Le Morte Darthur
Syr Thomas Malory
William Caxton, H. Oskar Sommer

Capitulum primo

Page  839 [leaf 420r]

AS syr Mordred was rular of alle englond he dyd do make letters as though that they came from beyonde the see / and the letters specefyed that Kynge Arthur was slayn in bataylle wyth syr Launcelot /

¶ Wherfor Syr Mordred made a parlemente / and called the lordes togyder / & there he made them to chese hym kyng & soo was he crowned at caunterburye and helde a feest there xv dayes / & afterward he drewe hym vnto wynchester / and there he took the Quene Gueneuer and sayd playnly that he wolde wedde hyr / whyche was his vnkyls wyf and his faders wyf / And soo he made redy for the feest / And a day prefyxt that they shold be wedded / wherfore quene Gweneuer was passyng huey / But she durst not dyscouer hyr herte but spake fayre / & agreyd to syr Mordredes wylle /

¶ Thenne she desyred of syr Mordred for to goo to London to bye alle manere of thynges that longed vnto the weddyng / And by cause of hyr fayre speche Syr Mordred trusted hyr wel ynough / and gaf her leue to goo / and soo whan she came to London she took the toure of London / and sodeynlye in alle haste possyble she stuffed hyt wyth alle manere of vytaylle / & wel garnysshed it with men and soo kepte hyt /

¶ Than whan Syr Mordred wyste and vnderstode how he was begyled he was passyng wrothe oute of mesure / And a shorte tale for to make he wente and layed a myghty syege aboute the toure of London / and made many grete assaultes therat / And threwe many grete engynes vnto theym / and shotte grete gonnes / But alle myght not preuaylle Syr mordred / For quene Gueneuer wolde neuer for fayre speche nor for foule wold neuer truste to come in hys handes ageyn /

¶ Thenne came the bysshop of caunterburye the whyche was a noble clerke and an holy man / and thus he sayd to Syr mordred / Syr what wyl ye doo / wyl ye fyrst dysplese god and sythen shame your self / & al knyghthode / Is not kyng Arthur your vncle no ferther but your moders broder / & on hir hym self kyng Arthur bygate you vpon his own syster / therfor how may you wedde your faders wyf Syr sayd the noble clerke leue this oppynyon or I shall curse you wyth book & belle and candell / Do thou thy werst said syr Mordred wyt thou wel I shal defye the / sir sayd the bysshop &Page  840 [leaf 420v] wyt you wel I shal not fere me to do that me ouȝt to do / also where ye noyse where my lord Arthur is slayne / & that is not so / & therfore ye wyl make a foule werke in this londe / Pees thou fals preest sayd syr Mordred for & thou chauffe me ony more / I shal make stryke of thy heed / So the bysshop departed and dyd the cursyng in the moost orgulist wyse that myght be doon / and than Syr mordred sought the bysshop of caunterburye for to haue slayne hym / Than the bysshop flede and toke parte of his goodes with hym & went nygh vnto glastynburye / & there he was as preest Eremyte in a chapel / & lyued in pouerte & in holy prayers / For wel he vnderstode that myscheuous warre was at honde / Than Syr Mordred sought on quene Gueneuer by letters & sondes & by fayr meanes & foul meanys for to haue hir to come oute of the toure of london / but al this auaylled not / for she answerd hym shortelye / openlye and pryuelye that she had leuer slee hyr self than to be maryed wyth hym / Than came worde to syr Mordred that kyng Arthur had araysed the syege / For Syr Launcelot & he was comyng homeward wyth a grete hoost to be auenged vpon syr Mordred wherfore syr Mordred maad wryte wryttes to al the barownry of thys londe and moche peple drewe to hym For than was the comyn voys emonge them that wyth Arthur was none other lyf but warre and stryffe / And wyth Syr Mordred was grete Ioye and blysse / thus was syr Arthur depraued and euyl sayd of . And many ther were that kyng Arthur had made vp of nought and gyuen them landes myght not than say hym a good worde / Lo ye al englissh men see ye not what a myschyef here was / for he that was the moost kyng and knyght of the world and moost loued the felyshyp of noble knyghtes / and by hym they were al vpholden / Now myght not this englyssh men holde them contente wyth hym / Loo thus was the olde custome and vsage of this londe / And also men saye that we of thys londe haue not yet loste ne foryeten that custome & vsage / Alas thys is a grete defaulte of vs englysshe men / For there may no thynge plese vs noo terme And soo faryd the people at that tyme they were better plesyd with sir Mordred than they were with kyng Arthur / and moche peple drewe vnto sir Mordred and sayd Page  841 [leaf 421r] they wold abyde with hym for better and for werse / and soo syr Mordred drewe with a grete hoost to Douer / for there he herd saye / that sir Arthur wold arryue / and soo he thoughte to bete his owne fader from his landes / and the moost party of alle Englond helde with sire mordred / the peple were soo newe fangle