In the land of England there were great battles and conquests, because there were many great lords; and in addition to quarrels over land and realms, they fought because they had different beliefs, since some were Moors, and some idolaters, and some Christian. And among all these noblemen there were two kings, one of whom was called Ebalato and the other Meridiantes, who had fought many more fields of war and battles than the others; and they were so close together that the lands and boundaries of one were confused with those of the other, and because of this they quite often had, as will be said later, great quarrels and disagreements, among which there was one great battle. And this Ebalato was an idolatrous Saxon, and did not believe firmly in the Christian faith, and he was utterly defeated in this battle he had with Meridiantes, and in a short while stood to lose himself and his possessions. And Ebalato bore a shield which once belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, who had conquered many people in that land and greatly strengthened Christianity. And Ebalato saw during the battle that his shield, although it had received many blows, had not let him feel any weakening in it before the bright blood ran; and since he knew whose the shield had been, and that the owner had been a great friend of God, and that he had no other recourse, he believed himself to be a man ill-fortuned to the point of death; but he swore to himself that if God allowed him to escape from that confrontation, he would become Christian and receive the waters of baptism. And in that instant, with this devotion newly grown in him, he returned to his people and led them well and heartened them with much constancy and vigor, so that their enemies were undone. And they turned boldly against Meridiantes and his host, so that in a little space they defeated them and expelled them from the field, from which Ebalato gained much honor and great treasures. And prospering thus, he returned to his land and had himself baptized secretly for fear that his vassals would kill him or take away his land if they found out. And so he lived secretly, keeping his faith unswerving for some time. And it happened that because of some of his servants his faith was known throughout the land and his vassals came against him, and captured him and put him in deep and great dungeons to kill him. And because of this his wife and those in his household, who were Christian, felt great sorrow. Especially upset over his imprisonment was a chamberlain named Jaquemin who loved him dearly and sought all the ways and means he could to console him and give him some recreation to pass the time during his hardship and bondage. And this Ebalato was a man who occupied himself with reading books much of the time, as many contemplative and churchly works as writings of chivalry and military affairs. And since this chamberlain knew this, and was himself a man who paged through and read many scriptures, and since among many he had seen, it seemed to him that a book of Merlin was suitable for occupation and to pass the time, he remembered to send it to his lord after others he had sent.
It begins with him speaking: