Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I was sent with a letter to Duke Witold when the king also sent Duke Henryk, Bishop of Plock, there. By that time Witold was tired of the war, probably because he could not capture Vilnius, and our king was tired of his own brothers and their vices. The king having noticed that Witold was shrewder and smarter than his brothers, sent the bishop to him to persuade him to leave the Knights and return to his allegiance, for which he promised to make him ruler over Lithuania. Witold, always fond of changes, listened with pleasure to the emissary. There were also a feast and tournaments. Although the other bishops did not approve of it, the emissary joined the lists and showed his knightly strength. All the dukes of Masovia are very strong. It is well known that even the girls of that blood can easily break horseshoes.

In the beginning the duke threw three knights from their saddles. Second time he threw five of them. He threw me from my saddle, and in the beginning of the encounter, Zbyszko’s horse reared and he was thrown.

The duke took all the prizes from the hands of the beautiful Ryngalla, before whom he kneeled in full armor. They fell so much in love with each other that during the feasts the clerics had to pull him away from her by his sleeves. And her brother, Duke Witold, had to restrain her. The bishop said: 'I will give myself a dispensation, and the pope, if not the one in Rome, then the one in Avignon, will confirm it, but I must marry her immediately otherwise I will burn up!' It was a great offence against God, but Witold did not dare to oppose him, because he did not want to displease the emissary and so there was a wedding. Then they went to Suraz, and afterward to Sluck, to the great sorrow of Zbyszko, who, according to the German Knightly custom, had selected the Duchess Ryngalla to be the lady of his heart and had promised her eternal fidelity."

"Yes!" suddenly interrupted Zbyszko, "it's true. But afterward the people said that Ryngalla regretted being the wife of the bishop (because he, although married, did not want to resign from priesthood) and feeling that God's blessing could not be over such a marriage, poisoned her husband. When I heard that, I asked a pious hermit to absolve me from that vow."

"He was a hermit," answered Macko, laughing, "but was he pious? I don't know; we went to him on Friday, and he was splitting bear's bones with an axe, and loudly sucking the marrow."

"But he said that the marrow was not meat, and besides he had received permission to do it, because after sucking marrow, he used to have marvelous visions during his sleep and the next day he could prophesize until noontime."

"Well, well!" answered Macko. "And the beautiful Ryngalla is a widow now and she may call you to her service."

"It would be in vain, because I am going to choose another lady, whom I will serve till death, and then I will find a wife."

"First you must attain a knighthood."

"There will be plenty of tournaments. And before that the king will not dub a single knight. I can measure myself against any. The duke could not have thrown me down, if my horse had not reared."

"There will be fighters far better than you are."

No comments: