22 Jan The story of Parzival – Chapter 3 – Gurnemans
Chapter 3 – Parzival becomes a knight
Herzeleide or Herzeloyde was determined that her son know nothing of the chivalric way of life, the cause of all her sorrows. Forsaking court life and its privileges, she retired deep into the forest. Parzival grew up in nature, loving the plants, birds, and animals. He was skilled in hunting with a spear, and knew nothing of the way of life his father had followed. Uninstructed, he wondered about many things, including who or what is God.
One day some knights from Artus’s court came riding through the forest. Parzival at first thought they must be devils, so huge and threatening did they look; then he took them for angels, due to the bright reflections on their armor. The knights so impressed the innocent boy that he soon lost interest in spearing deer. He longed to depart and enter knighthood. Devastated by this turn of fate, Herzeloyde hoped to foil his plans by dressing him in sackbloth breeches and clumsy boots, like a court jester. She implored him to follow four rules: to greet everyone courteously, avoid murky fords, follow the advice of grey-haired elders, and upon meeting a lady, waste no time to kiss and embrace her, and then take her ring as a token. She also informed him of ancestral quarrels and threats against her lands. Parzival swore to avenge her and set off, not even looking back.
So aggrieved was Herzeleide that she expired on the spot.
Armed with his hunting spear and clad like a fool, Parzival rode into the forest of Briziljan in Brittany. There he came upon a woman weeping, Sigune. In her lap lay the body of a young knight, just slain. She noted the fresh and charming looks of the fool-like lad, and then, suddenly, she realized who he was: Parzival, “pierced through the heart,” so named because both love and sorrow in great measure pierce the heart of a widow with child.. Sigune informed the boy that she and he were cousins.
Parzival then rode on until he reached Nantes. He cut a rather ridiculous sight compared to the poised, finely arrayed knights he sighted along the way. Arriving at Artus´s castle in Nantes, Parzival hoped to be made a knight, even though he had never fought a battle. Artus recognized his talent and sent him out directly to battle Ither, the Red Knight. He was wounded, but he slew Ither with his spear and took the man´s armor, putting it on over his fool-like outfit. After ceremonies at Artus´s court, and some lessons in chivalry and jousting, he left that place and rode away to another city where he met an elder, grey-headed knight. This was Gurnemans, who became his tutor, teaching him about the Glance of Love that every knight desires, for valiant deeds are best done at the bidding of a lady. Dressed in elegant attire, Parzival attended court with his tutor, but his manners were rude and he talked incessantly of his mother and childish things. Gurnemans advised him never to lose his sense of shame, hold women in high esteem, always wash after jousting, show compassion for those who are needy and in distress, be rich and poor with discretion, and do not ask too many questions. Thus he acquired the rudiments of the chivalric code and manners. Trained in horsemanship and fighting skills, Parzival soon became a celebrated jousting champion.
Gurnemans advised his daughter Liaße to proffer kisses to the innocent young knight. He has Fortune herself for a guide, he told the girl. But Parzival wished to do more fighting before he warmed to a woman´s arms. Gurnemans told him how his son had died in defence of a fair woman, Kondwiramur whose life and person were still under threat. At this Parzival was much sorrowed, for he had heard of so much death and loss, often touching his own family. He promised to accept the hand of Liaße, but only after he had been able to reconcile these sorrows by chivalric means.
Continue reading chapter 4