René d'Anjou

The Book of the Heart Seized by Love
(Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris)

Part II: The Castle Named Devoid-of-Joy

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.


Chapter XXII: Lady Hope frees Fair-Welcome, and takes leave of him

The tale recalls that once the two companions, Coeur and Desire, had departed from the pavilion where they had found Lady Hope, and had taken leave of her in the manner previously described, she remained there all that day and the next morn till beyond the hour of Prime, without hearing news of them. It seemed to her then that too much time had passed without hearing of them, and that if they had travelled securely or reached safe harbour, they would not be in a such a state that she would not have been apprised of it, given that she at all times received news of true lovers. She therefore readied herself and, nobly attired and adorned in pure white royal robes, mounted a fine palfrey, taking with her only a single servant and a page, and announcing that they were going to seek the two companions, for she was convinced that they had great need of her yet.

She and her company, took to the road, passing swiftly through the Forest of Long-Delay, for she knew, having divined it, the whole route the two companions had taken, which you have heard described. She had not journeyed long when she saw the hermitage where old Jealousy held Fair-Welcome captive, and where she had deceived the two companions, as you have heard. She prodded her palfrey in that direction to discover if the crone had news of the pair, for she was sure they had been there, or at least had passed nearby. She reached the door of the hermitage, descended from her steed, and entered, but found no sign of old Jealousy, since at that hour the crone had left for the forest, hoping to find lovers to whom she could do ill or wrong.

Lady Hope searched the hermitage from top to bottom for someone to whom she could speak. Passing before the door of a little chamber, she heard the voice of one complaining bitterly, in a weak low voice, and imploring aid from the god of Love and his sweet mother, Venus. Hope strove, aided by her servant, to break down the door, which in that simple rural hermitage, scarcely resisted, and found the handsome youth, Fair-Welcome, within, his feet shackled with newly-wrought irons. Lady Hope, who recognised him immediately having seem him before, broke the shackles, then drew him forth from the chamber. Though his colour was pale and wan, due to the painful captivity he had endured, he was nevertheless so handsome it would have been difficult to find his equal.

Brought to the light of day, Fair-Welcome gazed at Lady Hope, for he had feared she was old Jealousy come to drag him to his death, or at least to some worse place than this. When he looked at her closely, he recognised her, and they threw themselves upon each other’s necks, and embraced warmly. What more can one say? They greeted each other with a mutual joy beyond description. When they had rejoiced together awhile, Lady Hope asked Fair-Welcome how and by whom he had been captured, and whether he had seen the two companions, Coeur and Desire. Fair-Welcome told her all from beginning to end: how old Jealousy had taken him, by a ruse, and wronged him wickedly, and how he had been imprisoned by her; but when she enquired regarding the two companions, he had no news of them.

Lady Hope wished to give him her page’s horse, but Fair-Welcome would not accept; it was, he said, scarce a league to the House of Delight, and there he would find all he needed; and he did not wish to interfere with the journey Lady Hope had started upon, aimed at finding the two companions, as she had already explained. They departed on foot, travelling slowly, talking of what had occurred, until they reached the entrance to the Forest of Long-Delay, which was not far distant. There they exchanged a kiss, embraced each other, and took their leave. Lady Hope was the first to say her farewells:

‘Fair-Welcome, my friend, sweet and dear,

I say adieu, with this wish sincere,

To be of service, and give pleasure,

To you, in any and every measure.’

Chapter XXIII: Fair-Welcome, in turn, takes leave of Lady Hope

When Fair-Welcome had heard Lady Hope speak thus, he could not hold back his tears at the sweet words she had addressed to him, and he replied in the following fashion:

‘Hope, my sweet and noble lady,

Whose I am, in soul and body,

You have a service done for me

That is scarcely slight and, truly,

I desire naught but to return

Like service, and your favour earn.

I’ll praise you to the god of Love,

As soon as I may, and so prove,

To him, you’re of his company,

For you aid true lovers, gladly.’

Chapter XXIV: Hope follows the two companions’ path to the River

With these words, they commended each other to God, and Fair-Welcome took the road to the right which led to the House of Delight, where he might find a steed, and all necessary for re-joining the god of Love, of whose household he was a member. As for Lady Hope, she took the path to the left: expecting the two companions to have gone that way, since she had anticipated, and related to them, all that they had since encountered. She urged her palfrey on at such a speed that her servant and the page could scarcely follow. Thus, about the hour of Tierce she reached the Fountain of Fortune, from which the two companions had departed that morning.

She continued to ride briskly. and came upon their horses’ trail, which she followed swiftly, and gained the valley of Profound-Thought, arriving at precisely the moment when Coeur and Anxiety were jousting on the bridge of the Passage Perilous. At a glance, Hope perceived them in combat on the bridge, and saw Coeur fall into the river below. She urged on her palfrey, and sped towards the bridge as swiftly as she could, encountering only Melancholy, who was returning to her dwelling, and who sped away as soon as she had passed by.

Reaching the bridge, she saw Coeur in the water, gripping one of the piles of the bridge. She quickly descended from her horse, and helped him from the river; as for his steed, it had already climbed from the flood, and had set itself to grazing the grass around.

Hope rescues Coeur from the River of Tears

‘Hope rescues Coeur from the River of Tears’
Codex Vindobonensis 2597, fol. 21v: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris, (Barthélemy d'Eyck, 1460-1469)
Wikimedia Commons

Chapter XXV: She rescues Coeur, and they tell her of their adventures

When Coeur found himself free of the water, ask not if he was overjoyed; he looked to see who the lady was who had rescued him, and immediately recognised Hope, his good mistress, who had already, in the past, done well by him and proffered sound advice. Coeur now removed his helm, and drew down his ventail, and they exchanged kisses, sharing a joy and delight beyond description. However, Coeur, annoyed and angered by having been so vilely defeated in the joust by a lone knight, claimed that the affair was not over, and he would see who was the better swordsman. Yet it counted for nothing, for as soon as the knight had defeated Coeur, he had ridden towards the castle named Devoid-of-Joy, for that was his dwelling-place.

Lady Hope consoled Coeur and he re-mounted his horse, while Desire who had done what he could to drag Coeur from the river, though he could achieve nothing till Lady Hope had arrived, came towards her and greeted her joyfully. They entered into conversation, Lady Hope asking what had happened to them, and they recounted all their adventures since they had left her pavilion. The lady began to smile, and as they rode along slowly, spoke as follows:

Chapter XXV: Lady Hope advises them further

‘My children, now, listen to me,

Be reassured as to what may be;

Trust in my sound advice, I pray,

It’s equal you’ll not find, this day.

I have ever been your true friend,

And, on my word, you may depend.

You must on a keep alight,

Devoid-of-Joy tis called aright,

There you will find many who try

Love’s company, and Love defy,

For Trouble is the master there,

The captain of their least affair.

Rather than songs and dances, one

Hears lamentation from everyone,

Nor will you be free, I suggest,

Of the ills that will dog your quest,

For, from there, a road you’ll take

Whence pain arises, and no mistake;

For you the sea’s perils must prove,

Suffering there the ills of love,

Meeting Discouragement moreover

Who has slain full many a lover.

For God’s sake, there, remember me,

Who am your mother, eternally.

I have told you so, and oft repeat

The same advice, for such is meet,

Since I fear lest Discouragement

Capture you; tis, his strong intent.

Yet, if you pass those evils, say I,

You’ll be happy, for by and by,

You’ll find yourself in Love’s sweet isle,

Which is fair, and rest there awhile,

There where there is naught to annoy,

And naught lacking to bring you joy.

And there Fair-Welcome you will see,

Whom wretched, and in misery,

Jealousy held in captivity,

Who to lovers proves an enemy.

In that isle, fair and gracious,

Is many a thing full precious;

And there sweet and pleasant Mercy

Dwells without fault or enmity,

Whom you are seeking for the while.

But ere you may win her, in style,

Refusal’s strength you must counter,

And Rejection, a fierce foe ever.

You must stand firm against those two,

To win the praise that is your due,

If you’d complete your present quest,

For then you’ll garner of the best.

I’ll speak no more now, for my part,

But say adieu, and so depart.’

Chapter XXVI: Coeur replies to Lady Hope’s parting words

When Lady Hope finished speaking thus, they were most content and reassured by the words of that noble dame, yet somewhat saddened and troubled that she was taking leave of them, for her presence and advice greatly comforted them. Therefore, Coeur could not help but reply, as follows:

‘Hope, my lady and my mother,

You, whose speech is never bitter,

You who have done us so much good,

Else we were lost, if you but could

Refrain, we beg, from leaving now,

Then “God be thanked” would be our vow.

Truly, were it but possible,

And to you in no way harmful,

Then your very presence, alone,

Would help us to face the unknown,

And grant us strength to encounter

Whatever may come hereafter.’

Chapter XXVII: Lady Hope vanishes

At these words, Lady Hope bowed her head towards them, while urging on her palfrey, and departed so suddenly that it seemed to the two companions that she had simply vanished. They gazed at each other, concluding that she must be a creature spiritual in essence, and therefore capable of such a disappearance. After a moment spent reflecting upon this, Desire was the first to speak, saying:

‘Coeur, my friend, tis all in vain

To think on this; come, turn again

To the quest that we must further,

If you’d win both praise and honour.

Valour and strength you own, I know;

Naught else you need to conquer so.

Let us pursue this to the end,

I beg, with all my heart, dear friend!’

Chapter XXVIII: The companions reach the castle named Devoid-of-Joy

Coeur, who had been meditating on the subject of Lady Hope, she who had departed so suddenly, stirred himself then, seized the bridle of his horse, mounted, and spurred his steed along the left-hand trail, which was the most worn. They journeyed so well, without finding any adventure worth speaking of, that they soon arrived at the foot of the castle named Devoid-of-Joy. They gazed at the high walls of this great castle, which was old and somewhat dilapidated, the stones of its ramparts, lacking in attractiveness, being constructed of small ill-cut pieces, yellowish-brown in colour, streaked with black and red, fissured and pierced in many places; in short, the place was ill-favoured in all regards.

As they viewed the castle, they commented that they were as likely to be as ill-lodged as they had been the previous night, for it was only too evident that the castle might offer woeful hospitality. Yet it was time to seek lodgings, for the sun was setting and night was falling. So, notwithstanding that they had been meanly lodged the evening before, which had increased their need for repose, Coeur, being noble and brave, rode forward along the ancient track stony and ill-made. They went in such a manner, at the gallop, for otherwise they could not have advanced, and so swiftly, that they came to the main gate of the castle, where no one was to be found. As they would discover later, Idleness was supposed to be guarding it that day, but she had not yet risen from her after-dinner sleep. They passed the barrier so, and gazed up at the portal, above which letters were engraved, which read thus:

Chapter XXVIII: The writing above the castle’s main entrance

‘All those who dwell here, in this same

Valley, grant this fortress a name,

Which is Denial-of Delight,

And Lady Sadness rules its might,

And Trouble is this castle’s lord,

Who to many doth ill afford.

None that enters here knows joy,

For many a sorrow they employ,

And none there is that in doth go

That will not feel a weight of woe,

And a greater when they depart,

For Trouble ever pains the heart.

And all who do, must Trouble fight,

And be beaten by that great knight,

Knocked from their steed, the blow full sure.

Now, enter, he who longs for war!’

Chapter XXIX: Coeur takes up the lance beside the gate

When the two companions had finished reading the message and studying it, they reflected on the fact that they were unlikely to be lodged, and attended to well, that evening, though they were in great need of it; Coeur, indeed was not yet dry after the bath Anxiety had made him take, when the latter had hurled him from the perilous bridge into the River of Tears.

The two companions exchanged a glance, for they saw a lance leaning on the wall beside the gate, left there by the guardian of the aforesaid portal. Then Coeur advanced, and appropriated it, since he had broken his own in striking that blow against Anxiety, as the tale has told, and, if the inscription over the gate was to be believed, he would most certainly have need of it. He flourished it, and found it fragile enough, but told himself that it was better than nothing.

When Desire saw him comport himself thus, ask not if he was joyful, for he observed that Coeur was afraid of nothing, and had the firm intention of seeing his quest to a successful end. Unable to restrain himself from speaking, he addressed Coeur as follows:

Chapter XXIX: Desire praises Coeur’s valour

‘Coeur, how noble and brave are you!

I see, tis war you would pursue,

And that in you there dwells no fear,

Regarding what is written here.

Be not anxious as to your quest:

You’ll gain Sweet Mercy, with the best.

I but fear that your bath, before,

Weakened and softened you for war.’

Chapter XXX: Coeur reassures him

Then Coeur turned towards his companion, Desire, and looked him in the face; and, reddening a little, replied to him thus:

‘Desire, my friend, fear not for me,

Since I’m brave enough, certainly,

For this adventure; my valour

Seek not to question, by my honour.

You’ll witness it within the hour

If Amor but preserves my power.’

