Middle English Breton lais
14th century, Middle English: British Library, Advocates Library of Scotland.
Only the emperor’s daughter understood what was happening and knew who the black knight was.
The emperor, a doughty fighter, took personal command of half of his own forces, and his field marshal took control of the other half.
Syr Gowther went to a chambur smart – Sir Gowther went quickly to a chamber and prayed to God that he might be sent armour, a shield, a spear and a warhorse that would be able to sustain him in a fight.
He had hardly finished this prayer when all appeared at the door as he had asked! The horse and the armour were black. He leapt onto the mighty steed, hung the shield around his neck, took the lance in his hand, and galloped through the castle gates. Only the emperor’s daughter understood what was happening and knew who he was. He spurred across marsh and moor towards the battlefield, and when he arrived, the emperor and the sultan had already assembled their armies to face one another.
Sir Gowther gave no quarter and took no prisoners but smashed many a head and felled many a horse; here a heathen went rolling into the mud; there a knight fell from his saddle with his brains spilling out! He put the sultan’s army to flight and hindered its retreat until nightfall, killing many heathens in the process. Then he rode back in the company of the emperor himself, although nobody knew who he was – nobody, that is, except the emperor’s mute daughter.
He went to a private chamber, took off his arms, and everything vanished where he laid it, he knew not where nor how. The emperor was eating in the hall when Sir Gowther entered and took his place between two hunting dogs under the table.