Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapters X, continued, and XI
“So if I work for Arthur now, we should probably go warn him about the sneak attack.”
“Yeah, I was on my way to meet up with them. Sixty thousand men from southern Italy and points further out — we’re talking Lorriane, Dolphiny, Lombardy, Libya — are marching on the siege of Florence.”
(Florence, again, being the guy Arthur put in charge of the siege.)
“Shit, yeah, let’s blow some horns and sound the alarm!”
“Whoa, tiger! Right around the corner up there, there’s about a hundred knights that I was, until very very recently, leading. Now they’re my implacable enemies, what with my having defeated you in a joust and then surrendered so you can help me convert to Christianity. Those guys aren’t going to come around just because I’ve defected, and if they hear you blow the horn, boom, a hundred versus one, and you’re already wounded.”
So Priamus and Gawaine head back the way Gawaine came, and find Sir Wisshard and the other knights whom Arthur sent out with Gawaine to rustle cattle, still in the meadow where Gawaine left them.
Gawaine fills in Wisshard and Florence about Priamus, and also it turns out that Priamus has a magic potion that cures wounds, so at this point he breaks that out, and within an hour he and Gawaine are fresh as daises, which is great, because there’s a sizable host of men coming up behind them.
Priamus knows these guys, he was fighting alongside them until recently, and there’s apparently seven hundred of them in total (I don’t know where the other six hundred came from). He thinks it’s a terrible idea to stand and fight, just him and Gawaine and the other knights. Gawaine, though, maybe he’s a little drunk on healing potion, because he thinks standing and fighting is a great idea.
“Think of all the cattle they have!” They do have a lot of cattle.
Gawaine’s raring to go, but he’s the only one. Sir Florence calls in Sir Floridas. Flo tells Flo to run over with some men and get that cattle secured before the various Roman-allied knights show up. Floridas pulls a hundred knights and they ride around, steering the cattle, and here come the Romans! It’s Sir Ferrant, from Spain, with seven hundred knights!
“Hoy, comrade!” calls Ferrant. “Hoy! We’re looking for Arthur’s men — have you seen them? Are you come to help us, with this cattle? Did the senate send you? Where are you riding to, my friend?”
Floridas panics and charges Ferrant, who’s smiling and waving. Boom, neck broken, Spanish knight dead, and the seven hundred knights are leaderless!
As a group they decide to avenge Ferrant, and start laying into Floridas and his hundred knights, and the melee spills over into the siege’s main camp, Gawaine and Priamus and Florence and all. Priamus finds Gawaine, who’s having a little lie-down now that the healing potion buzz has worn off, and tells him about the fight, and reminds Gawaine how eager he’d been to get into hopelessly outmatched battle.
“Oh, right, yeah,” says Gawaine. “That was a thing I said.”
Before Gawaine can weasel out of the situation, yet another knight comes up, Sir Ethelwold, and his buddy the Duke of Dutchmen. These are allies, which is good, and they’ve brought a few thousand friends, which is also good! Gawaine cheers and rallies the troops and they have a big ol’ fight! Blah blah blah fight blah.
1) The knights that used to follow Sir Priamus arrive. Malory is extremely vague as to whether they defect with Priamus, or fight against him and Arthur’s knights.
2) The Romans have another giant on their side. This one is named Jubance, and he kills Sir Gherard of Wales, whom Malory seems to think we already know.
3) Sir Priamus is MVP on Arthur’s side, this battle. Neither Arthur nor Launcelot participate.
4) Sir Chestaline, “child and ward of Sir Gawaine,” the Robin to Gawaine’s Batman, evidently a major character but one whom we’ve heard nothing about up to this point, he gets killed.
5) Overall it’s another decisive victory for Arthur, even if Arthur himself is technically offscreen.
6) Total casualties map pretty closely to the Battle of the Bulge. This is a big-deal fight in the overall Arthurian invasion of Europe.
Afterwards Florence and Gawaine loot and loot until they’re all looted out, with cattle and silver and gold and weapons and treasure — plenty of riches — and they lead the victorious survivors and their prisoners back to the other end of the siege, where Arthur’s been hanging out for like three chapters, and they present him with all their stuff and their aggrandized tale of their awesome exploits.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: “Sir Ethelwold” and his buddy “the Duke of Dutchmen.” Just think about that one for a bit.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapters X, continued, and XI — No Comments
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