Le Morte Darthur Book 1

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This is an excerpt of the main plot of the Morte D'Arthur "Book 1".

This uses the pagination of the Norton critical edition (the book pages in brackets, the CAPITVLVMs in square brackets) NOT the „Marteau“ print – simply because I have read it before it was printed and have my notes in the Norton edition.

Capitulum i

Uther Pendragon is in war with the duke of Tyntagil. He invites him and his wife who is generally seen as wise. When U. sees her, he desires to lie with the wife of the Duke of T. (Igraine). She does not want to be dishonoured and departs secretly with her husband since she espied Uther’s intent. Uther is advised to sent for the duke and his wife by threat of war

Uther doe so. The duke prepares his castles for war, putting his wife in one (Tyntagil) and himself in the other (Terrabyl). Uther grows sick of love, his sire Ulfius goes to consult Merlin. Merlin agrees to help.

Capitulum ii

Ulfus returns and Merlin follows soon

Merlin demans as payment the child Igraine will get from Uther. Uther agrees and explains his plan: he will make an illusion disguising Uther as the Duke. The duke of Cornwall is killed; Uther visits Igrayne and sleeps with her. She later marvels – after learning of her husband’s death – who visited her. The barons mourn. Uther marries Igrain; Lot of Lothien and Orkney marries Morgause (Gawain’s mother), Nentres of Garlot marries Elayne at the request of Uther. Morgan le Fay is put into a school and learns ‘necromancy’. [!change of meaning!]

(6) [3,4,5] The disguise is revealed to Igraine – no adultery, husband was already dead; the queen delights now knowing the father of her child; Merlin gives the child to be educated by Sir Ector. The child is named Arthur

(7) Merlin urges the sick Uther to go a-riding to face his enemies. Uther departs with a host to the North and wins a great battle. Uther returns to London. On his dying bed (sick again) he proclaims Arthur as his follower on the throne. Igraine and the barons mourn. The bishop of Canterbur sends on behalf of Merlin for all lords.

(8) Many lords pray and come to London. There is a sword in the London churchyard and who pulls it out of the stone shall be king. The archbishop commands not touch it yet. After mass, they try but fail. New Years Eve there is jousting, among the jousters Sir Kay, son of Sir Ector. Kay forgets his sword and asks Arthur to fetch it

(9) Arthur decides to get the sword from the churchyard instead (not knowing about it), takes it (knights are at jousting) and brings it to Kay. Kay tells his he has the sword and ought to be king. After his father asks and lets him swear on the Bible, he tells him that Arthur brought it. They tell Arthur about it and put back the sword. [6] Arthur learns of his parentage and asks his foster family to not kneel. He asks Ector to still be a good subject to him.

(10) Ector agrees and is glad. Ector requests making Kay seneschal, Arthur agrees. They tell the archbishop. On 12th day, it is shown to the nobles. Only Arthur succeeds. The barons are not happy and stall the coronation until Pentecoste.

(11) The archbishop gives the best knights unto Sir Arthur (Bawdewyn of Bretayn, Kaynes; Ulfyus; Barsias). [7] Arthur is crowned at Pentecoste. Many complaints are made unto Arthur of wrongs made since Uther, Arthur remedies wrongs. He makes Kay seneschal of England; Baudewyn of Bretayn Constable, Ulfyus Chamberlain, Brastian warden of the North, [8] Arthur commands a great feast every year. King Lot comes.

(12) And also Uryen of Gore and 400 knights; Nayntres of Garloth and 700 knights; King of Sctoland and 600 knights; King of Hundred Knights (and men). Those kings are discontent and do not recognise Arthur as king. Arthur is sieged in a tower. Merlin reveals Arthur’s father to the barons and defeats allegations of being a bastard. Some accept the revelation, some have scorn.

(13) King Lot calls Merlin a witch. It is agreed that Arthur come out and speak. [9] Arthur comes out with Baudewyn, Kay and Brastias. The barons leave with wrath and he returns to the tower. Merlin advises Lot to go away, he refuses. Then he speaks with Arthur. In the war, Arthur and others do marvellous deeds. Fighting in the front, Arthur’s horse is killed and he smitten down by Lot.

(14) Arthur draws Excalibur [he does not actually have it yet! Sword in Stone!=Caliburn] and the enemies retreat. Merlin advises not to follow them [10] Merlin warns of the six kings against Arthur. Merlin goes to council other barons. Merlin warns the barons. He advises them to forge alliance with Ban of Benwic and Bors of Gaule.

(15) The barons agree, Ulphius and Brascias go to Benwyk as messengers. They get into a fight with knights of King Claudas. They defeat the 80 knights and continue to Benwyk. The two kings are informed of them. They get admitted as soon as they tell that they come from Arthur.

(16) B & B are told of the 80 knights and are glad of them defeated only should not have escaped. They return to Arthur and announce the two kings for Hallowmasse Arthur arranges a feast. Arthur meets the two kings a mile out of London. 700 knights go soon to war with Arthur et. al. [11] They are parted into two parties.

(17) Lucas the Butler unhorses one, and kay 6 on 5. Other knights figth as well. Placidas smites down Kay. Others rescue him in wrath. Arthur and the kings return to supper and council. Merlin is concluded to go with Ban. They pass the see to go to Benwyk

(18) 15000 on horseback and foot are in this army. Merlin passes the see; before he sends the 5000 footmen he had. He lands with the 10000 riders at Dover and rides to Arthur. The army grows to 22000. They will only march on by order of Arthur. [12] The three kings come to them. The other kings gather their hosts as well. They swear to destroy Arthur, and proclaim to send their troops.

