Serving the Serpent. Day 16. Sir Eglamour. A Knight and his dragon tale.

Dragon

Welcome to Here be Dragons Day 16.

HRservingtheserpent

Serving the Serpent is now available. Click the cover to buy.

My post today is one of the dragon tales that was originally told in Middle English.
The Tale of Sir Eglamour of Artois.
Here is part of the introduction to this knight’s tale.

I woll you tell of a knyght
That was both hardy and wyght,
And stronge in ylke a stowre;
Of dedys of armys that he myght here
He wan degré with jurnay clere,
And in felde the floure

I was going to translate but I reckon it is fairly clear. The worthy knight has won renown and is the flower of the field amongst his peers.

Sir Eglamour falls in love with Christabel, an Earl’s daughter, and though she knows she shouldn’t she falls in love right back. Emboldened by love Sir Eglamour, a poor but worthy knight approaches his beloved Christabel’s father.
The Earl is furious and sets the knight two nigh impossible tasks to complete to win the fair maiden’s hand.
The first two trials take him far from home but he achieves his goals and after many adventures returns with the proof of his victories.
Angered that Sir Eglamour still lives the wicked Earl insists on a third task. This is the most deadly of all, for Eglamour must defeat a dragon.
The brave knight agrees but asks for time to recover his strength before he makes this new journey. The Earl’s noblemen and household support the Knight’s request and he is granted twelve weeks to recuperate from the first two tasks.
During this time, Eglamour and the Earl’s daughter meet secretly and sweetly.

Lindworm kissBefore he leaves the Earl’s castle, Christabel informs Eglamour she is with child. On his knees Eglamour offers her a magic ring, gained in the earlier adventures. He swears to her he will return triumphant and as soon as he can, for she is his woman and his love, and all he does is for her.
Sir Eglamour makes the journey to find the dragon and soon, due to his skill at arms the beast lays dead at his feet. But the knight is wounded and worn down by the conflict. He will take months to recover.
Back in England Christabel bears a child she cannot hide. Her father is so enraged he sets her and the infant adrift in a small boat. No water, no food, and at the mercy of the current Christabel prays for her knight. The tiny craft carries her safe to a distant shore. Below is the passage from the story and my translation of the Middle English.

The lady syked with herte sare,
The wynd rose and to a roche here bare
And thereon gon sche lende.
Sche was full fayn, I undurstonde,
Sche wend hyt had be byggyd londe
And there up gan sche wende.
Nothyng ellys sygh sche dere
Butt see fowles that wylde were
That fast flew here hende.
A grype come in all hyr care,
The yong chyld away he bare
To a countré unkende.

The lady sighed with heart sore
The wind rose and on a rock her bore
And there on she landed
She was full glad, I understood
She wondered at such a big land
And then up she got to look about
Nothing else she saw there
But fowls that lived wild
That fast flew from her hand
A Griffin came in all her dispair
The child away he bare
To a country unkind

So poor Christabel stands alone and grieving for her infant that the wicked Griffin stole.
Now at this point if I had been critiquing for the author I would have said, slow down, as the story goes into over drive. The child is saved by a King and brought up as a royal prince. Christabel, who heads out in the boat again finds her way to a kingdom where the King recognises her as his niece and she is given a beautiful home.
Sir Eglamour returns to England once he recovers from his wounds after his battle with the dragon, and is told the cruel fate of Christabel and son. He usurps the Earl with the help of the household and goes in search of his love.
Fifteen years pass before Sir Eglamour is reunited with his beloved Christabel and his son.
The family travel back to England where the wicked Earl falls from his tower room at the sight of them approaching the castle. Thus, Sir Egramour takes the lands of his wife’s father.

If you want to read the whole of Sir Egramour’s story you can find it here.
http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/hudson-sir-eglamour-of-artois

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

 

Here be Dragons Day 13. The dragon slayers.

Dragon

Welcome to Here be Dragons Day 13.

Today my thoughts are on the dragon slayers who achieved fame, fortune, and heroic status for generations.

The triumph of good over evil, of the pure in heart over the corrupt and wicked, and the acceptance of the fate the gods have set. All these elements feature in the stories of the dragon slayers.

I like to think of them as the bardic star feature, the poet’s gut grabbing tale, or the musician’s ballad to silence the halls.

Courage, tragedy, and love haunt these tales.

1512_Meister_des_Döbelner_George and the Dragon

The dragon slayer is part of many cultures over many centuries. I have chosen two to consider.

The first dragon slayer I have chosen is the only female one I could find. Margaret of Antioch also known as Saint Marina.
This legend is about two thousand years old. The story takes place in Antioch, at the time part of the Roman Empire. The heroine Margaret, born to a wealthy family, was nursed and tutored by a pious Christian woman. Margaret became Christian and dedicated her virginity to God.
Her infuriated father renounced her as she had ruined any hopes of a good marriage.
To survive Margaret lived with her nurse and kept a flock of sheep. She lived humbly and simply but didn’t stay safe for long. Her beauty caught the eye of the Roman Governor who asked for her hand in marriage on the condition she would renounce her faith.
Margaret refused. She was taken captive and tortured in an effort to make her give up her beliefs. Legend says she was swallowed whole by Satan in the guise of a mighty serpent, but Margaret’s heavy cross around her neck gave him indigestion and she appeared whole and healthy as he spewed her forth, and in great agony the serpent died.

