Renaud de Beaujeu

Le Bel Inconnu (The Fair Unknown)

Part VI

They saw, issuing from that same, A host of knights in proud array.

Moritz Ludwig von Schwind (Austrian, 1804-1871)

They reached the Castle of Pucelles.

When to that great chateau they came,

They saw, issuing from that same,

A host of knights in proud array.

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved.

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
Conditions and Exceptions apply.


Blonde Esmerée, the Queen of Wales, addresses King Arthur

The queen, and her lords, in fine array,

Towards the court now made their way.

In his palace she found the king,

His knights about him in a ring,

Many a king, and duke, and count;

Beyond number their whole amount.

Upon seeing the queen enter,

King Arthur rose up to greet her,

And, to honour her, he did bow,

As much as kingship doth allow.

All the barons there rose as one,

Long twas ere their greetings were done.

King Arthur took her by the hand;

She sat beside him; at his command,

All fell silent; when there was heard

Nary a sound from them, nor word,

The lady spoke thus, courteously:

‘Sire,’ she began, ‘list now to me,

Whose dear father was King Gringras:

To me, in desperate plight alas,

You sent a knight, the Fair Unknown.

He was called by that name alone

Here in Britain, yet Gingalain

Is he, the son of my Lord Gawain

And Blanchemal la Fay; on a plea,

You sent the knight to my country,

That he might bring me welcome aid.

Skill and courage he there displayed,

And from great torment set me free.

Sire, I render thanks, here, to thee,

For sending him on such a quest,

And at my servant’s sole request.

I am your servant, Sire, forever,

And tribute you shall lack never,

From out the realm of Wales, I mean,

Of which I am indeed the queen.

I beg you, king of noble birth,

Famed, as you are, o’er all the Earth,

To permit your knight, Gingalain,

To wed me, and the kingship gain;

My lords and I, seek it, this day,

Deny it not to us, I pray.

In Wales, I parted from the knight,

Of whom I since have lacked all sight.

He must return here, that is plain,

Yet I fear too long he doth maintain

A presence elsewhere, by design,

And heeds another voice than mine.

Mayhap he is detained by war,

For glory he ever seeks, tis sure.’

Who then convenes a private council

The king, having heard her story,

In his delight, embraced the lady;

Then to his knights he did repeat

The substance of her tale complete,

With his thoughts upon the matter.

Gawain felt joy, as the father

Of this knight that her love had won,

As he Blanchemal la Fay’s had done;

Great joy was felt by all the court.

Then those four his presence sought

Whom she had met upon the road.

The king a glance on them bestowed.

They rendered themselves prisoners there,

As Gingalain had made them swear.

While great the joy all there expressed,

To many a regret they confessed

That Gingalain was absent yet.

The King was troubled and did fret,

As did Gawain, and all the court,

Fearing for one who’d bravely fought.

Arthur arose, and then withdrew,

Taking, with him, his chosen few,

For certain lords he thus did call

To private counsel; from the hall,

Lord Gawain went first, pursuing

The path of the departing king,

After him came King Goalan,

Together with my lord Tristan,

Kay, the Seneschal, followed on,

Gales le Chauve, and King Amangon,

And other chosen lords went too.

The King addressed them then, anew:

‘My lords,’ said he, ‘what, in a word,

Shall we do, as to all we’ve heard?

How shall we his presence regain?

Were we to lose him, great the pain.

Not for aught would I wish it so,

Nor shall I feel pleasure, I know,   

Until we see the lad once more.’

Amangon answered from the floor:

‘Sire,’ said he, ‘you but speak aright;

Twere ill to lose so fine a knight.

Great the damage that it would bring.

This counsel I would give my king:

Though he lies in some place apart,

The lad yet love’s the warrior’s art;

Proclaim it is the royal intent

To hold, full soon, a tournament.

Once Gingalain has heard the news

Such a challenge he’ll not refuse;

He’ll not miss a tourney for aught,

Eagerly, he will ride to court,

And take part in the tourney here.

Announce it, and he must appear.

This I counsel; as for the queen,

Let her wed him; her realm, I ween,

Is large, and rich her treasury;

A powerful ally he would be.

I was once in that fair country,

And captured there in a tourney,

And yet Gringras acquitted me

Of any ransom, and set me free.

Let the queen rest the while, say I;

Through the Marches, the news let fly,

Of this tourney; as for the four,

Their service here you may ensure,

Amidst your court.’ The king agreed;

Twas wise counsel all did concede.

A tourney is proclaimed

With this the session was complete,

The counsellors rose to their feet,

And returning, behind the king,

That counsel to the court did bring.

