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knights were the King of an Hundred Knights and the King of Scots, and both
of these were very famous and well-approved champions, of high courage and
remarkable achievements.

[Sidenote: Belle Isoult arms Sir Tristram] Now when the time was nigh
ready for that tournament, Sir Tristram went to put on the armor that the
Lady Belle Isoult had provided him, and when he was armed he mounted very
lightly upon the horse which she had given him. And the armor of Sir
Tristram was white, shining like to silver, and the horse was altogether
white, and the furniture and trappings thereof were all white, so that Sir
Tristram glistened with extraordinary splendor.

Now when he was armed and prepared in all ways, the Lady Belle Isoult came
to where he was and she said, "Tramtris, are you ready?" And he answered
"Yea." Therewith she took the horse of Sir Tristram by the bridle and she
led him to the postern gate of the castle, and put him out that way into a
fair field that lay beyond; and Sir Tristram abided in the fields for some
while until the tournament should have begun.

But the Lady Belle Isoult went to the tournament with her father, the King,
and her mother, the Queen, and took her station at that place assigned to
her whence she might overlook the field.

[Sidenote: How Sir Palamydes fought in the tournament] So in a little
while that friendly battle began. And again Sir Palamydes was filled with
the vehement fury of contest, wherefore he raged about the field, spreading
terror whithersoever he came. For first he made at the King of an Hundred
Knights, and he struck that knight so direful a blow that both horse and
man fell to the ground with the force thereof. Then in the same manner he
struck the King of Scots with his sword, and smote him straightway out of
the saddle also. Then he struck down one after another, seven other
knights, all of well-proved strength and prowess, so that all those who
looked thereon cried out, "Is he a man or is he a demon?" So, because of
the terror of Sir Palamydes, all those in that contest bore away from him
as they might do from a lion in anger.

At this time came Sir Tristram, riding at a free pace, shining like to a
figure of silver. Then many saw him and observed him and said to one
another: "Who is this knight, and what party will he join with to do
battle?" These had not long to wait to know what side he would join, for
immediately Sir Tristram took stand with that party which was the party of
the King of an Hundred Knights and the King of Scots, and at that the one
party was very glad, and the other party was sorry; for they deemed that
Sir Tristram was certes some great champion.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram enters the tournament] Then straightway there came
against Sir Tristram four knights of the other party, and one of these was
Sir Gaheris, and another was Sir Griflet and another was Sir Bagdemagus and
another was Sir Kay. But Sir Tristram was possessed with a great joy of
battle, so that in a very short time he had struck down or overthrown all
those knights, beginning with Sir Gaheris, and ending with Sir Kay the

This Sir Gawaine beheld, and said to Sir Sagramore: "Yonder is certes a
knight of terrible strength; now let us go and see of what mettle he be."

Therewith Sir Gawaine pushed against Sir Tristram from the one side, and
Sir Sagramore came against him on the other side, and so they met him both
at once. Then first Sir Gawaine struck Sir Tristram such a buffet that the
horse of Sir Tristram turned twice about with the force of that stroke; and
therewith Sir Sagramore smote him a buffet upon the other side so that Sir
Tristram wist not upon which side to defend himself.

Then, at those blows Sir Tristram waxed so exceedingly fierce that it was
as though a fire of rage flamed up into his brains and set them into a
blaze of rage. So with that he rose up in his stirrups and launched so
dreadful a blow upon Sir Gawaine that I believe nothing could have
withstood the force of that blow. For it clave through the shield of Sir
Gawaine and it descended upon the crown of his helmet and it clave away a
part of his helmet and a part of the epauliere of his shoulder; and with
the force of that dreadful, terrible blow, Sir Gawaine fell down upon the
ground and lay there as though he were dead.

Then Sir Tristram wheeled upon Sir Sagramore (who sat wonder-struck at that
blow he had beheld) and thereafter he smote him too, so that he fell down
and lay upon the ground in a swoon from which he did not recover for more
than two hours.

Now Sir Palamydes also had beheld those two strokes that Sir Tristram had
given, wherefore he said: "Hah! Yonder is a very wonderful knight. Now if I
do not presently meet him, and that to my credit, he will have more honor
in this battle than I."

So therewith Sir Palamydes pushed straight against Sir Tristram, and

[Sidenote: Sir Palamydes rides against Sir Tristram] when Sir Tristram
beheld that he was very glad, for he said: "Now it will either be Sir
Palamydes his day, or else it will be mine." So he upon his part pushed
against Sir Palamydes with good intent to engage him in battle, and then
they two met in the midst of the field.

Then immediately Sir Palamydes smote Sir Tristram such a buffet that Sir
Tristram thought a bolt of lightning had burst upon him, and for a little
while he was altogether bemazed and wist not where he was. But when he came
to himself he was so filled with fury that his heart was like to break

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram smites Sir Palamydes] Thereupon he rushed upon Sir
Palamydes and smote him again and again and again with such fury and
strength that Sir Palamydes was altogether stunned at the blows he received
and bare back before them. Then Sir Tristram perceived how that Sir
Palamydes bare his shield low because of the fierceness of that assault,
and thereupon he rose up in his stirrups and struck Sir Palamydes upon the
crown of the helmet so dreadful a buffet that the brains of Sir Palamydes
swam like water, and he must needs catch the pommel of his saddle to save
himself from falling. Then Sir Tristram smote him another buffet, and
therewith darkness came upon the sight of Sir Palamydes and he rolled off
from his horse into the dust beneath its feet.

Then all who beheld the encounter shouted very loud and with great
vehemence, for it was the very best and most notable assault at arms that
had been performed in all that battle. But most of those who beheld that
assault cried out "The Silver Knight!" For at that time no one but the Lady
Belle Isoult wist who that silver knight was. But she wist very well who he
was, and was so filled with the glory of his prowess that she wept for joy

[Sidenote: Belle Isoult declares Sir Tristram] Then the King of Ireland
said: "Who is yonder knight who hath so wonderfully overthrown Sir
Palamydes? I had not thought there was any knight in the world so great as
he; but this must be some great champion whom none of us know." Upon that
the Lady Belle Isoult, still weeping for joy, could contain herself no
longer, but cried out: "Sir, that is Tramtris, who came to us so nigh to
death and who hath now done us so great honor being of our household! For I
knew very well that he was no common knight but some mighty champion when I
first beheld him."

At that the King of Ireland was very much astonished and overjoyed, and he
said: "If that is indeed so, then it is a very great honor for us all."

Now after that assault Sir Tristram took no more part in that battle but
withdrew to one side. But he perceived where the esquires attendant upon
Sir Palamydes came to him and lifted him up and took him away. Then by and
by he perceived that Sir Palamydes had mounted his horse again with intent
to leave that meadow of battle, and in a little he saw Sir Palamydes ride
away with his head bowed down like to one whose heart was broken.

All this Sir Tristram beheld and did not try to stay Sir Palamydes in his
departure. But some while after Sir Palamydes had quitted that place, Sir
Tristram also took his departure, going in that same direction that Sir
Palamydes had gone. Then after he had come well away from the meadow of
battle, Sir Tristram set spurs to his horse and rode at a hard gallop along
that way that Sir Palamydes had taken.

So he rode at such a gait for a considerable pass until, by and by, he
perceived Sir Palamydes upon the road before him; and Sir Palamydes was at
that time come to the edge of a woods where there were several stone
windmills with great sails swinging very slowly around before a strong wind
that was blowing.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram overthrows Palamydes again] Now this was a lonely
place, and one very fit to do battle in, wherefore Sir Tristram cried out
to Sir Palamydes in a loud voice: "Sir Palamydes! Sir Palamydes! Turn you
about! For here is the chance for you to recover the honor that you have
lost to me." Thereupon Sir Palamydes, hearing that loud voice, turned him
about. But when he beheld that the knight who called was he who had just
now wrought such shame upon him, he ground his teeth together with rage,
and therewith drave his horse at Sir Tristram, drawing his sword so that it
flashed like lightning in the bright sunlight. And when he came nigh to Sir
Tristram, he stood up in his stirrups and lashed a blow at him with all his
might and main; for he said to himself: "Maybe I shall now recover mine
honor with one blow which I lost to this knight a while since." But Sir
Tristram put aside that blow of Sir Palamydes with his shield with very
great skill and dexterity, and thereupon, recovering himself, he lashed at
Sir Palamydes upon his part. And at that first stroke Sir Tristram smote
down the shield of Sir Palamydes, and gave him such a blow upon the head
that Sir Palamydes fell down off his horse upon the earth. Then Sir
Tristram voided his own horse very quickly, and running to Sir Palamydes
where he lay he plucked off his helmet with great violence. Therewith he
cried out very fiercely: "Sir Knight, yield thee to me, or I will slay
thee." And therewithal he lifted up his sword as though to strike off the
head of Sir Palamydes.