Dragon and Saint_Margaret_sculpture

Margaret is not a typical dragon slayer, the event seems almost accidental but her courage shines forth. Sadly, it did not win her a long and happy life. She was executed in AD304 and elevated to the status of Saint. I think this medieval image of Margaret and the dragon is exquisite, even if someone has loped off one of her arms.

C-shaped_jade_dragon

My next dragon slayer is Sigurd, son of Sigmund and this is a story of courage and revenge. This little story is part of a much longer Nordic saga involving a lot of treasure and a magic ring. I don’t have time to address all of it here so take it from me Sigurd had good grounds to agree to destroy the evil dragon form of Fafnir. BTW, don’t read this one with your morning toast or mid morning snack, it’s bloody.

The hero visited the smith Regin and instructs him to make a sword. This is done and Sigurd tests the blade by striking the smith’s anvil. The sword shatters. Three blades are made one after the other and each breaks when tested. Finally, Sigurd asks Regin to forge a blade from all the shards of the others that broke. The smith does so and the sword he makes, called Gram slices through the anvil when Sigurd tests it. This is a true blade for a dragon slayer.

Regin advises Sigurd to dig a pit and disguise it. Sigurd must wait down in hiding for the dragon to cross the pit trap. Then, unseen by the beast, he will be able to stab the dragon. The smith also asks for the dragon’s heart for himself.

Odin, in disguise as an old man warns Sigurd to dig trenches to drain the dragon’s blood so he will not drown in the bottom of a bloody pit. Father Odin also instructs the hero to bathe in the blood, too, as it will give invulnerability.

Sigurd follows all the instructions and despite the dangers kills his dragon. He bathes in the blood and even drinks some, which gives him both invulnerability and the blessing of being able to understand the language of birds. True to his promise to take the heart to the smith he cuts it from the dragon’s chest.

The birds tweet to Sigurd the smith, Regin, will betray him and is plotting his death due to the same magic that created the dragon. Sigurd kills the smith, roasts the dragon’s heart and eats some, and this gives him the gift of prophecy.

This dragon slayer attained great gifts for killing the mighty beast

Dragonslayervermithraxp

Tomorrow it is Paranormal Romance Thursday and my guest will be Lyndi Lamont and I will be visiting with Flossie Benton Rogers.

 

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks

Image attributes.

Green dragon
Image ID : 11298164 
Image Type : Stock Photo 
Copyright : Sattapapan Tratong
Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_tratong'>tratong / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
"Saint Margaret sculpture" by Postdlf from w. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Margaret_sculpture.jpg#/media/File:Saint_Margaret_sculpture.jpg
"1512 Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars Hl. Georg zu Pferde anagoria" by Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars - anagoria. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1512_Meister_des_D%C3%B6belner_Hochaltars_Hl._Georg_zu_Pferde_anagoria.JPG#/media/File:1512_Meister_des_D
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dacian_Gold_Bracelet_at_the_National_Museum_of_Romanian_History_2011_-_5.jpg#/media/File:Dacian_Gold_Bracelet_at_the_National_Museum_of_Romanian_History_2011_-_5.jpg
"Dragonslayervermithraxp" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dragonslayervermithraxp.jpg#/media/File:Dragonslayervermithraxp.jpg

 

Here be Dragons. Day 12. The Celtic Dragon.

Dragon

Welcome to Here be Dragons Day 12.

Release day for Serving the Serpent is edging closer and so today I wanted to spend a little time looking at Celtic dragon lore and legend. My dragons in Serving the Serpent have many of the qualities of Celtic dragons, understandable I suppose as those dragon stories were ones I read or heard in my early years.

dragon treasure

Celtic dragons are fearsome beasts with four legs, a long tail and the power to breath fire or poisonous gas at their foes. They come in various colours but all of them are fierce and determined. Each dragon collects a hoard of treasure. In many legends the dragon sleeps on a bed of gold and gems.

In the UK dragons are often associated with the land; even the rocks are sometimes called the bones of the dragon. I am sure you remember the scene in Excalibur when the great wizard Merlin conjures the mist known as the dragon’s breath.

In Celtic legend dragons are regarded as the most powerful of creatures linking heaven and earth. This idea is behind the motif so often seen in Celtic art of the serpent swallowing it’s tail.

Celtic DragonSome versions of the dragons have more than one head. A truly scary prospect. Luckily most do not. In Celtic legends dragons have the ability to speak with humans and strangely some are poets or bards. They have a great appreciation for poetry and music, so much so it can lull them to sleep. In many legends dragons spend a great deal of time asleep and dreaming.

As a child I enjoyed dragon stories and read as many as I could. I enjoyed the opportunity to write a dragon tale of my own. Tomorrow I’ll be looking at the battles between dragons and humans and how some of them turned out.

Thanks for reading.

Daisy Banks