Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book IV Chapter XXV
Blah blah blah, Marhaus jousts the Duke of the Southern Marches and his six sons, and Malory describes it in some detail but screw that. Long story short, Marhaus ends the fight without a scratch on him, all of his enemies’ weapons shattered, and the Duke himself lying on the ground under Marhaus’s sword. The Duke graciously surrenders, Marhaus accepts, and they work out that the Duke and his sons will go to Camelot and offer fealty to Arthur.
Finally Marhaus and Annette are back on the road, and Annette leads him to the actual strange adventure that she promised him, which turns out to be a big jousting tournament put on by Lady de Vance, last seen having an affair with King Rience way back in Book II, Chapter IX. Blah blah, Marhaus enters and wins the tournament and bests like forty guys and gets a golden circlet “worth a thousand besants” for first prize. Malory himself pretty well skips this tournament.
Afterwards Annette leads him on to the second part of the strange adventure. Out past Lady de Vance’s there’s an earl name of Fergus, who shows up again later in the story of Sir Tristam, Malory says. Fergus’s people are getting terrorized by a giant named Taulurd. Taulurd has a brother named Taulas, whom Sir Tristam eventually fights, but Malory is really putting the cart before the horse here, throwing out a lot of crude foreshadowing without giving us much in the way of context.
Anyway, Annette introduces Marhaus to Fergus, and Fergus immediately starts complaining about this giant, and how he’s lighting peasants on fire, and so on.
“Hmm, does he fight on horseback or on foot?”
“Did I not mention that he was a giant? I thought I did. He would crush any horse he tried to ride.”
“Ah. I’ll have to fight him on foot, then. Wouldn’t be sporting, otherwise.”
So Marhaus goes off to fight the giant Taulurd, and finds him chilling under a holly tree, not hurting anyone right that second. Marhaus marches up and announces that they’re going to fight.
“Fair enough,” says Taulurd, and breaks Marhaus’s shield in half with a single swing of his club. Of course he’s got a club; he’s a giant.
Marhaus and Taulurd fight for a while, Taulurd is pretty badass but eventually Marhaus gets the better of him and slices his arm off. Taulurd runs off to apply a tourniquet, and Marhaus chases after, and Taulurd takes refuge in a river, which is only waist-high to the giant but too deep for Marhaus. Marhaus paces back and forth on the shore.
“Ha!” says Taulurd. “Not so arm-cutting-off now, are you?”
Marhaus gets an idea, and fetches some rocks, and starts throwing them at Taulurd. One clocks him badly on the head, and Taulurd goes down, into the water, which is to say, he drowns. So, good for Marhaus I guess. Malory assures us that Taulurd did many awful things offscreen, but I can’t help sympathizing with the giant. I’m 6’4”, after all.
Marhaus heads over to the giant’s house, and takes all his riches, plus he frees the dozen men and two dozen women Taulurd had been keeping prisoner.
“You’re wonderful!” says Earl Fergus. “Here, take half of my lands as a reward.”
“Nah,” says Marhaus. “I’ve got these riches, they’ll do fine for me. I wouldn’t mind spending six months convalescing at your home, though, since the giant beat me near to death.” Which Malory didn’t mention at the time but okay.
So Marhaus and Annette chill at Fergus’s for most of the year, and then they head back to the Forest of Arroy, to meet back up with Gawaine and Uwaine. Along the way Marhaus gets into a scrape with some other knights, but it’s not worth spending more than one cryptic sentence on.
NEXT: SIR UWAINE AND THE SIXTY YEAR OLD DAMSEL!
What on earth is a besant? Googling gives me Annie Besant and my uneducated eye tells me it’s unlikely she is being used as a unit or worth by Malory.
It’s a Byzantine coin, according to Wikipedia, which isn’t exactly a reliable source but which satisfies me on this point anyways:
A thousand besants would be the Arthurian version of around a hojillion dollars, or 0.67 hojillion Euros.