[ Full Modern English spelling version of original text printed by William Caxton in 1485 ]
Of the seventh battle, and how Sir Launcelot, being disguised like a maid, smote down Sir Dinadan.
NOW beginneth the seventh battle. There came in the Duke Cambines, and there encountered with him Sir Aristance, that was counted a good knight, and they met so hard that either bare other down, horse and man. Then came there the Earl of Lambaile and helped the duke again to horse. Then came there Sir Ossaise of Surluse, and he smote the Earl Lambaile down from his horse. Then began they to do great deeds of arms, and many spears were broken, and many knights were cast to the earth. Then the King of Northgalis and the Earl Ulbawes smote together that all the judges thought it was like mortal death. This meanwhile Queen Guenever, and the haut prince, and Sir Launcelot, made there Sir Dinadan make him ready to joust. I would, said Dinadan, ride into the field, but then one of you twain will meet with me. Per dieu, said the haut prince, ye may see how we sit here as judges with our shields, and always mayest thou behold whether we sit here or not.
So Sir Dinadan departed and took his horse, and met with many knights, and did passing well. And as he was departed, Sir Launcelot disguised himself, and put upon his armour a maiden’s garment freshly attired. Then Sir Launcelot made Sir Galihodin to lead him through the range, and all men had wonder what damosel it was. And so as Sir Dinadan came into the range, Sir Launcelot, that was in the damosel’s array, gat Galihodin’s spear, and ran unto Sir Dinadan. And always Sir Dinadan looked up thereas Sir Launcelot was, and then he saw one sit in the stead of Sir Launcelot, armed. But when Dinadan saw a manner of a damosel he dread perils that it was Sir Launcelot disguised, but Sir Launcelot came on him so fast that he smote him over his horse’s croup; and then with great scorns they gat Sir Dinadan into the forest there beside, and there they dispoiled him unto his shirt, and put upon him a woman’s garment, and so brought him into the field: and so they blew unto lodging. And every knight went and unarmed them. Then was Sir Dinadan brought in among them all. And when Queen Guenever saw Sir Dinadan brought so among them all, then she laughed that she fell down, and so did all that there were. Well, said Dinadan to Launcelot, thou art so false that I can never beware of thee. Then by all the assent they gave Sir Launcelot the prize, the next was Sir Lamorak de Galis, the third was Sir Palomides, the fourth was King Bagdemagus; so these four knights had the prize, and there was great joy, and great nobley in all the court.
And on the morn Queen Guenever and Sir Launcelot departed unto King Arthur, but in no wise Sir Lamorak would not go with them. I shall undertake, said Sir Launcelot, that an ye will go with us King Arthur shall charge Sir Gawaine and his brethren never to do you hurt. As for that, said Sir Lamorak, I will not trust Sir Gawaine nor none of his brethren; and wit ye well, Sir Launcelot, an it were not for my lord King Arthur’s sake, I should match Sir Gawaine and his brethren well enough. But to say that I should trust them, that shall I never, and therefore I pray you recommend me unto my lord Arthur, and unto all my lords of the Round Table. And in what place that ever I come I shall do you service to my power: and sir, it is but late that I revenged that, when my lord Arthur’s kin were put to the worse by Sir Palomides. Then Sir Lamorak departed from Sir Launcelot, and either wept at their departing.
How by treason Sir Tristram was brought to a tournament for to have been slain, and how he was put in prison.
NOW turn we from this matter, and speak we of Sir Tristram, of whom this book is principally of, and leave we the king and the queen, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Lamorak, and here beginneth the treason of King Mark, that he ordained against Sir Tristram. There was cried by the coasts of Cornwall a great tournament and jousts, and all was done by Sir Galahalt the haut prince and King Bagdemagus, to the intent to slay Launcelot, or else utterly destroy him and shame him, because Sir Launcelot had always the higher degree, therefore this prince and this king made this jousts against Sir Launcelot. And thus their counsel was discovered unto King Mark, whereof he was full glad.
Then King Mark bethought him that he would have Sir Tristram unto that tournament disguised that no man should know him, to that intent that the haut prince should ween that Sir Tristram were Sir Launcelot. So at these jousts came in Sir Tristram. And at that time Sir Launcelot was not there, but when they saw a knight disguised do such deeds of arms, they weened it had been Sir Launcelot. And in especial King Mark said it was Sir Launcelot plainly. Then they set upon him, both King Bagdemagus, and the haut prince, and their knights, that it was wonder that ever Sir Tristram might endure that pain. Notwithstanding for all the pain that he had, Sir Tristram won the degree at that tournament, and there he hurt many knights and bruised them, and they hurt him and bruised him wonderly sore. So when the jousts were all done they knew well that it was Sir Tristram de Liones; and all that were on King Mark’s party were glad that Sir Tristram was hurt, and the remnant were sorry of his hurt; for Sir Tristram was not so behated as was Sir Launcelot within the realm of England.
Then came King Mark unto Sir Tristram and said: Fair nephew, I am sorry of your hurts. Gramercy my lord, said Sir Tristram. Then King Mark made Sir Tristram to be put in an horse bier in great sign of love, and said: Fair cousin, I shall be your leech myself. And so he rode forth with Sir Tristram, and brought him to a castle by daylight. And then King Mark made Sir Tristram to eat. And then after he gave him a drink, the which as soon as he had drunk he fell asleep. And when it was night he made him to be carried to another castle, and there he put him in a strong prison, and there he ordained a man and a woman to give him his meat and drink. So there he was a great while.
Then was Sir Tristram missed, and no creature wist where he was become. When La Beale Isoud heard how he was missed, privily she went unto Sir Sadok, and prayed him to espy where was Sir Tristram. Then when Sadok wist how Sir Tristram was missed, and anon espied that he was put in prison by King Mark and the traitors of Magouns, then Sadok and two of his cousins laid them in an ambushment, fast by the Castle of Tintagil, in arms. And as by fortune, there came riding King Mark and four of his nephews, and a certain of the traitors of Magouns. When Sir Sadok espied them he brake out of the bushment, and set there upon them. And when King Mark espied Sir Sadok he fled as fast as he might, and there Sir Sadok slew all the four nephews unto King Mark. But these traitors of Magouns slew one of Sadok’s cousins with a great wound in the neck, but Sadok smote the other to the death. Then Sir Sadok rode upon his way unto a castle that was called Liones, and there he espied of the treason and felony of King Mark. So they of that castle rode with Sir Sadok till that they came to a castle that hight Arbray, and there in the town they found Sir Dinas the Seneschal, that was a good knight. But when Sir Sadok had told Sir Dinas of all the treason of King Mark he defied such a king, and said he would give up his lands that he held of him. And when he said these words all manner knights said as Sir Dinas said. Then by his advice and of Sir Sadok’s, he let stuff all the towns and castles within the country of Liones, and assembled all the people that they might make.
How King Mark let do counterfeit letters from the Pope, and how Sir Percivale delivered Sir Tristram out of prison.
NOW turn we unto King Mark, that when he was escaped from Sir Sadok he rode unto the Castle of Tintagil, and there he made great cry and noise, and cried unto harness all that might bear arms. Then they sought and found where were dead four cousins of King Mark’s, and the traitor of Magouns. Then the king let inter them in a chapel. Then the king let cry in all the country that held of him, to go unto arms, for he understood to the war he must needs. When King Mark heard and understood how Sir Sadok and Sir Dinas were arisen in the country of Liones he remembered of wiles and treason. Lo thus he did: he let make and counterfeit letters from the Pope, and did make a strange clerk to bear them unto King Mark; the which letters specified that King Mark should make him ready, upon pain of cursing, with his host to come to the Pope, to help to go to Jerusalem, for to make war upon the Saracens.
When this clerk was come by the mean of the king, anon withal King Mark sent these letters unto Sir Tristram and bade him say thus: that an he would go war upon the miscreants, he should be had out of prison, and to have all his power. When Sir Tristram understood this letter, then he said thus to the clerk: Ah, King Mark, ever hast thou been a traitor, and ever will be; but, Clerk, said Sir Tristram, say thou thus unto King Mark: Since the Apostle Pope hath sent for him, bid him go thither himself; for tell him, traitor king as he is, I will not go at his commandment, get I out of prison as I may, for I see I am well rewarded for my true service. Then the clerk returned unto King Mark, and told him of the answer of Sir Tristram. Well, said King Mark, yet shall he be beguiled. So he went into his chamber, and counterfeit letters; and the letters specified that the Pope desired Sir Tristram to come himself, to make war upon the miscreants. When the clerk was come again to Sir Tristram and took him these letters, then Sir Tristram beheld these letters, and anon espied they were of King Mark’s counterfeiting. Ah, said Sir Tristram, false hast thou been ever, King Mark, and so wilt thou end. Then the clerk departed from Sir Tristram and came to King Mark again.
By then there were come four wounded knights within the Castle of Tintagil, and one of them his neck was nigh broken in twain. Another had his arm stricken away, the third was borne through with a spear, the fourth had his teeth stricken in twain. And when they came afore King Mark they cried and said: King, why fleest thou not, for all this country is arisen clearly against thee? Then was King Mark wroth out of measure.
And in the meanwhile there came into the country Sir Percivale de Galis to seek Sir Tristram. And when he heard that Sir Tristram was in prison, Sir Percivale made clearly the deliverance of Sir Tristram by his knightly means. And when he was so delivered he made great joy of Sir Percivale, and so each one of other. Sir Tristram said unto Sir Percivale: An ye will abide in these marches I will ride with you. Nay, said Percivale, in this country I may not tarry, for I must needs into Wales. So Sir Percivale departed from Sir Tristram, and rode straight unto King Mark, and told him how he had delivered Sir Tristram; and also he told the king that he had done himself great shame for to put Sir Tristram in prison, for he is now the knight of most renown in this world living. And wit thou well the noblest knights of the world love Sir Tristram, and if he will make war upon you ye may not abide it. That is truth, said King Mark, but I may not love Sir Tristram because he loveth my queen and my wife, La Beale Isoud. Ah, fie for shame, said Sir Percivale, say ye never so more. Are ye not uncle unto Sir Tristram, and he your nephew? Ye should never think that so noble a knight as Sir Tristram is, that he would do himself so great a villainy to hold his uncle’s wife; howbeit, said Sir Percivale, he may love your queen sinless, because she is called one of the fairest ladies of the world.
Then Sir Percivale departed from King Mark. So when he was departed King Mark bethought him of more treason: notwithstanding King Mark granted Sir Percivale never by no manner of means to hurt Sir Tristram. So anon King Mark sent unto Sir Dinas the Seneschal that he should put down all the people that he had raised, for he sent him an oath that he would go himself unto the Pope of Rome to war upon the miscreants; and this is a fairer war than thus to arise the people against your king. When Sir Dinas understood that King Mark would go upon the miscreants, then Sir Dinas in all the haste put down all the people; and when the people were departed every man to his home, then King Mark espied where was Sir Tristram with La Beale Isoud; and there by treason King Mark let take him and put him in prison, contrary to his promise that he made unto Sir Percivale.
When Queen Isoud understood that Sir Tristram was in prison she made as great sorrow as ever made lady or gentlewoman. Then Sir Tristram sent a letter unto La Beale Isoud, and prayed her to be his good lady; and if it pleased her to make a vessel ready for her and him, he would go with her unto the realm of Logris, that is this land. When La Beale Isoud understood Sir Tristram’s letters and his intent, she sent him another, and bade him be of good comfort, for she would do make the vessel ready, and all thing to purpose.
Then La Beale Isoud sent unto Sir Dinas, and to Sadok, and prayed them in anywise to take King Mark, and put him in prison, unto the time that she and Sir Tristram were departed unto the realm of Logris. When Sir Dinas the Seneschal understood the treason of King Mark he promised her again, and sent her word that King Mark should be put in prison. And as they devised it so it was done. And then Sir Tristram was delivered out of prison; and anon in all the haste Queen Isoud and Sir Tristram went and took their counsel with that they would have with them when they departed.
How Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud came unto England, and how Sir Launcelot brought them to Joyous Gard.
THEN La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram took their vessel, and came by water into this land. And so they were not in this land four days but there came a cry of a jousts and tournament that King Arthur let make. When Sir Tristram heard tell of that tournament he disguised himself, and La Beale Isoud, and rode unto that tournament. And when he came there he saw many knights joust and tourney; and so Sir Tristram dressed him to the range, and to make short conclusion, he overthrew fourteen knights of the Round Table. When Sir Launcelot saw these knights thus overthrown, Sir Launcelot dressed him to Sir Tristram. That saw La Beale Isoud how Sir Launcelot was come into the field. Then La Beale Isoud sent unto Sir Launcelot a ring, and bade him wit that it was Sir Tristram de Liones. When Sir Launcelot under stood that there was Sir Tristram he was full glad, and would not joust. Then Sir Launcelot espied whither Sir Tristram yede, and after him he rode; and then either made of other great joy. And so Sir Launcelot brought Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud unto Joyous Gard, that was his own castle, that he had won with his own hands. And there Sir Launcelot put them in to wield for their own. And wit ye well that castle was garnished and furnished for a king and a queen royal there to have sojourned. And Sir Launcelot charged all his people to honour them and love them as they would do himself.
So Sir Launcelot departed unto King Arthur; and then he told Queen Guenever how he that jousted so well at the last tournament was Sir Tristram. And there he told her how he had with him La Beale Isoud maugre King Mark, and so Queen Guenever told all this unto King Arthur. When King Arthur wist that Sir Tristram was escaped and come from King Mark, and had brought La Beale Isoud with him, then was he passing glad. So because of Sir Tristram King Arthur let make a cry, that on May Day should be a jousts before the castle of Lonazep; and that castle was fast by Joyous Gard. And thus Arthur devised, that all the knights of this land, and of Cornwall, and of North Wales, should joust against all these countries, Ireland, Scotland, and the remnant of Wales, and the country of Gore, and Surluse, and of Listinoise, and they of Northumberland, and all they that held lands of Arthur on this half the sea. When this cry was made many knights were glad and many were unglad. Sir, said Launcelot unto Arthur, by this cry that ye have made ye will put us that be about you in great jeopardy, for there be many knights that have great envy to us; therefore when we shall meet at the day of jousts there will be hard shift among us. As for that, said Arthur, I care not; there shall we prove who shall be best of his hands. So when Sir Launcelot understood wherefore King Arthur made this jousting, then he made such purveyance that La Beale Isoud should behold the jousts in a secret place that was honest for her estate.
Now turn we unto Sir Tristram and to La Beale Isoud, how they made great joy daily together with all manner of mirths that they could devise; and every day Sir Tristram would go ride a-hunting, for Sir Tristram was that time called the best chaser of the world, and the noblest blower of an horn of all manner of measures; for as books report, of Sir Tristram came all the good terms of venery and hunting, and all the sizes and measures of blowing of an horn; and of him we had first all the terms of hawking, and which were beasts of chase and beasts of venery, and which were vermins, and all the blasts that long to all manner of games. First to the uncoupling, to the seeking, to the rechate, to the flight, to the death, and to strake, and many other blasts and terms, that all manner of gentlemen have cause to the world’s end to praise Sir Tristram, and to pray for his soul.
On to CHAPTER LIII...
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