He ordered the tourney proclaimed,

And prepared, while a date he named.

Twixt the chateau of Valedon

And that of Pucelles, there, upon

The level plain, it would be fought.

Tristan, the fairest in that court,

Neath Valedon, the joust would start,

While Montescler’s king, for his part

Would lead the other party there.

The date was set for the affair;

A month from then it was to be.

The king, departing, instantly

Sent messengers throughout the land,

Crying the news, on every hand;

About the Marches, word he sent,

And through the realm, of his intent.

The lady, asked to be his guest

At court, was happy thus to rest.

The four knights, rendered prisoners, too,

Remained, amidst his retinue.

Gingalain decides to attend

Gingalain, meanwhile, by the side

Of his beloved did reside,

In the Isle of Gold; she was all his,

And he had all a man might wish.

When the time weighed heavily

Off to the wooded chase went he.

In hunting fowl he’d wield a bow,

By lake and river, to their woe.

Or he would hunt his prey on land.

Then, his love was ever at hand;

In her, all he might wish he found,

In her, such virtues did abound,

That all that he had longed for so,

Or ever dreamed, he now did know.

In the palace was he, one day,

When he heard a minstrel relay

The news of the coming tourney,

At Pucelles, and rejoiced greatly.

A great event the joust would be,

And, in his mind, he instantly

Determined: to the joust he’d go,

Though twas his heart that told him so.

He asked for leave of the lady,

Who, on hearing of the tourney,

Said: ‘My love, you shall not go;

I’ll not permit you doing so,

I’ll not approve it, nor consent;

I’d know but sorrow if you went.

For I understand, through my art,

All the stars tell, and, for their part,

They say, if you attend this tourney,

Then you must, forever, lose me;

For there awaits you a lady

Whom Arthur would have you marry.’

‘Be calm, my love,’ replied the knight,

‘By all the saints in heaven bright,

No other woman would I wish

But you, nor would I lie in this.

Lady, but grant me leave to go,

And my return shall not be slow.

Tomorrow morn, tis my intent

To take the road, should you consent,

For if I leave not then, I say,

I cannot be there, on the day.’

She said: ‘My dearest love, I see

That you are bent on leaving me,

To journey to this tournament,

A deed of which you may repent.

It seems I am not dear to you;

Tis your desire you now pursue.

I can do naught; then, woe is me;

False was your show of loyalty.’

Naught could persuade the knight to stay;

He’d soon return, was all he’d say.

He was on fire for the tourney,

Eager to undertake the journey;

For, he had lacked the chance to fight

Many a day, that valiant knight.

He longed for the joust, to excess;

Was there ever such foolishness!

Gingalain then summoned his squire,

And told him of his fond desire,

And that he must polish his armour,

Ready the harness, and on his honour

Be ready to rise before twas dawn,

And saddle the horses, on the morn.

Robert was pleased, and set to work,

Nor did the lad his labour shirk.

Evening fell, and twas dark above.

Our knight lay down beside his love.

He lay beside her all that night,

While each in each took their delight.

Since he must rise before the dawn,

And leave her the very next morn,

He chose to sleep beside the lady;

Betraying her in his heart already.

Who sees the good and does the ill,

Of repentance shall have his fill.

He finds himself magically transported to a wood

For when, at dawn, Gingalain woke,

The scene had altered, at a stroke,

He found himself in a woodland ride,

His arms and armour at his side,

And his head resting on a shield.

His steed the morning light revealed

Tethered there; Robert at his feet,

Opening his eyes, his sleep complete,

Holding the packhorse reins tight,

Head on a tree-trunk, met his sight:

Quite defenceless the knight lay there:

Such the reward that sinners share.

Their eyes on each other they laid,

For greatly were the pair dismayed.

Gingalain saw ill had been wrought,

Each the other’s gaze now sought.

‘What think you of this?’ asked the knight,

‘How are we here, thus, at first light?

I lay down in another place,

Where the bed my love did grace.

Now I find myself in a wood,

And naught now seeming as it should.

Came you here, in truth, this night?’

‘Nay,’ cried Robert, ‘I slept aright

In my bed there, and yet I too

Find myself waking here, with you.’

‘Robert, an ill fate this doth prove!

I have scarcely cherished my love.

She told me I must lose her so,

If to the tourney I would go.

I’ve lost her, through my foolishness,

Alas!’ said he,’ and lack all redress.

Now I shall grieve for evermore.’

Then Robert did his master implore:

‘Sire, there is naught that you can do.

Our own affairs we should pursue.

Great good may come of the tourney,

Grieve not now, but rather journey.’

‘Gingalain answered: ‘Let us go.’

Donning, his spurs as he did so,

While the squire gathered his armour;

Then he mounted on his charger

And they entered a path nearby,

And rode along till, by and by,

They met with a pilgrim who showed

The pair of them the direct road

By which to reach the tournament.

Gingalain was in great torment,

And rode his steed most fretfully;

Plagued by trouble and woe was he,

For his love seemed lost forever,

And her absence he must suffer.

Gingalain and Robert arrive at the Castle of Pucelles

They rode over moorland and plain;

By wood, vale, river, did maintain

Their passage through many a place,

And journeyed at so swift a pace,

And kept to the true course so well,

They reached the Castle of Pucelles.

When to that great chateau they came,

They saw, issuing from that same,

A host of knights in proud array.

Gingalain sought, without delay,

To follow them, seeking the field,  

Eager his lance and sword to wield.

There rode the flower of chivalry.

Yvain, the king of Lindezie,

Led a hundred and forty, there,

In full armour, to that affair.

Augusel, King of Scotland, he,

Neath the shade of a lofty tree,

Had armed himself, he too led

A hundred and forty, helm on head.

Hoel of Gohenet hove in sight,

Upon his charger, eager to fight,

And with him a hundred knights went

Mounted, armed, to the tournament.

There, the King of Baradigan,

Canaan his name, a valiant man,

Rode fully-armed to the tourney,

In his company full eighty.

King Ban of Gomeret was there,

A hundred and eighty in his care.

The King of the Red Castle led

A hundred more; he rode ahead

Of King Guivret, from bog and fen

Leading his band of Irishmen.

Geldras the king of Dunelie,

Was there, with knights in quantity;

Four hundred men he did afford,

And every one held him their lord.

Le Laid Hardi of Cornwall too,

As ever, was present to the view;

A hundred knights in company,

Well-armed, he brought from his country.

Kahadinst, there, one might see,

Of Lanprebois the duke, was he.

Le Roux of Montescler was there,

With gleaming helm at that affair,

His crest atop, his pledge made sure,

To lead his party, as in war;

Seven hundred knights he led,

And all by him were armed and fed.

Perceval of Wales came to fight,

That valiant and courtly knight.

The chevalier of Baladingan

Richly-armed, was that nobleman,

His wish to fight did thus declare,

Against Le Roux of Montescler,

While Lancelot of the Lake, he

Armed beneath a hornbeam tree.

Duke Elias could there be seen,

That ever a fine knight had been

Although his hair was turning grey,

A true judge, who e’er saw fair play;

He of the Haute Montagne too,

With his mighty host, one could view.

The Count of Truerem, the lord

Of the Dark Isle, was there aboard

His white charger; none could find

A better warrior midst mankind.

Graislemiers de Fine Posterne

Had armed himself, in his turn,

Nigh to his brother, Guingamor;

None did love their brother more.

And Randuras was present there,

His virtues many, at that affair.

And Yder was there, armed also,

On a steed iron-clad gainst the foe,

While Gandalus was at his side;

Together those brave knights did ride.

Gornemant of Gorhout would fight

Beside Lancelot, and the knight

Of Lis, Melian; both had brought,

Of knights, a numberless cohort.

Most splendid was that company.

Arthur was of the other party.

Midst his British lords, he made one

Of those who rode for Valedon.

A mighty host he’d raised again,

For there were quite two thousand men.

King Gaudin of Ireland was there,

Noble was he, and for his share

Five hundred he brought to battle.

There too was King Mark of Cornwall,

With seven hundred valiant knights,

Used to the joust, and its delights.

King Amangon was in the field,

A thousand men his host revealed.

King Bruians of the Isles also,

Displayed five hundred knights or so.

On sorrel, or bay, or piebald steed

They rode; none finer, folk agreed.

Bold as a leopard was their king,

Though miserly in everything;

While King Yder gave to his men

All he won, ever and again;

Poor was his armour, nonetheless,

Great the extent of his largesse.

One hundred and sixty men had he,

And ne’er a one was cowardly.

Blonde Esmerée, as queen, had sent

A hundred men with like intent

Noble knights of her country,

To bear their arms at the tourney,

And they were in brave Lanpar’s care,

He charged with gaining honour there.

Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, they saw,

None better in both joust and war;

King Mordred too, and his brother

Segures; while Gunes, another

Brave knight, born in Cirencester,

Rode on Gawain’s right, as ever.

And the wealthy Duke of Norgalles

Was there, and Erec of Estregalles,

While Bedivere of Normandy

Made one of that fair company.

Flores was there, from his rich court

Sixty-three Frenchmen he had brought.

Hoel of Nantes was there, I deem,

Arming himself beside a stream.

