Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book I Chapter XIV
Things start to get muddled and complicated. You’ve got Arthur and Ban and Bors riding into Mister 100′s camp, pulling a sneak attack at night which catches many of Mister 100′s troops in their tents, which tents get pulled down, and Arthur’s little strike force inflicts pretty massive casualties before pulling back out. Malory continues to play fast and loose with the numbers, claiming that there were sixty thousand men in Mister 100′s camp (forgetting the force besieging the knights at Bedegraine, plus including the phantom seven thousand guys from nowhere) and ten thousand of them were killed in the raid but fifty thousand were still hale and ready for violence.
After the raid is over, Merlin suggests (this is another bit where the Merlin/Gandalf parallels are much stronger than I had been expecting, what with him telling the generals how to fight) that Ban and Bors and everyone head back up the road to Bedegraine and combine their ten thousand men with Arthur’s twenty thousand, and to be sure that Bors and Ban are at the head of the column all conspicuous, so that when they’re breaking the siege on the Bedegraine forces the Benwick and French knights will see them and be inspired.
As Malory puts it, “it was done anon as Merlin advised.”
Then Ulfius and Brastias, the old firm, decide to commit some deeds, so they grab everyone handy, which is three thousand knights, and launch a follow-up raid on Mister 100′s troops just as Mister 100′s troops have recovered from the previous lightning raid, and they kill knights left and right, over and under, to and fro, hither and yon.
Mister 100′s co-kings see that it’s just a couple of knights (plus 3000 more unnamed knights who don’t really count, in a Spartans-and-the-helots sort of way) and get angry and defensive and ride up to beat them back. Ulfius’s horse goes down! Ulfius is on foot! The Duke of Cambenet (which I am all the time misreading as Camembert) and King Clariance are all up on him! Ulfius is reeling! Now he’s tagging in Brastias! Brastias and Clariance are pounding on one another! Both their horses are down! In fact both their horses have been hit so hard that all eight of their horsey legs have been driven into the earth up to the knee! It is crazy!
Sir Kay, meanwhile, is doing “passing well” with his six-man team, and some of the kings are pounding on the caterers Sir Griflet and Sir Lucas, so Kay rescues them, and then King Lot comes up to rescue his co-kings and Sir Kay pounds on him, and then up comes Mister 100.
Mister 100 is his side’s best fighter, you recall. Kay cannot compete with Mister 100; he’s driven off. Mister 100 helps King Lot get back up and offers him a new horse. Mister 100 is classy like that. This sparks a big round of guys offering unhorsed guys new horses, which horses are often freshly taken from newly-unhorsed enemy knights: Griflet nabs a horse and gives it to Kay, Lot gives one to King Nentres, Mister 100 knocks a guy down and takes his horse and gives it to King Idres, blah blah bah.
Eventually Mister 100 and his fellows pull back and catch their breath and call a thirty-second time-out, vowing vengeance for all this horse thievery, and Sir Ector rides in just too late and finds that Ulfius and Brastias got dehorsed way back three paragraphs ago and no one ever got them new horses and so they’ve been trampled nearly to death.
Seriously. Ector takes care of them, though.
Thirty-second time-out is over, and then Arthur takes the field himself, and there’s a bunch more dehorsing and giving of horses and guys rescuing other guys from being trampled or ganged up on. At one point someone takes Sir Ector’s horse, which, don’t take King Arthur’s adoptive father’s horse and then ride it somewhere King Arthur can see you, it turns out that is a terrible idea. King Arthur will mess you up if you try that.
None of the named knights die, although Brastias and Griflet both come pretty close. Sir Lucas and Sir Griflet are a major team-up, two caterers against the world.
Hmmm….. bad-ass super-warrior caterers, eh? I’m reminded of that movie (those movies?) where Steven Segal played the bad-ass super-warrior cook, and starting to wonder if this is a heretofore unexplored theme in western “literature”.