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MADIS OF GAUL was written by Vasco
Lobeira, a Portugueze, who was born at
Porto, fought at Aljubarrota, where he was knighted upon the field of battle by King Joam of Good Memory, and died at Elvas, 1403 ; where he formed a Morgado, an entailed and unalienable estate, which afterwards descended to the Abreus of Alcarapinha.
The Spanish version, which is the oldest extant, is by Garciordoñez de Montalvo, Regidor of Medina del Campo. He says he has corrected it from the old originals, which were corrupted by different and bad writers, and badly composed in an ancient fashion ; that he has abridged it of many superfluous words, and inserted others of a more polished and elegant style.
The Comte de Tressan has.claimed the work as a French production. It is doing too much honour to Vasco Lobeira, he says, to consider him as the author. The French translation by Nicolas d'Herberay was indeed made from the Castilian, but there is reason to believe that he only restored
it to the literature of his own country, from which it had first been taken by the Spaniards. D'Herberay remembered certain manuscripts of Amadis in the Picard language, and these he thought might be the originals which Montalvo modernized. These manuscripts, says the Comte, might very easily fall into the hands of the Spaniards. Philip the Good,* or Charles the Bold might have found thum when they carried their arms into Picardy; thus they might get into the library of Warie of Burgundy, and her son the Archduke Philip might carry them into Spain. The Comte does not found his opinion entirely upon this concatenation of contingencies; he thinks he has seen a manuscript of Amadis, in the Romance, or what D'Herberay calls the Picard language, among Queen Christina's collection in the Vatican; from the manifest superiority of the three first books to all the continuation, he argues that they cannot have been written in the same country; and from their good taste and high tone of sentiment he proves that they must be originally French. This is indeed French reasoning!
Had the Comte de Tressan been versed in
* It is indeed probable that Amadis was in the Duke of Burgundy's Library, for Philip the Good married Isabel, daughter of Joam of Portugal. The children of Joam were distinguished for their love of literature. If she carried with her this romance, it is not unlikely that a French translation may have been made, anterior to Montalvo's version.
Portugueze literature, he might have found one single evidence in favour of his assumption. In the Agiologio Lusitano, T. 1, p. 480, Joze. Cardoso says, that Pedro de Lobeira translated the History of Amadis de Gaul from the French language, by the order of Infante Dom Pedro, son of King Joam I. He calls him Pedro, says Barboza, that he may be wrong in everything. The first volume of the Agiologio was printed in 1652. With this single exception, the Portugueze have always ascribed the work to Vasco Lobeira; and the authority of this tradition would alone outweigh all the possibilities of the French writer. It is substantiated by the work itself, and by old and unquestionable testimony.
At the end of the 41st chapter, vol. 1. p. 220, it is said, that Briolania would have given herself and her kingdom to Amadis, but he told her right loyally how he was another's. In the Spanish version, ff. 72, this passage follows : “But though the Infante Don Alfonso of Portugal, having pity upon this fair damsel, ordered it to be set down after another manner, that was what was his good pleasure, and not what actually was written of their loves; and they relate that history of these loves thus, though with more reason faith is to be given to what we have before said. Briolania being restored to her kingdom and enjoying the company of Amadis and Agrayes, persisted in her love: and seeing no way whereby she could accomplish her mortal desires, she spake ve
secretly with the damsel to whom Amadis, and Galaor and Agrayes had each promised a boon if she would guide Don Galaor where he could find the Knight of the Forest. This damsel was now returned, and to her she disclosed her mind, and besought her with many tears to advise some remedy for that strong passion. The damsel then in pity to her lady demanded as the performance of his promise from Amadis, that he should not go out of a certain tower, 'till he had a son or daughter by Briolania; and they say, that, upon this, Amadis went into the tower because he would not break his word, and there because he would not consent to Briolania's desires he remained, losing both his appetite and his sleep 'till his life was in great danger. This being known in the court of King Lisuarte, his Lady Oriana, that she might not lose him, sent and commanded him to grant the damsel's desire, and he having this command, and considering that by no other means could he recover his liberty or keep his word, took that fair queen for his leman, and had by her a son and a daughter at one birth. But it was not so, unless Briolania seeing how Amadis was drawing nigh to death in the Tower, told the damsel to release him of his promise, if he would only remain 'till Don Galaor was arrived ; doing thus, that she might so long enjoy the sight of that fair and famous knight, whom when she did not behold she thought herself in great darkness. This carries with it more reason why it should be believed, because this fair queen was afterwards married to Don Galaor, as the fourth book relates."
Here then it appears that an Infante of Portugal commanded some alteration to be made in the story: because he was displeased that Briolania should love in vain. There exists a sonnet ascribed to an Infante of Portugal, and addressed to Vasco Lobeira, praising him as the author of Amadis, and objecting to this very part of the story. It is thus printed in a work entitled Obras ineditas dos nossos insignes Poetas dadas a luz por Antonio Lourenço Caminha. Lisboa 1791.
SONETO. Feito polo Senhor Infante Dom Pedro, filho do Senhor Rey Dom Joam primeiro. Outros dizem que he do Senhor Rey Dom Affonso quarto, mais provase que foi do antecedente, porque o Lubera morreo no anno de 1403.
Bom Vasco de Lubera, e de grað sem
Tom. 1. 213.