"The Boys King Arthur"
OF SIR TRISTRAM
The Boys King Arthur
by Sidney Lanier
Illustrated By N.C Wyeth
The Boys King Arthur
OF SIR TRISTRAM
THERE was a knight that hight Meliodas, and he was lord and king of the country of Lyonesse,
and this King Meliodas was as likely a man as any was at that time living. And by fortune he
wedded King Mark's sister of Cornwall, whose name was Elizabeth, and she was a right fair lady
and a good.
[And it befell on a day that a certain enchantress wrought as he rode on hunting, for he was a
great hunter, and made him chase an hart by himself till that he came to an old castle, and
there she took him prisoner. Now when Queen Elizabeth missed her husband King Meliodas, she was
nigh out of her wit; and she took a gentlewoman with her and ran far into the forest and took
such cold that she might not recover. And when she saw] that the deep draughts of death took
her, that needs she must die and depart out of this world [and] there was none other boot [aid,
or hope], she made great moan and sorrow, and said unto her gentlewoman' "When ye see my lord
King Meliodas, recommend me unto him, and tell him what pains I endure for his love, and how I
must die here for his sake, and for default of good help, and let him wit that I am full sorry
to depart out of this world from him, therefore pray him to be good friend unto my soul. And I
charge thee, gentlewoman, that thou beseech my lord King Meliodas, that when my son shall be
christened let him be named Tristram, that is as much to say as sorrowful birth."
And therewithal this Queen Elizabeth gave up her ghost, and died in the same place. Then the
gentlewoman laid her under the shadow of a great tree.
[And it so happened that after seven years King Meliodas took him a seeond wife, and wedded
King Howell's daughter of Brittany. And the new queen was jealous of young Tristram in the
behalf of her own children, and put poison for Tristram to drink. But by strange hap her own
son drank the poison and died. Then again she put poison in some drink for Tristram; and] by
fortune the King Meliodas her husband found the piece [cup] with the wine whereas the poison was
in, and he, that was most thirsty, took the piece for to drink thereof, and as he would have
drunken thereof the queen espied him, and then she ran unto him and pulled the piece from him
suddenly. The king marvelled why she did so, and remembered him how her son was suddenly slain
with poison. And then he took her by the hand, and thus said to her' "Thou false traitress,
thou shalt tell me what manner of drink this is, or else I shall slay thee." And therewith he
pulled out his sword, and swore a great oath that he would slay her but if she told him truth.
"Ah! mercy, my lord," said she, "and I shall tell you all."
And then she told him why that she would have slain Tristram, because her children should
rejoice the land. "Well," said King Meliodas, "therefore shall ye have the law."
And so she was damned [condemned] by the assent of the barons to be burnt; and then there was
made a great fire, and right as she was at the fire for to take her execution, young Tristram
kneeled down before King Meliodas, his father, and besought him to give him a boon.
"I will well," said the king.
Then said young Tristram, "Give me the life of your queen, my stepmother."
"That is unrightfully asked," said his father, King Meliodas, "for she would have slain thee
with that poison and she might have had her will, and for thy sake most is my cause that she
"Sir," said Tristram, "as for that I beseech you of your mercy that ye will forgive it her,
and as for my part, God forgive it her, and I do, and so much it liketh your highness to grant
me my boon, for God's love I pray you hold your promise."
"Sith it is so," said the king, "I will that ye have her life and give her to you, and go ye
to the fire and take her, and do with her what ye will."
So young Tristram went to the fire, and, by the command of the king, delivered her from the
And by the good means of young Tristram he made the king and her accord.
And then [King MeUodas] let ordain a gentleman that was well learned and taught; his name was
Gouvernail; and he sent young Tristram with Gouvernail into France, to learn the language, and
nurture, and deeds of arms. And there was Tristram more than seven years. And then when he
well could speak the language, and had learned all that he might learn in that country, then he
came home to his father King Meliodas again. And so Tristram learned to be an harper passing
all other, that there was none such called in no country, and so in harping and on instruments
of music he applied him in his youth for to learn. And after as he grew in might and strength
he laboured ever in hunting and in hawking, so that never gentleman more, that ever we heard
Then it befell that King Anguish of Ireland sent to King Mark of Cornwall for his truage
[tribute], which Cornwall had paid many winters afore time, and all that time King Mark was
behind of the truage for seven years. And King Mark and his barons gave unto the messenger of
Ireland this answer, and said that they would none pay, and bade the messenger go unto his King
Anguish and tell him, "that we will pay him no truage; but tell your lord, and he will always
have truage of us of Cornwall, bid him send a trusty knight of his land that will fight for his
right, and we shall find another to defend our right." With this answer the messenger departed
into Ireland. And when King Anguish understood the answer of the messenger, he was wondrous
wroth; and then he called unto him Sir Marhaus the good knight that was nobly proved, and a
knight of the Round Table. And this Sir Marhaus was brother unto the Queen of Ireland. Then the
king [prayed Sir Marhaus that he would go and fight for his truage of Cornwall].
"Sir," said Sir Marhaus, "wit [know] ye well that I shall not be loth to do battle in the
right of you and your land with the best knight of the Round Table, for I know what their deeds
be, and for to increase my worship [worthship] I will right gladly go to this journey for our
So in all haste there was made purveyance for Sir Marhalls, and so he departed out of Ireland,
and arrived up in Cornwall, even fast by the castle of Tintagil. And when King Mark understood
that he was there arrived to fight for Ireland, then made King Mark great sorrow. For they knew
no knight that durst have ado with him. For at that time Sir Marhaus was called one of the
famousest and renowned knights of the world.
And thus Sir Marhaus abode in the sea, and every day he sent unto King Mark for to pay the
truage that was behind of seven year, or else to find a knight to fight with him for the truage.
Then they of Cornwall let make cries in every place, that what knight would fight for to save
the truage of Cornwall he should be rewarded so that he should fare the better the term of his
life. Then some of the barons said to King Mark, and counselled him to send to the court of King
Arthur for to seek Sir Launcelot du Lake. Then there were some other barons that counselled the
king not to do so, and said that it was labour in vain, because Sir Marhaus was a knight of the
Round Table, therefore any of them will be loth to have ado with other. So the king and all his
barons assented that it was no boot [help] to seek any knight of the Round Table. When young
Tristram heard of this he was wroth and sore ashamed that there durst no knight in Cornwall have
ado with Sir Marhaus of Ireland.
Therewithal Sir Tristram went unto his father King Meliodas, and asked him counsel what was
best to do for to recover the country of Cornwall for truage. "For as me seemeth," said Sir
Tristram, "it were shame that Sir Marhaus, the queen's brother of Ireland, should go away,
unless that he were not fought withal."
"As for that," said King Meliodas, "wit ye well, my son Tristram, that Sir Marhaus is called
one of the best knights of the world, and knight of the Round Table, and therefore I know no
knight in this country that is able to mateh with him."
"Alas!" said Sir Tristram, "that I am not made knight, and if Sir Marhaus should thus depart
into Ireland, God let me never have worship; and I were made knight I should match him; and
sir," said Sir Tristram, "I pray you to give me leave to ride unto mine uncle King Mark, and so
ye be not displeased, of King Mark will I be made knight."
"I will well," said King Meliodas, "that ye be ruled as your courage will rule you."
And then Sir Tristram thanked his father much, and so made him ready to ride into Cornwall.
And in the mean while there came a messenger with letters of love from the daughter of King
Faramon of France, unto Sir Tristram, that were full piteous letters, and in them were written
many complaints of love. But Sir Tristram had no joy of her letters, nor regard unto her. Also
she sent him a little braehet [hunting hound] that was passing fair. But when the king's
daughter understood that Tristram would not love her, she died for sorrow. So this young Sir
Tristram rode unto his uncle King Mark of Cornwall. And when he came there he heard say that
there would no knight fight with Sir Marhaus. Then went Sir Tristram unto his uncle and said,--
"Sir, if ye will give me the order of knighthood I will do battle with Sir Marhaus."
"What are ye!" said the king, "and from whence be ye come?"
"Sir," said Tristram, "I come from King Meliodas that wedded your sister, and a gentleman wit
ye well I am."
King Mark beheld Sir Tristram, and saw that he was but a young man of age, but he was
passingly well made and big.
"Fair sir," said the king, "what is your name, and where were ye born!"
"Sir," said he again, "my name is Tristram, and in the country of Lyonesse was I born."
"Ye say well," said the king, "and if ye will do this battle I shall make you knight."
"Therefore I come to you," said Sir Tristram, "and for none other cause."
But then King Mark made him knight. And therewithal anon as he had made him knight, he sent a
messenger unto Sir Marhaus with letters that said that he had found a young knight ready for to
take the battle to the uttermost.
"It may well be," said Sir Marhaus; "but tell unto King Mark that I will not fight with no
knight but if he be of blood royal, that is to say either king's son or queen's son, born of a
prince or princess."
When King Mark understood that, he sent for Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and told him what was
the answer of Sir Marhaus. Then said Sir Tristram,--
"Since he sayeth so, let him wit that I am come of father's side and mother's side of as noble
blood as he is. For, sir, now shall ye know that I am King Meliodas' son, born of your own
sister dame Elizabeth, that died in the forest in the birth of me."
"Yea!" said King Mark, "ye are welcome fair nephew to me."
Then in all the haste the king let horse Sir Tristram and arm him in the best manner that
might be had or gotten for gold or silver. And then King Mark sent unto Sir Marhaus, and did
him to wit [let him know] that a better born man than he was himself should fight with him, and
his name is Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, [son of] King Meliodas, and born of King Mark's sister.
Then was Sir Marhaus glad and blithe that he should fight with such a gentleman. And so by the
assent of King Mark and Sir Marhaus they let ordain that they should fight within an island nigh
Sir Marhaus' ships; and so was young Sir Tristram put into a little vessel, both his horse and
he, and all that to him belonged both for his body and for his horse, so that Sir Tristram
lacked no manner thing. And when King Mark and his barons of Cornwall beheld how young Sir
Tristram departed with such a carriage [ that is, carrying himself so bravely] to fight for the
right of Cornwall, wit ye well there was neither man nor woman of worship but they wept for to
see so young a knight jeopard himself for their right.
For to make short this tale, that when Sir Tristram was arrived within the island, then he
looked to the further side, and there he saw at an anchor six ships nigh to the land, and under
the shadow of the ships, upon the land, there hoved [hovered] the noble knight Sir Marhaus of
Ireland. And then Sir Tristram commanded his servant Gouvernail for to bring his horse to the
land, and dress his harness at all manner of rights. And when he had so done, he mounted upon
his horse. And when he was in his saddle well apparelled, and his shield dressed upon his
shoulder, Sir Tristram asked Gouvernail, "Where is this knight that I shall have to do withal ?"
"Sir," said his servant Gouvernail, "see ye him not? I wend ye had seen him, yonder he hoveth
under the shadow of his ships upon horseback, and his spear in his hand, and his shield upon his
"It is truth," said Sir Tristram, "now I see him well enough."
And then he commanded his servant Gouvernail to go again unto his vessel, and commend him
"unto mine uncle King Mark, and pray him that if I be slain in this battle, for to bury my body
as him seemeth best, and, as for me, let him wit that I will never yield me for no cowardice,
and if I be slain and flee not, then have they lost no truage for me. And if so be that I flee
or yield me as recreant, bid mine uncle never bury me in Christian burials. And upon my life,"
said Sir Tristram to Gouvernail, "come thou not nigh this island till thou see me overcome or
slain, or else that I win yonder knight."
And so either departed from other weeping.
And then Sir Marhaus perceived Sir Tristram, and thus said unto him' "Young knight Sir
Tristram, what doest thou here! Me sore repenteth of thy courage, for wit thou well I have
matched with the best knights of the world, and therefore by my counsel return again to thy
"Fair knight and well proved knight," said Sir Tristram, "thou shalt well wit that I may not
forsake thee in this quarrel, for I am for thy sake made knight, and thou shalt well wit that I
am a king's son born, and such promise have I made at mine uncle's request and mine own seeking,
that I shall fight with thee unto the uttermost, to deliver Cornwall from the old truage. Also
wit ye well, Sir Marhaus, that for ye are called one of the best renowned knights of the world,
and because of that noise and fame that ye have, it will do me good to have to do with you, for
never yet sith [since] that I was born of my mother was I proved with a good knight, and also
sith I have taken the high order of knighthood this day, I am right well pleased that I may have
to do with so good a knight as ye are. And now wit ye well, Sir Marhaus of Ireland, that I cast
me to win worship on thy body, I trust to God I shall be worshipfully proved upon thy body and
for to deliver the country of Cornwall forever from all manner of truage from Ireland." And when
the good knight Sir Marhaus had heard him say what him list, then said he thus again' "Fair
knight, sith it is so that thou eastest thee to win worship on me, I let thee wit that no
worship maist thou leese [lose] by me, if thou mayst stand me three strokes, for I let you wit
that for my noble deeds, proved and seen, King Arthur made me knight of the Table Round." Then
they began to fewter [place in rest] their spears, and they met so fiercely together that they
smote either other down both horse and all. But Sir Marhaus smote Sir Tristram a great wound in
the side with his spear, and then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and
threw their shields afore them, and then they lashed together as men than were wild and
courageous. And when they had stricken so together long, then they left their strokes, and
foined [thrut, in feinting]; and when they saw that that might not prevail them, then they
hurtled together like rams to bear either other down. Thus they fought still more than half a
day, and either were wounded passing sore, that the blood ran down freshly from them upon the
ground. By then Sir Tristram waxed more fresher than Sir Marhaus, and better winded and bigger,
and with a mighty stroke he smote Sir Marhaus upon the helm such a buffet, that it went through
his helm, and through the coif of steel, and through the brain-pan, and the sword stuck so fast
in the helm and in his brain-pan that Sir Tristram pulled thrice at his sword or ever he might
pull it out from his head, and there Marhaus fell down on his knees, [and a piece of] the edge
of Tristram's sword [was] left in his brain-pan. And suddenly Sir Marhaus rose grovelling, and
threw his sword and his shield from him, and so ran to his ships and fled his way, and Sir
Tristram had ever his shield and his sword. And when Sir Tristram saw Sir Marhaus withdraw him,
he said, "Ah, sir knight of the Round Table, why withdrawest thou thee; thou doest thyself and
thy kin great shame, for I am but a young knight, or now I was never proved, and rather than I
should withdraw me from thee, I had rather be hewn in an hundred pieces." Sir Marhaus answered
no word, but went his way sore groaning.
Anon Sir Marhaus and his fellowship departed into Ireland. And as soon as he came to the king
his brother he let search his wounds. And when his head was searched, a piece of Sir Tristram's
sword was found therein, and might never be had out of his head for no surgeons, and so he died
of Sir Tristram's sword, and that piece of the sword the queen his sister kept it for ever with
her, for she thought to be revenged and she might.
Now turn we again unto Sir Tristram, that was sore wounded, and full sore bled, that he might
not within a little while when he had taken cold scarcely stir him of his limbs. And then he
set him down softly upon a little hill, and bled fast. Then anon came Gouvernail his man with
his vessel, and the king and his barons came with procession, and when he was come to the land,
King Mark took him in both his arms, and the king and Sir Dinas the seneschal led Sir Tristram
into the castle of Tintagil, and then were his wounds searched in the best manner, and laid in
bed. And when King Mark saw all his wounds, he wept right heartily, and so did all his lords.
"So God me help," said King Mark, "I would not for all my lands that my nephew died."
So Sir Tristram lay there a month and more, and was like to have died of the stroke that Sir
Marhaus had given him first with his spear. For, as the French book saith, that spear's head
was envenomed, that Sir Tristram might not be whole thereof. Then was King Mark and all his
barons passing heavy, for they deemed none other but that Sir Tristram should not recover. So
the king let send after all manner of leeches and surgeons, both men and women, and there was
none that would warrant him his life. Then came there a lady, which was a full wise lady, and
she said plainly unto King Mark and unto Sir Tristram and unto all the barons, that he should
never be whole, but if Sir Tristram went into the same country that the venom came from, and in
that country should he be holpen or else never. When King Mark had well heard what the lady
said, forthwith he let purvey for Sir Tristram a fair vessel, and well victualled it, and
therein was put Sir Tristram and Gouvernail with him, and Sir Tristram took his harp with him,
and so he was put to sea, for to sail into Ireland, and so by good fortune he arrived up into
Ireland even fast by a castle where the king and the queen were, and at his arriving he sat and
harped in his bed a merry lay, such one had they never heard in Ireland afore that time. And
when it was told the king and the queen of such a knight that was such a harper, anon the king
sent for him, and let search his wound, and then he asked him what was his name. He answered
"I am of the country of Lyonesse, and my name is Tramtrist, [and I have] been wounded in a
battle as I fought for a lady's right."
"Truly," said King Anguish, "ye shall have all the help in this land that ye may have here.
But I let you wit in Cornwall I had a great loss as ever had king, for there I lost the best
knight of the world, his name was Marhaus, a full noble knight, and knight of the Table
Round;" and there he told Sir Tristram wherefore Sir Marhaus was slain.
Sir Tristram made semblant [like] as he had been sorry, and better knew he how it was than the
Then the king for great favour made Tramtrist to be put in his daughter's ward and keeping,
because she was a noble surgeon. And when she had searched his wound, she found in the bottom
of his wound that' there was poison, and within a little while she healed him, and therefore
Tramtrist cast great love to la Belle Isolde, for she was at that time the fairest lady of the
world, and then Sir Tramtrist [taught] her to harp, and she began to have a great fantasy unto
Sir Tramtrist. And at that time Sir Palamides, that was a Saraeen, was in that country, and
was well cherished both of the king and the queen, and he proffered her many great gifts, for he
loved her passing well. And all that espied right well Sir Tramtrist, and full well he knew Sir
Palamides for a noble knight and a mighty man.
Thus was there great envy between Sir Tramtrist and Sir Palamides. Then it befell that King
Anguish let cry a great joust and a great tournament for a lady which was called the lady of the
lawns, and she was nigh cousin unto the king, and what man that should win her should wed her
three days after, and have all her lands. This cry was made in England, Wales, and Scotland,
and also in France and in Britain. It befell upon a day la Belle Isolde came to Sir Tramtrist
and told him of this tournament.
"Ah! Tramtrist," said la Belle Isolde, "why will ye not have to do at that tournament? well I
wot Sir Palamides will be there and do what he may, and therefore, Sir Tramtrist, I pray you to
be there, for else Sir Palamides is like to win the degree."
"Madam," said Sir Tramtrist, "as for that he may do so, for he is a proved knight, and I am
but a young knight and late made, and the first battle that I did it mishapped me to be sore
wounded as ye see. But and I wist [if I knew] that ye would be my better lady, at that
tournament I will be, so that ye will keep my counsel, and let no creature have knowledge that I
shall joust but yourself, and such as ye will to keep your counsel; my poor person shall I
jeopard there for your sake, that peradventure Sir Palamides shall know when that I come."
"Thereto," said la Belle Isolde, "do your best, and as I can," said la Belle Isolde, "I shall
purvey horse and armor for you at my devise."
"As Ye will so be it," said Sir Tramtrist, "I will be at your commandment."
So at the day of jousts there came Sir Palamides with a black shield, and he overthrew many
knights, that all the people had marvel of him. For he put to the worse Sir Gawaine, Gaheris,
Agravaine, Bagdemagus, Kay, Dodinas le Savage, Sagramor le Desirous, Gumret le Petit, and
Griflet le Fise de Dieu. All these the first day Sir Palamides strake down to the earth. And
then all manner of knights were adread of Sir Palamides, and many called him the knight with the
black shield. So that day Sir Palamides had great worship. Then came King Anguish unto
Tramtrist and asked him why he would not joust.
"Sir," said he, "I was but late hurt, and as yet I dare not adventure me."
And so on the morn Sir Palamides made him ready to come into the field as he did the first
day. And there he smote down the king with the hundred knights, and the King of Scotland. Then
had la Belle Isolde ordained and well arrayed Sir Tramtrist in white horse and harness. And
right so she let put him out at a privy postern, and so he came into the field as it had been a
bright angel. And anon Sir Palamides espied him, and therewith he feutered [laid in rest] a
spear unto Sir Tramtrist, and he again unto him. And there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides
unto the earth. And then there was great noise of people some said Sir Palamides had a fall,
some said the knight with the black shield had a fall. And wit you well la Belle Isolde was
passing glad. And then Sir Gawaine and his fellows nine had marvel what knight it might be that
had smitten down Sir Palamides. Then would there none joust with Tramtrist, but all that were
there forsook him, most and least. And when Sir Palamides had received this fall, wit ye well he
was sore ashamed; and as privily as he might he withdrew him out of the field. All that espied
Sir Tristram, and lightly he rode after Sir Palamides, and overtook him, and bade him turn, for
better he would assay him or ever he departed. Then Sir Palamides turned him, and either lashed
at other with their swords. But at the first stroke Sir Tristram smote down Palamides, and gave
him such a stroke upon the head that he fell to the earth. So then Tristram bade yield him and
do his commandment, or else he would slay him. And when Sir Palamides beheld his countenance, he
dread sore his buffets, so that he granted him all his asking.
"Well," said Sir Tristram unto him, "this shall be your charge. First, upon pain of your
life, that ye forsake my lady la Belle Isolde, and in no manner of wise that ye draw unto her,
and also these twelve months and a day that ye bear none armor nor in like wise no harness of
war. Now promise me this, or here shalt thou die."
"Alas!" said Sir Palamides, "now am I for ever shamed."
And then he swore as Sir Tristram had commanded him.
Then for great despite and anger, Sir Palamides cut off his harness and threw it away.
And then Sir Tristram rode privily unto the postern where la Belle Isolde kept him, and then
she made him good cheer, and thanked God of his good speed.
Thus was Sir Tramtrist long there well cherished with the king and queen and namely [likewise]
with la Belle Isolde. So upon a day the queen and la Belle Isolde made a bayne [bath] for Sir
Tramtrist, and when he was in his bayne, the queen and her daughter la Belle Isolde roamed up
and down in the chamber, and there whiles Gouvernail and Hebes attended upon Tramtrist, and the
queen beheld his sword whereas it lay upon his bed. And then by unhap the queen drew out his
sword and beheld it a long while, and both they thought it a passing fair sword, but within a
foot and an half of the point there was a great piece broken out of the edge. And when the queen
espied that gap in the sword, she remembered of a piece of a sword tha twas found in the brain
pan of the good knight Sir Marhaus that was her brother.
"Alas !" said she then to her daughter la Belle Isolde. "This is the same traitorous knight
that slew my brother thine uncle."
When la Belle Isolde heard her say so, she was then passing sore abashed, for she loved Sir
Trarntrist passingly well, and right well she knew the cruelness of her mother the queen. And so
anon therewith the queen went in all the haste that she. might unto her own chamber, and then
she sought in a coffer that she had, and there she found and took out the piece of the sword
that was taken out of her brother's head Sir Marhaus, after that he was dead. And then anon she
ran with the same piece of iron unto Sir Tramtrist's sword which lay upon the bed, and so when
she put the same piece of steel and iron unto the same sword, it was then as fit as ever it
might be when it was first new broken. And so forthwith the queen caught that sword fiercely in
her hand, and with all her might she ran straight unto Tramtrist where he sat in a bayne, and
there she had run him through had not Sir Hebes gotten her in his arms and pulled the sword from
her, and else she had thrust him through. When she was thus letted of her evil will, she ran to
King Anguish her husband, and fell on her knees before him, saying, "Oh, my lord and husband,
here have ye in your house that traitor knight that slew my brother and your servant, that noble
knight Sir Marhaus."
"Who is that," said King Anguish, "and where is he?"
"Sir," said she, "it is Sir Tramtrist, the same knight that my daughter hath healed."
" Alas !" said King Anguish, "therefore am I right heavy, for he is a full noble knight as
ever I saw in field, but I charge you," said the king to the queen, "that ye have not to do with
this knight, but let me deal with him."
Then the king went into the chamber to Sir Tramtrist, that then was gone un to his chamber,
and then the king found him all armed, ready to mount upon his horse. And when the king saw him
all ready armed to mount on horseback, the king said, "Nay, Tramtrist, it will not avail thee to
compare against me. But thus much will I do for my worship, and for thy love: in so much as thou
art within this court, it were no worship for me to slay thee, therefore upon this condition I
will give thee leave to depart from this court in safety, so that thou wilt tell me who is thy
father, and what is thy name, and if thou slew my brother Sir Marhaus."
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "now shall I tell you all the truth; my father's name is Meliodas,
King of Lyonesse, and my mother hight Elizabeth, that was sister unto King Mark of Cornwall, and
my mother died of me in the forest, and because thereof she commanded or she died that when I
were christened that they should name me Tristram, and because I would not be known in this
country, I turned my name, and let call me Tramtrist; and for the truage of Cornwall, I fought
for mine uncle's sake, and for the right of Cornwall that ye had possessed many years. And wit
ye well," said Tristram unto the king, "I did the battle for the love of mine uncle King Mark,
and for the love of the country of Cornwall, and for to increase mine honor. For that same day
that I fought with Sir Marhaus I was made knight, and never or then did I know battle with no
knight, and from me he went alive, and left his shield and his sword behind."
"Truly," said the king, "I may not say but ye did as a knight should, and it was your part to
do for your quarrel, and to increase your worship as a knight should; howbeit I may not maintain
you in this country with my worship, unless that I should displease my barons, and my wife, and
"Sir," said Tristram, "I thank you of your good lordship that I have had with you here., and
the great goodness my lady your daughter hath showed me, and therefore," said Sir Tristram, "it
may so happen that ye shall win more by my life than by my death, for in the parts of England it
may happen I may do you service at some season that ye shall be glad that ever ye showed me your
good lordship With more I promise you as I am true knight, that in all places I shall be my lady
your daughter's servant and knight in right and in wrong, and I shall never fail her to do as
much as a knight may do. Also I beseech your good grace. that I may take my leave at my lady
your daughter, and at all the barons and knights."
"I will wen," said the king. Then Sir Tristram went unto la Belle Isolde, and took his leave
of her. And then he told her all, what he was, and how he had changed his name because he
would not be known, and how a lady told him that he should never be whole till he came into
this country where the poison was made: "Wherethrough I was near my death, had not your
"Oh, gentle knight," said la Belle Isolde, "full woe am I of thy departing, for I saw never
man that lowed so good will to." And therewithal she wept heartily.
"Madam," said Sir Tristram, "ye shall understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and
I promise you faithfully that I shall be all the days of my life your knight."
"Sir, gramercy ," said la Belle Isolde, "and there again I promise you that I shall not be
married of this seven year but if it be by your assent, and to whom ye will I shall be married,
him shall I have, if he will have me, if ye will consent."
