Pesme Avanture, Captive Damsels of
There were up to 300 of them, kept hard at labor with gold thread and silks, were forced to work in rags and malnourish themselves on a sixtieth part of their earnings, the rest going to the lord of Pesme Avanture.
All the while, their hearts were aching because each knight who attempted their rescue was slain by the two demons of the place. The maiden who describes their plight to Ywaine says that they have been sent here as part of the yearly ransom the young king of the Isle of Maidens pledged in return for his life, but later, after Ywaine frees them, the damsels return to their own "countries".
Unless the plural is a clerical translation slip, perhaps the king of the Isle of Maidens was not the only ruler to have been forced to pay a tribute of maidens.
All this looks very much as if Chrétien had an eye to his own time, and was protesting sweatshop conditions in the 12th-century textile industry.
Pesme Avanture, Demons of
Offspring of a human woman and a goblin (I am not sure what word D.D.R. Owen translates as "goblin", but he seems to use it and "devil" synonymously), they served - or, perhaps, ruled - the castle, lands, and lord of Pesme Avanture by fighting every knight who came, two to one.
They ransomed the young king of the Isle of Maidens at the cost of an annual tribute of thirty maids, who were forced into slave labor in the textile industry. Whether or not the demons treated any other adventuring rulers in like fashion, most of the opponents they simply killed; this was called "the custom of the castle".
They were giants as well as demons, dark and ugly, each one armored from shoulder to knee and armed with a light but strong round shield and a jagged, copper-covered, brassbound club of cornelwood.
On seeing Ywaine, they insisted he shut his lion in a small room, which he finally did under protest. The loyal beast broke out and got one giant down. The other turned to help his brother, and Ywaine, showing more practicality than chivalry, seized the chance to lop off his head from behind. The downed brother then owned himself vanquished; Chrétien seems to imply that the lion had wounded him mortally.
Demonic | Myths and Legends
Goblin | Myths and Legends
Pesme Avanture, Lord of, and His Wife and Daughter
What do we make of these three? To all appearances, the lord lives on or at least enjoys the wealth produced by hundred of maidens kept in wretched slave labor; yet he, his wife, and their daughter seem a happy, courteous, and completely functional family who shower visitors with lavish hospitality.
True, the lord, perhaps not wishing to spoil his guest's evening and night, waits until morning, when Ywaine is about to leave, to spring the news offically that each knightly visitor must singlehandedly fight two gigantic demons and, if he manages to slay them both, he must marry the daughter of the house and become its new owner. The lord speaks as if it is the custom of the house that forces him to insist, against his own better nature, upon this unequal combat, which has already been the death of many a knight; but he also calls the demons his servants.
Just who is the master here? He acts overjoyed when Ywaine, with the lion's help, wins. He is less overjoyed when Ywaine refuses his daughter - indeed, the lord first threatens to hold him prisoner, then haughtily refuses to take his pledge to return "if possible". No pledge is necessary, the lord replies, for if the girl attracts Ywaine, he'll be back soon enough without pledging, and if she doesn't, her father thinks too highly of her to force her into any marriage.
The wife and the beautiful, charming daughter presumably say something during Ywaine's visit, but their words are not recorded. Theoretically they all continue rejoicing when they see their ex-slave labor force leave with the man who has saved them.
Pesme Avanture, Sensible Lady of
When Ywaine and 'Secunda' come to Pesme Avanture, the townspeople anger him with taunts and insults. At length a sensible elderly explains that they are only trying to scare him away for his own safety, and that their own safety non of them dare shelter him.
Although her courteous advice deters him no more than the other people's taunts, he replies to her with courtesy matching her own before he, his damsel, and his lion proceed to the castle.