THE LEGEND OF BRITOMART - Stories from the Faerie Queen Book III - Unknown - ebook

Britomart is a female knight, the embodiment and champion of Chastity. She is young and beautiful, and falls in love with Artegal upon first seeing his face in her father's magic mirror. Though there is no interaction with him, she falls in love with him, and travels, dressed as a knight and accompanied by her nurse, Glauce, in search of her beloved Artegal. She carries an enchanted spear that allows her to defeat every Knight she encounters.After many adventures, it is only at the end of her quest Britomart is challenged by two knights who both seek to avenge their previous defeat at the hand of the Unknown “Knight with the Ebony Spear”, who is in reality Britomart. Both challenge, but again are unseated by Britomart. In his defeat the beautiful face of Sir Artegal is revealed and her mind at once recalls the day she first saw his face in her father’s enchanted mirror. Only then does her courage began to falter, and her spirit grow tame, so that she softly withdraws her uplifted hand.Sir Scudamore, who has been observing the joust is glad at heart and exclaims with jest, "Truly, Sir Artegal, I rejoice to see you bow so low, and that you have lived to become a lady's thrall!"When Britomart hears the name of Artegal, her heart leaps and trembles with joy. She flushes deeply, and tries to hide her agitation by feigning anger. But all is put right and Britomart and Artegal fall deeply in love and can’t bear to be parted.But a happy ending is not yet in sight as Sir Artegal is on a quest and takes his leave. Britomart is upset and can hardly bear to be parted. Britomart then joins Sir Scudamour on his quest to find his Lady Amoret and they return to where Britomart had last seen her. 

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Stories From The Faerie Queene

Book III

retold by

Mary Macleod

Illustrations by
A. G. Walker

Originally printed by

Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. Ltd., London


Resurrected by

Abela Publishing, London


The Legend of Britomart

Typographical arrangement of this edition

© Abela Publishing 2016

This book may not be reproduced in its current format in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system)

except as permitted by law without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Abela Publishing


United Kingdom


ISBN-13: 978-1-910882-70-2


[email protected]



Then her wrathful courage began to falter, and her

haughty spirit to grow tame, so that she

softly withdrew her uplifted hand.


Abela Publishing

acknowledges the work that

Mary Macleod

did in compiling, editing and retelling

The Legend of Britomart

in a time well before

any electronic media was in use.

* * * * * * *

33% of the net profit from the sale of this book

will be donated to Charities.


How Sir Guyon met a Champion mightier than


How Britomart fought with Six Knights

How it fared with Britomart in Castle Joyous

How Britomart looked into the Magic Mirror

How Britomart went to the Cave of the Magician


How Britomart set forth on her Quest

How Britomart came to the Castle of the Churl


How Britomart walked through Fire

What Britomart saw in the Enchanted Chamber

How Britomart rescued a Fair Lady from a Wicked


What Strange Meetings befell on the Way

How Sir Satyrane proclaimed a Great Tournament

What befell on the First and Second Days of the


How Britomart did Battle for the Golden Girdle

How the Golden Girdle was awarded to the False


How Sir Scudamour came to the House of Care

How the "Savage Knight" met the "Knight with the

Ebony Spear"

How Britomart ended her Quest

The Legend



How Sir Guyon met a Champion mightier than himself

AFTER the capture of the wicked enchantress Acrasia, Prince Arthur and Sir Guyon travelled long and far together in all sorts of dangerous places. They met with many perilous adventures, which won them great glory and honour, for their aim was always to relieve the weak and oppressed, and to recover right for those who had suffered wrong.

At last one day, as they rode across an open plain, they saw a Knight spurring towards them. An aged squire rode beside him, and on the Knight's shield was emblazoned a lion on a golden field.

When they saw him, Sir Guyon begged Prince Arthur to let him be the one to face the attack, and the Prince agreeing, Guyon levelled his spear and galloped towards the Knight. They met with such fury that the stranger reeled in his saddle, and Guyon himself, before he was aware, was hurled from his horse.

His fall filled him with shame and sorrow, for never yet since he bore arms had such a disgrace happened to him. He need not, however, have been so grieved, for it was no fault of his own that he was dismounted. The spear that brought him to the ground was enchanted, and no one could resist it.

But Guyon would have felt far more sorry and ashamed had he known that the Knight who overthrew him was in reality a maiden. The stranger was no other than the famous Princess Britomart, daughter of Ryence, King of South Wales. She was roaming the world in search of Artegall, the champion Knight of justice, whose image she had once beheld in a magic mirror given by the magician Merlin to her father. So grand and noble was the image of this splendid Knight that Britomart felt she could never rest until she had seen him in reality. She dressed herself in the armour of a knight, and her old nurse, Glaucé, disguised herself as her squire, and together the two left the court of King Ryence and wandered through the world in search of Sir Artegall.

Sir Guyon, full of anger at his fall, and eager to revenge himself, rose hastily, drew his sword, and rushed at the foe; but his attendant, the Black Palmer, who had been his faithful companion and guide in all his former adventures, implored his master not to run into fresh danger. By his great wisdom he could tell that Britomart's spear was enchanted, and that no mortal power could withstand it.

Prince Arthur joined his entreaties to the Palmer's, and they both spoke so wisely that Guyon's anger melted away. Britomart and he became reconciled, and swore a firm friendship. In those days, when knights fought together, it was often not at all in malice, but only to test their strength and manliness. The one who conquered won much renown, but the vanquished felt no spite nor envy. It is a great thing to be able to lose with a good grace, without becoming sulky and disagreeable. Later ages might do well in this respect to learn a lesson from the days of chivalry.

So Britomart, Prince Arthur, and Sir Guyon then travelled on together in the most friendly fashion, seeking further adventures. For some time nothing happened, but at length they came to a wide forest, which seemed very horrible and dreary. They rode a long way through this, but found no track of living creature, except bears, and lions, and bulls, which roamed all around. Suddenly, out of the thickest part of the wood, something rushed past them.

''But Guyon selfe, ere well he was aware,Nigh a speares length behind his crouper fell.''

How Britomart fought

with Six Knights

The creature that rushed from the wood, across the path of Britomart, Sir Guyon, and Prince Arthur, was a milk-white pony. On its back was a lovely lady, whose face shone as clear as crystal, though it was now white with fear. Her garments were all worked with beaten gold, and the trappings of her steed were covered with glittering embroidery. The pony fled so fast that nothing could hold it, and they could scarcely see the lady. She kept casting backward glances, as if she feared some evil that closely pursued her, and her bright yellow hair flew out far behind in the wind like the trail of a blazing comet.

The name of the lady was Florimell.

As the Knights stood gazing after her, there rushed from the same thicket a rough, clownish woodman, fiercely urging on his tired horse through thick and thin, over bank and bush, hoping by some means to get hold of Florimell. He was a huge, cruel-looking fellow, and in his hand he carried a sharp boar-spear.

Directly Prince Arthur and Sir Guyon saw this they stayed not a moment to see which would be first, but both spurred after as fast as they could to rescue the lady from the villain.

Britomart waited some time to see if they would return, but finding they did not come back she again set forward on her journey with steadfast courage. She intended no evil, nor did she fear any.

At last, when she had nearly reached the edge of the wood, she spied far away a stately Castle, to which she immediately directed her steps. This castle was a fine building, and placed for pleasure near the edge of the forest, but in front of the gate stretched a wide, green plain.

On this plain Britomart saw six knights, who were all engaged in cruel battle against one Knight. They attacked him with great violence all at the same time, and sorely beset him on every side, so that he was nearly breathless; but nothing could dismay him, and he never yielded a foot of ground, although he was sorely wounded. He dealt his blows stoutly, and whichever way he turned he made his enemies recoil, so that not one of all the six dared face him alone. They were like cowardly curs having some savage creature at bay, who run about here and there to snatch a bite at their prey whenever his back is turned.

When Britomart saw this gallant Knight in such distress and danger, she ran quickly to his rescue, and called to the six others to cease their attack on a single enemy.

They paid no attention, but rather increased their spiteful fury, till Britomart, rushing through the thickest crowd, broke up their band, and compelled them, by force, to listen to peace. Then she began mildly to inquire the cause of their dispute and outrageous anger.

Thereupon the single Knight answered, "These six tried by force to make me give up my own dear lady, and love another. I would rather die than do such a thing. For I love one lady, the truest one on earth, and I have no desire to change. For her dear sake I have endured many a bitter peril and met with many a wound."

"Then, certainly, you six are to blame," said Britomart, "for it would be a great shame for a knight to leave his faithful lady--it would be better to die. Neither can you compel love by force."

Then spoke one of the six. "There dwells within this Castle a fair lady whose beauty has no living rival. She has ordained this law, which we approve--that every knight who comes this way, and has no lady of his own, shall enter her service, never to leave it. But if he has already a lady whom he loves, then he must give her up, or else fight with us to prove that she is fairer than our lady."

"Truly," said Britomart, "the choice is hard. But, suppose the knight overcame, what reward would he get?"

"Then he would be advanced to high honour, and win the hand of our lady," was the answer. "Therefore, sir, if you love anyone--"

"I certainly will not give up my love, nor will I do service to your lady," replied Britomart. "But I will revenge the wrong you have done to this Knight."

''But faire before the gate a spatious playneMantled with greene, it selfe did spredden wyde,On which she saw six knights, that did darrayneFiers battail against one with cruel might and mayne.''

Then she rode at the six with her enchanted spear, and overthrew three of them before they were well aware of it. The fourth was dismayed by the Knight to whose rescue she had come, and the two others gave in before she touched them.

"Too well we see our own weakness and your matchless power," they said. "Henceforth, fair sir, according to her own law, the lady is yours, and we plight our loyalty to you as liegemen."

So they threw their swords under Britomart's feet, and afterwards besought her to enter into the castle,

and reap the reward of her victory.

Britomart consenting, they all went in together.

How it fared with Britomart in Castle Joyous

The stately mansion into which Britomart and the rescued Knight now entered was called "Castle Joyous," and the owner of it was known to her retainers by the name of "the Lady of Delight." It would be impossible to tell all the wonderful richness and beauty of this building, which was adorned fit for the palace of a prince.

Passing through a lofty and spacious chamber, every pillar of which was pure gold, set with pearls and precious stones, the knights came to an inner room, hung with the most costly tapestry. The place was filled with the sweetest music and the singing of birds, but the wasteful luxury they saw on every side did not please Britomart nor the Knight, and they looked with a scornful eye on such lavish profusion.