Chapter XXXI: Idleness summons Trouble with her cries

With this, he spurred his steed, and was the first to enter the castle courtyard, followed by his companion, Desire. They immediately encountered Idleness, who was returning to guard the gate. She was utterly tousled and dishevelled. Her shoelaces, and the ribbons of her hose were trailing at her heels, her gown was torn in more than twenty places, her eyes were bleary, and her hands, dirty and unwashed, she held clasped over her belly, as she advanced muttering with annoyance.

On seeing the two companions, within the castle, she uttered cries dreadful enough to have roused fear in anyone, while Trouble, the lord of the castle, on hearing her call out, hastened to close the doors of the keep, then stuck his head out of a window, upon which he saw the two companions in the middle of the courtyard, and shouted at them, as follows.

‘What are you doing there, you two?

 The Devil has sent the pair of you!

You do me injury and wrong,

But dead you will be ere too long.

Wait for me there, a moment now,

For I’ll be there in haste, I vow.’

Coeur and Desire enter the castle and encounter Idleness

‘Coeur and Desire enter the castle and encounter Idleness’
Codex Vindobonensis 2597, fol. 25v: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris, (Barthélemy d'Eyck, 1460-1469)
Wikimedia Commons

Chapter XXXII: Coeur and Trouble contend

The two companions, on hearing this, knew they were destined not to escape without a fight. Coeur promptly descended from his charger and checked that the straps were all drawn tight, then remounted, seized his shield and lance, and prepared to battle as fiercely as he could. He did not wait to see the door of the keep open, whence Trouble, the lord of the castle, emerged, in his reddish-brown armour; on his shield he bore the emblem of three thistles charged across with a branch of blackthorn, and on his helm a false dragon’s head furiously spitting flame. Annoyed and angry, he advanced at the gallop, and as soon as he saw Coeur, who awaited him fully armed in the midst of the courtyard, he rode towards him, while Coeur did not fail to engage.

They landed such great blows on their shields that their lances were broken, and their steeds collided so violently, chest and body together, that they were borne backwards to the ground; they rose, nonetheless, so rapidly that it was uncertain who arose first. But it was Trouble, the lord of that place, who spoke first, in the following manner:

‘My friend, you’ve failed to conquer here:

You too were grounded, such is clear.

Now we must fight on together,

And so may determine whether

You are the better swordsman or

Whether tis my own skill proves more.

The Devil brought you to such a pass:

And, therefore, loves you not, alas!’

Coeur and Trouble contend

‘Coeur and Trouble contend’
Codex Vindobonensis 2597, fol. 26v: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris, (Barthélemy d'Eyck, 1460-1469)
Wikimedia Commons

Chapter XXXIII: They continue their fight with swords

When Coeur heard himself mocked and insulted thus, he ground his teeth, seized with anger and discontent, set his sword before his breast, and brandished the sword in his fist. Then he advanced towards Trouble, and dealt his as violent a blow as possible on his helm, so effectively that Trouble fell before him, and it pierced the helm to a depth of more than three fingers. Then, he answered him in these terms:

‘My friend, you who insult me thus,

Take this blow, as a gift from us!

For you are not so brave in this

As to mock me for cowardice.

And before you depart from me,

Thank God if you’re injury-free!’

Chapter XXXIV: Coeur overcomes Trouble

Then they struck each other so vigorously and favoured each other with such mighty blows, that none who could had seen them would have hesitated to esteem them men of skill and valour, so ferocious and dreadful was the battle they fought. Trouble, who was angered at being attacked thus by Coeur, rendered him blow for blow. They struck each other while each losing a quantity of blood, to the degree that the ground all about them was dyed crimson and they could hardly keep their feet. Then Trouble, who could not bear to be struck so forcefully, raised his steel blade and dealt a blow to Coeur’s helm, as violently as his arm would permit, though it failed to land squarely, the blade sliding down over the shield, shearing away a good quarter of it. Trouble could not contain the power of his blow, so that the blade swept onwards and fixed itself in the ground to the depth of a foot or more. He tugged at it, but in vain, since it was too firmly embedded.

