Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK I CHAPTER XXVI
Legends and Sagas
How tidings came to Arthur that King Rience had overcome eleven
kings, and how he desired Arthur's beard to trim his mantle.
THIS meanwhile came a messenger from King Rience of North Wales,
and king he was of all Ireland, and of many isles. And this was
his message, greeting well King Arthur in this manner wise,
saying that King Rience had discomfited and overcome eleven
kings, and everych of them did him homage, and that was this,
they gave him their beards clean flayed off, as much as there
was; wherefore the messenger came for King Arthur's beard. For
King Rience had purfled a mantle with kings' beards, and there
<47>lacked one place of the mantle; wherefore he sent for his
beard, or else he would enter into his lands, and burn and slay,
and never leave till he have the head and the beard. Well, said
Arthur, thou hast said thy message, the which is the most
villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent unto a
king; also thou mayest see my beard is full young yet to make a
purfle of it. But tell thou thy king this: I owe him none
homage, nor none of mine elders; but or it be long to, he shall
do me homage on both his knees, or else he shall lose his head,
by the faith of my body, for this is the most shamefulest message
that ever I heard speak of. I have espied thy king met never yet
with worshipful man, but tell him, I will have his head without
he do me homage. Then the messenger departed.
Now is there any here, said Arthur, that knoweth King Rience?
Then answered a knight that hight Naram, Sir, I know the king
well; he is a passing good man of his body, as few be living, and
a passing proud man, and Sir, doubt ye not he will make war on
you with a mighty puissance. Well, said Arthur, I shall ordain
for him in short time.