Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK I CHAPTER III

Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK I  Previous  Next 

CHAPTER III

Of the birth of King Arthur and of his nurture.

THEN Queen Igraine waxed daily greater and greater, so
it befell after within half a year, as King Uther lay by his
queen, he asked her, by the faith she owed to him, whose was
<5 CH. III  OF THE BIRTH OF KING ARTHUR>the child within her
body; then she sore abashed to give answer.  Dismay you not, said
the king, but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better,
by the faith of my body.  Sir, said she, I shall tell you the
truth.  The same night that my lord was dead, the hour of his
death, as his knights record, there came into my castle of
Tintagil a man like my lord in speech and in countenance, and two
knights with him in likeness of his two knights Brastias and
Jordanus, and so I went unto bed with him as I ought to do with
my lord, and the same night, as I shall answer unto God, this
child was begotten upon me.  That is truth, said the king, as ye
say; for it was I myself that came in the likeness, and therefore
dismay you not, for I am father of the child; and there he told
her all the cause, how it was by Merlin's counsel.  Then the
queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her
child.

Soon came Merlin unto the king, and said, Sir, ye must purvey you
for the nourishing of your child.  As thou wilt, said the king,
be it.  Well, said Merlin, I know a lord of yours in this land,
that is a passing true man and a faithful, and he shall have the
nourishing of your child, and his name is Sir Ector, and he is a
lord of fair livelihood in many parts in England and Wales; and
this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, for to come and speak
with you, and desire him yourself, as he loveth you, that he will
put his own child to nourishing to another woman, and that his
wife nourish yours.  And when the child is born let it be
delivered to me at yonder privy postern unchristened.  So like as
Merlin devised it was done.  And when Sir Ector was come he made
fiaunce to the king for to nourish the child like as the king
desired; and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards. 
Then when the lady was delivered, the king commanded two knights
and two ladies to take the child, bound in a cloth of gold, and
that ye deliver him to what poor man ye meet at the postern gate
of the castle.  So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he
bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and made an holy man to christen
him, and named him Arthur; and so Sir Ector's wife nourished him
with her own pap.


<6>