Then when Sir Palamydes saw Sir Tristram standing above him in that wise,
he dreaded his buffets so that he said: "Sir Knight, I yield me to thee to
do thy commands, if so be thou wilt spare my life."

Thereupon Sir Tristram said, "Arise," and at that Sir Palamydes got him up
to his knees with some ado, and so remained kneeling before Sir Tristram.

"Well," said Sir Tristram, "I believe you have saved your life by thus
yielding yourself to me. Now this shall be my commandment upon you. First
of all, my commandment is that you forsake the Lady Belle Isoult, and that
you do not come near her for the space of an entire year. And this is my
second commandment; that from this day you do not assume the arms of
knighthood for an entire year and a day."

"Alas!" said Sir Palamydes, "why do you not slay me instead of bringing me
to such shame as this! Would that I had died instead of yielding myself to
you as I did." And therewith he wept for shame and despite.

"Well," said Sir Tristram, "let that pass which was not done. For now you
have yielded yourself to me and these are my commands." So with that Sir
Tristram set his sword back again into its sheath, and he mounted his horse
and rode away, leaving Sir Palamydes where he was.

[Sidenote: Sir Palamydes disarms himself] But after Sir Tristram had gone,
Sir Palamydes arose, weeping aloud. And he said: "This is such shame to me
that I think there can be no greater shame." Thereupon he drew his
misericordia, and he cut the thongs of his harness and he tore the pieces
of armor from off his body and flung them away very furiously, upon the
right hand and upon the left. And when he had thus stripped himself of all
of his armor, he mounted his horse and rode away into the forest, weeping
like one altogether brokenhearted.

So Sir Tristram drave Sir Palamydes away from the Lady Belle Isoult as he
had promised to do.

Now when Tristram came back to the castle of the King of Ireland once more,
he thought to enter privily in by the postern-gate as he had gone out. But
lo! instead of that he found a great party waiting for him before the
castle and these gave him loud acclaim, crying, "Welcome, Sir Tramtris!
Welcome, Sir Tramtris!" And King Angus came forward and took the hand of
Sir Tristram, and he also said: "Welcome, Sir Tramtris, for you have
brought us great honor this day!"

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram chides Belle Isoult] But Sir Tristram looked at
the Lady the Belle Isoult with great reproach and by and by when they were
together he said: "Lady, why did you betray me who I was when you had
promised me not to do so?" "Sir," she said, "I meant not to betray you, but
in the joy of your victory I know not very well what I said." "Well," said
Sir Tristram, "God grant that no harm come of it." She said, "What harm can
come of it, Messire?" Sir Tristram said: "I may not tell you, Lady, but I
fear that harm will come of it."

Anon the Queen of Ireland came and said: "Tramtris, one so nigh to death as
you have been should not so soon have done battle as you have done. Now I
will have a bain prepared and you shall bathe therein, for you are not yet
hale and strong."

"Lady," said Tristram, "I do not need any bain, for I believe I am now
strong and well in all wise."

"Nay," said the Queen, "you must have that bain so that no ill may come to
you hereafter from this battle which you have fought."

So she had that bain prepared of tepid water, and it was very strong and
potent with spices and powerful herbs of divers sorts. And when that bain
was prepared, Sir Tristram undressed and entered the bath, and the Queen
and the Lady Belle Isoult were in the adjoining chamber which was his

