In Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Accolon is referred to as Accolon of Gaul and is the object of desire for Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's sister and rival. At an early stage in the book Accolon is hunting with Arthur and Urien when they become lost and are forced to camp in the woods. Accolon later awakens in a field where Morgan appears and gives him Excalibur, which Arthur had earlier entrusted to her, telling him he must use the weapon in his next battle.
Accolon's next battle is with a mysterious swordsman* who is actually Arthur, wielding a sword he believes to be Excalibur but which was actually a fake given to him by Morgan. Neither man recognises the other but Accolon gains the upper hand due to wielding the real Excalibur. During the battle Arthur's sword broke; he quickly realized this was not the real Excalibur and that he had been betrayed. Rather than giving up, Arthur continued to fight with what was left of his shield. Nyneve, the Lady of the Lake, arrived and used her magic to cause Excalibur to fly from Accolon's hand. Arthur then wrestled the scabbard back and dealt Accolon a mortal wound.
When Arthur recognised Accolon and learned of Morgan's part in the battle he assured his friend that he would not be punished for the incident. However Accolon died four days after receiving the battle-wound from Arthur.
In modern fiction
The scene of Accolon's battle with Arthur is included in Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, though with the role of Nimue omitted. In Bradley's interpretation, Morgan Le Fay and Accolon's aim was to restore the pre-Roman Celtic pagan religion, threatened by the aggressive advent of Christianity. Accolon is the second son of Uriens and a knight loyal to Avalon. He becomes Morgan Le Fay's lover, and she wants him to kill King Arthur and so restore the power of Avalon. However, Arthur slays him in direct combat, and when Morgan Le Fay's role becomes evident, she is disgraced.
- John & Caitlin Matthews, An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend: British & Irish Mythology, Diamond Books, 1995, p. 17.
- Ronan Coghlan, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends, Element Books, 1993, p. 30.
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