Sunday, September 06, 2015

Tirant lo Blanch

Read for the Read Harder Challenge, this is a book written before 1850. Tirant lo Blanc is a 1490 work, influential on the author of Don Quixote and in the development of the novel as a literary form. "Tirant the White" is the hero of the piece, a knight. There was a 2006 film adaptation. This is the plot summary from Wikipedia:
Tirant lo Blanc tells the story of a medieval knight Tirant from Brittany who has a series of adventures across Europe in his quest. He joins in knightly competitions in England and France until the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire asks him to help in the war against the Ottoman Turks, an Islamic tribe of invaders threatening Constantinople, the capital and seat of the Empire. Tirant accepts and is made Megaduke of the Byzantine Empire and the captain of an army. He defeats the Turkish invaders and saves the Empire from destruction. Afterwards, he fights the Turks in many regions of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa....
You can read it online here, translated into English. It begins:


In the fertile, rich and lovely island of England there lived a most valiant knight, noble by his lineage and much more for his courage. In his great wisdom and ingenuity he had served the profession of chivalry for many years and with a great deal of honor, and his fame was widely known throughout the world. His name was Count William of Warwick. This was a very strong knight who, in his virile youth, had practiced the use of arms, following wars on sea as well as land, and he had brought many battles to a successful conclusion.

The count found himself at the advanced age of fifty-five, and moved by divine inspiration he decided to withdraw from the practice of arms and make a pilgrimage to the holy land of Jerusalem. This virtuous count wanted to go, because he felt sorrow and contrition for the many deaths he had caused in his youth.

That evening he told the countess, his wife, about his plans, and although she was virtuous and discreet, she became very upset at the news because she loved him so much. In the morning the count had all his servants, both men and women, come to him, and he said:

"My children and most faithful servants, it is the will of His Divine Majesty that I should leave you, and the time of my return is uncertain. Since the journey will be very dangerous, I want to pay each of you now for all the good services you have rendered to me."

He had a large chest full of money brought out, and to each of his servants he gave much more than he owed, so that they were all very satisfied. Then he gave the countess all his land and all his rights. And he ordered that a ring of gold be made with his and the countess's coat of arms on it, and this ring was made in such away that it was divided into two parts. Each part was a complete ring in itself, showing half the coat of arms of each of them, and when the two halves were joined together the entire coat of arms could be seen.

When all this had been done, he turned to the virtuous countess, and said kindly:

"I know that you will accept my departure with love and patience, and if it is God's will, my journey will soon be over. I am leaving in your charge everything I have. And here is half of the ring I had made. I beg you dearly to hold it in my stead, and to guard it until I return."

"Oh, dear!" cried the countess. "Then it's true, my lord, that you are leaving without me? At least allow me to go with you so that I can serve you. I would rather die than go on living without you. Just when I was thinking that all my misfortunes were over, I see that my unhappiness is only increasing. I'm left with only this poor son as a pledge from his father, and his sad mother must be consoled with him."

She seized her small son by the hair and pulled it, and then slapped his face, saying:

"Cry, my child, for your father's departure, and you will be good company to your mother."

The tiny infant, who had been born only three months before, burst out crying. The count, seeing both mother and child in tears, felt deeply grieved, and he could not hold back his own tears. And for some time he could not speak, while all three of them wept.

The count took his leave of her, kissing her again and again, tears running freely from his eyes. He said farewell to the other ladies, and when he left he took only one squire with him.

Leaving his city of Warwick, he boarded a ship, and sailed with a good wind, and as time passed he arrived safely at Alexandria. There he disembarked and made his way to Jerusalem. When he reached Jerusalem he confessed his sins, and with great devotion he received the precious body of Jesus Christ. Then he entered the holy sepulchre of Jesus Christ and prayed there fervently and tearfully, with great contrition for his sins.

After visiting all the other sanctuaries, he returned to Alexandria. Then he boarded a ship and went to Venice. When he was near Venice he gave all the money still in his possession to his squire who had served him well, and he arranged a marriage for him so that he would not want to return to England. Then he had his squire spread the news that he had died, and he arranged for merchants to write to England that Count William of Warwick had died while returning from the Holy Land of Jerusalem. .....


  1. Well, this sounds thrilling, really. I have downloaded it for later. Gutenberg is just the greatest, they have provided me with much reading.

    1. It's helping me meet this reading challenge without having to buy books. I'm so glad so much is there!