Le Morte Darthur Book 9
Marriage & Fidelity: [Chapter 16] A sorceress tries to seduce Arthur, but he refuses as he remembers being married.
Honour/Chivalry: [Chapter 8] The knight Pleorius spares LCMT's life out of fairness and receives mercy as well after he is defeated, because he fought bravely. He becomes a knight of the round table.
- 1 Capitulum i
- 2 Capitulum ii
- 3 Capitulum iii
- 4 Capitulum iv
- 5 Capitulum v
- 6 Capitulum vi
- 7 Capitulum vii
- 8 Capitulum viii
- 9 Capitulum xi
- 10 Capitulum x
- 11 Capitulum xi
- 12 Capitulum xii
- 13 Capitulum xiii
- 14 Capitulum xiv
- 15 Capitulum xv
- 16 Capitulum xvi
- 17 Capitulum xvii
- 18 Capitulum xviii
- 19 Capitulum xix
- 20 Capitulum xx
- 21 Capitulum xxi
- 22 Capitulum xxii
- 23 Capitulum xxiii
- 24 Capitulum xxiv
- 25 Capitulum xxv
- 26 Capitulum xvi
- 27 Capitulum xvii
- 28 Capitulum xviii
- 29 Capitulum xviiii
- 30 Capitulum xxx
- 31 Capitulum xxxi
- 32 Capitulum xxxii
- 33 Capitulum xxxiii
- 34 Capitulum xxxiv
- 35 Capitulum xv
- 36 Capitulum xvi
- 37 Capitulum xvii
- 38 Capitulum xviii
- 39 Capitulum ixl
- 40 Capitulum xl
- 41 Capitulum xli
- 42 Capitulum xlii
- 43 Capitulum xliii
A young man comes to Athur's court and asks to be knighted. He wears a “ryche clothe of gold” that sits awkwardly upon him, as if it was struck by a sword. He gives his name as Breunor le noyre, but is called “cote male tayle” by the seneshal in mockery. As the king asks him why he wears that coat, the would-be knight replies that it belonged to his father, a noble knight, who was struck dead in his sleep by an old enemy, wearing that coat at the time of his death. Since then he wears the coat as a reminder of his fathers death until he has taken his revenge. Sir Lamorak and Sir Gaherys speak in favour of the aspirant, claiming that he is of good countenance and may well become a worthy knight just as Sir Lancelor du lake. The stranger is allowed to stay at Athur's court and saves Queen Gueneuer's life when she is attacked by a lion during a hunting trip. Athur rewards him by knighting him and the new knight asks to be called by no other name than “La cote male tayle” from now on.
A damsel comes to Athur's court, carrying a “great black shield with a white hand holding a sword emblazoned upon it. This shield, she reports, belongs to a knight who, while already dying after a duel with another knight, asked her to bring the shield to the king's court to call for a noble knight to take the shield and with it the quest that its dying owner was no longer able to fulfil. “Le Cote male tayle” takes the shield and the quest and takes his leave from Arthur to follows the damsel.
Sir Kaye orders the king's fool, Sir Dagonet, to dress and arm like a knight and ride after “La cote male tayle” (LCMT) and challenge him for a joust. The fool does a s he is told and is smitten down from his horse, but the damsel (who now is named Maledysaut) mocks LCMT, that this is his standing at Arthur's court that a fool is sent to joust with him. LCMT encounters two other knights, Sir Bleoberys and Sir Palomydes, both of whom joust with him and throw him out of his saddle but refuse to fight him on foot. Sir Mordred, Gawain's brother, arrives and falls “in the felauship with the damoysel maledysaunt. They come to a castle called Orgulos, where every passing knight has to joust or become either prisoner or leave his horse and harness behind. Two knights come out of the castle and challenge Mordred and LCMT. Mordred is thrown from his horse, but LCMT wounds one knight badly and follows the other into the castle where he slays him.
In the castle, LCMT is attacked by a hundred knights. He ushers his horse out of the gate of the castle, to avoid it being slain in the fight. He then puts his back to a wall of a lady's Chamber, determined to rather fight to the death here than endure more rebukes by the damsel Maledysaunt. Meanwhile, the lady, who own the chamber, notices the fight and finds LCMT's horse, tying it to the gate from the outside. She tells LCMT where to find his horse and he fights his way out of the castle, killing twelve knights in the end.
Lancelot hears of LCMT's deeds and that he undertook the adventure of the black shield. He tells his fellows that bit was a shame to give to such a young knight a quest that may well lead to his destruction. He rides after LCMT to accompany him. Mordred leaves as he sees Lancelot arriving. Whenever the damsel rebukes LCMT, Lancelot answers for him. The damsel stops rebuking LCMT and rebukes Lancelot instead. While riding with LCMT and the damsel, Lancelot receives a letter (delivered by yet another damsel) from Tritstan, in which Tristan asks him to excuse him from the weeding of Isould. Lancelot leaves LCMT and the damsel to oversee that letter and to write another one to Tristan. Meanwhile, LCMT and the damsel arrive at a castle called Pendragon, where they are met by six knights. They joust with LCMT and take him prisoner. Lancelot, in the meantime, delivers the letter (together with the post-damsel) and then rides after LCMT, meeting, jousting with and beating up another of those bridge-knights, thereby discovering that this one is no other than Nerouens de lyle, who was knighted by Lancelot himself. Nerouens tells Lancelot of a knight with a damsel being taken prisoner in the aforesaid castle.
Lancelot rushes to the rescue, butchering the six knights in front of the castle and beating the lord of the castle into submission. The lord is named Bryan des les isles and happens to be a great enemy of Arthur, and hold 30 of Arthur's knights prisoner (including LCMT) who are now set free. LCMT and the damsel understand that their companion and rescuer is none other as Lancelot.
The damsel apologises for rebuking Lancelot and reveals that she rebuked LCMT not out of hatred but out of love – fearing for his life because of his youth and, thus, trying to drive him away from her for his own protection. They come to a fortified bridge, where only one of them is allowed to enter. LCMT volunteers and starts to hack his way through the knights he finds on the other side. Tired and wounded from his fights, he then meets an knight called Plenorius and jousts with him. Lancelot and the damsel witness the fight (from the other side?).
LCMT sinks down to the earth due to his wounds but his opponent has mercy and takes him to his tower to care for his wounds. Lancelot comes and challenges Plenorius, defeating him and freeing his prisoners, among them the king of Scotland. Plenorius' life is spared and he is asked to join Arthur's knights of the round table.
Plenorius and LCMT are made knights of the round table. LCMT is now called by his true naem, Breunes le noyre, and marries the damsel Maledysaunt. The text then says that LCMT and Plenorius both prove to be noble knights of king Arthur and that LCMT avenges his father, “as the frensshe book maketh mencyon”.
We leave LCMT and turn our attention to Tristram who is in Brittany when (la beale) Isoud understands that he is married and sends him a letter via her maiden Bragwayne. She begs of him to come to her court and bring Isoud (la blanche maynys) with him. Tristram asks Sir Kehydiuswhether he would go with him to Cornwall secretly. Tristram, Kehydius, Dame Bragwayne and Gouernaile, Tristram's squire begin their journey, when the wind blows their boat on the coast of Northwales. They meet a knight and challenge him to a joust. The unknown knight wounds Kehydius, throws Tristram out of his saddle and even matches him on foot. Tristram stops the fight and asks the knight for his name.
The knight introduces himself as Lamorak. Both decide to end their fight, both offering to be the one to yield. Both swear never to fight each other again.
Palomydes, who is on a quest to hunt a strange beast named Glatysaunt, that has a head like a serpend, a body like a lybard (?) and buttocks like a lyon, meets Tristram and Lamorak. They joust an he smites both of them down and continues his way without giving them the chance to fight him on foot. Tristram and Lamorak part at a crossing. Lamorak comes to a chapel where he hears Melyagaunce, king Bademagus' son, mourn about his love to queen Gueneuer. Lamorak rides through a forest where he meets two knights laying in waiting for Lancelot, whom they accuse to have slain their brother.
Lancelot arrives and the two knight hide. Lamorak calls them cowards and that it is a shame that they take the high order of knighthood. Lamorak meets Melyagaunce again and the two quarrel about the question, who is the most beautiful woman in the world. Mel. Insists on Gueneuer, Lamorak names queen Morgause of Orkney, the mother of Gawaine. They fight. Lancelot arrives and rides between them, demanding them to stop as they are both knights of Arthur.
Melagaunce and Lamorak tell Lancelot about their quarrel and then depart in different directions. Lamorak meets Arthur without recognizing him. They joust and Lamorak is thrown from his horse and wounded. Arthur does not stop to fight with him on foot, so they don't recognize each other.
Tristram meets Kay, Tor and Brandyles. They joust a little and then become friends.
A lady named Annowre, a great sorceress, comes to Arthur in Cardif and asks him to ride with her into a perilous forest. When he accompanies her she brings him to her tower and desires “to lye by him” but the king “remembry ym of his lady and wold not lye by her for no crafte that she coude doo” [MARRIAGE/MORAL] As the sorceress sees that she can not force her will upon Arthur, she seeks to destroy him. She asks him to ride into the forest with his knights every day to see him slain. The lady of the lake, Nyneue, understands that Arthur is in danger and seeks Tristram to help him. Tristram rescues Arthur but noes not reveal his identity to him.
Tristram and his companions travel to Cornwall. They secretly enter king Mark's castle in Cornwall, to see (la beale) Isoud. Tristram and (la beale) Isoud are full of joy. [As the French book says] Kehydius fell love with Isoud when he first saw her and wrote her many loveletters and poems since then. Tristram finds the letters and, thus, discovers that Kehydius is in love with (la beale) Isoud. He attacks him with his sword. Kehydius saves himself by jumping out of the window. This is noticed by king Mark, who happens to play chess under the window. Kehydius manages to talk his way out of the situation.
Assuming that his secret entry has been discovered, Tristram arms himself and rides out of the castle openly, thereby encountering and unhorsing the knight Gyngalin, Gawayn's son. Tristram gets mad due to his sorrow and leaves his horse and armour aside and starts to live half naked in the fellowship of herdsmen and shepherds. A lady from a castle sends him a harp and food.
Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, comes across the mad Tristram. Tristram puts him and his squires into a well and humiliates him, while shepherds laught at Dagonet. Tristram runs naked in the woods for half a year. Palomides finds out about Tristram's madness. Kehydius and Palomides set off to look for Tristram. They encounter King Mark. Palomides wants to avenge Tristram and fight Mark, but Mark refuses. Mark and Palomides reconciliate. Dagonet tries to attack the shephers, but Tristram attacks him and his squire and defeats them. Dagonet goes to King Mark and tells him of the incident. Mark claims that the madman is a Sir Matto le Breune.
Sir Andred spreads tumours that Tristram is dead and that he asked Mark to make Andred the lord of the country of de Liones. La Beale Isoud attempts to commit suicide, but she is stopped by King Mark, who puts her in a tower. Tristram slays the giant Tauleas and rescues Sir Dinant.
Dinant informs King Mark of the giant-killing madman. King Mark goes to the forest and finds Tristram lying with a sword at his side. King Mark takes Tristram to Tintagil. Nobody recognises Tristram. Tristram is cared for in the castle. La Beale Isoud goes looking for the strange madman, but when she sees Tristram she doesn't recognise him until her little dog recognises him. La Beale Isoud asks Tristram to leave Cornwall fearing King Mark's rage.
Tristram gets banished from Cornwall for 10 years. Sir Dinadan arrives from the court of King Arthur looking for Tristram. Tristram and Dinadan joust, Dinadan is defeated. Dinadan joins Tristram's fellowship. Tristram rebukes King Mark for his ingratitude and leaves.
Tristram and Dinadan joust with Bors, Ector, Bleoberis and Driant.
A damosel encounters first Tristram, then the other four knights. The damosel knows of a plot by Morgan le Fay to have Launcelot ambushed and killed by 30 knights. The four knights agree to help the damosel. They promise to be close to the place where the ambush would be to help Launcelot if needed. Tristram promises to help Launcelot as well, but Dinadan fears for his life. When the four knights see the 30 knights, they do not attack each other. When Tristram arrives, he slays the majority of the 30 knights. Bors invites Tristram to his lodging, but Tristram refuses and keeps his incognito.
Tristram and Dinadan come to a castle, where the custom is that they have to fight and defeat two knights to get admitted to the castle. Dinadan fears for his life again, but Tristram insists they fight the two knights. They defeat the knights and get into the castle. Shortly after Palomides and Gaheris arrive at the castle. According to the custom, Tristram and Dinadan hae to fight them now. They joust with the two, but Dinadan refuses to fight on foot. Dinadan leaves the three at the castle and departs, cursing the day he joined Tristram. Tristram overtakes Dinadan and they come to a priory.
A knight at the priory, Pellinore, wants to find out Tristram's name and jousts with him. Tristram defeats him. Tristram learns of a great tournament between King Carados of Scotland and the King of Northgalis (North Wales) held at the Castle of Maidens. Tristram jousts with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous and defeats both. Gawaine rescues Tristram from Morgan la Fay's plot to kill Tristram. Morgan la Fay had sent out 30 ladies to lure Tristram and/or Launcelot to a castle where they would be ambushed by 30 knights. Gawaine marvels at Morgan le Fay's immorality and wonders how such an evil person can be a queen.
Tristam and Gawaine challenge Morgan le Fay and her 30 knights, but they dare not come out. Gawaine and Tristram encounter Kay and Sagramore. They see Sir Breuse Saunce Piteé chasing a lady to kill her. Gawaine tries to stop him, but he is nearly killed. Tristram attempts to revenge Gawaine, but Breuse gets away. (Tristram's shield of Cornwall is already well-known.)
Dame Bragwaine finds Tristram and gives him letters form La Beale Isoud (At first, Bragwaine does not recognise Tristram). Tristram stays with the old knight Sir Pellounes (All the while Tristram keeps his incognito). Pellounes finds out that Sir Persides, his son, has returned home. Sir Launcelot starts bearing the shield of Cornwall. Tristram meets Persides. Persides tells him that he was once defeated by Tristram in Cornwall. Tristram and Persides see Palomides ride to a tournament.
Tristram and Persides ride to a tournament to see Palomides' deeds. Persides jousts with Palomides and gets knocked down. Palomides takes advantage of Tristram's unreadiness and brings him down, too. Tristram wants revenge, but Palomides says he will get his revenge the next day at the Castle of Maidens. Dinadan comes by and comments on Tristram's fall. Tristram watches Launcelot joust with Sir Briant of North Wales. Launcelot bears the shield of Cornwall. The King of Norhtgalis demands that Palomides joust with Launcelot.
Launcelot jousts with Palomides and defeats him. Launcelot gets attacked by 12 knights of Northgalis who want to prevent him from winning the big tournament. Launcelot defeats the 12 knights, but cannot participate in the first day of the tournament, because he is tired.
Tristram gets a black shield with no sign on it to keep his incognito. Tristram and Persides go to the big tournament and join the party of King Carados of Scotland. Persides almost gets slain by Bleoberis and Gaheris of North Wales. Tristram avenges Persides by defeating the two. The King with the Hundred Knights gets angry with Tristram and helps Bleoberis and Gaheris. Tristram gets attacked by his former companion Dinadan. Tristram defeats him, and Dinadan swears never to fight him again. At the end of the day, Tristram gets the prize. He is called the Knight with the Black Shield.
The next day Palomides joins the party of King Arthur. He sends a damosel to Tristram to find out what his name is (Tristram is still incognito). Tristram will not tell his name. He declares that he will fight against any party that Palomides has joined, so he joins the party of the King of Northgalis. Tristram wreaks havoc among his opponents, smiting down Sir Kay and many others. Launcelot desires to fight Tristram, but his party (20 men) is attacked by the 100 knights of the King with the Hundred Knights and 100 knights of the King of Northgalis. Tristram asks the King with the Hundred Knights to stop the fight. the king agrees.
Sir Launcelot wants to meet Tristram, but Tristram has already withdrawn to the forest. The King of Northgalis gets the prize of the day, as Tristram was on his side. The lords and the ladies cry out that the Knight with the Black Shield has won the prize. King Arthur promises to join the tournament the next day. Bragwaine sets out to look for Tristram. She finds Palomides in the forrest, tied to a tree. Palomides frees himself, but he is despaired. Bragwaine finds Tristram and tells him of Palomides. Tristam rides to Palomides and comforts him.
The next day King Arthur joins the tournament and puts the King of Northgalis and the King with the Hundred Knights to the worse. Tristram jousts with Palomides again and defeats him. King Arthur challenges Tristram. Tristram defeats Arthur in a joust. Then Arthur takes Tristram by surprise and knocks him down, too. Tristam beats Palomides twice more. Tristam and King Arthur fight each other with their swords. Tristram does more deeds and all cry upon the Knight with the Black Shield.
Launcelot and Tristam joust. Tristram's spear breaks, but Launcelot give Tristram a nearly mortal wound with his; both stay in their saddles. Tristram retreats from the field. Dinadan follows him fearin Tristram would die. Palomydes follows Tristram intending to kill him. Dinanan offers to fight Palomydes for Tristram, but Tristram defeats Palomydes himself. He also beats Gaheris. Launcelot wins the field that day in Tristram's absence, but refuses to take the prize and declares Tristram to be the winner.
All people declare Launcelot the winner, but he refuses the prize and praises Tristram instead. Tristram is not to be found. Gaheris tells Launcelot and King Arthur how Palomydes attempted to take advantage of Tristram's wound. Launcelot and King Arthur disapprove of Palomydes' dishonourable behaviour. Palomydes turns almost mad and follows Tristram. He nearly drowns after he makes his horse jump over a river.
Palomydes starts crying and a damsel crosses his way that was sent by Sir Gawayne and his brother to go to the castle, where Mordret – who had been hurt in a fight against Palomydes – and Tristam are. She talks to Palomydes and has a conversation about him with Tristam, as she reaches the castle. Because of the fact that he knows Palomydes as a very good knight, he invites him to come to his castle.
King Arthur speaks with Lancelot about the need of finding Sir Tristam. Then they (Arthur, Lancelot, Ector, Bors, Lucan Ywaine and others) swear on the bible to find him and ride different ways. On his way Lancelot meets a woman who is in fear to be killed by Sir Breuse. So he helps her and makes Breuse fleeing away.
Sir Lucas comes to the castle, where Tristam is, too. He tells the porter to be a knight of the Round Table, but the lord of the castle Darras’ nephew Daname doesn’t let him in and wants to fight with him. Then follow some fights:
Daname vs. Lucas (D. falls from his horse) Dynadam vs. Lucas (D. gets hurt) Tristam vs. Ywain
Then Ywaine comes to the castle, too and is very wroth about Lucas being hurt. So he fights with Tristam, too and sends Lucas to an abbey for his wounds to be healed. Meanwhile a damsel tells Darras that a knight with a black shield had killed his three sons. Because of the fact that they find a black shield in Tristam’s chamber, Tristam, Palomydes and Dynadan are put into prison. There Tristam gets very sick.
Gaheryse goes to Cornwall and comes to the castle of King Mark, where he is invited to eat. They talk about a tournament where a knight with a black shield was the best of all knights: Tristam. Then the king gets afraid of Tristam to be better than he is. Then the king makes a feast and Ywaine appears, who wants to fight with anyone of them, but nobody wants to, instead of Andret who loses the fight. Then the king wants Dinas to do so and Ywein reminds him to be a knight of the Round Table and isn’t allowed to fight against another member. Then he rides away but is followed by Mark who nearly kills him. Tristam doesn’t recognize him and tells this to Sir Kay who crosses his way. As Andret appears, who is searching for Mark, Sir Kay accuses him to have done that.
King Mark asks Sir Kay if he wants to do the best adventure ever and he wants to, but is warned by Gaheris not to do so, but he doesn’t care. So Gaheris waits on a way Kays has to cross and tells him that he shouldn’t go on his own, because Mark has got bad intentions. So the both of them go to a sea, where Mark and Andret appear as anonymous knights and fight with Gaheris and Kay. As Andret falls from his horse he tells them that they are King Mark and Andret. Then Gaheris tells them to be honourless and should be killed, but they don’t kill them and let King Mark swear to be friendly to Tristam if he should meet him. Then they ride to Logrys where they meet Sir Lancelot, they tell what happened and are very happy.
They cannot find Tristam and Bragwaine goes back to Cornwall. Tristam is still in prison and is hated by Palomydes but they decide not to fight. Then a damsel tells them that they are not going to die. Tristam’s sickness gets worse and worse and the damsel recognizes that and tells this to Darras who decides to let him free. Being freed from prison, Tristam and Darras speak about the legitimating of having killed Darras three sons because of the law of knighthood. Then Tristam doesn’t leave the castle until he isn’t ill anymore.
Sir Dinadam meets a damsel who is big sorrow because her brother had been killed 5 days ago by Sir Breuris Same Pité and since then has been kept under his will. So he fights with Breuris and makes him flee away.
Then he brings her to a castle she wants to go to and rides away. Then he comes to a castle where Morgan la Fay doesn’t want to let him go away until she gets to know his name and where he comes from. Then he tells her his name and she wants him to attend a tournament and to fight with a special shield (a knight stands on the heads of a queen and a king: could be Lancelot who stands on Guenever’s and Arthur’s heads). She doesn’t want to tell him what the picture on the shield is about.
Sir Tristam rides with the shield to the tournament. Meanwhile Sir Hemison – Queen la Fays knight- is willing to follow him, but the queen doesn’t want him to, because she is afraid that he could die. But he doesn’t care, fight against Tristam and nearly dies. Before he dies he asks a passing knight to bring him to Morgan la Fay, because he wants to speak to her before he dies, but as she comes to him he is already dead.
Tristam comes to a castle where the lord of the castle tells him that Sir Ector has been there, too. Then they talk about who belong to the best knights ever, like Sir Lancelot. But Tristam doesn’t include himself and rides away. Then he comes to a castle with 500 tents.
There King Arthur and his knights fight against the Scottish and the Irish and Tristam fights very well, so that king Arthur asks himself who that good knight might be and what his shield is all about. Then a damsel of La Fay appears and tells him that the shield should warn him of dishonour. Then she disappears and nobody knows where she came from. Then Queen Guenever speaks with Sir Ector about her fear according Lancelot, but King Arthur is just interested in who that good knight could be and doesn’t care about the rest. Then he decides not no let him escape and asks him with Ywain from whom he got that shield and he answers that he got it from Arthur’s sister: La Fay.