(19) All in all: 50000 cavalry, 10000 infantry. The 11 kings start to siege Bedgrayne and continue twds. Arthur. [13] Merlin advises to send spies. They meet with the Northern host. The country is burned before them by advice of B & B. The King of Hundred Knights dreams of their castles destroyed. Arthur et al prepare for battle. [14] in the first battle, more than 10k die.

(20) Merlin advises to hide 10k men of B&B in a wood to attack later. The 11 kings fall into the trap seeing only weak resistance. Tales of men setting on other men and killing them… Kay hurts King Lot and is defeated by the King of Hundred Knights. Kay is saved by through Gryfflet

(21) who tells Pynnel. Lot engages King Nantes. The King with Hundred helps King Idres whom he saw on foot; Lot smites Clarinaus de la Foreyste Savage and gives his horse to Escans. (and so on…). Arthur sees Ulphuns and Brascias on foot and runs like a lion unto King Cradilment, gives the horse to Ulphus. Ector engages Cradilment and is unhorsed. Arthur helps him. Kay engages King Morganoure and wins. Lucas the Butler is dead. Gryfflet fights

(22) [15] (more accounts of slain knights and battles) Arthur sees no end of the battle and fights like a lion, slays and wounds many. Lot fears defeat. He plans to flank Arthur.

(23) Bors sees this and some other knights in danger. Lot et al espy Bors, King Carados goes for Bors, Carados is smitten down. [16] Ban enters the field as fierce as a lion.

(24) Ban and Borse fight together. Lot weeps over all the knights they slay. The King of the Hundred Knights unhorses Ban and kills his horse. Ban continues to fight on foot. Arthur kills a knight and re-horses Ban

(25) Arthur, Ban and Bors force the enemy to withdraw to a wood. The battle rests. Lot advises in council to send away [useless] footmen. They agree

(26) [17] Arthur et al praise them for this noble cheer [saving the live of the footmen. 40 knights on Arthurs side meet with the 11 kings and their knight. They are driven back. Merlin appears on a black horse. He advises to withdraw since 50% of 30k are dead.

(27) Merlin says that for 3 years Ban and Borse will unlikely to be attacked. He advises Arthur that the 11 kings have other problems: sarazenes have landed. The spoils of the battle shall be given to Ban and Bors, Arthur agrees with him. Those distribute freely among their men. Arthur goes to Castle Bedgrayne. Merlin disguises himself and asks Arthur for a gift.

(28) His identity is revealed. Arthur marvels upon it. All that want return to Bedwyk. [18] Arthur, Ban and Bors depart with 20k and recue king Lodegraunce, slaying people of King Ryons. Arthur sees Gwenyvere for the first time and falls in love. B & B ask to return to their country since Claudius lays waste. Arthur offers to accompany them, they reject.

(29) Merlin prophecies that in 2 years Arthur will help them and that the 11 kings will be crushed on 1 day by 2 knights (Balyne and Balan). The 11 kings meanwhile deal with the sarazenes and marvel their problems and allies for 3 years. [19] After Ban and Bors depart, Arthur rides to Carlyon.

(30) Arthur sleeps with King Lots wife and Mordred is born. Arthur has allegorical dreams and thinks about it.

(31) King Pellinore is espied by Arthur riding outside who hunts the Questing Beast (later followed in this by Palomdyes). [20] He asks Pellinore to be given his quest. Pellinore takes away Arthur’s horse. Melin comes in disguise of a boy and of a man, telling Arthur about his creation. He questions Arthur

(32) He tells him that he has done sth. god is displeased with, gotten a child that will destroy him someday. Merlin also prophecies a greta dead for Arthur and a shameful one for himself. [21] The queen Igraine is sent for and brings Morgan with her. Ulphius warns Arthur of Igraine.

(33) She refers to Merlin’s knowledge of what really happened. Merlin reveals Arthur as the son/Igrayne as his mother. Arthur embraces and kisses her. 8 days of feasting ensure. A squire comes in reporting his master, Myles, slain. [22] Gryfflet asks to be made knight to take up this quest. Merlin advises Arthur to do so and he does.

(34) Arthur requests G. to retur afterwards immediately. G. promises. G. challenges the other knight who slew Myles. They talk. Gryfflet wins [23] and returns to Arthur. 12 knights from Rome come to Arthur and threaten him. He rejects, owing the emperor no truage.

(35) The messengers depart. Arthur rides out and ‘saves’ Merlin from some churls. He meets a knights and asks him why he was there. The two fight as is usual for this knigh (launcing).

(36) Arthur is unhorsed the second time and fights with sword against horse. The other dismounts to meet him on foot. Arthur’s sword breaks finally. Merlin comes and prevents the knight from killing Arthur, [24] reveals Arthur’s identity and casts a sleeping spell on the knight.

(37) This was King Pellinore who should have 2 sons – he the best knight ever. [25] Merlin leads Arthur to a new sword via the Lady of the Lake. The Lady will give it to him for one gift. Arthur takes the sword.

(38) Merlin and Arthur come to Pellinore’s pavillon, deserted for Pellinore haunts Egglame. Arthur wants to wait for Pellinore, Merlin advises against it since P. will do good service in time and his sons as well. Arthur agrees. Merlin asks if Arthur liked sword or scabbard better, reveals that the scabbard prevents him from losing blood. They return to Carlion, meeting with Pellinore but disguised and not discovered. [26] King Roynes challenges Arthur after having overcome (the) 11 kings.

(39) Arthur returns the challenge, although never having heard of Royne. He asks if sb. knows him and is informed by Naram. [27] Men are gathered and sent away, among them Mordred, to be killed [cf. Bible, intended?] since it is prophesied one child of May Day should ruin Arthur. Mordred survives, though

(40) Thus, many lords and ladies were displeased for losing their children. King Royns gets mad over the reply.

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