Sir Amadace is a romance unusually full of dead corpses. A necessary pleonasm (unlike Slayer's "rotten limbs lie dead"), here meant to distinguish merely dead corpses from slain corpses. What fighting there is occurs quickly, virtually off-stage (Amadace "wasse the best that evyr mon hade / In justing for to see. / Ther he wanne full mecul honoure" (533-35): and that's it). Amadace does not create corpses; he simply comes across them. The first he finds in a forest chapel stinking with the rot of a dead knight unburied because of his debts, whose widow, as she says, "sixtene weke I have setyn here, / Kepand this dede cors opon this bere, /With candils brennand bryghte. / And so schall I evyrmore do, / Till dethe cum and take me to" (193-97). Later, Amadace comes across a mass of corpses in a passage that I offer as today's quote:
Now als Sir Amadace welke bi the se sonde,
The broken schippus he ther fonde -
Hit were mervayl to say.
He fond wrekun amung the stones
Knyghtes in menevere for the nones,
Stedes quite and gray,
With all kynne maner of richas
That any mon myghte devise
Castun uppe with waturs lay;
Kistes and cofurs bothe ther stode,
Was fulle of gold precius and gode,
No mon bare noghte away. (517-28)
No man, that is, until Amadace himself, per the advice of a spectral knight, loots the corpses to outfit himself in a manner befitting his station. I found this scene--which I imagined as Amadace picking his way through the corpses--nightmarish, uncanny, not least of all because the scene is so eerily reminiscent (to summon a cliché) of other scenes in other romances, the turgid catalogs of sartorial excess in courts swollen with gold and men. One could almost forget that the knights in miniver amid their chests and coffers are dead: almost, but not quite.