[Sidenote: The Queen of Ireland beholds Sir Tristram's sword] Now whilst
Sir Tristram was in that bath, the Queen and Belle Isoult looked all about
his chamber. And they beheld the sword of Sir Tristram where it lay, for he
had laid it upon the bed when he had unlatched the belt to make himself
ready for that bath. Then the Queen said to the Lady Belle Isoult, "See
what a great huge sword this is," and thereupon she lifted it and drew the
blade out of its sheath, and she beheld what a fair, bright, glistering
sword it was. Then in a little she saw where, within about a foot and a
half from the point, there was a great piece in the shape of a half-moon
broken out of the edge of the sword; and she looked at that place for a
long while. Then of a sudden she felt a great terror, for she remembered
how even such a piece of sword as that which had been broken off from that
blade, she had found in the wound of Sir Marhaus of which he had died. So
she stood for a while holding that sword of Sir Tristram in her hand and
looking as she had been turned into stone. At this the Lady Belle Isoult
was filled with a sort of fear, wherefore she said, "Lady, what ails you?"
The Queen said, "Nothing that matters," and therewith she laid aside the
sword of Sir Tristram and went very quickly to her own chamber. There she
opened her cabinet and took thence the piece of sword-blade which she had
drawn from the wound of Sir Marhaus, and which she had kept ever since.
With this she hurried back to the chamber of Sir Tristram, and fitted that
piece of the blade to the blade; and lo! it fitted exactly, and without

[Sidenote: The Queen assails Sir Tristram] Upon that the Queen was seized
as with a sudden madness; for she shrieked out in a very loud voice,
"Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!" saying that word three times. Therewith she
snatched up the sword of Sir Tristram and she ran with great fury into the
room where he lay in his bath. And she beheld him where he was there all
naked in his bath, and therewith she rushed at him and lashed at him with
his sword. But Sir Tristram threw himself to one side and so that blow
failed of its purpose. Then the Queen would have lashed at him again or
have thrust him through with the weapon; but at that Gouvernail and Sir
Helles ran to her and catched her and held her back, struggling and
screaming very violently. So they took the sword away from her out of her
hands, and all the while she shrieked like one gone entirely distracted.

Then as soon as Gouvernail and Sir Helles loosed her, she ran very
violently out of that room with great outcry of screaming, and so to King
Angus and flung herself upon her knees before him, crying out: "Justice!
Justice! I have found that man who slew my brother! I beseech of you that
you will deal justice upon him."

Then King Angus rose from where he sat, and he said: "Where is that man?
Bring me to him." And the Queen said: "It is Tramtris, who hath come hither
unknown unto this place."

King Angus said: "Lady, what is this you tell me? I cannot believe that
what you say is true." Upon this the Queen cried out: "Go yourself, Lord,
and inquire, and find out how true it is."

Then King Angus rose, and went forth from that place, and he went to the
chamber of Sir Tristram. And there he found that Sir Tristram had very
hastily dressed himself and had armed himself in such wise as he was able.
Then King Angus came to Tristram, and he said: "How is this, that I find
thee armed? Art thou an enemy to my house?" And Tristram wept, and said:
"Nay, Lord, I am not your enemy, but your friend, for I have great love for
you and for all that is yours, so that I would be very willing to do battle
for you even unto death if so be I were called upon to do so."

Then King Angus said: "If that is so, how is it that I find thee here armed
as if for battle, with thy sword in thy hand?" "Lord," said Sir Tristram,
"although I be friends with you and yours, yet I know not whether you be
friends or enemies unto me; wherefore I have prepared myself so that I may
see what is your will with me, for I will not have you slay me without
defence upon my part." Then King Angus said: "Thou speakest in a very
foolish way, for how could a single knight hope to defend himself against
my whole household? Now I bid thee tell me who thou art, and what is thy
name, and why thou earnest hither knowing that thou hadst slain my

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram confesses to King Angus] Then Sir Tristram said,
"Lord, I will tell thee all the truth." And therewith he confessed
everything to King Angus, to wit: who was his father and his mother, and
how he was born and reared; how he fought Sir Marhaus, and for what reason;
and of how he came hither to be healed of his wound, from which else he
must die in very grievous pain. And he said: "All this is truth, Lord, and
it is truth that I had no ill-will against Sir Marhaus; for I only stood to
do battle with him for the sake of mine uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, and
to enhance mine own honor; and I took my fortune with him as he took his
with me. Moreover, I fought with Sir Marhaus upon the same day that I was
made knight, and that was the first battle which I fought, and in that
battle I was wounded so sorely that I was like to die as you very well
know. As for him, he was a knight well-tried and seasoned with many
battles, and he suffered by no treachery but only with the fortune of war."

