopric, abbacy, or whatsoever else it might be.
"Arrival of Lucius' Embassy"
Now the blessed Dubric, piously yearning after the life of a hermit, did depose himself from the archiepiscopal See, and David, the King's uncle, was consecrated in his place,
whose life was an ensample of all goodness unto them whom he had instructed in his doctrine. In the place, moreover, of the holy Samson, Archbishop of Dol, was appointed Chelian, an illustrious priest of Landaff, with the consent of Hoel, King of the Armorican Britons, unto whom the good life and conditions of the man had commended him. The Bishopric of Silchester also was assigned to Mangan, and that of Winton unto Diwan, and the pontifical mitre of Alclud unto Eledan.
And whilst Arthur was allotting these benefices amongst them, behold, twelve men of ripe age and worshipful aspect, bearing branches of olive in their right hands in token of embassy, approach anigh the King with quiet step and words as quiet, and after saluting him, present unto him a letter on behalf of Lucius Hiberius conceived in these words:
"Lucius, Procurator of the Republic, unto Arthur, King of Britain, wisheth that which he hath deserved.
"With much marvel do I marvel at the insolence of thy tyranny. I do marvel, I say, thereat, and at the injury that thou hast done unto Rome. When I recall it to remembrance, I am moved unto wrath for that thou art so far beside thyself as not to acknowledge it, and art in no hurry to perceive what it is to have offended the Senate by thy wrongful deeds, albeit none better knoweth than thou that the whole world oweth vassalage thereunto. For the tribute of Britain that the Senate hath commanded thee to pay, and that hath been paid these many ages unto Caius Julius, and unto his successors in the dignity of Rome, thou hast presumed to hold back in contempt of an empire of so lofty rank. Thou hast, moreover, seized from them Gaul, seized from them the province of the Allobroges, seized from them all the islands of the Ocean sea, the Kings whereof have paid tribute unto our forefathers from the time that the Roman power did in those parts prevail.
Now, therefore, seeing that the Senate hath decreed to demand lawful redress of thee for heaping so huge a pile of injuries upon them, I do command thee that thou appear in Rome, and do appoint the middle day of August in the year next coming as the term of thine appearance, there to make satisfaction unto thy lords, and to abide by such sentence as their justice shall decree. Wherein if thou dost make default, I myself will enter into thy dominions and will take heed by means
of the sword to restore unto the Republic all those lands whereof thy mad presumption hath plundered her."
When this letter was read in presence of the King and his earls, Arthur went apart with them into the Giants' Tower, that is at the entrance of the palace, to treat with them as to what ordinance they ought to make as against a mandate of the kind. But, just as they had begun to mount the stair, Cador, Duke of Cornwall, that was ever a merry man, burst out on laughing before the King, and spake unto him on this wise:
Until now it hath been my fear that the easy life the Britons have led this long time they have been at peace might make them wax craven, and utterly do away in them their renown in knighthood wherein they have ever been held to excel all other nations. For where use of arms is none, and nought is there to do but to toy with women and play at the dice and such like follies, none need doubt but that cowardice will tarnish all they once had of valour and honour and hardihood and renown. For nigh upon five year is it since we took to junketings of the kind for lack of the sports of Mars. Wherefore, methinks, God Himself hath put the Romans upon this hankering, that so He may deliver us from our cowardize and restore us to our prowess as it wont to be in the old days."
And whilst he was saying this and more to the same purpose, they were come to their seats, and when they were all set, Arthur spake unto them thus:
"Arthur's Knights Defy Lucius"
"COMRADES," saith he, "alike in adversity and in prosperity, whose prowess I have made proof of in giving of counsel no less than in deeds of arms, now earnestly bethink ye all in common, and make ye wise provision as to what ye deem best for us to do in face of such mandate as is this, for that which is diligently provided for by a wise man aforehand is the more easily borne withal when it cometh to the act. The more easily therefore shall we be able to withstand the attack of Lucius, if we shall first with one accord have applied us to weighing heedfully the means whereby we may best
enfeeble the effect thereof. Which, verily, I deem not greatly to be dreaded of us, seeing that he doth with so unreasonable cause demand the tribute that he desireth to have from Britain.
For he saith that we ought of right to give it unto him, for that it was paid unto Julius Coesar and the other his successors, who, invited by the discords of the ancient Britons, did of old invade Britain by force of arms, and did thus by violence subdue unto their power the country tottering as it then was with evil dissensions. But, forasmuch as it was on this wise that they possessed them of the country, it hath been only by an injustice that they have taken tribute thereof. For nought that is taken by force and violence can be justly possessed by him that did the violence. Wherefore a cause without reason is this that he pretendeth whereby he assumeth that we are of right his tributaries.
Howbeit, sith that he thus presumeth to demand of us that which is unjust, let us also, by like reasoning, ask tribute of Rome from him, and let him that is the better man of the twain carry off that which he hath demanded to have. For, if it be that because Julius Cæsar and the rest of the Roman Kings did conquer Britain in old days, he doth therefore decree that tribute ought now to be paid unto him therefrom, in like manner do I now decree that Rome ought of right to pay tribute unto me, forasmuch as mine ancestors did of yore obtain possession of Rome.
For Belinus, that most high and mighty King, did, with the assistance of his brother, Brennius, to wit, Duke of the Allobroges, take the city, and in the midmost of the market-place thereof did hang a score of the most noble Romans; and moreover, after they had taken it, did for many a year possess the same.
Constantine, also, the son of Helena, no less than Maximian, both of them nigh of kindred unto myself, and both of whom, the one after the other, wore the crown of Britain, did also obtain the throne of the Roman empire.
Bethink ye, therefore, whether we should ask tribute of Rome? But as to Gaul or the neighbour islands of the Ocean, no need is there of answer, inasmuch as he shrank from defending them at the time we took them out of his dominion."
And when he had thus spoken with more to the same effect, Hoel, King of the Armorican Britons, rising up in precedence of all the rest, made answer unto him on this wise:
"Hoel Defies Lucius"
"WERE each one of us to take thought within himself, and were he able to turn over in his mind all the arguments upon every point in question, I deem that no better counsel could he find than this which the wise discretion of thy policy hath thus proposed unto our acceptance. For so exactly hath thy provident forethought anticipated our desire, and with such Tullian dew of eloquence hast thou besprinkled it withal, that we ought all of us to praise without ceasing the affection of a man so constant, the power of a mind so wise, the profit of counsel so exceeding apt to the occasion. For if, in accordance with thine argument, thou art minded to go to Rome, I doubt not that the victory shall be ours, seeing that what we do justly demand of our enemies they did first begin to demand of us. For whosoever doth seek to snatch away from another those things that be his own doth deserve to lose his own through him whom he seeketh to wrong. Wherefore, sith that the Romans do desire to take from us that which is our own, beyond all doubt we shall take their own from them, so only we be allowed to meet them in the field.
Behold, this is the battle most to be desired by all Britons. Behold the prophecies of the Sibyl that are witnessed by tokens true, that for the third time shall one of British race be born that shall obtain the empire of Rome. Already are the oracles fulfilled as to the two, sith that manifestly, as thou hast said, the two illustrious princes, Belinus and Constantine have wom the imperial crown of the Roman empire. And now in thee have we the third unto whom is promised that highest height of honour.
Hasten thou, therefore, to receive that which God tarrieth not to grant. Hasten to subjugate that which doth desire to be subjugated! Hasten to exalt us all, who, in order that thou thyself mayst be exalted, will shrink not from receiving wounds, nay, nor from losing our very lives. And that thou mayst carry this matter through I will accompany thy presence with ten thousand men-at-arms."
"Angusel Defies Lucius"
WHEN Hoel had made an end of his speech, Angusel also, King of Albany, went on to declare what was his mind in the matter on this wise:
"From the moment that I understood my lord to be so minded as he hath said, such gladness hath entered into my heart that I know not how to utter it at this present. For in all our past campaigns that we have fought against kings so many and so mighty, all that we have done meseemeth as nought so long as the Romans and the Germans remain unharmed, and we revenge not like men the slaughter they have formerly inflicted upon our fellow-countrymen. But now that leave is granted us to meet them in battle, I rejoice with exceeding great joy, and do yearn with desire for the day to come when we shall meet. I am athirst for their blood, even as for a well-spring when I had for three days been forbidden to drink. O, may I see that morrow! How sweet will be the wounds whether I give them or receive! when the right hand dealeth with right hand. Yea, death itself will be sweet, so I may suffer it in revenging our fathers, in safeguarding our freedom, in exalting our King! Let us fall upon these half men, and falling upon them, tread them under foot, so that when we have conquered them we may spoil them of their honours and enjoy the victory we have won. I will add two thousand horsemen to our army besides those on foot."
"Arthur's Vassals Pledge Support"
THEREAFTER the rest said what there was left to say. Each promised the knight's service that was due from him, so that besides those that the Duke of Armorica had promised, sixty thousand were reckoned from the island of Britain alone of armed men with all arms. But the Kings of the other islands, inasmuch as they had not yet taken up with the custom of having knights, promised foot soldiers as many as were due
from them, so that out of the six islands, to wit, Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Denmark, were numbered six score thousand. From the duchies of the Gauls, the Ruteni, Portunians, Estrusians, Maine, Anjou, and Poitou, eighty thousand; from the twelve earldoms of those who came along with Guerin of Chartres, twelve hundred. Altogether they made eighty-three thousand two hundred besides those on foot, who were not so easy to reckon.
"Arthur Defies Lucius"
KING ARTHUR, seeing that all those of his allegiance were ready with one accord, bade them return quickly unto their own countries and call out the armies they had promised; so that in the Kalends of August they might hasten unto the haven of Barfleur, and from thence advance with him to the frontiers of the Allobroges to meet the Romans. Howbeit, he sent word unto the Emperors through their ambassadors that in no wise would he pay the tribute, nor would go to Rome for the sake of obeying their decree, but rather for the sake of demanding from them what they had by judicial sentence decreed to demand from him. There-upon the ambassadors depart, the Kings depart, the barons depart, nor are they slow to perform what they had been bidden to do.
"Lucius Gathers His Armies"
LUCIUS HIBERIUS, when he learnt that such answer had been decreed, by command of the Senate called forth the Kings of the Orient to make ready their armies and come with him to the conquest of Britain. In haste accordingly came Epistrophius, King of the Greeks; Mustensar, King of the Africans; Alifantinas, King of Spain; Hirtacius, King the Parthians; Bocchus of the Medes; Sertorius of Libya; Teucer, King of Phrygia; Serses, King of the Ituraæans; Pandrasus, King of Egypt; Micipsa, King of Babylon; Polytetes, Duke of Bithynia; Evander of Syria; Aethion of Bzeotia; Hippolytus of Crete, with the dukes and barons of their allegiance. Of the senatorial order, moreover, Lucius Catellus, Marius Lepidus, Caius Metellus Cotta, Quintus Milvius Catulus, Quintus Carutius, and so many others as were reckoned to make up a total of four hundred thousand one hundred and sixty.
"Arthur's Dream of the Dragon and the Bear"
ALL needful ordinance made, they started on their expedition Britainwards at the beginning of the Kalends of August. When Arthur learned that they were upon the march. he made over the charge of defending Britain unto his nephew Mordred and his Queen Guenevere, he himself with his army making for Hamo's Port, where he embarked with a fair breeze of wind.
And whilst that he was thronged about with his numberless ships, and was cleaving the deep with a prosperous course and much rejoicing, a passing deep sleep as about the middle of the night did overtake him, and in his sleep he saw in dream a certain bear flying in the air, at the growling whereof all the shores did tremble. He saw,
moreover, a dreadful dragon come flying from the West that did enlumine the whole country with the flashing of his eyes. And when the one did meet the other there was a marvellous fight betwixt them, and presently the dragon leaping again and again upon the bear, did scorch him up with his fiery breath and cast down his shrivelled carcass to the earth. And thereby awakened, Arthur did relate his dream unto them that stood by, who expounded the same unto him saying that the dragon did betoken himself, but the bear some giant with whom he should encounter; that the fight did foretoken a battle that should be betwixt them, and that the dragon's victory should be his own. Natheless, Arthur did conjecture otherwise thereof, weening that such vision as had befallen him was more like to have to do with himself and the Emperor. At last, when the night had finished her course and the dawn waxed red, they came to in the haven of Barfleur, and pitching their tents thereby, did await the coming of the Kings of the islands and the Dukes of the neighbour provinces.
"The Giant of St. Michael's Mount"
MEANWHILE tidings are brought unto Arthur that a certain giant of marvellous bigness hath arrived out of the parts of Spain, and, moreover, that he hath seized Helena, niece of Duke Hoel, out of the hands of them that had charge of her, and hath fled with her unto the top of the mount that is now called of Michael, whither the knights of the country had pursued him. Howbeit, nought might they prevail against him, neither by sea nor by land, for when they would attack him, either he would sink their ships with hugeous rocks, or slay the men with javelins or other weapons, and, moreover, devour many half-alive.
Accordingly, in the following night at the second hour, he took with him Kay the Seneschal and Bedevere the Butler, and issuing forth of the tents, unknown to the others, started on his way towards the mount. For of such puissance was his own valour that he deigned not lead an army against such monsters, as holding himself singly enow for their destruction, and being minded to spirit up his men to follow his ensample. Now, when they came anigh the mount, they espied a great fire of wood a-blazing there-upon,
and another smaller fire upon a smaller mount not far away from the first.
So, being in doubt which were the one whereupon the giant had his wone, they sent Bedevere to spy out the certainty of the matter. He, therefore, finding a little boat, oared him first unto the smaller mount, for none otherwise might he attain thereunto, seeing that it was set in the sea. And when he began to climb up towards the top he heard above him the ullaloo of a woman wailing above him, and at first shuddered, for he misdoubted him the monster might be there. But quickly recovering his hardihood, he drew his sword from the scabbard and mounted to the very top, whereon nought found he save the fire of wood they had espied.
But close thereby he saw a newly-made grave-mound, and beside it an old woman weeping and lamenting, who, so soon as she beheld him, stinted her tears forthwith and spake unto him on this wise: "O, unhappy man, what evil doom hath brought thee unto this place? O, thou that must endure the pangs unspeakable of death, woe is me for thee! Woe is me that a monster so accurst must this night consume the flower of thine youth! For that most foul and impious giant of execrable name shall presently be here, that did carry hither unto this mount the niece of our Duke, whom I have but just now sithence buried in this grave, and me, her nurse, along with her. On what unheard of wise will he slay thee and tarry not? Alas for the sorrow and the doom! This most queenly foster-child of mine own, swooning with terror when this abhorred monster would fain have embraced her, breathed forth the life that now can never know the longer day that it deserved! Ochone for mine other soul -- mine other life -- mine other sweetness of gladness! Flee thou, my beloved, flee, lest he find thee here, and rend thee limb from limb by a pitiable death!"
