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

¶ Capitulum v

THenne came to hym an husbond man of the countrey / and told hym how there was in the countre of Constantyn besyde Bretayne a grete gyaunt whiche hadde slayne murthered and deuoured moche peple of the countreye and had ben susteyned seuen yere with the children of the comyns of that land / in soo moche that alle the children ben alle slayne and destroyed / and now late he hath taken the duchesse of Bretayne as she rode by with her meyne / and hath ledde her to his lodgynge whiche is in a montayne for to rauysshe and lye by her to her lyues ende / and many people folowed her moo than v C / but alle they myghte not rescowe her / but they lefte he shrykyng and cryenge lamentably / wherfore I suppose than he hath slayn her in fulfyllynge his fowle lust of lechery / She was wyf vnto thy Cosyn syre Howel / whome we calle ful nyhe of thy blood / Now as thow a ryghtful kynge haue pyte on this lady / and reuenge vs al as thow arte a noble conquerour /

¶ Alas sayd kynge Arthur / this is a grete meschyef / I had leuer than the best Royame that I haue / that I hadde ben a forlonge way to fore hym for to haue rescowed that lady /

¶ Now felawe sayd kynge Arthur canst thou brynge me there as thys gyaunt haunteth / ye syre sayd the good man / loo yonder where as thow seest tho two grete fyres / there shalt thou fynde hym / and more tresour than I suppose is in al Fraunce / whanne the kynge hadde vnderstanden this pyteous caas / he retorned in to his tente /

¶ Thenne he callyd to hym syre kaye and syre Bedewere / & commaunded them secretely to make redy hors and harneis for hym self and them tweyne / For after euensonge he wold ryde on pylgremage with them two only vnto saynt Mychels Page  167 [leaf 84r] mounte / And thenne anone he maad hym redy / and armed hym at alle poyntes / and tooke his hors and his sheld / And soo they thre departed thens and rode forthe as faste as euer they myȝt tyl that they cam to the forlond of that mount And there they alyghted / and the kynge commaunded them to tarye there / for he wold hym self goo vp in to that mounte And soo he ascended up in to that hylle tyl he came to a grete fyre / and there he fonde a careful wydowe wryngynge her handes and makyng grete sorowe syttynge by a graue newe made / And thenne kynge Arthur salewed her / and demaunded of her wherfore she made suche lamentacion / to whome she ansuerd and sayd Syre knyghte speke softe / for yonder is a deuyll yf he here the speke / he wylle come and destroye the / I hold the vnhappy what dost thow here in this mountayne / For yf ye were suche fyfty as ye be / ye were not able to make resystence ageynst this deuyl / here lyeth a duchesse deede the whiche was the fayrest of alle the world wyf to syre Howel / duc of Bretayne / he hath murthred her in forcynge her / and has slytte her vnto the nauyl /

¶ Dame sayd the kynge / I came fro the noble Conqueroure kynge Arthur for the treate with that tyraunt for his lyege peple / Fy on suche treatys sayd she / he setteth not by the kynge ne by no man els / But and yf thou haue broughte Arthurs wyf dame Gweneuer / he shalle be gladder than thow haddest gyuen to hym half fraunce / Beware approche hym not to nygh / for he hath vaynquysshed xv kynges / and hath maade hym a cote ful of precious stones enbrowdred with theyre berdes / whiche they sente hym to haue his loue for sauacion of theyr peple at this laste Crystemasse / And yf thow wylt / speke with hym at yonder grete fyre at souper / wel sayd Arthur I wyll accomplysshe my message for al your ferdful wordes / and wente forth by the creast of that hylle / and sawe where he satte atte souper gnawynge on a lymme of a man / bekynge his brode lymmes by the fyre and brecheles / and thre fayr damoysels tornynge thre broches wheron were broched twelue yonge children late borne lyke yonge byrdes

¶ Whanne kynge Arthur beheld that pyteous syȝte / he had grete compassion on them so that his hert Page  168 [leaf 84v] bledde for sorowe / and hayled hym sayeng in this wyse he that alle the world weldeth gyue the shorte lyf & shameful dethe / And the deuyl haue thy soule / why hast thow murthred these yonge Innocent children / and murthred this duchesse / Therfore aryse and dresse the thow gloton / For this day shall thou dye of my hand / Thenne the gloton anone starte vp and tooke a grete clubbe in his hand / and smote at the kynge that his coronal fylle to the erthe / and the kynge hytte hym ageyn that he carf his bely and cutte of his genytours / that his guttes & his entraylles fylle doune to the ground / thenne the gyaunt threwe awey his clubbe / and caught the kynge in his armes that he crusshyd his rybbes / Thenne the thre maydens knelyd doune and callyd to Cryst for helpe and comforte of Arthur And thenne Arthur weltred and wrong / that he was other whyle vnder and another tyme aboue / And so weltryng and walowynge they rolled doune the hylle / tyl they came to the see marke / and euer as they soo weltred / Arthur smote hym with his daggar / and it fortuned they came to the place / where as the two knyghtes were and kepte Arthurs hors / thenne when they sawe the kynge fast in the gyaunts armes / they came and losed hym / And thenne the kynge commaunded syr kaye to smyte of the gyaunts hede / and to sette it vpon a truncheon of a spere / and bere it to syre howel / and telle hym that his enemy was slayne / and after late this hede be bounden to a barbycan that alle the peple may see and behold hit / and go ye two up to the montayn / and fetche me my sheld / my suerd and the clubbe of yron / And as for the tresour take ye it / for ye shalle fynde there good oute of nombre / So I haue the kertyl and the clubbe I desyre no more / This was the fyerst gyaunt that euer I mette with / sauf one in the mount of Arabe / whiche I ouercame / but this was gretter and fyerser / Thenne the knyghtes fette the clubbe and the kyrtyl / and some of the tresour they took to them self / and retorned ageyne to the host And anone this was knowen thurgh alle the countrey / wher for the peple came and thanked the kynge / And he sayd ageyne yeue the thanke to god / and departe the goodes among yow / And after that kynge Arthur sayd and commaunded his Cosyn howel that he shold ordeyne for a chirche to be bylded Page  169 [leaf 85r] on the same hylle in the worship of saynte Mychel /

¶ And on the morne the kynge remeuyd with his grete bataylle / and came in to Champayne and in a valeye / and there they pyght their tentys / and the kynge beynge set at his dyner / ther cam in two messagers / of whome that one was Marchal of fraūce and sayd to the kyng that themperour was entryd in to fraunce / and had destroyed a grete parte and was in Burgoyn and had destroyed and made grete slaughter of peple & brente townes and borowes / wherfor yf thou come not hastely / they must yelde vp their bodyes and goodes /