Already armed were Caraés,

And Tor, the son of King Arés.

Tristan rested in the saddle,

Fully-armed, prepared for battle,

Having pledged to mount this tourney.

His lady’s sleeve he did carry.

Yseult the Fair that emblem sent,

Thus, his breast it did ornament.

The tournament at Valedon commences

Mounted, he waited to commence,

His host behind, their count immense.

Of the Round Table though beside

Most were on King Arthur’s side.

When fully-armed was each baron,

On the plain, beneath Valedon,

Many a bright helm could be seen,

Many a banner decked the scene,

Many a steed, sorrel or bay,

Piebald, dappled, was on display,

Many a bright shield glittered there,

Many a pennant stirred the air.

Upon those helms the crests did dance.

Hauberks gleamed, and many a lance

Painted with azure or with gold.

Surcoats fluttered, silk fold on fold.

Many an emblem, or a sleeve,

Was worn, by some fair lady’s leave,

Many an upraised sword revealed

King, count, or marquess, on that field.

Ne’er was so great an assembly;

The sun shone o’er that company,

O’er that place, and far and wide.

Le Roux of Montescler they spied

Advancing o’er the level ground,

The first that had his courage found,

And with him twenty knights or more,

That upon Tristan would make war.

Then, the latter made his advance,

His shield slung low, gripping his lance,

With many a brave knight at his back.

When each saw the other attack,

They raised their shields in defence,

As would any man of sense,

And spurred their chargers to the fight.

Tristan struck, while the other knight

Landed his lance-blow with such force,

His lance was shattered in its course.

Tristan’s blow on the other’s shield,

Sent his foe tumbling to the field,

His lance having endured the blow,

Though splinters struck the ground below.

The other’s mount he captured too.

Then all the followers of Le Roux,

Swept to the rescue of their lord,

And rode at Tristan, with one accord;

That knight did his defence maintain,

Though his mount beneath was slain.

A general melee ensues

To bring Tristan help and succour,

All his party charged, together,

Gainst those of Roux de Montescler;

Many a blow was given there,

From full many a sword and lance.

In the course of that swift advance,

The chevalier of Baladingan

Fought well, in bringing every man

To the succour of this Lord Roux,

While to him great honour was due,

Landing many a powerful blow.

His skill in the joust he did show,

When King Yder on his proud horse

Charged against him, with all his force,

And defended himself full well,

Cornered there in a grassy dell.

Many he grounded in that battle,

Leaving many an empty saddle,

Many a knight was beaten low.

Nor was he captured by the foe,

For the troops of Brun de Bralant

A refuge to Lord Roux did grant;

One hundred and forty his force,

Towards Yder he’d set a course.

Great the shock as at each other

Both sides charged, and met together.

Many a standard fell to earth;

Many a lord, of rank and worth;

Many a knight lost many a steed;

Wrought was many a splendid deed.

Gingalain joins the contest

Gingalain to the fray drew near,

Having armed himself at the rear.

Viewing the ranks, at one he spied,

Kay the Seneschal, he did ride,

Who was about to join the fight,

Striking the shield-arm of that knight,

And with such a degree of force

Sir Kay was toppled from his horse.

At King Yder rode Gingalain,

And struck at the shield-arm again,

The lance-blow pierced the shield through,

Although the lance-shaft broke in two.

With what remained, blow upon blow

The knight delivered, even so,  

On every helm that he could reach,

Seeking the serried ranks to breach,

And ever struck with such great force,

He toppled the foe from his horse.

He’d charge, leave all in disarray;

Where’er, he wished, he’d carve a way.

Great was the tourney fought that day,

Kings, dukes, and counts battling away.

King Mark of Cornwall, with all his men,

Advanced amidst the fray, again,

King Hoel, on the other side,

With a hundred horsemen did ride

Against him, while both were seen

To scatter the knights in between.

Shield they broke, and helms sent flying,

The shields in pieces left lying.

King Bruians added the weight

Of his company, its numbers great,

With those that Gaudin did command,

His five hundred from Ireland.

Bruians attacked towards the right,

While Gaudin on the left did fight,

The pair, encircling the ground,

Did the brave King Hoel surround,

And toppled that king from his horse.

Many a knight was ta’en by force,

Many a blow dealt and received.

Many were of their mounts relieved,

While, o’er the plain, the others sped,

Or to the fields and woodlands fled.

But Gingalain did yet advance,

Urged on his steed, lowered his lance,

And struck King Gaudin on his shield,

Which, with the force of it, did yield.

Then King Bruians spurred his steed,

Galloping o’er the ground at speed,

Towards our hero, Gingalain,

Who did a like advance maintain.