But Bedevere, moved to the heart deeply as heart of man may be moved, soothed her with words of comfort, and promising her such cheer as speedy succour might bring, returned unto Arthur and told him the story of what he had found. Howbeit, Arthur, grieving over the damsel's hapless fate, bade them that they should allow him to attack the monster singly, but if need were should come unto his rescue and fall upon the giant like men. They made their way from thence unto the greater mount, and giving their horses in charge to their squires, began to climb the mount, Arthur
Just then that unnatural monster was by the fire, his chops all besmeared with the clotted blood of half-eaten swine, the residue whereof he was toasting on spits over the live embers. The moment he espied them, when nought was less in his thought, he hastened him to get hold of his club, which two young men could scarce have lifted from the ground.
The King forthwith unsheathed his sword, and covering him with his shield, hurried as swiftly as hurry he might to be beforehand with him, and prevent his getting hold of the club. But the giant, not unaware f his intention, had already clutched it and smote the King upon the cover of his shield with such a buffet as that the sound of the stroke filled the whole shore, and did utterly deafen his ears. But Arthur, thereupon blazing out into bitter wrath lifted his sword and dealt him a wound upon his forehead, from whence the blood gushed forth over his face and eyes in such sort as well-nigh blinded his sight. Howbeit, the blow was not deadly, for he had warded his forehead with his club in such wise as to scape being killed outright.
Natheless, blinded as he was with the blood welling forth, again he cometh on more fiercely than ever, and as a wild boar rusheth from his lay upon a huntsman, so thrust he in within the sweep of Arthur's sword, gripped him by the loins, and forced him to his knees upon the ground. Howbeit, Arthur, nothing daunted, soon slipped from out his clutches, and swiftly bestirring him with his sword, hacked the accursed monster first in one place and then in another, and gave him no respite until at last he smote him a deadly buffet on the head, and buried the whole breadth of his sword in his brain-pan.
The abhorred beast roared aloud and dropped with a mighty crash like an oak torn up by the roots in the fury of the winds. Thereupon the King brake out on laughing, bidding Bedevere strike off his head and give it to one of the squires to carry to the camp as a raree show for sightseers.
Natheless, he bade that they who came to look upon it should keep their tongues quiet, inasmuch as never had he forgathered with none other of so puissant hardihood since he slew the giant Ritho upon Mount Eryri, that had challenged him to fight with him.
For this Ritho had fashioned him a furred cloak of the beards of the kings he had slain, and he had bidden Arthur heedfully to flay off his beard and send it unto him with the skin, in which case,
seeing that Arthur did excel other kings, he would sew it in his honour above the other beards on his cloak. Howbeit, in case he refused, he challenged him to fight upon such covenant, that he which should prove the better man of the twain should have the other's beard as well as the furred cloak. So when it came to the scratch Arthur had the best of it and carried off Ritho's beard and his cloak, and sithence that time had never had to do with none so strong until he lighted upon this one, as he is above reported as asserting.
After he had won this victory as I have said, they returned just after daybreak to their tents with the head; crowds coming running up to look upon it and praising the valour of the man that had delivered the country from so insatiable a man. But Hoel, grieving over the loss of his niece, bade build a church above her body upon the mount where she lay, the which was named after the damsel's grave, and is called the Tomb of Helena unto this day.
"Gawain Goes to Parlay with Lucius"
WHEN all were come together that Arthur had expected, he marched from thence to Autun, where he thought the Emperor was. But when he had come as far as the river Aube, tidings were brought him that he had pitched his camp not far away, and was marching with an army so huge that it was impossible, so they said, to withstand him.
Howbeit, so little was Arthur affrighted thereat, that no change made he in his plans, but pitched his camp upon the river bank, from whence he could freely lead forth his army, and whither in case of need he could as easily repair. He then sent two of his earls, Boso of Oxford and Guerin of Chartres, together with his nephew Gawain, unto Lucius Hiberius, to intimate unto him that either he must retire forthwith beyond the frontier of Gaul or come next day to try conclusions with him as to which of the twain had the better right to the country. Thereupon the young men of the court, rejoicing exceedingly at the prospect, began to egg on Gawain to start the quarrel before leaving the Emperor's camp, so that they might have occasion to come to blows with the Romans forthwith.
Away went the envoys accordingly
to Lucius, and bade him retreat from Gaul at once or come out next day to fight. And when he made them answer that he had not come thither to retreat, but on the contrary to command, a nephew of his that was there, one Caius Quintilianus, took occasion to say that the Britons were better men at bragging and threatening than in deeds of hardihood and prowess. Gawain thereat waxing wroth, drew his sword wherewith he was girt, and running upon him smote off his head, coming swiftly away with his companions to their horses. The Romans, some on foot and some on horse, start in hot pursuit, straining their utmost to wreak revenge for their fellow-countryman upon the fleeing legates. But Guerin of Chartres, when one of them was almost nigh enow to touch him, wheeled round of a sudden and couching his spear thrust him through the armour and right through the middle of the body, and stretched him out as flat as he might upon the ground. Boso of Oxford, waxing jealous at seeing Guerin do so daring a deed, turned back his own destrier and thrust his spear into the gullet of the first man he met, and forced him, mortally wounded, to part company with the hackney whereon he was pursuing him.
Meanwhile, Marcellus Mutius, burning to be first to avenge Quintilianus, was hard upon the back of Gawain and had begun to lay hold upon him, when Gawain suddenly turning round, clove him with the sword he still held in his hand sheer through helmet and skull down to the breast. Gawain, moreover, bade him when he should meet Quintilianus, whom he had slain in the camp, in hell, to tell him that in such manner of bragging and threatening were none better men than the Britons.
Gawain then, reassembling his comrades, counselled that all should turn back, and that in charging all together each should do his best to slay his man. All agreed accordingly; all turned back; and each killed his man. Howbeit, the Romans kept on pursuing them and now and again with spear or sword made shift to wound some few of them, but were unable either to hold or to unhorse any. But whilst they were following up the pursuit nigh a certain wood, straightway forth issue therefrom about six thousand Britons who having intelligence of the flight of the earls, had hidden them therein for the purpose of bringing them succour. Sallying forth, they set spur to their horses, and
rending the air with their shouts and covering them with their shields, attack the Romans on the sudden, and presently drive them in flight before them. Pursuing them with one accord, they smite some from their horses with their spears, some they take prisoner, some they slay.
When word of this was brought to the senator Petreius, he took with him a company of ten thousand men, and hastened to succour his comrades, and compelled the Britons to hasten back to the wood from whence they had made the sally, not without some loss of his own men. For in their flight the Britons turned back, and knowing the ground well, did inflict passing heavy slaughter upon their pursuers.
Whilst the Britons were thus giving ground, Hider, with five thousand men, hurried to their assistance. They now make a stand, and whereas they had afore shown their back to the Romans, they now show their front and set to work to lay about them like men as stoutly as they might. The Romans also stand up to them stiffly, and one while it is Briton that gets stricken down and another while Roman. But the Britons were yearning with all their soul for a fight, and cared not greatly whether they won or lost in the first bout so long as the fighting were really begun, whereas the Romans went to work more heedfully, and Petreius Cotta, like a good captain as he was, skilfully instructed them how and when to advance or retreat, and thus did the greater damage to the Britons.
