Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK I CHAPTER I

Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK I  Next 


How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and
Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.

IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all
England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall
that held war against him long time.  And the duke was called the
Duke of Tintagil.  And so by means King Uther sent for this duke,
charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a
fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.

So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the
means of great lords they were accorded both.  The king liked and
loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of
measure, and desired to have lain by her.  But she was a passing
good woman, and would not assent unto the king.  And then she
told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent
for that I should be dishonoured; wherefore, husband, I counsel
you, that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all
night unto our own castle.  And in like wise as she said so they
departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware
of their departing.  All so soon as King Uther knew of their
departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth.  Then he called to
him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of
the duke and his wife.

Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a
great charge; and if he will not come at your summons, then may
ye do your best, then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. 
So that was done, and the messengers had their answers; and that
was this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at

Then was the king wonderly wroth.  And then the king sent him
plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish
him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest
castle that he hath.

When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and
garnished two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight
Tintagil, and the other castle hight Terrabil.  So his wife Dame
Igraine he put in the castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in
the castle of Terrabil, the which had many issues and posterns
out.  Then in all haste came Uther with a great host, and laid a
siege about the castle of Terrabil.  And there he pight many
pavilions, and there was great war made on both parties, and much
people slain.  Then for pure anger and for great love of fair
Igraine the king Uther fell sick.  So came to the king Uther Sir
Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick.  I
shall tell thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love
of fair Igraine, that I may not be whole.  Well, my lord, said
Sir Ulfius, I shall seek Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that
your heart shall be pleased.  So Ulfius departed, and by
adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and there Merlin
asked Ulfius whom he sought.  And he said he had little ado to
tell him.  Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou
seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he; and if
King Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my
desire, that shall be his honour and profit more than mine; for I
shall cause him to have all his desire.  All this will I
undertake, said Ulfius, that there shall be nothing reasonable
but thou shalt have thy desire.  Well, said Merlin, he shall have
his intent and desire.  And therefore, said Merlin, ride on your
way, for I will not be long behind.