Knights of the Round Table

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King Arthur's knights, gathered at the Round Table, see a vision of the Holy Grail. From a manuscript of Lancelot and the Holy Grail (c. 1406)

The Knights of the Round Table were the knightly members of the legendary fellowship of the King Arthur in the literary cycle of the Matter of Britain, in which the first written record of them appears in the Roman de Brut written by the Norman poet Wace in 1155. In the legend, the Knights are an order in the service of Arthur, tasked with ensuring the peace of the kingdom and sometimes also charged with leading the quest for the Holy Grail. The Round Table at which they met was created to have no head or foot, representing the equality of all the members. Different stories had different numbers of Knights, ranging from only 12 to 150 or more.

List[edit]

Their total number (always symbolic) and the names vary depending of the text. The first sources state 24, 36 or 72. For Robert de Boron, at whom the Round Table is a replica of the table of the Last Supper, they are fifty. In some versions, including Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, they are 150 ("three times fifty" is a phrase that is often found in Welsh or Irish texts, which means "a large number" or even "immeasurable"). Bedivere, Gawain and Kay are the oldest characters associated with Arthur. Those most popular and best known today may include:

Knights of the Round Table
Name Other names Introduction Other medieval works Notes
Aglovale Agloval, Sir Aglovale de Galis The Life of Sir Aglovale de Galis King Pellinore's eldest son
Agravain Agravaine Lancelot-Grail, Le Morte d'Arthur Second son of King Lot and Morgause, joins Mordred's rebellion
Arthur Arthur Pendragon Y Gododdin, c. 7th century Many King of the Britons
Bagdemagus Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, 1170s Meleagant's father and ruler of Gorre
Bedivere (Welsh: Bedwyr, French: Bédoier) Bedevere Pa Gur yv y Porthaur, c. 10th century Vita Cadoc, Culhwch and Olwen, Stanzas of the Graves, Welsh Triads, Historia Regum Britanniae, Le Morte d'Arthur, numerous others Returns Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake, brother to Sir Lucan
Bors the Younger Son of Bors the Elder, father of Elyan the White
Breunor le Noir Brunor, La Cote Male Taile ("The Badly-shaped Coat") Knight who wears his murdered father's coat, brother of Dinadan and Daniel
Cador (Latin: Cadorius) Historia Regum Britanniae, The Dream of Rhonabwy Raised Guinevere as his ward, father to Constantine, Described in some works as Arthur's cousin
Calogrenant Colgrevance, Cynan Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, 1170s Le Morte d'Arthur Cousin to Sir Ywain
Caradoc (Latin: Caractacus) (Welsh: Caradog Freichfras, meaning Caradoc Strong Arm) (French: Carados Briefbras) Perceval, the Story of the Grail, the Mabinogion Rebelled against Arthur when he first became king, but later supported him. Sometimes two characters, Caradoc the Elder (a king) and Caradoc the Younger (a knight)
Claudin Lancelot-Grail, Le Morte d'Arthur Virtuous son of the Frankish villain Claudas, eventually becomes one of 12 knights to achieve the Holy Grail
Constantine III of Britain Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1136 Le Morte d'Arthur Arthur's cousin and successor to his throne, Cador's son
Dagonet Arthur's court jester
Daniel von Blumenthal Daniel von Blumenthal, 1220 Knight found in an early German offshoot of Arthurian legend
Dinadan Prose Tristan, 1230s Le Morte d'Arthur Son of Sir Brunor the Senior
Ector Hector, Antor, Ectorius Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Le Morte d'Arthur Raises Arthur according to Merlin's command, father to Sir Kay
Elyan the White (French: Helyan le Blanc) Son of Sir Bors and Claire, King Brandegoris' daughter, helps Lancelot rescue Guinevere and goes into exile with him
Erec Unclear; first literary appearance as Erec in Erec and Enide, c. 1170 See Geraint and Enid Son of King Lac
Esclabor Father of Palamedes, Safir, and Segwarides
Feirefiz Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, early 13th century Half-brother to Percival and King Arthur's nephew
Gaheris Le Morte d'Arthur Son of King Lot and Morgause, brother to Gawain, Agravaine, and Gareth, and half-brother to Mordred
Galahad Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur Bastard son of Sir Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic
Galehault Galehalt, Galehaut Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Former enemy of Arthur who becomes close friends with Lancelot
Galeschin Galeshin The Vulgate Cycle Son of Elaine of Garlot and King Nentres, nephew of Arthur
Gareth Beaumains Le Morte d'Arthur, Idylls of the King Also a son of King Lot and Morgause, in love with Lyonesse
