Lugodoc’s summary of Book 5 – War with Rome
[ Interregnum ]
Sir Uwaine is a young man in Book 4, but is old enough to have a knight for a son by Book 5, so a generation must pass between the two books.
Also during this period:
Launcelot grows up and arrives at Arthur’s court incognito and wins worship.
Mordred returns after his years lost.
Gawaine kills King Pellinore in revenge for the death of his father King Lot.
(Possibly) King Solomon’s magic boat drifts past the Irish coast, King Pelles stumbles aboard it hunting, draws the Sword of David and is maimed by a spear through both thighs.
Then (or before), King Solomon’s magic boat ends up off the shore of Logris during a war between King Hurlame, the recently christened Saracen and King Labor and the father of King Pellam. In desperation, Hurlame draws the Sword of David, slays King Labor, replaces the sword and drops dead.
Book 5 begins:
One day (almost a quarter of a century after the last attempt in Book 1), twelve messengers arrived from Emperor Lucius in Rome, demanding truage on account of Julius Caesar’s lucky fluke some centuries before, so Arthur convened a council.
After taking advice from Sirs Cador of Cornwall and Uwaine (and Sir Ider, his son), the lord of West Wales, King Anguish of Scotland, the king of Little Britain (Brittany), and Sir Launcelot (the son of Arthur’s old French ally, King Ban, who seems to have appeared from nowhere), Arthur politely sent the Roman packing. Further, on account of how Rome had once been conquered by the British kings Belinus and Brennus and ruled by the Emperor Constantine (son of the British woman Heleine), Arthur reckoned that he actually had fair claim on Rome! Enraged, Lucius, intending to destroy Little Britain, assembled at Burgoyne a huge army from all across the empire, including thousands of Saracens, fifty giants, and sixteen kings.
Arthur left Sirs Baudwin of Britain and Constantine (son of Sir Cador of Cornwall and Arthur’s own eventual successor) in charge (with Guenevere) and sailed from Sandwich with his own navy and his entire armies, landing at Flanders.
After prophetic dreams – and pausing only to castrate a nearby giant that had just killed the Duchess of Brittany, and then building Mons St Michel to celebrate – he headed for Burgoyne and despatched Sirs Lionel, Bors, Gawaine and Bedivere to Lucius to negotiate. Unfortunately Gawaine lost his temper and beheaded the Emperor’s cousin Sir Gainus, and in the ensuing fight ten thousand Romans were slaughtered and many taken prisoner, and there was much rejoicing.
Lucius despatched sixty thousand men to ambush the party, intending to take the prisoners to Paris, but Sir Launcelot spotted them hiding in a wood and massacred the lot.
The great battle (Arthur’s 6th) was finally joined in the Vale of Sessoine and amidst the carnage, Arthur spied Lucius and “cleft his head… to his breast”, at which the Romans fled and another hundred thousand were slain. But Arthur gave them all decent burials, and despatched the three remaining senators back to Rome as a warning, before sacking Lorraine, Brabant, Flanders, Haut Almaine, Lombardy, and Tuscany.
While Arthur was laying seige, he sent Sir Florence foraging with a small war band plus Sir Gawaine, who met Prince Priamus of Africa, and after a fight they became friends. Fortunately Priamus had a magic healing balm of “the four waters that came out of paradise”, and when they had both recovered, they killed more Romans, Saracens, and whatnot, and returned to Arthur to have Priamus christened and made a knight of the Round Table.
After Arthur had sacked his way across Europe, the surviving Roman senators sued for peace, and Arthur was officially crowned in Rome before returning home.
At A Glance
Book 5 chapter overview:
1. How twelve aged ambassadors of Rome came to King Arthur to demand truage for Britain.
2. How the kings and lords promised to King Arthur aid and help against the Romans.
3. How King Arthur held a parliament at York, and how he ordained the realm should be governed in his absence.
4. How King Arthur being shipped and lying in his cabin had a marvellous dream and of the exposition thereof.
5. How a man of the country told to him of a marvellous giant, and how he fought and conquered him.
6. How King Arthur sent Sir Gawaine and other to Lucius, and how they were assailed and escaped with worship.
7. How Lucius sent certain spies in a bushment for to have taken his knights being prisoners, and how they were letted.
8. How a senator told to Lucius of their discomfiture, and also of the great battle between Arthur and Lucius.
9. How Arthur, after he had achieved the battle against the Romans, entered into Almaine, and so into Italy.
10. Of a battle done by Sir Gawaine against a Saracen, which after was yielden and became Christian.
11. How the Saracens came out of a wood for to rescue their beasts, and of a great battle.
12. How Sir Gawaine returned to King Arthur with his prisoners, and how the King won a city, and how he was crowned Emperor.