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«Ryon's Mantle»: [armor] [Arthurian]

[chronicles group:]
Ryon [normalized E.];
Ritho[?] "Ritho of the mountains of Aravius" or "Retho on Mount Arvaius(sic., J.A.Giles. tr. )" (Geoffrey HRB)[L.]
Riton (de) mont d'Aravie "Riton.. of Mount Aravius"(Wace)[OF]
Ryton (of) mount Derane (Robert Mannyng) [ME];
king Riun; uppen þan munte of Rauinite (Layamon, Ms. Cotton Caligula),
Ru(n) vppe þan monte of Rauin (Layamon, Ms. Cotton Otho) [ME];
giant from "montez of Araby" (allit. MortArthure) [ME];
[Vulgate group:]
King Rion (Estoire de Merlin, Lacy ed./Pickens tr.) [E.],
Rion, Rions, (le riche roi d'Yrlande) (Sommer Vulg.II,[428]); Ris (Li Chevaliers as deus espees [213-])
Kynge Rion (15.400) (Middle English prose Merlin) [ME]; Rion, Riouns, [Ri]ounʒ (Arthour and Merlin) [ME],
[Malory:]
Rience (Book I, etc.); the "one [i.e. another giant] in the mount of Araby" (Book V.v)

A cloak owned by Ryon bordered with the beards of he king he vanquished, to which he wanted to add Arthur's beard. Either Arthur submitted to giving his beard willingly or he would have to fight Ryon over it.

In the Vulgate Estoire de Merlin (extended version), the cloak itself is made of red samite, with inconsistent accounts provide as to how many kings' beards has been collected (twenty-five or nine).

In some versions, the beards are not for his own apparel. In the Parlement of the Thre Ages, which recaps the deeds of the nine worthies, Roystone has made a blyot or a gown (?) for his bride from the beards of kings.
And in the Knight of the Two Swords, King Ris is cutting off the beards of kings to make the lining of a mantle for his sweetheart. Here, the hero of the tale Meriadoc winds up defeating Ris.

[mantle:]
Ryons' Mantle [normalized E.];
pelles "furs (cloak) from the beards of kings he had slain" (Geoffrey HRB 10.3)[L.];
piax (mod.Fr. poil "fur") "rich garment of furs, with its border of dead kings' beards" (Wace)[OF]
pane (Robert Mannyng) [ME]; -- (allit. MortArthure) [ME]
[Vulgate group:]
cloak (Estoire de Merlin [92], Lacy ed./Pickens tr.) [E.],
mantel, mantiaus (Sommer Vulg.II,[92, 413]); mantell (Middle English prose Merlin) [ME];
Rubric:"comment li roys artus vint ataignant le roy ryon qui s'en fuioit en une valee et de la fiere bataille qui fu entre euls deus":
histoire de merlin, BNF Français 105, fol.237v

Cf. Merlin, Français 749, fol. 234

§ Geoffrey of Monmouth & the chronicle group of works

In Geoffrey's account, (HRB Bk.X.3.*1) it was Ritho of the mountains of Aravius or Retho on Mount Arvaius (i.e., ≈ King Ryon) who owned the "fur cloak from the beards of the kings he had slain."

Retho/Ritho is mentioned only in passing by Arthur as a giant worthy of comparison to the the ⇒ giant of Mont St. Michel. In this flashback, it is told that Retho/Ritho had made for himself a "fur cloak" out of beards, suggesting that Arthur flay his own beard out of his own volition and send it to him, in which case Retho would put Arthur's beard in a "principal place" on the cloak for the respect that is due him. If refused he would challenge Arthur in a fight one on one, wagering that the beard of the vanquished should go to the victor. Arthur won the fight and claimed the beard and "spoils" or "trophy" (meaning, perhaps the fur cloak).

The correspoding paragraph in Wace and Layamon's translations are quite similar to Geoffrey's original.

In Robert Mannyng of Brunne's Chronicle (c. 1338), the choice of language is interesting. The giant, here named Ryton, owns a "pane" which could mean either a "cut of cloth" or "bordering" or "fur, fur lining" but not a "cloak" as such*2.

Fful manye kynges had he (the giant Ryton) don slo,
& flow þe berdes of alle þo,
Til a pane, as a furour, he did hem tewe.

— ll.12451-3,
as quoted in the Oxford Eng. Dict., "Tew"
Full many kings had he (the giant Ryton) slain,
And flayed the beards from all of them,
Pounding them into a pelt to use as fur-lining.
—tr. mine

In Robert's rendition, it appears that the beards of miscellaneous kings are flattened into a bolt of fabric, while Arthur's beard is to be made into a naroow strip to adorn the borders:

[Ryton ordered Arthur to]
flowe of his owen berd, ..
For he wold vrle his pane wyþ-al
Aboute wiþ a ffylet smal.

— ll.12458,12463-4
as quoted in the Oxford Eng. Dict., "Urle"
[Ryton ordered Arthur to]
Flay his own beard,
For he would border his pelt
All around with a narrow strip
—tr. mine

In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the figure of Retho/Ritho is eliminated out of existence, and the ownership of the "mantle" is transfered to the giant of Mont-St-Michel.



*1 Historia Regum Britanniae (see Giles tr. or Thorpe tr.)












*2 Mannyng's Dynabrok and Ryton episodes are among the passages excerpted in Richard White's King Arthur in Legend and History, pp. 82-96. White glosses "pane" as meaning "cloak" in a rather crude rendition of these lines.

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

* See ⇒ Coreuseuse (of Ban) for bibliography.

.. Et cis rois rions est tant poissans de terre & de gent & si est preus es armes & crueus homs si a conquis par sa force .xxv. rois crounes as quel il a toutes les barbes tolues tout le quir par despit & mis en .j. mantel quil fait tous iors tenir deuant soi a .j. cheualier tous le iors quil tient cort. & si dist bien quil ne finera iamais duant ce quil aura conquis .xxx. rois.
— [Fol. 102, col. e]
Romance de Merlin (1894), p.97 ≈ Vulgate II [92]
"This Kynge Rion of whom I speke is right myghty of londe and of peple, and full of high prowesse, and is right a crewell man. And he hath conquered by force twenty kynges crowned, fro whom he hath taken alle their berdes by force and in dispite, and sette hem in a mantell whiche he maketh every day a knyght to holde afore hym atte mete at alle tymes whan he holdeth courte rioall; and he hath sworn that he shall never finysshe till he have conquereth thirty kynges.
—prose Merlin, John Conlee ed.,
Camelot TEAMS Project,
Chapter (6): The Barons' Revolt, ll. 37-42
(frame)

. . & de tous les rois que iai conquis ai ie toutes les espees par mon uasselage & si lor ai prins les barbes atout le quir. Et por ramenbrance de ma uictoire ai iou fait .j. mantel de samit uermeil se lai foure des barbes as rois. & est cis mantiaus tous pres & tous garnis dataches & de tout ce quil i conuient fors seulement de tassiaus. mes por ce que li tassel i falent & que iai oi noueles & mention de la grant bonte & de la grant uaillance au roy artu de qui la renoumee est si grans espandue par tout le monde si uoeil quil sooit plus honeres que nul des aurtre rois. & por ce te mans iou que tu menooies ta barbe a tout le quir. & ie le metera el tassel de mon mantel por lamor de* toi. Car ia deuant ce que mes mantiaus iert entasseles ne me pendra il al col.
— [Fol. 203?, col. b, col. - c (after asterisk)]
Romance de Merlin (1894), p.441 ≈ Vulgate II [412]
And of alle the kynges that I conquere, I have theire suerdes be my prowesse; and also I have made a mantell of reade samyte furred with the beerdes of these kynges. And this mantell is nygh all redy of all that therto longeth saf only tasselles; and for the tassels faile, I have herde tidinges of thy grete renoun that is spredde thourgh the worlde, I will that it be honoured more than eny of the other kinges; and therfore I comaunde thee that thow sende me thy beerde with all the skynne; and I shall hit sette on the tassels of my mantell for the love of thee, for never before this mantell be tasselled shall it not hange aboute my nekke.
—prose Merlin, John Conlee ed., Camelot TEAMS Project,
Chapter (22): King Arthur vs. King Rion, ll. 117-124
(frame)
* In the shortened Middle-English metrical version, Of Arthour & Of Merlin (c. 1300?), King Rion dons the "pourpoint of serpent" (quilted doublet of serpent-skin) i.e., a doublet padded with stuffing and on which stiching is visible -- although this article of clothing belonged to the ⇒ Mont-Saint-Michel giant in the the Vulgate Lestoire de Merlin.
*1Lacy, Norman J., general editor, Lancelot-Grail, Vol. 1, pp.167-, The Story of Merlin, tr. Rupert T. Pickens; (New York: Garland Publishing 1993-)
*2 [Sommer RM] I unfortunately have not had occasion to study the standard printed edition: Vol. II in Sommer's 8 volume set, often denoted "Vulgate II" in shorthand. Instead, 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 Sommer. (Privately printed 1894) 498pp.

§ The Parlement of the Thre Ages (1390)

"Roystone the riche kyng.. He made a blyot to his bride of the berdes of kynges"(ll.481-2).*1.

As indicated in White's footnote, blyot here probably refers to a type of long-sleeved ladies' gown, from OF bliaut*2.
*1Excerpted in the anthology edited by Richard White, King Arthur in Legend and History (J.M. Dent 1997), p.126 from The Parlement of the Thre Ages, ed. M. Y. Offord, Early English Texts Society, Originial (Londo:1959) Series 246
*2Somewhat ambiguous what article of clothing is meant by bliaut -- can also refer to a men's shirt

§ Li Chevaliers as deus espees [The Knight of the Two Swords] (1225)

This is a work also known as Meriadeuc: Le Chevalier aux Deux Épées. I have not fully read this work yet or examined the French text.
*1Foerster, Wendelin 1844-1915 ed. Li chevaliers as deus espees. Altfranzosischer Abenteuerroman zum ersten Male hrsg von (Halle [H. an der Saale]: Niemeyer, 1877)(429 p.) (Reprint: Rodopi Bv Editions 1966)

*2 Arthur, Ross G. and Noel L. Corbett tr., The Knight of the Two Swords (Univ. Press of Florida 1996)(224p. ISBN 0-8130-1439-5 $59.95) → (Excerpt ll. 1-1042) [PDF]


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