Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Captive Damsels of Pesme Avanture

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.

See also
Demons of Pesme Avanture | The Legend of King Arthur
Sensible Lady of Pesme Avanture | The Legend of King Arthur