Now, when Boso took note of this, he called a number of them that he knew to be the hardiest aside from the others, and spake unto them on this wise: "Seeing that we began this battle without Arthur's knowledge, we must take right good heed that we get not the worst of it in our adventure. For and if it be that we come to grief herein, we shall not only do heavy damage to our, men, but we shall have the King cursing us for our foolhardiness. Wherefore, pluck up your courage, and follow me into the Roman ranks, and if that we have any luck we will either slay Petreius or take him prisoner."
So they all set spur to their horses, and charging with one accord into the enemies' ranks, came to where Petreius was giving orders to his men. Boso rushed in upon him as swiftly as he might, grasped him round the neck, and, as he had made up his mind to do aforehand, dropped down with him to the ground. Thereupon the Romans come running up to rescue him from
the enemy, and the Britons as quickly run up to succour Boso.
A mighty slaughter is made betwixt them, with mighty shouting and uproar as the Romans struggle to deliver the duke and the Britons to hold him. On both sides were wounders and wounded, strikers and stricken to the ground. There, moreover, could it be seen which was the better man at thrust of spear and stroke of swords and fling of javelin. At last the Britons falling upon them in close rank, unbroken by the Roman charge, move off into the safety of their own lines along with Petreius. From thence forthwith they again charge upon the Romans, now bereft of their captain and for the most part enfeebled and dispirited and beginning to turn tail.
They press forward and strike at them in the rear cut down them they strike, plunder them they cut down, and pass by them they have plundered to pursue the rest. Howbeit, a number of them they take prisoner whom they are minded to present unto the King.
In the end, when they had inflicted mischief enow upon them, they made their way back to the camp with their spoil and their captives, and, relating all that had befallen them presented Petreius Cotta and the rest of the prisoners unto Arthur and wished him joy of the victory. He, in return, did bid them joy, and promised them honours and increase of honours seeing that they had done deeds of such prowess in his absence. Being minded, moreover, to thrust the captives into prison he called unto him certain of his serjeants to bring them on the morrow unto Paris, and deliver them unto the charge of the reeves of the city until further ordinance should be made on their behalf. He further commanded Duke Cador, Bedevere the Butler and the two Earls Borel and Richer, with their retinues, to convoy them so far on their way as that they need be under no fear of molestation by the Romans.
"Romans Attempt to Rescue the Prisoners"
BUT the Romans happening to get wind of this arrangement, by command of the Emperor made choice of fifteen thousand of their men to march that very night so as to be beforehand, and to rescue the prisoners after defeating the convoy.
These were to be under the command of the Senators Vulteius Catellus and Quintus Carutius, besides Evander, King of Syria, and Sertorius, King of Libya, who started on the appointed march with the said soldiers at night, and hid them in a position convenient for an ambuscade upon the road they weened that the party would travel by.
On the morrow the Britons begin their march with the prisoners, and had well-nigh reached the place, not knowing what snares the crafty enemy had set for them. Howbeit, no sooner had they entered that part of the road than the Romans sallied forth of a sudden and surprised and broke the ranks of the British who were quite unprepared for an attack of the kind.
Natheless, albeit they were thus taken aback, they soon drew together again and made a stout defence, setting some to guard the prisoners whilst the rest divided into companies to do battle with the enemy. Richer and Bedevere were in command of the company that kept guard over the prisoners, Cador, Duke of Cornwall, with Borel, taking command of the rest. But the Romans had all burst in upon them disorderly, and took no heed to dispose their men in companies, their one care, indeed, being which should be first to slaughter the Britons before they could form their ranks and marshal them so as to defend themselves.
By reason of this the Britons were reduced to so sore straits that they would shamefully have lost the prisoners they were conveying had not good luck swiftly brought them the succour they needed. For Guitard, Duke of the Poitevins, who had discovered the stratagem, had arrived with three thousand men, by whose timely assistance the Britons did at last prevail and pay back the evil turn of the slaughter upon the insolent brigands that had assaulted them. But many of their own men did they lose in the first onset, for among others they lost Borel, the renowned Earl of Maine, who, while battling with Evander, King of Syria, was pierced through the throat with his spear, and poured forth his life with his blood. They lost, moreover, four barons, Hireglas of Periron, Maurice of Caliors, Alidue of Tintagel, and his son Hider, than whom none hardier were easy to be found. Natheless, the Britons stinted nought of their hardihood nor gave them up to despair, but straining every endeavour determined to keep safe their prisoners and cut donvn their enemies to the last.
In the end the Romans,
unable to stand up against them, hastily retreated from the field and began to make for their camp. But the Britons, still pursuing them, slew many and took more prisoners, nor did they rest until Vulteius Catellus and Evander, King of Syria, were slain and the rest utterly scattered.
When they had won the victory, they sent the prisoners they were convoying on to Paris, and marching back unto their King with them that they had lately taken, promised him hope of supreme victory, seeing that so few had won the day against so many enemies that had come against them.
"Arthur Prepares To Attack The Romans"
LUCIUS HIBERIUS, meanwhile, taking these disasters sorely to heart, was mightily perplexed and distressed to make resolve whether it were better for him to hazard a general engagement with Arthur, or to throw himself into Autun and there await assistance from the Emperor Leo. In the end he took counsel of his fears, and on the night following marched his armies into Langres on his way to Autun.
As soon as Arthur discovered this scheme, he determined to be beforehand with him on the march, and that same night, leaving the city on his left, he took up a position in a certain valley called Soissie, through the which Lucius would have to pass. Disposing his men in companies as he thought best, he posted one legion close by under the command of Morvid, Earl of Gloucester, so that, if need were, he would know whither to betake him to rally his broken companies and again give battle to the enemy.
The rest of his force he divided into seven battalions, and in each battalion placed five thousand five hundred and fifty-five men, all fully armed. One division of each consisted of horse and the remainder of foot, and order was passed amongst them that when the infantry advanced to the attack, the cavalry advancing in close line slantwise on their flanks should do their best to scatter the enemy. The infantry divisions, British fashion, were drawn up in a square with a right and left wing. One of these was commanded by Angusel, King of Albany, and Cador, Duke of Cornwall, the one in the right wing and the other in the left. Another was in command of
two earls of renown, to wit, Guerin of Chartres, and Boso of Rhedicen, which in the tongue of the Saxons is called Oxford. A third was commanded by Aschil, King of the Danskers, and Lot, King of the Norwegians. The fourth by Hoel, Duke of Armorica, and Gawain, the King's nephew. After these four were four others stationed in the rear, one of which was in the command of Kay the Seneschal and Bedevere the Butler. Holdin, Duke of the Ruteni, and Guitard, Duke of the Poitevins, commanded the second; Vigenis of Leicester, Jonathal of Dorchester, and Carsalem of Caistor the third, and Urbgenius of Bath the fourth.
To the rear of all these he made choice of a position for himself and one legion that he designed to be his bodyguard, and here he set up the golden dragon he had for standard, whereunto, if need should be, the wounded and weary might repair as unto a camp. In that legion which was in attendance upon himself were six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men.
