In the South of Wales, a baby boy was born and named Milun. He was the envy of all other knights, but princes loved him for his skill. Also, in this region, there was a nobleman, who had a beautiful daughter. The girl fell in love with Milun instantly when she heard his name. The lady sent a messenger to tell him that if he if wished, she would be his love. Upon hearing this, Milun granted her his love. Milun asked the messenger to arrange a secret meeting between him and his beloved, and gave the messenger a gold ring to give to her. The messenger told the lady everything that Milun had said, and the lady was overjoyed. Milun and his beloved would meet in a garden that was close to the lady’s bedroom. Milun visited so much that the lady became pregnant. When the lady found out that she was pregnant, she sent word to Milun to come to her. She told him that she would be greatly punished for relinquishing her honor to Milun before marriage. Milun agreed to do whatever the lady wanted him to do. The lady decided that when the baby was born, Milun would take it to her married sister, in Northumbria. Milun was to write a letter to her sister, informing her that this was her sister’s child, and she should raise the child properly. She said that she would hang Milun’s ring around the child’s neck. The lady would also enclose a letter, which detailed who the child’s father was, and the sad fate of the mother. Her sister was to keep these things until the child was of age.
The lady had confided in an older woman, who looked after, about her pregnancy. The old woman concealed the pregnancy so well that no one had any idea. When the day came, the lady gave birth to a son. The child was given to Milun, who was waiting in the garden, and he gave it to his most loyal servants to take to his beloved’s sister. The lady’s sister received the child happily, and loved it dearly.
After the birth of their child, Milun set off to find fame. The lady’s father arranged a marriage between his daughter and a very wealthy nobleman. She was very sad, and scared that her husband would find out she was not a virgin. The lady and her betrothed were married despite the lady’s concerns.
When Milun returned from his quest and discovered that his beloved had been married, he was very sad. He began to think of a way to secretly let her know that he had returned. Milun wrote her a letter and hid it in the feathers of a swan, and then called for his squire. The squire took the swan to his lord’s beloved, and she received it kindly. She was petting the swan and found the letter concealed under the feathers. In the letter, Milun asked his beloved to come up with a plan that would enable them to speak. He told her to deprive the swan of food for three days, tie her letter around its neck, and then let it go; the swan would fly back to him. She kept the swan with her for a month then wrote her beloved a letter and enclosed a ring in it, and then she let the bird go. Milun was overjoyed when the bird returned to him, and the contents of the letter made him even happier. They used the swan as their messenger for twenty years, and even found occasions when they could meet.
The lady, who was entrusted to bring up Milun and his beloved’s son, had the young man dubbed a knight when reached the appropriate age. She gave him the letter and the ring, and told him all about his father. The boy was happy, and declared that he would have to establish a greater renown than his father, as a way to honor him. The young man left the next day on his quest. He only participated in tournaments that he was sure to win. He gained the nickname “The Peerless One” (101). When Milun heard about this he became very jealous. Milun decided that he was going to humiliate this young knight, and put him in his place. His plan was to fight this young knight, then go and search for his son.
Easter came and knights gathered in Mont St Michel for a tournament. When Milun arrived he had the Peerless One pointed out to him. Milun fought well in the tournaments, but the young knight did better than everyone else. Finally, Milun and the Peerless One were joined together in a match. Milun broke his lance on the Peerless One, but the young man was not unhorsed. The young knight hit Milun and Milun was knocked off of his horse. The young knight saw Milun’s white hair under his helmet and felt guilty that he had unhorsed the older man. He returned Milun’s horse to him. Milun got up and recognizing the ring on the boy’s finger and drilled him on who he was and who his parents were. The young knight told Milun the story of his life. Milun then told the young man that he was his father. They were both very happy. Milun’s son vowed that he would kill his mother’s husband, and marry his parents. When they were on their way home, they ran into the lady’s messengers; the messenger told them that the lady’s husband had died. When they reached home, the lady was so happy. Their son married them and they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.
Chapter 10 “Chaitivel” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2287271/summary_of_the_lais_of_marie_de_france.html?cat=10
The Lais of Marie de France. Trans. Glyn S. Burgess. New York: Penguin, 1999.