VII. The Tragical Death of Andolosia
Among the competitors was Andolosia; and whenever the Counts, Barons and knights jousted, he rode to the lists in more splendid armour than everyone else, apart from the King, who he made no attempt to equal. He was always the best in all the knightly sports, and he was often awarded the prize. Now it so happened that on one occasion, Andolosia surpassed his previous accomplishments, producing his best at the last; yet that night the prize, which in all fairness should have gone to him, was awarded, as a mark of honour, to Count Theodore, who had accompanied the Princess from England. Andolosia paid no heed to this and willingly conceded the Count the honour he had been shown. But the murmur ran that Andolosia’s prize had been wrongfully given to Count Theodore, and this reached the Englishman’s ears. A fierce hatred of Andolosia secretly flared up in his heart, but he did not know how he could do him disgrace and damage. Although his heart, mind and mood were bent on revenge, he was a stranger in Cyprus, and he owned no land, nor a castle, nor vassals. Now there was another Count at the royal wedding, a pirate by the name of The Count of Limassol, who owned a castle on an islet not far from Famagusta. Theodore sought out his society; ‘Birds of a feather flock together,’ they say, and the proverb found corroboration in this instance, for one villain discovered another.
Theodore told his companion that he was annoyed, for there was a man called Andolosia, who lived a lavish and arrogant lifestyle, but was not of noble birth. He had a high income of honour, being accorded more respect than Counts and others of good birth - yet he owns neither lands nor lieges. Was Limassol not always infuriated by this?
“Yes,” growled The Count of Limassol, “it infuriates me and many other nobles. But he is held in such high favour by the King, to whom he lends and gifts whatever he is asked; and the King reaps bitter enmity from his nobles for the preference he shows this man.”
Count Theodore exclaimed, “It surprises me that you, and others of your station, can tolerate this, and that you don’t have him killed. If I knew how to do away with him, he would never confound another Count or nobleman at the King’s Court.”
Each understood the other’s will; and they concerted the following plan: when the wedding festivities had run their course, and Andolosia was riding back towards Famagusta, they would surround him, take him prisoner, and stab his servants to death. He wound then be removed from the King’s Land to Limassol, where the Count owned a strong castle; and they would torture and torment him until he gave them enough money to maintain a mode of life on a par with his for luxury.
And it so happened that the utterly unsuspecting Andolosia was attacked as he rode home from the festivities by the two Counts and a hired company, and all his servants were cut down. He was captured and taken to the castle on the islet of Limassol, where he was guarded so closely that escape was impossible. He offered his guards great wealth if they would help him escape, but they did not dare trust him, suspecting that, once he was free, he would not give them a penny; and he did not dare show them the Purse, for fear that they would take it only to refuse their aid. His plight was desperate.
The news reached the King that Andolosia’s entire retinue had been butchered and no one knew whether their master were dead or alive, imprisoned or free. Nor did anyone know who had perpetrated this atrocity, but Turkish marauders were suspected. The two guilty Counts rode back to Court and kept their counsel.
Meanwhile, Ampedo had been informed of Andolosia’s disappearance. He at once sent messengers to Court to request the King to help him recover his brother. The King replied that he was grieved at Andolosia’s misadventure, and he had no idea where he was or if he were still alive. But he would leave no stone unturned in his search, and if he were able to discover Andolosia’s whereabouts, he would consider no price too great to free him – should it cost him half his Kingdom. Receiving this message, Ampedo thought that his brother had been abducted because of the Purse, and he would be racked and tortured until he disclosed the secret of the Hat: then his tormentors would lay their heads together to acquire the second treasure as well. “Never, by no means, shall that happen,” growled Ampedo; and in a fit of fury, he grabbed the magic, unique Hat, hacked it to shreds, and flung the pieces into the fire. And he stood over it until it had burnt to ashes and he was sure that no one could ever again enjoy its use.
Ampedo was continually sending messengers to the King, but however many he dispatched, not one returned with news of his brother. This caused him such depression and sorrow that he fell into a fatal illness. No doctor could help him, and he died. Neither the beautiful palace nor his money could help him.
After several days had risen and set, the two Counts, hearing how the King grieved for his dutiful knight Andolosia, feigned heavy sorrow. The King had it proclaimed that anyone who could bring certain news of Andolosia’s whereabouts would receive a thousand Ducats, whether he were alive or dead. A wave of enquiries followed, but all were fruitless; those who knew, and had abetted, did not dare reveal the truth for fear of losing their lives.
In the meantime, The Count of Limassol took his leave of the King and returned to his castle, where he found Andolosia sitting in a deep dungeon, his wrists and ankles tightly clamped in stocks. On seeing the Count, his face brightened, and he began to plead with him to show mercy and help him regain his freedom. He did not know whose prisoner he was, or why he was being so cruelly constricted. If he had done anyone an injustice, he would make amends for it and put his person and possessions at the injured party’s disposal.
