High History of the Graal; Perlesvaus
Here beginneth the last branch of the Graal in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
The story saith that Perceval went his way
through the forest. He saw pass before him two squires, and each carried a wild
deer trussed behind him that had been taken by hounds. Perceval cometh to them a
great pace and maketh them abide.
"Lords," saith he, "Whither will you carry this venison?"
"Sir," say the squires, "To the castle of Ariste, whereof Aristor
"Is there great throng of knights at the castle?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," say the squires, "Not a single one is there, but within
four days will be a thousand there, for Messire is about to marry, whereof is
great preparation toward. He is going to take the daughter of the Widow Lady,
whom he carried off by force before her castle of Camelot, and hath set her in
the house of one of his vavasours until such time as he shall espouse her. But
we are right sorrowful, for she is of most noble lineage and of great beauty and
of the most worth in the world. So is it great dole that he shall have her, for
he will cut her head off on the day of the New Year, sith that such is his
"And one might carry her off," saith Perceval, "would he not do
"Yea, Sir!" say the squires, "Our Lord God would be well pleased
thereof, for such cruelty is the greatest that ever any knight may have.
Moreover, he is much blamed of a good hermit that he hath slain, and every day
desireth he to meet the brother of the damsel he is about to take, that is one
of the best knights in the world. And he saith that he would slay him more
gladly than ever another knight on live."
"And where is your lord?" saith Perceval, "Can you give me
"Yea, Sir," say the squires, "We parted from him but now in this
forest, where he held melly with a knight that seemeth us to be right worshipful
and valiant, and saith that he hath for name the Knight Hardy. And for that he
told Aristor that he was a knight of Perceval's and of his fellowship, he ran
upon him, and then commanded us to come on, and said that he should vanquish him
incontinent. We could still hear just now the blows of the swords yonder where
we were in the forest, and Aristor is of so cruel conditions that no knight may
pass through this forest, but he is minded to slay him."
When Perceval heard these tidings, he departed
from the squires, and so soon as they were out of sight he goeth as great pace
thither as they had come thence. He had ridden half a league Welsh when he heard
the buffets they were dealing one another on the helm with their swords, and
right well pleased was he for that the Knight Hardy held so long time melly with
Aristor in whom is there so much cruelty and felony. But Perceval knew not to
what mischief the Knight Hardy had been wounded through the body of a spear, so
that the blood rayed out on all sides; and Aristor had not remained whole, for
he was wounded in two places. So soon as Perceval espied them, he smiteth his
horse of his spurs, lance in rest, and smiteth Aristor right through the breast
with such force that he maketh him lose his stirrups and lie down backwards over
the hinder bow of the saddle. After that saith he: "I am come to my
sister's wedding, of right ought it not to be made without me."
Aristor, that was full hardy, set himself
again betwixt the bows of the saddle in great wrath when he seeth Perceval, and
cometh towards him like as if he were wood mad, sword in hand, and dealeth him
such a buffet on the helm as that it is all dinted in thereby. The Knight Hardy
draweth back when he seeth Perceval, for he is wounded to the death through the
body. He had held the stout so long time that he could abide no more. But or
ever he departed, he had wounded Aristor in two places right grievously.
Perceval felt the blow that was heavy, and that his helmet was dinted in. He
cometh back to Aristor and smiteth him so passing strongly that he thrusteth the
spear right through his body and overthroweth him and his horse all of a heap.
Then he alighteth over him and taketh off the coif of his habergeon and unlaceth
"What have you in mind to do?" said Aristor.
"I will cut off your head," said Perceval, "and present it to my
sister whom you have failed."
"Do not so!" saith Aristor, "But let me live, and I will forgo my
"Your hatred might I well abide henceforward, meseemeth," saith
Perceval, "But one may not abide you any longer, for well have you deserved
this, and God willeth not to bear with you."
He smiteth off his head incontinent and hangeth it at his saddle- bow, and
cometh to the Knight Hardy, and asketh him how it is with him.
"Sir," saith he, "I am very nigh my death, but I comfort me much
of this that I see you tofore I die."
Perceval is remounted on his horse, then taketh his spear and leaveth the body
of the knight in the midst of the launde, and so departeth forthwith and leadeth
the Knight Hardy to a hermitage that was hard by there, and lifteth him down of
his horse as speedily as he may. After that, he disarmed him and made him
confess to the hermit, and when he was shriven of his sins and repentant, and
his soul had departed, he made him be enshrouded of the damsel that followed
him, and bestowed his arms and his horse on the hermit for his soul, and the
horse of Aristor likewise.
When mass had been sung for the knight that
was dead, and the body buried, Perceval departed.
"Sir," saith the damsel that followed him, "Even now have you
much to do. Of this cruel knight and felonous you have avenged this country.
Now, God grant you find betimes the Red Knight that slew your uncle's son. I
doubt not but that you will conquer him, but great misgiving have I of the lion,
for it is the cruellest beast that saw I ever, and he so loveth his lord and his
horse as never no beast loved another so much, and he helpeth his lord right
hardily to defend him."
Perceval goeth toward the great Deep Forest
without tarrying, and the damsel after. But, or ever he came thither, he met a
knight that was wounded right sore, both he and his horse.
"Ha, Sir," saith he to Perceval, "Enter not into this forest,
whence I have scarce escaped with much pains. For therein is a knight that had
much trouble of rescuing me from his lion; and no less am I in dread to pass on
forward, for there is a knight that is called Aristor, that without occasion
runneth upon the knights that pass through the forest."
"Of him," saith the damsel, "need you have no fear, for you may
see his head hanging at the knight's saddle-bow."
"Certes," saith the knight,
"Never yet was I so glad of any tidings I have heard, and well know I that
he that slew him is not lacking of great hardiment."
The knight departeth from Perceval, but the lion had wounded his horse so
passing sore in the quarters that scarce could he go.
"Sir Knight," saith Perceval, "Go to the hermit in the Deep
Forest, and say I bade him give you the destrier I left with him, for well I see
that you have sore need thereof, and you may repay him in some other manner, for
rather would he have something else than the horse."
The knight goeth him much thanks of this that he saith. He cometh to the hermit
the best he may, and telleth him according as he had been charged, and the
hermit biddeth him take which destrier he will for the love of the knight that
had slain the evil-doer, that did so many evil deeds in this forest.
"And I will lend you them both twain if you will."
"Sir," saith the knight, "I ask but for one of them."
He taketh Aristor's horse, that seemed him the better, and straightway mounteth
thereon, and abandoneth his own, that might go no further. He taketh leave of
the hermit, and telleth him he will right well repay him, but better had it
befallen him and he had not taken the horse, for thereof was he slain without
reason thereafter. A knight that was of the household of Aristor overtook him at
the corner of the forest, and knew his lord's horse and had heard tell that
Aristor was dead, wherefore he went into the forest to bury him. He smote the
knight through the body with his spear and so slew him, then took the horse and
went away forthwith. But, had Perceval known thereof, he would have been little
glad, for that he asked the knight to go for the horse, but he did it only for
the best, and for that he rode in great misease.
Perceval goeth toward the Deep Forest, that is
full broad and long and evil seeming, and when he was entered in he had scarce
ridden a space when he espied the lion that lay in the midst of a launde under a
tree and was waiting for his master, that was gone afar into the forest, and the
lion well knew that just there was the way whereby knights had to pass, and
therefore had abided there. The damsel draweth her back for fear, and Perceval
goeth toward the lion that had espied him already, and came toward him, eyes on
fire and jaws yawning wide. Perceval aimeth his spear and thinketh to smite him
in his open mouth, but the lion swerved aside and he caught him in the fore-leg
and so dealt him a great wound, but the lion seizeth the horse with his claws on
the croup, and rendeth the skin and the flesh above the tail. The horse, that
feeleth himself wounded, catcheth him with his two hinder feet or ever he could
get away, so passing strongly that he breaketh the master-teeth in his jaw. The
lion gave out a roar so loud that all the forest resounded thereof. The Red
Knight heareth his lion roar, and so cometh thither a great gallop, but, or ever
he was come thither, Perceval had slain the lion. When the knight saw his lion
dead, right sorry was he thereof.
"By my head," saith he to Perceval, "When you slew my lion you
did it as a traitor!"
"And you," saith Perceval, "adjudged your own death when you slew
my uncle's son, whose head this damsel beareth."
Perceval cometh against him without more words, and the knight in like manner
with a great rushing, and breaketh his spear upon his shield. Perceval smiteth
him with such force that he thrusteth his spear right through his body and
beareth him to the ground dead beside his horse. Perceval alighteth of his own
when he hath slain the knight, and then mounteth him on the Red Knight's horse
for that his own might carry him no longer.
"Sir," saith the damsel, "My
castle is in the midst of this forest, that the Red Knight reft away from me
long ago. I pray you now come with me thither that I may be assured thereof in
such sort as that I may have it again wholly."
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "This have I no right to deny
They ride amidst the forest so long as that they come to the castle where the
damsel ought to be. It stood in the fairest place of all the forest, and was
enclosed of high Walls battlemented, and within were fair-windowed halls. The
tidings were come to the castle that their lord was dead. Perceval and the
damsel entered in. He made the damsel be assured of them that were therein, and
made them yield up her castle that they well knew was hers of right inheritance.
The damsel made the head be buried that she had carried so long, and bade that
every day should mass be done within for the soul of him. When Perceval had
sojourned therein as long as pleased him, he departed thence. The damsel thanked
him much of the bounty he had done her as concerning the castle that she had
again by him, for never again should it be reconquered of another, as well she
Josephus telleth us in the scripture he
recordeth for us, whereof this history was drawn out of Latin into Romance, that
none need be in doubt that these adventures befell at that time in Great Britain
and in all the other kingdoms, and plenty enow more befell than I record, but
these were the most certain. The history saith that Perceval is come into a
hold, there where his sister was in the house of a vavasour that was a right
worshipful man. Each day the damsel made great dole of the knight that was to
take her, for the day was already drawing somewhat nigh, and she knew not that
he was dead. Full often lamented she the Widow Lady her mother, that in like
sort made great dole for her daughter. The vavasour comforted the damsel right
sweetly and longed for her brother Perceval, but little thought he that he was
so near him. And Perceval is come to the hold all armed, and alighteth at the
mounting-stage before the hall. The vavasour cometh to meet him, and marvelleth
much who he is, for the more part believed that he was one of Aristor's knights.
"Sir," saith the vavasour, "Welcome may you be!"
"Good adventure may you have, Sir!" saith Perceval. He holdeth
Aristor's head in his hand by the hair, whereof the vavasour marvelled much that
he should carry a knight's head in such-wise. Perceval cometh to the
master-chamber of the hall, where his sister was, that bewailed her right sore.
"Damsel," saith he to his sister,
"Weep not, for your wedding hath failed. You may know it well by this
He throweth the head of Aristor before her on the ground, then saith unto her:
"Behold here the head of him that was to take you!"
The damsel heareth Perceval her brother that was armed, and thereby she knoweth
him again. She leapeth up and maketh him the greatest joy that ever damsel made
to knight. She knoweth not what to do. So joyful is she, that all have pity on
her that see her of her weeping for the joy that she maketh of her brother. The
story saith that they sojourned therewithin and that the vavasour showed them
much honour. The damsel made cast the knight's head into a river that ran round
about the hold. The vavasour was right glad of his death for the great felony
that he had in him, and for that needs must the damsel die in less than a year
and she had espoused him.
When Perceval had been therein as long as it
pleased him, he thanked the vavasour much of the honour he had done him and his
sister, and departed, he and his sister along with him on the mule whereon she
had been brought thither. Perceval rode so long on his journeys that he is come
to Camelot and findeth his mother in great dole for her daughter that should be
Queen, for she thought surely that never should she see her more. Full sorrowful
was she moreover of her brother, the King Hermit that had been killed in
such-wise. Perceval cometh to the chamber where his mother was lying and might
not stint of making dole. He taketh his sister by the hand and cometh before
her. So soon as she knoweth him she beginneth to weep for joy, and kisseth them
one after the other.
"Fair son," saith she, "Blessed be the hour that you were born
for by you all my great joy cometh back to me! Now well may I depart, for I have
lived long enow."
"Lady," saith he, "Your life ought to be an offence to none, for
to none hath it ever done ill, but, please God, you shall not end in this place,
but rather you shall end in the castle that was your cousin's german, King
Fisherman, there where is the most Holy Graal and the sacred hallows are."
"Fair son," saith she, "You say well, and there would I fain
"Lady," saith he, "God will provide counsel and means whereby you
shall be there; and my sister, and she be minded to marry, will we set in good
place, where she may live worshipfully."
"Certes, fair brother," saith she, "None shall I never marry,
save God alone."
"Fair son," saith the Widow Lady, "The Damsel of the Car goeth to
seek you, and I shall end not until such time as she hath round you."
"Lady," saith he, "In some place will she have tidings of me and
I of her."
"Fair son," saith the Lady, "The damsel is here within that the
felonous knight wounded through the arm, that carried of your sister, but she is
"Lady," saith he, "I am well avenged."
He telleth her all the adventures until the time when he reconquered the castle
that was his uncle's. He sojourned long time with his mother in the castle, and
saw that the land was all assured and peaceable. He departed thence and took his
leave, for he had not yet achieved all that he had to do. His mother remained
long time, and his sister, at Camelot, and led a good life and a holy. The lady
made make a chapel right rich about the sepulchre that lay between the forest
and Camelot, and had it adorned of rich vestments, and stablished a chaplain
that should sing mass there every day. Sithence then hath the place been so
builded up as that there is an abbey there and folk of religion, and many bear
witness that there it is still, right fair. Perceval was departed from Camelot
and entered into the great forest, and so rode of a long while until he had left
his mother's castle far behind, and came toward evening to the hold of a knight
that was at the head of the forest. He harboured him therein, and the knight
showed him much honour and made him be unarmed, and brought him a robe to do on.
Perceval seeth that the knight is a right simple man, and that he sigheth from
time to time.
"Sir," saith he, "Meseemeth you
are not over joyous."
"Certes, Sir," saith the knight, "I have no right to be, for a
certain man slew mine own brother towards the Deep Forest not long since, and no
right have I to be glad, for a worshipful man was he and a loyal."
"Fair Sir," saith Perceval, "Know you who slew him?"
"Fair Sir, it was one of Aristor's knights, for that he was sitting upon a
horse that had been Aristor's, and whereon another knight had slain him, and a
hermit had lent him to my brother for that the Red Knight's lion had maimed his
Perceval was little glad of these tidings, for that he had sent him that had
been slain on account of the horse.
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Your brother had not deserved his death,
methinketh, for it was not he that slew the knight."
"No, Sir, I know it all of a truth, but another, that slew the Red Knight
of the Deep Forest."
Perceval was silent thereupon. He lay the night at the hostel and was harboured
right well, and on the morrow departed when he had taken leave. He wandered
until he came to a hermitage there where he heard mass. After the service, the
hermit came unto him and said: "Sir," saith he, "In this forest
are knights all armed that are keeping watch for the knight that slew Aristor
and the Red Knight and his lion as well. Wherefore they meet no knight in this
forest but they are minded to slay him for the knight that slew these
"Sir," saith Perceval, "God keep me from meeting such folk as
would do me evil."
With that he departed from the hermitage and
took leave of the hermit, and rideth until that he is come into the forest and
espieth the knight that sitteth on Aristor's horse for that he hath slain the
other knight. A second knight was with him. They abide when they see Perceval.
"By my head," saith one of them, "This same shield bare he that
slew Aristor, as it was told us, and, like enough, it may be he."
They come toward him, full career. Perceval seeth them coming, and forgetteth
not his spurs, but rather cometh against them the speediest he may. The two
knights smote him upon the shield and brake their spears. Perceval overtaketh
him that sitteth on Aristor's horse and thrusteth an ell's length of his spear
through his body and so overthroweth him dead.
After that, he cometh to the other knight,
that fain would have fled, and smiteth off the shoulder close to his side, and
he fell dead by the side of the other. He taketh both twain of their destriers,
and knotteth the reins together and driveth them before him as far as the house
of the hermit, that had issued forth of his hermitage. He delivered unto him the
horse of Aristor and the other of the knight that he had sent thither.
"Sir," saith Perceval, "Well I know that and you shall see any
knight that hath need of it and shall ask you, you will lend him one of these
horses, for great courtesy is it to aid a worshipful man when one seeth him in
"Sir," saith the hermit, "But now since, were here three knights.
So soon as they knew that the two were dead whose horses you had delivered unto
me, they departed, fleeing the speediest they might. I praised them much of
their going, and told them they did well not to die on such occasion, for that
the souls of knights that die under arms are nigher to Hell than to
Perceval, that never was without sore toil and
travail so long as he lived, departed from the hermitage and went with great
diligence right through the midst of the forest, and met a knight that came a
great gallop over against him. He knew Perceval by the shield that he bare.
