Amadis of Gaul

Amadis of Gaul (love-god) In late medieval Spanish legend, hero who appears in an anonymous prose romance, Amadis of Gaul, first published in 1508 in four books. Numerous additional books by various authors were added later. Amadis, also called the Lion Knight, from the device on his shield, and Beltenbros (darkly beautiful), from his physical appearance, was the illegitimate son of Perion, king of Gaula (Wales) and Elizena, princess of Brittany. At his birth his mother, anxious to conceal the boy, placed him in an ark and launched him in a stream, which carried him to the Scottish coast. He was then found by the knight Gandales and called “child of the sea.” A parchment roll, which Gandales found around the child’s neck, declared the boy to be the son of a king and eventually helped to identify him. Amadis loved Oriana (Oriane), and in one episode in the legend the lovers came to Firm Island, once ruled by King Apolidon, whose fantastic palace contained the Arch of True Lovers and the Forbidden Chamber, both used to test Amadis’s love for Oriana. Eventually, the two were married and had a son, Esplandian. Numerous operas have been written about Amadis of Gaul, among them Jean Baptiste Lully’s Amadis de Gaule; Johann Christian Bach’s Amadis de Gaule; Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula, sometimes called Oriana; and Jules Massenet’s Amadis. The English poet Robert Southey published an abridged English version of the first four books of Amadis of Gaul in 1803.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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