Coeur, perceiving this, approached him and dealt him so sharp a blow to the head that he cracked the helm and the iron cap beneath, and sank the blade at least two fingers deep into his skull. He carried through with a second stroke which landed so savagely on Trouble’s shoulder that he fell backwards to the ground. Coeur leapt upon him then, cut the laces of his helm, dragged it from his head, and dealt him so fierce a blow on the brow with the pommel of his sword that he was stunned, and cried for mercy. Trouble, finding that his head was now unprotected, feared to die, and surrendered, while begging Coeur of his grace to tell him who he might be. He had surrendered willingly, he said, and begged Coeur, in God’s name, to spare him. Coeur replied in the following manner:

Chapter XXXIV: He spares Trouble’s life on certain conditions

‘Trouble, you who ever work ill,

You now are subject to my will!

Yet if you still would know my name,

I’ll not refuse to give that same:

Not for fear of aught you can do,

For you’ve now received your due,

But rather I seek not to conceal

My name from any; let me reveal

Coeur am I, your conqueror truly,

Who goes in search of Sweet Mercy.

Now your promise I must obtain,

For you must do as I ordain,

And swear to me you will so do,

Or else I’ll make an end of you;

And you must speak of the dangers

Of this castle and how strangers

Are treated here, and why I find

You in this place, and all your mind.’

Chapter XXXV: Sadness begs Coeur to show mercy

While Coeur was thus addressing Trouble, Desire, who was watching the battle between the two, looked towards the door of the keep, and saw a woman emerge, tall and thin, pale in colour, hideous and dishevelled, ignobly dressed, woeful and weeping, approaching swiftly, making a vast lament as if she was utterly desolated. And if you ask me who she was, and her name, I reply that she was named Sadness, and that she was a friend of Trouble, the knight who had fought with Coeur.

She came straight towards the two adversaries, and Desire, fearing lest she might harm Coeur, his companion, drew nearer to see what she sought to do. But as soon as she reached the two combatants, she fell on her knees before Coeur, in such a state of woe that all must pity her, for she was ever wretched thus, and begged Coeur to have mercy, for God’s sake, on her friend, whom he had conquered, and spare his life otherwise she would kill herself, and if he would do her that courtesy he would be richly rewarded.

Coeur gazed on this woman, who seemed to possess little beauty; though, since she was a woman, he pitied her, and felt constrained to admit her request, provided Trouble did as he commanded, regarding whom Sadness spoke to Coeur in the following manner:

Chapter XXXV: Sadness speaks of Trouble and of herself

‘My most noble and gracious lord,

None may more readily afford

You certain knowledge of my friend;

Upon my words you may depend.

After which he will swear to you

To do as you wish, and prove true,

And faithfully perform your will.

By my faith, I’ll not rest until

He and you are in good accord.

Know, of this castle he is lord,

And Trouble is his name, yet I

Have ne’er found any, neath the sky,

Better suited to my own nature;

What pleases me, he wishes ever.

For Sadness I am called, one who

Wounds many a heart, such as you.

Many an ill, and many a crime

Gainst Love he’s wrought in his time;

Of doing harm he’ll never tire

To all who pass; tis his desire;

Yet of both our conditions we

Gain no joy, only misery,

Nor doth any dwell in this place,

No attendant or squire doth grace

This castle of his, willingly,

Who with our state doth not agree.

In place of joy, on all occasions,

We express but lamentations.

I speak the truth, with every breath;

And pray you will not seek his death.’

Chapter XXXVI: Coeur allows Trouble to rise

At this, Coeur took Trouble by the hand and raised him from the ground. Though he was annoyed that Trouble was ever hostile to the god of Love and his company, he was nonetheless content to grant him his life at the lady’s request, telling himself that he would make Trouble swear an oath to the effect that, lest he perjure himself –which he later did – he would do lovers no further harm. He then took his right hand in his own in the presence of Sadness, saying:

Chapter XXXVI: He orders Trouble to swear on oath not to harm lovers

‘At the request of your lady,

Who your friend would seem to be,

Trouble, I now spare you your life,

And lest we need renew our strife

You must promise me, faithfully,

That you will end your villainy,

And naught ill will advance, or move

Against the company of Love,

Nor of those who of him complain

When they the castle here do gain,

Which is devoid of all delight.

For God made not so drear a sight,

Devils built it with their own hands,

And scant esteem it thus commands.

Do all that I demand of you,

Or you’ll pay the price that’s due,

Swear an oath now for your friend

On whom it seems you can depend.’

Chapter XXXVII: Sadness instructs Trouble to obey

When Trouble heard himself urged, under threat, to swear an oath scarcely agreeable to him, he glanced towards his friend, Sadness, who signalled to him to do as Coeur asked, since she thought to take revenge in another manner. Then Trouble delayed no longer, but did as Coeur had requested of him, saying:

Chapter XXXVII: Trouble swears to serve the god of Love

‘O Coeur, who are so valiant,

Brave, skilful, and resilient,

You have conquered, and not by chance;

Scant use to me my shield and lance.

My sword I render up to you,

For victory is yours, and through

Sheer force of arms, and manfully.

Thus, I will swear now, openly,

The oath that you demand, this day,

Without seeking, in any way,

To stray from the path you have set,

For all your demands shall be met.

On the contrary, Love I’ll serve,

And free of complaint or reserve.’

Chapter XXXVIII: Desire asks Sadness where they can find lodging

Once Coeur had made Trouble promise, on oath, as you have heard, Desire approached and asked Sadness if she knew of any place in the vicinity where they might find shelter and lodgings for the night, since it was late and Coeur was weary and weighed down with sorrow. That treacherous deceiver Sadness, who thought other than she said, replied that it was out of the question for them to seek another lodging that evening than the castle; and answered him in these terms:

‘Ah, Coeur, my gentle noble lord,

Honour me, and dine at my board;

On good lodging you may depend,

And you, Desire, my dear friend.

Tis the finest place, without doubt,

For two days’ journey hereabout.

No better welcome will you find,

Nor truer solace, to my mind.

Good food is in abundance here,

If you but sample of our cheer.

Dear God, but one hour of the day,

And one half, is left; you must stay.’

Chapter XXXIX: Coeur is imprisoned in the castle

When Sadness had ended her plea, in the above fashion, the two companions looked at each other, aware that darkness was already falling, and that they knew of no other place in which to spend the night. Since the lady had offered so strong a plea, they accepted her offer of lodgings with good grace. Lady Sadness then took Coeur by the hand and marched straight towards the keep, Desire and Trouble following, though all arrived there together. She called out on reaching the door, it was opened, and they penetrated the interior.

On entering, Coeur and Desire heard a host of people weeping and lamenting, in a distraught manner. They passed on into the lady’s chamber, to which she led them, in order that Coeur and her friend, Trouble, might there be relieved of their armour. She summoned a knight of mature age, thin and pale, to perform this. The tale indicates that this knight was Anxiety, the combatant who had toppled Coeur from the perilous bridge into the River of Tears. Anxiety recognised Coeur on seeing him, by the arms he bore, but Coeur failed to recognise him in turn, for he had not seen him free of his armour before. Anxiety was a close relative of Sadness and her friend Trouble.

Once Coeur was disarmed, the lady, refreshments having been prepared meanwhile, had wine brought, though of a poor quality, and a portion of bread that smelled musty, while the two companions’ ears were met with endless complaints, cries of woe, and lamentations from an unseen host of people. The pair were preoccupied and filled with scant cheer, since their lodgings appeared so truly joyless. It was scarcely a moment before Lady Sadness reappeared, having accomplished her task, and on entering, finding the companions so troubled, she begged them to walk about the place a little to raise their spirits, for the building was of marvellous construction; and this they agreed to, willingly.

So, Lady Sadness took a candle, and went before them, with Coeur, and then Desire, following after. They visited various parts of the castle. The two companions continually gazed about them, and listened, for wherever they went they could always hear the sound of tears and lamentation. It was then that they recalled the words of Lady Hope: that instead of joyful songs they would hear only cries of woe.

They pursued their walk, such that, after their viewing many ancient and wonderful features, Sadness led them to a very old tower. She entered first, a woman plotting a wicked ruse, holding the candle before her so that Coeur behind her could see little; she quickened her pace and strode over two floorboards, while Coeur who suspected naught trod on one of the planks, which gave way in an instant, precipitating him downwards, a lance and a half’s length at least.

Chapter XXXIX: Desires seeks help, and encounters Humble-Request

Then Desire, who was instantly on his guard, retreated and precipitated himself towards the principal door of the castle, which he found open, for Lady Idleness had not been so diligent as to close it. He mounted and rode through the gate, sorely troubled by what he happened to his companion, Coeur. He glanced back at the inscription above its portal, thinking how true it had proved. He reflected that it was of little use musing or dwelling upon the matter, and that he must employ diligence to seek aid for his companion, who, it seemed to him, had fallen into evil hands, those of Sadness who had sadly proved a hypocrite.