Their lances, both weighty and strong,

Struck each other’s shields, ere long,

Such that the steel lance-tips sought

To pierce the plate in which they fought,

But so fine was each man’s armour,

That, in fighting for their honour,

It was neither pierced nor shattered;

Gainst the steel the lances clattered,

Splinters showering through the air,

While neither man in that affair

Was unseated. Now Gingalain,

Grasped his sword and charged again,

Changing course, spurring his steed,

Brandishing his bright blade, at speed,

To strike bold Mordred on his helm,

With a blow that sought to overwhelm,

Made him bow to his horse’s neck,

But failed to hurl him to the deck,

Then abandoned him, in the field,

And turned to split another’s shield.

He defended himself stoutly, too,

With his sword, gainst no small few.

Often, he charged amidst the press,

Such his defence, his deeds no less,

Such the blows he dealt so fiercely,

They turned the course of the tourney,

For he rallied those who’d fled, again,

At the foot of a low hill, on the plain;

Many a blow their charge ensured,

Dealt with the lance, or with the sword.

The fighting swirls around King Hoel

Great was the battle on that field.

King Bruians forced many to yield,

Towering midst the British party;

And had captured Hoel, swiftly,

Had not King Cadoalant been there,

Three hundred strong at that affair,

Beside the King of Lindesie,

With as numerous a company,

For neither king did courage lack,

But sprang, at once, to the attack.

There many a shield was split in two,

Many a knight unseated too;

Spoils were won, and as many lost,

Blows exchanged, at no small cost;

Many the lances shattered, I say,

And saddles emptied, on that day,

The beleaguered in time relieved,

And King Hoel’s rescue achieved.

Twas near a cliff, in a meadow,

The combatants dealt blow on blow,

Where many a joust took place,

And swordsmen battled face to face.

Twixt the ranks of knights, Gingalain

With shield and lance, upon the plain,

Was mounted on a dappled horse

He’d taken from a knight by force

Of arms, and left him on the ground.

Leading the foremost rank he found,

Erec, whose arm could do no wrong,

Riding a steed both swift and strong,

His lance lowered, his shield raised high,

Seeming prepared to do or die.

Straight towards him rode Gingalain,

Shield high, lance lowered again.

Spurring the steeds each rode upon,

The two combatants thundered on.

Fiercely to the attack they rode,

And such power and skill they showed,

That each man pierced the other’s shield;

Their lances many a shard did yield.

Their horses clashed together as well,

Yet neither of the warriors fell,

Despite the fierceness of their advance.

Brave Gingalain now seized a lance

Brought to him by Robert his squire,

And, wheeling his steed, heart afire,

Found King Cadoc, on the attack,

With a host of Britons at his back;

One hundred and forty, strong and true,

Following after, now filled his view,

They had aimed to strike from behind,

And seeing him there, with one mind

They spurred their steeds o’er the ground,

Towards a fierce encounter bound.

Since Cadoc rode there in the lead,

Toward him our knight drove his steed,

Striking the king, then, with such force

The lance toppled him from his horse,

For it caught that knight in the chest,

And down he went, heels over crest.

But Cadoc’s men, their faces dour,

Countered our knight with all their power,

Swiftly, from left and right, they came

And, ere he could escape, that same

Found himself neath many a blow,

Aimed at his shield, and helm also,

At his breastplate, and his steed;

Right beleaguered was he indeed.

Like a leopard he played his part,

Defending himself with force and art,

While they gathered to seize the knight;

Yet they met with one who could fight,

That a painful lesson did teach

To all who came within his reach,

Such that they sought not to remain,

Nor learn more of this Gingalain.

Gingalain is rescued by Geldras and Guivret

Gingalain was surrounded quite

When brave King Geldras joined the fight,

With a hundred and twenty men

Of his large force, and there again,

Ireland’s King Guivret, at his side,

Led a hundred fine knights beside

That answered to that worthy king.

Swiftly, fresh succour they did bring

To the place where Gingalain fought,

Urging their hosts on as they sought

To engage; fiercely, all did strive.

King Amangon saw them arrive,

A leader of the British party,

With a hundred in company;

King Ban de Gomeret also,

With a good hundred knights in tow,

The whole force that he’d gathered there;

And both now joined in the affair.

A pair of kings on either side,

To the cruel encounter did ride.

Believe me, men broke many a shield

With their stout lances on that field,

Where many a knight lost his horse,

Unseated, and captured perforce.

There, King Amangon fell to earth

With many another of great worth.

Nor his seat could King Geldras keep,

But, overthrown, lay in a heap.

