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|Matter of Britain character|
|First appearance||Erec and Enide|
|Created by||Possibly Chrétien de Troyes|
|Based on||Uncertain origins|
|Occupation||Knight of the Round Table|
|Family||Ban, Elaine of Benoic, Lady of the Lake, Hector de Maris, Lionel, Bors, Bleoberis|
|Significant other||Guinevere, Elaine of Corbenic, possibly Galehaut|
|Origin||Benoic (in today's northern France)|
Lancelot du Lac (meaning Lancelot of the Lake, Welsh: Lawnslot y Llyn), also written as Launcelot and other variants (including early German Lanzelet, early French Lanselos, early Welsh Lanslod Lak, Italian Lancelotto and Lanci[a]lotto, and Spanish Lanzarote del Lago) is one of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, where he typically figures as King Arthur's greatest companion and one of his greatest knights. In the best-known tradition, Lancelot is the orphaned son of King Ban of Benwick, raised in a fairy realm by the Lady of the Lake. He then becomes the lord of Joyous Gard, and the greatest swordsman and jouster as the knight of most martial prowess of the age. When his adulterous affair with Queen Guinevere is discovered, it causes a civil war that is exploited by Mordred to end Arthur's kingdom.
His first appearance as a main character is found in Chrétien de Troyes' poem Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, written in the 12th century. Later, his exploits were expanded upon in other works, especially the vast Lancelot-Grail prose cycle that presented the now-familiar version of his legend. There, his and Lady Elaine's son, Galahad, becomes an even more perfect knight and the ultimate achiever of the Holy Grail.
Name and origins
In a theory postulated by Roger Sherman Loomis, Lancelot is related to the characters of Llenlleog (Llenlleawg), the Irishman from Culhwch and Olwen (which associates him with the "headland of Gan(i)on"), and the Welsh hero named Llwch Llawwynnauc (probably a version of the euhemerised Irish deity Lugh Lonbemnech, with "Llwch" meaning "Lake" in Welsh), possibly via a now-forgotten epithet like Lamhcalad, suggesting they are the same figure due to the fact that their names are similar and that they both wield a sword and fight for a cauldron in Preiddeu Annwn and in Culhwch. According to more modern scholars like Norma Lorre Goodrich, the name, if not just an invention of the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes, may have been derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth's character Anguselaus that turned into Anselaus (which in turn was probably a Latinised name of Unguist, a son of the 6th-century Pictish king Forgus) when translated from Geoffrey's Latin into Old French.
Alfred Anscombe proposed that the name came from Germanic *Wlancloth, with roots akin to Old English wlenceo (pride) and loða (cloak), in connection with Vinoviloth, the name of a Gothic chief or tribe mentioned in the Getica (6th century). Other 6th-century candidates for Lancelot's prototype have included French saint Fraimbault de Lassay; Wlanc[a], a son-in-law of the Anglo-Saxon king Ælle of Sussex; and Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd. Proponents of the Scythian origins of the Arthurian legend speculated that an early form might have been Alanus-à-Lot, that is "Alan of the Lot River", while those looking for clues in the Antiquity see elements of Lancelot in Ancient Greek related mythical figures of Askalos and Mopsus (Moxus).
Lancelot may be also a variant of the name Lancelin, derived from the Old French word L'Ancelot, meaning "Servant" (Lancelot is in fact written this way in several manuscripts). Lancelot or Lancelin may instead have been the hero of an independent folk tale which had contact with and was ultimately absorbed into the Arthurian tradition. The theft of an infant by a water fairy, the appearance of the hero at a tournament on three consecutive days in three different disguises, and the rescue of a queen or princess from an Otherworld prison are all features of a well-known and widespread tale, variants of which are found in numerous examples collected by Theodore Hersart de la Villemarqué in his Barzaz Breiz, by Emmanuel Cosquin in his Contes Lorrains, and by John Francis Campbell in his Tales of the West Highlands.
