Eglamour And Crystabell
: ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
: The Old-fashioned Fairy Book
(From Ellis' Abstract of Copy in Garrick Collection.)
Count Prinsamour, an independent sovereign of Artois, was famed for his
skill in training young men in the courtesy and accomplishments of
chivalry. His court was the resort of all youths who wished to excel in
those important arts. His daughter Crystabell, the heiress of Count
Prinsamour's dominions, was very beautiful and accomp
ished, and her
father designed to marry her to some powerful monarch. The tournaments
instituted at his court were in her honor, and for her sake all the
hotheaded young knights in training broke their lances.
Crystabell herself had no desire to leave her own country to become the
wife of a foreign monarch. She loved the free and stirring air around
her father's castle, and had, unknown to the count, fallen in love with
a young knight, Sir Eglamour, who was ever victorious in the numerous
tournaments ridden in her name.
Eglamour, on his side, looked up to the young countess as to a star. He
never dreamed of winning her love, because he was only a knight, without
wealth or lands, depending upon his sword alone to make his way through
life. At last, one day, something that Crystabell said made him think
that she cared for him more than for the rest of her followers. Sorely
troubled, and yet strangely happy, the young man wandered off to think
it over. He finally resolved to ask advice of the chamberlain, who had
always stood his friend. That personage counselled him to give up all
thoughts of the countess, who, he said, was destined by her father to be
the bride of a rich and great king. Eglamour sighed, and admitted that
his friend was right. But that night, in the solitude of his chamber, he
addressed a prayer to God:
"Lord," he said, "grant me a boon,
As thou on rood me bought!
The erle's daughter, fair and free,
That she may my wife be!
For she is most in my thought:
That I may wed her to my wife,
And in joy to lead our life!
From care then were I brought."
In those days a true knight thought it no shame to his manhood to take
the burden of his every-day cares and lay it in all simplicity at the
feet of his Maker. When his devotions were at an end, Sir Eglamour slept
soundly, and awoke in better heart.
After a while, Sir Eglamour fell ill, and the count desired his
daughter, who was skilled in medicine, as were all great ladies of the
time, to attend upon the invalid. Crystabell, followed by her damsels,
went at once into the sick-room. She found Sir Eglamour feverish and
unhappy, and on bending down to minister to him, his pulse throbbed so
violently at her touch, that the tears of sympathy came into her eyes.
"I have betrayed my love," thought Sir Eglamour; but what was his
happiness when the lady bent down to kiss his lips, confessing that the
chamberlain had told her what was the real cause of his malady; and, to
comfort Eglamour, she bid him live for her sake.
After this, Eglamour got well rapidly; but he felt it right and
honorable to inform the count, at once, how matters stood between the
two young people. The count, who, although a brave knight, was largely
governed by selfish ambition, refused Sir Eglamour with scorn. Then,
after thinking a while, he told the youth that he would only bestow his
daughter upon the champion who might accomplish three perilous feats of
arms, each one of which would expose the candidate to the most imminent
danger; and that the victor should not only receive the hand of
Crystabell, but in time inherit the whole territory of Artois.
Overjoyed, Sir Eglamour accepted the conditions without delay. He
declared he was ready to set off that day or the next upon the
enterprise. He did not suspect the count's real purpose in setting him
this task, which was to destroy the rash knight who presumed to love his
"At a little distance to the westward," said the count, "there is a
forest of noble trees belonging to a most terrible giant, named Maroke.
In a part of the forest shut off for the giant's own hunting ground, are
three deer, famed for their size and speed. To hunt one of these
celebrated animals is, of course, to challenge an encounter with their
owner. Consider whether you have courage enough for such an
Sir Eglamour smiled, promised to kill the giant, and hurried off to tell
his lady-love. Crystabell trembled and wept, but bid her lover
God-speed. She told him that no man ever set forth upon a more arduous
journey in a Christian country, but that she gloried in his brave
spirit. She gave him a good greyhound, from whom no deer that ever ran
had yet escaped--also a sword, once found in the sea, the only one of
the kind in the world, and which could carve in two any helmet of steel
or iron. Eglamour kissed her farewell, as he received these gifts, and
set out with a light heart.
Reaching the giant's park, he followed the wall to a massive gate, burst
it open, and entered the wood. This forest was of huge cypress trees,
and Eglamour had the luck soon to come upon the three deer grazing
quietly. They were the most immense creatures he had ever seen; and
singling out the largest, he attacked it. With the help of the dun
greyhound, he brought the stag to earth, and set to work to carve his
spoil. Laden with venison, he then approached the giant's castle,
blowing his horn at intervals; and, when arrived there, he sounded a
wild and merry blast, which roused Maroke from sleep and brought him in
fury to the gate. Sir Eglamour politely asked the monster to give him
leave to pass through the grounds with his prey.
The giant, gnashing his teeth in rage, answered by aiming a blow with
his club at the saucy young knight's head. Sir Eglamour, at the same
moment, drew Crystabell's sword, which shone so brightly as to dazzle
the eyes of Maroke, striking him stone-blind where he stood. Then
followed a mighty combat. Blind as the giant was, he fought well and
skilfully for three entire days. At the end of the third day, Sir
Eglamour rallied all his strength and drove his sword into the giant's
heart, a thrust which sent Maroke crashing like a forest tree to earth.
Sir Eglamour, having cut off his enemy's head, carried it, together with
the slaughtered stag, back to the court of his sovereign. The count
received him ruefully; but fair Crystabell laughed and rejoiced, while
the courtiers covered their champion with praises. After Eglamour was
rested and refreshed, the count hurried him off again. This time he was
to journey to the distant land of Satyn, where his task was to fetch
away the head of a prodigious boar, the terror of that ill-fated
country, half of whose inhabitants the creature had already eaten up.
To reach the land of Satyn, Sir Eglamour had to travel a fortnight by
sea, a fortnight by land. Arriving there at nightfall, he thought it
prudent to spend the night in resting on the borders of the forest. At
sunrise next day he approached the den of the horrible boar, who had
just come back from taking his morning drink in the sea. The animal was
a terror to look upon, having flaming eyes and tusks a yard long. He lay
gnawing some human bones and growling frightfully, surrounded by dead
bodies, many of which were clad in knightly armor. At once Sir Eglamour
dashed at him with a shout--"For God and Crystabell!" The boar whetted
his long tusks and set upon his adversary, killing at the first blow Sir
Eglamour's noble horse, his own tough hide remaining unhurt by the
spear. Sir Eglamour now had recourse to his magic sword, and found to
his joy that, wherever he struck, the boar's hide was cut; although the
length of the animal's tusks made it difficult to close with him. This
combat, like that with the giant, lasted three days, and at the end Sir
Eglamour, by a sudden swift movement, made a terrible blow at the
creature's neck, severing the head from his body.
Long before the close of this memorable fight, the boar's snorts of rage
and defiance had attracted to the spot the King of Satyn and fifteen of
his knights, who happened to be hunting in the forest. When the boar
dropped dead, Sir Eglamour fell over him, and lay there completely
exhausted. The king and his men drew near, showered compliments on the
strange knight's bravery, and told him that the wicked beast of whom he
had rid them had sometimes destroyed as many as forty men in one day.
The king ordered a cloth to be laid upon the grass, and Sir Eglamour was
regaled with venison and rich wine, which brought strength back to his
arm and hope to his heart. The king's men then attempted to cut up the
boar, but failed, owing to the toughness of his hide. The sword of Sir
Eglamour was put into requisition, and in a moment the beast was cleft
asunder along the back bone. The meat was distributed among the knights
and men-at-arms, Sir Eglamour claiming the head alone. The King of Satyn
afterward ordered for the champion a warm bath of certain sweet-scented
herbs that healed his wounds and in which he rested pleasantly till
break of day. Then the party went on to the king's palace, where Sir
Eglamour was asked to stay and recover from his fatigue.
Now it happened that the boar just slain was an intimate friend of
Manas, a huge and frightful giant, own brother to Maroke. Manas had
fallen in love with the King of Satyn's daughter, and had vowed to carry
her off. When Manas came prowling around the castle that evening, and
beheld on the point of a spear over the gateway the head of his friend
the boar, he flew into an awful passion, foaming at the mouth; and as he
looked on that head--
"Alas!" he cried, "art thou dead?
My trust was all in thee!
Now, by the law that I live in,
My little speckled hoglin,
Dear bought shall thy death be!"
Manas beat upon the door and walls of the castle in a fury, demanding
the surrender of the murderer of his dear little speckled hoglin.
Presently, Sir Eglamour, fully armed and equipped, mounted on a fiery
courser, and with lance in rest, attacked the giant at full speed.
Manas resisted vigorously, and in an instant overthrew man and horse.
The king, the princess, and the court, who had assembled on the walls of
the castle, began to tremble for the safety of their champion. But Sir
Eglamour, lightly springing to his feet, drew his invincible sword, and
closing with the giant, cut off his right arm. The monster roared with
pain, but continued to fight, though yelling at intervals as loudly as
ever, till near sunset, when the patient knight, who had hitherto
suffered him to exhaust himself by his own efforts, suddenly rushed
forward and completed the victory! The boar and Manas being dead,
Eglamour now took his leave of the grateful King of Satyn and his court,
who rejoiced greatly over the death of their two adversaries. The heads
of the boar and the giant Manas were carefully packed up, and in due
time Eglamour laid them at the feet of his faithful Crystabell.
Count Prinsamour, secretly disgusted at his knight's success, at once
sent him off on another enterprise, more dangerous than the two
preceding ones. Eglamour and Crystabell, now seeing that the false
count was determined to prevent their marriage, parted from each other
with many tears. But Crystabell vowed to marry him, with or without her
father's leave, so soon as he should return, if ever he did, from the
The third mission was to kill a tremendous dragon, at that time
desolating the country around the gates of Rome. After sundry adventures
by the way, Eglamour encountered the beast, and fought it long and
valiantly. He succeeded in cutting off its wings, tail, and head; but at
last he fell himself, exhausted by his wounds and poisoned by the
dragon's sting, and was carried from the field.
When Crystabell heard that her brave lover was lying at the point of
death in Rome, she left her father and journeyed to the knight's
bedside, where, to make him happy before he died, she consented to marry
him on the spot.
Eglamour rallied under the care of his beloved Crystabell; but, after
they had spent some happy months together, Count Prinsamour found out
his daughter's place of retreat, and carried her off from her husband,
abusing him as a vile thief and imposter.
Crystabell cried and lamented continually for her lost husband. After a
while, a son was born to her, which made the count more angry than
before. He took the unfortunate mother and child, put them, without
food, into an open boat, and set them adrift upon the sea. The boat
drifted for five days, and at last reached the shores of a country whose
king proved to be the brother of Crystabell's own mother. He took the
wayfarers under his care, and devoted himself to bringing up the boy,
named Degrabell, to be a valiant knight.
After a time, Eglamour travelled to Artois, and entering the count's
hall by force, confronted his cruel father-in-law in the presence of all
the knights and squires. He had heard of the fate of his wife and child,
and his wrath was terrible to see. He cast the dragon's head, wings, and
tail before the count, reminded him that his daughter had been fairly
won, and called down God's judgment upon the unnatural father who had
bereaved Eglamour of all he held dear in life. The count retreated to
his strongest citadel in fear before the righteous anger of this mighty
champion; but Eglamour seized the property of his late master, divided
it among the count's worthy and needy subjects, and ordering masses to
be sung in all the churches for the soul of his lost Crystabell,
departed for the Holy Land, where, during many years, he distinguished
himself both in battle and in tournament against the Saracens.
When her son, Sir Degrabell, had reached the age of eighteen, Crystabell
was more beautiful than ever, and the king, her uncle, resolved to marry
her to some knight who might make happy the remainder of her days.
Crystabell, who still cherished the memory of her lost Sir Eglamour,
begged her son to help her in this emergency. Sir Degrabell went to the
king and insisted that all of the knights aspiring to his mother's hand
should first meet him in the lists, and that only the one who should
overthrow him might claim the princess as a wife.
The king smiled at the pretentions of this beardless youth, and gave his
consent. A tournament was announced, and to it came from all parts of
the country persons of high rank seeking adventure. Knight after knight
presented himself in the lists, and was swiftly unhorsed by the gallant
Degrabell. At length the boy, flushed with conquest, turned to a
stranger of distinguished appearance who stood gazing at the spectacle,
without seeming to take any great interest in it, and asked if he too
had a mind to break a lance. The stranger knight hesitated, then said
that, to amuse himself, he would do so. Mounting his horse, he rode with
the speed of a lightning flash against Degrabell, who was borne to the
earth on the spot. Princess Crystabell had been watching the tourney
with pride, but screamed aloud at her son's overthrow, and rushed into
the arena, throwing herself on her knees before the stranger and
imploring him to spare her boy. Trembling, she looked upon the victor's
shield, and there saw depicted a rude device of a golden boat containing
a lady and a child about to perish in the waves.
On his side, the knight gazed at the lady in trembling, then bending his
knee before her, revealed himself the long-lost Eglamour. Crystabell
would have swooned for joy, had not her husband caught her in his arms.
Eglamour, equally astonished and delighted, had still in store for him
the rapture of recognizing in his brave young antagonist the son so
worthy of his sire.
Sir Eglamour and Lady Crystabell, thus happily reunited, lived together
for the remainder of their days in prosperity. Degrabell became a famous
champion. The old Count Prinsamour broke his neck by falling from his
tower; and so, my tale is told!