“Andolosia,” said the Count, “you have not been brought here to be released. You are my prisoner, and you will tell me the source of the money you expend throughout the year. And you’ll do that now, or I’ll torture you until you’ll be happy to tell me.”
Andolosia felt sick with shock; all hope drained away, and he was lost for words. Eventually he said: in his house, in Famagusta, there was a secret ditch, which his father had shown him on the point of death; and however much money he withdrew from this ditch, it never became empty. If the Count took him, as a prisoner, to Famagusta, he would show him. But this did not satisfy Limassol; and taking Andolosia out of the stocks, he began to excruciate him. He laid some savage torments on his prisoner, who suffered them long and held to his initial statement. But at last the tortures were so severe that he could bear the pain no longer, and he told the Count about the Purse. Limassol quickly seized the Purse, tested it, and found that he had spoken the truth; then he had poor Andolosia placed back in the stocks, and commended him to his trustiest servant.
The Count of Limassol now sent money to his debtors to settle his accounts, and victualled his castle, before repairing with a happy heart to the King’s Court, where he sought out his companion, Count Theodore, and was accorded a joyful reception. They exchanged many words, true to form, and Limassol related how he had dealt by Andolosia – wresting the Purse from his possession through torture and holding him in pinching chains.
“I don’t like this,” said Count Theodore. “He would be better dead than alive. I have heard at Court that he is a Doctor of Necromancy and can travel through the air. There is the danger that he will escape and spread word of his treatment at our hands, and then we shall lose the King’s favour – and maybe our lives.”
“He is sitting so straitly chained that he cannot do us any harm,” replied The Count of Limassol.
And they both took their heart’s fill of money out of the Purse. Each would dearly have liked to have the magical treasure in his power; but they came to the agreement that each should keep it for six months in turn, and the guardian was to ensure that the other suffered no shortage of money. The Count of Limassol, being the senior, was to take first possession.
Although the two Counts had money enough, they did not dare to spend too lavishly or maintain too extravagant a state, for fear of arousing suspicion. And they passed their days in great content, except that Count Theodore was plagued by the thought that Andolosia were better dead than alive, for he dreaded the loss of the Purse. He also harboured the intention to ride away with the Purse, and far enough away to escape the reach of the King and The Count of Limassol, once it was in his keeping. So he asked Limassol to lend him one of his servants and write a letter granting him admission to Andolosia. The Cypriot Count did as requested, giving him man, letter and money. Then Count Theodore took his leave of the King and Queen, claiming that he wished to take a look at His Majesty’s lands; and so he galloped to the islet of Limassol, where he was conducted to the castle and then the dungeon that held Andolosia. When he walked in, poor, disconsolate Andolosia, whose arms and legs had half wasted away by this time, took comfort; he imagined that The Count of Limassol had sent Count Theodore to set him free, and he thought, ‘Now that they have the Purse, they won’t ask any more of me’.
Count Theodore began: “Now tell me, Andolosia – do you have any more purses like the one you gave my companion? Come on, give me one.”
“Gracious Count, I have no more. If I had another one, it would not be refused you.”
“People say that you are a Doctor of Necromancy, who can travel through the air and invoke the Devil. Why don’t you invoke him now to help you out of here?”
“Oh, gracious Count, I can’t do it, I’ve never been able to do it! All I did was divert myself with the Purse, which you now possess. As God and the world are my witness, I yield it to you and your companion, and I’ll never again lay claim to it; and I beg you, for the honour of God and his virtuous mother Mary, that you help this poor, miserable man out of this cruel prison. Don’t let me die a wretched death here, not having been confessed, not having received the Holy Sacrament!”
“Will you now have a care for the health of your soul? Why didn’t you earlier, when you paraded your arrogance and haughtiness before the King and Queen, showing all of us dishonour? Where are they now, all the beautiful ladies you served with such assiduity? Those who awarded you the prize, call on them to help you now.
“But I perceive that you wish to be released from this prison; do not worry, I shall soon help you out.”
Taking Andolosia’s guard to one side, he offered him fifty ducats to strangle the prisoner. The guard refused: “He’s a good man, and he’s so weak that he’ll die soon anyway. I won’t load myself with that sin.”
“Then give me a rope; I shall throttle him myself. I am not leaving until he is dead.”
Again, the guard refused; so Count Theodore unbuckled his belt and wrapped it around wretched Andolosia’s neck. The prisoner, who sat with his ankles and wrists in the stocks, could not move; and the Count twirled the belt around his sword-hilt, thus garrotting good Andolosia as he sat, and gave the guard money to dispose of the body. After this, Count Theodore did not make long market in the castle, but rode back to the Royal Court, where he was well received. And he sought out his companion The Count of Limassol, who asked him how he had fared and how he liked the islet of Limassol and the land of Cyprus.
Very much, was the reply; then they withdrew, and The Count of Limassol asked how things stood with Andolosia.
“They stand so that he’ll never harm us again,” Count Theodore joyfully exclaimed. “I killed him with my own hands. I could find no rest until I knew for certain that he was dead – as I know now.”
He thought he had acted wisely – Ah God, he did not know the evil he had worked!
For three days they did not have recourse to the Purse; and when the third day came to an end, the first half-year was over, and it was Count Theodore’s turn to possess the treasure. With a spring in his step he went to his companion The Count of Limassol and told him to fetch the Purse, take out all the money he would be needing, and then hand it over: it was his turn now. The Count of Limassol raised no objections, and after expressing his readiness to comply, he said:
“When I take the Purse in my hands, I pity Andolosia. I wish you had not killed him; he would soon have died by himself.”
“Dead men wage no wars,” said Count Theodore.
And they retreated to a chamber where The Count of Limassol kept the Purse in a chest. He took it out and placed it on a table, and Count Theodore picked it up. He tried to count out money, as he had previously done, but there was nothing inside. The two Counts did not know that the Purse had lost its power with the deaths of Ampedo and Andolosia; if they had known this, they would have held Andolosia in honour and treated him kindly, to prolong his life, or at least have filled a chest or two with gold to keep themselves in wealth for the rest of their lives.
Each Count looked at the other. Then Theodore spoke with grim fury:
“O you false Count. So you thought to deceive me, passing off an ordinary purse for the magic one? On no account shall I accept that from you. So bring me the Purse of Fortune, and be quick about it!”
Limassol replied that it was the Purse he took from Andolosia; he had no others. How it had come to lose its power, he did not know. But Theodore would not be satisfied with this; his anger turned to rage, and he cried: Limassol wished to make him the victim of his villainy, but he would never succeed. And he drew his sword.
Seeing this, The Count of Limassol also drew, and they both began to hew at one another so fiercely as to deal death. At the clamour they made, their servants burst into the chamber; and seeing their masters lunging at one another, they ran in between and separated them. But before the two were parted, Count Theodore had given The Count of Limassol a mortal wound; when they saw this, the Cypriot’s servants seized the Englishman. The King was informed of the fight between the two Counts, who had been so close as to be joined at the hip; and he commanded that both be arrested and brought to him in chains at once so he could examine them on the cause of their disagreement. When moves were made to obey the King’s messenger, it was realised that the Count of Limassol was too seriously wounded to be taken anywhere, so Count Theodore was brought before the King on his own.
The King soon learned that Andolosia’s Purse was the cause of their estrangement, and he hurriedly sent for the executioner to extort, before witnesses, the full and exact details of the case. Then Count Theodore was tortured and brutally pained until he had to confess to garrotting Andolosia with his own hands in the dungeon; and he disclosed the whole plot, from beginning to end.
When the King heard how they had handled good Andolosia, he was sad to the heart and furious at the murderers. Without longer consideration, he pronounced his right and judgement: both Counts must be strapped to the wheel. It did not matter how ill the Count of Limassol was; even if he were dead, he was to be taken to the place of execution and tied to the wheel. As the judgement was passed, so was it executed: both murderous Counts were broken, thus meeting the end they merited for their treatment of loyal Andolosia. So they died because of the Purse, having had their pleasure of it for but a short time.
King then sent men to occupy the islet of Limassol, with its castles,
towns and villages, and in particular the castle where good Andolosia
had been held prisoner. All the men and women who were guilty
of knowing of the murder and keeping silence were seized and hung without
mercy from its walls. Having discovered that Andolosia’s corpse
had been deposited in a ditch not far from the castle, the King had
it lifted out and honourably borne to Famagusta in a flambeau-lit procession.
There the body was laid to rest in the magnificent cathedral his father
had founded and endowed; and a stately memorial service was held on
the seventh and thirtieth days after his burial, with many masses sung
for his soul, as though for a member of one of the highest and mightiest
families in the Kingdom. In attendance were the King, the Prince,
the Queen, and Princess Agrippina, who deeply mourned the loss of faithful
Andolosia. As neither he nor Ampedo had left an heir, the King
took possession of the magnificent palace, and found great abundance
of money, jewels, and sumptuous furnishings inside. Into this
palace moved the Prince; and he held court in Famagusta until his father’s
From this history is to be noted: if young Fortunatus had desired and chosen Wisdom from Lady Fortune in the wood, instead of the Purse of Riches, it would have been granted him in abundance, and no one could have stolen this treasure from him. Through this wisdom and intelligence he would have gained temporal goods, an honourable sustenance, and extensive possessions. But because, at that time in his youth, he preferred wealth and worldly goods, for the sake of pleasure and sensual appetite – and many others would undoubtedly desire such a Purse above a world of intelligence – he brought much bitterness and gall on his own and his sons’ heads. All was milk and honey for a short while, but the ending was such as you have heard.
anyone who faces such a choice need not reflect for long: follow reason,
ignore forward folly, and select wisdom before wealth. This is
what Solomon did, and it made him the richest King on Earth. But
there is the real concern that Lady Fortune, who deals such choices
and bestowed the Purse on Fortunatus, has been hunted from our lands,
and is to be found in this world no longer.
- End -