Accolon

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Accolon
Matter of Britain character
And grasped of both wild hands, swung trenchant.png
Accolon fights Arthur in Eric Pape's illustration for Madison Cawein's 1889 poem "Accolon of Gaul" (1907)
Information
OccupationKnight
Significant otherMorgan le Fay

Accolon /ˈækəlɒn/ is a knight character in Arthurian legends. He appears in French romances and Le Morte d'Arthur, and in subsequent modern works based on the Arthurian cycle.

In Malory[edit]

In Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Accolon is referred to as Sir Accolon of Gaul.[1] He is the object of desire for Morgan le Fay, King Arthur's half-sister. (As described in the original story in the Post-Vulgate Cycle: "She loved him so madly that she desired to kill her husband and her brother, for she thought she could make Accolon king, either by the devil's help or by magic or by entreaty of the nobles of Great Britain."[2])

At an early stage in Malory's book, Accolon is hunting with Arthur and Urien when they become lost and are forced to camp in the woods. After they came upon and board Morgan's fairy boat, Accolon awakens in a field where Morgan appears and gives him the magic sword 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. Nimue, 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.[3]

When Arthur recognised Accolon and learns of Morgan's part in the battle he assures his friend that he would not be punished for the incident. However Accolon dies four days after receiving the battle-wound from Arthur.[3] His body is sent by Arthur to Morgan. Later, Morgan saves Arthur's knight named Manassen (or Manessen) from a certain death and enables him to kill his captor after she learns Accolon was Manassen's cousin.

In modern Arthuriana[edit]

Accolon also appears in some of modern Arthurian fiction. For instance, the scene of his 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 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's lover, and she wants him to kill King Arthur and so restore the power of Avalon, but Arthur slays him in direct combat; when Morgan's role becomes evident, she is disgraced.

References[edit]

  1. ^ John & Caitlin Matthews, An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend: British & Irish Mythology, Diamond Books, 1995, p. 17.
  2. ^ Lacy, Norris J. (2010). Lancelot-Grail: Introduction. Boydell & Brewer Ltd.
  3. ^ a b Ronan Coghlan, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends, Element Books, 1993, p. 30.