"Sir," saith he, "I come from the Castle of the Black Hermit,
there where you will find the Damsel of the Car as soon as you arrive, wherefore
she sendeth you word by me that you speed your way and go to her to ask for the
chess-board that was taken away from before Messire Gawain, or otherwise never
again will you enter into the castle you have won. Sir," saith he,
"Haste, moreover, on account of a thing most pitiful that I heard in this
forest. I heard how a knight was leading a damsel against her will, beating her
with a great scourge. I passed by the launde on the one side and he on the
other, so that I espied him through the underwood that was between us; but it
seemed me that the damsel was bemoaning her for the son of the Widow Lady that
had given her back her castle, and the knight said that for love of him he would
put her into the Servent's pit. An old knight and a priest went after the knight
to pray him have mercy on the damsel, but so cruel is he, that so far from doing
so, he rather waxed sore wroth for that they prayed it of him, and made cheer
and semblant as though he would have slain them."
The knight departed from Perceval and taketh leave and Perceval goeth along the
way that the knight had come, thinking that he would go after the damsel for he
supposeth certainly that it is she to whom he gave back her castle, and would
fain know what knight it is that entreateth her in such fashion. He hath ridden
until he is come into the deepest of the forest and the thickest. He bideth
awhile and listeneth and heareth the voice of the damsel, that was in a great
valley where the Serpent's pit was, wherein the knight was minded to set her.
She cried right loud for mercy, and wept, and the knight gave her great strokes
of the scourge to make her be still. Perceval had no will to tarry longer, but
rather cometh thither as fast as he may.
So soon as the damsel seeth Perceval, she
knoweth him again. She claspeth her two hands together and saith, "Ha, Sir,
for God's sake have mercy! Already have you given me back the castle whereof
this knight would reave me."
The horse whereon Perceval sat, the knight knew him.
"Sir," saith he, "This horse was the horse of Messire the Red
Knight of the Deep Forest! Now at last know I that it was you that slew
"It may well be," saith Perceval, "And if that I slew him, good
right had I to do so, for he had cut off the head of a son of mine uncle, the
which head this damsel carried of a long time."
"By my head," saith the knight, "Sith that you slew him, you are
my mortal enemy!"
So he draweth off in the midst of the launde and Perceval likewise, and then
they come together as fast as their horses may carry them, and either giveth
other great buffets in the midst of their breast with their spears the most they
may. Perceval smiteth the knight so passing hard that he overthroweth him to the
ground right over the croup of his horse, and in the fall that he made, he
to-brake him the master-bone of his leg so that he might not move. And Perceval
alighteth to the ground and cometh where the knight lay. And he crieth him mercy
that he slay him not. And Perceval telleth him he need not fear death, nor that
he is minded to slay him in such plight as he is, but that like as he was fain
to make the damsel do he will make him do. He maketh alight the other old knight
and the priest, then maketh the knight be carried to the Pit of the Serpent and
the worms, whereof was great store. The pit was dark and deep. When that the
knight was therein he might not live long for the worms that were there. The
damsel thanked Perceval much of this goodness and of the other that he had done
her. She departeth and returneth again to her castle, and was assured therein on
all sides, nor never thereafter had she dread of no knight, for the cruel
justice that Perceval had done on this one.
The son of the Widow Lady of his good
knighthood knoweth not how to live without travail. He well knoweth that when he
hath been at the Black Hermit's castle, he will in some measure have achieved
his task. But many another thing behoveth him to do tofore, and little toil he
thinketh it, whereof shall God be well pleased. He hath ridden so far one day
and another, that he came into a land where he met knights stout and strong
there where God was neither believed in nor loved, but where rather they adored
false images and false Lord-Gods and devils that made themselves manifest. He
met a knight at the entrance of a forest.