There, all joined in the one melee,

In mass tourney, and wild affray.

There, from every quarter, they rode;

Many the blows that they bestowed

On each other, with lance and sword,

Striving to win some fair reward,

A prisoner for ransom, or a steed,

Performing many a valiant deed.

Gingalain criss-crossed the plain,

Mounted upon a steed from Spain,

Charging the Britons; to and fro,

Wielding his stout sword, he did go.

Knights he captured, and horses too

But often rendered those anew,

On seeing some ally in need,

To whom he then would grant the steed.

(All that he gained, with lance and blade,

Funded some ransom or crusade)

Most feared the man, and thus did balk,

Like starlings before a sparrowhawk.  

Erec, Galoain, and Lanpars renew the attack

Erec, though, charged time and again.

Gingalain wheeled his steed amain,

Rode twixt the ranks, to cry him nay,

But met Count Galoain mid-way.

He loosened the rein of his steed,

And struck him such a blow indeed

Upon the shield, above his chest,

That the Count was winded at best,

While the shield was pierced and split;

Freed from his Frisian steed, he bit

The dust, and lay there on the ground.

A second foe Gingalain found,

And gave his shield such a rattle

He failed to hold to reins or saddle,

While being forced to meet the earth,

As to splinters the lance gave birth.

Gingalain now wielded his blade,

And yet another charge he made,

Between the ranks, over that plain.

Lanpars too charged time and again,

Leading his knights, midst the tourney;

A hundred strong the company

Granted him by Blonde Esmerée;

Trusting him to lead them that day.

He’d equipped them well for the field,

Worthy of the power he did wield,

And well he discharged his command,

The first to charge, with lance in hand,

And the last to retreat, as ever;

Deeds they wrought in the grand manner.

King Arthur is prompted to engage

King Arthur had not yet been seen

At this tourney, upon the green,

Rather the powerful monarch rested,

Ready-armed, while men were tested

In the field, and others took part,

Though such things were dear to his heart,

Four hundred knights at his command.

None were finer, you understand,

Than those beneath Arthur’s banner,

Even the least great in valour.

To him came riding a young knight

Galloping post-haste from the fight.

Once there, to the king he revealed

That all had entered upon the field

Except King Augusel alone,

Wise, noble, worthy of his throne.

All the others had joined the fray.

‘A knight I saw,’ the youth did say,

‘A white lion-ermine in view,

Upon his shield of azure hue:

The knight battles so valiantly

That he rides ever to victory.

Like some leopard the hunters fear,

None dare attack him, twould appear.’

The king knew it was Gingalain,

That such an emblem did maintain,

For such he’d borne when first at court,

And with such valour e’er had fought.

He thought aright, for it was he,

Who had indeed fought valiantly.

Arthur would brook no more delay,

Deciding, thus, to enter the fray.

Then girths were tightened, helms laced,

Swords slung, breastplates embraced,

Belts were fastened, banners raised high,

Prepared all comers to defy.

When they were ready for the field,

All mounted, raising lance and shield,

Then ranged themselves in order so

As to meet the ranks of friend turned foe.

Then King Arthur charged at full pace;

Towards the press he turned his face,

Followed by all, as he rode to war.

There were two trumpeters in his corps,

Bearing their trumpets, which they blew

At their loudest, and onwards flew.

As the king, and his troops, charged in,

It seemed the ground shook with the din.

And leads his men to the charge

Arthur, on entering the battle,

Charged the King of the Red Castle,

Striking him high upon the shield,

Such that his saddle he did yield,

And downwards to the earth was gone.

The lance broke, but the king rode on,

While his bold company, still sound,

Toppled a hundred to the ground.

There, the valiant Britons seized

Both men and horses, as they pleased.

Many a knight they forced to render

His good sword, and so surrender,

Then, lances lowered, on they sped,

To meet the serried ranks ahead,

Dealing great blows, with lance and sword,

Shields held high, as onward they poured.

Arthur’s company wrought so well,

Many of their adversaries fell,

Unhorsed, and discomfited too,

By those that to Arthur held true.

Many they captured that would flee,

Disadvantaged, when, suddenly,

The King of the Scots, Augusel,

Charged headlong from a wooded dell,

A hundred and forty at his back

Riding, at speed, to the attack.

King Augusel lowered his lance,

And struck Flores, a duke of France,

In the chest, a blow of such force

It toppled the duke from his horse;

While the king’s company rode in,

And downed many amidst the din.

The king, without a moment’s rest

To the thick of the fighting pressed.

He and his men wrought valiantly,

And changed the face of the tourney;

Through their efforts, saving the day.

