Hellawes (sorceress)

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An 1870 illustration by Aubrey Beardsley: "Sir Launcelot and the witch Hellawes"

The sorceress Hellawes is a minor character in Thomas Malory's 15th-century compilation of Arthurian legends Le Morte d'Arthur, a treacherous magician whom Sir Lancelot encounters in his pursuit of a holy sword or cloth (the talisman needed to heal his wounded liegeman, Meliot of Logres).

Hellawes managed to lure the questing knight into her fearsome chapel perilous, but Lancelot—the object of her obsessive and unrequited love—successfully escaped.

Lancelot braved the chapel to retrieve a sword and discovered that its terrifying properties were simply illusions. Hellawes appeared before him and asked him for a kiss in exchange for the sword, but Lancelot refused. It turned out that Lancelot would have perished from the kiss had he consented. Hellawes had tendencies toward necrophilia, and she would have rather had Lancelot as a dead lover than to have lived without him. Lancelot hurried away, and Hellawes died a few weeks later from sorrow. [Christopher W. Bruce, "The Arthurian Name Dictionary," 1999][1]


  1. ^ Bruce, Christopher. Entry "Hellawes the Sorceress". The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  • Arthur Cotterell. The Encyclopedia of Mythology, p. 115. ISBN 0-681-37581-7
  • Patricia Monaghan. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore, p. 244. ISBN 0-8160-4524-0

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