Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER LI

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How King Mark let do counterfeit letters from the Pope, and
how Sir Percivale delivered Sir Tristram out of prison.

NOW turn we unto King Mark, that when he was escaped
from Sir Sadok he rode unto the Castle of Tintagil, and
there he made great cry and noise, and cried unto harness
all that might bear arms.  Then they sought and found
where were dead four cousins of King Mark's, and the
traitor of Magouns.  Then the king let inter them in a
chapel.  Then the king let cry in all the country that held
of him, to go unto arms, for he understood to the war he
must needs.  When King Mark heard and understood
how Sir Sadok and Sir Dinas were arisen in the country of
Liones he remembered of wiles and treason.  Lo thus he
did: he let make and counterfeit letters from the Pope,
and did make a strange clerk to bear them unto King
Mark; the which letters specified that King Mark should
make him ready, upon pain of cursing, with his host to
come to the Pope, to help to go to Jerusalem, for to make
war upon the Saracens.

When this clerk was come by the mean of the king,
anon withal King Mark sent these letters unto Sir Tristram
and bade him say thus: that an he would go war upon
the miscreants, he should be had out of prison, and to
have all his power.  When Sir Tristram understood this
letter, then he said thus to the clerk:  Ah, King Mark,
ever hast thou been a traitor, and ever will be; but, Clerk,
said Sir Tristram, say thou thus unto King Mark:  Since
the Apostle Pope hath sent for him, bid him go thither
himself; for tell him, traitor king as he is, I will not go
at his commandment, get I out of prison as I may, for
I see I am well rewarded for my true service.  Then the
clerk returned unto King Mark, and told him of the
answer of Sir Tristram.  Well, said King Mark, yet shall
he be beguiled.  So he went into his chamber, and counterfeit
letters; and the letters specified that the Pope desired
Sir Tristram to come himself, to make war upon the
miscreants.  When the clerk was come again to Sir
Tristram and took him these letters, then Sir Tristram
beheld these letters, and anon espied they were of King
Mark's counterfeiting.  Ah, said Sir Tristram, false hast
thou been ever, King Mark, and so wilt thou end.  Then
the clerk departed from Sir Tristram and came to King
Mark again.

By then there were come four wounded knights within
the Castle of Tintagil, and one of them his neck was nigh
broken in twain.  Another had his arm stricken away, the
third was borne through with a spear, the fourth had his
teeth stricken in twain.  And when they came afore King
Mark they cried and said:  King, why fleest thou not, for
all this country is arisen clearly against thee? Then was
King Mark wroth out of measure.

And in the meanwhile there came into the country Sir
Percivale de Galis to seek Sir Tristram.  And when he
heard that Sir Tristram was in prison, Sir Percivale made
clearly the deliverance of Sir Tristram by his knightly
means.  And when he was so delivered he made great joy
of Sir Percivale, and so each one of other.  Sir Tristram
said unto Sir Percivale:  An ye will abide in these marches
I will ride with you.  Nay, said Percivale, in this country
I may not tarry, for I must needs into Wales.  So Sir
Percivale departed from Sir Tristram, and rode straight
unto King Mark, and told him how he had delivered Sir
Tristram; and also he told the king that he had done
himself great shame for to put Sir Tristram in prison, for
he is now the knight of most renown in this world living.
And wit thou well the noblest knights of the world love
Sir Tristram, and if he will make war upon you ye may
not abide it.  That is truth, said King Mark, but I may
not love Sir Tristram because he loveth my queen and my
wife, La Beale Isoud.  Ah, fie for shame, said Sir Percivale,
say ye never so more.  Are ye not uncle unto Sir
Tristram, and he your nephew?  Ye should never think
that so noble a knight as Sir Tristram is, that he would do
himself so great a villainy to hold his uncle's wife;
howbeit, said Sir Percivale, he may love your queen sinless,
because she is called one of the fairest ladies of the

Then Sir Percivale departed from King Mark.  So
when he was departed King Mark bethought him of more
treason: notwithstanding King Mark granted Sir Percivale
never by no manner of means to hurt Sir Tristram.  So
anon King Mark sent unto Sir Dinas the Seneschal that he
should put down all the people that he had raised, for he
sent him an oath that he would go himself unto the Pope
of Rome to war upon the miscreants; and this is a fairer
war than thus to arise the people against your king.
When Sir Dinas understood that King Mark would go
upon the miscreants, then Sir Dinas in all the haste put
down all the people; and when the people were departed
every man to his home, then King Mark espied where
was Sir Tristram with La Beale Isoud; and there by
treason King Mark let take him and put him in prison,
contrary to his promise that he made unto Sir Percivale.

When Queen Isoud understood that Sir Tristram was
in prison she made as great sorrow as ever made lady or
gentlewoman.  Then Sir Tristram sent a letter unto La
Beale Isoud, and prayed her to be his good lady; and if it
pleased her to make a vessel ready for her and him, he
would go with her unto the realm of Logris, that is this
land.  When La Beale Isoud understood Sir Tristram's
letters and his intent, she sent him another, and bade him
be of good comfort, for she would do make the vessel
ready, and all thing to purpose.

Then La Beale Isoud sent unto Sir Dinas, and to
Sadok, and prayed them in anywise to take King Mark,
and put him in prison, unto the time that she and Sir
Tristram were departed unto the realm of Logris.  When
Sir Dinas the Seneschal understood the treason of King
Mark he promised her again, and sent her word that King
Mark should be put in prison.  And as they devised it so
it was done.  And then Sir Tristram was delivered out of
prison; and anon in all the haste Queen Isoud and Sir
Tristram went and took their counsel with that they would
have with them when they departed.