Flutes and trumpets sounded away,

Above the fallen, as blow on blow

Each rider landed upon his foe,

On shield, or helm, or on armour,

Seeking to down him, by sheer valour.

Stout lances broke, and shields were bent,

As they struck home, with fierce intent;

Breastplates shattered, and shields were bent,

Or split in two, in a swift descent.

Saddles were emptied, knights fell low,

As each, on each, dealt blow on blow.

Strong blades were shattered, and reins broke,

One lost, one gained, at a single stroke.

One sought to force a surrender,

Another sought swift aid to render,

Many a blow was taken and dealt,

As they charged each other full pelt.

Great was the melee, and the sound

Of lances breaking, o’er that ground,

Of blades snapping, as steel rang out,

Many a cry, and many a shout.

The ranks were broken on every side;

Shrilly, the flutes and trumpets cried,

As lances splintered, and blades too,

And from the ranks men broke anew.

Dense was the press, loud the melee;

As if God’s thunder filled the day.

Gingalain distinguishes himself

Gingalain, advancing once more,

Drove his steed at bold Saigremors,

Striking high on his gilded shield,

And toppling the knight to the field,

So great the force of that fierce blow,

He could not help but plunge below.

Gingalain left him on the ground,

Then unseated the next he found.

Gawain distinguished himself also,

Taking full many of the foe,

Giflet too, and Blioblïeris;

Who won many a joust in this,

Though he’d lost at the Perilous Ford.

L’Orgillous too, and Saies’ brave lord,

Fought so well, and in such manner,

No two knights could have wrought better.

But none came near to Gingalain

Who outdid the rest on that plain;

All he met with he overcame,

All eyes his many deeds did claim,

For he passed before every eye

As he conquered, and charged on by.

So fiercely he wielded his sword

That all the world did praise afford:

The knight was assured of the prize,

The tourney, and the fame likewise.

Evening came, for the glowing sun

Its full course o’er the sky had run.

King Augusel rode o’er the plain

To our knight, and seizing his rein

Asked that he dine with him that night,

And lodge there till the morning light.

Such his persuasive courtesy,

Gingalain thanked him graciously,

And both then went away to dine.

They sat down to their meat and wine,

As soon as the board was prepared,

For their squires had the labour shared

Of finding provisions as decreed,

And all that their masters might need.

They slept well throughout the night,

Arising with the morning light,

When the church bells rang on high,

Then to the Mass went, by and by,

While the squires groomed each charger,

Re-tipped lances, cleaned their armour,

Then saddled and bridled each mount,

Tightened the straps to good account,

Readied the greaves, restored laces,

Polished their helms, patched the places

Where their stout shields had been dented,

Till all seemed fittingly presented.

After the Mass, their lords returned,

(Much praise had their squires earned)

Donned their armour and made ready,

To gather again for the tourney.

The morning sun mounted the sky,

They rode to the field by and by,

Kings and counts and knights, I say,

Making a fine and bold display.

Many a pennant, many a banner,

Fluttered there, as, in lordly manner,

Those knights the path of honour sought,

Swiftly engaged, and bravely fought.

Displaying their skill and prowess,

As they the tourney did address.

Never had such fierce blows been seen,

Such gains, such losses, on any scene.

What more can I tell of that fight?

If he had proved the finest knight

The day before, now Gingalain

Did far finer a course maintain,

For none had ever witnessed so

Brave an effort gainst any foe.

Of that day too he won the prize,

As all witnessed before their eyes.

At eve, to an end the tourney drew.

Bruians won great honour too;

Arthur sent to the whole host, though,

Lanpars, and Giflet the son of Do,

To request that all grant Gingalain

The greatest prize, and ascertain

Whether that knight had left the field;

Once the king had his wish revealed,

Those two knights disarmed, and went;

To seek Gingalain their intent.

They found him with King Augusel,

Conversing, in peace, for a spell;

With great joy they greeted the knight,

Each to each expressing delight.

After giving their joy full rein,

Lanpars, Giflet, and Gingalain

Mounted fresh steeds again, and sought

To make their way back to the court.

Travelling swiftly towards that same,

Ere long, to Valedon they came.

In that castle they found the king;

Arthur arose, on recognising

Gingalain, and embraced the knight.

You may conceive the courts’ delight.

He was welcomed most joyfully,

Men pledged to serve him, courteously,

Kissed and clasped the youth outright,

And sought to keep him in their sight.

With joy they all spoke together,

Praising one deed or another,

Talking at length of the tourney,

Some foolishly, and others wisely.

Many a gift was granted there,

To mark that glorious affair;

Many won mantles at that court,

Ermine-trimmed, for those who’d fought,

And lined with silk, or lined with vair;

Tunics and cloaks beyond compare.

Others received both silver and gold,

In well-struck coins, a wealth untold.

Palfreys were granted, many a steed,

And fine those creatures were indeed.

Robes of silk were disbursed too,

Of many a rich and splendid hue.

Great was the joy at court that night,

And richly-dressed each valiant knight.

Some wore vair, and some wore grey,

A triumph it seemed, a true feast-day;

Every squire had fresh livery,

And all that host were a sight to see.

King Arthur and the court journey to London

They spent the night at Valedon.

At early morn the king was gone

Upon the road to London straight,

Where Blonde Esmerée lay, of late.

Gingalain accompanied Arthur,

Who was overjoyed to recover

His grand-nephew; on they went

And soon achieved of their intent,

For, to London, they swiftly came

And won fair welcome in that same.

When Queen Esmerée saw her knight,

She was filled with deepest delight,

And warmly clasped her Gingalain.

The King took their hands, and made plain

His pleasure in granting both their due,

Seating himself between the two.

Certain lords he chose to summon,

The first being King Amangon,

Then King Bruians and Gawain,

Tristan, and the lesser Yvain,

Lanpars, Kay, and Saigremors,

Gales le Chauve, and a handful more.

Said King Arthur: ‘Now list to me!’

Then, Gingalain, he, courteously,

Addressed: ‘Fair nephew,’ the king cried,

‘The joy, within, I cannot hide,

At finding you so skilful and brave,

For twas a fine display you gave;

Glad am I to recover you,

Long having wished your face to view.

For you great honours are in store;

Now I seek of you one thing more:

Take in marriage this fair queen.

A fairer realm few men have seen

Than hers; take her to wife, my son,

And of crowned monarchs thus make one

Blessed with power and authority.

Tis right that you gain such as she,

For from peril, you freed the maid,

With skill in arms not oft displayed.

For this lady, pain you endured;

Of a fair wife you are assured,  

And one of noble parentage,

For she lacks naught in lineage,

As in beauty she lacks for naught,

And all is beauty at her fair court;

And then you are her sole desire,

For she would take you as her sire.’

The king and his lords did so plead

That Gingalain swiftly agreed.

He thought the queen lovely and wise,

And she had touched his heart likewise.

Arthur said he would see him wed,

And place the crown upon his head,

But Blonde Esmerée wished to see

That act reserved for her own country,

Where the pair might bear together

Those crowns her father and mother

Had once worn; this request she moved

And Gingalain said he approved,

And begged the king that it might be

In Wales; to this he did agree,

And he would honour them both there;

They then took their leave, to prepare,

And so, where all did now delight,

In London town, they passed the night.

They depart for Wales, to see Gingalain and Esmerée married there

Next morning, at the break of day,

Gingalain, and Blonde Esmerée,

And King Arthur arose and dressed,

While the squires their steeds addressed.

What more is there to tell? In short,

Once mounted, forth ventured the court,

And from England they made their way,

King Arthur leading that fair array.

By hill and dale, they did journey,

Through the Marches of that country,

Till to the land of Wales they came.

Welcomed joyfully to that same,

The host rode in grand procession

Into the city of Senaudon.

Throughout all Wales the news had spread

That their lady was to be wed,

And would take for her sire no less

Than he who’d saved her from distress.

Thus, the marriage pleased them greatly.

A message was sent by the lady

To all the barons throughout the land,

That they should come, at her command,

To Senaudon. And, I may say,

Since God made the very first day,

And this world of ours conceived,

No man has been so well-received

As Gingalain was in that place:

For all desired to view his face,

All there wished him for a master,

And to do King Arthur honour.

With all this may you rest content,

For to be brief is my intent:

There, Gingalain, of whom I tell,

Was crowned, and was married as well.

That pair, the crowned king and queen,

Were fair as any two ever seen;

Great, were they held, in memory,

And so known throughout history.

Renaud’s envoi

Here my romance draws to an end.

Fair one, to whom my thoughts e’er tend,

Renaud de Beaujeu prays that he

May likewise be held in memory,

By one whom he will love alway,

Nor can she deny him that, I say.

If it should please you, he will speak,

Or now be mute, and silence seek.

If you but show him fair seeming,

For you, Gingalain he will bring

To life, and he shall find once more

She that he loved, and lost before,

And hold her naked in his arms,

Else lack forever her sweet charms,

And ne’er find that lover again.

No greater vengeance, I maintain,

Than this, on Gingalain could fall,

To his misfortune, the worst of all,

That of him I may speak no more;

Unless fair welcome goes before.

The End of Part VI, and of ‘Le Bel Inconnu’