History of Charlemagne: The Romance of Otuel
Llyfr Coch Hergest
A.—The Conversion of Otuel.
Whosoever desires to know or hear a valiant story, let him, with a quiet mind, listen, and we will tell him the flower of the gests, namely, the story of the valiant Charles, the son of Pepin the old king of France, the noblest and mightiest emperor and the most illustrious conqueror of the countries of the paynims and of the enemies of Christ, that ever was in Rome; and of the Twelve Peers of France, who loved each other so much that they were never separated until they were slain, when Gwenwlyd betrayed them to the faithless race of the paynims. Through him twenty thousand and seven hundred were killed the same day. For which cause Charles to his dying day felt exceeding sad and sorrowful. This story is finer and more excellent, for it is not found among bards and jesters who have all ceased from celebrating him because they know naught of him. They only sing the adventures and exploits of those they know, or draw upon their imagination. Naught, however, know they of the sudden loss that came to Charles the Emperor.
Charles and his Court in Paris.
When Charles, the king of France, on Holy Innocents Day, was in the city called Paris, having observed there with unwonted splendour the Christmas festivities, and with him were the twelve peers of France, and earls, barons and knights without number, and all entertained the king and his company as best they could, they decided to hold a court. And there they mutually pledged each other that they would go to war against Garsi, the king of Spain, and that they would do so at the close of the month of April, when they could find fresh pastures and green grass for their horses.
But before vespers were sung in the town they heard other tidings, that, if the God who created all the world had not been mindful of them, twenty thousand of their Franks would have been killed.
The Arrival of Otuel.
A Saracen of Spain, Otuel by name, a man worthy of honour in a fourfold manner, for fine physique, for prowess in arms, for lineage, and for discretion, arrived as messenger from King Garsi. He rode through Paris until he came to the court of the king. At the gate he dismounted and ascended the steps leading to the hall. Ogier of Denmark and Gwalter of Orleans, and the mighty Duke Neimus met him. He asked them to shew him Charles, and informed them that he was a messenger from a king that cared not a button for him.
Gwalter first answered him and said—"Behold him sitting there, the man with the white moustache and long beard, wearing a black gown. The man in scarlet red mantle who sits on the one side of him is Roland, his nephew, and Earl Oliver, the companion of Roland, sits on the other side, and beyond them on either side sit the twelve peers." "By Mahomet", said the Saracen, "now know I Charles. May evil fire and wild flame burn his beard and cleave his body from breast to heel."
Otuel before Charles.
Thereupon he came into the presence of the king, and, as before, spake to him, and said—"Listen to me, I pray thee, Charles. I am a messenger of the mightiest king that ever was in the law of Spain; who greets thee not, for he ought not, in that thou hast roused his ire, and kindled the wrath of Mahomet, and mine also. Be he such a one as I trust in, he will kill thee and all thy companions and bodyguard, and especially thy nephew Roland, whom, should I meet in battle, or where my horse could run against him, I would pierce with my sword until it would pass through him like a spit."
Thereupon Roland laughed and looked at the king. Then he addressed the Saracen thus—"Thou mayest now speak all thy mind and no Frank will hinder thee."
"Yes, he may", said Charles, "as long as it pleaseth thee, in that he is safe on my part until the end of the week."
"You speak nonsense"," said Otuel, "for I fear no man as long as I have my sword, Curceus by name, at my side. By it was I dubbed knight. Nine months have not yet gone by since, with it, I cut off the heads of a thousand Franks."
"Where was that?" said Charles. "Recall the event and tell it to me."
"With pleasure", said Otuel, "will I tell thee. Eight months have one by, and this is the ninth since thine own special city Rome, of which thou art styled emperor, was destroyed. King Garsi and his barons took it, and twenty thousand were killed there between men and women, and a great many more in addition. So many of them did I strike with my sword that the swelling did not depart from my wrist for a week." "Alack the day thou wert ever born," said the Franks. Estut of Lengres, a knight of proven valour, stood up, and with a big four-sided staff which he had in his hand, sought to strike him. Roland went between them and said to Estut, "For my love, if love thou hast for me, leave the Saracen alone and spare him. For I am pledged to him. I cannot do him any harm. Let him say what he likes."
Thereupon a knight Provental of St. Gille, a man of rather excitable temperament, went behind the messenger when he was off his guard, and taking hold of his hair with both hands, pulled him down to the ground. Otuel rose up quickly, and drawing Curceus, his sword, whose hilt was of gold, he struck off the knight's head so that it rolled at the feet of the king.
Thereupon the Franks cried out to arrest him. But he moved aside from among them, his eyes all red and rolling wildly like a famishing lion enchained and enraged, and when there was great tumult in the palace because of this occurrence he cried out with a loud voice—"Be not agitated, barons. For, by Mahomet to whom I have devoted myself, I will cause the death of seven hundred of you, if you contend."
Thereupon the emperor rose up and bade him give him his sword. The Saracen replied that he would not give it, and that it was mean on his part to ask for it.
Roland bade him surrender it to him, he undertaking to return it on his departure from them. Until then, he would, to the best of his power, protect him, so that he received no harm from anyone.
"Noble sire", said Otuel, "take it, and keep it well I pray thee; for I would not part with it for the seven best cities in thy domain. Moreover, by it thy head also shall be cut off."
"By my faith", said Roland, "thy arrogance is beyond measure." Cease now. Tell thy message, and then take thy leave and go." "That will I do gladly", said he, "grant me hearing."
Otuel's Message to the King.
"Charles", said Otuel, "I will hide nothing from thee, I am the messenger of the Emperor Garsi, who holds Spain, Alexandria, Russia, Tyre, Sidon and Barbary, and all other countries from here to Femynie are subject to him. He commands thee and all thine army to renounce thy Christian faith, since it is not worth a fig, and he who believes not this does a very foolish thing; and to pay homage to Mahomet, and worship him who governs the whole world, and then come to him and he will grant thee Auvergne, and Manausie, and all the seaports of England, together with her estuaries this side of the Red Sea. To thy nephew Roland he will give Russia, and to his companion Oliver he will give Slavonia. The heart of France, however, he will not grant thee. For he has already given it to Florien of Sulie, the son of Julf the Red, king of Barbary. He is the finest man in all Spain, by far the greatest in renown, the bravest among the knights, and the best that smites with the polished sword. He it is who will keep France free and in peace both for himself and his heir."
Then said the emperor, "By my faith", said he, "with the aid of the Almighty it shall not happen thus. And what say you to this, you my people whom I have ever protected?"
"Right worthy emperor", said all the barons and their armies, "never shall we suffer the Saracens to hold France in their possession. Only summon thy forces together and set them in battle array and then lead us, if thou wilt, until we find that corrupt people. If we find King Garsi in battle he will not escape thence with his head, we swear."
"I hear you speak utter vanity and nonsense", said Otuel. "Those who are now threatening the king, he yet will vanquish and kill. For when you behold the greatness of his power and his knights, the bravest among you will not then be able to laugh. He would rather be somewhere beyond Normandy."
"Yet", said duke Neimus, "if Charles were to summon his forces together, where could he find king Garsi? Will he fight with the hosts of Charles?"
"Thy words lack knowledge and wisdom", said Otuel. "When they are arrayed, there are seven hundred and seven thousand of them in glittering hauberk and banners of silk. Sooner would they suffer death together than desert one another. Besides, they have builded them a city, Atalia by name, and fortified it around with walls and dykes, between two rivers. So that God has not created the man who could prevent their going outside to hunt or to fish. And if thou, grey-bearded Charles," shouldest come there, we shall see then who will have a fair lady-love, and who best can strike with a polished sword. But go thou not there, thou hoary headed rustic. Take my advice and guard the walls of Paris, lest crow or magpie alight on them. For never more wilt thou be a power in battle."
The Challenge and the Acceptance.
Charles felt much mortified. Thereupon Roland rose up in great passion. He took three steps towards the Saracen and said to him, "Thy arrogance and bragging before the Franks this day are beyond measure. Had I not given thee my troth thou wouldest straightway be a dead man at my sword. And should I ever meet thee in battle I will deal thee such a blow with my sword that none of gentle birth shall ever more receive harm from thee."
"Let us come to an understanding now", said Otuel, "and I challenge thee to meet me in the field to-morrow in single combat."
"Pledge me thy word", said Roland, "that thou wilt come." And the paynim pledged his word. "And let him who breaks his word be confessed a coward, and let his spurs be broken short at his heels, and let him never more be received at court."
This agreement having been made known, Charles asked the Saracen, "By thy faith, from what country, and what people dost thou spring, and what is thy name?"
Otuel replied, "I am the son of king Galien, who has killed more Christians than thou hast in thy domain. The emperor Garsi is my cousin, and Fernagu, the king of Navarre, whom Roland slew, was my uncle, and to-morrow I will be avenged on him for that."
And Charles said to him, "O prince, thou art gentle enough. Great pity is it that thou wilt not be baptized."
Thereupon Charles called his chamberlain Reinyer and said, "Take this messenger and conduct him to the house of my friend Ernalt, and give him one hundred shillings for his own expenses, and one hundred shillings for his horse."
Then he called to him old Reginald of the White Thorn, Gwalter of Lyons, and Ogier the Dane,' and said, "I command you to attend upon this noble knight and to supply him with everything he needs." And so they did that night.
Preparing for the Combat.
The following morning at dawn of day Charles rose up, and bade them call Roland. And they went to the chapel to pray. The abbot of St. Omer sang mass for them. Charles brought a silver cup full of Parisian coins and gave it as an offering for himself and the twelve peers. Roland also gave his sword Durendal as an offering, and afterwards redeemed it for seven silver marks.
After mass matins were said, and they then left the church to look if they could see the Saracen, who had come to speak to the king.
Thereupon Otuel rode forth haughtily and called to the king and addressed him in an arrogant tone. "Charles", said he, "where is thy nephew Roland, whom thou so greatly lovest, and in whom is placed all the trust of France? I will call him a perjurer, and will reproach him as if I had already vanquished him, if he keep not the promise he made yesterday to me, in the hearing of the whole court, both men and women."
At these words Roland came full of wrath, and with an oath said, "By the apostles who suffered pain for their Lord I will not leave off to-day for any man living until I compel thee to hold thy peace, by conquering thee, or by killing thee, or by causing thy conversion to the Catholic faith."
"Do so", said Otuel, "don thine arms on that condition. If I fail to appear I pray thee hang me."
"Thy words are most arrogant and haughty", said Oliver. "It will be a great marvel if they turn out well for thee."
Thereupon the eleven peers led Roland to a chamber, and they armed him with fine and secure armour—a coat of mail made by Butor the armourer, the disciple of Galiant, who was the most skilful man in that craft in his day. Duke Neimus tied the lace round his neck, and put on his head a glittering helmet which formerly belonged to the giant Goliath, and which Charles obtained when he killed Briant. And then they brought him his sword, Durendal, which it was vain for any there to covet; for there was no one in France, either great or small, who knew it not, and was not aware that it had no equal from there to the east. And then they placed round his neck a strong and heavy shield finely engraved with gold and azure. In the first place, about the boss were engraved the four chief winds, the twelve celestial signs, and the twelve months of the year, as if each one followed the other in succession. And on its lowest border was depicted hell, and above that, encircling it skilfully, heaven and earth. In the two other corners were engraved, with much toil and study, the sun and moon. Its band was all of fine silk, and its boss a hard diamond. Then they brought him a strong spear, well tipped, and having a fine banner of red and green from the point of the lance to its hilt. And Earl Ierius put spurs of gold and silver on his feet. A horse was brought him which ran swifter than an arrow flies from a strong crossbow." And God never made another beast that could equal it in running, or bear it company neck to neck at the flying of an arrow. His saddle was of crystal. The nails were of silver. The panel was of precious silk. The stirrups were of pure gold engraved.
The earl sprang nimbly to saddle without setting foot in stirrup, or hand on saddlebow. He made his horse canter in the sight of his people and rode back smilingly to Charles, and said to him, "Sire, grant me thy leave and thy blessing. And then if, after that, the Saracen comes to fight with me, he will have no surety for his life."
"My nephew", said the king, "to Him who made heaven and earth I commend thee. May He defend thee from evil." And he raised his hands in prayer and signed him with the sign of the cross.
Then Roland spurred his horse towards the meadow. And all of them, even the youths and maidens, followed him, and said, "To Jesus we commend thee, and to Lady Mary; may they to-day protect thee from death."
And the eleven peers quickly mounted their horses and accompanied him between the two rivers which run through Paris, one of which is the Seine, and the other is called the great Marin.
The Saracen was still standing before the king, and he said to him haughtily, "Charles", said he, "give me coat of mail, helmet, shield, and sword.' I have myself a swift destrier. There is no better horse from here to the east. And I will promise thee truly, by my faith, that I will, before breakfast time, kill Roland with thy sword, if he still-abides by the compact we made."
Thereupon the king became exceeding angry. He was well nigh bursting with rage. And he said to the paynim, "May God first confound thee and thy people. For so greatly hast thou roused my ire and my sorrow."
And thereupon he perceived his daughter Belisent coming from her chamber towards the palace. And when she entered in, the whole palace was resplendent with her beauty, as if she were the noonday sun in May, or the sparkling splendour of a carbuncle when the night is dark. And he made a sign to her with his glove, and said, "Daughter", said he, "to thee do I commit this paynim. Equip him speedily that he lack nothing in respect of arms. He has vowed to fight against my nephew Roland."
"Gladly, lord", said she, "it shall be done according to thy desire."
Then Belisent called to her two other maidens of gentle birth, Flandrine de Monbel and Rossete de Ruissel, and the three maidens led Otuel to a square marble grotto. And there they armed him with a coat of mail which formerly belonged to king Sanneil, on the collar whereof, in front, was a figure of a fine bird. And Flandrine tied the lace round his neck. And on his head was put the helmet of king Galathiel. This was square in form. Around its ring were flowers wrought in gold. And its nasal had the design of a noble bird. Then Belisent girded on his thigh the sword which formerly belonged to king Achael. It was Curceus. Its edge was equal to that of a keen knife.
Then to his neck they hung a strong new shield as white as snow. Its boss was of gold. Its nails were of silver. And they brought him a lance of strong ash, tipped with a bright and sharp head, and a new banner as white as the bloom of the water-lily, and on it the figure of an eagle holding between its claws a dragon. Rossete de Ruissel put on his feet two spurs equal in worth to any castle. His saddle was put on his own destrier—swift Migrados. Swifter it ran, when touched with spur, than an arrow flies from the bow. The sportive and prancing steed, when it saw its master, knew him, and he vaulted on to its back. And much better knew that horse how to fight than the most skilful artizan how to strike with hammer. And then he made his horse canter, and he returned to Belisent and said, "Noble lady", said he, "may God bless thee. Thou hast armed me well. Give me thy leave, and soon after Roland will be dead at my hand." Then Belisent said, "Nevertheless, take good care of thyself against Durendal, and unless thou defendest thyself well against it with Curceus, nevermore wilt thou hold a city."
At these words Otuel rode to Ogier the Dane and the mighty Duke Neimus. And they accompanied him to the meadow where Roland was.
The Mighty Combat.
And Charles went up to the high loopholes and called to him the eleven peers, and bade them come with him. At his command all the Franks moved out of the meadow, and left it to the two knights. And then he bade them fight when they listed. And Otuel said that he was ready. And Roland thereupon said to the paynim, "O unbelieving paynim", said he, "from this time forth I renounce my covenant with thee". "And I, likewise, mine with thee", said Otuel, "and guard thyself well against me, for I do not love thee at all. And I require of thee the death of my uncle Fernagu, whom thou didst kill."
And then they pricked their horses hard with their spurs and made a rush at each other, so that, what with the speed, the fury, and especially the clamour, the meadow quaked and the earth was rent in furrows.
Setting their lances, on which the banners rustled ominously in the wind, they dealt heavy blows each on the other's shield, so that the lance shafts of both were broken and also their newly tanned leather belts. Their coats of mail, however, were good, seeing that not a single ring was broken or strained. And the mighty knights rode on, neither the one nor the other having lost anything.
Then Charles said, "O God", said he, "this seems to me a great wonder that the Saracen is able to withstand one blow from Roland."
His daughter, Belisent, who was standing by, said, "My arms are very good, and he who bears them is in no wise a coward."
After these words, Roland drew his sword, Durendal, and struck Otuel on the glittering helmet so that its nasal fell to the ground and with it a great number of rings, and fair flowers, and precious stones. With a second blow he smote the horse's head off its body far on to the ground.
And then Otuel fell when his horse failed him, and he said two words. "By Mahomet", said he, "thou hast done a dishonourable thing in killing my horse without cause or desert on its part. And thine will not leave this place bragging."
And he drew Curceus his sword, held his shield before him, sprang in front of Roland and struck him on his helmet that its nasal fell to the ground, and the blow glided off the pommel and cut through the saddle and through the horse about the shoulders, so that the sword was up to its hilt in the ground. And he loudly cried, in a boastful strain, "By Mahomet", said he, "that was not a child's stroke."
"O God", said the king, "how heavy was that blow! And I pray the Lady Mary to defend for me my nephew Roland." And if the earl fell, no one need wonder at that. For his horse had fallen dead under him. Durendal, however, was already in his hand, and with it he set upon the Saracen and struck him across the helmet that he smote off the fourth part thereof, the hood of the mail, and a part of his ear, and he clave his shield asunder, and he himself was now either killed or vanquished as everybody supposed. Nevertheless, Otuel had still great valour and strength to fight as hitherto. And with Curceus he paid the blow back to Roland, and Roland to him, again more vigorously, not willing to take anything from him unrequited. And so they continued exchanging blows and stubbornly fighting on either side, so that their coats of mail availed them nought against their swords, and the meadow glittered with the rings of their hauberks.
And then said Belisent, "What very noble fighting there is between them now. And it cannot, however, last long", because of the gallantry of the knights. And very well does Roland's sword Durendal cut. But it avails nought against Curceus."
"O God", said the king, "how my mind failed me, and how my heart suffered me to speak falsely," and crossing himself he fell towards the east and offered a prayer to God after this wise, "O God Almighty, seeing Thou art the Lord and Ruler of all people gentle and savage, defend ray Roland, and turn the heart of the Saracen, Otuel, that he may receive baptism and that he may believe in Thy blessed name." And he kissed the ground and rose up. And then he put his head out of the loophole and saw the knights fighting as before, not having as much of their shields as would cover their hands in front.
Then Roland said to the paynim, "Renounce Mahomet and Tervagant", said he, "and believe in one God Almighty who suffered pain to redeem us from hell's ever-lasting bondage, and accept a noble gift, even Belisent, the daughter of the Emperor Charles, and mine own cousin. I will cause her to be given to thee. And I and thou and Oliver will be companions. And there will be no castle, city, or place which we cannot take and subdue. For myself, however, as in the past, I seek not from thee the value of a single spur."
"What nonsense thou speakest", said Otuel. "And shame be to him who made thee a clerk. And while thou art a clerk and a disciple I am a master, as I will shew thee before we part. I will give thee such a blow that thou shalt not be able to utter a word any more than an anvil struck by an iron mallet." And thereupon Roland became enraged beyond measure, and with Durendal, whose hilt was of fine gold, in his hand, he struck the warrior Otuel on the top of his helmet that fire flashed out of both sword and helmet. The Saracen parried as one skilled in action, and the blow glanced along his shoulder blade, and clave his double hauberk and all his armour from the top of his shoulder to the girdle of his breeches. The sword, however, did not touch the flesh. And yet so very heavy was the blow that it made the knight bend and well nigh fall down on his knees. This being so, many of the Franks gave thanks, being delighted with the blow, and said that the Saracen was conquered and could no longer defend himself nor fight. Possibly, however, not one among them knew Otuel, or had seen him before in battle. The son of King Galien jumped up nimbly to avenge the blow, and if Roland had not parried that stroke, never more would he have entered the list in knightly combat.
And the Saracen changed colour, and his eyes rolled quickly in his head, like a wild and famished beast. And he raised Curceus on high and attacked Roland with all his might. And in his rage he struck him a heavy blow on the top of his helmet that would have smote off his head if the sword had not turned in his grasp. The second blow he dealt on his left side, and as much of the shield as was in his hand and as much of the other parts of the armour as met the blow he broke in pieces until the sword was plunged far into the earth. And Roland fell off his horse to the ground. And drawing his sword out of the ground he said, "By Mahomet, well does my sword cut."
The Franks then perceiving this, were filled with fear at the might of the strokes, and seeing that they had torn their coats of mail both back and front, and that no more of their shields remained than would cover their hands, they fell on their faces towards the east. And great fear came upon them for their Lord Roland. And they prayed the Lord God to give good counsel to the knights and to make peace between them, either by treaties or by some other security.
The Conversion of Otuel.
And at these words, a dove came flying, so that Charles and all his army could see it, and the Holy Ghost descended upon Otuel's shoulder. And then he said, as Roland was aiming to strike him, to avenge his blows, "Cease, Roland", said he, "and stay thine hand. I know not what I have seen flying in my presence. My mind and purpose are changed. Let the fighting end here. And for thy love I will receive baptism, and I ask forgiveness of Mary. Henceforth she shall be my defence and in her will I trust." And when Roland heard these words, joyfully he said to him, "Noble sire", said he, "art thou minded to do this?" "Yea, by my faith, I am", said Otuel, "and I do now renounce Mahomet, Tervagant, Apolin, lousy Jupiter, and all their gang."
Thereupon they threw away their swords on the grass, and the brave knights embraced each other. "O God", said the king, "how great is this Thy power, behold they are reconciled, and are making some compact between themselves methinks. And go ye, my brave knights, to see." And they went as quickly as they could. And the king himself came spurring his horse after them, and having arrived, he said, "My beloved nephew", said he, "how farest thou, and what alliance have you formed between you?"
"Sire", said he, "I fare very well in that I am perfectly whole and happy. And I have received no harm, though r fought with the best and bravest warrior that ever was among the paynims. And thanks be to God, I have achieved this, that Otuel will receive baptism and the Christian faith. And welcome thou him with joy, and grant him honour and power according to his desire, and, in addition, thy daughter Belisent to wife."
"O God", said the king, "Thou hast done what I desired, and that was the prayer that I was about to make to Thee."
Then they with haste divested the knights of their armour. And Roland mounted a swift fiery destrier, and Otuel a high ambling mule, and they came towards the city to baptize Otuel. And they sought the Church of Mary. And Turpin, the Archbishop of Rheims, put on his stole, and took a psalter, and said the Litany. And then he came above the font and blessed it. Great also was the number of earls, barons and knights, and the crowd of them looking at Otuel being baptized. Charles was his sponsor at his baptism, and Earl Odis, and Gerard, earl of Normandy. And they did not change his name, but as before, they called him Otuel.
The Betrothal of Otuel and Belisent.
And thereupon, when he had renounced his unbelief and had been baptized, Belisent came, who was fairer than the bloom of the rose. And Dawns of the fair beard led her to Charles. And the king took her by her sleeve and said to her, "Daughter, thou art very beautiful, and thy complexion is fair, and whosoever may have thee in his possession, and at his desire for one night, ought never afterwards to be a coward, but should be praised for his valour and be very brave. So will he who will have thee, if God will grant him life, and whom many of the Franks will envy."
And to Otuel he said, "My godson, thou hast now embraced the right faith. For thou hast renounced Mahomet and hast received baptism. In return I give thee my daughter Belisent to wife, and with her the land of Verel and Iuorie, and Chaste and Plansence, and Melan and Panie and Lombardy." Then Otuel bent on his knees, and with great humility and gratitude kissed the king's foot and spake to him in this fashion, "Sire", said he, "I will never refuse that. If the maid is willing I also am willing." And Belisent then said, "I am willing, and now I have found my joy, and I ought never to repent me of my union, and never shall my love be false to thee."
"And since thou wilt be my betrothed", said Otuel, "for love of thee I will win me renown and fame. And many paynims before the city of Atalie shall die by my bright sword, for I have received baptism. And to thee, worthy emperor, I commend my betrothed until we come to the plains of Lombardy, and our nuptials will be celebrated in the plains around Atalie, when I shall have killed king Garsi."
B.—The War against Garsi.
The Council at Paris.
And then the king entered into his palace, and his barons went with him, and their meal was ready. And they having entered, the cloths were laid, and they sat down to eat. And, not to labour the point, supper was announced. And all having satisfied their need, there being no lack of wine, the king went into his chamber, and after him all went into their tents to rest and to sleep. And they shut the doors until the morrow after sunrise. Then the king rose up and summoned his barons to him. And he went and sat on a marble table in the hall, having in his hand a fine staff studded with nails of gold, and he said to them, "Lords, Barons, hearken unto me and advise me, for it is your duty so to do, concerning king Garsi, who, as ye have heard, has entered my domain by force, and is burning my castles, and demolishing my cities, and destroying the Christian faith as far as he possibly can. Shall we go to war against him immediately after winter, or shall we wait until summer?"
The Franks replied and said, "We are all surprised at what thou sayest about delaying and prolonging the time. For this Garsi has all things ready, and is daily destroying thy country, and before summer comes he will have completed the subjection of the greater part of thy domain, if he goes on in the future as he is doing now. Therefore it is wrong to miss the opportunity."
"Seeing that this is the advice of you all", said the king, "for love of me, be ye prepared by the end of March to start at once at the beginning of April." And all agreed to that.
Preparation for War.
Then the king had letters written, and sent them by messengers over all his empire, commanding that no knight, foot soldiers, possessor of bow or of arblast, should tarry, but should come to him to Paris by the first day of April. And he who could not come should send four pence to St. Denis. And though the time was longer than it takes us to relate, that month nevertheless passed, and January, February and March. And the appointed time quickly came.
The emperor was in Paris, and the twelve peers with him, namely, Roland and his companion Oliver, Anseis, Gerard, Engeliers, Estult de Lengres, Archbishop Turpin, Giriers, Bertoloi, Otuel, the duke Neimus, and Ogier the Dane.
And they went up to the high loopholes, and through them they see coming the men of Germany, Bavaria, Lorierg, Angevin, Gascony, Berriuuer, Poitou, Provençal, Burgundy, Flanders, Puiers and Normandy. And the Bretons were coming with their shields coloured in four shades, and leading their fiery destriers with their right hands. It was difficult for any in that part of the country to withstand them. Each of the knights was attended by four esquires, of whom they could make knights, if there was need in the future. And under Montmartre they came together in thousands.
The Departure of the Army from Paris.
On the first day of April, at the dawn of day, the king and his host set out from Paris, and came to St. Denis. From thence they set out on their journey and took their leave. And they left their wives and their families weeping and cursing Garsi. And they sounded their horns. And as many as ever had noble wife or fair betrothed set out with the king to Lombardy. Roland was the commander of the host in the van, and the mighty duke Neimus kept the rear.
Otuel, however, did not leave his betrothed behind, but took Belisent with him, mounted on a mule of Hungary, whose pace was quicker than flies the swiftest galley ship on the sea. Seven hundred barons formed her court, constantly maintained in meat and apparel by her. Each of them was fine in strength, great in himself, and very brave. And though the time was longer than it takes us to relate, they left France and Burgundy and Mungui, Iuorie, and Montferrant, until they saw Atalie, the strong city where Garsi was, and with him the infidel people.
So far no one troubled them on their journey, or could if he wished. And under Mount Poun, in a meadow by the banks of the river Toon, there they pitched their tents.
The Adventures of the Three Peers.
And then the emperor made the Franks rest from day to day, for a week, that the nights might throw off their fatigue and weariness, bleed their horses, take care of and heal their maladies. And nothing essential to him was left unthought of. He made a bridge to span the river that they might pass over at their wish. And when they returned they raised the bridge to prevent any of the paynims from following them, binding the rafters and planks strongly with iron.
The bridge having been completed they went to their tents to eat. But Roland, unknown to any save to Oliver and Ogier the Dane, did not go. These three went and armed themselves under a laurel tree. They then mounted their steeds, crossed the bridge and went towards the city seeking any that would fight with them. Before their return, however, the bravest of them would not be recompensed for being there with a heap of pure gold.
There were there four kings of the infidel race of paynims, who had come a good mile out of the city to fence. Each was well armed according to his desire. Their names, unless history is untrue, were as follows. One of them was Balsamin, king of Ninivent. The second was King Eurabil, a man who never kept faith or promise with any. The third was Ascanard, a man who killed more than a thousand men with his sword. The fourth was Clarel. There was not a finer man than he from there to the land of the rising sun. He never found a man who could oppose him in battle, or could stand a blow from him, whom he did not smite down to the ground wounded or killed. These were going along the meadow leading their destriers by the reins. And they were violently threatening Roland and Oliver, swearing that if they lived long enough to lead their hosts into the heart of France, there would be no guarantee to Charles against them for his life, and on the twelve peers also they would accomplish their desires.