"Arthur Addresses His army"
WHEN all these dispositions were made, Arthur spake unto his fellow-soldiers on this wise: --
"Lieges mine, ye that have made Britain Lady of thirty realms, I do bid ye joy of your prowess, that meseemeth hath in nowise failed ye, but rather hath waxed the stronger albeit that for five years no occasion have ye had to put it to the proof, and hitherto have given more thought unto the disports of an easy life than unto the practice of arms. Natheless, in no wise have ye degenerated from the inborn valour of your race, but staunch as ever, have scattered in flight before ye these Romans that pricked by the spur of their own pride would fain curtail ye of your freedom. Already, marching with a host larger than your own, have they ventured to begin the attack, and failing to withstand your advance, have taken refuge with shame in yonder city. At this moment they are ready to issue forth from thence upon their march towards Autun. Through this valley must they pass, and here falling upon them when they least expect it, may you meet and slaughter them like sheep. Surely they deemed that the cowardice of the nations of the East
was in ye when they were minded to make your country tributary and yourselves bond-slaves! What! have they heard not of the battles ye fought with the Danskers and Norwegians and the Dukes of the Gauls, when ye delivered them from their shameful yoke and gave them into my allegiance? We, therefore, that were strong enow to subdue the mightier, shall doubtless prove stronger yet against this feebler foe, so we only take the same pains in the same spirit to crush these emasculate cravens. Only obey my will and command as loyal comrades of mine own, and what honours, what treasures await each one of ye! For so soon as we have put these to the rout, forthwith we start for Rome. For us to march upon Rome is to take it and possess. Yours shall be the gold and silver, the palaces and castles, the towns and cities and all the riches of the vanquished!"
Whilst he yet spake thus all unite in a mighty cheer, ready to meet death rather than flee from the field leaving him there alive.
"Lucius Addresses His Army"
NOW Lucius Hiberius, who had been warned of their design and the trap that was laid for him, was not minded to flee as he had at first proposed, but plucking up his courage to march to the valley and meet them. With this design he called his Dukes together and spake unto them thus: --
"Venerable Fathers, unto whose empire the realms of the East and of the West do owe their allegiance, call ye now your fathers unto remembrance, how they shrank not from shedding their blood to vanquish the enemies of the Commonweal, but leaving unto their children an ensample of prowess and knightly hardihood, did so bear them in the field as though God had decreed that none of them should die in battle. Wherefore full oft did they achieve the triumph, and in the triumph avoidance of death, for that unto none might aught else befall than was ordained by the providence of God. Hence sprang the increase of the Commonweal; hence the increase of their own prowess; hence, moreover, came it that the uprightness, the honour, and the bounty that are wont to be in them of gentle blood, ever flourishing
amongst them from age to age, have exalted them and their descendants unto the dominion of the whole world. This is the spirit I would fain arouse within ye. I do appeal unto ye that ye be mindful of your ancient valour, and be staunch thereunto.
Let us seek out our foemen in the valley wherein they now lurk in ambush for us, and fight to win from them that which is our own of right! Nor deem ye that I have made repair unto this city for refuge as though I would shrink from them or their invasions. On the contrary, I reckoned upon their foolishly pursuing us, and believed that we might surprise them by suddenly falling upon them when they were scattered in pursuit so as to put them to the rout with a decisive slaughter. But now that they have done otherwise than we expected, let us also do otherwise. Let us seek them out and fall upon them hardily, or, if so be that they are strong enow to fall upon us first, let us stand our ground with one accord and abide their first onset. On this wise, without doubt, we shall win the day, for in most battles he that hath been able to withstand the first charge hath most often come off the conqueror."
So when he had made an end of speaking thus, with much more to the same effect, all with one assent agreeing and pledging them by oath with joining of hands, they all hastened to do on their armour, and when they were armed at last, sally forth from Langres and march to the valley where Arthur had stationed his men. They, likewise, had marshalled their men in twelve wedge-shaped battalions, all infantry, and formed, Roman fashion, in the shape of a wedge, so that when the army was in full array each division contained six thousand six hundred and sixty-six soldiers. Unto each, moreover, they appointed captains to give orders when to advance and when to stand their ground against the enemy's onset. Unto one they appointed Lucius Catellus, the senator, and Alifantinas, King of Spain, commanders. Unto the second, Hirtacius, King of the Parthians, and Marius Lepidus, the senator; upon the third, Bocchus, King of the Medes, and Caius Metellus, the senator; unto the fourth, Sertorius, King of Libya, and Quintus Milvius, senator. These four divisions were placed in the vanguard of the army. In their rear came another four, whereof one was under the command of Serses, King of the Ituraeans; the second under Pandrasus, King of Egypt; the third under
Polytetes, Duke of Bithynia; the fourth under Teucer, Duke of Phrygia. Behind these again were other four battalions, one captained by Quintus Carutius, senator; the second by Laelius of Hostia; the third by Sulpicius Subuculus; the fourth by Mauricius Silvanus. Lucius himself was moving hither and thither amongst them giving orders and instructions how they should behave them. In their midst he bade set up firmly the golden eagle that he had brought with him for standard, and warned the men that should any by misadventure be separated from the ranks, he should endeavour to return thereunto.
"The Battle Against Lucius Begins"
AFTER that they were arrayed the one against the other, Britons on this side and Romans on that, javelins upright, forthwith upon hearing the blare of the trumpets the battalion under the command of the King of Spain and Lucius Catellus fell hardily upon the division led by the King of Scotland and the Duke of Cornwall, but could in no wise make any breach in the close ranks of them that opposed them. And whilst they were still struggling most fiercely to make head against them, up came the division captained by Guerin and Boso, who, spurring their horses to a gallop, charged against the assailants, and breaking right through and beyond them came face to face with the battalion that the King of the Parthians was leading against Anschil, King of the Danes. Straight, the battalions fling them the one upon another, burst through each other's ranks and batter together in a general melly.
Pitiable is the slaughter wrought betwixt them amidst the din as one after another droppeth on both sides, beating the ground with head or heels and retching forth his life with his blood. But the first grave disaster fell upon the Britons, for Bedevere the Butler was slain and Kay the Seneschal wounded unto the death. For Bedevere when he met Bocchus, King of the Medes, fell dead, smitten through by his spear amidst the ranks of the enemy, and Kay the Seneschal, in attempting to avenge him, was surrounded by the Median troops and received a deadly hurt. Natheless, after the wont of good knight, opening a way with the wing that he led, he slew and scattered the Medes,
and would have brought off his company unharmed and returned with them to their own ranks had he not been met by the division of the King of Libya, the assault whereof dispersed all his men.
Natheless, still retreating, albeit with but four of his followers, he made shift to flee unto the Golden Dragon, bearing with him the corpse of Bedevere. Alas! what lamentation was there amongst the Neustrians when they beheld the body of their Duke rent by so many wounds! Alas, what wailing was there amongst the Angevins when they searched with all the arts of leechcraft the wounds of Kay their earl! But no time was that for sorrowing when the blood-bespattered ranks rushing one upon another scarce allowed space for a sigh ere they were forced to turn to defend their own lives.
And now Hireglas, the nephew of Bedevere, wroth beyond measure at his death, took with him a company of three hundred men of his own, and like a wild boar amidst a pack of hounds dashed with a sudden gallop of their steeds right through the ranks of the enemy towards the place where he had espied the standard of the King of the Medes, little reckoning of aught that might befall himself so only he might avenge his uncle. Gaining the place he desired, he slew the King and carried him off to his comrades, and laying the corpse by the side of that of the Butler, hewed it utterly to pieces. Then, with a mighty shout cheering on the troops of his fellow-countrymen, he called upon them to fall upon the enemy and harass them with charge after charge now, whilst their courage was still hot, whilst the hearts of their foes were still quaking with terror; whilst they had the advantage in bearing down upon them hand to hand through their companies being more skilfully ordered than those of the enemy, and being thus able to renew the attack more often and to inflict a deadlier damage.
