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  • Il Novellino

    LX
    Here it is told how Charles of Anjou loved a lady

    Charles, the noble king of Sicily and Jerusalem, when he was Count of Anjou, loved deeply the fair Countess of Teti, who in her turn loved the Count of Nevers.1

    At that time the King of France1 had forbidden all tourneying under pain of death.

    The Count of Anjou, wishing to put it to the proof whether he or the Count of Nevers were more valiant in arms, took thought, and went most beseechfully to Messer Alardo de'Valleri and told him of his love, saying that he had set his heart on measuring himself with the Count of Nevers, and he begged him by the love he bore him to obtain leave of the King that one sole tourney might be held with his licence. The other sought a pretext.

    The Count of Anjou showed him the way. The King is almost a bigot, he said, and because of the great goodness of your nature, he hopes to induce you to put on the habit of a religious, that he may have your company. Therefore in putting this question, let it be asked as a boon, that he allow you to hold a tournament. And you will do whatever he wishes.

    And Messer Alardo replied: now tell me, Count, shall I give up all my knightly company for a tourney?

    And the Count replied: I promise you loyally that I will release you from your pledge. And so he did, as I shall tell you later.

    Messer Alardo went off to the King of France and said: Sire, when I took arms on the day of your coronation, then all the best knights of the world did bear arms; wherefore, since for love of you, I wish by all means to leave the world, and to don the religious habit, so let it please you to grant me a boon, that a tournament may be held in which all noble knights bear arms, so that I may forsake my arms in as great a feast as that in which I took them up.

    Thereupon, the King gave the leave.

    A tournament was ordered.

    On one side, was the Count of Nevers, and on the other side was the Count of Anjou. The Queen with countesses, ladies and damsels of high lineage were in the tribunes, and the Countess of Teti was with them.

    On that day the flower of knighthood was in arms from one end of the world to the other. After much tourneying, the Count of Anjou and he of Nevers had the field cleared2, and moved against one another with all the force of their weighty chargers and with great lances in their hands.

    Now it chanced that in the midst of the field the steed of the Count of Nevers fell with the Count all in a heap, and the ladies descended from the tribunes, and bore him in their arms most tenderly.

    And the Countess of Tcti was with them.

    The Count of Anjou lamented loudly, saying, alas! why did not my horse fall like that of the Count of Nevers, so that the Countess might have been as close to me as she was to him?

    When the tourney was ended, the Count of Anjou went to the Queen, and begged of her a grace: that for love of the noble knights of France she would make a show of being angry with the King, and when they made peace, she would ask him for a boon, and the boon should be this: that it should be the King's pleasure that the youthful knights of France should not lose so noble a companion as Messer Alardo de' Valleri.

    The Queen did as he said.

    She feigned anger with the king, and when they made peace, she asked him for her wish.

    And the King promised her a boon.

    And Messer Alardo was set free of his promise, and remained with the other noble knights tourneying and performing feats of arms, so that his fame spread throughout the world for his great skill and his most wonderful prowess.

    1 The king is Louis IX, the saint who forbade tourneys under pain of death. The Count of Anvers or Universa, or Anversa or Unvers.
    2 The tournament became a jousting bout.

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    Il Novellino : The Hundred Old Tales
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    Storer, Edward, trans. Il Novellino: The Hundred Old Tales. London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., [1925]. 137-141

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