And Clarel said to them, "Sires, we shall profit nothing by such threatening. Much praise have I heard of Roland, and that there is not from here to the east a braver man than he, and that against his sword nothing prevails. Nevertheless, I pray my God, Mahomet, and Tervagant, that I may again meet him in battle. I will smite him on the top of his helm with my sword. And I think it will be very hard unless I cleave him down to his teeth. For I have a just cause, if I could find him, seeing that he killed my brother Samson de Monbrant in a tournament under Mount Pampelune. And I shall die of pain and grief unless I can avenge him."
The Franks were riding silently and secretly under the shelter of the wood which is called Forestant. And when they heard the noise of the paynims they stood and listened. Roland saw them first, and he said to his companions, "Sires, rejoice, see there the paynims standing under the rock. And there are only four of them as far as I can see. Thanks be to the Almighty, we may safely fight now." "Quite true", said his companions, "let all be done according to thy desire."
Thereupon they set their lances, and spurred their horses towards the paynims.
Clarel, raising his head, looked towards the sun, and he saw the earls coming towards them at a gallop. And he called his companions to him quickly and said to them, "Sires, let your hearts and minds be at ease. I see afar off three knights spurring their horses towards us. Meet them and ascertain what they seek. Ye are three and they also are three."
And thereupon the paynims, without any delay, gave their horses the bridle, and without saying anything or asking who they were or whence they came, or what they sought, they began to deal blows to each other.
Ascanard attacked Roland with a spear, and struck him under the boss of his shield, and split it through, and broke off the head of his lance. And because his armour was good he received no further harm.
Roland, however, struck him back with all his might so that neither shield nor coat of mail nor any other part of his armour availed him the value of a fig. He pierced his breast and clave his heart asunder, and smote him dead to the ground, and mockingly he uttered these few words, "Son of a harlot, thou hast met Roland in battle, whom just now thou wert threatening."
Eurabyl attacked Ogier the courteous with a spear and dealt him a heavy blow on his shield, cut off thirty rings of the coat of mail, and the spear almost struck his side. However, it availed him not the value of a single pea.
Thereupon Ogier thrust him through his shield, his coat of mail, and all other parts of his linen armour, and also through his own accursed body, so that he fell dead down to the ground. And he spake two courteous words to him, "Son of a harlot, I am Ogier the Dane, and for dealing such blows as this am I beloved of Charles."
Balsamin, the king of Ninivent, attacked Oliver with a spear and pierced his shield on which a lion was depicted, but it availed him nought. Then Oliver thrust him through all his fine ensign and armour and his own lousy body, and smote him down dead, and said to him, "I commend thee to him to whom thou didst devote thyself." At that instant Clarel spurred his steed towards him to avenge the Saracen, if Oliver would wait for the blow. But Roland came across in front of him and he dealt the Saracen a heavy blow on his shield. And good was the armour and secure, that protected him from death.
His horse then raised his forefeet and fell back on its haunches, and both he and Roland fell to the ground.
Thereupon, with a loud voice, Clarel shouted their rallying cry and went flying towards the city and praying God to receive him and defend him.
But Ogier the Dane, however, overtook him and dealt him a heavy blow right on his breast. And so good was the armour that nothing gave way any more than before. Nevertheless he fell down senseless. Oliver took his horse and brought it to Roland by its bridle. And he spake to him in this wise, "Sire", said he, "mount quickly. Here is a present for thee from Ogier, a horse which is better than thine own. And I think it is worth a hundred of it."
And then Roland quickly mounted without putting either foot in stirrup or hand on saddlebow. And the Saracen rose up on his feet and drew his sword, Melle, and mightily defended himself with his shield. And Roland went towards him and unsheathed Durendal, and with it smote off so much of his shield as met it. Clarel fought furiously in defending himself . But he saw it availed him nought. And he said to them in this wise, "Sires", said he, "grant me my life, I pray you, and take my sword. You made a great and mighty attack. Who is chief among you, that I may render him my sword?" And Roland received from him his sword. And they brought him a swift black horse fully harnessed, on whose back was killed the king of Ninivent.
Thereupon these noble companions made an end of fighting. And Clarel was with them, a prisoner. And they thought of leading him and presenting him to Charlemagne. But before they had gone a mile they had another matter which they considered of greater importance. For the Saracens had assembled together, one thousand and five hundred in number as far as one could estimate. They heard their horns and saw their glittering helmets and their pennons streaming in the breeze. And when Roland saw them he began to whistle, and to fix himself firmly in the saddle. And he said with an oath to Ogier, "By the most High Lord, who claims to be God", said he, "if I can to-day do battle against them with Durendal, thou shalt see me smiting and killing them, so that tidings' of it will travel beyond the sea."
"Lords barons", said Oliver, "I have heard wise men say that man cannot always guard himself against evil, and that he who engages in many battles and encounters will not always escape to his home with a whole skin. For when a man thinks he is about to meet with the greatest quietness and good fortune, then is he nearest to being disturbed." "Quite true", said Ogier, "and therefore we ought to be brave, and it is unseemly for us to be timid. For you see the paynims, and we cannot avoid them. We must pass through the midst of their spears, and therefore each one of us should now shew his prowess. Set Clarel also at liberty. For such a man ought not to be shamefully killed nor treated with disdain. For you see that we cannot take him with us, and perchance he may some other time repay us the kindness."
"By Mahomet", said Clarel, "a noble mind and heart caused thee to speak these words."
And then Ogier addressed his companions a second time, and said, "Roland", said he, "thou art a mighty man, bold, fearless, and wary, and a leader in battles. And Oliver also has proved himself a brave knight. And I myself have escaped from many a narrow strait in battle and tournament. Behold yonder the paynims, we cannot avoid them. And we cannot implore any other help for this. Therefore he who now strikes not with the sword bravely and not timidly will do the cowardly thing, and prove himself henceforth a coward." Having spoken in this wise they cried "Monjoie", and with one accord the three attacked their enemies, and in that place afterwards were found very many of the paynims, some dead and others lying desperately wounded.
Roland dealt a blow to a paynim, Berruier by name, who was blacker than the blackest wild blackberry, and smote him down dead in the middle of the road. Oliver struck Baisan de Montpeler, and Ogier struck Moter, a Saracen, and they smote them down dead. These were the three first killed. They then made use of their swords. Roland went among them smiting them down one by one with every stroke of Durendal. The Saracens found Oliver also very fierce. With Hauteclere he made so wide a path among them that it would be possible to drive along it four carts abreast. The brave Ogier also gave there occasion for praise. He spurred his horse into their midst, and with Curceus he immediately made the heads of thirty of them fly off their bodies.
Ogier a Prisoner.
Thereupon came Carmel of Tabarie, a Saracen, who was the leader of all the others. He was securely armed on all points, and rode his steed Penopie. In his own tongue he cried out with a loud voice, "What art thou doing? May Mahomet curse you!" What shall we say to the emperor Garsi in that three men are vanquishing so great a host as this? I will now, in any case, take away the life of one of the three". And he spurred his horse and brandished his spear, and he struck Ogier a blow, and pierced him through his shield and all his armour, and he fell down wounded. Thereupon Roland saw Ogier's blood gushing out and all pouring forth, and he struck the Saracen on his helmet, and his sword clave right through him without stopping. And he said to him, "Traitor," said he, "may the God of Heaven curse thee. A brave fellow hast thou taken from my fellowship." And he spurred his horse along the field, cutting to pieces the infidel race. There was another Saracen, whom may God curse. He was a cousin of Alphanie, a fair maid, who that morning had given him love-tokens," and he had promised her that he would deal a fine blow to one of the Christians. And if the Lord God had not been mindful of them, he would have caused them very great anxiety.
He dealt Oliver a blow with his full intent, and strong was the armour that then protected his life. He was thrown to the ground, but was not, however, wounded. The earl got up quickly and mounted Penopie, the good destrier of Carmel of Tabarie, as was said above. And he cried to his companions, "Lord Roland", said he, "be not at all anxious about me. I have pledged my troth to thee that I would not fail thee as long as we live, and I will make it good." Thereupon began the tumult and the fighting of Franks and of paynims. Then Ogier rose up quickly. And because the press of the soldiers around him was so great, he could not mount his horse. Then looked he at his sword and began to praise it in this wise, "O Curceus, much ought I to love thee. In Charles' court thou didst make me beloved and honoured. To-day we two must part. But before I die I wish to show thy mettle." And he dealt a paynim a blow on his helmet and cut him through armour and head as far as the teeth. Roland then called him back, but he heard him not. For there were so many of the paynims around him that he knew not in what direction he ought first to go to defend himself from them. The esquires of some of the Saracens then vigorously essayed to kill him, and he mightily defended himself.
Thereupon King Clarel perceived him in much distress, and yet dealing deadly blows with his sword. And he bade the esquires leave him alone. And to Ogier he said, "Surrender thy sword to me and be not afraid. Thou mayest safely trust in me. No evil shall befall thee while I can defend thee."
Moaffla one of the esquires, said, "Thou canst not defend him. Thou shalt see him, however, cut in pieces before thy eyes, limb from limb."
When Clarel heard these words, he became quite mad with rage. And he drew his sword and smote off Moaffla's head to the far end of the field, and said to him thus, "Thou wilt now let Ogier alone."
He found a good horse and made Ogier mount it. And he called to him eight Saracens of his own court, those in whom he could best trust, and he said to them, "Lords, give good heed to this affair; take Ogier to Alphanie, my beloved, and tell her to look after him well." And he sent six of them to go with Ogier, and they were to examine his wounds often while on the journey.
Alphanie, the king's daughter, had entered an orchard to amuse herself, and there were with her two other noble maidens, Gware and Belamyr. They saw the paynims, and one of them said to the others, "Let us go and speak" to them, and enquire after their condition and intentions." And Alphanie said to them, "Ah, barons, tarry with us and tell us your news. How met you this knight? Was he taken in battle and thus wounded?"