Gawain (Latin: Walwanus, Welsh: Gwalchmai, Irish: Balbhuaidh) Culhwch and Olwen, c. 11th century Chretien de Troyes' Conte du Graal, Lancelot-Grail cycle, Prose Tristan,Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Le Morte d'Arthur and many short Middle English romances Another son of King Lot and Morgause, father of Gingalain
Geraint Geraint and Enid Enid's lover
Gingalain Guinglain, Gingalin, Gliglois, Wigalois, etc., also Le Bel Inconnu, or The Fair Unknown Le Bel Inconnu Gawain's and Blanchemal's son
Gornemant Gurnemanz Perceval, the Story of the Grail Parzival Mentor to Perceval
Green Knight Bercilak, Bertilak, Bernlak, Bredbeddle Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 1300s The Greene Knight, King Arthur and King Cornwall A knight enchanted by Morgan le Fay in order to test Gawain
Griflet Girflet, Jaufre Jaufré The son of Do (or Don), cousin to Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere
Hector de Maris Ector de Maris Quest du Saint Graal (Vulgate Cycle) Half-brother of Lancelot, son of King Ban and the Lady de Maris, Sir Bors and Sir Lionel are his cousins
Hoel (Welsh: Howel, Hywel) The Dream of Rhonabwy, Geraint and Enid Son of King Budic of Brittany, father to St. Tudwal
Kay (Welsh: Cai, Latin: Caius) Pa Gur yv y porthaur? 10th century Many Foster brother to Arthur, Sir Ector's son
Lamorak Prose Tristan, c. 1235 Lancelot-Grail Cycle Son of King Pellinore, brother to Tor, Aglovale, Percival, and Dindrane. Lover of Morgause
Lancelot Lancelot du Lac, Lancelot of the Lake, Launcelot Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, Lancelot-Grail, many others Son to King Ban and Elaine, most famous for his affair with Queen Guinevere, most prominent Knight of the Round Table
Lanval Landevale, Launfal, Lambewell Marie de France's Lanval, late 12th century Sir Landevale, Sir Launfal, Sir Lambewell A knight of King Arthur's court who falls in love with a fairy
Leodegrance Leondegrance Guinevere's father, King of Cameliard in what is now southwest England
Lionel Lancelot-Grail, early 13th century Son of King Bors of Gaunnes (or Gaul), brother of Bors the Younger
Lucan Sir Lucan the Butler Le Morte d'Arthur Servant to King Arthur, Bedivere's brother, Griflet's cousin
Maleagant Malagant, Meleagant, perhaps Melwas Unclear, a similar character named "Melwas" appears in the 12th century Life of Gildas Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur Abductor of Guinevere
Mordred Modred (Welsh: Medrawd, Latin: Medraut) Annales Cambriae, c. 970 Many In some literature, Arthur's illegitimate son through Morgause, kills and is killed by Arthur
Morholt Marhalt, Morold, Marhaus Tristan poems of Béroul and Thomas of Britain, 12th century Tristan poems of Eilhart von Oberge, Gottfried von Strassburg, Prose Tristan, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur Irish knight, rival of Tristan, uncle of Iseult
Morien Moriaen Dutch romance Morien, 13th century Half-Moorish son of Aglovale
Pelleas Pellias Post-Vulgate Cycle, 1230s Le Morte d'Arthur In love with Ettarre, later lover of Nimue
Pellinore Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle King of Listenoise and friend to Arthur
Percival (Welsh: Peredur) Perceval, Parzifal As Percival, Erec and Enide, c. 1170 Perceval, the Story of the Grail, Lancelot-Grail, many Achiever of the Holy Grail; King Pellinore's son in some tales
Safir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Prose Tristan Son to Esclabor, brother of Segwarides and Palamedes
Sagramore Sagramor Lancelot-Grail, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Prose Tristan, Le Morte d'Arthur Ubiquitous Knight of the Round Table; various stories and origins are given for him
Segwarides Le Morte d'Arthur, Prose Tristan Son of Esclabor, brother of Safir and Palamedes
Tor Le Morte d'Arthur Son of King Ars, adopted by Pellinore
Tristan (Latin/Brythonic: Drustanus; Welsh: Drystan; Portuguese: Tristão; Spanish: Tristán) Tristran, Tristram, etc. Beroul's Roman de Tristan The two Folies Tristans, Marie de France's Chevrefeuil, Eilhart von Oberge, Gottfried von Strassburg, Post-Vulgate Prose Tristan, Post-Vulgate Cycle, Le Morte d'Arthur Son of Blancheflor and Rivalen (or Meliodas), Iseult's lover
Urien Uriens Historical figure Welsh Triads Father of Ywain (Owain mab Urien), husband of Morgan le Fay
Ywain (Welsh: Owain) Yvain, Ewain or Uwain Based on the historical figure Owain mab Urien Historia Brittonum, Yvain, the Knight of the Lion King Urien's son
Ywain the Bastard Ywain the Adventurous Urien's illegitimate son through a seneschal, accidentally killed by Gawain

There have been also many others, generally more or less obscure. For instance, Malory's account in Le Morte d'Arthur lists the following during the episode containing Sir Urry:[1]

