Saturday, April 30, 2011

King Herla, part 2

After a year, Herla personally set out to fulfill his agreement. He had promised and, provisioned with enough to repay the other king in like kind, he followed his word.
Thereupon, Herla and his men went into a cave in a very high cliff, and after some time in the shadows, they crossed over into the light, which did not seem as sunlight or moonlight but from a multitude of lamps, and arrived at the homes of the pygmy, an honorable dwelling which appeared in every way like Ovid described the palace of the sun. Then, they celebrated the wedding there, and fittingly repaid the pygmy in like kind. After he had been given permission, Herla withdrew, burdened with gifts, gifts of horses, dogs, hawks, and all manner of items which seem of surpassing excellence for hunting or for fowling. The pygmy conducted them back to the shadows and presented Herla with a small lap dog, forbidding the entire band in all manner from descending from their horses until the dog that he was carrying leaps down. And having wished them well, he returned home. After a little while, Herla arrived at the threshold of the sunlight and, having regained his kingdom, he addressed an old shepherd, seeking news about his queen. The shepherd, looking at him with wonder, said, "Lord, I can scarcely understand your speech, for I am Saxon and you are a Briton. Moreover I have not heard the name of your queen, unless she is the the queen they have spoken of from the ancient Britons who was the wife of King Herla, of whom it is being told in stories that he disappeared with a pygmy into this cliff on day. Moreover he never reappeared on this earth. For one hundred years, the Saxons have possessed this kingdom, having expelled the inhabitants." Then, the king was astonished, who reckoned himself to have tarried but three days. Moreover certain of his party, forgetting the warning of the pygmy, dismounted before the little dog and were immediately dissolved into powder. The king, immediately understanding the reason for this, forbade his men to dismount, under menace of a similar death, before the dog's paws should touch the earth. Moreover the dog has not yet jumped down. One story tells that King Herla wanders forever in an infinite circuit with his army remaining the wild ones, without rest or home. Many men have frequently seen him with his army, as they swear. The last time, as they say, was on the first year of the coronation of our king Henry, Herla departed our kingdom as quickly as he visited before. Then they had seemed to many Waldensians to have plunged into the river Wye next to Hereford. Moverover this legendary band has been quiet from that hour, as if they gave up their wandering for us, for their own rest. But if you wish to consider how it was lamented, not only by ourselves but everyone, the silence is more pleasing to me and certainly it seems more just. Is it not agreeable to give ear to these deeds for a little while?

(considering the Waldensians were viewed as heretics, it is probably not a good thing that Map says they saw the Wild Hunt. It just highlights their being in a state of damnation. Mind you, without looking at another translation of this story, it could be he means people of the forests because 'wald' is German for forest. I believe Map has only been translated once into English and that is one very expensive Oxford edition.)


Tracy said...

Knew there'd be a catch!

Anachronist said...

Right, there is always a catch. Poor king and his dog ;p not to mention his people.

The Red Witch said...

It is dangerous to have dealings with the Fairy people.
Best not to speak to the Wild Hunt, if you cross their path. There were other later sightings of them, joined by people like Edric the Wild.