"Noble lady", said the Almaffet, "by Mahomet, why dost thou mock us? So great a wrath burns in our hearts that we could not laugh even if we would." "And pray, who troubled you so", said she, "take heed that you do not conceal it from me," "This knight", said they, "and two others have smote off the heads of at least a hundred of our paynims. And Clarel, thy beloved, bade thee, for his love, to look after him well." "Go back now", said she, "and take the others also and bring them to me." "Summer will come", said they, "ere we can do that." And forthwith they went back.
The fair lady then said to the earl, "Come now", said she, "and thou shalt be well treated and lodged. And tell me thy name and of what nation thou wert born."
"My name", said he, "is Ogier the Dane, and my people are in the court of the emperor Charles." "I know thee well enough now," said the maiden. And then the three maidens led Ogier to a place under an olive tree. First of all they attended to his horse, and led it to the stable. They then divested him of his armour, washed his wounds with skill, and laid him to sleep. And they gave him to eat a blessed virtuous herb of great value which God himself planted in His garden. It was called "All health." No man could estimate its value in worldly goods. And he slept soundly, of which he had great need. When he woke up he felt more lively, and healthier than the healthiest apple in the orchard.
Let us now cease speaking of Ogier the Dane, whose bravery never failed him when he needed it most.
Otuel to the Rescue.
We will now speak of duke Roland and of his companion Oliver, whom Ogier left in battle fighting bravely with their swords. There were still a thousand of the paynims opposing them. They could no longer, however, deal such heavy and so frequent blows as at first. And therefore they took to flight. And no one except a fool would wonder at it. And the paynims followed them in order to smite off their heads.
And then Otuel sought and enquired after the earls in all parts of the camp. And when he could not find them, he knew that they had gone towards Attalie to fight. With haste he ran to put on his armour. And he took with him seven hundred knights. The most timid of all that number was brave enough to conquer a mighty king. Having donned his armour, Otuel mounted his horse and went to greet the king. And he said to him — "Sire, bid the Franks put on their armour, and let us go and put our forces in battle array. Thy nephew Roland takes me for a coward, seeing that he went without me to fight this morning. If evil befalls him, whom ought he to blame? He wishes too much to excel all men. But by Him who claims to be God, if I may to-clay meet the Saracens, thou shalt hear me cry 'Monjoie', and see me deal such blows with my sword, that nothing will be known of Roland on the field, and no one will say one word about him."
Then the emperor had the horns sounded, and the Franks put on their armour, and he went over the bridge. And he gave the standard to duke Samson. Then there were seen so many gonfanons uplifted, so many straight lances and so many pennons streaming in the air, that God never created a man who could number them. And the active young esquires fixed themselves firmly in their saddles, boasting, the one to the other, of dealing mighty blows to the Saracens. In front of the army went the seven hundred knights, whom Belisent maintained in food and raiment at her sole charge.
A good bowshot in front of them rode Otuel on his horse Flori. He was well and securely equipped at all points. His robe of honour was of very fine silk. It weighed not four leaves of a psalter, though small its volume. Neither was a man born who could estimate its value. For neither fire nor iron could harm it. And he who had but the weight of a penny of it, no matter how great the wound or the blow he received, would feel all sound and active. It was Belisent, the daughter of Charles, who gave it to him, as also to Gwalter of Orleans, his ensign.
At the outlet of the fishpond Roland met him, and Otuel assailed him with mocking words, "Sire", said he, "comest thou from fishing? Dost thou intend to eat all the paynims thyself? There is still enough of them both for me and for thee to nibble at them. Come back now. Thou canst forthwith bring vengeance upon them for what they have done thee."
Help came to Roland and Oliver when the need was most urgent. The paynims were then hastening their doom. Thereupon Otuel pricked Flori with his spurs, and brandished his lance and smote Eucomber, a Saracen, through his shield and all his armour and body. And he fell down dead in the middle of the road.
Estut de Lengres made a dash at a paynim named Clater. And neither shield nor coat of mail could protect him from death. He smote him down dead. "Monjoie", he cried, and he bade his companions be brave and fight. And they did so. They fought as bravely as they could.
Lo, then was heard great tumult and clamour and the waving of standards. A great battle was about to ensue, many lances were broken, many shields pierced, many coats of mail torn to pieces, many Saracens smitten and killed, so that God never created a man who could number them.
And thereupon Englers went from point to point along the line of battle, seeking the Saracens, with his lance broken and his sword unsheathed in his hand. And he saw Clamados, the paynim who ruled over Numieland, who had smitten Reiner of Melan down, and he was seizing his horse. He told him that he would cause him grief and sorrow ere he could take his horse. And he dealt him a blow on his helmet with his full force and clave him down to his teeth. His body fell down dead and his soul went to hell.
Thereupon came another Saracen to him, Galatas by name, the man who ruled over the land called Tyre the Great. And he shewed great boldness and daring before his companions. He lowered his lance and directed it towards the earl and spurred his horse. And he smote Englers on his shield and cut off a good handbreadth. The lance slipped under the saddle and God defended him that his flesh was not touched. However, he could not hold himself in the stirrup nor abide in the saddle, but down he fell for good or evil. And Galatas said with a loud voice, "Thief", in that he took the glory of the glove from him.
And thereupon, as Englers still tarried among the forces after his shield had fallen from his neck (as the author of the book says), he mounted again on the back of his horse when Talot, a Saracen, who had killed more than a thousand men since he was dubbed knight, and with him sixty other Saracens, spurred towards him and smote him down a second time with their lances. And others shot at him with barbed arrows and diamond-pointed javelins, and most severely was he wounded that day. His coat of mail was pierced in thirty places. It was no wonder then that he received severe blows and pains. Nevertheless he received no wound that made him much the worse for it. If he could mount his horse, how he would bury his sword in the heads of the Saracens and smite off the heads of the strongest of them. Then on their return came Isoret, Gwalter of Lyons, David, Girard of Orleans, and Bertolo the bearded, and each of them prepared to smite dexterously with his sword. "Monjoie," they cried, and they pressed the paynims back until Englers was mounted on his horse.
Thereupon Isoret and Talot met together and dealt each a blow on the other's shield that they broke their lances, pierced their breast plates, and turned the points of their lances on their coats of mail. Saddle, stirrup, and reins availed them nought, so that they both fell down together. Quickly they rose up and drew their bright shining swords and dealt heavy blows on their jewelled helmets. And so they would have gone on fighting on the field until the end of it would be known, had not the crowd disturbed them.
Gwalter of Lyons attacked Armagot, a paynim, with a spear, and with the first blow smote him down dead, and the devils immediately snatched his soul. And the Franks kept on bravely killing their enemies, cutting the heads of some, the shoulders of others, and about the ribs of others. Not but that there was enough smiting on all other parts, so that the most active of them was tired enough, and the very bravest was satisfied; and the whole field was red with the blood of the slain.
Thereupon Erapates, a Turk, who had under him the horse of Floriant, from a city of India the great spurred, and came to Clarel. And holding him by the bridle he addressed him thus:—"Sire", said he, "we fare no better than before." "On my oath", said Clarel, "I will now shew my full power, unless we are hindered by the water." And they spurred their horses and went towards the Franks.
And Clarel called out their war cry, and at this sign came to them paynims, Moors, and Persians, and those from Arabia, until there were at least a hundred of them, and not one of them but possessed a good lance, a Turkish bow, or a sharp javelin. And they compelled the Franks to retire half the flight of an arrow from a strong crossbow. And Clarel smote Droon, a German, through his shield, his coat of mail, and all his armour, and through his body, and he fell down dead in the midst of the Franks.
Erapater, with great fury, struck Girard of Orleans with his sword on his helmet, so that his brains and eyes gushed out of his head. And after he had slain him he went away from him galloping his horse." Thereupon Otuel, with naked sword in his right hand and shield on his shoulder, went to waylay him. And Erapater turned his horse's head towards him and with fury dealt him a blow that he cut through his shield and his helmet. And strong were the other parts of the armour so that he cut none of them. However, he broke his own sword in drawing it to him. Otuel smote him with all his might, and with one blow clave all that met his sword from the top of the helmet down to his heart. And he fell down dead, and he commended his soul to the devils, and to him he said, "Cousins we were, and therefore gave I thee so great and good a blow as that."
The Conflict between Clarel and Otuel.
And then was Clarel in battle. And he perceiving his people killed and severely wounded in all directions, made a furious dash among the Franks and thereupon killed Richart d'Eglent, Guarin d'Angiers, Hugon de Clarvent, and Helis, and he went away from the forces a victor not having lost the value of a spur. And he sounded "Graisle" his horn to rally his people and to call them to him. And not more than a hundred of them were found. And these fled towards the city as best they could. And the Franks pursued them furiously, endeavouring to kill them as they were wont often to do previously.
The paynims then, however, escaped successfully under a rock, called the rock of the ships, and there they met with the people from the court of the Emperor Garsi.
Twenty thousand of the corrupt race were coming to their aid. Then there would have been, without fail, a battle, had it not been that the day was ended, and the hour for compline passed, and that the night hindered them.
And then Clarel laid down his shield and unloosed the laces which held his coat of mail about his neck, and with a loud voice he said to Otuel, "Who art thou?" said he, "May Mahomet curse thee. Tell me thy name that I also may tell it to Garsi." Said the Christian in reply, "I will not hide it from thee. I am Otuel the son of King Galien, and my mother's name was Die. I have been baptized and have ceased from my folly. And Charles, the king of the Franks, has given me Lombardy, and his daughter Belisent to wife. And therefore never as long as I live will I love a Saracen."