Thus cheered by his counsel, they made a general charge upon the enemy from every quarter, and the slaughter on both sides waxed exceeding heavy. For on the side of the Romans, besides numberless others, fell Alifantinas, King of Spain, and Micipsa of Babylon, as well as the senators Quintus Milvius and Marius Lepidus. On the side of the Britons fell Holdin, King of the Ruteni, and Leodegar of Boulogne, besides three Earls of Britain, Carsalem of Caistor, Galluc of Salisbury, and Urbgen of Bath. The troops they led thus, sore enfeebled, retreated until they came upon the
battalion of the Armorican Britons commanded by Hoel and Gawain. But the Armoricans thereupon, like a fire bursting into a blaze, made a charge upon the enemy, and rallying them that had retreated, soon compelled those that but just before had been the pursuers to flee in their turn, and ever followed them up, slaying some and stretching others on the ground, nor ceased from their slaughter until they reached the bodyguard of the Emperor, who, when he saw the disaster that had overtaken his comrades, had hastened to bring them succour.
"Gawain Fights Bravely"
IN the first onset the Britons suffered great loss. For Kinmarcoch, Earl of Treguier, fell, and with him two thousand men. Fell also three barons of renown, Richomarch, Bloccovius, and Lagivius of Bodlaon, who, had they been princes of kingdoms, would have been celebrated by fame to all after-ages for the passing great prowess that was in them. For when they were charging along with Hoel and Gawain, as hath been said, not an enemy escaped that came within their reach, but either with sword or with spear they sent the life out of him. But when they fell in with the bodyguard of Lucius, they were surrounded on all sides by the Romans, and fell along with Kinmarcoch and his followers. But Hoel and Gawain, than whom have no better knights been born in later ages, were only spurred to keener endeavour by the death of their comrades, and rode hither and thither, one in one direction and the other in another searching the companies of the Emperor's guards for occasion to do them a hurt.
And now Gawain, still glowing with the fire kindled by his former exploits, endeavoured to cleave an opening, whereby he might come at the Emperor himself and forgather with him. Like a right hardy knight as he was, he made a dash upon the enemy, bearing some to the ground and slaying them in the fall, while Hoel, in no wise less hardy than he, fell like a thunderbolt upon another company, cheering on his men, and smiting the enemy undaunted by their blows, not a moment passing but either he struck or was stricken. None that beheld them could have said which of the twain was the doughtier knight or quitted him better that day.
"Arthur's Army Prevails"
HOWBEIT, Gawain thus dashing amidst the companies, found at last the opening he longed for, and rushing upon the Emperor forgathered with him man to man. Lucius, then in the flower and prime of youth, had plenty of hardihood, plenty of strength and plenty of prowess, nor was there nought he did more desire than to encounter such a knight as would compel him to prove what he was worth in feats of arms. Wherefore, standing up to Gawain, he rejoiceth to begin the encounter and prideth him therein for that he hath heard such renown of him. Long while did the battle last betwixt them, and mighty were the blows they dealt one upon other or warded with the shields that covered them as each strove for vantage to strike the death-blow on the other.
But whilst that they were thus in the very hottest of the fight, behold the Romans, suddenly recovering their vigour, make a charge upon the Armoricans and come to their Emperor's rescue. Hoel and Gawain and their companies are driven off and sore cut up, until all of a sudden they came up over against Arthur and his company. For Arthur, hearing of the slaughter just inflicted upon his men, had hurried forward with his guard, and drawing forth Caliburn, best of swords, had cheered on his comrades, crying out in a loud voice and hot words: "What be ye men doing? Will ye let these womanish knaves slip forth of your hands unharmed? Let not a soul of them escape alive! Remember your own right hands that have fought in so many battles and subdued thirty realms to my dominion! Remember your grandsires whom the Romans stronger than themselves made tributaries! Remember your freedom that these half men feebler than yourselves would fain reave away from ye! Let not a single one escape alive -- not a single one escape! What be ye doing?"
Shouting out these reproaches and many more besides, he dashed forward upon the enemy, flung them down, smote them -- never a one did he meet but he slew either him or his horse at a single buffet. They fled from him like sheep from a fierce lion madly famishing to devour aught that chance may throw in his way. Nought might armour avail them but that Caliburn would carve their souls from out them with their blood. Two Kings, Sertorius
of Libya, and Polytetes of Bithynia did their evil hap bring in front of him, whom he despatched to hell with their heads hewn off.
And when the Britons beheld in what wise their King did battle, they took heart and hardihood again, and fell with one accord upon the Romans, pressing forward in close rank, so that whilst they afoot cut them down on this wise, they a-horseback did their best to fling them down and thrust them through. Natheless, the Romans made stout resistance, and, urged on by Lucius, strove hard to pay back the Britons for the slaughter inflicted on the guard of their renowned King.
On both sides the battle rageth as though it had been but just begun. On this side, as hath been said, Arthur many a time and oft smiting the enemies, exhorted the Britons to stand firm; on the other, Lucius Hiberius exhorted his Romans, and gave them counsel, and led them in many a daring exploit of prowess. Nor did he himself cease to fight with his own hand, but going round from one to another amongst his companies slew every single enemy that chance threw in his way, either with his spear or his sword. Thus a most unconscionable slaughter took place on either side, for at one time the Britons and at another the Romans would have the upper hand.
In the end, while the battle was still going on thus, lo and behold, Morvid, Earl of Gloucester, with the legion which as I have said above was posted betwixt the hills, came up full speed and fell heavily on the enemy's rear just at a moment they least expected it, broke through their lines, scattering them in all directions, with exceeding great slaughter. Many thousand Romans fell in this onslaught, and amongst them even the Emperor himself, slain in the midst of his companies by a spear-thrust from a hand unknown. And thus, ever following up advantage, the Britons, albeit with sore travail, won the victory that day.
"The Romans Are Slaughtered"
THE Romans, thus scattered, betook them, some to the waste-lands and forests, some to the cities and towns, each fleeing to the refuge he deemed safest. The Britons pursue them, take them prisoner, plunder them, put them miserably to the sword, insomuch as that the more part of them stretch forth their hands womanish-wise to be bound so only they
might have yet a little space longer to live. The which, verily, might seem to have been ordained by providence divine, seeing that whereas in days of yore the Romans had persecuted the grandsires of the Britons with their unjust oppressions, so now did the Britons in defence of the freedom whereof they would have bereft them, and refusing the tribute that they did unrighteously demand, take vengeance on the grandchildren of the Romans.
"Arthur Buries the Dead"
THE victory complete, Arthur bade the bodies of his barons be separated from the carcasses of the enemy, and embalmed in kingly wise, and borne when enbalmed into the abbeys of the province. Bedevere the Butler was carried unto Bayeux, his own city that was builded by Bedevere the first, his greatgrandfather, and loud was the lamentation that the Neustrians made over him. There, in a certain church yard in the southern part of the city, was he worshipfully laid next the wall. But Kay, grievously wounded, was borne in a litter unto Chinon, a town he himself had builded, and dying a brief space after of the same wound, was buried, as became a Duke of Anjou, in a certain forest in a convent of brethren hermit that dwelt there no great way from the city. Holdin, likewise, Duke of the Ruteni, was borne into Flanders and buried in his own city of Terouanne. Howbeit, the rest of the earls and barons were carried, as Arthur had enjoined, unto the abbeys in the neighbourhood. Having pity, moreover, upon his enemies, he bade the folk of the country bury them. But the body of Lucius he bade bear unto the Senate with a message to say that none other tribute was due from Britain. Then he abode in those parts until after the following winter, and busied him with bringing the cities of the Allobroges into his allegiance. But the summer coming on, at which time he designed to march unto Rome, he had begun to climb the passes of the mountains, when message was brought him that his nephew Mordred, unto whom he had committed the charge of Britain, had tyrannously and traitorously set the crown of the kingdom upon his own head, and had linked him in unhallowed union with Guenevere the Queen in despite of her former marriage.
HEREOF, verily, most noble Earl, will Geoffrey of Monmouth say nought. Natheless, according as he hath found it in the British discourse aforementioned, and hath heard from Walter of Oxford, a man of passing deep lore in many histories in his own mean style will he briefly treat of the battles which that renowned King upon his return to Britain after this victory did fight with his nephew.
So soon therefore as the infamy of the aforesaid crime did reach his ears, he forthwith deferred the expedition he had emprised against Leo, the King of the Romans, and sending Hoel, Duke of the Armoricans, with the Gaulish army to restore peace in those parts, he straightway hastened back to Britain with none save the island Kings and their armies. Now, that most detestable traitor Mordred had despatched Cheldric, the Duke of the Saxons, into Germany, there to enlist any soever that would join him, and hurry back again with them, such as they might be, the quickest sail he could make. He pledged himself, moreover, by covenant to give him that part of the island which stretcheth from the river Humber as far as Scotland, and whatsoever Horsus and Hengist had possessed in Kent in the time of Vortigern. Cheldric, accordingly, obeying his injunctions, had landed with eight hundred ships full of armed Paynims, and doing homage unto this traitor did acknowledge him as his liege lord and king.
He had likewise gathered into his company the Scots, Picts, and Irish, and whomsoever else he knew bare hatred unto his uncle. All told, they numbered some eight hundred thousand Paynims and Christians, and in their company and relying on their assistance he came to meet Arthur on his arrival at Richborough haven, and in the battle that ensued did inflict sore slaughter on his men when they were landed.
For upon that day fell Angusel, King of Albany, and Gawain, the King's nephew, along with numberless other. Eventus,
son of Urian his brother, succeeded Angusel in the kingdom, and did afterward win great renown for his prowesses in those wars. At last, when with sore travail they had gained possession of the coast, they revenged them on Mordred for this slaughter, and drove him fleeing before them. For inured to arms as they had been in so many battles, they disposed their companies right skilfully, distributing horse and foot in parties, in such wise that in the fight itself, when the infantry were engaged in the attack or defence, the horse charging slantwise at full speed would strain every endeavour to break the enemies' ranks and compel them to take to flight.
Howbeit, the Perjurer again collected his men together from all parts, and on the night following, marched into Winchester.
When this was reported unto Queen Guenevere, she was forthwith smitten with despair, and fled from York unto Caerleon, where she purposed thenceforth to lead a chaste life amongst the nuns, and did take the veil of their order in the church of Julius the Martyr.
"Arthur's Final Battle With Mordred"
BUT Arthur, burning with yet hotter wrath for the loss of so many hundred comrades-in-arms, after first giving Christian burial to the slain, upon the third day marched upon that city and beleaguered the miscreant that had ensconced him therein. Natheless, he was not minded to renounce his design, but encouraging his adherents by all the devices he could, marched forth with his troops and arrayed them to meet his uncle.
At the first onset was exceeding great slaughter on either side, the which at last waxed heavier upon his side and compelled him to quit the field with shame. Then, little caring what burial were given unto his slain, "borne by the swift-oared ferryman of flight," he started in all haste on his march toward Cornwall. Arthur, torn by inward anxiety for that he had so often escaped him, pursued him into that country as far as the river Camel, where Mordred was awaiting his arrival. For Mordred, being, as he was, of all men the boldest and ever the swiftest to begin the attack, straightway marshalled his men in companies, preferring rather to conquer or to die than to be any longer
continually on the flight in this wise. There still remained unto him out of the number of allies I have mentioned sixty thousand men, and these he divided into three battalions, in each of which were six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men-at-arms. Besides these, he made out of the rest that were over a single battalion, and appointing captains to each of the others, took command of this himself.
When these were all posted in position, he spake words of encouragement unto each in turn, promising them the lands and goods of their adversaries in case they fought out the battle to a victory.
Arthur also marshalled his army over against them, which he divided into nine battalions of infantry formed in square with a right and felt wing, and having appointed captains to each, exhorted them to make an end utterly of these perjurers and thieves, who, brought from foreign lands into the island at the bidding of a traitor, were minded to reave them of their holdings and their honours. He told them, moreover, that these motley barbarians from divers kingdoms were a pack of raw recruits that knew nought of the usages of war, and were in no miserable to make stand against valiant men like themselves, seasoned in so many battles, if they fell upon them hardily and fought like men.
And whilst the twain were still exhorting their men on the one side and the other, the battalions made a sudden rush each at other and began the battle, struggling as if to try which should deal their blows the quicker. Straight, such havoc is wrought upon both sides, such groaning is there of the dying, Such fury in the onset, as it would be grievous and burdensome to describe. Everywhere are wounders and wounded, slayers and slain.
And after much of the day had been spent on this wise, Arthur at last, with one battalion wherein were six thousand six hundred and sixty-six men, made a charge upon the company wherein he knew Mordred to be, and hewing a path with their swords, cut clean through it and inflicted a most grievous slaughter. For therein fell that accursed traitor and many thousands along with him. Natheless not for the loss of him did his troops take to flight, but rallying together from all parts of the field, struggle to stand their ground with the best hardihood they might. Right passing deadly is the strife betwixt the foes, for well-nigh all the captains that were in command on both sides rushed into the press with their companies and fell. On Mordred's side fell Cheldric,
Elaf, Egbricht, Bunignus, that were Saxons, Gillapatric, Gillamor, Gislafel, Gillar, Irish. The Scots and Picts, with well- nigh all that they commanded, were cut off to a man.
On Arthur's side, Olbricht, King of Norway, Aschil, King of Derunark, Cador, Limenic, Cassibelaunus, with many thousands of his lieges as well Britons as others that he had brought with him.
Even the renowned King Arthur himself was wounded deadly, and was borne thence unto the island of Avalon for the healing of his wounds, where he gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman, Constantine, son of Cador, Duke of Cornwall, in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord five hundred and forty-two.
"Constantine Succeeds Arthur"
WHEN Constantine was crowned King, the Saxons and the two sons of Mordred raised an insurrection against him, but could nought prevail, and after fighting many battles, the one fled to to London and the other to Winchester, and did enter and take possession of those cities. At that time died the holy Daniel, that most devout prelate of the church of Bangor, and Thomas, Bishop of Gloucester, was elected unto the archbishopric of London. At that time also died David, that most holy Archbishop of Caerleon, in the city of Menevia, within his own abbey, which he loved above all the other monasteries of his diocese, for that it was founded by the blessed Patrick who had foretold his nativity. For whilst he was there sojourning for a while with his fellow-brethren he was smitten of a sudden lethargy and died there, being buried in the same church by command of Malgo, King of Venedotia. In his place, Kinoc, priest of the church of Lambadarn, was appointed to the Metropolitan See, and was thus promoted unto the higher dignity.