  • King Anguish of Ireland
  • Earl Aristance
  • Sir Azreal
  • Sir Arrok
  • Sir Ascamore
  • Sir Balan (brother of Sir Balin, whom he killed by accident in a duel in which both wore helmets and did not know who they were fighting)
  • Sir Barrant le Apres (King with a Hundred Knights)
  • Sir Bellenger le Beau
  • Sir Belliance le Orgulous
  • Sir Blamor de Ganis
  • Sir Bleoberis de Ganis
  • Sir Borre le Cœur Hardi (King Arthur's son)
  • Sir Brandiles
  • Sir Brian de Listinoise
  • King Carados of Scotland
  • Sir Cardok
  • Duke Chalance of Clarence
  • King Clariance of Northumberland
  • Sir Clarus of Cleremont
  • Sir Clegis
  • Sir Clodrus
  • Sir Colgrevance
  • Sir Crosslem
  • Sir Damas
  • Sir Degrave sans Villainy (fought with the giant of the Black Lowe)
  • Sir Degrevant
  • Sir Dinas le Seneschal de Cornwall
  • Sir Dinas
  • Sir Dodinas le Savage
  • Sir Dornar
  • Sir Drian
  • Sir Edward of Orkney
  • Sir Epinogris (son of King Clariance of Northumberland)
  • Sir Fergus
  • Sir Florence (son of Gawain by Sir Brandiles's sister)
  • Sir Gahalantine
  • Sir Galihodin
  • Sir Galleron of Galway
  • Sir Gauter
  • Sir Gillimer
  • Sir Grummor Grummorson
  • Sir Gumret le Petit
  • Sir Harry le Fils Lake
  • Sir Hebes (not Hebes le Renowne)
  • Sir Hebes le Renowne
  • Sir Hectimere
  • Sir Helian le Blanc
  • Sir Herminde
  • Sir Hervis de la Forest Savage
  • Sir Ironside (Knight of the Red Launds)
  • Sir Kay l'Estrange (not Kay, Arthur's seneschal)
  • Earl Lambaile
  • Sir Lambegus
  • Sir Lamiel
  • Sir Lavain
  • Sir Lovell (son of Gawain by Sir Brandiles's sister)
  • Sir Mador de la Porte
  • Sir Marrok (whose wife turned him into a werewolf)
  • Sir Melias de l'Isle
  • Sir Melion of the Mountain
  • Sir Meliot de Logris
  • Sir Menaduke
  • Sir Morganor
  • King Nentres of Garlot
  • Sir Neroveus
  • Sir Ozanna le Cœur Hardi
  • Sir Perimones (brother to Persant and Pertolepe; called the Red Knight)
  • Sir Persant
  • Sir Pertolepe
  • Sir Petipace of Winchelsea
  • Sir Plaine de Fors
  • Sir Plenorius
  • Sir Priamus
  • Sir Reynold
  • Sir Sadok
  • Sir Selises of the Dolorous Tower
  • Sir Sentrail
  • Sir Severause le Breuse (known for rejecting battles with men in favour of giants, dragons, and wild beasts)
  • Sir Suppinabiles
  • Earl Ulbawes
  • Sir Urry
  • Sir Uwain le Avoutres
  • Sir Villiars the Valiant

Individual knights[edit]

Aglovale[edit]

The coat of arms of Agloval de Galles

Sir Aglovale (or Agloval) de Galis is the eldest legitimate son of King Pellinore. Like his brothers Sir Tor, Sir Lamorak, Sir Dornar and Sir Percival, he is a Knight of the Round Table. In chivalric romances, Aglovale never cuts as impressive a figure as his brothers Lamorak and Percival, but his valor is unquestioned.

According to the Post Vulgate cycle and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, it is he who first brings Percival to Camelot to be knighted. In the Vulgate Cycle, Aglovale dies accidentally at Gawain's hand during the Quest for the Holy Grail, however in Malory he and his brother Tor are among the knights charged with defending the execution of Guinevere and are both killed when Lancelot and his men rescue the queen.

Aglovale appears prominently in the Dutch romance Morien. In a situation similar to Gahmuret's begetting of Feirefiz in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Aglovale visits Moorish lands where he meets a beautiful black Christian princess and conceives a child with her. He returns to his own lands, and thirteen years later, his son Morien comes to find him. After a number of adventures, father and son are reunited and both return to Morien's country to take back their rightful lands.

In modern works, Aglovale is the eponymous protagonist of Clemence Housman's 1905 novel The Life of Sir Aglovale de Galis. T. H. White's book The Once and Future King gives a particularly endearing portrait of the knight.

Breunor[edit]

The Knight of the Ill-Shapen Coat Chooses His Bride, Helen Stratton's illustration for King Arthur and His Knights (1910)

Sir Breunor le Noir (/ˈbruːnor lə nojr/ or /ˈbʁœ̃nɔʁ lə nwaʁ/) (also spelled Brunor), nicknamed La Cote Male Tayle (Modern French: La Cote Mal Taillée = "the badly-cut coat") by Sir Kay after his arrival in his murdered father's mangled armor and surcoat at King Arthur's court, is a character mentioned in Arthurian legend. He receives his knighthood after saving Guinevere from an escaped lion. His story is told, partially in the Tristram sections of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and in the Prose Tristan, though it is in effect an independent romance.