"What a very surprising thing I hear now," said Clarel. "And didst thou then renounce thy faith?" said he. And he railed at him in this wise, "Thou hast drunk a hot draught out of the pool with which doctors mix stone to make their medicinal potions, and this has made thee mad. Come back, even now, I counsel thee, beloved companion, and make amends to Mahomet for an offence so great as thou hast committed against him by renouncing him and his law, and I will make peace between thee and Garsi, and will myself give the half of the kingdom of Almarie."
"Be assured, that is what I will never do," said Otuel. "And may the curse of God abide on all your company. And by my faith I have in the Lady Mary if I may take thee or the Emperor Garsi, I will hold him above the pit of Gacanie."
And Clarel said, "Thou speakest as a fool of him who is the best of all the paynims. And how full is thy heart of iniquity and wrath! Nevertheless I am prepared", said he, "to maintain against thee, provided there be only one against one, that thy baptism, the Christianity thou hast embraced, the mass intoned by thy priest and the oblation he offers, are not worth a single pea as compared with our law, and that Mahomet is better than the son of the Lady Mary."
Then Otuel replied to him, "Clarel", said he, "the devils have taken full possession of thee. And if it be thy wish to defend Mahomet against me, make sure of this — that their anger rest not on thee. For I myself will defend God and the Catholic Faith." To that the Saracen raised his hand in assent. And he himself pledged his troth faithfully that he would not delay without coming to the battle.
Then Clarel and his people entered the city, and Otuel, together with the Franks, returned to the meadow, and there they formed quarters, encamped and pitched their tents. And they kindled a fire and buried the dead with honour, and made the doctors attend the wounded.
To the tent of Charles came Otuel, and Duke Neimus held his stirrup while he dismounted. And the princess searched his ribs on both sides lest he might have received wound or blow that might cause him future trouble. And when he was disarmed she kissed him thrice. And then said Charles to him, "My godson", said he, "thou hast a gracious mistress." "Sire", said he, "to God be the praise for it. And that will be the ransom of the paynims ere summer is ended."
And that night the men of Burgundy and Germany kept watch over them. And Charles and his host slept securely that night. And in like manner the Saracens, on their part, kept watch. And they kept sounding their horns and shouting until after sunrise on the morrow.
Clarel, nevertheless, rose up as the day began to cast forth its bright beams. And he went out of his chamber to don his armour. And Ganor of Montbrant and Melions, and Apolin the great, a man not wanting in stature—he was four feet higher than a giant—went to equip him. First of all they put on him a double coat of mail which in their opinion no weapon could break, or separate one ring from another. However, if Otuel could come so near to him that he might smite him with Curceus, his coat of mail would be no security to him for his life. On his head they put the helmet of King Briant, made neither of iron, nor steel, nor wood, nor silver, but solely of a serpent's head, And engraved on it were Jupiter, Tervagant, and Mahomet in the form of a golden youth. These were their gods and on them they continually called, and to them they prayed. And through those he thought to escape scathless out of battle. And then about his neck they placed a strong and heavy shield, with no wood in it, throughout of dressed leather. Eighteen broad-headed nails of pure gold adorned the circle of its boss. And then they brought him a stout lance and on it a standard of red satin finely embroidered.
Charles and Clarel.
And the Emperor Charles also rose up early. And he went for recreation and to take the air along the banks of the river called Toon. And some of the high barons of his court were with him in privacy. Roland was there, and Duke Neimus, and Oliver, and Otuel.
And thereupon Chirel asked them, while he was still standing in the stream, "Who of you will come from there? Is the hoary-headed Charles there with you?"
And the emperor replied, "Yes, prince", said he, "I am King Charles. And what dost thou want with me?"
"I will tell thee", said Clarel, "Alack the day thou wert ever born, and may the curse of God rest upon the parents who caused thee to be born unto the world, for the greatness of the pain thou art continually inflicting upon those of our law, oppressing and despoiling them. That will not go unavenged upon thee. Now thy crown and all that appertains to it, and thy sceptre, will be given to the bravest knight that was ever born, namely, to Florient of Sulie. Henceforth he shall be king in France."
Said the kin in reply, "Too much hast thou said, paynim, and well hast thou been taught to deride. Nevertheless the land, the brave men and the caparisoned horses are still mine. I have already taken fifteen kings, and have subdued them by my power. And I verily promise thee on my faith that these forces shall not leave me until I have taken Garsi, and both subdued and destroyed his city."
And then Clarel said, "The devils in thee caused thee to utter these words. Thou canst never more do that. Too many already hast thou destroyed of them and forced to the faith. For thy head betimes is grey, and so also thy beard, and thou hast made an end of doing brave deeds. Henceforth no battle will be fought for thy sake, no shield broken, and what hast thou betimes but a breastbone? In sooth they ought to smite thee dead with an old pan."
The king was very much mortified and angry at these words. And he looked at the Franks around him, and he bade Gaudin sharply to bring him his armour.
And then Otuel said to him, "Sire", said he, "moderate thy wrath, and for my love recall thy mind. For I have pledged my troth to fight with him. And I wish thee to listen to me. It is I who maintain that Mahomet ought not to be honoured. He hears not, he sees not. And if the devil is alive in hell, he is with the other devils. All his power and might are not worth three empty egg shells. And to the devils commend I that dead body. And he maintains that neither our Christianity nor our baptism is worth more. And by the baptism I received and the faith I have embraced, unless thou wilt grant me this battle, I will henceforth never more love thee."
"By this glove", said the king, "I grant it thee." And he held out the glove to him. "And may He strengthen thee, Who for us suffered pain on the cross."
And then Clarel understood that their words were confirmed, and he said to him angrily, "O deceiver, why didst thou renounce Mahomet and the faith and the holy law which it was necessary for thee to observe, by whom he who serves him shall attain to the recompense of it—to the supreme joy of the place where we all shall go. And he who serves him well shall go to Paradise without let or hindrance. Your God whom ye call Jesus will be taken and cast into prison as a thief and traitor. And thou thyself shall be cast into the slough of hell where thieves are wont to lie. After that no escape will ever be possible to thee. Go, quickly, don thine armour, and I will call thee a thief, and one worthy of death."
"And I", said Otuel, "will defend myself against thee." And the courteous Franks then led Otuel under an olive tree to equip him. First, Roland put on him a good double coat of mail, and on his head he then placed the helmet of King Galier, who conquered Babilon in battle. Oliver girded his sword Curceus to his thigh, and placed a strong and beautiful shield on his neck. And Estut of Lengres brought him the lance and the banner of King Lear. The point of the lance was good and bright, and its shaft was of laurel wood.
Droon of Mont d'Eidyr fixed his spurs on his feet, and Belisent held his horse, and she kissed him thrice. And he then mounted his horse and addressed her: "O gentle lady, go now to avenge the blood of our Lord, and to uphold His faith, and to cover with shame and confusion the faithless paynims, and thy love shall they buy most dearly." "Sire", said she, "may God, Who can strengthen thee, be thy defence." And to the Archbishop he went to receive his blessing, and to be sprinkled with holy water.
The Duel between Otuel and Clarel.
And then Otuel departed from his host, and he raised his lance on his shoulder and passed through the water. And Clarel came to meet him. And he addressed him with a loud voice in this wise, "Traitor and robber", said he, "renounce thy faith, and if thou wilt not, evil betide thee coming to me into the field to be killed and cut limb from limb in a shameful manner. And after that thy people will avail thee nought."
"Dost thou still think that Mahomet ought to be called God, and that all the world ought to serve and honour him for ever and ever? And that he can never be put to shame on the cross?"
"I do so", said Clarel, "and as for Him to Whom thou hast gone, Who was born of the woman in Bethlehem, compared with Mahomet, He is not worth a spur."
"By Heavens", said Otuel, "thou liest, infernal traitor, and I will fight and will vanquish thee and thus shew that Jesus has all the power, and that none save He ought to be called God. Dishonour and disgrace will come to Mahomet and all his crew, and to thee also for praying thus to Him. And by the Lord who suffered on the cross, if thou wilt wait for me, I will deal thee a blow with my sword Curceus, that thou shalt fall by it."
And then Otuel spurred the Arab horse that was under him, and Clarel likewise his horse, Turnevent, and both dashed into the fray. Each smote the other through his shield and all his armour until their coats of mail stopped their lances. Time after time they charged at each other, and laboured angrily endeavouring each to smite the other down. Finally fixing themselves firmly in the saddle, they made a rush at each other, and each smote girths broke and their breast bands, and they both fell to the ground.
Roland thereupon smiled and said to Belisent, "So help me God, for amusement not worse is this attack than a sweet melody sung, or played on harp or pipe."
"Lord God", said Belisent in reply, "how bitter and sad is my heart, fearing for him I love the best. To God and the Lady Mary do I commend him."
The paynims also rode up to them and cried with a loud voice, and prayed Mahomet to defend the paynim from the Christian. And then Clarel drew Melle his sword and Otuel likewise Curceus his sword, and they attacked each other furiously. And they dealt heavy blows on their helmets until fire flew from them and from their swords, and it kindled the grass in the field as if a big consuming fire had been put under it. The Saracen was bold and very brave. He raised Melle on high and struck Otuel on his helmet. However, he could not break it in the least, because of its hardness. Nevertheless, so great was the blow that it brought Otuel down on his knees.
"O Lady Mary", cried Charles, "protect thy gentle knight, who is fighting to maintain thy law and uphold the Catholic faith."
Thereupon Otuel jumped up nimbly and held his shield in front before him, and dealt Clarel a consummate blow so that he smote off the fourth part of his helmet and hood of double mail and also his face, so that his teeth showed white in his mouth. And he said to him, "By God", said he, "thus ought a man to exchange, by giving a halfpenny for a penny and a heavy blow for a box on the ear. Thou art now like a fellow grinning. Alphanie will no longer need thee and will not have thee, and thou wilt never more find a maid to kiss thee."
Then the Saracen knew that he had been shamefully and severely wounded, and that never more would he be a peer in court. And Melle being in his hand with its hilt of gold, he dealt Otuel a blow with it. Would that God of His own goodness would defend him as Charles and all his barons besought Him!
Otuel, however, was not frightened at that. More bold was he than a lion which had been bound nine meal-times without food. He put his shield on his head, and Clarel smote it like a madman, and he cut through his shield and the helmet all of gold to the hood of mail. And if that had not been so strong, never more would he be challenged to fight. Nevertheless, so much did he press on the hood of mail that the blood gushed out through the rings."
"By my faith", said Otuel, "that blow went much too far. I see now that thou dost not love me at all. By the Lady Mary I will repay it to the same degree unless more be acceptable; and, unless thou defendest thyself, more still, so that no doctor can doctor thee."
And then Otuel rolled his eyes with rage, and he dealt him a heavy blow with Curceus and smote him through the helmet, all his armour, and his body, and right through his heart. And the sword up to the embossed parts came in contact with the earth. And the body, in that it could no longer stand, fell down dead, and his soul went to hell, crying and cursing Mahomet, his lord.
And Otuel said, "Monjoie, my fame will henceforth spread abroad. Because of my love for Belisent, woe be to the paynims."
For that encounter, joyful were the victorious Franks, and sad and sorrowful the Saracens.
Garsi enters the list and is made prisoner.
The tidings came immediately to King Garsi that the Saracen Clarel had been vanquished and slain, and thereupon he was filled with anger. Never before felt he so sad. And he made lamentation for him, "O Clarel, what a sad thing it is for me to lose thee. And he who slew thee hath made me sad at heart. O Alfanie, my child, never shalt thou find such love as his. And if I will not avenge him, then regard me as not worth a straw."
And he took his horn Duceloi and blew it mightily, and seven thousand other horns responded to it. And by means of those horns twenty thousand of the paynims were brought together, and with these they formed the vanguard, and of those in the rear no reckoning was ever made nor of those behind them. And they were all threatening the hoary-headed Charles, and Roland and his companion Oliver.
And then Charles also assembled his host, and as one well versed in fighting he put them in battle array, and formed them in columns. They were, at the least estimate, twenty thousand strong. And Roland was set in command of the van, the column composed of Franks, men who would fight of their own accord, and would subdue the paynims in a right worthy fashion.
After the emperor had arrayed his forces, and had equipped each man as he himself could wish, he mounted a high and swift horse, and fixed himself firmly in the saddle. And he called Neimus, and said to him, smiling, "Gentle duke", said he, "bring me my lance. A hundred such services hast thou rendered me. And I will repay thee according to thine own desire. I will give thee the horse upon which thou hast for so long set thine heart, and I will make thee lord of seven strong castles which I give thee by this glove. And as witness for thee in this matter take Earl Guinemant, Rotolt of Berche, and Geoffrey of Normandy."
"Sire", said he, "I accept it, and accept it in such a way that thou shalt not lose anything by it."
Thereupon the Franks set out in columns as they were. And Otuel went and equipped himself anew. And Belisent brought him a new helmet and shield. Gerin of Saint Omer, Fromont of Artois, and Guarin of Montcler, went with him to put on his armour.
Thereupon he remounted his horse and took a lance with a conspicuous banner in his hand to encourage the Franks, and he called on all to blow their horns. And this they did, both loud and clear, and they began to march towards Atalle.
The paynims also assembled their forces and came to meet the Franks. No one, however, could estimate their number, save that at the least they numbered a hundred for every one of the Christians. And Garsi raised his standard on high. And the paynims said, "Let us go and break our lances on their shields and joust with them." And in front went the esquires of France, young and active, and as many as wished to hold land there were to acquire it at the points of their lances and swords. Then could all of them make manifest their bravery and their prowess. And they said, "The field is ours. Easily can we vanquish them."
And for a short time before the encounter they all, both Franks and Saracens, rode furiously. A Saracen of Turkey, called Marchides, came forth out of the host and asked leave of King Garsi to kill with the first blow Roland, or Oliver, or Otuel, whichever he met first. None other would he seek. He was mounted on a yet black horse as full of spirit as the knight could wish. He was fully equipped with costly armour." And his robe of honour was similar to that of Ordivant. All his armour, and his horse Aligot, were covered all over with black sendal so that nothing of them was visible. Fastened to his arm was a brass staff," which the daughter of Corsabres, a king from the East, gave him that morning with a smile. And for love of the maiden, he entered the fray with such daring and energy that he lost his life ere the midday horn was sounded in the city. In his hand he grasped a straight and firm lance, tipped with a broad, keen, glittering head, and with its glorious pennon streaming in the air, secured to the lance with four silver nails. He pricked his horse with his spurs, and came towards the Franks. And he raised his voice on high, and said, "Where art thou Roland? To-day, again, will I make thee very sad. I will fight with thee, provided there be only I and thou, and thus shew that Frankland belongs to us, that Garsi is duly king of it, and of all kings, and that Charles will not have any part or parcel of it. And come thou quickly to defend it against me if thou canst." When Roland heard this he was moved with rage, and his countenance changed. And he lifted his lance on his shoulder, put his shield in front, and spurred his horse against the Turk. Doubtless then there would be an encounter between the two knights. The forces on both sides were coming together. The most timid of the Franks wished to be in the front to witness the combat.
Thereupon Marchides made an attack on Roland and pierced him with his lance through the boss of his shield, and through all his armour and apparel as far as his shirt, and so that he lost the stirrup of his right foot, and he put his mark on him. Nevertheless this availed him nought, for he snapped his lance. And Roland smote him with his full force above the front saddle-bow, so that neither the staff he had for love, nor his coat of mail, nor any other part of his armour, availed him a single straw. The lance pierced his breastbone and clave his heart asunder, and he fell down dead. And Roland cried loudly, "Monjoie!" and tersely remarked, so that the paynims could hear, "I knew thee for certain", said he, "and I knew that never in France wouldest thou hold a court. Charles is rightfully king, and to him belongs the land, and thou hast lost it."
"By Mahomet", said Moafle, a paynim, "we have lost this knight also, and may I be killed unless I avenge him."
And Moafle made an attack on Oliver, and the Count spurred his horse Fauel towards him. And the Saracen dealt him a heavy blow, so that his shield was bent and broken, and he smote off at least a hundred rings of his double hauberk and caused the blood to run down to the ground out of his side.
And thereupon Oliver, in pain and anger, smote him, and neither shield, nor coat of mail, nor any other part of his armour, availed him the value of a penny, and thus he fell down dead.
"Monjoie!" he cried, and bade his fellow knights henceforth deal noble blows.
And then the Franks, the men of Lamer, of Loringes, of Almaen, of Puer, of Normandy, of Firks, of Flanders, and of Berner, measured their swords with the paynims. And the Christians had great joy, and caused tumult in lowering the banners of the faithless.
The daring young esquires of free choice sought the front. No need was there then for the craven-hearted. They pierced the shields and tore the coats of mail, and made their lances red in their blood. Both barons and knights fell down dead. And their horses coursed furiously along the mountain. And the discreet young esquires caught plenty of them, and found them afterwards when their need of them was most urgent.
And then, when the two armies joined in battle, forthwith they snapped their lances. They then drew their swords and dealt hard blows, and broke the glittering helmets and the gold-embroidered coats of mail. And they fell down, some writhing, desperately wounded, and shouting and lamenting bitterly, others dead, lying with mouths open, a thousand at least of them, having their heads separated from their bodies so that no man ever could put them together again.
Then from the standard of the Saracens a thousand men of Barbary advanced, not one of whom but had on a double hauberk, a shield on his shoulder, a helmet on his head, and in his hand a costly banner of purple—red, or white, or blue. And Prince Alphan, of Palestine, commanded them, and he had on him the ensign of King Lepatin. Against this battallion Angevins and the men of Poitou advanced. And the Saracens shot at them with cross-bows, with poisoned arrows, diamond headed and barbed. Thus also did the men of Garsarin, with the result that the faithful suffered great loss.
Thereupon Otuel fixed himself firmly in his saddle and brandished his lance, attached to which was a red pennon.
And to anger King Lepatin he smote his cousin Alphan through his shield, his coat of mail, and all his other armour, and also through his very body, so that he fell down dead. And with him Geoffrey le Morin, Hugo de Sois, and the two sons of Guarin attacked with spears. Geoffrey killed the unbelieving paynim who was attacking Ovaratrin. Hugo de Sois killed Blansadrin, his own opponent. And Do wreaked vengeance upon the paynim who killed Guinemant of Suline. With one blow he smote him down dead in the presence of Lepatin. "Monjoie!" he cried, and called out to the men of Poitou and said to them, "Neither Saracen nor paynim", said he, "will fight against us now."
And thereupon King Corsabret came down the slope of the mountain, having with him ten thousand foot-soldiers under the command of Barbed, a Saracen. And Earl Alaen advanced against them, having with him four hundred regular Bretons. And Hoens of Nantes advanced fully equipped to support them. And Mallo said to him, "O gentle knight, have no respect for them, rather deal heavy blows all round."
Gui of Gustange came to them with seven hundred javelin men. Troians, a Breton, attacked Malfront, a paynim, with a spear. This man had four pairs of winged darts, and the best pointed of these he hurled with his full force, and pierced his shield, his coat of mail, and his old armour, and pierced him in his thigh, so that the dart went through him in its flight. And Troians, a man of proven worth for daring and valour, dealt him a blow that no shield, or coat of mail, or any other part of his armour, could hinder his lance from passing through him. And so he fell down dead over his horse's crupper.
And thereupon King Corsabret saw this engagement, and he came across and attacked Troians. And he smote him under his breast right through, and clave his heart asunder. And the knight fell down dead. And may God receive his soul, for the end is come.