And then Sir Tristram gave her a ring, and she gave him another, and therewith he departed
from her, leaving her making full great moan and lamentation, and he went straight unto the
court among all the barons, and there he took his leave of most and least, and openly among them
all he said: "Fair lords, now it is so that I must depart from hence, if there be any man here
that I have offended unto, or that any man be with me grieved, let him complain here before me
or I depart from hence, and I shall amend it unto my power. And if there be any that will
proffer me wrong, or to say of me wrong or shame behind my back, say it now or never, and here
is my body to make it good, body against body."
And all they stood still, there was not one that would say one word, yet were there some
knights which were of the queen's blood and of Sir Marhaus' blood, but they would not meddle
So Sir Tristram departed and took the sea, and with good wind he arrived up at Tintagil in
Cornwall, And when King Mark was whole and in his prosperity, there came tidings that Sir
Tristram was arrived and whole of his wound, whereof King Mark was passing glad, and so were
all the barons. And when he saw his time, he rode unto his father King Meliodas, and there he
had all the cheer that the king and the queen could make him. And then largely King Meliodas and
his queen parted of their lands and goods unto Sir Tristram. So then by the license [leave] of
King Meliodas his father, he returned again unto the court of King Mark, and there he lived in
great joy long time, until at the last there befell a jealousy and an unkindness between King
Mark and Sir Tristram.
Then King Mark cast always in his heart how he might destroy Sir Tristram. And then he
imagined in himself to send Sir Tristram into Ireland for la Belle Isolde. For Sir Tristram had
so praised her beauty and her goodness that King Mark said he would wed her, whereupon he prayed
Sir Tristram to take his way into Ireland for him on message. And all this was done to the
intent to slay Sir Tristram. Notwithstanding, Sir tristram would not refuse the message for no
danger nor peril that might fall for the pleasure of his uncle, but to go he made him ready in
the most goodliest wise that might be devised. So Sir Tristram departed and took the sea with
all his fellowship. And anon as he was in the broad sea, a tempest took him and his fellowship
and drove them back into the coast of England, and there they arrived fast by Camelot, and full
fain they were to take the land. And when they were landed Sir Tristram set up his pavilion upon
the land of Camelot, and there he let hang his shield upon the pavilion.
Then when Sir Tristram was in his rich pavilion, Gouvernail his man came and told him how King
Anguish of Ireland was come there, and how he was put in great distress; and there Gouvernail
told to Sir Tristram how King Anguish of Ireland was summoned and accused of murder.
"So God me help," said Sir Tristram, "these be the best tidings that ever came to me this
seven year, for now shall the King of Ireland have need of my help, for I dare say there is no
knight in this country that is not of King Arthur's court dare do no battle with Sir Blamor de
Ganis; and for to win the love of the King of Ireland, I shall take the battle upon me; and
therefore, Gouvernail, I charge thee to bring me to the king."
And so Gouvernai went unto King Anguish of Ireland, and saluted him fair. The king welcomed
him, and asked him what he would.
"Sir," said Gouvernail, "here is a knight near hand which desireth to speak with you; and he
bade me say that he would do you service."
"What knight is he?" said the king. "Sir," said he, "it is Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, that for
the good grace that ye showed unto him in your land, he will reward you in this country."
"Come on, good fellow ," said the king, "with me, and show me Sir Tristram."
So the king took a little hackney and a little company with him, until he came unto Sir
Tristram's pavilion. And when Sir Tristram saw King Anguish, he ran unto him, and would have
holden his stirrup.But anon the king leapt lightly from his horse, and either halsed [embraced]
other in their arms.
"My gracious lord," said Sir Tristram, " gramercy of your great goodness that ye showed to me
in your marches and lands.And at that time I promised you to do you service and ever it lay in
"Ah, worshipful knight," said the king unto Sir Tristram, "now have I great need of you; for
never had I so great need of no knight's help."
"How so, my good lord?" said Sir Tristram.
"I shall tell you," said King Anguish; "I am summoned and appealed from my country for the
death of a knight that was kin unto the good knight Sir Launcelot, wherefore Sir Blamor de
Ganis, brother to Sir Bleoberis, hath appealed me to fight with him, other [or else] to find a
knight in my stead. And well I wot," said the king, "these that are come of King Ban's blood, as
Sir Launcelot and these other, are passing good knights, and hard men for to win in battle as
any that I know now living."
"Oh, gentle knight," said la Belle Isolde,
"full woe am I of thy departing
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "for the good lordship ye showed me in Ireland, and for my lady your
daughter's sake, la Belle Isolde, I will take the battle for you upon this condition that ye
shall grant me two things: that one is, that ye shall swear to me that ye are in the right, that
ye were never consenting to the knight's death; sir, then," said Sir Tristram, "when that I have
done this battle, if God give me grace that I speed, that ye shall give me a reward, what thing
reasonable that I will ask of you."
"Truly," said the king, "ye shall have whatsoever ye will ask."
"I tis well said," said Sir Tristram.
Then were the lists made ready, and Sir Tristram and Sir Blamor de Ganis, in the presence of
the kings, judges, and knights, feutered [laid in rest] their spears and came together as it had
been thunder, and there Sir Tristram through great might smote down Sir Blamor and his horse to
the earth. Then anon Sir Blamor avoided' his horse, and pulled out his sword and threw his
shield afore him, and bade Sir Tristram alight; "for though an horse hath failed me, I trust the
earth will not fail me."
And then Sir Tristram alighted and dressed him unto battle, and there they lashed together
strongly as racing and tracing, foining and dashing many sad strokes, that the kings and knights
had great wonder that they might stand, for ever they fought like two wild men, so that there
were never knights seen fight more fiercely than they did; for Sir Blamor was so hasty that he
would have no rest, that all men wondered that they had breath to stand on their feet; all the
place was bloody that they fought in. And at the last Sir Ttistram smote Sir Blamor such a
buffet upon the helm that he fell down upon his side, and Sir Tristram stood and beheld him.
Then when Sir Blamor might speak, he said thus:-- "Sir Ttistram de Lyonesse, I require thee,
as thou art a noble knight, and the best knight that ever I found, that thou wilt slay me out
of hand [straightway], for I had liever die with worship than live with shame, and needs, Sir
Tristram, thou must slay me, or else thou shalt never win the field, for I will never say the
loth word [of surrender]; and therefore, if thou dare slay me, slay me, I require thee."
And when Sir Ttistram heard him say so knightly, he wist not what to do with him. And then Sir
Ttistram started aback and went to the kings which were judges; and there he kneeled down before
them, and besought them for their worship, and for King Arthur and Sir Launcelot's sake, that
they would take this matter in their hands :
"For, fair lords," said Sir Tristram, "it were shame and pity that this noble knight that
yonder lieth should be slain, for ye may well hear that shamed he will not be, and I pray to God
that he never be slain nor shamed for me. And as for the king for whom I do this battle, I shall
require him, as l am his true champion and true knight in this field, that he will have mercy
upon this good knight."
"So God me help," said King Anguish to Sir Tristram, "I will be ruled for your sake as ye will
have me. For I know you for my true knight, and therefore I will heartily pray the kings that be
here as judges for to take it into their hands."
And then the kings which were judges called Sir Bleoberis unto them and demanded his advice.
"My lord," said Sir Bleoberis, "though that my brother be beaten and both the worse through
might of arms, I dale well say though Sir Tristram hath beaten his body he hath not beaten his
heart; I thank God he is not shamed this day. And rather than he should be shamed, I require
you," said Sir Bleoberis, "let Sir Tristram slay him out of hand [ immediately]."
"It shall not be so," said the kings, "for his adverse party, both the king and the champion,
hath pity of Sir Blamor's knighthood."
"My lords," said Sir Bleoberis, "I will right well as ye will."
Then the kings called to them the King of Ireland, and found him good and treatable [willing
to agree]. And then by all their advices Sir Tristram and Sir Bleoberis took up Sir Blamor. And
the two brethren were accorded with King Anguish; and kissed each other and were made friends
for ever. And then Sir Blamor and Sir Tristram kissed each other, and then the two brethren made
their oaths that they would never fight with Sir Tristram. And Sir Tristram made the same oath.
And for that gentle battle all the blood of Sir Launcelot loved Sir Tristram for ever more. Then
King Anguish and Sir Ttistram took their leave and sailed into Ireland with great joy and
nobleness. So when they were in Ireland, the king let make it be known throughout all the land
how and in what manner Sir' Ttistram had done for him. And then the queen and all the estates
that were there made as much of him as ever they might make; but the joy that la Belle Isolde
made of Sir Tristram, that might no tongue tell, for of men living she loved him most.
Then upon a day King Anguish asked Sir Tristram why he asked not his boon, for whatsoever he
had promised him he should have it without fail.
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "now is it time, this is all that I will desire, that ye will give
me la Belle Isolde, your daughter, not for myself, but for mine uncle King Mark, that shall have
her to wife, for so have I promised him."
" Alas," said the king, "I had liever than all the land that I have ye would wed her yourself."
"Sir, and I did, then were I shamed for ever in this world, and false of my promise.
Therefore," said Sir Tristram, "I pray you hold your promise that ye promised me, for this is my
desire, that ye will give me la Belle Isolde to go with me into Cornwall, for to be wedded to
King Mark mine uncle." " As for that," said King Anguish, "ye shall have her with you, to do
with her what it please you, that is for to say if that ye list to wed her yourself, that is to
me lievest; and if ye will give her unto King Mark your uncle, that is in your choice."
So to make a short conclusion, la Belle Isolde was made ready to go with Sir Tristram, and
dame Bragwaine went with her for her chief gentlewoman, with many other.
And anon they were richly wedded with great nobleness. But ever Sir Tristram and la Belle
Isolde loved ever together. Then was there great jousts and great tourneying, and many lords and
ladies were at that feast, and Sir Tristram was most praised of all other.
[Then, as time passed by, Sir Tristram grieved sorely in his heart that la Belle Isolde was
wedded to King Mark, till that he became as a wood man, and mounted his horse and rode forth
into the forest away from Tintagil. So Sir Palamides sent a damsel to inquire after Sir
And she went to the lady of [a certain] castle, and told her of the misadventure of Sir
Tristram. "Alas," said the lady of that castle, "where is my lord Sir Tristram?"
"Right here by your castle," said the damsel.
"In good time," said the lady, "is he so nigh me: he shall have meat and drink of the best,
and a harp I have of his whereupon he taught me,-for of goodly harping he beareth the prize in
So this lady and the damsel brought him meat and drink, but he eat little thereof. Then upon a
night he put his horse from him, and then he unlaced his armor, and then Sir Tristram would go
into the wilderness, and burst down the trees and boughs; and otherwhile, when he found the harp
that the lady sent him, then would he harp and play thereupon and weep together.And sometime
when Sir Tristram was in the wood, that the lady wist not where he was, then would she sit her
down and play upon that harp; then would Sir Tristram come to that harp and hearken thereto, and
sometime he would harp himself. Thus he there endured a quarter of a year. Then at the last he
ran his way, and she wist not where he was become. And then was he naked, and waxed lean and
poor of flesh, and so he fell into the fellowship of herdmen and shepherds, and daily they would
give him of their meat and drink. And when he did any shrewd deed they would beat him with rods,
and so they clipped him with shears and made him like a fool.
And upon a day Sir Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, came into Cornwall, with two squires with him,
and as they rode through the forest they came by a fair well where Sir Tristram was wont to be,
and the weather was hot, and they alighted to drink of that well, and in the meanwhile their
horses brake loose. Right so Sir Tristram came unto them, and first he soused Sir Dagonet in
that well, and after his squires, and thereat laughed the shepherds, and forthwithal he ran
after their horses, and brought them again one by one, and right so, wet as they were, he made
them leap up and ride their ways. Thus Sir Tristram endured here an half year naked, and would
never come in town nor village.
And there was a giant in that country that hight Tauleas, and for fear of Sir Tristram more
than seven years he durst not much go out at large, but for the most part he kept him in a sure
castle of his own. And so this Sir Tauleas heard tell that Sir Ttistram was dead by the noise of
the court of King Mark, and then Sir Tauleas went daily at large. And so it happened upon a day
he came to the herdmen wandering and lingering, and there he set him down to rest among them.
The meanwhile there came a knight of Cornwall that led a lady with him, and his name was Sir
Dinant. And when the giant saw him, he went from the herdmen and hid him under a tree. And so
the knight came to the well, and there he alighted to rest him. And as soon as he was from his
horse, the giant Sir Tauleas came between the knight and his horse, and leaped upon him. So
forthwith he rode unto Sir Dinant, and took him by the collar, and drew him before him on his
horse, and there would have stricken off his head. Then the herdmen said unto Sir Tristram,
"Help yonder knight."
"Help ye him," said Sir Tristram. "'we dare not," said the herdmen. Then Sir Ttistram was ware
of the sword of the knight where it lay, and thither he ran and took up the sword, and smote off
Sir Tauleas' head, and so went his way to the herdmen again.
Then the knight took up the giant's head, and bare it with him unto King Mark, and told him
what adventure betook him in the forest, and how a naked man rescued him from the grimly giant
"Where had ye this adventure?" said King Mark. "Forsooth," said Sir Dinant, "at the fair
fountain in your forest, where many adventurous knights meet, and there is the mad man."
"Well," said King Mark, "I will see that mad man." So within a day or two King Mark commanded
his knights and his hunters that they should be ready on the morrow for to hunt. And on the
morrow he went unto the forest. And when the king came to the well, he found there lying by
that well a fair naked man, and a sword by him. Then the king blew and screked [called
shrilly] and therewith his knights came to him. And then the king commanded his knights to
take that naked man with fairness, "and bring him to my castle." So they did softly and fair,
and cast mantles upon Sir Tristram, and so led him unto Tintagil; and there they bathed him
and washed him, and gave him hot suppings, till they had brought him well to his remembrance.
But all this while there was no creature that knew Sir Tristram, nor what man he was. So it
fell upon a day that the queen la Belle Isolde heard of such a man that ran naked in the
forest, and how the king had brought him home to the court. Then la Belle Isolde called unto
her dame Bragwaine, and said, "Come on with me, for we will go see this man that my lord
brought from the forest the last day ."
So they passed forth, and asked where was the sick man. And then a squire told the queen
that he was in the garden taking his rest, and reposing him against the sun. So when the queen
looked upon Sir Tristram she was not remembered of [did not remember] him. But ever she said
unto dame Bragwaine, "Me seemeth I should have seen him heretofore in many places."
But as soon as Sir Tristram saw her he knew her well enough, and then he turned away his
visage and wept. Then the queen had always a little brachet with her, that Sir Tristram gave
her the first time that ever she came into Cornwall, and never would that brachet depart from
her, but if Sir Tristram was nigh there as was la Belle Isolde; and this brachet was sent from
the king's daughter of France unto Sir Tristrarn for great love. And anon as this little brachet
felt a savor of Sir Tristram, she leaped upon him, and licked his learis [cheeks] and his ears,
and then she whined and quested, and she smelled at his feet and at his hands, and on all parts
of his body that she might come to.
"Ah, my lady " , said dame Bragwaine unto la Belle Isolde, "alas, alas !" said she, "I see it
is mine own lord Sir Tristram."
And thereupon Isolde fell down in a sowne [swoon,] , and so lay a great while; and when she
might speak, she said: "My lord Sir Tristram, blessed be God ye have your life, and now l am sure
ye shall be discovered by this little brachet, for she will never leave you; and also l am sure
that as soon as my lord King Mark shall know you, he will banish you out of the country of
Cornwall, or else he will destroy you. For God's sake, mine own lord, grant King Mark his will,
and then draw you unto the court of King Arthur, for there are ye beloved."
Then la Belle Isolde departed, but the brachet would not from him. And therewith came King
Mark, and the brachet set upon him, and bayed at them all. And therewith Sir Andret spake and
said: " Sir, this is Sir Tristram, I see by the brachet."
"Nay," said the king, " I cannot suppose that it is he."
So the king asked him upon his faith what he was, and what was his name.
"So God help," said he, "my name is Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and now ye may do with me what
And so, by the advice of them all, Sir Tristram was banished out of the country of Cornwall
for ten year, and thereupon he took his oath. And then were many barons brought him into his
ship. And when Sir Tristram was in the ship, he said thus: "Greet well King Mark and all mine
enemies, and tell them I will come again when I may. And well I am rewarded for the fighting
with Sir Marhaus, and delivering all the country from servage [subjection]. And well I am
rewarded for the fetching and costs of la Belle Isolde out of Ireland, and the danger that I was
in first and last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to bring again Queen Isolde from
the castle. And well I am rewarded when I fought with Sir Bleoberis for Sir Segwarides' wife.
And well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Blamor de Ganis for King Anguish, father unto la
Belle Isolde. And well am I rewarded when I smote down the good knight Sir Lamorake de Galis at
King Mark's request. And well am I rewarded when I fought with the king with the hundred
knights, and the King of Northgalis, and both these would have put his land in servage, and by
me they were put to a rebuke. And well am I rewarded for the slaying of Tauleas the mighty
giant, and many moe deeds have I done for him, and now have I my guerdon. And tell the King Mark
that many noble knights of the Round Table have spared the barons of this country for my sake.
Also I am not well rewarded when I fought with the good knight Sir Palamides, and rescued Queen
Isolde from him. And at that time King Mark said before all his barons I should have been better
rewarded." And therewith he took the sea.
[In those days was holden a great tournament at the Castle of Maidens, and thereto came Sir
Tristram, for King Arthur was there, with his knights, and a goodly press of other kings, lords
and ladies. And Sir Tristram let make him a black shield, and therewith was he ever to be known
in the midst of the knights. And Sir Tristram overthrew eleven knights of Sir Launcelot's kin in
one day, and jousted with King Arthur and with Sir Launcelot in such wise that all men wondered.
And at the last Sir Tristram was sore wounded, and rode away into a forest. But Sir Launcelot
held away the stour [fight] like as a man enraged that took no heed to himself.] And because Sir
Launcelot was the last in the field the prize was given him. But Sir Launcelot would neither for
king, queen, nor knight have the prize; but when the cry was cried through the field, "Sir
Launcelot, Sir Launcelot, hath won the field this day!" Sir Launcelot let make another cry
contrary to that cry: "Sir Tristram hath won the field, for he began first, and last he hath
endured, and so hath he done the first day, the second, and the third day." [And so King Arthur
and Sir Launcelot and more knights rode forth for to find Sir Tristram. And after many
adventures it happened that Sir Launcelot passed by the tomb of Sir Lanceor (him that was slain
by Balm) and his lady Colombe. And by that same tomb came Sir Tristram: and neither knew the
other, but Sir Tristram weened it to have been Sir Palamides. Then they two fought, and each
wounded other wonderly sore, that the blood ran out upon the grass. And thus they fought the
space of four hours. And at the last either knew other. Then cried Sir Launcelot,] "Oh, what
adventure is befallen me
And therewith Sir Launcelot kneeled down and yielded him up his sword. And therewithal Sir
Tristram kneeled adown, and yielded him up his sword. And so either gave other the degree. And
then they both forthwithal went to the stone, and set them down upon it, and took off their
helms to cool them, and either kissed other an hundred times. And then anon after they took
their helms and rode to Camelot. And there they met with Sir Gawaine and with Sir Gaheris that
had made promise to Arthur never to come again to the court till they had brought Sir Tristram
Then King Arthur took Sir Tristram by the hand, and led him unto the Round Table. Then came
Queen Guenever, and many ladies with her, and all these ladies said, all with one voice,
"Welcome, Sir Tristram ;" "welcome," said the damsels; "welcome," said the knights;
"welcome," said King Arthur, "for one of the best knights and gentlest of the world, and
knight of the most worship; for of all manner of hunting thou bearest the prize, and of all
measures of blowing thou art the beginner, and of all the terms of hunting and hawking ye are
the beginner; of all instruments of music ye are the best. Therefore, gentle knight," said King
Arthur, "ye are right heartily welcome unto this court. And also I pray you," said King Arthur,
"grant me a boon."
"It shall be at your commandment," said Sir Tristram.
"Well," said King Arthur, "I will desire of you that ye will abide in my court."
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "thereto am I loth, for I have to do in many countries."
"Not so," said King Arthur, "ye have promised it me, ye may not say nay.
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "I will as ye will."
Then went King Arthur unto the sieges about the Round Table, and looked in every siege which
were void that lacked knights. And the king then saw in the siege of Marhaus letters that
"This is the siege of the noblest knight Sir Tristram."
And then King Arthur made Sir Tristram knight of the Round Table, with great nobleness and
great feast as might be thought.
Then King Mark had great despite of the renown of Sir Tristram. So he sent on his part men
to espy what deeds he did. And when the messengers were come home, they told the truth as they
heard, that he passed all other knights but if it were the noble knight Sir Launcelot. Then in
great despite he took with him two good knights and two squires, and disguised himself, and took
his way into England, to the intent to slay him.
[And it happened that Sir Dinadan met King Mark, and began to mock him for a Cornish knight
of no worship. And] right as they stood thus talking together, they saw come riding to them over
a plain six knights of the court of King Arthur, well armed at all points. And there by their
shields Sir Dinadan knew them well. The first was the good knight Sir Uwaine, the son of King
Uriens; the second was the noble knight Sir Brandiles; the third was Ozana le Cure Hardy; the
fourth was Uwaine les Adventurous; the fifth was Sir Agravaine; the sixth Sir Mordred, brother
to Sir Gawaine. When Sir Dinadan had seen these six knights, he thought in himself he would
bring King Mark by some wile to joust with one of them.
"Lo," said Sir Dinadan, "yonder are knights errant that will joust with us."
"God forbid," said King Mark, "for they be six, and we but two."
"As for that," said Sir Dinadan, "let us not spare, for I will assay the foremost."
And therewith he made him ready. When King Mark saw him do so, as fast as Sir Dinadan rode
toward them King Mark rode from them with all his menial company. So when Sir Dinadan saw King
Mark was gone, he set the spear out of the rest, and threw his shield upon his back, and came
riding to the fellowship of the Table Round. And anon Sir Uwaine knew Sir Dinadan, and welcomed
him, and so did all his fellowship.
"What knight is that," said Sir Brandiles, "that so suddenly departed from you, and rode
over yonder field?"
"Sir," said he, "it was a knight of Cornwall, and the most horrible coward that ever
"What is his name?" said all the knights.
"I wot not," said Sir Dinadan.
Said Sir Griflet, "Here have I brought Sir Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, that is the best
fellow and the merriest in the world."
[Then said Sir Mordred,] "Put my shield and my harness upon Sir Dagonet, and let him set
upon the Cornish knight."
"That shall be done," said Sir Dagonet, "by my faith."
Then anon was Dagonet armed in Mordred's harness and his shield, and he was set on a great
horse and a spear in his hand.
"Now," said Dagonet, "show me the knight, and I trow I shall bear him down."
So all these knights rode to a woodside, and abode till King Mark came by the way. Then they
put forth Sir Dagonet, and he came on all the while his horse might run, straight upon King
Mark. And when he came nigh King Mark, he cried as he were wood, and said, "Keep thee, knight of
Cornwall, for I will slay thee."
Anon as King Mark beheld his shield he said to himself, "Yonder is Sir Launcelot: alas, now
am I destroyed."
And therewithal he made his horse to run as fast as it might through thick and thin. And
ever Sir Dagonet followed King Mark crying and rating him as a wood man through a great forest.
When Sir Uwaine and Sir Brandues saw Dagonet so chase King Mark, they laughed all as they were
wood. And then they took their horses and rode after to see how Sir Dagonet sped. For they would
not for no good that Sir Dagonet were hurt, for King Arthur loved him passing well, and made him
knight with his own hands.
When Sir Uwaine and Sir Brandiles with his fellows came to the court of King Arthur, they
told the king, Sir Launcelot, and Sir Tristram how Sir Dagonet the fool chased King Mark through
the forest. There was great laughing and jesting at King Mark and at Sir Dagonet.
King Arthur on a day said unto King Mark,
"Sir, I pray you to give me a gift that I shall ask you."
"Sir," said King Mark, "I will give you whatsoever ye desire, and it be in my power.
"Sir, gramercy," said King Arthur, "this I will ask you, that ye be a good lord unto Sir
Tristram, for he is a man of great honor; and that ye will take him with you into Cornwall, and
let him see his friends, and there cherish him for my sake."
"Sir," said King Mark, "I promise you by the faith of my body, and by the faith I owe to God
and to you, I shall worship him for your sake in all that I can or may."
"Sir," said Arthur, "and I will forgive you all the evil will that ever I owed you, and so
be that ye swear that upon a book afore me."
"With a good will," said King Mark.
And so he there sware upon a book afore him and all his knights, and therewith King Mark and
Sir Tristram took either other by the hands hard knit together. But for all this King Mark
thought falsely, as it proved after, for he put Sir Tristram in prison, and cowardly would have
slain him. Then soon after King Mark took his leave to ride into Cornwall, and Sir Tristram made
him ready to ride with him, wherefore the most part of the Round Table were wroth and heavy; and
in especial Sir Launcelot, and Sir Lamorak, and Sir Dinadan were wroth out of measure. For well
they wist King Mark would slay or destroy Sir Tristram.
Now turn we unto Sir Tristram, that, as he rode on hunting, he met with Sir Dinadan, that
was come into that country for to seek Sir Tristram. Then Sir Dinadan told Sir Tristram his
name, but Sir Tristram would not tell his name; wherefor Sir Dinadan was wroth.
"For such a foolish knight as ye are," said Sir Dinadan, "I saw but late to-day lying by a
well, and he fared as he had slept, and there he lay like a fool grinning and would not speak,
and his shield lay by him, and his horse stood by him, and well I wot he was a lover."
"Ah, fair sir," said Sir Tristram, "are ye not a lover?"
"Marry, fle upon that craft," said Sir Dinadan.
"That is evil said," quoth Sir Tristram, "for a knight may never be of prowess, but if he be
"It is well said," quoth Sir Dinadan; "now tell me your name, sith ye be a lover, or else I
shall do battle with you."
"As for that," said Sir Tristram, "it is no reason to fight with me but I tell you my name;
as for that, my name shall ye not know as at this time."
"Fie for shame," said Sir Dinadan, "art thou a knight and darest not tell me thy name?
therefore I will fight with thee."
"As for that," said Sir Tristram, "I will be advised, for I will not fight but if me list;
and if I do battle," said Sir Tristram, "ye are not able for to withstand me."
"Fie on thee, coward," said Sir Dinadan.
And thus as they still hoved, they saw a knight come riding against them.
"Lo," said Sir Tristram, "see where cometh a knight riding that will joust with you.
Anon, as Sir Dinadan beheld him, he said, "It is the same doting knight that I saw lie by
the well neither sleeping nor waking."
"Well," said Sir Tristram, "I know that knight full well with the covered shield of azure;
he is the king's son of Northumberland, his name is Epinegris, and he is as great a lover as I
know, and he loveth the king's daughter of Wales, a full fair lady. And now I suppose," said Sir
Tristram, "and ye require him he will joust with you, and then shall ye prove whether a lover be
a better knight or ye that will not love no lady." "Well," said Sir Dinadan, "now shalt thou see
what I shall do."
Therewithal Sir Dinadan spake on high and said, "Sir knight, make thee ready to joust with
me, for it is the custom of errant knights one to joust with the other."
"Sir," said Epinegris, "is it the rule of you errant knights for to make a knight to joust
will he or nill?"
"As for that," said Dinadan, "make thee ready, for here is for me."
And therewithal they spurred their horses, and met together so hard that Epinegris smote
down Sir Dinadan. Then Sir Tristram rode to Sir Dinadan, and said, "How now? me seemeth the
lover hath right well sped."
"Fie upon thee, coward," said Sir Dinadan, "and if thou be any good knight, now revenge my
"Nay," said Sir Tristram, "I will not joust as at this time, but take your horse and let us
go from hence."
"God defend me," said Sir Dinadan, "from thy fellowship, for I never sped well sith I met
And so they departed.
"Well," said Sir Tristram, "peradventure I could tell you tidings of Sir Tristram."
"God defend me," said Sir Dinadan, "from thy fellowship, for Sir Tristram were much the
worse and he were in thy company.
And then they departed.
"Sir," said Sir Tristram, "yet it may happen that I shall meet with you in other places."
And so Sir Tristram rode unto Joyous Gard, and there heard in that town great noise and cry.
"What meaneth this noise?" said Sir Tristram.
"Sir," said they, "here is a knight of this castle which hath been long among us, and right
now he is slain with two knights, and for none other cause but that our knight said that Sir
Launcelot was a better knight than was Sir Gawaine."
"That was but a simple cause," said Sir Tristram, "to slay a good knight because he said
well by his master."
"That is but a little remedy unto us," said the men of the town; "for if Sir Launcelot had
been here, soon we should have been revenged upon those false knights."
When Sir Tristram heard them say so, incontinent he sent for his shield and for his spear,
and lightly within a little while he had overtaken them, and bade them turn and amend that they
"What amends wouldst thou have?" said that one knight.
And therewith they took their course, and either met other so hard, that Sir Tristram smote
down that knight over his horse's crupper. Then the other knight dressed him unto Sir Tristram,
and in the same wise as he served the first knight, so he served him. And then they gat them
upon their feet as well as they might, and dressed their shields and their swords to do their
battle unto the uttermost.
"Knights," said Sir Tristram, "ye shall tell me of whence ye are and what be your names.
"Wit thou well, sir knight," said they, "we fear us not to tell thee our names, for my name
is Sir Agravaine, and my name is Gaheris, brethren unto the good knight Sir Gawaine, and we be
nephews unto King Arthur."
"Well," said Sir Tristram, "for King Arthur's sake I shall let you pass as at this time. But
it is shame," said Sir Tristram, "that Sir Gawaine and ye that be come of so great a blood, that
ye four brethren are so named as ye be. For ye be called the greatest destroyers and murderers
of good knights that be now in this realm; for it is but as I heard say, that Sir Gawaine and ye
slew among you a better knight than ever ye were, that was the noble knight Sir Lamorak de
Galis; and it had pleased God," said Sir Tristram, "I would I had been by Sir Lamorak at his
"Then shouldest thou have gone the same way," said Sir Gaheris.
"Fair knight," said Sir Tristram, "there must have been many more knights than ye are.
And therewithal Sir Tristram departed from them towards Joyous Gard. And when he was
departed they took their horses, and the one said to the other, "We will overtake him and be
revenged upon him in the despite of Sir Lamorak."
So when they had overtaken Sir Tristram, Sir Agravaine bade him, "Turn, traitor knight."
"That is evil said," said Sir Tristram; and therewith he pulled out his sword, and smote Sir
Agravaine such a buffet upon the helm that he tumbled down off his horse in a swoon, and he had
a grievous wound. And then he turned to Gaheris, and Sir Tristram smote his sword and his helm
together with such a might that Gaheris fell out of his saddle; and so Sir Tristram rode unto
Joyous Gard, and there he alighted and unarmed him. So Sir Tristram told la Belle Isolde of all
his adventure as ye have heard tofore. And when she heard him tell of Sir Dinadan, "Sir," she
said, "is not that he that made the song by King Mark?"
"That same is he," said Sir Tristram, "for he is the best joker and jester, and a noble
knight of his hands, and the best fellow that I know, and all good knights love his fellowship."
"Alas, sir," said she, "why brought ye not him with you?"
"Have ye no care," said Sir Tristram, "for he rideth to seek me in this country, and
therefore he will not away till he have met with me.
And there Sir Tristram told la Belle Isolde how Sir Dmadan held against all lovers. Right so
there came in a varlet and told Sir Tristram how there was come an errant knight into the town
with such colors upon his shield.
"That is Sir Dinadan," said Sir Tristram. "Wit ye what ye shall do?" said Sir Tristram;
"send ye for him, my lady Isolde, and I will not be seen, and ye shall hear the merriest knight
that ever ye spake withal, and the maddest talker, and I pray you heartily that ye make him good
Then anon la Belle Isolde sent into the town, and prayed Sir Dinadan that he would come into
the castle and rest him there with a lady.
"With a good will," said Sir Dinadan; and so he mounted upon his horse, and rode into the
castle; and there he alighted, and was unarmed and brought into the castle. Anon Ia Belle Isolde
came unto him, and either saluted other. Then she asked him of whence he was.
"Madam," said Sir Dinadan, "I am of King Arthur's court, and knight of the Round Table, and
my name is Sir Dinadan."
"What do ye in this country?" said la Belle Isolde.
"Madam," said he, "I seek the noble knight Sir Tristram, for it was told me that he was in
"It may well be," said la Belle Isolde, "but I am not ware of him."
"Madam," said Sir Dinadan, "I marvel of Sir Tristram and moe other lovers, what aileth them
to be so mad and so assotted upon women.
"Why," said la Belle Isolde, "are ye a knight and be ye no lover? it is a shame unto you;
wherefore ye may not be called a good knight, but if that ye make a quarrel for a lady."
"God defend me," said Sir Dinadan, "for the joy of love is too short, and the sorrow and
what cometh thereof endureth over long."
"Ah!" said Ia Belle Isolde, "say ye not so, for here fast by was the good knight Sir
Bleoberis, which fought with three knights at once for a damsel's sake, and he won her before
the King of Northumberland."
"It was so," said Sir Dinadan, "for I know him well for a good knight and a noble, and come
of noble blood; for all be noble knights of whom he is come of, that is Sir Launcelot du Lake."
"Now I pray you," said la Belle Isolde, "tell me will ye fight for my love with three
knights that did me great wrong? and insomuch as ye be a knight of King Arthur's court, I
require you to do battle for me.
Then Sir Dinadan said, "I shall say unto you, ye are as fair a lady as ever I saw any, and
much fairer than is my lady Queen Guenever; but wit ye well at one word that I will not fight
for you with three knights, Jesu defend me."
Then Isolde laughed, and had good game at him. So he had all the cheer that she might make
him; and there he lay all that night. And on the morn early Sir Tristram armed him, and la Belle
Isolde gave him a good helm; and then he promised her that he would meet with Sir Dinadan, and
they two would ride together unto Lonazep, where the tournament should be," and there shall I
make ready for you, where ye shall see the tournament." Then departed Sir Tristram with two
squires that bare his shield and his spears that were great and long.
Then after that, Sir Dinadan departed and rode his way a great pace until he had overtaken
Sir Tristram. And when Sir Dinadan had overtaken him, he knew him anon, and he hated the
fellowship of him above all other knights.
"Ah," said Sir Dinadan, "art thou that coward knight that I met with yesterday, keep thee,
for thou shalt joust with me, maugre thy head."
"Well," said Sir Tristram, "and I am loth to joust."
And so they let their horses run, and Sir Tristram missed of him a purpose, and Sir Dinadan
brake a spear upon Sir Tristram; and therewith Sir Dinadan dressed himself to draw out his
"Not so," said Sir Tristram, "why are ye so wroth? I will not fight."
"Fie on thee, coward," said Sir Dinadan, "thou shamest all knights."
"As for that," said Sir Tristram, "I care not, for I will wait upon you and be under your
protection, for because ye are so good a knight ye may save me."
"The devil deliver me of thee," said Sir Dinadan, "for thou art as goodly a man of arms and
of thy person as ever I saw, and the most coward that ever I saw. What wilt thou do with those
great spears that thou earnest with thee ?"
"I shall give them," said Sir Tristram, "to some good knight when I come to the tournament;
and if I see you do best I shall give them to you.
So thus as they rode talking they saw where came an errant knight afore them dressing him
for to joust.
"Lo," said Sir Tristram, "yonder is one will joust; now dress thee to him."
"Ah! shame betide thee !" said Sir Dinadan.
"Nay, not so," said Sir Tristram, "for that knight seemeth a shrew."
"Then shall I," said Sir Dinadan.
And so they dressed their shields and their spears, and they met together so hard that the
other knight smote down Sir Dinadan from his horse.
"Lo," said Sir Tristram, "it had been better that ye had left."
"Fie on thee, coward !" said Sir Dinadan.
Then Sir Dinadan started up, and gat his sword in his hand, and proffered to do battle on
"Whether in love or in wrath ?" said the other knight.
"Let us do battle in love," said Sir Dinadan.
"What is your name ?" said that knight, "I pray you tell me."
"Wit ye well my name is Sir Dinadan."
"Ah, Sir Dinadan," said that knight, "and my name is Sir Gareth, the youngest brother unto
Then either made of other great joy, for this Sir Gareth was the best knight of all those
brethren, and he proved a full good knight. Then they took their horses, and there they spake of
Sir Tristram, how he was such a coward. And every word Sir Tristram heard, and laughed them to
scorn. Then were they ware where there came a knight before them well horsed and well armed.
"Fair knights," said Sir Tristram, "look between you who shall joust with yonder knight, for
I warn you I will not have to do with him." "Then shall I," said Sir Gareth. And so they
encountered together, and there that knight smote down Sir Gareth over his horse's crupper.
"How now?" said Sir Tristram unto Sir Dinadan, "dress thee now, and revenge the good knight
"That shall I not," said Sir Dinadan, "for he hath stricken down a much bigger knight than I
"Ah !" said Sir Tristram, "now Sir Dinadan, I see and perceive full well that your heart
faileth you, therefore now shall ye see what I shall do."
And then Sir Tristram hurled unto that knight, and smote him quite from his horse. And when
Sir Dinadan saw that, he marvelled greatly, and then he deemed in himself that it was Sir
Tristram. Then this knight that was on foot pulled out his sword to do battle.
"What is your name ?" said Sir Tristram.
"Wit ye well," said the knight, "my name is Sir Palamides."
"What knight hate ye most ?" said Sir Tristram.
"Sir knight," said he, "I hate Sir Tristram to the death, for and I may meet with him the
one of us shall die."
"Ye say well," said Sir Tristram, "and wit ye well that I am Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and
now do your worst."
When Sir Palamides heard him say so he was astonished, and then he said thus, "I pray you,
Sir Tristram, forgive me all mine evil will, and if I live I shall do you service above all
other knights that be living, and there as I have owed you evil will me sore repenteth. I wot
not what aileth me, for me seemeth that ye are a good knight, and none other knight that named
himself a good knight should not hate you; therefore I require you, Sir Tristram, take no
displeasure at mine unkind words."
"Sir Palamides," said Sir Tristram, "ye say well, and well I wot ye are a good knight, for I
have seen you proved, and many great enterprises have ye taken upon you, and well achieved them;
therefore," said Sir Tristram, "and ye have any evil will to me, now may ye right it, for I am
ready at your hand."
"Not so, my lord Sir Tristram; I will do you knightly service in all things as ye will
"And right so I will take you," said Sir Tristram.
And so they rode forth on their ways, talking of many things.
"Oh my lord Sir Tristram," said Dinadan, "foul have ye mocked me, for truly I came into this
country for your sake, and by the advice of my lord Sir Launcelot, and yet would not Sir
Launcelot tell me the certainty of you, where I should find you."
"Truly," said Sir Tristram, "Sir Launcelot wist well where I was, for I abode within his own
Thus they rode until they were ware of the Castle of Lonazep, and then were they ware of
four hundred tents and pavilions, and marvellous great ordinance. "So God me help," said Sir
Tristram, "yonder I see the greatest ordinance that ever I saw."
"Sir," said Sir Palamides, "me seemeth there was as great an ordinance at the Castle of
Maidens upon the rock, where ye won the prize, for I saw myself where ye forj ousted thirty
"Sir," said Sir Dinadan, "and in Surluse, at that tournament that Sir Galahalt of the long
isles made, the which lasted seven days, was as great a gathering as is here, for there were
"Who was the best?" said Sir Tristram.
"Sir, it was Sir Launcelot du Lake, and the noble knight Sir Lamorak de Galis; Sir Launcelot
won the degree."
"I doubt not," said Sir Tristram, "but he won the degree, so that he had not been
overrmatched with many knights. And of the death of Sir Lamorak," said Sir Tristram, "it was
over great pity, for I dare say that he was the cleanest mighted man, and the best winded of his
age that was on live, for I knew him that he was the biggest knight that ever I met withal, but
if it were Sir Launcelot. Alas !" said Sir Tristram, "full woe is me of his death, and, if they
were all the cousins of my lord King Arthur that slew him, they should die for it, and all those
that were consenting to his death. And for such things," said Sir Tristram, "I fear to draw unto
the court of my lord King Arthur. I will that ye wit it," said Sir Tristrani to Sir Gareth.
"Sir, I blame you not," said Sir Gareth, "for well I understand the vengeance of my brethren
Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred; but for me, said Gareth, "I meddle
not of their matters, therefore there is none of them that loveth me, and, for I understand they
be murderers of good knights, I left their company, and would God I had been by," said Sir
Gareth, "when the noble knight Sir Lamorak was slain."
"Now as Jesu be my help," said Sir Tristram, "it is well said of you, for I had liever than
all the gold between this and Rome I had been there."
"Truly," said Sir Palamides, "I would I had been there, and yet I had never the degree at no
jousts there as he was, but he put me to the worse on foot or on horseback, and that day that he
was slain he did the most deeds of arms that ever I saw knight do all the days of my life. And
when the degree was given him by my lord King Arthur, Sir Gawaine and his three brethren, Sir
Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred, set upon Sir Lamorak in a privy place, and there they
slew his horse, and so they fought with him on foot more than three hours, both before him and
behind him. And Sir Mordred gave him his death wound behind him at his back, and all to-hewed
him; for one of his squires told me that saw it."
"Fie upon treason," said Sir Tristram, "for it killeth my heart to hear this tale."
"So doth it mine," said Sir Gareth; "brethren as they be mine, I shall never love them nor
draw me to their fellowship for that deed."
"Now speak we of other deeds," said Sir Palamides, "and let him be, for his life ye may not
"That is the more pity," said Sir Dinadan, "for Sir Gawaine and his brethren (except you,
Sir Gareth) hate all the good knights of the Round Table for the most part; for well I wot, and
they might privily, they hate my lord Sir Launcelot and all his kin, and great privy despite
they have at him, and that is my lord Sir Launcelot well ware of, and that causeth him to have
the good knights of his kindred about him."
"Sir," said Palamides, "let us leave off this matter, and let us see how we shall do at this
tournament. By mine advice," said Palamides, "let us four hold together against all that will
"Not by my counsel," said Sir Tristram, "for I see by their pavilions there will be four
hundred knights, and doubt ye not," said Sir Tristram, "but there will be many good knights, and
be a man never so valiant nor so big yet he may be over-matched. And so I have seen knights done
many times: and when they wend best to have won worship they lost it. For manhood is not worth
but if it be meddled [mingled] with wisdom: and as for me," said Sir Tristram, "it may happen I
shall keep mine own head as well as another."
So thus they rode until that they came to Humber bank, where they heard a cry and a doleful
noise. Then were they ware in the wind where came a rich vessel covered over with red silk, and
the vessel landed fast by them. Therewith Sir Tristram alighted and his knights. And so Sir
Tristram went afore and entered into that vessel. And when he came within, he saw a fair bed
richly covered, and thereupon lay a dead seemly knight, all armed, save the head was all
be-bled, with deadly wounds upon him: the which seemed to be a passing good knight.
"How may this be," said Sir Tristram, "that this knight is thus slain ?" Then Sir Tristram
was ware of a letter in the dead knight's hand. "Master mariners," said Sir Tristram, "what
meaneth that letter ?" "Sir," said they, "in that letter ye shall hear and know how he was
slain, and for what cause, and what was his name; but, sir," said the mariners, "wit ye well
that no man shall take that letter and read it but if he be a good knight, and that he will
faithfully promise to revenge his death, else shall there no knight see that letter open."
"Wit ye well," said Sir Tristram, "that some of us may revenge his death as well as others;
and if it be as ye say it shall be revenged." And therewith Sir Tristram took the letter out of
the knight's hand, and it said thus: "Hermance, king and lord of the Red City, I send to all
knights errant recommendation, and unto you, noble knights of King Arthur's court, I beseech
them all among them to find one knight that will fight for my sake with two brethren, that I
brought up of nought, and feloniously and traitorously they have slain me, wherefore I beseech
one good knight to revenge my death; and he that revengeth my death I will that he have my Red
City and all my castles."
"Sir," said the mariners, "wit ye well this king and knight that here lieth was a full
worshipful man, and of full great prowess, and full well he loved all manner of knights errant."
"Truly," said Sir Tristram, "here is a piteous case, and full fain I would take this
enterprise upon me, but I have made such a promise that needs I must be at this great tournament
or else I am shamed. For well I wot for my sake in especial my lord Arthur let make this jousts
and tournament in this country; and well I wot that many worshipful people will be there at that
tournament for to see me. Therefore I fear me to take this enterprise upon me, that I shall not
come again betimes to this jousts."
"Sir," said Palamides, "I pray you give me this enterprise, and ye shall see me achieve it
worshipfully, or else I shall die in this quarrel."
"They fought with him on foot more than three hours,
both before him and behind him"
"Well," said Sir Tristram, "and this enterprise I give you, with this that ye be with me at
this tournament, that shall be as at this day seven night."
"Sir," said Palamides, "I promise you that I shall be with you by that day if I be unslain
Then departed Sir Tristram, Gareth, and Sir Dinadan, and left Sir Palamides in the vessel;
and so Sir Tristram beheld the mariners how they sailed along Humber. And when Sir Palamides was
out of their sight, they took their horses, and beheld about them. And then were they ware of a
knight that came riding against them unarmed, and nothing about him but a sword. And when this
knight came nigh them he saluted them, and they him again.
"Fair knights," said that knight, "I pray you insomuch as ye be knights errant, that ye will
come and see my castle, and take such as ye find there; I pray you heartily."
And so they rode with him into his castle; and there they were brought to the hall, that was
well apparelled, and so they were unarmed and set at a board. And when this knight saw Sir
Tristram, anon he knew him; and then this knight waxed pale and wroth at Sir Tristram. When Sir
Tristram saw his host make such cheer, he marvelled greatly, and said, "Sir mine host, what
cheer make ye?"
"Wit thou well," said he, "I fare much the worse for thee; for I know thee well, Sir
Tristram de Lyonesse, thou slewest my brother, and therefore I give thee summons that I will
slay thee and I may get thee at large."
"Sir knight," said Sir Tristram, "I am not advised that ever I slew any brother of yours;
and if ye say that I did it, I will make you amends unto my power.
"I will none of your amends," said the knight, "but keep thee from me."
So when he had dined, Sir Tristram asked his arms and departed; and so they rode forth on
their way. And within a little while Sir Dinadan saw where came a knight riding all armed and
well horsed without shield.
"Sir Tristram," said Sir Dinadan, "take heed to yourself, for I undertake that yonder cometh
your host that will have to do with you."
"Let him come," said Sir Tristram, "I shall abide him as well as I may."
Anon that knight when he came nigh Sir Tristram he cried to him, and bade him abide and keep
him well. So they hurled together, but Sir Tristram smote the other knight so sore that he bare
him to the ground. And that knight arose lightly, and took his horse again, and so rode fiercely
to Sir Tristram, and smote him twice full hard upon the helm. "Sir knight," said Sir Tristram,
"I pray you to leave off and smite me no more, for I would be loth to deal with you and I might
choose, for I have your meat and your drink within my body." For all that he would not leave;
and then Sir Tristram gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he tumbled upside down from his
horse, that the blood brast out at the ventails of his helm; and there he lay still likely to
have died. Then Sir Tristram said, "Me repenteth sore of this buffet that I smote so sore, for,
as I suppose, he is dead."
And so they departed and rode forth on their way. So they had not ridden but a while but
they saw coming against them two full likely knights, well armed and horsed, and goodly servants
about them. The one was called the king with the hundred knights, and that other was Sir
Segwarides, which were renowned two noble knights. So as they came either by other, the king
looked upon Sir Dinadan, which at that time had Sir Tristram's helm upon his shoulder, which
helm the king had seen before with the Queen of North-wales, and that helm the Queen of
Northwales had given unto la Belle Isolde, and the Queen la Belle Isolde gave it unto Sir
"Sir knight," said [the king], "where had ye that helm?"
"What would ye?" said Sir Dinadan.
"For I will have ado with thee," said the king, "for the love of her that owned that helm,
and therefore keep you.''
So they departed and came together with all the mights of their horses; and there the king
with the hundred knights smote Sir Dinadan, horse and all, to the earth; and then he commanded
his servant, "Go and take thou his helm off, and keep it."
So the varlet went to unbuckle his helm.
"What helm? What wilt thou do?" said Sir Tristram; "leave that helm."
"To what intent," said the king, "will ye, sir knight, meddle with that helm ?"
"Wit you well," said Sir Tristram, "that helm shall not depart from me, or it be dearer
"Then make you ready," said [the king] unto Sir Tristram.
So they hurtled together, and there Sir Tristram smote him down over his horse's tail. And
then the king arose lightly, and gat his horse lightly again, and then he struck fiercely at Sir
Tristram many great strokes. And then Sir Tristram gave [the king] such a buffet upon the helm
that he fell down over his horse, sore stunned.
"Lo," said Sir Dinadan, "that helm is unhappy to us twain, for I had a fall for it, and now,
sir king, have ye another fall."
Then Segwarides asked, "Who shall joust with me?"
"I pray thee," said Sir Gareth unto Dinadan, "let me have this jousts."
"Sir," said Dinadan, "I pray you take it as for me."
"That is no reason," said Tristram, "for this jousts should be yours."
"At a word," said Sir Dinadan, "I will not thereof."
Then Gareth dressed him to Sir Segwarides, and there Sir Segwarides smote Sir Gareth and his
horse to the earth.
"Now," said Sir Tristram to Dinadan, "joust with yonder knight."
"I will not thereof," said Dinadan.
"Then will I," said Sir Tristram.
And then Sir Tristram ran to him and gave him a fall, and so they left them on foot. And Sir
Tristram rode unto Joyous Gard, and there Sir Gareth would not of his courtesy have gone into
the castle, but Sir Tristram would not suffer him to depart; and so they alighted, and unarmed
them, and had there great cheer. But when Sir Dinadan came afore la Belle Isolde, he cursed the
time that ever he bare the helm of Sir Tristram, and there he told her how Sir Tristram had
mocked him. Then was there good laughing and sport at Sir Dinadan, that they wist not what to do
to keep them from laughing.
Now will we leave them merry within Joyous Gard, and speak we of Sir Palamides. Then Sir
Palamides sailed even along Humber unto the coast of the sea, where was a fair castle, and at
that time it was early in the morning afore day. Then the mariners went unto Sir Palamides, that
was fast on sleep: "Sir knight," said the mariners, "ye must arise, for here is a castle into
the which ye must go."
"I assent me thereto," said Sir Palamides.
And therewithal he arrived; and then he blew his horn, the which the mariners had given him.
And when they that were within the castle heard that horn, they put forth many knights, and
there they stood upon the walls and said with one voice, "Welcome be ye to this castle." And
then it waxed clear day, and Sir Palamides entered into the castle. And within a while he was
served with many divers meats. Then Sir Palamides heard about him much weeping and great dole.
"What may this mean?" said Sir Palamides: "I love not to hear such a sorrow, and fain I would
know what it meaneth."
Then there came afore him one whose name was Sir Ebel, that said thus, "Wit ye well, sir
knight, this dole and sorrow is here made every day, and for this cause: we had a king that
hight Hermance, and he was King of the Red City, and this king that was lord was a noble knight,
large and liberal of his expense. And in the world he loved nothing so much as he did errant
knights of King Arthur's court, and all jousting, hunting, and all manner of knightly games; for
so kind a king and knight had never the rule of poor people as he was; and because of his
goodness and gentleness we bemoan him and ever shall. And all kings and estates may beware by
our lord, for he was destroyed in his own default, for had he cherished them of his blood he had
yet lived with great riches and rest; but all estates may beware of our king. But alas," said
Ebel, "that we shall give all other warning by his death."
"Tell me," said Palamides, "in what manner was your lord slain, and by whom?"
"Sir," said Sir Ebel, "our king brought up of children two men that now are perilous
knights, and these two knights our king had so in charity, that he loved no man nor trusted no
man of his blood, nor none other that was about him. And by these two knights our king was
governed, and so they ruled him peaceably, and his lands, and never would they suffer none of
his blood to have no rule with our king. And also he was so free and so gentle, and they so
false and deceivable, that they ruled him peaceably; and that espied the lords of our king's
blood, and departed from him unto their own livelihood. Then when these two traitors understood
that they had driven all the lords of his blood from him, they were not pleased with that rule,
but then they thought to have more, as ever it is an old saw, Give a churlrule, and thereby he
will not be sufficed; for whatsoever he be that is ruled by a villain born, and the lord of the
soil to be a gentleman born, the same villain shall destroy all the gentlemen about him;
therefore all estates and lords beware whom ye take about you. And if ye be a knight of King
Arthur's court, remember this tale, for this is the end and conclusion. My lord and king rode
unto the forest by the advice of these false traitors, and there he chased at the red deer, all
armed of all pieces, full like a good knight; and so for labor he waxed dry, and then he
alighted and drank at a well. And when he was alighted, by the assent of these two false
traitors, the one that hight Helius suddenly smote our king through the body with a spear, and
so they left him there; and when they were departed, then by fortune I came unto the well and
found my lord and king wounded unto the death; and when I heard his complaint, I let bring him
to the water side, and in that same ship I put him alive. And when my lord King Hermance was in
that vessel, he required me for the true faith that I owed unto him for to write a letter in
"Recommending unto King Arthur and unto all the knights errant, beseeching them all in so
much as I, King Hermance, King of the Red City, thus am slain by felony and treason, through
two knights of mine own, and of mine own bringing up and of mine own making, that some
worshipful knight will revenge my death, in so much as I have been ever to my power well
willing unto King Arthur's court; and who that will adventure his life with these two traitors
for my sake in one battle, I, King Hermance, King of the Red City, freely give all my lands and
tenements that ever I possessed in all my life.' This letter," said Sir Ebel, "I wrote by my
lord's commandment, and then he received his Maker [took the Holy Communion]. And when he was
dead, he commanded me, or ever he were cold, to put this letter fast in his hand; and then he
commanded me to put forth that same vessel down lumber, and I should give these mariners in
commandment never to stint until that they came unto Logris, where all the noble knights shall
assemble at this time, and there shall some good knight have pity on me to revenge my death,
for there was never king nor lord falselier ne traitorlier slain than I am here to my death.'"
Thus was the complaint of our king Hermance.
"Now," said Sir Ebel, "ye know all how our lord was betrayed, we require you for God's sake
have pity upon his death, and worshipfully revenge his death, and then may ye hold all these
lands. For we all wit well that, and ye may slay these two traitors, the Red City and all those
that be therein will take you for their lord."
"Truly," said Sir Palamides, "it grieveth my heart for to hear you tell this doleful tale.
And to say the truth, I saw the same letter that ye speak of; and one of the best knights on
the earth read that letter to me, and by his commandment I came hither to revenge your
king's death; and therefore have done, and let me wit where I shall find those traitors, for
I shall never be at ease in my heart till that I be in hands with them."
"Sir," said Sir Ebel, "then take your ship again, and that ship must bring you unto the
Delectable Isle, fast by the Red City, and we in this castle shall pray for you and abide your
again-coming; for this same castle, and ye speed well, must needs be yours; for our king
Hermance let make this castle for the love of the two traitors, and so we kept it with strong
hand, and therefore full sore are we threated."
"Wot ye what ye shall do," said Sir Palamides; "whatsoever come of me, look ye keep well
this castle. For, and it misfortune me so to be slain in this quest, I am sure there will come
one of the best knights of the world for to revenge my death, and that is Sir Tristram de
Lyonesse, or else Sir Launcelot du Lake."
Then Sir Palamides departed from that castle. And as he came nigh unto the city, there came
out of a ship a goodly knight all armed against him, with his shield upon his shoulder, and his
hand upon his sword; and anon as he came nigh Sir Palamides, he said, "Sir knight, what seek ye
here in this country? leave this quest, for it is mine, and mine it was or it was yours, and
therefore I will have it."
"Sir knight," said Sir Palamides, "it may well be that this quest was yours or it was mine,
but when the letter was taken out of the dead king's hand, at that time by likelihood there was
no knight had undertaken to revenge the death of King Hermance; and so at that time I promised
to revenge his death, and so I shall, or else I am shamed."
"Ye say well," said the knight, "but wit ye well then will I fight with you, and he that is
the better knight of us both let him take the battle in hand."
"I assent me," said Sir Palamides.
And then they dressed their shields, and drew out their swords, and lashed together many a
sad stroke, as men of might, and thus they fought more than an hour. And at the last Sir
Palamides waxed big and better winded, so that then he smote that knight such a stroke that he
made him to kneel upon both his knees. Then that knight spoke on high and said, "Gentle knight,
hold thy hand."
Sir Palamides was courteous and withdrew his hand.
Then this knight said, "Wit ye well, sir knight, that ye be better worthy to have this
battle than I, and I require thee of thy knighthood to tell me thy name."
"Sir, my name is Sir Palamides, a knight of King Arthur's court and of the Round Table, that
hither am come to revenge the death of this dead king."
"Ah, well be ye found," said the knight unto Sir Palamides, "for of all knights that be now
living (except three) I had lievest have you. The first is Sir Launcelot du Lake, the second is
Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and the third Sir Lamorak de Galis; and I am brother unto King
Hermance that is dead, and my name is Sir Hermind."
"It is well said," quoth Sir Palamides, "and ye shall see how I shall speed; and if I be
there slain, go ye unto my lord Sir Launcelot or unto my lord Sir Tristram, and pray them to
revenge my death, for as for Sir Lamorak, him shall ye never see in this world."
"Alas," said Sir Herinind, "how may that be ?"
"He is slain," said Sir Palamides, "by Sir Gawaine and his brethren."
"Truly," said Hermind, "there was not one for one that slew him."
"That is truth," said Sir Palamides, "for they were four dangerous knights that slew him, as
Sir Gawaine, Sir Agravaine, Sir Gaheris, and Sir Mordred; but Sir Gareth, the fifth brother, was
away, the best knight of them all."
And so Sir Palamides told Hermind all the manner, and how they slew Sir Lamorak all only by
treason. So Sir Palamides took his ship, and arrived up at the Delectable Isle. And in the
meanwhile Sir Hermind, that was the king's brother, he arrived up at the Red City, and there he
told them how there was come a knight of King Arthur's to avenge King Hermance's death; and his
name is Sir Palamides the good knight. Then all the city made great joy. For mickle had they
heard of Sir Palamides, and of his noble prowess. So let they ordain a messenger and sent unto
the two brethren, and bade them to make them ready, for there was a knight come that would fight
with them both. So the messenger went unto them where they were at a castle there beside. And
there he told them how there was a knight come of King Arthur's court to fight with them both at
"He is welcome," said they. "But tell us, we pray you, if it be Sir Launcelot, or any of his
"He is none of that blood," said the messenger.
"Then we care the less," said the two brethren, "for with none of the blood of Sir Launcelot
we keep not to have to do withal."
"Wit ye well," said the messenger, "that his name is Sir Palamides, the which is not yet christened,
a noble knight.
"Well," said they, "and if he be now unchristened, he shall never be christened."
So they appointed for to be at the city within two days. And when Sir Palamides was come
unto the city, they made passing great joy of him. And when they beheld him, [they] saw that he
was well made, cleanly and bigly, and unmaimed of his limbs, and neither too young nor too old,
and so all the people praised him; and though he was not christened, yet he believed in the best
manner, and was faithful and true of his promise, and also well conditioned; and because he made
his avow never to take full christendom unto the time that he had done seven battles within the
So within the third day there came to this city these two brethren, the one hight Sir Helms,
and that other hight Sir Helake, the which were men of great prowess, howbeit they were false
and full of treason, and but poor men born, yet were they noble knights of their hands.
And with them they brought forty knights, to the intent they should be big enough for the
Red City. Thus came the two brethren with great bobance [boasting] and pride, for they had put
the Red City in fear and damage. Then they were brought into the lists; and Sir Palamides came
into the place, and thus he said, "Be ye the two brethren, Sir Helms and Sir Helake, that slew
your king and lord Sir Hermance by felony and treason, for whom I am come hither for to revenge
"Wit thou well," said Sir Helms and Sir Helake, "that we are the same knights that slew King
Hermance. And wit thou well, Sir Palamides, Saracen, that we shall handle thee so or thou depart
that thou shalt wish that thou werest christened."
"It may well be," said Sir Palamides, "for yet I would not die or I were christened, and yet
so am I not afeared of you both, but I trust to God that I shall die a better Christian man than
any of you both; and doubt ye not," said Sir Palamides, "either ye or I shall be left dead in
Then they departed, and the two brethren came against Sir Palamides, and he against them, as
fast as their horses might run. And by fortune Sir Palamides smote Helake through his shield,
and through the breast more than a fathom. All this while Sir helms held up his spear, and for
pride and presumption he would not smite Sir Palamides with his spear. But when he saw his
brother lie on the earth, and saw he might not help himself, then he said unto Sir Palamides,
"Help thyself": and therewith he came hurtling unto Sir Palamides with his spear, and smote him
quite from his saddle. Then Sir Helms rode over Sir Palamides twice or thrice. And therewith Sir
Palamides was ashamed, and gat the horse of Sir Helms by the bridle, and therewithal the horse
areared, and Sir Palamides helped after, and so they fell both to the earth, but anon Sir Helms
started up lightly, and there he smote Sir Palamides a mighty stroke upon the helm, so that he
kneeled upon his own knee. Then they lashed together many sad strokes, and traced and traversed,
now backward, now sideling, hurtling together like two boars, and that same time they fell both
grovelling to the earth. Thus they fought still without any reposing two hours, and never
breathed, and then Sir Palamides waxed faint and weary, and Sir Helius waxed passing strong, and
doubled his strokes, and drove Sir Palamides overthwart and endlong all the field, that they of
the city, when they saw Sir Palamides in this case, they wept and cried, and made a sorrowful
dole; and that other party made great joy. "Alas," said the men of the city, "that this noble
knight should thus be slain for our king's sake !"
And as they were thus weeping and crying [for] Sir Palamides that had endured well an
hundred strokes, that it was wonder that he stood upon his feet, at the last Sir Palamides
beheld as well as he might the common people how they wept for him. And then he said unto
himself, "Ah, fie for shame, Sir Palamides, wherefore hangest thou thy head so low?" And
therewith he bare up his shield, and looked Sir Helius in the visage, and smote him a great
stroke upon the helm, and after that another, and another. And then he smote Sir Helius with
such a might, that he fell upon the ground grovelling; and then he started lightly to him, and
rashed off his helm from his head, and there he smote him such a buffet that he departed his
head from the body. And then were the people of the city the joyfullest people that might be.
So they brought him unto his lodging with great solemnity, and there all the people became his
men; and then Sir Palamides prayed them all for to take heed unto the lordship of King Hermance.
"For, fair sirs, wit ye well, I may not at this time abide with you, for I must in all the haste
be with my lord King Arthur at the Castle of Lonazep, which I have promised."
So then were the people full heavy of his departing; for all that city proffered Sir
Palamides the third part of their goods so that he would abide with them; but in no wise at that
time he would abide; and so Sir Palamides departed. And then he came unto the castle whereas Sir
Ebel was lieutenant; and when they that were in the castle knew how Sir Palamides had sped,
there was a joyful meyny [household]. And Sir Palamides departed, and came to the Castle of
Lonazep. And when he wist that Sir Tristram was not there, he took his way unto Jrlumber, and
came unto Joyous Gard, whereas Sir Tristram was and la Belle Isolde. So it had been commanded
that what knight errant came within the Joyous Gard, as in the town, that they should warn Sir
Tristram. So there came a man of the town, and told Sir Tristram how there was a knight in the
town, a passing goodly man.
"What manner of man is he?" said Sir Tristram, "and what sign beareth he?"
So the man told Sir Tristram all the tokens of him.
"That is Palamides," said Dinadan.
"It may well be," said Sir Tristram: "go ye to him," said Sir Tristram unto Dinadan.
So Dinadan went unto Sir Palamides, and there either made of other great joy, and so they
]ay together that night, and on the morn early came Sir Tristram and Sir Gareth, and took them
in their beds, and so they arose and brake their fast.
[And so, having done many great deeds of arms, after many days it happened that Sir Tristram
rode forth for to rescue Sir Palamides, but Sir Launcelot, in disguise, had already rescued him
or [before] that Sir Tristram could come. And then Sir Tristram and Sir Palamides went with the
unknown knight to his castle, which was Sir Launcelot's castle of Joyous Gard.]
And when they were come within Joyous Gard, they alighted, and their horses were led into a
stable, and then they unarmed them. And when Sir Launcelot had put off his helm, Sir Tristram
and Sir Palamides knew him. Then Sir Tristram took Sir Launcelot in his arms; and Sir Palamides
kneeled down upon his knees and thanked Sir Launcelot. When Sir Launcelot saw Sir Palaniides
kneel, he lightly took him up, and said,
"Wit thou well, Sir Palamides, I and any knight in this land of worship ought of very right
succor and rescue so noble a knight as ye are proved and renowned throughout all this realm,
endlong and overthwart."
Then Sir Launcelot within three or four days departed; and with him rode Sir Ector de Mans;
and Dinadan and Sir Palamides were there left with Sir Tristram a two months and more. But ever
Sir Palamides faded and mourned, that all men had marvel wherefore he faded so away. So upon a
day, in the dawning Sir Palamides went into the forest by himself alone, and there he found a
well. And therewithal he laid him down by the well. And then he began to make a rhyme of la
Belle Isolde and him. And in the meanwhile Sir Tristram was that same day ridden into the forest
to chase the hart of greese [the fat hart]. And so as Sir Tristram rode into that forest up and
down, he heard one sing marvellously loud; and that was Sir Palamides, that lay by the well. And
then Sir Tristram rode softly thither, for he deemed there was some knight errant that was at
And when Sir Tristram came nigh him, he descended down from his horse, and tied his horse
fast to a tree, and then he came near him on foot. And anon he was ware where lay Sir Palamides
by the well. And ever the complaints were of that noble queen la Belle Isolde, the which was
marvellously and wonderfully well made and full dolefully and piteously. And all the whole song
the noble knight Sir Tristram heard from the beginning to the ending, the which grieved and
troubled him sore. But then at last, when Sir Tristram had heard all Sir Palamides' complaints,
he was wroth out of measure, and thought for to slay him there as he lay. Then Sir Tristram
remembered himself that Sir Palamides was unarmed, and of the noble name that Sir Palamides had,
and the noble name that himself had, and then he made a restraint of his anger, and so he went
unto Sir Palamides a soft pace, and said.
"Sir Palamides, I have heard your complaint, and of thy treason that thou hast owed me so
long. And wit thou well therefore thou shalt die. And if it were not for shame of knighthood
thou shouldest not escape my hands, for now I know well thou hast awaited me with treason. Tell
me," said Sir Tristram, "how thou wilt acquit thee."
"Sir," said Palamides, "thus I will acquit me: as for queen la Belle Isolde, ye shall wit
well that I love her above all other ladies of the world; and well I wot it shall befall me as
for her love as befell to the noble knight Sir Kehidius, that died for the love of la Belle
Isolde; and now, Sir Tristram, I will that ye wit that I have loved la Belle Isolde many a day,
and she hath been the causer of my worship. And else I had been the most simplest knight in the
world. For by her, and because of her, I have won the worship that I have: for when I remembered
me of la Belle Isolde, I won the worship wheresoever I came, for the most part; and yet had I
never reward nor bounty of her the days of my life, and yet have I been her knight guerdonless;
and therefore, Sir Tristram, as for any death I dread not, for I had as lief die as to live. And
if I were armed as thou art, I should lightly do battle with thee."
"Well have ye uttered your treason," said Sir Tristram.
"I have done to you no treason," said Sir Palamides, "for love is free for all men, and
though I have loved your lady she is my lady as well as yours; and yet shall I love her to the
uttermost days of my life as well as ye."
"Then," said Sir Tristram, "I will fight with you unto the uttermost."
"I grant," said Sir Palamides, "for in a better quarrel keep I never to fight, for and I die
of your hands, of a better knight's hands may I not be slain. And sithen [since] I understand
that I shall never rejoice the queen la Belle Isolde, I have as good a will to die as to live."
"Then set ye a day of battle," said Sir Tristram.
"This day fifteen days," said Sir Palamides, "will I meet with you hereby in the meadow
under Joyous Gard."
"Fie for shame !" said Sir Tristram, "will ye set so long a day? Let us fight to-morrow."
"Not so," said Sir Palamides, "for I am feeble and lean, and have been long sick for the
love of la Belle Isolde, and therefore I will rest me till that I have my strength again."
So then Sir Tristram and Sir Palamides promised faithfully to meet at the well as that day
Right so departed Sir Tristram and Sir Palamides; and so Sir Palamides took his horse and
his harness, and rode unto King Arthur's court, and there Sir Palamides gat him four knights and
three sergeants of arms; and so he returned again towards Joyous Gard. And in the meanwhile Sir
Tristram chased and hunted at all manner of venery [game]; and about a three days afore that the
battle should be, as Sir Tristram chased an hart, there was an archer shot at the hart, and by
misfortune he smote Sir Tristram in the thickest of the thigh and wounded him right sore, and
the arrow slew Sir Tristram's horse; and when Sir Tristram was so sore hurt, he was passing
heavy, and wit ye well he bled sore. And then he took another horse, and rode unto Joyous Gard
with full great heaviness.
Then when the fifteenth day was come, Sir Palamides came to the well with four knights with
him of King Arthur's court, and three sergeants of arms. And the one sergeant brought his helm,
the other his spear, and the third his sword. So Sir Palamides came into the field, and there he
abode nigh two hours, and then he sent a squire unto Sir Tristram, and desired him to come into
the field for to hold his promise'. When the squire was come to Joyous Gard, and that Sir
Tristram heard of his coming, he commanded that the squire should come to his presence there as
he lay in his bed.
"My lord Sir Tristram," said Palamides' squire, "wit you well, my lord Palamides abideth you
in the field, and he would wit whether ye would do battle or not."
"Ah, my fair brother," said Sir Tristram, "wit thou well that I am right heavy for these
tidings, therefore tell Sir Palamides and I were well at ease I would not lie here, nor he
should have no need to send for me, and I might either ride or go: and for thou shalt say that I
am no liar," Sir Tristram showed him his thigh, that the wound was six inches deep" "and now
thou hast seen my hurt, tell thy lord that this is no feigned matter; and tell him that I had
liever than all the gold of King Arthur that I were whole; and tell Sir Palamides, as soon as I
am whole I shall seek him endlong and overthwart, and that I promise you as I am true knight;
and if ever I may meet with him he shall have battle of me his fill."
And with this the squire departed. And then departed Sir Palamides where as fortune led him.
And within a month Sir Tristram was whole of his hurt. And then he took his horse, and rode from
country to country, and all strange adventures he achieved wheresoever he rode, and always he
inquired for Sir Palamides.
[When Sir Tristram was returned, he heard how there should be a great feast at King Arthur's
court on the Pentecost next following. And so when that day was nigh Sir Tristram set forth
unarmed towards Camelot.]
And within a mile after, Sir Tristram saw before him where Sir Palamides had stricken down a
knight, and had almost wounded him to death. Then Sir Tristram repented him that he was not
armed, and then he hoved still. With that Sir Palamides knew Sir Tristram, and cried on
high:"Sir Tristram, now be we met, for or we depart we will redress our old sores.
"As for that," said Sir Tristram, "there was never yet Christian man that might make his
boast that ever I fled from him, and wit thou well, Sir Palamides, thou that art a Saracen shall
never make thy boast that Sir Tristram de Lyonesse shall flee from thee."
And therewithal Sir Tristram made his horse to run with all his might, came he straight upon
Sir Palamides, and brake his spear upon him in an hundred pieces, and forthwith Sir Tristram
drew his sword, and then he turned his horse and struck at Sir Palamides six great strokes upon
his helm. And then Sir Palamides stood still, and beheld Sir Tristram, and marvelled of his
woodness and of his great folly; and then Sir Palamides said to himself, "And Sir Tristram were
armed it were hard to cease him of this battle, and if I turn again and slay him I am shamed
wheresoever that I go."
Then Sir Tristram spake and said, "Thou coward knight, what castest thou to do? why wilt
thou not do battle with me, for have thou no doubt I shall endure all thy malice."
"Ah, Sir Tristram," said Sir Palamides, "full well thou wottest I may not fight with thee
for shame, for thou art here naked, and I am armed, and If I slay thee dishonor shall be mine.
And well thou wottest I know thy strength and thy hardiness to endure against a good knight."
"That is truth," said Sir Tristram, "I understand thy valiantness well."
"Ye say well," said Sir Palamides, "now I require you tell me a question that I shall say to
"Tell me what it is," said Sir Tristram, "and I shall answer you the truth."
"I put the case," said Sir Palamides, "that ye were armed at all rights as well as I am, and
I naked as ye be, what would ye do to me now by your true knighthood?"
"Ah," said Sir Tristram, "now I understand thee well, Sir Palamides, for now must I say my
own judgment, and, as God me bless, that I shall say shall not be said for no fear that I have
of thee. But this is all; wit, Sir Palamides, as at this time thou shouldest depart from me, for
I would not have ado with thee."
"No more will I," said Sir Palamides, "and therefore ride forth on thy way.
"As for that I may choose," said Sir Tristram, "either to ride or to abide. But Sir
Palamides," said Sir Tristram, "I marvel of one thing, that thou that art so good a knight, that
thou will not be christened, and thy brother Sir Safere hath been christened many a day."
"As for that," said Sir Palamides, "I may not yet be christened for one avow that I have
made many years agone; howbeit in my heart I believe in Jesus Christ and his mild mother Mary;
but I have but one battle to do, and when that is done I will be baptized with a good will."
"By my head," said Sir Tristram, "as for one battle thou shalt not seek it no longer. For
God defend," said Sir Tristram, "that through my default thou shouldest longer live thus a
Saracen. For yonder is a knight that ye, Sir Palamides, have hurt and smitten down; now help me
that I were armed in his armor, and I shall soon ulfil thine avows.
"As ye will," said Sir Palamides, "so it shall be."
So they rode unto that knight that sat upon a bank, and then Sir Tristram saluted him, and
he weakly saluted him again.
"Sir knight," said Sir Tristram, "I require you tell me your right name."
"Sir," he said, "my name is Sir Galleron of Galway, and knight of the Table Round."
"Truly," said Sir Tristram, "I am right heavy of your hurts: but this is all, I must pray
you to lend me all your whole armor, for ye see I am unarmed, and I must do battle with this
"Sir," said the hurt knight, "ye shall have it with a good will; but ye must beware, for I
warn you that knight is wight [strong]. Sir," said Galleron, "I pray you tell me your name, and
what is that knight's name that hath beaten me.
"Sir, as for my name, it is Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, and as for the knight's name that hath
hurt you, it is Sir Palamides, brother unto the good knight Sir Safere, and yet is Sir Palamides
"Alas," said Sir Galleron, "that is pity that so good a knight and so noble a man of
arms should be unchristened."
"Truly," said Sir Tristram, "either he shall slay me, or I him, but that he shall be
christened or ever we depart in sunder."
"My lord Sir Tristram," said Sir Galleron, "your renown and worship is well known through
many realms and God save you this day from shame."
Then Sir Tristram unarmed Galleron, the which was a noble knight and had done many deeds of
arms, and he was a large knight of flesh and bone. And when he was unarmed he stood upon his
feet, for he was bruised in the back with a spear; yet, so as Sir Galleron might, he armed Sir
Tristram. And then Sir Tristram mounted upon his own horse, and in his hand he gat Sir
Galleron's spear. And therewithal Sir Palamides was ready, and so they came hurtling together,
and either smote other in the midst of their shields, and therewithal Sir Palamides' spear
brake, and Sir Tristram smote down the horse; and then Sir Palamides, as soon as he might,
avoided his horse, and dressed his shield, and pulled out his sword. That saw Sir Tristram, and
therewith he alighted, and tied his horse to a tree.
And then they came together as two wild boars, lashing together, tracing and traversing as
noble men that oft had been well proved in battle; but ever Sir Palamides dreaded the might of
Sir Tristram, and therefore he suffered him to breathe him. Thus they fought more than two
hours; and often Sir Tristram smote such strokes at Sir Palamides that he made him to kneel; and
Sir Palamides brake and cut away many pieces of Sir Tristram's shield, and then Sir Palamides
wounded Sir Tristram, for he was a well fighting man. Then Sir Tristram was wood wrath out of
measure, and rashed upon Sir Palamides with such a might that Sir Palamides fell grovelling to
the earth, and therewithal he leapt up lightly upon his feet, and then Sir Tristram wounded Sir
Palamides sore through the shoulder. And ever Sir Tristram fought still in like hard, and Sir
Palamides failed not but gave him many sad strokes. And at the last Sir Tristram doubled his
strokes, and by fortune Sir Tristram smot Sir Palamides' sword out of his hand, and if Sir
Palamide: had stooped for his sword, he had been slain. Then Sir Palamides stood still and
beheld his sword with a sorrowfu heart.
"How now," said Sir Tristram unto Sir Palamides, "nov have I thee at advantage as thou hadst
me this day, bu it shall never be said in no court, nor among good knights that Sir Tristram
shall slay any knight that is weaponles, and therefore take thou thy sword, and let us make an
en of this battle."
"As for to do this battle," said Sir Palamides, "I dar right well end it; but I have no
great lust to fight no mor and for this cause, mine offence to you is not so great by that we
may be friends. All that I have offended is an was for the love of la Belle Isolde. And as for
her, I dai say she is peerless above all other ladies, and also I proffere her never no
dishonor; and by her I have gotten the morpart of my worship, and sithen I offended never as to
her own person. And as for the offence that I have done, it was against your own person, and for
that offence ye have given me this day many sad strokes, and some I have given you again; and
now I dare say I felt never man of your might, nor so well breathed, but if it were Sir
Launcelot du Lake. Wherefore I require you, my lord, forgive me all that I have offended unto
you. And this same day have me to the next church, and first let me be clean confessed, and
after see you now that I be truly baptized. And then will we all ride together unto the court of
Arthur, that we be there at the high feast."
"Now take your horse," said Sir Tristram, "and as ye say, so it shall be; and all your evil
will God forgive it you, and I do. And here, within this mile, is the suffragan of Carlisle,
that shall give you the sacrament of baptism."
Then they took their horses, and Sir Galleron rode with them. And when they came to the
suffragan Sir Tristram told him their desire. Then the suffragan let fill a great vessel with
water. And when he had hallowed it, he then confessed clean Sir Palamides, and Sir Tristram and
Sir Galleron were his god-fathers. And then soon after they departed, riding towards Camelot,
where King Arthur and Queen Guenever was, and for the most part all the knights of the Round
Table. And so the king and all the court were glad that Sir Palamides was christened. And Sir
Tristram returned again towards Joyous Gard.
King Mark slew the noble knight Sir
Tristram as he sat harping before his lady la Belle Isolde
[And so, after years, and many mighty deeds of arms, the] traitor King Mark slew the noble
knight Sir Tristram as he sat harping before his lady la Belle Isolde, with a trenchant glaive;
for whose death was much bewailing of every knight in Arthur's days. And la Belle Isolde died
swooning upon the corpse of Sir Tristram, whereof was great pity. And all that were with King
Mark consenting to the death of Sir Tristram were slain.
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The illustrations are by N.C. Wyeth (1882 - 1945) first published Scribner's 1924)