Monday, March 16, 2015


Le Morte Darthur is full of knights partaking in single combat and the descriptions of these battles can get a bit repetitive. I was interested, therefore, when an epic battle is described from the viewpoint of the knight's squires. This particular fight is between Sir Tristram and Sir Lancelot, two of the most skilled knights of the Round Table.

"And thus they [Tristram and Lancelot] fought for the space of four hours, that never one would speak to other. And of their harness they had hewn off many pieces.
    'Ah, lord Jesu,' said Gouvernail [Tristram's squire], 'I marvel greatly of the great strokes my master hath given to your master.'
    'By my head,' said Sir Lancelot's servant, 'your master hath not given him so many but your master hath received so many, or more.'
    'Ah, Jesu,' said Gouvernail, '... pity it were that either of these good knights should destroy other's blood.'
    So they [the squires] stood and wept both, and made great dole when they saw the bright swords over-covered with the blood of their [the knights'] bodies."

The my-knight-can-beat-up-your-knight dialogue between the squires is a welcome bit of humor in Morte Darthur. Both squires, however, end up crying together-- this bond foreshadows the reconciliation between Sir Tristram and Sir Lancelot.

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