Thereupon came Earl Alaen full of wrath and bitterly lamenting Troians. This was no wonder in his case, seeing that he was his nephew, a son of his sister. And he would have avenged him fully upon Corsabret had not Barrett, a Saracen, appeared on the scene and gone between them. And the noble earl gave the reins to his horse and went towards him. And he brandished his diamond-headed lance and smote him through his shield set with precious stones and many golden nails, and through all his equipment, and through his body, so that he fell down dead. And he said to him, "Take that", said he, "it would have been better for thee hadst thou stayed in the rear."
Favourable was that day to them, and had not the dust and sand risen up after midday, and darkened between them and the air, the Christians would have prevailed. The Saracens were then riding furiously, and they blew their horns and beat loud-sounding drums, and with earnestness of mind rushed into the fray and pressed the Franks back a good bow shot." And not a shield-bearer among them, during that time, could look back even once.
Then Lambert of Yenges was killed, and Roul of Belueis was wounded by two winged darts, and he did not long. And then were killed Pestru, Gui of Custance, and Cubaut Orne, and many others with them, so that their loss to the Franks was never afterwards made good.
Thereupon a squire of the Franks, named Amiret, came. He was a rich young knight, the son of the rich Troun of Paris, and his father was now dead. During the winter he had mustered together a hundred young knights, the oldest of whom was only fifteen years of age. They took the armour of the slain and armed themselves with it. And of their fine linen the raised pennons. And when they saw the Franks fleeing recklessly they met them and raised a shout all together, and made them return. And with very great force they compelled the paynims to retreat four times the space of a bow shot. And they smote them down brainless and dead, so that the field was full of them.
And King Corsabret was then resting near an old wall. And he raised his battle cry, and bade the paynims rally to him. He put his shield in front and made for the Franks. And with all his might he fixed himself firmly in his saddle. His intention then was to cause great havoc among the Franks. Thereupon Amiret smote him on the top of his shield, and the blow glided off on the helmet and bent it in until it pressed on his eye and caused it intense pain. Indeed it nearly came out. And from the pain of the blow he became quite helpless. And seeing that there was no one to help him, he gave himself up. Thereupon Amiret quickly took him, and called to him three young esquires, Gaudin, Sachet Unan, and Baldwin of Aigremont, and he said to them, "Noble esquires", said he, "take this king, and see that he be neither killed nor treated with disdain. And take him as a present from me to my lord, Charlemagne."
"Sire", said they in reply, "we will do what thou commandest with pleasure."
There were the Franks, who previously had been unhorsed, jousting bravely against the Saracen foot soldiers. A hundred of them, by the aid of the reinforcement, found their horses again. And then Hugo of Nantes turned his attention to Poldras. The daring of this paynim was boundless, and he had come of a nation crafty and great in strength. He and all his fellows were come from the land called Damasgun. He inspired all the Saracen maidens who saw him with love for, and with desire towards him. Much evil did he also that day to the Franks. However, lamentation bitter enough was made for him that night in the city. Hugo smote him with his sword on his helmet, and clave through all his armour and his body also, right to his shoulders. And he then fell down dead, and all his pride and daring ceased. And Hugo called aloud his war cry, "Walso", and all the Bretons came back. Would to God that Otuel had been then with him! For had he been, he would have sought the standard of the men of Barbary, and the fighting in that direction of the field would have ceased with that. He was, however, not found there. For he was among the Turks, and thrice he went as far as their standard, and he smote off the heads of four kings in seeking it.
Then King Garsi said to Heraperant, a paynim for whom God had no love, "My dear brother", said he, "I am very sad and sore for my barons whom Otuel killed, mine eyes beholding him slaying them. I shall die of anger and anguish unless I can hang him on high. Charlemagne does me wrong in taking possession of my land and my wealth against my will, and in exercising kingly authority without my consent. And unless to-day I overcome him and his army, never more will I desire to be in Frankland."
"Sire", replied Heraperant, "threaten him well. Behold he is here nigh to thy hand, and his people are pressing us beyond measure and almost vanquishing us, and we are in very great fear of his nephew Roland. I saw to-day, at the outset of the battle, where he struck Balant on the top of his helmet so that his sword clave through it and all his armour, and smote him to the ground. And I myself had such fear of him that I fled the whole field from him."
Then the king called Beldnit of Aquilant and bade him, saying, "Take, if thou canst, a hundred Turks, and guard them lest any of them flee. Whosoever of them fleeth see thou that he has neither honour nor heritage among the paynims while he lives."
Thereupon was heard the tumult of men and horses. Heavy were the blows dealt, and severe was the fighting. Then Roland went along the host to cut down the Saracens and to break their ranks with Durendal, and to pay evil recompense to whom such was due. Then was much brave smiting done with their sharp swords by the men of Bavier, of Ymund, of Almaen, of Burgundy, of Flanders, of Normandy, and of Frankland.
The Saracens also dealt blows immeasurably great, and kept their standards flying, having neither thought nor intention of fleeing, and having regard for no truce, nor peace, nor agreement. Whosoever fell among them or was killed, evil was his fate.
Thereupon Otuel came riding by, and he saw Guinemant, having been cast to the ground by three opponents, Saracens from Persia. And they were about to kill him, when he spurred his horse towards them. Two of them he killed, and the third betook himself to flight. And he took a swift and well-fed destrier which belonged to one of the slain, and gave it to Guinemant. And the earl nimbly mounted it without putting his hand on the saddle-bow, and said to him, "Sire", said he, "great kindness and strength hast thou displayed in my case. It was an evil day that the paynims ever knew thy prowess. May God bless thee for thy horse. I was in a narrow strait when thou didst defend me from them." And he drew his sword, whose hilt was of silver, and with the first blow smote off the head of a Saracen Turk.
Then Otuel called "Monjoie!" and went among the paynims. And he smote them and clave them as the moonlight cleaves the air or wind."
And then there met together Roland, Oliver, Estut, Engeler, Guarin of Normandy, Geoffrey of Anjou, and Rocold the Almaen, each ever fighting as before. "God, the Father Almighty", said Otuel, "how I found these companions I went to seek!"
When the valiant knights had assembled together, they battered their enemies' arms and broke them in pieces, which could no more withstand them than if they were dry stalks. And they dealt such blows on their helmets that one could not hear with his ears the thunder of heaven, because of the loud clashing of the weapons.
Thereupon the men of Arabia, of Persia, of Mehans, of Turkey, and of Africa became mightily afraid of them. And King Garsi was in their midst riding from place to place continually.
Then the Emperor Charles went up to the top of a bank to see his bodyguard hastening the death of the faithless.
Were it not for Ogier the Dane there would have been no one but joyful there. He was bound with chains in the Saracen prison. His hands and his feet, however, were free, and he was bound round his waist, with seven knights watching him secreth. And then Ogier said to the knights, "Sires, I pray you, slacken these chains a little, for they cause me intense pain about my heart, and shame be to him who is merry." "Only a fool would speak thus", replied the knights, "and by Mahomet, if thou speakest another word, we will bind thy hands and thy feet so that afterwards thou shalt nevermore be free as long as thou livest. For we know thou art not to be trusted, never a day in thy life."
And when Ogier heard this threat he became very much enraged. And having found a big plank of wood he rose up and with that, at one blow, he killed four of them. And the other three he cast over the high tower that they broke their necks when they reached the ground. And he broke the chains around him and freed himself . Having done this he went to the stable as quickly as he could, and saddled for himself the finest horse he saw there and bridled it. For he had no squire to attend on him. And having found trusty arms he donned them until he was fully equipped and he then mounted his horse. And he said with a loud voice, "I go now to the battlefield to support my companions and you may follow me the best way you can. You may, however, ask me that in fairness I should return to-morrow, if God defends me from evil until then."
And he spurred his horse out through the gate and followed the road to the field of battle. And when he reached the field he immediately found Roland, Gwalter of Orleans, Duke Neimus, Otuel, and Garnier. And the earls welcomed him with great joy, and each embraced him. And Ogier told them that he felt quite well and lively, and that he never was in better condition to deal a knight a blow.
And when these valiant jousters had met and shewn their joy for Ogier, they increased the clamour and the tumult. They entered the fray and fought anew as if they had thrown off their weariness. And they immediately killed a hundred of the paynims and sent them to hell in pain and sorrow.
And when King Garsi saw this, and that he had no one to support him, he knew that no plan could be adopted to bring him success, and that he could not hold his present position, so he fell back and betook himself in flight, as best he could, towards the city. And as Otuel was riding in a wide valley with his shield on his back, and his sword Curceus in his right hand, he saw Garsi fleeing secretly. And he rode towards him. And when he came nigh him he said, "Sire king", he said, "art thou going to feed all these Franks to-night? Art thou going now to put some fat bacon to boil for them with pease? They will not eat such food as that for a thousand marks of gold. Seek some other dishes, for that is the food of rustic drovers."
The king thereupon became very angry because of these words. And he spurred his horse towards him with the intention of avenging these words fully, when his horse fell, and, willing or unwilling, he fell clumsily down to the ground and broke his right arm in two pieces. And ere he could regain his feet Roland approached him and took him by the hands. And never was he as glad as that for anything'.
And the king said to them, "Sires, barons", said he, "kill me not I pray you. Behold, I surrender to you. Spare me my life."
Then Roland and Otuel took him and brought him as a present to Charlemagne. And he sent him in advance, to prison in Paris. The Franks never after forgot him nor the battle. Ere vespers were ended or the sun had gone to its chamber, they had won the field and taken the city into their possession.
Madoc ap Selyf. The History of Charlemagne. A Translation of Ystorya de Carolo Magno, With a Historical and Critical Introduction. edited by Robert Williams. Y Cymmrodor vol. 20. London: The Honorable Society Of Cymmrodorion, 1907