After Sir Breunor is granted knighthood, a damosel arrives at court bearing a black shield emblazoned with a white hand with a sword, along with a mission. She tells her audience the previous knight who carried the shield died while on the quest, and that she is searching for a knight of similar courage to continue the mission. La Cote Male Tayle decides he would be fit enough to take up the quest and volunteers to go with her. She, disliking that this is to be her chosen knight, continuously taunts him regarding his clothing and appearance, earning her the nickname Maledisant ("Ill Speaker"). After the pair leaves the castle, Breunor le Noir encounters Dagonet, the court jester, who has been sent by Arthur to joust with the new knight. Breunor quickly defeats Dagonet, but Maledisant's taunts increase because the court had sent a fool to challenge Breunor rather than a true knight. Breunor later encounters two other knights, Sir Bleoberis and Sir Palomides. He is challenged by both, and unhorsed by both. They each refuse to fight him on foot and walk away, drawing more criticism from Maledisant. Breunor later travels with Mordred to Castle Orgulous. The knights must fight their way into the castle; after Mordred is injured by one of two knights guarding the castle gates, Breunor le Noir kills them and continues into the castle on his opponent's horse. There, he meets a hundred knights in a lady's chamber. When he gets off his horse to challenge them, the chamber's owner ties his horse so he cannot escape. Breunor somehow wins his way through the knights with the aid of the black shield, mounts his horse, and escapes from the castle. After retelling his tale of escape to Mordred and the Maledisant, she challenges his story and sends a witness to ask what happened in the castle. This proves Maledisant wrong, though Breunor continues to hold his peace and not rebuke her about her disbelief of him. They continue to travel until Mordred leaves and Lancelot du Lake joins the pair. Lancelot, however, ends up leaving them for his own quest after Maledisant redirects her words at him. They come upon the Castle of Pendragon, where one of six knights challenges La Cote Male Tayle to a joust. Breunor successfully wins the joust, but the other five knights attack him in an un-knightly manner, and take him and the damsel into the castle as prisoners. Lancelot ends up rescuing Breunor from the castellan and guards of Castle Pendragon. After their release, Lancelot agrees to ride with them on one condition only: that the damsel stop directing ill words at Breunor and himself. Maledisant then confesses that the only reason for her taunting was that she was testing the knights' strength (if they could take a little teasing from her, then they were apt to continue on the mission). Later they come upon a fortress with a village, near the border of the country of Sursule. La Cote Male Tayle enters the castle alone and defeats two brothers who challenge him. Then he continues on to another fortress, where he comes face to face with Sir Plenorius. Breunor cannot carry on a fight due to the wounds he received in the first joust, so out of pity Plenorius decides not to finish him and instead carries him into the tower as prisoner. When Lancelot hears of this, he challenges Plenorius to a battle that lasts many hours, until Plenorius yields. Breunor remains at the castle in order to recover from his wounds. He recovers quickly and returns with Lancelot and the damosel to King Arthur's court, the quest accomplished. Lancelot gives Breunor the deed to Castle Pendragon. Breunor is made a Knight of the Round Table the following Pentecost.

The tale of La Cote Male Tayle is related thematically to the "Fair Unknown" story popular in the Middle Ages, other versions of which appear in the stories of Gingalain, Gareth, and Percival. It most closely resembles that of Gareth, who was also given an insulting name by Kay upon arriving at Camelot and also had to prove his worth to a damsel who constantly insulted and belittled him. Sir Breunor's adventures first appear embedded in the Prose Tristan, and were popular enough that they were picked up and expanded by later writers including Malory and the authors of the Italian Tavola ritonda. In Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur, Breunor avenges his father's death and marries Maledisant, who is later renamed Bienpensant ("Well-Thinker") due to her changed attitude.

Calogrenant[edit]

Sir Calogrenant, sometimes known in English as Colgrevance, is a cousin to Sir Ywain, and his courtesy and eloquence were known throughout the kingdom. His character has been derived from of the Welsh mythological hero Cynon ap Clydno, usually the lover of Owain's sister Morvydd, althrough in Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain Cynon is stated to be the son of Clydno, possibly connected to Clyddno Eiddin.[2]

Calogrenant first appears in Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. After a good meal, Calogrenant tells a story to a group of knights and Queen Guinevere about an adventure he had in the forest of Brocéliande. He had heard of a magic spring in those woods which could create a huge storm whenever someone poured its water into a nearby basin. With directions from a local family and a gruesomely depicted giant, Calogrenant reached the spring and summoned the storm. Immediately after the storm, a knight named Esclados attacked him for causing such havoc. The knight soundly defeated Calogrenant, but did not kill him. Calogrenant's cousin Ywain is upset that Calogrenant never told him of this defeat, and sets out to avenge him, embarking on the adventure that sets up the remainder of events in the romance. Roger Sherman Loomis and others speculated that Calogrenant was used specifically as a foil for Sir Kay in some lost early version of the Yvain story. In Chrétien's romance he is presented as everything Kay is not: polite, respectful, and well-mannered. By this theory, his name can be deconstructed to "Cai lo grenant", or "Cai the grumbler", which would represent another opposite characteristic of Kay, who was famous for his acid tongue.[2]

Calogrenant appears later in the Lancelot-Grail Cycle as an excellent knight, though his kinship to Ywain is not as clear as in Chrétien. He dies during the Grail Quest while trying to keep Sir Lionel from killing his own brother, Bors. Bors had faced a dilemma over whom to rescue between Lionel, who was getting beaten with thorns by two rogue knights, and a maiden who had just been abducted, and chose the maiden over his brother. Lionel was not pleased by this, and attacked Bors the next time he saw him. A religious hermit tried to intervene, but was killed accidentally in the process, and Calogrenant stepped in. Bors would not fight his brother, and Lionel slays Calogrenant and goes after Bors until God steps in and renders him immobile.

Thomas Malory recounts Calogrenant's death scene in his Le Morte d'Arthur, but also includes another one later in the narrative. Despite dying on the Grail quest, he turns up as one of the twelve knights who help Agravaine and Mordred trap Lancelot and Guinevere together. Lancelot has no armor or weapons, but he pulls Calogrenant into the room and kills him, and uses his sword to defeat the rest of the company (though Mordred escapes).

Claudin[edit]

Prince Claudin, also known as Claudin the Younger or Claudine, is the son of the Frankish King Claudas. He appears in the Old French Lancelot-Grail and Thomas Malory's 15th-century Middle English work Le Morte d'Arthur, in sections based on the French cycle.

His father is a villain during King Arthur's early reign, an enemy to Arthur's French allies Ban and Bors, but Claudin is a virtuous young man and wants no part of his father's schemes. Claudas eventually succumbs to Arthur and company, and Claudin seeks adventure elsewhere. He becomes one of only twelve knights to achieve the Holy Grail, along with Galahad, Bors the Younger, and Percival.

Dinadan[edit]

Sir Dinadan is the son of Sir Brunor Senior, the 'Good Knight without Fear', a brother of Sirs Breunor le Noir and Daniel, and a close friend of Sir Tristan. Like Palamedes and Lamorak, Dinadan was an invention of the Prose Tristan, and appeared in later retellings including the Post-Vulgate Cycle and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

"How King Marke and Sir Dinadan heard Sir Palomides making great sarrow and mourning for La Beale Isoud" by Aubrey Beardsley

Unlike most other knights in Arthurian romance, Dinadan prefers to avoid fights and considers courtly love a waste of time, though he is a brave fighter when he needs to be. He is also nearly always portrayed as the wittiest of all of Arthur's knights. In Le Morte d'Arthur (Book 10, chapter 56), he is visiting the court of Cornwall seeking his friend Tristan, and has supper with Queen La Beale Isoud. Here he reveals that he has (by his own desire) no lady-love or paramour in whose name to do great deeds. Isoud chides him for this, saying that it is a shame for him not to have such a lady, but Dinadan replies; "God defend Me. For the joy of love is too brief; and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth overlong."

Dinadan is known for his good humor and joking nature, and for his mockery of chivalry. He is more sociable than most of the knights, and is often a useful companion because of it. In Le Morte d'Arthur, he is one of the few knights to be able to recognize his fellows from their faces in addition to their shields; in one instance Tristan does not recognize his own King until Dinadan tells him who it is. In one notable exploit, he writes a slanderous ballad about King Mark and sends a troubador to play it at Mark's court. In another episode, he loses a joust when Lancelot catches him off guard by wearing a dress over his armor; Lancelot then puts the dress on his unconscious opponent.

In Tavola Ritonda, Dinadan (Dindano) attempts to murder Mark in revenge for the death of Tristan. In Le Morte d'Arthur, Dinadan is eventually slain by Gawain and Agravain due to his closeness to their hated enemy Lamorak.

In modern fiction, in both the stage version and film adaptation of the musical Camelot, Dinadan has a memorable line: when everyone at the Court except Arthur takes an immediate dislike to Lancelot when he first arrives at Camelot, and as Lady Sybil says of him, "He's so poisonously good", Dinadan quips sarcastically, "He probably walked across the channel."

Elyan the White[edit]

Sir Elyan the White or Helyan le Blanc is the son of Sir Bors. His mother is King Brandegoris' daughter Claire, who tricked Bors into sleeping with her using a magic ring; this is sometimes said to be the only time Bors broke his vow of chastity. When he is older Elyan is accepted as a member to the Round Table, where he becomes known as an excellent knight. Like his father and the rest of his family, Elyan helps his cousin Lancelot rescue Guinevere after their affair is exposed, and joins him in exile.

Elyan's mother Claire is the half-sister of Sir Sagramore; their mother is the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor. According to the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Elyan eventually became Emperor of Constantinople himself

In modern works, he is portrayed as Guinevere's brother in the 2008 TV series Merlin.

Erec[edit]

Sir Erec, the son of King Lac features in numerous Arthurian tales (notably the Post-Vulgate Cycle), but he is most famous as the protagonist in Chrétien de Troyes' first romance, Erec and Enide. Because of Erec and Enide‘s relationship to the Welsh Geraint and Enid, Erec and Geraint are often conflated or confused.

In Chrétien's story, Erec meets his future wife Enide while on a quest to defeat a knight who had mistreated one of Guinevere's servants. The two fall in love and marry, but rumors spread that Erec no longer cares for knighthood or anything else besides his domestic life. Enide cries about these rumors, causing Erec to prove his abilities, both to himself and to his wife, through a test of Enide's love for him. He has her go on a long, tortuous trip with him where she is forbidden to speak to him. She breaks his conditions several times to warn him of danger, and after a number of adventures that prove both his love and his abilities, husband and wife are reconciled. When Erec's father Lac dies, Erec inherits his kingdom.

Galeschin[edit]

Galeschin (or Galeshin) is a nephew of King Arthur, son of the king's half-sister Elaine and King Nentres of Garlot. Celtist Roger Sherman Loomis derives the name Galeschin from the name Galvariun, found on the Modena Archivolt. He theorizes that the name was altered to make it sound more like Galesche, the old French word for Gaul, and derives the name Galvariun from the epithet Gwallt Euryn, found in Culhwch and Olwen, which he translates as "golden hair".

Galeschin appears as one of Gawain's rescuers in the story of the Dolorous Tower in the Vulgate Cycle. He and his cousin Ywain attempt to rescue Gawain from the wicked Sir Carados but are taken captive as well. The trio are eventually rescued by Lancelot. Galeschin is referred to as the Duke of Clarence.[3] (This is an anachronism as the duchy of Clarence was not created until 1362.) Though mentioned in a few other Arthurian stories, Galeschin's role is ultimately minor.

Gornemant[edit]

Gornemant was Percival's mentor. He is mentioned in a few early romances, but achieves prominence in Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail, where he instructs the young hero in the ways of knighthood. Gornemant's niece is Blanchefleur, whom Percival later marries after successfully defending her city against attackers.

In modern works, his character became famous as Gurnemanz in Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal, in which he is one of the main Grail Knights.

Hector de Maris[edit]

Sir Hector de Maris (or Ector de Maris) is the younger half-brother of Lancelot and the natural son of King Ban of Benwick and the Lady de Maris; Sir Bors and Sir Lionel are his cousins. He should not be mistaken with Sir Ector, the father of Sir Kay and foster father of Arthur.

Hector's adventures in the name of King Arthur were many and wide-ranging. With Sir Morganore, it was Hector de Maris who welcomed Sir Tristan to Camelot when he was shipwrecked nearby. The two jousted in a friendly competition, but Hector was ashamed to have been beaten by a knight of Cornwall. Other times he was more successful at tournaments, getting the better of both Sir Palomides and Sir Percivale. He, however, failed to defeat Sir Turquine and became one of the knights he imprisoned before being rescued by his brother, Sir Lancelot. He returned the favour by rediscovering the lost Knight of the Lake after his period of insanity and returning him to the court. He is known to have had a long relationship with Lady Perse of the Narrow Borderland, whose fiancé he murdered in order to be with her. Hector later had an affair with the cousin of the Lady of Roestoc, before being reunited with Perse.

He also participates in the Grail Quest, but he is one of the many knights who prove unworthy of achieving the object. In the Quest du Saint Graal of the Vulgate Cycle, Hector and Gawain are traveling together when they come to a ruined chapel where they pass the night and each has a marvelous dream. The next morning, as they are telling each other their respective visions, they see, "a Hand, showing unto the elbow, and was covered with red samite, and upon that hung a bridle, not rich, and held within the fist a great candle that burnt right clear, and so passed fore them, and entered into the Chapel, and then vanished away, and they wist not where." Jessie Weston found this an "unintelligent" variation on the theme of the perilous Black Hand in other romances in the Grail Cycle.[4]

When Lancelot is caught in his affair with Guinevere, Hector stands by his brother and leaves court with him. He becomes one of the top leaders of Lancelot's faction, participating in the battle to rescue the queen at her execution, and the defense of Lancelot's castle Joyous Guard. Like all his family, he joins Lancelot in France when they are expelled from Arthur's kingdom, and he helps defeat the army led by Mordred's sons after the Battle of Camlann. He then joins his brother at the Archbishop of Canterbury's hermitage and apparently dies there.

Lucan[edit]

Sir Lucan the Butler is a servant of King Arthur and the son of Duke Corneus, brother to Sir Bedivere and cousin to Sir Griflet. He and his relatives are among Arthur's earliest allies in the fight against the rebel kings such as Lot, Urien and Caradoc, and remained one of Arthur's loyal companions throughout his life.

Lucan was a solid and reliable Knight of the Round Table and one of King Arthur's earliest companions. He took on the post of royal butler – an important position in charge of the royal household rather than a serving man. The duties of a "butler" have changed over time; Lucan was supposed to have been in charge of the royal court, along with Bedivere the Marshal and Kay the Seneschal. He valiantly defended Arthur's right to the throne at the Battle of Bedegraine and against subsequent rebellions. Though he sought adventure, he never came to the fore in Arthurian tales with renowned exploits of his own. He always attended the royal tournaments and was once hurt so badly by Sir Tristram that Sir Yvain had to escort him to Gannes Abbey for medical assistance.

In most accounts of Arthur's death, from the Lancelot-Grail cycle to Le Morte d'Arthur, Lucan is one of the last knights at the king's side at the Battle of Camlann and is usually the last of them to die. Sir Lucan remained loyal to King Arthur throughout the schism with Lancelot and on occasion acted as their go-between. Similarly during Mordred's rebellion he stayed by the monarch's side and though wounded, with his brother, Bedivere, he was one of the few knights left standing at Camlann. He tried to dissuade Arthur from his final attack on his son/nephew, but was unsuccessful and the King received his mortal wound. Worried about looters on the battlefield, Lucan and Bedivere attempts to move the dying Arthur into a nearby chapel for safety, but the strain is too much for Lucan as a severe wound bursts open, spilling out his bowels; he dies from his own wounds just before the king returns Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake and sails off for Avalon. Though the knight Arthur asks to cast the sword into the lake is usually Griflet (Lancelot-Grail) or Bedivere (Le Morte d'Arthur, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur), the 16th-century English ballad King Arthur's Death ascribes this duty to Lucan.[5]

In modern works, a character named Lucan appears in the 2004 film King Arthur, played by Johnny Brennan. He is a young boy found and cared for by Arthur's knight Dagonet.

Meliant de Lis[edit]

Meliant de Lis (variants include Melianz, Melians and Melyans) is a minor character in several Arthurian romances. In Livre de Artus, Gawain's lover Floree marries Melianz de Lis. In the Vulgate Lancelot, the second romance of the Vulgate cycle, Carado of the Dolorous Tower takes Melyans le Gai's wife as his mistress.[6] In Queste, the third romance of the cycle, Galahad, Bors and Percival are joined at Castle Corbenic by nine other knights, one of whom is Melians de Danemarche.[7]

Morholt[edit]

Morholt (also called Marhalt, Marhault, Morold, Marhaus and other variations) is an Irish warrior who demands tribute from King Mark of Cornwall until he is slain by Tristan, Mark's nephew and defender. In many versions of the legend, Morholt's name is prefaced with a definite article (i.e. The Morholt) as if it were a rank or a title, but scholars have found no reason for this.[8]

He appears in almost all versions of the Tristan and Iseult story, beginning with the verse works of Thomas of Britain and Béroul. In the early material, Morholt is the brother of the Queen of Ireland and the uncle of Tristan's future love (both mother and daughter are named Iseult). He comes to Cornwall to collect tribute owed to his country, but Tristan agrees to battle the champion on the remote Saint Samson's Isle in order to release his people from the debt. Tristan mortally wounds Morholt, leaving a piece of his sword in the Irishman's skull, but Morholt stabs him with a poisoned spear and escapes to Ireland to die. The injured Tristan eventually travels to Ireland incognito to receive healing from the Iseult the Younger, but is found out when the queen discovers the piece of metal found in her brother's head fits perfectly into a chink in Tristan's blade.

The authors of later romances expanded Morholt's role; in works like the Prose Tristan, the Post-Vulgate Cycle, and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, he is a Knight of the Round Table before his fateful encounter with Tristan. The prose romances add many more details to Morholt's career; the Post-Vulgate and Malory record his adventures with the young Gawain and Ywain early in King Arthur's reign. In the later versions, Tristan takes Morholt's place at the Round Table when he joins the company himself.

Safir[edit]

Sir Safir is the youngest son of the Saracen king Esclabor in the Arthurian legend. He is a courageous and loyal knight and was, in his time, a fairly popular character, showing up in the Prose Tristan and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. His name is included on the Winchester Round Table. Both his brothers, Segwarides and Palamedes, also belong to the Round Table.

Safir appears in many works of Arthurian literature, usually alongside his brother Palamedes. Though he is a younger brother, Safir converted to Christianity some time before Palamedes. In one story, Safir is disguised as Sir Ector de Maris and fights with Sir Helior le Preuse, defeats him, and wins Sir Espinogres' lady. Vowing to defend the lady's honor, Sir Palamedes arrives on the scene, and locks sword with Safir, not realizing it is his brother. After fighting for an hour, both are impressed with each other's prowess and skill, and decide to ask the other's identity. Safir is devastated to find that he was fighting with his own brother and asks Palamedes for forgiveness; together, they return the lady to Espinogres. When the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere is exposed, Safir and Palamedes join Lancelot's side in the ensuing civil war between Lancelot and King Arthur. When they are banished to Lancelot's homeland in Gaul, Safir is made Duke of Landok while Palamedes becomes Duke of Provence.

Segwarides[edit]

Tristan and Segwarides (1912)

Segwarides is a liegeman of King Mark who is cuckolded by Tristan in the Prose Tristan and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Malory also lists a knight of this name as a son of the Saracen king Esclabor, his brothers being Palamedes and Safir; it seems there were originally two characters of this name, but the stories in which they appear fail to differentiate between them.

In Malory, Tristan has a brief affair with Segwarides' wife, and wounds the knight after being found out. Tristan encounters Segwarides later on the Isle of Servage. Segwardies forgives the more famous knight saying he "will never hate a noble knight for a light lady" and the two team up to avoid the dangers of the isle. Soon afterwards, Tristan makes Segwarides the Lord of Servage. Segwarides is eventually killed trying to repel Lancelot's rescue of Guinevere from the stake.

Tor[edit]

Sir Tor appears frequently in Arthurian literature. In earlier mentions Tor's father is King Ars or Aries,[9] but the Post-Vulgate Cycle and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur say this man is his adoptive father while his natural father is King Pellinore.[10][11]

In the Post-Vulgate and Malory, Tor is brother to Sir Aglovale, Sir Lamorak, Sir Dornar, Sir Percival, and Dindrane. He is born when Pellinore sleeps with his mother "half by force", and she marries Aries shortly afterward; here Aries is not a king, but a shepherd. Tor and his twelve half-brothers are raised as shepherds, but Tor dreams of being a knight. Finally his parents take him to King Arthur's court, and Arthur makes the boy one of his first knights. Later Merlin reveals Tor's true parentage, and Pellinore embraces his son; neither Aries nor his wife seem offended. Tor distinguishes himself at the wedding feast of Arthur and Guinevere when he takes up a quest to retrieve a mysterious white brachet hound that had come into the court. According to Malory, Tor and his brother Aglovale are among the knights charged with defending the execution of Guinevere and they both die when Lancelot and his followers rescue the queen.[12]

Ywain the Bastard[edit]

Ywain's arms according to M. Pastoureau[13]

Ywain the Bastard, also called Ywain the Adventurous, is a son of King Urien of Gore. He is often confused with his half-brother Sir Ywain, after whom he was named; while the older Ywain is the child of Urien and his wife Morgan le Fay, King Urien sired Ywain the Bastard on the wife of his seneschal.

He is encountered frequently in Arthurian romance as a hearty and sensible warrior. His death comes at the hands of his cousin Gawain during the Quest for the Holy Grail. The two meet, disguised by their armor, and decide to joust. Ywain is mortally wounded, and it is not until Gawain takes him to a hermitage for his last rites that he realizes he has killed his own cousin.

Additional knights (Malory)[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, the Winchester Manuscript. Edited and abridged by Helen Cooper, this book was published by Oxford University Press in 1998.
  2. ^ a b Loomis, Roger (1949). Arthurian Tradition and Chretien De Troyes. Columbia University Press.
  3. ^ Loomis (1997), p.63
  4. ^ Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance 1920 Chapter XIII The Perilous Chapel.
  5. ^ "King Arthur's Death" is a continuation of the ballad "The Legend of King Arthur". See Noble, James (1991). "King Arthur's Death". In Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.), The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, pp. 262–263. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
  6. ^ Loomis (1997). p.11
  7. ^ Loomis (1997). p.157
  8. ^ Curtis, Renée L. (translator) (1994). The Romance of Tristan, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-282792-8.
  9. ^ For example, Chrétien de Troyes' list of knights in Erec and Enide. From Owen, Arthurian Romances.
  10. ^ Lacy, Lancelot-Grail, volume 4.
  11. ^ Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Book III, ch. IV, p. 83.
  12. ^ Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Book XX, ch. VII, p. 880.
  13. ^ Pastoureau, Michel (2009). L'Art de l'héraldique au Moyen Âge (in French). Paris: éditions du Seuil. p. 199. ISBN 978-2-02-098984-8.

Sources[edit]

  • Chrétien de Troyes; Owen, D. D. R. (translator) (1988). Arthurian Romances. New York: Everyman's Library. ISBN 0-460-87389-X.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (April 1, 1995). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 4 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-0748-9.
  • Malory, Thomas; Bryan, Elizabeth J. (introduction) (1994). Le Morte d'Arthur. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-60099-X. (Pollard text.)
  • Loomis, Roger Sherman (1997). Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance. Academy Chicago Publishers. ISBN 0-89733-436-1.
  • Wilson, Robert H. The "Fair Unknown" in Malory. Publications of the Modern-Language Association of America. 1943.

External links[edit]