Avenable, the daughter of Duke Mathem of Soane. When her father’s lands were stolen by Duke Frollo of Germany, she fled to Julius Caesar’s Roman court, disguised herself as a squire, took the name Grisandoles. Here she worked her way up to seneschal, being knighted on the way.
One night the Emperor dreamed of a sow with a gold circle on her head and of twelve “loueaus”. At that time Merlin was in the forest of Romenie. He took the semblance of a stag, ran through the palace, and told the Emperor that only “the wild man” could explain the dream. Merlin also played this same wild man. The Emperor promised his daughter to whomever found either the stag or the wild man. Eventually Grisandoles, instructed by the stag, found the wild man.
The wild man laughed trice on the way back: when he looked at Grisandoles, when he saw many poor people before an abbey, and when he saw a squire strike his master three times during Mass at a chapel. Brought before the Emperor, the wild man explained that he was a Christian and that he had laughed the first time because a good and beautiful woman had found both stag and wild man where many men had failed, the second time because the beggars at the abbey had a rich treasure buried under their feet, and the third time because a great treasure was hidden at the place where the squire struck his master.
The Emperor’s dream, which Merlin, as the wild man, related before expounding, to prove his knowledge, meant that the Empress’ twelve handmaidens were twelve young men in disguise. The Empress and her twelve lovers were burned at the stake. Merlin advised the Emperor to marry Avenable and not act contrary to her will when they were married. Merlin also assured the Emperor that his daughter was really his and would not resemble the late Empress, her mother. Letters appearing over the door then revealed that the stag and the wild man were both Merlin. The Emperor sent for Avenable’s parents and brother Patrices (Patrick), married Avenable, married his daughter to Patrices, and lived long and happily with his new wife. A similar story is recounted in the romance of Silence.
This seems to be a tale of Merlin’s youth, and the Emperor in question may have been a predecessor of the Lucius whom Arthur conquered and killed. Even if the Emperor is identified with Lucius, a romancer might be justified in having the widowed Avenable-Grisandoles come back to Britain with other Continental knights, like Sir Priamus.
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Prose Merlin | Mid-15th century