Cath Palug

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Cath Palug, also Cath Paluc, Cath Balug, Cath Balwg, Chapalu, Capalu, or Capalus, literally "Palug's cat", or maybe from the Welsh 'palug,' meaning 'clawing,' was a monstrous cat in French and Welsh legend. It was said to haunt the Isle of Anglesey, and to have killed and eaten nine score warriors.

Welsh Texts[edit]

  • Trioedd Ynys Prydain / The Welsh Triads, written at the end of the 13th century. A black kitten born at Llanveir is found. It grows and becomes one of the three plagues of the isle of Anglesey. The Welsh Triads (Trioedd Ynys Prydain) portray it as one of the strange offspring of Henwen, the great white sow, and claim that at birth it was thrown into the sea to drown. Surviving, it instead swam to Anglesey where the sons of Palug raised it, not realizing its deadly potential.[1]
  • Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin / The Black Book of Carmarthen.,[2] written before 1250. The Cath Palug comes from the sea, it wreaks havoc and devastates the land until slain by Cai (Sir Kay or Keu).

French Texts[edit]

The French versions relate a battle between King Arthur himself and the Chapalu. Sometimes the beast wins, sometimes King Arthur wins.

  • La Bataille Loquifer/ The battle of Loquifer, written in 1170 by Graindor de Brie. In this manuscript the Cath Palug is the issue of the rape of the fairy Brunehaut by Gringalet the luiton. Gringalet is also the name of the horse of Gauvain. This might explain the description of the chapalus : the body of a horse, the head of a cat with red eyes.[3] sometimes it is also said to have the claws of a dragon and the tail of a lion.
  • Li Romanz des Franceis / The Roman of the French, written in the 12th century by André de Coutance, satiric poem where the author tries to provoke the English by insulting the memory of King Arthur :Que boté fu par Capalu, Li reis Artur en la palu : That kicked (up the arse) by Chapalu, King Arthur (was) in the swamps. The poem goes on to relate that, after killing Arthur, the Chapalu swam to England and became king in his place.
  • Galeran de Bretagne / Galeran of Brittain, written in the 13th century and inspired by Li Romanz des Franceis [4]
  • L’Estoire de Merlin/ The story of Merlin, written in the 13th century. A man fishing in the lake of Le Bourget swears that he will dedicate to God the first creature that he catches, but fails to keep his oath. At the third cast of his line he catches a black kitten, which he takes home, only for it to grow to gigantic proportions. The giant cat then kills the fisherman, his entire family, and subsequently any traveller unwise enough to come near the lake. It is, however, finally killed by King Arthur.
  • Ogier de Danemarche / Ogier the Dane.,[5] Probably inspired by The battle of Loquifer. The fight between king Arthur and the Chapalu is presented in the form of a tale of disenchantment, in which only defeat in single combat can free the Chapalu from the curse that trapped it in monster form. When it is vanquished in battle the Chapalu becomes a human called Benoit (blessed).

German Text[edit]

  • Manuel und Amande A fragmentary, Middle German poem written between 1170 and the beginning of the 13th century. Describes the Chapalu as a catlike fish.


The fight between King Arthur and Cath Palug is figurated on a mosaic in the Cathedral of Otranto[6]


The French tradition associates it with the Mont du Chat in the Savoie region of France, near Lake Geneva, where Arthur was defeated by the Cat in a battle fought in a swamp (pallu) near that mountain.

The Welsh tradition gives as localisation the Isle of Anglesey but born at Llanveir.

The Cath Palug is always localised nearby water ; lake of Bourget and Lake of Geneva in France, the sea in Wales.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Bromwich, Rachel (ed), Trioedd Ynys Prydain (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1964), Triad 23: Three Powerful Swineherds of the Island of Britain.
  2. ^ "The Black Book of Carmarthen". National Library of Wales. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Carolyne Larrington, King Arthur's enchantresses Morgan and her sisters in Arthurian tradition, London New York, I.B. Tauris, 2006 (ISBN 978-1-845-11113-7)
  4. ^ Terry, Patricia; Nancy Vine (1993). The Romance of the Rose or Guillaume De Dole. U of Pennsylvania P. ISBN 0-8122-1388-2
  5. ^ The article Holger Danske in Nordisk familjebok (1909)
  6. ^ Helmut Nickel, « About Palug's cat and the mosaic of Otranto » dans Arthurian Interpretations, vol. 3, No. 2, sommer 1989, p. 96-105
  • Bromwich, Rachel (ed), Trioedd Ynys Prydain (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1964), Triad 23: Three Powerful Swineherds of the Island of Britain.

External links[edit]