Lancelot's name appears as third on a list of knights at King Arthur's court in the earliest known work by Chrétien de Troyes, Erec and Enide (1170). The fact that his name follows Gawain and Erec indicates the presumed importance of the knight at court, even though he did not figure prominently in Chrétien's tale. Lancelot reappears in Chrétien's Cligès, in which he takes a more important role as one of the knights that Cligès must overcome in his quest. It is not until Chrétien's poem Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart (Le Chevalier de la Charrette), however, that Lancelot becomes the protagonist. It is also Chrétien who first gives Lancelot the name Lancelot du Lac (Lancelot of the Lake), which was later picked up by the French authors of the Lancelot-Grail and then by Thomas Malory. Chrétien treats Lancelot as if his audience were already familiar with the character's background, yet most of the characteristics and exploits that are today commonly associated with Lancelot are first mentioned here. The story centers on Lancelot's rescue of Queen Guinevere after she has been abducted by Meliagant. In the words of Matilda Bruckner, "what existed before Chrétien remains uncertain, but there is no doubt that his version became the starting point for all subsequent tales of Lancelot as the knight whose extraordinary prowess is inextricably linked to his love for Arthur’s Queen."
Lancelot's passion for Arthur's wife Guinevere is entirely absent from another early work, Lanzelet, a Middle High German epic poem by Ulrich von Zatzikhoven dating from the very end of the 12th century (no earlier than 1194). Ulrich asserts that his poem is a translation from an earlier French work from an unspecified book he had obtained, the provenance of which is given and which must have differed markedly in several points from Chrétien's story. In Lanzelet, the abductor of Ginover (Guinevere) is named as King Valerin, whose name (unlike that of Chrétien's Meliagant) does not appear to derive from the Welsh Melwas. Furthermore, Ginover's rescuer is not Lanzelet, who instead ends up finding happiness in marriage with the fairy princess Iblis; instead, the hero of Ulrich's book is Arthur's nephew, the son of Arthur's sister Queen Clarine. Like Lancelot, he is raised by a water fairy (here the Queen of the Maidenland, having lost his father King Pant of Genewis to a rebellion). It has been suggested that Lancelot was originally the hero of a story independent of the adulterous love triangle and perhaps very similar to Ulrich's version. If this is true, then the motif of adultery might either have been invented by Chrétien for his Chevalier de la Charrette or been present in the (now lost) source provided him by his patroness, Marie de Champagne, a lady well known for her keen interest in matters relating to courtly love.
Evolution of the legend
Lancelot's character was significantly further developed during the 13th century in the Old French prose romance Vulgate Cycle, where he appears prominently in the later parts, known as the Prose Lancelot (or Lancelot du Lac) and the Queste del Saint Graal (The Quest for the Holy Grail) respectively. Gaston Paris argued that the Guinevere-Meleagant episode of the Prose Lancelot is an almost literal adaptation of Chrétien's poem, the courtly love theme of which seemed to be forced on the unwilling Chrétien by Marie, though it can be seen as a considerable amplification. Much of the Lancelot material from the Vulgate Cycle has been later removed in the rewriting known as the Post-Vulgate Cycle, with the surviving parts being reworked and attached to the other parts of this cycle. The forbidden love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere can be seen as parallel to that of Tristan and Iseult, with him ultimately identified with the tragedy of chance and human failing that is responsible for the downfall of the Round Table in the later works continuing Chrétien's story.
Lancelot is often tied to the Christian themes within Arthurian legend. Lancelot's quest for Guinevere in Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart is similar to Christ's quest for the human soul. His adventure among the tombs is described in terms that suggest Christ's harrowing of Hell and resurrection: he effortlessly lifts the lid off the sarcophagus, which bears an inscription foretelling his freeing of the captives. Lancelot would later become one of the chief knights associated with the Holy Grail, but Chrétien does not include him at all in his final romance Perceval, le Conte du Graal, the story that introduced the motif into medieval literature. