Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Part I: King Arthur and his...
 Part II: The Mabinogeon
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Group Title: age of chivalry
Title: The age of chivalry
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00003348/00001
 Material Information
Title: The age of chivalry part 1. King Arthur and his knights ; part 2. The Mabinogeon, or, Welsh popular tales
Alternate Title: King Arthur and his knights
Mabinogeon, or, Welsh popular tales
Physical Description: vii, 414, <2> p., <6> leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Bulfinch, Thomas, 1796-1867
Crosby, Nichols, and Company
Holland & Moffitt
Metcalf and Company
Publisher: Crosby, Nichols, and Company
Place of Publication: Boston
Manufacturer: Electrotyped and printed by Metcalf and Company
Publication Date: 1859
Copyright Date: 1858
Subject: Arthurian romances -- Adaptations   ( lcsh )
Knights and knighthood   ( lcsh )
Chivalry   ( lcsh )
Folklore -- England   ( lcsh )
Folklore -- Wales   ( lcsh )
Blind stamped cloth (Binding) -- 1859   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1859   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1859
Genre: Blind stamped cloth (Binding)   ( local )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
United States -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
General Note: Illustrations printed in colors by Holland and Moffitt.
Statement of Responsibility: by Thomas Bulfinch.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00003348
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA4500
notis - ALG3203
oclc - 00502929
alephbibnum - 002222955
lccn - 01000121

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Front Matter 3
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Part I: King Arthur and his knights
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
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    Part II: The Mabinogeon
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    Back Matter
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Full Text

The Baldwin Library

,' 1' ..I

Sir Launcelot sees the Sangreal in a vision. Page 206.
A Siuful man, and unconfessed.
lie took the Sangreals holy quest,
And slumbering, saw the vision high,
He might not view with waking eye."

/ ~5~5'
r .











"Here may we read of Spenser's fairy themes,
And those that Milton loved in youthful years;
The sage enchanter Merlin's subtle schemes;
The feats of Arthur, and his knightly peers."


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

University Press, Cambridge:
Welch, Bigelow, & Co., Electrotypers and Printers.



To you, who have sympathized in my tastes, and
encouraged my researches, I dedicate this attempt to
depict the age of chivalry, and to revive the legends of
the land of our fathers.

Your friend, and cousin,

T. B.


IN a former work the compiler of this volume endeavored
to impart the pleasures of classical learning to the English
reader, by presenting the stories of Pagan mythology in a
form adapted to modern taste. In the present volume the
attempt has been made to treat in the same way the stories
of the second age of fable," the age which witnessed the
dawn of the several states of Modern Europe.
It is believed that this presentation of a literature which
held unrivalled sway over the imaginations of our ancestors,
for many centuries, will not be without benefit to the read-
er, in addition to the amusement it may afford. The tales,
though not to be trusted for their facts, are worthy of all
credit as pictures of manners; and it is beginning to be
held that the manners and modes of thinking of an age are
a more important part of its history than the conflicts of its
peoples, generally leading to no result. Besides this, the
literature of romance is a treasure-house of poetical mate-
rial, to which modern poets frequently resort. The Italian
poets, Dante and Ariosto, the English, Spenser, Scott,
and Tennyson, and our own Longfellow and Lowell, are
examples of this.


These legends are so connected with each other, so con-
sistently adapted to a group of characters strongly individ-
ualized in Arthur, Launcelot, and their compeers, and so
lighted up by the fires of imagination and invention, that
they seem as well adapted to the poet's purpose as the
legends of the Greek and Roman mythology. And if
every well-educated young person is expected to know the
story of the Golden Fleece, why is the quest of the San-
greal less worthy of his acquaintance ? Or if an allusion
to the shield of Achilles ought not to pass unapprehended,
why should one to Escalibar, the famous sword of Ar-
thur; -
"Of Arthur, who, to upper light restored,
With that terrific sword,
Which yet he brandishes for future war,
Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star" ? *
It is an additional recommendation of our subject, that
it tends to cherish in our minds the idea of the source from
which we sprung. We are entitled to our full share in
the glories and recollections of the land of our forefathers,
down to the time of colonization thence. The associations
which spring from this source must be fruitful of good
influences; among which not the least valuable is the in-
creased enjoyment which such associations afford to the
American traveller when he visits England, and sets his
foot upon any of her renowned localities.
The legends of Charlemagne and his peers are neces-
sary to complete the subject, but they must be given, if at
all, in a future volume.





I. Introduction ... . .
II. The Mythical History of England
III. Merlin ..........
IV. Arthur ..........
V. Arthur, continued . . .
VI. Sir Gawain . .....

. . . 13
. . . 34
. . . 50
. . . 57
. .' . . 72
. . . *86

Caradoc Briefbras; or, Caradoe with the Shrunken Arm 92
Launcelot of the Lake . . . . .101
The Adventure of the Cart . . . . . 118
The Lady of Shalott ........ .. . . 127
Queen Guenever's Peril . . . . . 133
Tristram and Isoude . . ... . . 139
Tristram and Isoude, continued . . . 151
Sir Tristram's Battle with Sir Launcelot .... .162.

The Round Table ... . . . ... . .
Sir Palamedes . . . . . . .
Sir Tristram ...............
Perceval . . . . . . .
The Sangreal, or Holy Graal . . . . .
The Sangreal, continued . . . . . .
The Sangreal, continued . .. . . . .
Sir Agrivain's Treason . . . .. . .
Morte D'Arthur . . . . . . .





I. The Britons .........
II. The Lady of the Fountain . .
III. The Lady of the Fountain, continued
IV. The Lady of the Fountain, continued
V. Geraint, the Son of Erbin . .
VI. Geraint, the Son of Erbin, continued
VII. Geraint, the Son of Erbin, continued
VIIL Pwyll, Prince of Dyved . . .
IX. Branwen, the Daughter of Llyr .
X. Manawyddan ........
XI. Kilwich and Olwen .. . .
XII. Kilwich and Olwen, continued . .
XII. Taliesin ..........

. . 257
. . 264
. . 272
. . 284
. . 295
. . 310
. . 322
. . . 338
. . 347
. . 360
. . 376
. . 394
. . 404







ON the decline of the Roman power, about five
centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern
Europe were left almost destitute of a national'
government. Numerous chiefs, more or less pow-
erful, held local sway, as far as each could enforce
his dominion, and occasionally those chiefs would
unite for a common object; but, in ordinary times,
they were much more likely to be found in hostility
to one another. In such a state of things, the rights
of the humbler classes of society were at the mercy
of every assailant; and it is plain that, without some
check upon the lawless power of the chiefs, society
must have relapsed into barbarism. Such checks
were found, first, in the rivalry of the chiefs them-
selves, whose mutual jealousy made them restraints
upon one another; secondly, in the influence of the
Church, which, by every motive, pure or selfish,
was pledged to interpose for the protection of the


weak; and lastly, in the generosity and sense of
right which, however crushed under the weight of
passion and selfishness, dwell naturally in the heart
of man. From this last source sprang Chivalry,
which framed an ideal of the heroic character, com-
bining invincible strength and valor, justice, mod-
esty, loyalty to superiors, courtesy to equals, com-
passion to weakness, and devotedness to the Church;
an ideal which, if never met with in real life, was
acknowledged by all as the highest model for emu-
The word Chivalry is derived from the Frenchl
cheval, a horse. The word knight, which originally
meant boy or servant, was particularly applied to a
Young man after he was admitted to the privilege
of bearing arms. This privilege was conferred on
youths of family and fortune only, for the mass of
the people were not furnished with arms. The
knight then was a mounted warrior, a man of rank,
or in the service and maintenance of some man of
rank, generally possessing some independent means
of support, but often relying mainly on the grati-
tude of those whom he served for the supply of his
wants, and often, no doubt, resorting to the means
which power confers on its possessor.
In time of war the knight was, with his followers,
in the camp of his sovereign, or commanding in the
field, or holding some castle for him. In time of
peace he was often in attendance at his sovereign's
court, gracing with his presence the banquets and


tournaments with which princes cheered their leis-
ure. Or he was traversing the country in quest of
adventure, professedly bent on redressing wrongs
.and enforcing rights, sometimes in fulfilment of
some vow of religion or of love. These wandering
knights were called knights-errant; they were wel-
come guests in the castles of the nobility, for their
presence enlivened the dulness of those secluded
abodes, and they were received with'honor at the
abbeys, which often owed the best part of their rev-
enues to the patronage of the knights; but if no
castle or abbey or hermitage were at hand, their
hardy habits made it not intolerable to them to lie
down, supperless, at the foot of some wayside cross,
and pass the night.
It is evident that the justice administered by such
an instrumentality must have been of the rudest
description. The force whose legitimate purpose
was to redress wrongs, might easily be perverted to
inflict them. Accordingly, we find in the romances,
which, however fabulous in facts, are true as pic-
tures of manners, that a knightly castle was often
a terror to the surrounding country; that its dun-
geons were full of oppressed knights and ladies,
waiting for some champion to appear to set them
free, or to be ransomed with money; that hosts of
idle retainers were ever at hand to enforce their
lord's behests, regardless of law and justice; and
that the rights of the unarmed multitude were of
no account. This contrariety of fact and theory



in regard to chivalry will account for the opposite
impressions which exist in men's minds respecting
it. While it has been the theme of the most fer-
vid eulogium on the one part, it has been as eagerly
denounced on the other. On a cool estimate, we
cannot but see reason to congratulate ourselves that
it has given way in modern times to the reign of
law, and that the civil magistrate, if less pictu-
resque, has taken the place of the mailed champion.


The preparatory education of candidates for
knighthood was long and arduous. At seven years
of age the noble children were usually removed
from their father's house to the court or castle of
their future patron, and placed under the care of
a governor, who taught them the first articles of
religion, and respect and reverence for their lords
and superiors, and initiated them in the ceremonies
of a court. They were called pages, valets or var-
lets, and their office was to carve, to wait at table,
and to perform other menial services, which were
not then considered humiliating. In their leisure
hours they learned to dance and play on the harp,
were instructed in the mysteries of woods and
rivers, that is, in hunting, falconry, and fishing,
and in wrestling, tilting with spears, and perform-
ing other military exercises on horseback. At four-
teen the page became an esquire, and began a course


of severer and more laborious exercises. To vault
on a horse in heavy armor; to run, to scale walls,
and spring over ditches, under the same encum-
brance; to wrestle, to wield the battle-axe for a
length of time, without raising the visor or taking
breath; to perform with grace all the evolutions of
horsemanship,-were necessary preliminaries to the
reception of knighthood, which was usually conferred
at twenty-one years of age, when the young man's
education was supposed to be completed. In the
mean time, the esquires were no less assiduously en-
gaged in acquiring all those refinements of civility
which formed what was in that age called courtesy.
The same castle in which they received their educa-
tion was usually thronged with young persons of the
other sex, and the page was encouraged, at a very
early age, to select some lady of the court as the
mistress of his heart, to whom he was taught to refer
all his sentiments, words, and actions. The service
of his mistress was the glory and occupation of a
knight, and her smiles, bestowed at once by affec-
tion and gratitude, were held out as the recompense
of his well-directed valor. Religion united its influ-
ence with those of loyalty and love, and the order
of knighthood, endowed with all the sanctity and
religious awe that attended the priesthood, became
an object of ambition to the greatest sovereigns.
The ceremonies of initiation were peculiarly sol-
emn. After undergoing a severe fast, and spending
whole nights in prayer, the candidate confessed, and


received the sacrament. He then clothed himself
in snow-white garments, and repaired to the church,
Sor the hall, where the ceremony was to take place,
bearing a knightly sword suspended from his neck,
which the officiating priest took and blessed, and
then returned to him. The candidate then, with
folded arms, knelt before the presiding knight, who,
after some questions about his motives and purposes
in requesting admission, administered to him the
oaths, and granted his request. Some of the knights
present, sometimes even ladies and damsels, handed
to him in succession the spurs, the coat of mail, the
hauberk, the armlet and gauntlet, and lastly he
girded on the sword. He then knelt again before
the president, who, rising from his seat, gave him
the "accolade," which consisted of three strokes,
with the flat of a sword, on the shoulder or neck of
the candidate, accompanied by the words: "In the
name of God, of St. Michael, and St. George, I
make thee a knight; be valiant, courteous, and
loyal! Then he received his helmet, his shield,
and spear; and thus the investiture ended.

The other classes of which society was composed
were, first, freemen, owners of small portions of
land, independent, though they sometimes volunta-
rily became the vassals of their more opulent neigh-
bors, whose power was necessary for their protection.


The other two classes, which were much the most
numerous, were either serfs or villains, both of
which were slaves.
The serfs were in the lowest state of slavery.
All the fruits of their labor belonged to the master
whose land they tilled, and by whom they were fed
and clothed.
The villains were less degraded. Their situation
seems to have resembled that of the Russian peas-
ants at this day. Like the serfs, they were attached
to the soil, and were transferred with it by pur-
chase; but they paid only a fixed rent to the land-
lord, and had a right to dispose of any surplus that
might arise from their industry.
The term clerk was of very extensive import. It
comprehended, originally, such persons only as be-
longed to the clergy, or clerical order, among whom,
however, might be found a multitude of married
persons, artisans or others. But in process of time
a much wider rule was established; every one that
could read being accounted a clerk, or clerics, and
allowed the "benefit of clergy," that is, exemption
from capital and some other forms of punishment,
in case of crime.

The splendid pageant of a tournament between
knights, its gaudy accessories and trappings, and its
chivalrous regulations, originated in France. Tour-
naments were repeatedly condemned by the Church,


probably on account of the quarrels they led to, and
the often fatal results. The "joust," or "just," was
different front the tournament. In these, knights
fought with their lances, and their object was to
unhorse their antagonists; while the tournaments
were intended for a display of skill and address
in evolutions, and with various weapons, and
greater courtesy was observed in the regulations.
By these it was forbidden to wound the horse, or
to use the point of the sword, or to strike a knight
after he had raised his visor, or unlaced his hel-
met. The ladies encouraged their knights in these
exercises; they bestowed prizes, and the conqueror's
feats were the theme of romance and song. The
stands overlooking the ground, or course, were
varied in the shapes of towers, terraces, galleries,
and pensile gardens, magnificently decorated with
tapestry, pavilions, and banners. Every combatant
proclaimed the name of the lady whose servant
d'amour he was. He was wont to look up to the
stand, and strengthen his courage by the sight of
the bright eyes that were raining their influence on
him from above. The knights also carried favors,
consisting of scarfs, veils, sleeves, bracelets, clasps,
--in short, some piece of female habiliment,-at-
tached to their helmets, shields, or armor. If,
during the combat, any of these appendages were
dropped or lost, the fair donor would at times send
her knight new ones, especially if pleased with his


Mail armor, of which the hauberk is a species,
and which derived its name from maille, a French
word for mesh, was of two kinds, plate or scale mail,
and chain mail. It was originally used for the pro-
tection of the body only, reaching no lower than the
knees. It was shaped like a carter's frock, and
bound round the waist by. a girdle. Gloves and
hose of mail were afterwards added, and a hood,
which, when necessary, was drawn over the head,
leaving the face alone uncovered. To protect the
skin from the impression of the iron network of the
chain mail, a quilted lining was employed, which,
however, was insufficient, and the bath was used to
efface the marks of the armor.
The hauberk was a complete covering of double
chain mail. Some hauberks opened before, like a
modern coat; others were closed like a shirt.
The chain mail of which they were composed
was formed by a number of iron links, each link
having others inserted into it, the whole exhibiting
a kind of network, of which (in some instances at
least) the meshes were circular, with each link sep-
arately riveted.
The hauberk was proof against the most violent
blow of a sword; but the point of a lance might pass
through the meshes, or drive the iron into the flesh.
To guard against this, a thick and well-stuffed
doublet was worn underneath, under which was
commonly added an iron breastplate. Hence the


expression to pierce both plate and mail," so com-
mon in the earlier poets.
Mail armor continued in general use till about
the year 1300, when it was gradually supplanted by
plate armor, or suits consisting of pieces or plates of
solid iron, adapted to the different parts of the body.
Shields were generally made of wood, covered
with leather, or some similar substance. To secure
them, in some sort, from being cut through by the
sword, they were surrounded with a hoop of metal.

The helmet was composed of two parts; the head-
piece, which was strengthened within by several
circles of iron; and the visor, which, as the name
implies, was a sort of grating to see through, so con-
trived as, by sliding in a groove, or turning on a
pivot, to be raised or lowered at pleasure. Some
helmets had a further improvement called a bever,
from the Italian bevere, to drink. The ventayle,
or air-passage," is another name for this.
To secure the helmet from the possibility of fall-
ing, or of being struck off, it was tied by several
laces to the meshes of the hauberk; consequently,
when a knight was overthrown, it was necessary to
undo these laces before he could be put to death;
though this was sometimes effected by lifting up the
skirt of the hauberk, and stabbing him in the belly.
The instrument of death was a small dagger, worn
on the right side.



In ages when there were no books, when noble-
men and princes themselves could not read, history
or tradition was monopolized by the story-tellers.
They inherited, generation after generation, the
wondrous tales of their predecessors, which they
retailed to the public with such additions of their
own as their acquired information supplied them
with. Anachronisms became of course very com-
mon, and errors of geography, of locality, of man-
ners, equally so. Spurious genealogies were in-
vented, in which Arthur and his knights, and
Charlemagne and his paladins, were made to de-
rive their descent from JEneas, Hector, or some
other of the Trojan heroes.
With regard to the derivation of the word Ro-
mance, we trace it to the fact that the dialects which
were formed in Western Europe, from the admix-
ture of Latin with the native languages, took the
name of Langue Romaine. The French language
was divided into two dialects. The river Loire was
their common boundary. In the provinces to the
south of that river the affirmative, yes, was ex-
pressed by the word oc; in the north it was called
oil (oui) ; and hence Dante has named the southern
language langue d'oc, and the northern langue d'oil.
The latter, which was carried into England by the
Normans, and is the origin of the present French,
may be called the French Romane; and the former


the Provengal, or Provencial Romane, because it
was spoken by the people of Provence and Langue-
doe, southern provinces of France.
These dialects were soon distinguished by very
opposite characters. A soft and enervating climate,
a spirit of commerce encouraged by an easy com-
munication with other maritime nations, the in-
flux of wealth, and a more settled government, may
have tended to polish and soften the diction of the
Provencials, whose poets, under the name of Trou-
badours, were the masters of the Italians, and par-
ticularly of Petrarch. Their favorite pieces were
Sirventes (satirical pieces), love-songs, and Ten-
sons, which last were a sort of dialogue in verse be-
tween two poets, who questioned each other on some
refined points of love's casuistry.. It seems the
Provencials were so completely absorbed in these
delicate questions as to neglect and despise the
composition of fabulous histories of adventure and
knighthood, which they left in a great measure to
the poets of the northern part of the kingdom,
called Trouveurs.
At a time when chivalry excited universal admi-
ration, and when all the efforts of that chivalry
were directed against the enemies of religion, it was
natural that literature should receive the same im-
pulse, and that history and fable should be ran-
sacked to furnish examples of courage and piety
That might excite increased emulation. Arthur and
Charlemagne were the two heroes selected for this


purpose. Arthur's pretensions were that he was a
brave, though not always a successful warrior; he
had withstood with great resolution the arms of the
infidels, that is to say of the Saxons, and his mem-
ory was held in the highest estimation by his coun-
trymen, the Britons, who carried with them, into
Wales, and into the kindred country of Armorica,
or Brittany, the memory of his exploits, which their
national vanity insensibly exaggerated, till the little
prince of the Silures (South Wales) was magnified
into the conqueror of England, of Gaul, and of the
greater part of Europe. His genealogy was gradu-
ally carried up to an imaginary Brutus, and to the
period of the Trojan war, and a sort of chronicle
was composed in the Welsh, or Armorican language,
which, under the pompous title of the History of the
Kings of Britain, was translated into Latin by Geof-
frey of Monmouth, about the year 1150. The Welsh
critics consider the material of the work to have
been an older history, written by St. Talian, Bishop
of St. Asaph, in the seventh century.
As to Charlemagne, though his real merits were
sufficient to secure his immortality, it was impossi-
ble that his holy wars against the Saracens should
not become a favorite topic for fiction. Accordingly,
the fabulous history of these wars was written, piob-
ably towards the close of the eleventh century, by a
monk, who, thinking it would add dignity to his
work to embellish it with a contemporary name,


boldly ascribed it to Turpin, who was Archbishop of
Rheims about the year 773.
These fabulous chronicles were for a while impris-
oned in languages of local only or of professional
access. Both Turpin and Geoffrey might indeed be
read by ecclesiastics, the sole Latin scholars of those
times, and Geoffrey's British original would contrib-
ute to the gratification of Welshmen; but neither
could become extensively popular till translated into
some language of general and familiar use. The
Anglo-Saxon was at that time used only by a con-
quered and enslaved nation; the Spanish and Ital-
ian languages were not yet formed; the Norman
French alone was spoken and understood by the no-
bility in the greater part of Europe, and therefore
was a proper vehicle for the new mode of compo-
That language was fashionable in England before
the Conquest, and became, after that event, the only
language used at the court of London. As the vari-
ous conquests of the Normans, and the enthusiastic
valor of that extraordinary people, had familiarized
the minds of men with the most marvellous events,
their poets eagerly seized the fabulous legends of
Arthur and Charlemagne, translated them into the
language of the day, and soon produced a variety of
imitations. The adventures attributed to these mon-
archs, and to their distinguished warriors, together
with those of many other traditionary or imaginary
heroes, composed by degrees that formidable body of


marvellous histories which, from the dialect in which
the most ancient of them were written, were called


The earliest form in which romances appear is
that of a rude kind of verse. In this form it is sup-
posed they were sung or recited at the feasts of prin-
ces and knights in their baronial halls. The follow-
ing specimen of the language and style of Robert de
Beauvais, who flourished in 1257, is from Sir Wal-
ter Scott's Introduction to the Romance of Sir Tris-
Ne voil pas emmi dire,
Ici diverse la matyere,
Entre ceus qui solent center,
E de le cunte Tristran parler."

"I will not say too much about it,
So diverse is the matter,
Among those who are in the labit of telling
And relating the story of Tristran."

This is a specimen of the language which was in
use among the nobility of England, in the ages im-
mediately after the Norman conquest. The follow-
ing is a specimen of the English that existed at the
same time, among the common people. Robert de
Brunne, speaking of his Latin and French authori-
ties, says: -
"Als thai haf wryten and sayd
Haf I alle in myn Inglis layd,


In symple speche as I couthe,
That is lightest in manne's mouthe.
Alle for the luf of symple men,
That strange Inglis cannot ken."
The strange Inglis being the language of the
previous specimen:
It was not till toward the end of the thirteenth
century that the prose romances began to appear.
These works generally began with disowning and
discrediting the sources from which in reality they
drew their sole information. As every romance was
supposed to be a real history, the compilers of those
in prose would have forfeited all credit if they had
announced themselves as mere copyists of the min-
strels. On the contrary, they usually state that, as
the popular poems upon the matter in question con-
tain many "lesings," they -had been induced to
translate the real and true history of such or
such a knight from the original Latin or Greek,
or from the ancient British or Armorican authori-
ties, which authorities existed only in their own
A specimen of the style of the prose romances may
be found in the following extract from one of the
most celebrated and latest of them, the Morte d'Ar-
thur of Sir Thomas Mallory, of the date of 1485.
From this work much of the contents of this volume
has been drawn, with as close an adherence to the
original style as was thought consistent with our
plan of adapting our narrative to the taste of mod-
ern readers.


"It is notoyrly known though the vnynersal
world that there been Ix worthy and the best that
ever were. That is to wete there paynyms, three
Jewes, and three crysten men. As for the paynyms,
they were tofore the Incarnacyon of Cryst which
were named, the fyrst Hector of Troye; the second
Alysaunder the grete, and the thyrd Julyus Cezar,
Emperor of Rome, of home thystoryes ben wel
kno and had. And as for the there Jewes whyche
also were tofore thyncarnacyon of our Lord, of
home the fyrst was Due Josue, whyche brought
the children of Israhel into the londe of beheste;
the second Dauyd, kyng of Jherusalem, and the
thyrd Judas Machabeus; of these there the byble re-
herceth al theyr noble hystoryes and actes. And
sythe the sayd Incarnacyon haue ben the noble
crysten men stalled and admitted though the vny-
uersal world to the nombre of the ix beste and wor-
thy, of home was fyrst the noble Arthur, whose
noble actes I purpose to wryte in this present book
here folowyng. The second was Charlemayn, or
Charles the grete, of home thystorye is had in
many places bothe in frensshe and englysshe, and
the thyrd and last was Godefray of boloyn."


It has been well known to the literati and anti-
quarians of Europe, that there exist in the great
public libraries voluminous manuscripts of roman-


ces and tales once popular, but which on the inven-
tion of printing had already become antiquated,
and fallen into neglect. They were therefore never
printed, and seldom perused even by the learned,
until about half a century ago, when attention
was again directed to them, and they were found
very curious monuments of ancient manners, habits,
and modes of thinking. Several have since been
edited, some by individuals, as Sir Walter Scott and
the poet Southey, others by antiquarian societies.
The class of readers which could be counted on for
such publications was so small, that no inducement
of profit could be found to tempt editors and pub-
lishers to give them to the world. It was therefore
only a few, and those the most accessible, which
were put in print. There was a class of manu-
scripts of this kind which were known, or rather
suspected, to be both curious and valuable, but
which it seemed almost hopeless to expect ever to
see in fair printed English. These were the Welsh
popular tales, called Mabinogeon, a plural word, the
singular being Mabinogi, a tale. Manuscripts of
these were contained in the Bodleian Library at
Oxford, and elsewhere, but the difficulty was to
find translators and editors. The Welsh is a spoken
language among the peasantry of Wales, but is en-
tirely neglected by the learned, unless they are na-
tives of the principality. Of the few Welsh schol-
ars none were found who took sufficient interest in
this branch of learning to give these productions to


the English public. Southey and Scott, and others
who, like them, loved the old romantic legends of
their country, often urged upon the Welsh literati
the duty of reproducing the Mabinogeon. Southey,
in the preface to his edition of Morte d'Arthur, says:
" The specimens which I have seen are exceedingly
curious; nor is there a greater desideratum in Brit-
ish literature- than an edition of these tales, with a
literal versioin,:atd such comments as Mr. Davies of
all men is best qualified to give. Certain it is that
many of the Round Table fictions originated in
Wales, or in Bretagne, and probably might still be
traced there."
Again, in a letter to Sir Charles W. W. Wynn,
dated 1819, he says:--
I begin almost to despair of ever seeing more of
the Mabinogeon; and yet, if some competent Welsh-
man could be found to edit it carefully, with as lit-
eral a version as possible, I am sure it might be
made worth his while by a subscription, printing a
small edition at a high price, perhaps two hundred
at five guineas. I myself would gladly subscribe at
that price per volume for such an edition of the
whole of your genuine remains in prose and verse.
Till some such collection is made, the 'gentlemen
of Wales' ought to be prohibited from wearing a
leek; ay, and interdicted from toasted cheese also.
Your bards would have met with better usage, if
they had been Scotchmen."
Sharon Turner and Sir Walter Scott also ex-


pressed a similar wish for the publication of the
Welsh manuscripts. The former took part in an
attempt to effect it, through the instrumentality of
a Mr. Owen, a Welshman, but, we judge, by what
Southey says of him, imperfectly acquainted with
English. Southey's language is, "William Owen
lent me three parts of the Mabinogeon, delightfully
translated into so Welsh an idiom and syntaxi that
: such a translation is as instructive as an original."
: In. Another letter he adds, "Let Sharon make his
language grammatical, but not alter their idiom in
the slightest point."
It is probable Mr. Owen did not proceed far in
an undertaking which, so executed, could expect but
little popular patronage. It was not till an individ-
ual should appear possessed of the requisite knowl.-
edge of the two languages, of enthusiasm sufficient
for the task, and of pecuniary resources sufficient to
be independent of the booksellers and of the reading
public, that such a work could be confidently ex-
pected. Such an individual- has, since: Southey's
day and Scott's, appeared in the person of Lady
Charlotte Guest, an English lady united to a gen-
tleman of property in Wales, who, having acquired
the language of the principality, and become enthu-
siastically fond of its literary treasures, has given
them to the English reader, in a dress which the
printer's and the engraver's arts have done their
best to adorn. In four royal octavo volumes, con-
taining the Welsh originals, the translation, and


ample illustrations from French, German, and other
contemporary and affiliated literature, the Mabino-
geon is spread before us. To the antiquarian and
the student of language and ethnology an invalu-
able treasure, it yet can hardly in such a form win
its way to popular acquaintance. We claim no
other merit than that of bringing it to the knowledge
of our readers, of abridging its details, of selecting
its most. attractive portions, and of faithfully pre-
serving throughout the style in which Lady Guest
has clothed her legends. For this service we hope
that our readers will confess we have laid them un-
der no light obligation.



THE illustrious poet, Milton, in his History of
England, is the author whom we chiefly follow in
this chapter.

According to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant,
and son of Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules,
ruled over the island, to which he gave his name.
Presuming to oppose the progress of Hercules in his
western march, he was slain by him.
Another story is that Histion, the son of Japhet,
the son of Noah, had four sons, Francus, Roma-
nus, Alemannus, and Britto, from whom descended
the French, Roman, German, and British people.
Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton
gives more regard to the story of Brutus, the Tro-
jan, which, he says, is supported by descents of
ancestry long continued, laws and exploits not
plainly seeming to be borrowed or devised, which
on the common belief have wrought no small im-
pression; defended by many, denied utterly by few."


The principal authority is Geoffrey of Monmouth,
whose history, written in the twelfth century, pur-
ports to be a translation of a history of Britain
brought over from the opposite shore of France,
which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly
peopled by natives of Britain, who from time to time
emigrated thither, driven from their own country by
the inroads of the Picts and Scots. According to
this authority, Brutus was the son of Silvius, and
he of Ascanius, the son of JEneas, whose flight from
Troy and settlement in Italy will be found narrated
in "The Age of Fable."
Brutus, at the age of fifteen, attending his father
to the chase, unfortunately killed him with an ar-
row. Banished therefore .by his kindred, he sought
refuge in that part of Greece where Helenus, with
a band of Trojan exiles, had become established.
But Helenus was now dead, and the descendants of
the Trojans were oppressed by Pandrasus,.the king
of the country. Brutus, being kindly received among
them, so throve in virtue and in arms as to win the
regard of all the eminent of the-land above all others
of his age. In consequence of this the Trojans not
only began to hope, but secretly to persuade him to
lead then the way to liberty. To encourage them,
they had the promise of help from Assaracus, a noble
Greek youth, whose mother was a Trojan. He had
suffered wrong at the hands of the king, and for that
reason the more willingly cast in his lot with the
Trojan exiles.


Choosing a fit opportunity, Brutus with his coun-
trymen withdrew to the woods and hills, as the
safest place from which to expostulate, and sent
this message to Pandrasus: "That the Trojans,
holding it unworthy of their ancestors to serve in a
foreign land, had retreated to the woods, choosing
rather a savage life than a slavish one. If that dis-
pleased him, then, with his leave, they would depart
to some other country." Pandrasus, not expecting
so bpld a message from the sons of captives, went in
pursuit of them, with such forces as he could gather,
.and met them on the banks of the Achelous, where
Brutus got the advantage, and took the king captive.
The result was, that the terms demanded by the
Trojans were granted; the king gave his daughter
Imogen in marriage to Brutus, and furnished ship-
ping, money, and fit provision for them all to depart
from the land.
The marriage being solemnized, and shipping from
all parts got together, the Trojans, in a fleet of no
less than three hundred and twenty sail, betook
themselves to the sea. On the third day they ar-
rived at a certain island, which they found destitute
of inhabitants, though there were appearances of
former habitation, and among the ruins a temple
of Diana. Brutus, here performing sacrifice at the
shrine of the goddess, invoked an oracle for his
guidance, in these lines: -
Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will
Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep;


On thy third realm, the earth, look now, and tell
What land, what seat of rest, thou bidd'st me seek;
What certain seat where I may worship thee
For aye, with temples vowed and virgin choirs."

To whom, sleeping before the altar, Diana in a
vision thus answered: -
"Brutus far to the west, in the ocean wide,
Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old;
Now, void, it fits thy people: thither bend
Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat;
There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,
And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded might
Shall awe the world, and conquer nations bold."

Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by Divine di-
rection, sped his course towards the west, and, arriv-
ing at a place on the Tyrrhene sea, found there the
descendants of certain Trojans who with. Antenor
came into Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief.
These joined company, and the ships pursued their
way till they arrived at the mouth of the river Loire,
in France, where the expedition landed, with a view
to a settlement, but were so rudely assaulted by the
inhabitants that they put to sea again, and arrived
at a part of the coast of Britain, now called Devon-
shire, where Brutus felt convinced that he had found
the promised end of his voyage, landed his colony,
and took possession.
The island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a
manner desert and inhospitable, occupied only by a
remnant of the giant race whose excessive force and


tyranny had destroyed the others. The Trojans en-
countered these and extirpated them, Corineus in
particular signalizing himself by his exploits against
them; from whom Cornwall takes its name, for that
region fell to his lot, and there the hugest giants
dwelt, lurking in rocks and caves, till Corineus rid
the land of them.
Brutus built his capital city, and called it Troja-
nova (New Troy), changed in time to Trinovantum,
now London; and, having governed the isle twen-
ty-four years, died, leaving three sons, Locrine,
Albanact, and Camber. Locrine had the. middle
part, Camber the west, called Cambria from him,
and Albanact Albania, now Scotland. Locrine was
married to Guendolen, the daughter of Corineus;
but, having seen a fair maid named Estrildis, who
had been brought captive from Germany, he became
enamored of her, and had by her a daughter, whose
name was Sabra. This matter was kept secret while
Corineus lived; but after his death, Locrine di-
vorced Guendolen, and made Estrildis his queen.
Guendolen, all in rage, departed to Cornwall, where
Madan, her son, lived, who had been brought up by
Corineus, his grandfather. Gathering an army of
her father's friends and subjects, she gave battle to
her husband's forces, and Locrine was slain. Guen-
dolen caused her rival, Estrildis, with her daughter

"For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold,
And Troynovant was built of old Troy's ashes cold."
SPENSER, Book III. Canto IX. 38.



Sabra, to be thrown into the river, from which cause
the river thenceforth bore the maiden's name, which
by length ;of time is now changed into Sabrina-or
Severn. Milton alludes to this in his address to the
rivers, -
Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death"; -

and in his Comus" tells the story with a slight
variation, thus: -
"There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
That with mqist curb sways the smooth .Severn stream;
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure:
SWhilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
That had the sceptre from his father, Brute.
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
'Of her enraged step-dame, Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That stayed her flight with his cross-flowing course.
The water-nymphs that in the bottom played,
Held up their pearldd wrists and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall,
Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to imbatho
In nectared layers strewed with asphodel,
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived,
And underwent a quick, immortal change,
Made goddess of the river," &c.

If our readers ask when all this took place, we
must answer, in the first place, that mythology is
not careful of dates; and next, that, as Brutus was
the great-grandson of 2Eneas, it must have been not
far from a century subsequent to the Trojan war, or
about 1100 years before the invasion of the island


by Julius Caesar. This long interval is filled with
the names of princes whose chief occupation was in
warring with one another. Some few, whose names
remain connected with places, or embalmed in liter-
ature, we will mention.


Bladud built the city of Bath, and dedicated the
medicinal waters to Minerva. He was a man of
great invention, and practised the arts of magic, till,
having made him wings to fly, he fell down upon
the temple of Apollo, in Trinovant, and so died,
after twenty years' reign.


Leir, who next reigned, built Leicester, and called
it after his name. He had no male issue, but only
three daughters. When grown old, he determined
to divide his kingdom among his daughters, and
bestow them in marriage. But first, to try which
of them loved him best, he determined to ask them
solemnly in order, and judge of the warmth of their
affection by their answers. Goneril, the eldest,
knowing well her father's weakness, made answer
that she loved him above her soul." Since thou
so honorest my declining age," said the old man,
" to thee and to thy husband I give the third part
of my realm." Such good success for a few words


soon uttered was ample instruction to Regan, the
second daughter, what to say. She therefore to the
same question replied, that "she loved him more
than all the world beside "; and so received an
equal reward with her sister. But Cordeilla, the
youngest, and hitherto the best beloved, though
having before her eyes the reward of a little easy
soothing, and the loss likely to attend plain-dealing,
yet was not moved from the solid purpose of a sin-
cere and virtuous answer, and replied: "Father,
my love towards you is as my duty bids. They
who pretend beyond this flatter." When the .old
man, sorry to hear this, and wishing her to recall
these words, persisted in asking, she still restrained
her expressions so as to say rather less than more
than the truth. Then Leir, all in a passion, burst
forth: Since thou hast not reverenced thy aged
father like thy sisters, think not to have any part in
my kingdom or what else I have ; and without
delay, giving in marriage his other daughters, Gon-
eril to the Duke of Albany, and Regan to the Duke
of Cornwall, he divides his kingdom between them,
and goes to reside with his eldest daughter, attended
only by a hundred knights. But in a short time his
attendants, being complained of as too numerous
and disorderly, are reduced to thirty. Resenting
that affront, the old king betakes him to his second
daughter; but she, instead of soothing his wounded
pride, takes part with her sister, and refuses to
admit a retinue of more than five. Then back he


returns to the other, who now will not receive him
with more than one attendant. Then the remem-
brance of Cordeilla comes to his thoughts, and he
takes his journey into France to seek her, with little
hope-of kind consideration from one whom he had
so injured, but to pay her the last recompense he
can render, confession of his injustice. When
Cordeilla is informed of his approach, and of his sad
condition, she pours forth true filial tears. And,
not willing that her own or others' eyes should
see him in that forlorn condition, she sends one of
her trusted servants to meet him, and convey him
privately to some comfortable abode, and to furnish
him with such state as befitted his dignity. After
which Cordeilla, with the king her husband, went
in state to meet him, and, after an honorable recep-
tion, the king permitted his wife Cordeilla to go
with an army and set her father again upon his
throne. They prospered, subdued the wicked sis-
ters and their consorts, and Leir obtained the crown
and held it three years. Cordeilla succeeded him,
and reigned five years; but the sons of her sisters,
after that, rebelled against her, and she lost both
her crown and life.
Shakespeare has chosen this story as the subject
of his tragedy of King Lear, varying its details in
some respects The madness of Lear, and the ill
success of Cordeilla's attempt to reinstate her father,
are the principal variations, and those in the names
will also be noticed. Our narrative is drawn from


Milton's History; and thus the reader will perceive
that the story of Leir has had the distinguished'
honor of being told by the two acknowledged chiefs
of British literature.

Ferrex and Porrex were brothers, who held the
kingdom after Leir. They quarrelled about the
supremacy, and Porrex expelled his brother, who,
obtaining aid from Suard, king of the Franks, re-
turned and made war upon Porrex. Ferrex was
slain in battle, and his forces dispersed. When
their mother came to hear of her son's death, who
was her favorite, she fell into a great rage, and con-
ceived a mortal hatred against the survivor. She
took, therefore, her opportunity when he was asleep,
fell upon him, and, with the assistance of her wo-
men, tore him in pieces. This horrid story would
not be worth relating, were it not for the fact that
it has furnished the plot for the first tragedy which
was written in the English language. It was en-
titled Gorboduc, but in the second edition Ferrex
and Porrex, and was the production of Thomas Sack-
ville, afterwards Earl of Dorset, and Thomas Nor-
ton, a barrister. Its date was 1561.

This is the next name of note. Molmutius es-
tablished the Molmutine laws, which bestowed the


privilege of sanctuary on temples, cities, and the
roads leading to them, and gave the same protec-
tion to ploughs, extending a religious sanction to
the labors of the field. Shakespeare alludes to him
in Cymbeline, Act III. Sc. I. -

"Molmutius made our laws;
Who was the first of Britain which did put
His brows within a golden crown, and called
Himself a king."


the sons of Molmutius, succeeded him. They quar-
relled, and Brennus was driven out of .the island,
and took refuge in Gaul, where he met with such
favor from the king of the Allobroges, that he gave
him his daughter in marriage, and made him his
partner on the throne. Brennus is the name which
the Roman historians give to the famous leader of
the Gauls who took Rome in the time of Camillus.
Geoffrey of Monmouth claims the glory of the con-
quest for the British prince, after he had become
king of the Allobroges.


After Belinus and Brennus there reigned several
kings of little note, and then came Elidure. Arth-
gallo, his brother, being king, gave great offence to
his powerful nobles, who rose against him, deposed


him, and advanced Elidure to the throne. Arthgallo
fled, and endeavored to find assistance in the neigh-
boring kingdoms to reinstate him, but found none.
Elidure reigned prosperously and wisely. After five
years' possession of the kingdom, one day, when
hunting, he met in the forest his brother, Arthgallo,
who had been deposed. After long wandering, un-
able longer to bear the poverty to which he was
reduced, he had returned to Britain, with only ten
followers, designing to repair to those who had for-
merly been his friends. Elidure, at the sight of his
brother in distress, forgetting all animosities, ran to
him, and embraced him. He took Arthgallo home
with him, and concealed him in the palace. After
this he feigned himself sick, and, calling his nobles
about him, induced them, partly by persuasion,
partly by force, to consent to his abdicating the
kingdom, and reinstating his brother on the throne.
The agreement being ratified, Elidure took the
crown from his own head, and put it on his broth-
er's head. Arthgallo after this reigned ten years,
well and wisely, exercising strict justice towards all
He died, and left the kingdom to his sons, who
reigned with various fortunes, but were not long-
lived, and left no offspring, so that Elidure was
again advanced to the throne, and finished the
course of his life in just and virtuous actions, re-
ceiving the name of the pious, from the love and
admiration of his subjects.


Wordsworth has taken the story of Artegal and
Elidure for the subject of a poem, which is No. 2
of Poems founded on the Affections."


After Elidure, the Chronicle names many kings,
but none of special note, till we come to Lud, who
greatly enlarged Trinovant, his capital, and sur-
rounded it with a wall. He changed its name, be-
stowing upon it his own, so that thenceforth it
was called Lud's town, afterwards London. Lud
was buried by the gate of the city called after him
Ludgate. He had two sons, but they were not old
enough at the time of their father's death to sustain
the cares of government, and therefore their uncle
Caswallaun, or Cassibellaunus, succeeded to the
kingdom. He was a brave and magnificent prince,
so that his fame reached to distant countries.


About this time it happened (as is found in the
Roman histories) that Julius Caesar, having sub-
dued Gaul, came to the shore opposite Britain.
And having resolved to add this island also to his
conquests, he prepared ships and transported his
army across the sea, to the mouth of the river
Thames. Here he was met by Cassibellaun, with
all his forces, and a battle ensued, in which Nennius,


the brother of Cassibellaun, engaged in single com-
bat with Casar. After several furious blows given
and received, the sword of Casar stuck so fast in
the shield of Nennius, that it could not be pulled
out, -and, the combatants being separated by the
intervention of the troops, Nennius remained pos-
sessed of this trophy. At last, after the greater
part of the day was spent, the Britons poured in so
fast that Casar was forced to retire to his camp and
fleet. And finding it useless to continue the war
any longer at that time, he returned to Gaul.
Shakespeare alludes to Cassibellaunus, in Cymbe-
line : -
"The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point
(0 giglot fortune!) to master Cssar's sword,
Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright,
And Britons strut with courage."


Caesar, on a second invasion of the island, was
more fortunate, and compelled the Britons to pay
tribute. Cymbeline, the nephew of the king, was
delivered to the Romans as a hostage for the faith-
ful fulfilment of the treaty, and, being carried to
Rome by Casar, he was there brought up in the Ro-
man arts and accomplishments. Being afterwards
restored to his country, and placed on the throne, he
was attached to the Romans, and continued through
all his reign at peace with them. His sons, Guide-
rius and Arviragus, who make their appearance in


Shakespeare's play of Cymbeline, succeeded their
father, and, refusing to pay tribute to the Romans,
brought on another invasion. Guiderius was slain,
but Arviragus afterward made terms with the Ro-
mans, and reigned prosperously many years.


The next event of note is the conquest and colo-
nization of Armorica, by Maximus, a Roman general,
and Conan, lord of Miniadoc or Denbigh-land, in
Wales. The name of the country was changed to
Brittany, or Lesser Britain; and so completely was it
possessed by the British colonists, that the language
became assimilated to that spoken in Wales, and it is
said that to this day the peasantry of the two coun-
tries can understand each other when speaking their
native language.
The Romans eventually succeeded in establishing
themselves in the island, and after the lapse of sev-
eral generations they became blended with the na-
tives so that no'distinction existed between the two
races. When at length the Roman armies were
withdrawn from Britain, their departure was a mat-
ter of regret to the inhabitants, as it left them with-
out protection against the barbarous tribes, Scots,
Picts, and Norwegians, who harassed the country
incessantly. This was the state of things when the
era of King Arthur began.


The adventure of Albion, the giant, with Hercu-
les is alluded to by Spenser, Faery Queene, Book
IV. Canto xi.: -

"For Albion the son of Neptune was;
Who for the proof of his great puissance,
Out of his Albion did on dry foot pass
Into old Gaul that now is cleped France,
To fight with Hercules, that did advance
To vanquish all the world with matchless might;
And there his mortal part by great mischancd
Was slain."



MERLIN was the son of no mortal father, but of
an Incubus, one of a class of beings not absolutely
wicked, but far from good, who inhabit the regions
of the air. Merlin's mother was a virtuous young
woman, who, on the birth of her son, intrusted him
to a priest, who hurried him to the baptismal fount,
and so saved him from sharing the lot of his father,
though he retained many marks of his unearthly
At this time Vortigern reigned in Britain. He
was a usurper, who had caused the death of his
sovereign, Moines, and driven the two brothers of
the late king, whose names were Uther and Pen-
dragon, into banishment. Vortigern, who lived in
constant fear of the return of the rightful heirs of
the kingdom, began to erect a strong tower for de-
fence. The edifice, when brought by the workmen
to a certain height, three times fell to the ground,
without any apparent cause. The king consulted
his astrologers on this wonderful event, and learned


from them that it would be necessary to bathe the
corner-stone of the foundation with the blood of a
child born without a mortal father.
In search of such an infant, Vortigern sent his
messengers all over the kingdom, and they by acci-
dent discovered Merlin, whose lineage seemed to
point him out as the individual wanted. They took
him to the king; but Merlin, young as he was, ex-
plained to the king the absurdity of attempting to
rescue the fabric by such means, for he told him the
true cause of the instability of the tower was its
being placed over the den of two immense dragons,
whose combats shook the earth above them. The
king ordered his workmen to dig beneath the tower,
and when they had done so they discovered two
enormous serpents, the one white as milk, the other
red as fire. The multitude looked on 'with amaze-
ment, till the serpents, slowly rising from their den,
and expanding their enormous folds, began the com-
bat, when every one fled in terror, except Merlin,
who stood by clapping his hands and cheering on
the conflict. The red dragon was slain, and the
white one, gliding through a cleft in the rock, dis-
These animals typified, as Merlin afterwards ex-
plained, the invasion of Uther and Pendragon, the
rightful princes, who soon after landed with a great
army. Vortigern was defeated, and afterwards
burned alive in the castle he had taken such pains
to construct. On the death of Vortigern, Pendragon


ascended the throne. Merlin became his chief ad-
viser, and often assisted the king by his magical
arts. Among other endowments, he had the power
of transforming himself into any shape he pleased.
At one time he appeared as a dwarf, at others as
a damsel, a page, or even a greyhound or a stag.
This faculty he often employed for the service of
the king, and sometimes also for the diversion of
the court and the sovereign.
Merlin continued to be a favorite counsellor
through the reigns of Pendragon, Uther, and Ar-
thur, and at last disappeared from view, and was
no more found among men, through the treachery
of his mistress, Viviane, the Fairy, which happened
in this wise.
Merlin, having become enamored of the fair Vivi-
ane, the Lady of the Lake, was weak enough to
impart to her various important secrets of his art,
being impelled by a fatal destiny, of which he was
at the same time fully aware. The lady, however,
was not content with his devotion, unbounded as it
seems to have been, but "cast about," the Romance
tells us, how she might "detain him for evermore,"
and one day addressed him in these terms: Sir, I
would that we should make a fair place and a suit-
able, so contrived by art and by cunning that it
might never be undone, and that you and I should
be there in joy and solace." My lady," said Mer-
lin, "Iwill do all this." "Sir," said she, "I would
not have you do it, but you shall teach me, and I


will do it, and then it will be more to my mind."
"I grant you this," said Merlin. Then he began
to devise, and the damsel put it all in writing.
And when he had devised the whole, then had the
damsel full great joy, and showed him greater sem-
blance of love than she had ever before made, and
they sojourned together a long while. At length it
fell out that, as they were going one day hand in
hand through the forest of Br6celiande, they found
a bush of white-thorn, which was laden with flowers;
and they seated themselves, under the shade of this
"white-thorn, upon the green grass, and Merlin laid
his head upon the damsel's lap, and fell asleep.
Then the damsel rose, and made a ring with'her
wimple round the bush, and round Merlin, and
.began her enchantments, such as he himself had
taught her; and nine times she made the ring, and
nine times she made the enchantment, and then she
went' and sat down by him, and placed his head
again upon her lap. And when he awoke, and
looked round him, it seemed to him that he was
enclosed in the strongest tower in the world, and
laid upon a fair bed. Then said he to the dame:.
" My lady, you have deceived me, unless you abide
with me, for no one hath power to unmake this tower
but you alone." She then promised she would be
often there, and in this she held her covenant with
him. And Merlin never went out of that tower
where his Mistress Viviane had enclosed him; but
she entered and went out again when she listed.


After this event Merlin was never more known to
hold converse with any mortal but Viviane, except
on one occasion. Arthur, having for some time
missed him from his court, sent several of his
knights in search of him, and, among the number,
Sir Gawain, who met with a very unpleasant adven-
ture while engaged in this quest. Happening to
pass a damsel on his road, and neglecting to salute
her, she revenged herself for his incivility by trans-
forming him into a hideous. dwarf. He was bewail-
ing aloud his evil fortune as he went through the
forest of Br4c6liande, when suddenly he heard the
voice of one groaning on his right hand; and, look-
ing that way, he could see nothing save a kind of
smoke, which seemed like air, and through which
he could not pass.. Merlin then addressed him from
out the smoke, and told him by what misadventure
he was imprisoned there. "Ah, Sir! he added,
" you will never see me more, and that grieves me,
but I cannot remedy it; I shall never more speak to
you, nor to any other person, save only my mistress.
But do thou hasten to King Arthur, and charge
him from me to undertake, without delay, the quest
of the Sacred Graal. The knight is already born,
and has received knighthood at his hands, who is
destined to. accomplish this quest." And after this
he comforted Gawain under his transformation, as-
suring.him that he should speedily be disenchanted;
and he predicted to him that he should find the king
at Carduel, in Wales, on his return, and that all the


other knights who had been on like quest would
arrive there the same day as himself. And all this
came to pass as Merlin had said.
Merlin is frequently introduced in the tales of
chivalry, but it is chiefly on great occasions, and at
a period subsequent to his death, or magical disap-
pearance. In the romantic poems of Italy, and in
Spenser, Merlin is chiefly represented as a magical
artist. Spenser represents him as the artificer of
the impenetrable shield and other armor of Prince
Arthur (Faery Queene, Book I. Canto vii.), and of
a mirror, in which a damsel viewed her lover's shade.
The Fountain of Love, in the Orlando Innamorato,
is described as his work; and in the poem of Ari-
osto we are told of a hall adorned with prophetic
paintings, which demons had executed in a single
night, under the direction of Merlin.
The following legend is from Spenser's Faery
Queene (Book III. Canto iii.) :-

Forthwith themselves disguising both, in strange
And base attire, that none might them bewray,
To Maridunum, that is now by change
Of name Caer-Merdin called, they took their way:
There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say)
To make his wonne, low underneath the ground
In a deep delve, far from the view of day,
That of no living wight he mote be found,
Whenso he counselled with his sprights encompassed round.

And if thou ever happen that same way
To travel, go to see that dreadful place;


It is a hideous hollow cave (they say)
Under a rock that lies a little space
From the swift Barry, tombling down apace
Amongst the woody hills of Dynevor;
But dare not thou, I charge, in any case,
To enter into that same baleful bower,
For fear the cruel fiends should thee unwares devour.

But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear,
And there such ghastly noise of iron chains
And brazen cauldrons thou shalt rumbling hear,
Which thousand sprites with long enduring pains
Do toss, that it will stun thy feeble brains;
And oftentimes great groans, and grievous sounds,
When too huge toil and labor them constrains;
And oftentimes loud strokes and ringing sounds
From under that deep rock most horribly rebounds.

The cause some say is this. A little while
Before that Merlin died, he did intend
A brazen wall in compas to compile
About Caermerdin, and did it commend
Unto these sprites to bring to perfect end;
During which work the Lady of the Lake,
Whom long he loved, for him in haste did send;
Who, thereby forced his workmen to forsake,
Them bound till his return their labor not to slack.

In the mean time, through that false lady's train,
He was surprised, and buried under beare,*
Ne ever to his work returned again;
Nathless those fiends may not their work forbear,
So greatly his commandment they fear;
But there do toil and travail day and night,
Until that brazen wall they up do rear.
For Merlin had in magic more insight
Than ever him before or after living wight.

Buriedunder bear. Buried under something which enclosed him
like a coffin or bier.



WE shall begin our history of King Arthur by
giving those particulars of his life which appear to
rest on historical evidence; and then proceed to re-
cord those legends concerning him which form the
earliest portion of British literature.
Arthur was a prince of the tribe of Britons called
Silures, whose country was South Wales, the son
of Uther, named Pendragon, a title given to an
elective sovereign, paramount over the many kings
of Britain. He appears to have commenced his
martial career about the year 500, and was raised
to the Pendragonship about ten years later. He is
said to have gained twelve victories over the Sax-
ons. The most important of them was that of Ba-
don, by some supposed to be Bath, by others Berk-
shire. This was the last of his battles with the Sax-
ons, and checked their progress so effectually, that
Arthur experienced no more annoyance from them,
and reigned in peace, until the revolt of his nephew
Modred, twenty years later, which led to the fatal


battle of Camlan, in Cornwall, in 542. Modred was
slain, and Arthur, mortally wounded, was conveyed
by sea to Glastonbury, where he died, and was
buried. Tradition preserved the memory of the
place of his interment within the abbey, as we are
told by Giraldus Cambrensis, who was present when
the grave was opened by command of Henry II.
about 1150, and saw the bones and sword of the
monarch, and a leaden cross let into his tombstone,
with the inscription in rude Roman letters, "Here
lies buried the famous King Arthur, in the island
Avalonia." This story has been elegantly versified
by Warton. A popular traditional belief was long
entertained among the Britons, that Arthur was not
dead, but had been carried off to be healed of his
wounds in Fairy-land, and that he would re-appear
to avenge his countrymen and reinstate them in the
sovereignty of Britain. In Warton's Ode a bard re-
lates to King Henry the traditional story of Arthur's
death, and closes with these lines.
Yet in vain a paynim foe
Armed with fate the mighty blow;
For when he fell, the Elfin queen,
All in secret and unseen,
O'er the fainting hero threw
Her mantle of ambrosial blue,
And bade her spirits bear him far,
In Merlin's agate-axled car,
To her green isle's enamelled steep,
Far in the navel of the deep.
O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew
From flowers that in Arabia grew.


There he reigns a mighty king,
Thence to Britain shall return,
If right prophetic rolls I learn,
Borne on victory's spreading plume,
His ancient sceptre to resume,
His knightly table to restore,
And brave the tournaments of yore."

After this narration another bard came forward
who recited a different story.

"'When Arthur bowed his haughty crest,
No princess veiled in azure vest
Snatched him, by Merlin's powerful spell,
In groves of golden bliss to dwell;
But when he fell, with winged speed,
His champions, on a milk-white steed,
From the battle's hurricane,
Bore him to Joseph's towered fane,*
In the fair vale of Avalon;
There, with chanted orison
And the long blaze of tapers clear,
The stoled fathers met the bier;
Through the dim aisles, in order dread
Of martial woe, the chief they led,
And deep entombed in holy ground,
Before the altar's solemn bound."

It must not be concealed, that the very existence

Glastonbury Abbey, said to be founded by Joseph of Arima-
thea, in a spot anciently called the island or valley of Avalonia.
Tennyson, in his Palace of Art, alludes to the legend of Arthur's
rescue by the Fairy queen, thus:-
"Or mythic Uther's deeply wounded son,
In some fair space of sloping greens,
Lay dozing in the vale of Avalon,
And watched by weeping queens."


of Arthur has been denied by some. Milton says
of him: "As io Arthur, more renowned in songs
and romances than in true stories, who he was, and
whether ever any such reigned in Britain, hath been
doubted heretofore, and may again, with good rea-
son." Modern critics, however, admit that there
was a prince of this name, and find proof of it in
the frequent mention of him in the writings of the
Welsh bards. But the Arthur of romance, accord-
ing to Mr. Owen, a Welsh scholar and antiquarian,
is a mythological person. Arthur," he says, is
the Great Bear, as the name literally implies (Arc-
tos, Arcturus), and perhaps this constellation, being
so near the pole, and visibly describing a circle in
a small space, is the origin of the famous Round

Constans, king of Britain, had three sons, Moines,
Ambrosius, otherwise called Uther, and Pendragon.
Moines, soon after his accession to the crown, was
vanquished by the Saxons, in consequence of the
treachery of his seneschal, Vortigern, and growing
unpopular, through misfortune, he was killed by his
subjects, and the traitor Vortigern chosen in his
Vortigern was soon after defeated in a great bat-
tle by Uther and Pendragon, the surviving brothers
of Moines, and Pendragon ascended the throne.
This prince had great confidence in the wisdom


of Merlin, and made him his chief adviser. About
this time a dreadful war arose between the Saxons
and Britons. Merlin obliged the royal brothers to
swear fidelity to each other, but predicted that one
of them must fall in the first battle. The Saxons
were routed, and Pendragon, being slain, was suc-
ceeded by Uther, who now assumed in addition to
his own name the appellation of Pendragon.
Merlin still continued a favorite counsellor. At
the request of Uther, he transported by magic art
enormous stones from Ireland, to form the sepulchre
of Pendragon. These stones constitute the monu-
ment now called Stonehenge, on Salisbury plain.
Merlin next proceeded to Carlisle to prepare the
Round Table, at which he seated an assemblage of
the great nobles of the country. The companions
admitted to this high order were bound by oath to
assist each other at the hazard of their own lives, to
attempt singly the most perilous adventures, to lead,
when necessary, a life of monastic solitude, to fly to
arms at the first summons, and never to retire from
battle till they had defeated the enemy, unless night
intervened and separated the combatants.
Soon after this institution, the king invited all his
barons to the celebration of a great festival, which
he proposed holding annually at Carlisle.
As the knights had obtained the sovereign's per-
mission to bring their ladies along with them, the
beautiful Igerne accompanied her husband, Gorlois,
Dfuke of Tintadiel, to one of these anniversaries.


The king became deeply enamored of the Duchess,
and disclosed his passion; but Igerne repelled his
advances, and revealed his solicitations to her hus-
band. On hearing this, the Duke instantly removed
from court with Igerne, and without taking leave
of Uther. The king complained to his council of
this want of duty, and they decided that the Duke
should be summoned to court, and, if refractory,
should be treated as a rebel. As he refused to obey
thEcitation, the king carried war into the estates of
his vassal, and besieged him in the strong castle of
Tintadiel. Merlin transformed the king into the
likeness of Gorlois, and enabled him to have many
stolen interviews with Igerne. At length the Duke
was killed in battle, and the king espoused Igerne.
From this union sprang Arthur, who succeeded
his father, Uther, upon the throne.


Arthur, though only fifteen years old at his fa-
ther's death, was elected. king, at a general meeting
of the nobles. It was not done without opposition,
for there were many ambitious competitors; but
Bishop Brice, a person of great sanctity, on Christ-
mas eve addressed the assembly, and represented
that it would well become them, at that solemn sea-
son, to put up their prayers for some. token which
should manifest the intentions of Providence re-
specting their future sovereign. 'his was done,


and with such success, that the service was scarcely
ended, when a miraculous stone was discovered, be-
fore the church door, and in the stone was firmly
fixed a sword, with the following words engraven on
its hilt: -
"I am hight Escalibore,
Unto a king fair tresore."

Bishop Brice, after exhorting the assembly to offer
up their thanksgivings for this signal miracle, pro-
posed a law, that whoever should be able to draw
out the sword from the stone, should be acknowl-
edged as sovereign of the Britons; and his proposal
was decreed by general acclamation. Th'e tributary
kings of Uther, and the most famous knights suc-
cessively put their strength to the proof, but the mi-
raculous sword resisted all their efforts. It stood
till Candlemas; it stood till Easter, and till Pente-
cost, when the best knights in the kingdom usually
assembled for the annual tournament. Arthur, who
was at that time serving in the capacity of squire to
his foster-brother, Sir Kay, attended his master to
the lists. Sir Kay fought with great valor and suc-
cess, but had the misfortune to break his sword, and
sent Arthur to his mother for a new one. Arthur
hastened home, but did not find the lady; but hav-
ing observed near the church a sword, sticking in a
stone, he galloped to the place, drew out the sword
with great ease, and delivered it to his master. Sir
Kay would willingly have assumed to himself the
distinction conferred by the possession of the sword;


but when, to confirm the doubters, the sword was re-
placed in the stone, he was utterly unable to with-
draw it, and it would yield a second time to no hand
but Arthur's. Thus decisively pointed out by
Heaven as their king, Arthur was by general con-
sent, proclaimed as such, and an early day ap-
pointed for his solemn coronation.
Immediately after his election to the crown, Ar-
thur found himself opposed by eleven kings and one
duke, who with a vast army were actually encamped
in the forest of Rockingham. By Merlin's advice
Arthur sent an embassy to Brittany, to solicit the
aid of King Ban and King Bohort, two of the best
knights in the world. They accepted the call, and
with a powerful army crossed the sea, landing at
Portsmouth, where they were received with great
rejoicing. The rebel kings were still superior in
numbers; but Merlin, by a powerful enchantment,
caused all their tents to fall down at once, and in
the confusion Arthur with his allies fell upon them
and totally routed them.
After defeating the rebels, Arthur took the field
against the Saxons. As they were too strong for
him unaided, he sent an embassy to Armorica, be-
seeching the assistance of Hoel, who soon after
brought over an army to his aid. The two kings
joined their forces, and sought the enemy, whom
they met, and both sides prepared for a decisive en-
gagement. Arthur himself," as Geoffrey of Mon-
mouth relates," dressed in a breastplate worthy of


so great a king, places on his head a golden helmet
engraved with the semblance of a dragon. Over his
.shoulders he throws his shield called Priwen, on
which a picture of the Holy Virgin constantly re-
called her to his memory. Girt with Caliburn, a
most excellent sword, and fabricated in the isle of
Avalon, he graces his right hand with the lance named
Ron. This was a long and broad spear, well con-
trived for slaughter." After a severe conflict, Ar-
thur, calling on the name of the Virgin, rushes into
the midst of his enemies, and destroys multitudes
of them with the formidable Caliburn, and puts the
rest to flight. Hoel, being detained by sickness,
took no part in this battle.
This is called the victory of Mount Badon,. and,
however disguised by fable, it is regarded by histo-
rians as a real event.
The feats performed by Arthur at the battle of
Badon Mount are thus celebrated in Drayton's
verse: -
"They sung how he himself at Badon bore, that day,
When at the glorious goal his British scepter lay;
Two daies together how the battel stronglie stood;
Pendragon's worthie son, who waded there in blood,
Three hundred Saxons slew with his owne valiant hand."
Song IV.


Merlin had planned for Arthur a marriage with
the daughter of King Laodegari of Carmalide. By
his advice Arthur paid a visit to the court of that


sovereign, attended only by Merlin and by thirty-
nine knights whom the magician had selected for
that service. On their arrival they found Laodegan
and his peers sitting in council, endeavoring, but
with small prospect of success, to devise means of
resisting the impending attack of Ryence, king of
Ireland, who, with fifteen tributary kings and an
almost innumerable army, had nearly surrounded
'the city. Merlin, who acted as leader of the band
of British knights, announced them as strangers,'
who came to offer the king their services in his
wars; but under the express condition that they
should be at liberty to conceal their names and
quality until they should think proper to divulge
them. These terms were thought very strange, but
*were thankfully accepted, and the strangers, after
taking the usual oath to the king, retired to the
lodging which Merlin had prepared for them.
A few days after this, the enemy, regardless of a
truce into which they had entered with King Laode-
gan, suddenly issued from their camp and made an
attempt to surprise the city. Cleodalis, the king's
general, assembled the royal forces with all possible
despatch. Arthur and his companions also flew to
arms, and Merlin appeared at their head, bearing a
standard on which was emblazoned a terrific dragon.
Merlin advanced to the gate, and commanded the
porter to open it, which the porter refused to do,
without the king's order. Merlin thereupon took
up the gate, with all its appurtenances of locks, bars,


bolts, &c., and directed his troop to pass through,
after which he replaced it in perfect order. He
then set spurs to his horse, and dashed, at the head
of his little troop, into a body of two thousand Pa-
gans. The disparity of numbers being so enormous,
Merlin cast a spell upon the enemy, so as to prevent
their seeing the small number of their assailants;
notwithstanding which the British knights were
hard pressed. But the people of the city, who saw
from the walls this unequal contest, were ashamed
of leaving the small body of strangers to their fate,
so they opened the gate and sallied forth. The
numbers were now more nearly equal, and Merlin
revoked his spell, so that the two armies encoun-
tered on fair terms. Where Arthur, Ban, Bohort,
* and the rest fought, the king's army had the advan-
tage; but in another part of the field, the king him-
self was surrounded and carried off by the enemy.
This sad sight was seen by Guenever, the fair
daughter of the king, who stood on the city wall
and looked at the battle. She was in dreadful dis-
tress, tore her hair, and swooned away.
But Merlin, aware of what passed in every part of
the field, suddenly collected his knights, led them
out of the battle, intercepted the passage of the party
who were carrying away the king, charged them
with irresistible impetuosity, cut in pieces or dis-
persed the whole escort, and rescued tle king. 1i
the fight Arthur encountered Caulang, a giant fif-
teen feet high, and the fair Guenever, who already


began to feel a strong interest in the handsome
young stranger, trembled for the issue of the con-
test. But Arthur, dealing a dreadful blow on the
shoulder of the monster, cut through his neck so
that his head hung over on one side, and in this
condition his horse carried him about the field, to
the great horror and dismay of the Pagans. Gue-
never could not refrain from expressing aloud her
wish that the gentle knight, who dealt with giants
so dexterously, were destined to become her hus-
band, and the wish was echoed by her attendants.
The enemy soon turned their backs, and fled with
precipitation, closely pursued by Laodegan and his
After the battle Arthur was disarmed and con-
ducted to the bath by the princess Guenever, while
his friends were attended by the other ladies of the
court. After the bath the knights were conducted
to a magnificent entertainment, at which they were
diligently served by the same fair attendants. La-
odegan, more and more anxious to know the name
and quality of his generous deliverers, and occasion-
ally forming a secret wish that the chief of his guests
might be captivated by the charms of his daughter,
appeared silent and pensive, and was scarcely roused
from his reverie by the banters of his courtiers. Ar-
thur, having had an opportunity of explaining to
Guenever his great esteem for her merit, was in the
joy of his heart, and was still further delighted by
hearing from Merlin the late exploits of Gawain at


London, by means of which his immediate ret7th to
his dominions was rendered unnecessary, and he
was left at liberty to protract his stay at the court
of Laodegan. Every day contributed to increase
the admiration of the whole court for the gallant
strangers, and the passion of Guenever for their
chief; and when at last Merlin announced to the
king that the object of the visit of the party was to
procure a bride for their leader, Laodegan at once
presented Guenever to Arthur, telling him that,
whatever might be his rank, his merit was sufficient
to entitle him to the possession of the heiress of Car-
malide. Arthur accepted the lady with the utmost
gratitude, and Merlin then proceeded to satisfy the
king of the rank of his son-in-law; upon which La-
odegan, with all his barons, hastened to do homage
to their lawful sovereign, the successor of Uther
Pendragon. The fair Guenever was then solemnly
betrothed to Arthur, and a magnificent festival was
proclaimed, which lasted seven days. At the end
of that time, the enemy appearing again with re-
newed force, it became necessary to resume military
We must now relate what took place at and near
London, while Arthur was absent from his capital.
At this very time a band of young heroes were on

Guencver, the name of Arthur's queen, also written Genievre and
Geneura, is familiar to all who are conversant with chivalric lore. It
is to her adventures, and those of her true knight, Sir Launcelot,
that Dante alludes in the beautiful episode of Francesca da Rimini.


theI way to Arthur's court, for the purpose of re-
ceiving knighthood from him. They were Gawain
and his three brothers, nephews of Arthur, sons of
King Lot, and Galachin, another nephew, son of
King Nanters. King Lot had been one of the rebel
chiefs whom Arthur had defeated, but he now hoped
by means of the young men to be reconciled to
his brother-in-law. He equipped his sons and his
nephew with the utmost magnificence, giving them
a splendid retinue of young men, sons of earls and
barons, all mounted on the best horses, with com-
plete suits of choice armor. They numbered in all
seven hundred, but only nine had yet received the
order of knighthood; the rest were candidates for
that honor, and anxious to earn it by an early en-
counter with the enemy. Gawain, the leader, was
a knight of wonderful strength; but what was most
remarkable about him was that his strength was
greater at certain hours of the day than at others.
From nine o'clock till noon his strength was doubled,
and so it was from three to even-song; for the rest of
the time it was less remarkable, though at all times
surpassing that of ordinary men.
After a march of three days they arrived in the
vicinity of London, where they expected to find Ar-
thur and his court; and very unexpectedly fell in
with a large convoy belonging to the enemy, consist-
ing of numerous carts and wagons, all loaded with
provisions, and escorted.by three thousand men, who
had been collecting spoil from all the country round.


A single charge from Gawain's impetuous cavalry
was sufficient to disperse the escort and recover the
convoy, which was instantly despatched to London.
But before long a body of seven thousand fresh sol-
diers advanced to the attack of the five princes and
their little army. Gawain, singling out a chief
named Choas, of gigantic size, began the battle by
splitting him from the crown of the head to the
breast. Galachin encountered King Sanagran, who
was also very huge, and cut off his head. Agrivain
and Gahariet also performed prodigies of valor.
Thus they kept the great army of assailants at bay,
though hard pressed, till of a sudden they perceived
a strong body of the citizens advancing from London,
where the convoy which had been recovered by Ga-
wain had arrived, and informed the mayor and citi-
zens of the danger of their deliverer. The arrival
of the Londoners soon decided the contest. The
enemy fled in all directions, and Gawain and his
friends, escorted by the grateful citizens, entered
London, and were received with acclamations



AFTER the great victory of Mount Badon, by which
the Saxons were for the time effectually put down,
Arthur turned his arms against the Scots and Picts,
whom he routed at Lake Lomond, and compelled to
sue for mercy. He then went to York to keep his
Christmas, and employed himself in restoring the
Christian churches which the Pagans had rifled and
overthrown. The following summer he conquered
Ireland, and then made a voyage with his fleet to
Iceland, which lie also subdued. The kings of Goth-
land and of the Orkneys came voluntarily and made
their submission, promising to pay tribute. Then
he returned to Britain, where, having established
the kingdom, he dwelt twelve years in peace.
During this time he invited over to him all per-
sons whatsoever that were famous for valor in for-
eign nations, and augmented the number of his
domestics, and introduced such politeness into his
court as people of the remotest countries thought
worthy of their imitation. So that there was not a


nobleman who thought himself of any consideration
unless his clothes and arms were made in the same
fashion as those of Arthur's knights.
Finding himself so powerful at home, Arthur be-
gan to form designs for extending his power abroad.
So, having prepared his fleet, he first attempted Nor-
way, that he might procure the crown of it for Lot,
his sister's husband. Arthur landed in Norway,
fought a great battle with the king of that country,
defeated him, and pursued the victory till he had re-
duced the whole country under his dominion, and
established Lot upon the throne. Then Arthur
made a voyage to Gaul and laid siege to the city of
Paris. Gaul was at that time a Roman province,
and governed by Flollo, the Tribune. When the siege
of Paris had continued a month, and the people be-
gan to suffer from famine, Flollo challenged Arthur
to single combat, proposing to decide the conquest of
the province in that way. Arthur gladly accepted the
challenge, and slew his adversary in the contest, upon
which the citizens surrendered the city to him. After
the victory Arthur divided his army into two parts,
one of which he committed to the conduct of Hoel,
whom he ordered to march into Aquitaine, while he
with the other part should endeavor to subdue the
other provinces. At the end of nine years, in which
time all the parts of Gaul were entirely reduced,
Arthur returned to Paris, where he kept his court,
and, calling an assembly of the clergy and people,
established peace and the just administration of the


laws in that kingdom. Then he bestowed Norman-
dy upon Bedver, his butler, and the province of
Andegavia upon Kay, his steward,* and several
other provinces upon his great men that attended
him. And, having settled the peace of the cities
and countries, he returned back in the beginning
of spring to Britain.
Upon the approach of the feast of Pentecost, Ar-
thur, the better to demonstrate his joy after such
triumphant successes, and for the .more solemn ob-
servation of that festival, and reconciling the minds
of the princes that were now subject to him, resolved
during that season to hold a magnificent court, to
place the crown upon his head, and to invite all the
kings and dukes under his subjection to the solem-
nity. And he pitched upon Caerleon, the City of
Legions, as the proper place for his purpose. For,
besides its great wealth above the other cities, its

This name, in the French romances, is spelled Queux, which
means head cook. This would seem to imply that it was a title, and
not a name; yet the personage who bore it is never mentioned by any
other. He is the chief, if not the only, comic character among the
heroes of Arthur's court. He is the Seneschal or Steward, his duties
also embracing those of chief of the cooks. In the romances, his
general character is a compound of valor and buffoonery, always
ready to fight, and generally getting the worst of the battle. He is
also sarcastic and abusive in his remarks, by which he often gets into
trouble. Yet Arthur seems to have an attachment to him, and often
takes his advice, which is generally wrong.
t Several cities are allotted to King Arthur by the romance-writers.
The principal are Caerleon, Camelot, and Carlisle.
Caerleon derives its name from its having been the station of one
of the legions, during the dominion of the Romans. It is called by


situation upon the river Usk, near the Severn sea,
was most pleasant and fit for so great a solemnity.
For on one side it was washed by that noble river,
so that the kings and princes from the countries be-
yond the seas might have the convenience of sailing
up to it. On the other side the beauty of the mead-
ows and groves, and magnificence of the royal pal-
aces, with lofty gilded roofs that adorned it, made
it even rival the grandeur of Rome. It was also
famous for two churches, whereof one was adorned
with a choir of virgins, who devoted themselves
wholly to the service of God, and the other main-
tained a convent of priests. Besides, there was a
college of two hundred philosophers, who, being
learned in astronomy and the other arts, were dili-
gent in observing the courses of the stars, and gave
Arthur true predictions of the events that would
happen. In this place, therefore, which afforded

Latin writers Urbs Legionum, the City of Legions. The former word
being rendered into Welsh by Caer, meaning city, and the latter con-
tracted into Ileon. The river Usk retains its name in modern ge-
ography, and there is a town or city of Caerleon upon it, though
the city of Cardiff is thought to be the scene of Arthur's court. Ches-
ter also bears in Welsh the name of Caerleon; for Chester, derived
from castra, Latin for camp, is the designation of military head-
Camelot is thought to be Winchester.
Shalott is Guildford.
Hamo's Port is Southampton.
Carlisle is the city still retaining that name, near the Scottish bor-
der. But this name is also sometimes applied to other places, which
were, like itself, military stations.


such delights, were preparations made for the en-
suing festival,
Ambassadors were then sent into several king-
doms, to invite to court the princes both of Gaul
and of the adjacent islands. Accordingly there
came Augusel, king of Albania, now Scotland, Cad-
wallo, king of Venedotia, now North Wales, Sater,
king of Demetia, now South Wales; also the arch-
bishops of the metropolitan sees, London and York,
and Dubricius, bishop of Caerleon, the City of Le-
gions. This prelate, who was primate of Britain,
was so eminent for his piety, that he could cure any
sick person by his prayers. There were also the
counts of the principal cities, and many other wor-
thies of no less dignity.
From the adjacent islands came Guillamurius,
king of Ireland, Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys,
Malvasius, king of Iceland, Lot, king of Norway,
Bedver the butler, Duke of Normandy, Kay the
sewer, Duke of Andegavia; also the twelve peers of
Gaul, and Hoel, Duke of the Armorican Britons, with
his nobility, who came with such a train of mules,
horses, and rich furniture, as it is difficult to de-
scribe. Besides these, there remained no prince of
any consideration on this side of Spain who came
not upon this invitation. And no wonder, when
Arthur's munificence, which was celebrated over
the whole world, made him beloved by all people.
When all were assembled, upon the day of the
solemnity, the archbishops were conducted to the


palace, in order to place the crown upon the king's
head. Then Dubricius, inasmuch as the court was
held'in his diocese, made himself ready to celebrate
the office. As soon as the king was invested with
his royal habiliments, he was conducted in great
pomp to the metropolitan church, having four kings,
viz. of Albania, Cornwall, Demetia, and Venedotia,
bearing four golden swords before him. On another
part was the queen, dressed out in her richest orna-
ments, conducted by the archbishops and bishops to
the Church of Virgins; the four queens, also, of the
kings last mentioned, bearing before her four white
doves, according to ancient custom. When the
whole procession was ended, so transporting was
the harmony of the musical instruments and voices,
whereof there was a vast variety in both churches,
that the knights who attended were in doubt which
to prefer, and therefore crowded from the one to the
other by turns, and were far from being tired of the
solemnity, though the whole day had been spent in
it. At last, when divine service was over at both
churches, the king and queen put off their crowns,
and, putting on their lighter ornaments, went to the
banquet. When they had all taken their seats ac-
cording to precedence, Kay the sewer, in rich robes
of ermine, with a thousand young noblemen all in
like manner clothed in rich attire, served up the
dishes. From another part Bedver the butler was
followed by the same number of attendants, who
waited with all kinds of cups and drinking-vessels.


And there was food and drink in abundance, and
-everything was of the best kind, and served in the
best manner. For at that time Britain had arrived
at such a pitch of grandeur, that in riches, luxury,
and politeness it far surpassed all other kingdoms.
As soon as the banquets were over, they went into
the fields without the city, to divert themselves with
various sports, such as shooting with bows and ar-
rows, tossing the pike, casting of heavy stones and
rocks, playing at dice, and the like, and all these
inoffensively, and without quarrelling. In this
manner were three days spent, and after that they
separated, and the kings and noblemen departed to
their several homes.
After this Arthur reigned five years in peace.
Then came ambassadors from Lucius Tiberius, Pro-
curator under Leo, Emperor of Rome, demanding
tribute. But Arthur refused to pay tribute, and
prepared for war. As soon as the necessary dispo-
sitions were made, he committed the government of
his kingdom to his nephew Modred and to Queen
Guenever, and marched with his army to Hamo's
Port, where the wind stood fair for him. The army
crossed over in safety, and landed at the mouth of
the river Barba. And there they pitched their tents
to wait the arrival of the kings of the islands.
As soon as all the forces were arrived, Arthur
marched forward to Augustodunum, and encamped
on the banks of the river Alba. Here repeated bat-
tles were fought, in all which the Britons, under their


valiant leaders, Hoel, Duke of Armorica, and Gawain,
nephew to Arthur, had the advantage. At length
Lucius Tiberius determined to retreat, and wait for
the Emperor Leo to join him with fresh troops.
But Arthur, anticipating this event, took possession
of a certain valley, and closed up the way of retreat
to Lucius, compelling him to fight a decisive battle,
in which Arthur lost some of the bravest of his
knights and most faithful followers. But on the
other hand Lucius Tiberius was slain, and his army
Totally defeated. The fugitives dispersed over the
country, some to the by-ways and woods, some to
the cities and towns, and all other places where they
could hope for safety.
Arthur stayed in those parts till the next winter
was over, and employed his time in restoring order
and settling the government. He then returned
into England, and celebrated his victories with
great splendor.
Then the king established all his knights, and to
them that were not rich he gave lands, and charged
them all never to do outrage nor murder, and al-
ways to flee treason; also, by no means to be cruel,
but to give mercy unto him that asked mercy, upon
pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship; and
always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen
service, upon pain of death. Also that no man take
battle in a wrongful quarrel, for no law, nor for
any world's goods. Unto this were all the knights
sworn of the Table Round, both old and young.


And at every year were they sworn at the high feast
of Pentecost.


While the army was encamped in Brittany, await-
ing the arrival of the kings, there came a country-
man to Arthur, and told him that a giant, whose
cave was on a neighboring mountain, called St.
Michael's Mount, had for a long time been accus-
tomed to carry off the children of the peasants, to
devour them. And now he hath taken the Duch-
ess of Brittany, as she rode with her attendants, and
hath carried her away in spite of all they could do."
"Now, fellow," said King Arthur, "canst thou
bring me there where this giant haunteth ? "Yea,
sure," said the good man; "lo, yonder where thou
seest two great fires, there shalt thou find him, and
more treasure than I suppose is in all France be-
side." Then the king called to him Sir Bedver and
Sir Kay, and commanded them to make ready horse
and harness for himself and them; for after evening
he would ride on pilgrimage to St. Michael's Mount.
So they three departed, and rode forth till they
came to the foot of the mount. And there the king
commanded them to tarry, for he would himself
go up into that mount. So he ascended the hill
till he came to a great fire, and there he found an
aged woman sitting by a new-made grave, making


great sorrow. Then King Arthur saluted her, and
demanded of her wherefore she made such lamenta-
tion; to whom she answered: Sir knight, speak
low, for yonder is a devil, and if he hear thee speak,
he will come and destroy thee. For ye cannot make
resistance to him, he is so fierce and so strong. He
hath murdered the Duchess, which here lieth, who
was the fairest of all the world, wife to Sir Hoel,
Duke of Brittany." Dame," said the king, I
come from the noble conqueror, King Arthur, to
treat with that tyrant." Fie on such treaties,"
said she; he setteth not by the king, nor by no
man else." "Well," said Arthur, "I will accom-
plish my message for all your fearful words." So
he went forth by the crest of the hill, and saw where
the giant sat at supper, gnawing on the limb of a
man, and baking his broad limbs at the fire, and
three fair damsels lying bound, whose lot it was to
be devoured in their turn. When King Arthur be-
held that, he had great compassion on them, so that
his heart bled for sorrow. Then he hailed the giant,
saying, "He that all the world ruleth give thee
short life and shameful death. Why hast thou
murdered this Duchess? Therefore come forth,
thou caitiff, for this day thou shalt die by my hand."
Then the giant started up, and took a great club,
and smote at the king, and smote off his coronal;
and then the king struck him in the belly with his
sword, and made a fearful wound. Then the giant
threw away his club, and caught the king in his


arms, so that he crushed his ribs. Then the three
maidens kneeled down and prayed for help and
comfort for Arthur. And Arthur weltered and
wrenched, so that he was one while under, and an-
other time above. And so weltering and wallowing
they rolled down the hill, and ever as they weltered
Arthur smote him with his dagger; and it fortune
they came to the place where the two knights were.
And when they saw the king fast in the giant's arms,
they came and loosed him. Then the king com-
manded Sir Kay to smite off the giant's head, and
to set it on the truncheon of a spear, and fix it on
the barbican, that all the people might see and be-
hold it. This was done, and anon it was known
through all the country, wherefor the people came
and thanked the king. And he said, Give your
thanks to God; and take ye the giant's spoil and
divide it among you." And King Arthur caused a
church to be builded on that hill, in honor of St.


One day King Arthur rode forth, and on a sudden
he was ware of three churls chasing Merlin, to have
slain him. And the king rode unto them and bade
them, Flee, churls! Then were they afraid when
they saw a knight, and fled. "0 Merlin," said
Arthur, "here hadst thou been slain, for all thy


crafts, had I not been by." Nay," said Merlin,
" not so, for I could save myself if I would; but
thou art more near thy death than I am." So, as
they went thus talking, King Arthur perceived where
sat a knight on horseback, as if to guard the pass.
" Sir knight," said Arthur, for what cause abidest
thou here ?" Then the knight said, There may
no knight ride this way unless he just with me, for
such is the custom of the pass." I will amend
that custom," said the king. Then they ran to-
gether, and they met so hard that their spears were
shivered. Then they drew their swords and fought
a strong battle, with many great strokes. But at
length the sword of the knight smote King Arthur's
sword in two pieces. Then said the knight unto
Arthur, "Thou art in my power, whether to save
thee or slay thee, and unless thou yield thee as over-
come and recreant, thou shalt die." "As for death,"
said King Arthur, welcome be it when it cometh;
but to yield me unto thee as recreant, I will not."
Then he leapt upon the knight, and took him by the
middle and threw him down; but the knight was a
passing strong man, and anon he brought Arthur
under him, and would have razed off his helm to
slay him. Then said Merlin, "Knight, hold thy
hand, for this knight is a man of more worship than
thou art aware of." "Why, who is he ? said the
knight. It is King Arthur." Then would he
have slain him for dread of his wrath, and lifted up
his sword to slay him; and therewith Merlin cast an


enchantment on the knight, so that he fell to the
earth in a great sleep. Then Merlin took up King
Arthur, and set him on his horse. "Alas!" said
Arthur, "what hast thou done, Merlin ? hast thou
slain this good knight by thy crafts ? Care ye
not," said Merlin; "he is whole than ye be. He
is only asleep, and will wake in three hours."
Then the king and he departed, and went till they
came to a hermit, that was a good man and a great
leech. So the hermit searched all his wounds, and
applied good salves; and the king was there three
days, and then were his wounds well amended, that
he might ride and go. So they departed, and as
they rode Arthur said, I have no sword." "No
matter," said Merlin; hereby is a sword that shall
be yours." So they rode till they came to a lake,
which was a fair water and broad. And in the
midst of the lake Arthur was aware of an arm
clothed in white samite,* that held a fair sword in
the hand. "Lo!" said Merlin, "yonder is that
sword that I spake of. It belongeth to the Lady of
the Lake, and, if she will, thou mayest take it; but
if she will not, it will not be in thy power to take it."
So Sir Arthur and Merlin alighted from their
horses, and went into a boat. And when they came
to the sword that the hand held, Sir Arthur took it
by the handle and took it to him, and the arm and
the hand went under the water.

Samite, a sort of silk stuff.

King Arthnr obtaining a sword from tho Lady of the Lake

Pange 84


Then they returned unto the land and rode forth.
And Sir Arthur looked on the sword and liked it
right well.
So they rode unto Caerleon, whereof his knights
were passing glad. And when they heard of his
adventures, they marvelled that he would jeopardy
his person so alone. But all men of worship said it
was a fine thing to be under such a chieftain as
would put his person in adventure as other poor
knights did.



SIR GAWAIN was nephew to King Arthur, by his
sister Morgana, married to Lot, king of Orkney,
who was by Arthur made king of Norway. Sir
Gawain was one of the most famous knights of the
Round Table, and is characterized by the roman-
cers as the sage and courteous Gawain. To this
Chaucer alludes in his Squiere's Tale," where the
strange knight salueth all the court
With so high reverence and observance,
As well in speech as in contcnance,
That Gawain, with his olde curtesic,
Though he were come agen out of fairie,
Ne coude him not amenden with a word."

Gawain's brothers were Agravain, Gaharet, and

Once upon a time King Arthur held his court in
merry Carlisle, when a damsel came before him and
craved a boon. It was for vengeance upon a caitiff


knight, who had made her lover captive and de-
spoiled her of her lands. King Arthur commanded
to bring him his sword, Excalibar, and to saddle his
steed, and rode forth without delay to right the
lady's wrong. Erelong he reached the castle of
the grim baron, and challenged him to the conflict.
But the castle stood on magic ground, and the spell
was such that no knight could tread thereon but
straight his courage fell and his strength decayed.
King Arthur felt the charm, and before a blow was
struck, his sturdy limbs lost their strength, and his
head grew faint. He was fain to yield himself pris-
oner to the churlish knight, who refused to release
him except upon condition that he should return at
the end of a year, and bring a true answer to the
question, What thing is it which women most de-
sire ? or in default thereof surrender himself and
his lands. King Arthur accepted the terms, and
gave his oath to return at the time appointed. Dur-
ing the year the king rode east, and he rode west,
and inquired of all whom he met what thing it
is which all women most desire. Some told him
riches; some, pomp and state; some, mirth; some,
flattery; and some, a gallant knight. But in the di-
versity of answers he could find no sure dependence.
The year was wellnigh spent, when one day, as he
rode thoughtfully through a forest, he saw sitting
beneath a tree a lady of such hideous aspect that he
turned away his eyes, and when she greeted him in
seemly sort, made no answer. "What wight art


thou," the lady said, "that will not speak to me?
It may chance that I may resolve thy. doubts,
though I be not fair of aspect." If thou wilt do
so," said King Arthur, choose what reward thou
wilt, thou grim lady, and it shall be given thee."
" Swear me this upon thy faith," she said, and Ar-
thur swore it. Then the lady told him the secret,
and demanded her reward, which was that the king
should find some fair and courtly knight to be her
King Arthur hastened to the grim baron's castle
and told him one by one all the answers which he
had received from his various advisers, except the
last, and not one was admitted as the true one.
" Now yield thee, Arthur," the giant said, for thou
hast not paid thy ransom, and thou and thy lands
are forfeited to me." Then King Arthur said:

Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baron,
I pray thee hold thy hand,
And give me leave to speak once more,
In rescue of my land.
This morn, as I came over a moor,
I saw a lady set,
Between an oak and a green holly,
All clad in red scarlett.
She says all women would have their will,
This is their chief desire;
Now yield, as thou art a baron true,
That I have paid my hire."

"It was my sister that told thee this," the churl-
ish baron exclaimed. "Vengeance light on her! I
will some time or other do her as ill a turn."


King Arthur rode homeward, but not light of
heart; for he remembered the promise he was under
to the loathly lady to give her one of his young and
gallant knights for a husband. He told his grief to
Sir Gawain, his nephew, and he replied, "Be not
sad, my lord, for I will marry the loathly lady."
King Arthur replied:

"Now nay, now nay, good Sir Gawaine,
My sister's son ye be;
The loathly lady 's all too grim,
And all too foule for thee."

.But Gawain persisted, and the king at last, with
sorrow of heart, consented that Gawain should be
his ransom. So, one day, the king and his knights
rode to the forest, met the loathly lady, and brought
her to the court. Sir Gawain stood the scoffs and
jeers of his companions as he best might, and the
marriage was solemnized, but not with the usual
festivities. Chaucer tells us: -

There was no joye no feste at alle;
There n'as but hevinesse and mochel sorwe,
For prively he wed her on the more,
And all day after hid him as an owle,
So wo was him his wife looked so foule!" *

When night came, and they were alone together,
Sir Gawain could not conceal his aversion; and the

N'as is not was, contracted; in modem phrase, there was not.
Mochel sorwe is much sorrow; more is morrow.


lady asked him why he sighed so heavily, and turned
away his face. He candidly confessed it was on ac-
count of three things, her age, her ugliness, and her
-low degree. The lady, not at all offended, replied
with excellent arguments to all his objections. She
showed him that with age is discretion, with ugli-
ness security from rivals, and that all true gentility
depends, not upon the accident of birth, but upon
the character of the individual.
Sir Gawain made no reply; but, turning his eyes
on his bride, what was his amazement to perceive
that she wore no longer the unseemly aspect that
had so distressed him. She then told him that the
form she had worn was not her true form, but a dis-
guise imposed upon her by a wicked enchanter, and
that she was condemned to wear it until two things
should happen; one, that she should obtain some
young and gallant knight to be her husband. This
having been done, one half of the charm was re-
moved. She was now at liberty to wear her true
form for half the time, and she bade him choose
whether he would have her fair by day, and ugly by
night, or the reverse. Sir Gawain would fain have
had her look her best by night, when he alone
should see her, and show her repulsive visage, if at
all, to others. But she reminded him how much
more pleasant it would be to her to wear her best
looks in the throng of knights and ladies by day.
Sir Gawain yielded, and gave up his will to hers.
This alone was wanting to dissolve the charm. The


lovely lady now with joy assured him that she
should change no more; but as she now was, so
would she remain by night as well as by day.

Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek,
Her eyen were black as sloe,
The ripening cherrye swelled her lippe,
And all her neck was snow.
Sir Gawain kist that ladye fair
Lying upon the sheete,
And swore, as he was a true knight,
The spice was never so swete."

The dissolution of the charm which had held the
lady also released her brother, the grim baron,"
for he too had been implicated in it. He ceased to
be a churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and
generous knight as any at Arthur's court.



CARADOC was the son of Ysenne, the beautiful
niece of Arthur. He was ignorant who his father
was, till it was discovered in the following manner.
When the youth was of proper years to receive the
honors of knighthood, King Arthur held a grand
court for the purpose of knighting him. On this
occasion a strange knight presented himself, and
challenged the knights of Arthur's court to exchange
blow for blow with him. His proposal was this, -to
lay his neck on a block for any knight to strike, on
condition that, if he survived the blow, the knight
should submit in turn to the same experiment. Sir
Kay, who was usually ready to accept all challenges,
pronounced this wholly unreasonable, and declared
that he would not accept it for all the wealth in the
world. And when the knight offered his sword,
with which the operation was to be performed, no
person ventured to accept it, till Caradoc, growing
angry at the disgrace which was thus incurred by
the .Round Table, threw aside his mantle and took


it. "Do you do this as one of the best knights? "
said the stranger. No," he replied, "but as one
of the most foolish." The stranger lays his head
upon the block, receives a blow which sends it roll-
ing from his shoulders, walks after it, picks it up,
replaces it with great success, and says he will re-
turn when the court shall be assembled next year,
and claim his turn. When the anniversary arrived,
both parties were punctual to their engagement.
Great entreaties were used by the king and queen,
and the whole court, in behalf of Caradoc, but the
stranger was inflexible. The young knight laid his
head upon the block, and more than once desired
him to make an end of the business, and not keep
him longer in so disagreeable a state of expectation.
At last the stranger strikes him gently with the side
of the sword, bids him rise, and reveals to him the
fact that he is his father, the enchanter Eliaures,
and that he gladly owns him for a son, having proved
his courage and fidelity to his word.
But the favor of enchanters is short-lived and un-
certain. Eliaures fell under the influence of a wick-
ed woman, who, to satisfy her pique against Caradoc,
persuaded the enchanter to fasten on his arm a ser-
pent, which.remained there sucking at his flesh and
blood, no human skill sufficing either to remove the
reptile, or alleviate the torments which Caradoc en-
Caradoc was betrothed to Guimier, sister to his
bosom friend Cador, and daughter to the king of


Cornwall. As soon as they were informed of his
deplorable condition, they set out for Nantes, where
Caradoc's castle was, that Guimier might attend
upon him. When Caradoc heard of their coming,
his first emotion was that of joy and love. But soon
he began to fear that the sight of his emaciated form,
and of his sufferings, would disgust Guimier; and
this apprehension became so strong, that he departed
secretly from Nantes, and hid himself in a hermitage.
He was sought far and near by the knights of Ar-
thur's court, and Cador made a vow never to desist
from the quest till he should have found him. Af-
ter long wandering, Cador discovered his friend in
the hermitage, reduced almost to a skeleton, and
apparently near his death. All other means of re-
lief having already been tried in vain, Cador at last
prevailed on the enchanter Eliaures to disclose the
only method which could avail for his rescue. A
maiden must be found, his equal in birth and beauty,
and loving him better than herself, so that she would
expose herself to the same torment to deliver him.
Two vessels were then to be provided, the one filled
with sour wine, and the other with milk. Caradoc
must enter the first, so that the wine should reach
his neck, and the maiden must get into the other,
and, exposing her bosom upon the edge of the vessel,
invite the serpent to forsake the withered flesh of
his victim for this fresh and inviting food. The
vessels were to be placed three feet apart, and as the
serpent crossed from one to the other, a knight was

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