So King Angus listened to all that Sir Tristram said, and when he had
ended, quoth he: "As God sees me, Tristram, I cannot deny that you did with
Sir Marhaus as a true knight should. For it was certes your part to take
the cause of your uncle upon you if you had the heart to do so, and it was
truly a real knightly thing for you who were so young to seek honor at the
hands of so famous a knight as Sir Marhaus. For I do not believe that until
you came his way there was any knight in the world who was greater than he,
unless it were Sir Launcelot of the Lake. Wherefore, from that, and from
what I saw you do at the tournament, some time ago, I believe that you are
one of the strongest knights in the world, and the peer of Sir Launcelot,
or of anybody else.

"But though all this is true, nevertheless it will not be possible for me
to maintain you in this country, for if I keep you here I shall greatly
displease not only the Queen and her kin, but many of those lords and
knights who were kin to Sir Marhaus or who were united to him in pledges of
friendship. So you must even save yourself as you can and leave here
straightway, for I may not help or aid you in any way."

Then Sir Tristram said: "Lord, I thank you for your great kindness unto me,
and I know not how I shall repay the great goodness that my Lady Belle
Isoult hath showed to me. For I swear to you upon the pommel of my sword
which I now hold up before me that I would lay down my life for her sake.
Yea, and my honor too! for she hath the entire love of my heart, so that I
would willingly die for her, or give up for her all that I have in the
world. Now as for my knighthood, I do believe that I shall in time become a
knight of no small worship, for I feel within my heart that this shall be
so. So if my life be spared, it may be that you will gain more having me
for your friend and your true servant than you will by taking my life in
this outland place. For whithersoever I go I give you my knightly word that
I shall be your daughter's servant, and that I shall ever be her true
knight in right or in wrong, and that I shall never fail her if I shall be
called upon to do her service."

Then King Angus meditated upon this for a while, and he said: "Tristram,
what thou sayest is very well said, but how shall I get you away from this
place in safety?"

Sir Tristram said: "Lord, there is but one way to get me away with credit
unto yourself. Now I beseech you of your grace that I may take leave of my
lady your daughter, and that I may then take leave of all your knights and
kinsmen as a right knight should. And if there be any among them who
chooses to stop me or to challenge my going, then I must face that one at
my peril, however great it may be."

"Well," said King Angus, "that is a very knightly way to behave, and so it
shall be as you will have it."

So Sir Tristram went down stairs to a certain chamber where Belle Isoult
was. And he went straight to her and took her by the hand; and he said:
"Lady, I am to go away from this place, if I may do so with credit to my
honor; but before I go I must tell you that I shall ever be your own true
knight in all ways that a knight may serve a lady. For no other lady shall
have my heart but you, so I shall ever be your true knight. Even though I
shall haply never see your face again, yet I shall ever carry your face
with me in my heart, and the thought of you shall always abide with me
withersoever I go."

At this the Lady Belle Isoult fell to weeping in great measure, and thereat
the countenance of Sir Tristram also was all writhed with passion, and he
said, "Lady, do not weep so!" She said, "Alas I cannot help it!" Then he
said: "Lady, you gave me my life when I thought I was to lose it, and you
brought me back from pain unto ease, and from sorrow unto joy. Would God I
were suffering all those pangs as aforetime, so that there might be no more
tears upon your face."

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram parts from Belle Isoult] Then, King Angus being
by, he took her face into his hands and kissed her upon the forehead, and
the eyes, and the lips. Therewith he turned and went away, all bedazed with
his sorrow, and feeling for the latch of the door ere he was able to find
it and go out from that place.

After that Sir Tristram went straight unto the hall of the castle, and
there he found a great many of the lords of the castle and knights
attendant upon the King. For the news of these things had flown fast, and
many of them were angry and some were doubtful. But Tristram came in very
boldly, clad all in full armor, and when he stood in the midst of them he
spoke loud and with great courage, saying: "If there be any man here whom I
have offended in any way, let him speak, and I will give him entire
satisfaction whoever he may be. But let such speech be now or never, for
here is my body to make good my knighthood against the body of any man,
whomsoever he may be."

At this all those knights who were there stood still and held their peace,
and no man said anything against Sir Tristram (although there were several
knights and lords who were kin to the Queen), for the boldness of Tristram
overawed them, and no one had the heart to answer him.

So after a little while Sir Tristram left that place, without turning his

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