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Marmiadoise [weap:sword] [Arthurian]

Marmiadoise, Marmydoyse (Sommer, Vulg. II 231, 239)*1 [OF], Marmiadoise (Pickens tr.) [E.]*2 ; Marmyadoise(??.???), (Middle English prose Merlin)*3 [ME], Marandois, Marandoise (Arthour and Merlin, Auchinleck MS.)*4 [ME], Marandoise (Ellis, Spec. Ear. Eng. Metr. Rom.)*5 [ME]
[meaning uncertain. < Gk. marmairo 'gleaming metal'? Michelle R. Warren]]

In the Vulgate Cycle, Arthur's later sword, captured from King Rion (the 24-foot tall giant sovereign of Ireland) whom Arthur defeated at the Battle of Aneblayse. Rion's sword lodged in Arthur's shield, Arthur cast away the shield with the sword so he enjoyed an advantage until Rion pounced him and he had to drop his sword Escalibor(Excalibur) as well. They were locked in hand to hand combat, but Ban wielding Courecheuse "Wrathful" struck and deeply wounded Rion, who was forced to leave his prize weapon. (235) Since Marmiadoise was superior to Excalibur which failed to penetrate Rion's serpent-skin garment (228)(*) , Arthur decided to give Gawain the use of Excalibur.

The sword was passed from heir to heir to Rion, whose family descended from Hercules. But the earlier owner of the sword was Adrastus (i.e., king of Argos and only one of the Seven against Thebes to survive) and the sword was also owned by Tydeus. (230)

Rion, being a giant, initially fought with a club, but once the club was cut down, he drew the sword which had the name of marmiadoise; and Arthur, upon witnessing "the sword that flamed" (lespee que si reflamboie), sorely wished to conquer it.

Afterwards Arthur fought the giant of St. Michael's mount using Marmiadoise (only referred to as the "sword conquered from Rion" in Vulgate Merlin 430 but is "Marmyadoise, his good swerde that he conquered of the Kynge Rion" in the ME translation) . However, the jerkin of serpent skin which the giant wore prevents causing injury. In the end, Arthur tugged the jerkin and thrust the sword in the giant's body.

[Pedigree of the Sword] One would naturally surmise that this was the sword forged for Adrastus's father Aeneas (as described in Roman dfEnéas or Virgil's Aeneid), but unfortunately, one further piece of history attached to the sword runs contrary to that assumption. (cont.)

For the Estoire de Merlin says that Marmyadose originally was the sword of Hercules, who brought down many giants in Colchis with it. If this is so, it could hardly have been freshly forged for Aeneas.
*1 Sommer, H. Oskar (Heinrich Oskar), 1861- , ed., The vulgate version of the Arthurian romances: ed. from manuscripts in the British Museum (Washington, Carnegie Institution, 1908-16..)(8vol.); Vol. 2. Lestoire de Merlin. (1908) [Text in French with English synopsis on the margins].
*2 Lacy, Norman J., general editor, Lancelot-Grail, Vol. 1, pp.167-, The Story of Merlin, tr. Rupert T. Pickens; (New York: Garland Publishing 1993-)
*3 "Vulgate II" (followed by page number) refers to Vol. 2 of H. Oskar Sommer.'s 8-volume set of the French vulgate cycle (with columnar summaries in English).
*3a Sommer's index, where he gives
    "Courechouse, Couresceuse (Corchense; Corsheuse; Corroceuse*), 'la bonne espee du roi Ban de Benoic,' II, 120; 146; 147; 235".
is rather peculiar. Inside the parenthesis he mixes up both the Middle English translation forms as well as variants from manuscripts in France. Also, on section 120, the sword is not mentioned by name, even though it is indexed, so the first actual mention by name occurs section 146.

*4 Sommer, Roman de Merlin, or, The Early History of King Arthur, faithfully edited from the French MS. Add. 10292 in the British Museum (about A.D. 1316) by H. Oskar (Privately printed 1894) 498pp.

§ Vulgate cycle, Estoire de Merlin "History of Merlin" (c. 1210-25)
& the prose Middle English Merlin (c. 1450)

§ Vulgate Merlin -- sources

* The standard edition of L'estoire de Merlin (sometimes shorthanded "Vulgate II") is Volume II of H. Oskar Sommer's 7-volume edition, based on the British Library mss. Additional 10292-4. This manuscript set is amply illustrated with miniatures. On Add. 10292, fol. 118, there is a miniature captioned "Ensi que li roys bans & pluisour autre se combatent as saisnes & en ont moult ocis." (How king Ban and many others fought Saxons, slaying many.)*1

The Middle English prose Merlin is a mid-15th cent. translation found in the Cambridge MS Ff.3.11., and printed by the EETS (Early English Text Society)*2. Worldcat catalog's detailed description says it is "A close and almost servile translation of the 'Merlin ordinaire'," from a 14th century ms. now lost, but closely resembling the Bib. nat. ms. fr. 105.", that is to say, it is close to an extant French national library manuscript. But it also closely parallels the standard "Vulgate II", so the texts can be compared side by side.

In the Vulgate, the sibling kings*3 Ban of Benoic and Bors of Gaunes are very early allies of King Arthur, helping him fight the "six kings," (an insurgent force sometimes referred to as the "rebel barons"). The rebellious six even included Lot, the father of Sir Gawain.

Ban's realm is in "Little Britanny", i.e., Bretagne, France and Benoic is "now called Bourges in Berry" i.e., Aquitaine. Ban's claim to the land is being contested by Claudas "of the Land Laid Waste" de la Terre Deserte) who is harrying his land without formal declaration of war. (History of Merlin, Ch.5, [98])*4
    Therefore he was leaving behind much unfinished business, with considerable stakes, when he sails to aid Arthur.
    When Arthur's forces rout out the rebel forces, both Bors (History of Merlin Ch.7, [119]) and Ban ([120]) are described as using each of their swords to fight, and Sommer in his compiled index marks the latter as the first instance of the occurrence of Ban's sword Coreuseuse (even though it is not mentioned by name at this point).

    It probably serves to sketch out the intervening plot here. Aside from recruiting Ban and Bors, Merlin suggests that Arthur woo Guinevere, the daughter of King Leodagan of Carmelide.
    But Leodagan is beset by enemies. Not only is the kingdom of Carmelide being invaded by King Rions, but Carhaix, the land ruled by his seneschal Cleodalis*5 is being laid waste by Saxons. And the Saxons manage to take King Leodagan prisoner.

    Arthur gathers a party of forty-one (or forty-two) men to succor Leodagan. They are a small force compared with even the two-hundred fifty knights of the Round Table (who after Uther Pendragon was gone, had defected to serve Leodagan). Thus Arthur's men were quite apprehensive.
    But Merlin, brandishing the
dragon banner promised miraculous victory. Their small numbers aid the knights of the Round. They secure the release King Leodagan, who join the fight, and Guenevere rejoices at the sight. Then follows the exploits of Ban against the Saxons and giants. The first actual mention of Ban's sword by name occurs here:

.. Illuec fist lis rois bans de benoyc moult de biaus cops de corensense sespee. car celui quil ateignoit a cop il ne li garantisoit escus ne haubers ne hiaumes tant soit durs quil ne colpast doutre li rois bans fu grans & fors & corsus & moult courageus si tint corensense sa boine espee & fiert si durement le roy clarion parmi le hiaume quil le trenche res a res de loreille tout contre ual.
— Sommer ed. Le Roman de Merlin
"Ch. XIV Expeditions of Arthur, Ban, and Bors to Succour Leodegan at Tamelide", p. 155
[Fol. 118 col. f.- Fol. 119, col. a.] "(186)"
≈ Vulgate II [146]

241 Ther yaf the Kynge Ban of Benoyk many strokes with Corchense, his gode swerde; for whom he arafte a full stroke, ther waranted hym neither shelde ne haubreke ne noon armure that he kutte all thourghoute at oon stroke. And many sithes he smote bothe horse and man to grounde at a stroke, and so dide hys brother, the Kynge Boors of Gannes. And the sarazins hem beheilde for grete merveile that thei saugh hem do. And the Kynge Arthur dide soche merveiles with Calibourne, his gode swerde, for ther agein myght noon armure endure were it never so stronge, for what he araught was at his endynge forever.
—prose Merlin, John Conlee ed., Camelot TEAMS Project,
Chapter (11):Arthur at Tamelide, ll. 241-
— ll. 9272-9300,
Wace's Roman de Brut,
éd. Arnold, Ivor, Le Roman de Brut de Wace
(Paris, Société des Anciens Textes Français,
1er vol. 1938, 2e vol. 1940).
. . And the Kynge Ban hym [=Kynge Rion] smote with
400 Corsheuse, his goode swerde, that he rente his hauberke betwene his sholderes
and wounde hym right depe.
—prose Merlin, John Conlee ed., Camelot TEAMS Project,
Chapter (15): Arthur and Gonnore; and The Battle of King Rion, ll. 399-401

Thanks to Ban, Arthur is saved from his hand to hand struggle with the giant-statured King Rion:

and thanks to this, King Rion's sword Marmyadoise that was lodged in Arthur's shield and wouldn't get unstuck becomes Arthur's to keep for himself. So later on, he has Caliburn to spare, and decides to girt it onto Sir Gawain at his dubbing as knight.

..Arthur toke Calibourne, his gode
swerde that he drough oute of the ston, and by the counseile of
Merlin therwith he girde Gawein his nevewe;
—prose Merlin, Chapter: Arthur and Gawain, ll. 126-8;

{Rion is persistent. Later on, he has a letter delivered to Arthur demanding that he submit his beard as tribute so he «*cloak lined with the kings beards» (EstoireMer 420). Soon after Arthur fights Rion, and manages to subdue him, with his helmet torn off his head. Seeing that Rion will never admit defeat, Arthur beheads him. }
*1 Going to Brit. Lib. Images Online, Advanced Search and specifying Shelfmark "Add 10292" will fetch 9 images as of now, the depiction of Gawain made a knight features Ban kneeling to put spurs on Gawain.

*2 Merlin; or, the early history of King Arthur: a prose romance (about 1450-1460 A.D.). Edited from the unique ms. in the University Library, Cambridge, (4vol., EETS Original Series 10, 21, 36, and 112) ed. Wheatley, Henry Benjamin and William Edward Mead, David William Nash, John S Stuart-Glennie.

*3 It is also worth noting that Ban's wife Elaine (OF Helaine) and Bors' wife Evaine were sisters. Thus Launcelot was related twofold to Bohort and Lionel, being first cousin on both the paternal and maternal sides.

*4 Chapter numbering as in the Lacy ed., Lancelot-Grail Vol. 1, here "Ch.5:The Brother Kings, Ban and Bors, Pay Homage to Arthur." The bracketed number [98] indicates the page in Sommer's edition (Old French, with sidebar summaries in English).

*5 King Leodagan had once lain with the wife of Cleodalis, his sensechal, and this resulted in the birth of a daughter, born on the same day as princess Guinevere, and given the same name. This is how it came about that there were two Guiniveres.

*     Then King Ban of Benoic landed many a fine blow with his sword Fury; he always went against the first man he saw, and no matter how strong his shield , hauberk, and helmet, he could not keep King Ban from slicing through them in a single stroke. And King Ban struck there many times such fierce blows that he would cut through a knighat and his horse and send them down in a heap. his brother King Bors did likewise. And the Saxons held them in high esteem for the wonders they did. And King Arthur also did wonders with Excalibur, his good sword: against that sword, i tell you in truth, no kind of armor could withstand, for its time was all used up as soon as he hit it with the right blow.
—Lacy ed., Lancelot-Grail Vol. II, Merlin, "Chapter 15:Guenevere Witness to the Battle Below Carhaix; the Two Guneveres", tr. Rupert T. Pickens

§ Spelling Variations in Texts and Indexes

Add. 10292 ca. fol 111 fol 119, col.b  
Sommer RomMerl sespee [?]
Ch.X, ca. p.128.
Sommer Vulg.II sespee [?]
Lanc.-Grail, Eng. trans.
Pickens tr.; Lacy gen. ed.
"his sword in hand"
Ch.7, P.232, [120]
"King Ban of Benoic landed manya a fine blow with his sword Fury
Ch.15,P.246 [146]
Cambridge MS Ff.3.11. fol. 55v line 35 ca. fol. 72r ca. fol. 72r
ME prose Merl."his swerde in his fiste"
EETS 10 or 21, p. 164 [?]
Corchense, his gode swerde
EETS 10 or 21, p. [?]
The kynge heilde Corchense, his gode suerde, and smote the Kynge Clarion
EETS 21, p. [?]



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