"Ha, Sir!" saith he to Perceval, "Return you back! No need is
there for you to go further, for the folk of this island are not well-believers
in God. I may not pass through the land but by truce only. The Queen of this
land was sister of the King of Oriande, that Lancelot killed in the battle and
all his folk, and seized his land, wherein all the folk were misbelievers. Now
throughout all the land they believe in the Saviour of the World. Thereof is she
passing sorrowful, and hateth all them that believe in the New Law, insomuch as
that she would not look upon any that believed, and prayed to her gods that
never might she see none until such time as the New Law should be overthrown;
and God, that hath power to do this, blinded her forthwith. Now she supposeth
that the false gods wherein she believeth have done this, and saith that when
the New Law shall fall, she will have her sight again by the renewal of these
gods, and by their virtue, nor, until this hour, hath she no desire to see. And
I tell you this," saith the knight, "because I would not that you
should go thither as yet, for that I misdoubt of your being troubled
"Sir, Gramercy," saith Perceval, "But no knighthood is there so
fair as that which is undertaken to set forward the Law of God, and for Him
ought one to make better endeavour than for all other. In like manner as He put
His body in pain and travail for us, so ought each to put his own for Him."
He departeth from the knight, and was right joyous of this that he heard him say
that Lancelot had won a kingdom wherein he had done away the false Law. But and
he knew the tidings that the King had put him in prison, he would not have been
glad at all, for Lancelot was of his lineage and was therefore good knight, and
for this he loved him right well.
Perceval rideth until nightfall, and findeth a
great castle fortified with a great drawbridge, and there were tall ancient
towers within. He espied at the door a squire that had the weight of a chain on
his neck, and at the other end the chain was fixed to a great bulk of iron. The
chain was as long as the length of the bridge. Then cometh he over against
Perceval when he seeth him coming.
"Sir," saith he, "Meseemeth you believe in God?"
"Fair friend, so do I, the best I may."
"Sir, for God's sake, enter not this castle!"
"Wherefore, fair friend?" saith Perceval.
"Sir," saith he, "I will tell you. I am Christian, even as are
you, and I am thrall within there and guard this gate, as you see. But it is the
most cruel castle that I know, and it is called the Raving Castle. There be
three knights within there, full young and comely, but so soon as they see a
knight of the New Law, forthwith are they out of their senses, and all raving
mad, so that nought may endure between them. Moreover, there is within one of
the fairest damsels that saw I ever. She guardeth the knights so soon as they
begin to rave, and so much they dread her that they durst not disobey her
commandment in aught that she willeth, for many folk would they evilly entreat
were it not for her. And for that I am their thrall they put up with me, and I
have no fear of them, but many is the Christian knight that hath come in hither
that never hath issued hence."
"Fair sweet friend," saith Perceval, "I will enter in thither and
I may, for I should not know this day how to go elsewhither, and true it is that
greater power hath God than the devil."
He entereth into the castle and alighteth in the midst of the courtyard.
The damsel was at the windows of the hall,
that was of passing great beauty. She cometh down as soon as she may, and seeth
Perceval come in and the cross on his shield, and knoweth well thereby that he
"Ha, Sir, for God's sake," saith she, "Come not up above, for
there be three of the comeliest knights that ever were seen that are playing at
tables and at dice in a chamber, and they are brothers-german. They will all go
out of their senses so soon as they shall see you!"
"Damsel," saith Perceval,
"Please God, so shall they not, and such a miracle is good to see, for it
is only right that all they who will not believe in God should be raving mad
when they see the things that come of Him."
Perceval goeth up into the hall, all armed, for all that the damsel saith. She
followeth him as fast as she may. The three knights espied Perceval all armed
and the cross on his shield, and forthwith leapt up and were beside themselves.
They rolled their eyes and tore themselves and roared like devils. There were
axes and swords in the hall that they go to lay hold on, and they are fain to
leap upon Perceval, but no power have they to do so, for such was the will of
God. When they saw that they might not come a-nigh him, they ran either on other
and so slew themselves between them, nor would they stint their fighting
together for the damsel. Perceval beheld the miracle of these folks that were
thus killed, and the damsel that made right great dole thereof.
"Ha, damsel," saith he, "Weep not, but repent you of this false
belief, for they that are unwilling to believe in God shall die like mad folks
Perceval made the squires that were there within bear the bodies out of the
hall, and made them be cast into a running water, and straightway slew all the
other, for that they were not minded to believe. The castle was all emptied of
the misbelieving folk save only the damsel and those that waited upon her, and
the Christian thrall that guarded the gate. Perceval set him forth of the chain,
then led him up into the hall and made him disarm him. He found sundry right
rich robes. The damsel, that was of right great beauty, looked at him and saw
that he was a full comely knight, and well pleased she was with him. She
honoured him in right great sort, but she might not forget the three knights
that were her brothers, and made sore dole for them.
