Sagramore

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Sir Sagramore of Hungary (or Sagremor) is a Knight of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. His characterization varies from story to story, though he is surprisingly prolific; he appears in a number of early stories, such as Chrétien de Troyes' works, and he turns up in all the cyclical versions. He gains a number of nicknames, including "The Impetuous" and "le Desirous."

Sagramore in the Lancelot-Grail[edit]

According to the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Sagramore is the son of the King of Hungary and the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor; he is even an heir to the throne of Constantinople. His father dies while he was still young, and his mother accepts the proposal of King Brandegoris of Estangore in Britain. When he is fifteen, Sagramore travels to Britain to join them and to become one of King Arthur's knights. Upon arrival in Britain Sagramore engages Arthur's Saxon enemies, and receives aid from Arthur's nephew Gawain and his brothers. The group are subsequently knighted by Arthur.

The Lancelot-Grail describes him as a good knight, but quick to anger. When fighting, he would go into a frenzy not unlike the Irish hero Cúchulainn's warp spasm; when he came down, he would feel ill and hungry. As he was wont to do, Sir Kay gave him a nickname, "Morte Jeune" (dead youth), because he would sometimes go into epilepsy-like fits. The Lancelot-Grail recounts a number of his adventures, often centered around rescuing damsels, and mentions that he had a daughter by one of his paramours who was raised at Arthur's court by Guinevere. His half-sister, Brandegoris' beautiful daughter Claire, falls in love with Sir Bors and sleeps with him; their child is Elyan the White. He dies by Mordred's hand at the Battle of Camlann as one of Arthur's last remaining warriors.

Other stories[edit]

The Post-Vulgate Cycle contains a different backstory for Sagramore. His family rescues Mordred from the sea (afraid of Merlin's prophecy that a child born on May Day will destroy him, Arthur sends children born that day out on a leaky boat) and raises him for the next several years as Sagramore's stepbrother. In the Prose Tristan, Sagramore is portrayed as a great friend to the Cornish knight Tristan, and even alerts the rest of the Round Table to his death. In Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Sagramore's prowess varies from situation to situation; he usually serves to lose jousts to better knights, but at times he is a valiant fighter. He is also the subject of a fragmentary German romance, Segremors, the surviving portions of which describe his journey to an island ruled by a fay and his undesired combat with his friend Gawain.

Sagramore appears with some regularity in modern Arthurian literature. In Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Merlin and Vivien", one of the Idylls of the King, he stumbles into bed with a maiden, thinking he is in his own room; to save their reputation the two strangers wed, but their purity and goodness make their marriage a happy one. The knight appears in the musical Camelot and was played by Peter Bromilow in the film version. Sagramore was portrayed by William Bendix in the 1949 film version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.

In Bernard Cornwell's The Winter King "Sagramor" is a fierce Numidian veteran of the old Roman army, and follows Arthur to Britain after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

References[edit]

  • Norris J. Lacy et al. The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1991.