He took to the road without delay, thinking to reach the House of Love, where he might find help for his companion more readily than in any other place he knew. He travelled all night, like one who knew the way, without it seems meeting with adventure. At dawn, he found himself at the edge of a deep forest, and saw, beside a most pleasant river, in a vast meadow dotted with pretty bushes, and little green hedges, a large array of tents and pavilions. Descending a slope, he headed straight towards them, encountering a messenger on the way who bore a coat of arms, azure with three golden arrows, flighted with silver feathers, two angels supporting the aforesaid blazon.

If you ask me who this individual was, and, in whose service, he laboured, I will say that he was Humble-Request, Love’s messenger, whom Love had sent to Honour and others of his company, to inform them that Ill-Talk had assembled a great number of slanderers to destroy his realm, and ransom his subjects. When Desire saw him, he recalled him perfectly, for he thought to have seen him before in the House of the god of Love. He therefore saluted him, and addressed him in the following manner:

Coeur encounters Humble-Request on horseback

‘Coeur encounters Humble-Request on horseback’
Codex Vindobonensis 2597, fol. 31v: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris, (Barthélemy d'Eyck, 1460-1469)
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Chapter XXXIX: Desire addresses Humble-Request

‘Well met, fair messenger, indeed,

Whose task is e’er by Love decreed,

My gentle friend, Humble-Request!

Tell me your mission and your quest,

Say, if you please, what brings you here,

For that you travel hard, tis clear;

And who the folk are I see yonder

Hard against that forest’s border;

What these tents, and pavilions, are,

Tell me true, that rise near and far,

And tell me further, if you will,

If their presence bodes good or ill.’

Chapter XL: Humble-Request replies to Desire

On hearing this speech, Humble-Request gazed at Desire, recognising him in turn, since he had seen him before in his master’s house, and elsewhere, and doing him reverence, he saluted him, saying:

‘Desire, may the Lord God ever

Send you good-health, joy, and honour!

Love, my master, has ordered me

To summon his whole company,

His allies, and well-wishers, all,

Upon his enemies to fall,

Whose leader is Ill-Talk, for war

That slanderer makes, as oft before.

Refusal and Rejection fight

At Ill-Talk’s side, and many a knight

Of ill-repute, and, hark to me,

Those folk have captured Sweet-Mercy.

They have imprisoned her, I say,

– The Devil was there on that day! –

Bound her tightly, in bonds of fear

And shame, weeping many a tear.

And she shall know delight no more,

Filled with distress, her fate unsure.

That host, just beyond you, Honour,

As it seems, has sought to gather;

All those allied to our cause, who,

Vaunt their courage, he doth review;

They now gather to Love’s banner,

To aid him and bring him succour.

Before ten years of war is done,

All the vile traitors, every one,

Shall be punished! But come, draw near,

And tell me why you journey here.’

Chapter XLI: Desire seeks out Honour’s pavilion

The story now relates that, when Desire had heard the news borne by Humble-Request, he was all at once both sad and joyful; sad because the slanderers were making war on his master, Love, and because Sweet Mercy, according to that messenger, was held captive; joyful because he saw Honour and his company nearby, who, he thought, would not fail to furnish him with aid for his companion, Coeur, since they were no more than a day’s journey from the castle named Devoid-of-Joy.

He then told the emissary Humble-Request the whole tale: of how he had undertaken the quest for Sweet Mercy in support of Coeur, the Heart seized by love, and of the adventures they had encountered, and how Coeur was now imprisoned in the castle named Devoid-of-Joy, and all in detail that had occurred, as the story has revealed to you, from its commencement until now. Then they embraced, and commended each other to God, and Humble-Request went diligently about his business, while Desire headed towards the tents and pavilions nearby.

Desire asked the whereabouts of Honour’s pavilion and there was no lack of folk to direct him there. He dismounted, entered the tent, and found Honour within, considering his battle-plans aided by his barons’ counsel. Setting one knee on the ground, he saluted, and spoke as follows:

Coeur and Trouble contend

‘Coeur kneels before Honour, outside his pavilion’
Codex Vindobonensis 2597, fol. 33r: Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris, (Barthélemy d'Eyck, 1460-1469)
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Chapter XLI: And seeks Honour’s assistance

‘My most steadfast lord and master,

Most high and noble prince, Honour,

I kneel to you, reverentially,

And wish you Fame and Victory!

I come to you now, seeking aid,

For one of Love’s fair cavalcade,

Whom I have set upon a quest,

He submitting at my behest,

To find the Lady, Sweet Mercy,

Of whom ill news had come to me.

He is suffering, I dare say,

In seeking praise, much pain each day,

Yet, after peril and travail,

Vile Sadness o’er him doth prevail,

For she has tricked him most falsely,

And now imprisons him harshly,

Within Denial-of Delight

Her dwelling, hidden from the light.

Love loses a good servant there,

And you, my lord, by that affair,

For willingly he sought the quest

And wholly at my own behest.

That you be pleased to bring him aid,

Is what I seek, and have relayed.’

Chapter XLII: Honour considers Desire’s request

When Honour had heard the whole of Desire’s speech, he gazed at him attentively, since he had spoken so nobly and steadfastly. He recognised him, moreover, for he had seen him before in the house of Love, his sovereign lord. He made him welcome and comforted him, and, giving him his hand, raised him and demanded further details of Coeur and the circumstances of his imprisonment. And Desire told him, from beginning to end, all that had happened since the commencement of their quest until now, and affirmed that Trouble was lord of the castle in which Coeur was held captive, adding that it was no more than a day’s journey away.

Honour listened most benignly, and having heard all, could not keep from reddening in vexation with regard to Trouble and Sadness, and he addressed Desire, thus:

Chapter XLII: And replies as follows

‘By my faith in the god of Love,

Aid for Coeur, I indeed approve,

Though my own powers I must employ

For never, by God, will I have joy

While he suffers such sore distress

And in vile Sadness’ hands no less.

If I should capture her, and Trouble,

Twill be the end of that quarrel,

For they will perish, in a breath,

Whoe’er would shelter them from death.’

Chapter XLIII: Honour calls upon Renown to aid Coeur

Then Honour summoned Renown, and said to him that he must furnish all the enterprise, that he must commandeer sufficient men from out the army, and make sure to deliver Coeur from his captivity. And Renown, who desired nothing more, strode forward to do reverence to Honour, thanked him, and replied in these terms:

Chapter XLIII: Renown responds to Honour’s command

‘My dear lord, your command to me

Shall now be furthered, instantly!

Before two days, no more, have passed,

Coeur shall be freed, and if I cast

My eyes upon, and seize Trouble,

I’ll bring him before your Council,

And do the same with Sadness too,

So the false traitress you may view.

To God, I commend you, your Grace;

I must not linger in this place.’

Chapter XLIV: Desire leads Renown to the castle, where the latter addresses his men

At this point, the story says that, after speaking thus, Renown brooked no delay: rather he summoned Pleasure and Enjoyment to his side, since he knew they had long hated Trouble and Sadness; and he gathered other folk he thought worthy, dressed and equipped himself as he thought necessary, had the trumpets sounded, and parted, in noble company, from Honour’s army.

Once in the field, he sought out Desire, and had him ride ahead to guide them straight to the castle named Devoid-of-Joy; and Desire did so, as one who knew the way. They journeyed, in this manner, without any adventure to speak of, till they came to the borders of the forest, and entered the dense low undergrowth. They saw before them the heights of the castle named Devoid-of-Joy; the large and ancient keep, fissured and eroded in many a place. Desire when asked the name of the castle, replied that it was, indeed, Devoid-of-Joy, the same in which Coeur was imprisoned.

Then Renown, who sought to take the castle by assault, had them all halt to don their helmets, and ready themselves, before haranguing his troops as follows:

Chapter XLIV: Renown addresses his troops

‘My peers, and my companions, here,

Who fine and valiant thus appear,

So fine that you may be assured,

None finer ever served a lord,

I rejoice in so praising you,

And yet I would exhort you, too:

All your skill and might display,

Conquer by force of arms this day,

The crowd of villains in this keep,

Who hold brave Coeur in prison deep,

One that’s a true servant ever

Of Love, who is our lord and master.

Now we’ll see who loves him truly,

And so, performs his martial duty!’

Chapter XLV: Renown’s army is roused to assault the castle

When the company heard themselves exhorted and admonished thus, their hearts were roused such that there was none so humble at that hour that they thought themselves less valiant than Lancelot or Hector of Troy. They shouted, with but one voice: ‘On, on, we delay too long!’ But, at this point, the tale turns elsewhere and speaks again of Coeur, in order to tell of his imprisonment, and of how he was treated in his captivity.

The end of Part II of ‘Le Livre du Coeur d’Amour Épris’