"Damsel," saith Perceval,
"Nought availeth it to make this dole, but take comfort on some other
Perceval looked at the hall from one end to the other and saw that it was right
rich, and the damsel, in whom was full great beauty, stinted of making dole to
look at Perceval. She seeth that he is comely knight and gentle and tall and
well furnished of good conditions, wherefore he pleaseth her much, and forthwith
beginneth she to love him, and saith to herself that, so he would leave his God
for the god in whom she believed, right glad would she be thereof, and would
make him lord of her castle, for it seemed her that better might she not bestow
it, and sith that her brothers are dead, there may be no bringing of them back,
and therefore better would it be to forget her dole. But little knew she
Perceval's thought, for had she known that which he thinketh, she would have
imagined not this; for, and had she been Christian he might not have been drawn
to love her in such sort as she thinketh, sith that Josephus telleth us that
never did he lose his virginity for woman, but rather died virgin and chaste and
clean of his body. In this mind was she still, nor never might she refrain her
heart from him. Thinketh she rather that, and he knew she was minded to love
him, right joyous would he be thereof, for that she is of so passing beauty.
Perceval asketh the damsel what she hath in her thought?
" Sir," saith she, "Nought think I but only good and you
"Damsel," saith Perceval, "Never, please God, shall there be
hindrance of me but that you renounce this evil Law and believe in the
"Sir," saith she, "Do you renounce yours for love of me, and I
will do your commandment and your will."
"Damsel," saith Perceval,
"Nought availeth to tell me this. Were you man like as you are woman, your
end would have come with the others. But, please God, your tribulation shall
tend itself to good."
"Sir," saith she, "So you are willing to promise me that you will
love me like as knight ought to love damsel, I am well inclined to believe in
"Damsel, I promise you as I am a Christian that so you are willing to
receive baptism, I will love you as he that firmly believeth in God ought to
"Sir," saith she, "I ask no more of you."
She biddeth send for a holy man, a hermit that was in the forest appurtenant,
and right gladly came he when he heard the tidings. They held her up and
baptized her, both her and her damsels with her. Perceval held her at the font.
Josephus witnesseth us in this history that she had for name Celestre. And great
joy made she of her baptism, and her affections turned she unto good. The hermit
remained there with her, and taught her to understand the firm believe, and did
the service of Our Lord. The damsel was of right good life and right holy, and
ended thereafter in many good works.
Perceval departed from the castle, and gave
thanks to Our Lord and praise, that He hath allowed him to conquer a castle so
cruel and to attorn it to the Law. He went his way a great pace, all armed,
until he came into a country wherein was great grief being made, and the more
part said that he was come that should destroy their Law, for that already had
he won their strongest castle. He is come towards an ancient castle that was at
the head of a forest. He looketh and seeth at the entrance of the gateway a full
great throng of folk. He seeth a squire come forth thence, and asketh him unto
whom belongeth the castle.
"Sir," saith he, "It is Queen Jandree's, that hath made her be
brought before her gate with the folk you see yonder, for she hath heard tell
how the knights of the Raving Castle are dead, and another knight that hath
conquered the castle hath made the damsel be baptized, wherefore much she
marvelleth how this may be. She is in much dread of losing her land, for her
brother Madeglant of Oriande is dead, so that she may no longer look to none for
succour, and she hath been told how the knight that conquered the Raving Castle
is the Best Knight of the World, and that none may endure against him. For this
doubtance and fear of him she is minded to go to one of her own castles that is
Perceval departeth from the squire and rideth until they that were at the
entrance of the gateway espied him. They saw the Red Cross that he bare on his
shield, and said to the Queen, "Lady, a Christian knight is coming into
"Take heed," saith she, "that it be not he that is about to
overthrow our Law!"
Perceval cometh thither and alighteth, and cometh before the Queen all armed.
The Queen asketh what he seeketh.
"Lady," saith he, "Nought seek
I save good only to yourself so you hinder it not."
"You come," saith she, "from the Raving Castle, there where three
brothers are slain, whereof is great loss."
"Lady," saith he, "At that castle was I, and now fain would I
that your own were at the will of Jesus Christ, in like manner as is that."
"By my head," saith she, "And your Lord hath so great power as is
said, so will it be."
"Lady, His virtue and His puissance are far greater than they say."
"That would I fain know," saith she, "presently, and I am fain to
pray you that you depart not from me until that it hath been proven."
Perceval granteth it gladly. She returned into her castle and Perceval with her.
When he was alighted he went up into the hall. They that were within marvelled
them much that she should thus give consent, for never, sithence that she had
been blind, might she allow no knight of the New Law to be so nigh her, and made
slay all them that came into her power, nor might she never see clear so long as
she had one of them before her. Now is her disposition altered in such sort as
that she would fain she might see clear him that hath come in, for she hath been
told that he is the comeliest knight of the world and well seemeth to be as good
as they witness of him.
Perceval remained there gladly for that he saw
the lady's cruelty was somewhat slackened, and it seemed him that it would be
great joy and she were willing to turn to God, and they that are within there,
for well he knoweth that so she should hold to the New Law, all they of the land
would be of the same mind. When Perceval had lain the night at the castle, the
Lady on the morrow sent for all the more powerful of her land, and came forth of
her chamber into the hall where Perceval was, seeing as clear as ever she had
"Lords," saith she, "Hearken ye all, for now will I tell you the
truth like as it hath befallen me. I was lying in my bed last night, and well
know ye that I saw not a whit, and made my orisons to our gods that they would
restore me my sight. It seemed me they made answer that they had no power so to
do, but that I should make be slain the knight that was arrived here, and that
and I did not, sore wroth would they be with me. And when I had heard their
voices say that nought might they avail me as for that I had prayed of them, I
remembered me of the Lord in whom they that hold the New Law believe. And I
prayed Him right sweetly that, and so it were that He had such virtue and such
puissance as many said, He would make me see clear, so as that I might believe
in Him. At that hour I fell on sleep, and meseemed that I saw one of the fairest
Ladies in the world, and she was delivered of a Child therewithin, and He had
about Him a great brightness of light like it were the sun shone at right
"When the Child was born, so passing fair
was He and so passing gentle and of so sweet semblant that the looks of Him
pleased me well; and meseemed that at His deliverance there was a company of
folk the fairest that were seen ever, and they were like as it had been birds
and made full great joy. And methought that an ancient man that was with Her,
told me that My Lady had lost no whit of her maidenhood for the Child. Well
pleased was I the while this thing lasted me. It seemed me that I saw it like as
I do you. Thereafter, methought I saw a Man bound to a stake, in whom was great
sweetness and humility, and an evil folk beat Him with scourges and rods right
cruelly, so that the blood ran down thereof. They would have no mercy on Him. Of
this might I not hold myself but that I wept for pity of Him. Therewithal I
awoke and marvelled much whence it should come and what it might be. But in
anyway it pleased me much that I had seen it. It seemed me after this, that I
saw the same Man that had been bound to the stake set upon a cross, and nailed
thereon right grievously and smitten in the side with a spear, whereof had I
such great pity that needs must I weep of the sore pain that I saw Him suffer. I
saw the Lady at the feet of the cross, and knew her again that I had seen
delivered of the Child, but none might set in writing the great dole that she
made. On the other side of the cross was a man that seemed not joyful, but he
recomforted the Lady the fairest he might. And another folk were there that
collected His blood in a most holy Vessel that one of them held for it."
"Afterward, methought I saw Him taken
down of hanging on the cross, and set in a sepulchre of stone. Thereof had I
great pity for, so long as meseemed I saw Him thus never might I withhold me
from weeping. And so soon as the pity came into my heart, and the tears into my
eyes, I had my sight even as you see. In such a Lord as this ought one to
believe, for He suffered death when He might lightly have avoided it had He so
willed, but He did it to save His people. In this Lord I will that ye all
believe, and so renounce our false gods, for they be devils and therefore may
not aid us nor avail us. And he that will not believe, him will I make be slain
or die a shameful death."
The Lady made her be held up and baptized, and all them that would not do the
same she made be destroyed and banished. This history telleth us that her name
was Salubre. She was good lady and well believed in God, and so holy life led
she thereafter that in a hermitage she died. Perceval departed from the castle
right joyous in his heart of the Lady and her people that believed in the New