Amide

Agrestizia, Dindrane

She was Sir Percivale’s sister and Galahad’s lady, the latter relationship being platonic. Her name can be found in one place only, a footnote of Sommer’s in Vulgate IV, p. 343. Another reference suggests that she was yet one more Elaine. Both Wolfram von Eschenbach [fl. 1200] in his German Parsifal and the thirteenth-century French romance Perlesvaus gave the name Dindrane or Dindraine to Percivale’s sister, while the fourteenth-century Italian romance La Tavola Ritonda called her Agrestizia, all of which Phyllis Ann Karr learned from Ronan Coghlan’s Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends from 1991. The same source reveals that at some point French romance assigned the name Amite (with a “t”) to Galahad’s mother.

Usually, Percivale’s sister seems to be left nameless, as in Malory; but if any nameless damsel needs a name, it is she, as the above-mentioned romancers presumably noticed. Sources we regard as more authoritative clearly make Galahad’s mother Elaine of Carbonek, but French romance apparently insisted on linking a lady with the name Amite, which is almost identical to Amide, to a Grail knight in some way; and I prefer “Amide” to “Dindraine” for its softer sound and suggestion of the Latin word for “love”.

Youngest daughter of Count Alout of the Land of the Heather. Upon Alout’s death, Amide’s uncle, Gallidés, besieged her in the castle of Hungerford (Hongrefort) because Amide’s sister would not marry Gallidés’s seneschal. Amide left the castle to seek out a champion, and she returned with Sir Bors, who defeated Gallidés in combat.

Amide came and found Sir Galahad at the hermitage of Sir Ulfin:

Galahad, said she, I will that ye arm you, and mount upon your horse and follow me, for I shall show you within these three days the highest adventure that ever any knight saw.

After stopping for a short rest at a castle near Collibe, she led him on to the seaside, where they found a ship with Sirs Bors and Percivale waiting. All being aboard, “the wind arose, and drove them through the sea in a marvellous pace”. Eventually their ship encountered King Solomon’s Ship (q.v.). Amide was able to tell the knights part, if not all, of the history of King David’s Sword and to assure Galahad, who was somewhat reluctant to attempt drawing the sword, that he was the one knight to whom the warnings did not apply. When Galahad needed a new belt to gird on the sword, Amide produced one:

Lo, Lords, said she, here is a girdle that ought to be set about the sword. And wit ye well the greatest part of this girdle was made of my hair, which I loved well while that I was a woman of the world. But as soon as I wist that this adventure was ordained me I clipped off my hair, and made this girdle in the name of God. Ye be well found, said Sir Bors, for certes ye have put us out of great pain, wherein we should have entered ne had your tidings been.

Girding Galahad with the sword, she exclaimed,

“Now reck I not though I die, for now I hold me one of the blessed maidens of the world, which hath made the worthiest knight of the world. Damosel, said Galahad, ye have done so much that I shall be your knight all the days of my life.”

Amide and the knights returned to land. She was with them when they destroyed the evil brothers of Carteloise Castle and when they saw the white hart with four lions and the marvels of the chapel in the forest. At the castle of the Leprous Lady, though her companions could have defended her, Amide willingly submitted to the custom and gave her blood to heal the Leprous Lady.

So one came forth and let her blood, and she bled so much that the dish was full. Then she lift up her hand and blessed her; and then she said to the lady: Madam, I am come to the death for to make you whole, for God’s love pray for me.

Before dying, she directed her knights to put her body into a boat and promised they would find her again at Sarras, where they must bury her. Ironically, the night after Amide’s blood healed the Leprous Lady, the castle was destroyed by tempest and lightning, and all within killed, in Heaven’s vengeance for the death of Amide and the maidens who had died giving their blood before her. Lancelot found and boarded the ship bearing Amide.

And as soon as he was within the ship there [Lancelot] felt the most sweetness that ever he felt, and he was fulfilled with all thing that he thought on or desired. Then he said: Fair sweet Father, Jesu Christ, I wot not in what joy I am, for this joy passeth all earthly joys that ever I was in. …

So with this gentlewoman Sir Launcelot was a month and more. If ye would ask how he lived, He that fed the people of Israel with manna in the desert, so was he fed.

Next Galahad found the ship and joined his father. They spent half a year together in the ship, sometimes landing for awhile to find “many strange adventures and perilous”. After Galahad left the ship, it brought Lancelot to Carbonek, where he half-achieved the Grail. True to Amides prediction, when Galahad and his companions Bors and Percivale arrived at Sarras, they found the ship with her body already there, and had time to bury her richly before King Estorause clapped them into prison.

The warning connected with the girdle of King David’s Sword was that if ever the maid who replaced the original hempen girdle should break her virginity she would “die the most villainous death that ever died any woman”. It is possible that Amides death at the castle of the Leprous Lady hints at some irregularity in her life; but the facts that the castle was destroyed by the wrath of God, and that Amide’s body, saint-like, apparently stayed fresh and sweet, and even seems to have filled the ship with an atmosphere of spiritual joy, belies the idea. Besides, Amide’s death seems preferable to that of other ladies in the tales.