"Constantine Kills Mordred's Sons"
BUT Constantine pursued the Saxons and subdued them unto his allegiance; and took the two sons of Mordred. The one youth, who had fled into the church of St. Amphibalus
at Winchester, he slew before the altar; but the other, who was in hiding in the monastery of certain brethren in London, he did there find beside the altar and slew by a cruel death. In the third year thereafter he was himself slain by Conan, smitten by God's judgment, and was buried by the side of Uther Pendragon within the structure of stones set together with marvellous art not far from Salisbury which in the English tongue is called Stonehenge.
"Aurelius Conan Succeeds Constantine"
UNTO him succeeded Aurelius Conan, a youth of wondrous prowess, his nephew, who, as he held the monarchy of the whole island, so might he have been worthy the crown thereof had he not been a lover of civil war. For he raised disturbance against his uncle, who of right ought to have reigned after Constantine, and thrust him into prison, and after slaying both his sons, did himself obtain the kingdom, and died in the second year of his reign.
"Vortipore Succeeds Conan"
UNTO Conan succeeded Vortipore, against whom the Saxons raised an insurrection, bringing over their fellow-countrymen from Germany in a passing mighty fleet. But he did battle with them and overcame them, and after that he had obtained the monarchy of the whole kingdom did govern the people thereof for four years in diligence and in peace.
"Malgo Succeeds Vortipore"UNTO him succeeded Malgo, one of the comeliest men in the whole of Britain, the driver-out of many tyrants, redoubted in arms, more bountiful than others and renowned for prowess beyond compare, yet hateful in the sight of God, for his secret vices. He obtained the sovereignty of the whole island, and after many exceeding deadly battles did add unto his dominions the six neighbour islands of the Ocean, to wit, Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Denmark.
"Careticus Succeeds Malgo"
UNTO Malgo succeeded Careticus, a lover of civil wars, hateful unto God and unto the Britons. The Saxons, having had experience of his shiftiness, went unto Gormund, King of the Africans, in Ireland, wherein, adventuring thither with a vast fleet, he had conquered the folk of the country. Thereupon, by the treachery of the Saxons, he sailed across with a hundred and sixty-six thousand Africans into Britain, which in one province the Saxons by perjuring their oath of fealty, and in another the Britons by continually carrying on civil wars amongst themselves, were utterly laying waste. Entering into covenant, therefore, with the Saxons, Gormund made war upon Careticus, and after many battles betwixt them, drove him fleeing from city unto city until he forced him into Cirencester and did there beleaguer him. Here Isembard, nephew of Lewis, King of the Franks, came unto him and entered into a league of friendship with him and forsook his Christianity for his sake upon condition that he would grant him his assistance in seizing the kingdom of Gaul away from his uncle, by whom, as he said, he had been driven forth by violence and wrong. When Gormund at last had taken and burnt the said city, he did battle with Careticus and drove him fleeing beyond the Severn into Wales. Then he desolated the fields, set fire to all the neighbouring cities, nor did he stint his fury until he had burnt up well-nigh the whole face of the country from sea to sea; in such sort that all the colonies were battered to the ground by rams, and all they that dwelt therein along with the priests of the churches delivered up to the flashing of their swords or the crackling of the flames. The residue of them that were slaughtered in these dreadful visitations had no choice but to flee unto whatsoever shelter might seem to promise safety.
"The Author Upbraids the Britons"
WHEREFORE, O thou neglectful nation, borne down by the weight of thine outrageous iniquities, wherefore, ever thirsting after civil wars, hast thou thus enfeebled thee by these
discords within thine own household? Thou that of old didst subdue the kingdoms that lie afar off unto thy might, thou that wast planted a noble vine, wholly a right seed, how art thou now turned into the degenerate plant of a bitter vine, that thus thou canst no longer protect thine own country, thine own wives and children from thine enemies. Yea, onward! On with thine inward discords, little understanding that word of the Gospel, every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate and the house shall fall upon the house! For that thy kingdom hath been divided against itself, for that the rage of civil war and the smoke of envy have darkened thy mind for that thy pride hath forbidden thee to pay thine allegiance unto one only King, therefore now dost thou behold thy country made desolate by these most sacrilegious heathen and the houses thereof falling upon the houses, that thy children yet unborn shall mourn. For they shall see the whelps of the barbarian lioness lords over their strong places and their cities and over all else that is now their own. Forth of all these shall they be driven, and scarce again if ever shall they recover the glories of their ancient estate!
"New Invasions; Britons Driven into Wales"
HOWBEIT, after that the tyrant of evil omen had laid waste, as hath been said, well-nigh the whole island with his countless thousands of Africans, the more part thereof which was called Loegria did he make over unto the Saxons through whose treachery he had come into the land. The remnant of the Britons did therefore withdraw them into the western parts of the kingdom, Cornwall, to wit, and Wales, from whence they ceased not to harry their enemies with frequent and deadly forays. The three archbishops, to wit, he of Caerleon, Theon of London, and Thadioceus of York, when they beheld all the churches within their obedience destroyed even to the ground, fled away with all the clergy that had survived so dreadful a calamity unto the shelter of the forests of Wales, bearing with them the relics of the saints, fearing lest so many holy bones of such pious men of old might be scattered and lost in the invasion of the barbarians were they
to stay and offer themselves to instant martyrdom, thus leaving the relics in such imminent peril. Many of them betook them in a mighty fleet unto Armorican Britain, so that the whole church of the two provinces, Loegria, to wit, and Northumbria, was left desolate of all the convents of religious therein. But of this will I tell the story elsewhere, when I come to translate the Book of their Exile.
"Britons Lose Sovereignty"
THEREAFTER for many ages did the Britons lose the crown of the kingdom and the sovereignty of the island, nor made they any endeavour to recover their former dignity. On the contrary, they did many a time and oft lay waste that part of the country which did still remain unto them, subject now not unto one king only, but unto three tyrants. But neither did the Saxons as yet obtain the crown of the island, for they also were subject unto three kings, and did at one time send forth their forays against themselves, and at another against the Britons.
"St. Augustine Comes to England"
IN the meantime was Augustine sent by the blessed Pope Gregory into Britain to preach the Word of God unto the English, who, blinded by heathen superstition, had wholly done away with Christianity in that part of the island which they held. Howbeit, in the part belonging to the Britons the Christianity still flourished which had been held there from the days of Pope Eleutherius and had never failed amongst them. But after Augustine came, he found in their province seven bishoprics and an archbishopric provided with most godly prelates besides a number of abbacies wherein the Lord's flock held right order. Amongst others there was in the city of Bangor a certain most noble church wherein was said to be such a number of monks that when the monastery was divided into seven portions with a prior set over each, not one of them had less than three hundred monks, who did all live by the labour of their own hands.
Their abbot was called Dinoot, and was in marvellous wise learned in the liberal arts. He, when Augustine did demand subjection from the British bishops, in order that they might undertake in common the task of preaching the Gospel unto the English people, made answer with divers arguings, that they owed no subjection unto him as of right, nor were they minded to bestow their preaching upon their enemies, seeing that they had an archbishop of their own, and that the nations of the Saxons did persist in withholding their own country from them; whence they did ever hold them in the deepest abhorrence, and recked nought of their faith and religion, and in nought had more in common with the Saxons than with dogs.Back to Geoffrey Chaucer Page | (Or use your browser's back button to return to the previous page.)
Last modified: June 30, 2006
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