Medieval Arthurian Legend
Sir Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur
15th century, late-Medieval English.
And when she was dead, her body was laid on a bed and carried in a boat down the River Thames to Westminster, as she had asked.
The Fair Maid of Astolat has sought the love of Sir Lancelot, but she has been rejected. Her body is so wasted and in such distress by his rejection of her that she knows –
that she muste nedis passe oute of thys worlde. She must die.
She called her father, Sir Bernard, and her brother, and asked if she might dictate a letter –
‘and whyle my body is hote lat thys lettir be put in my right honde and my honde bounde faste to the letter untyll that I be colde. Put this letter in my hand and let me hold it in death. And let my body be taken on a cart to the river Thames and placed in a boat covered with black cloth, with one man only to guide it.’
And her father granted faithfully all that she had asked him. Then they wept for her. And when the letter was written, she died.
And when she was dead, her body was laid on a bed and carried in a boat down the River Thames to Westminster, as she had asked; the man steered it to the shore –
and there it rubbed and rolled too and fro a grete whyle or ony man espyed hit .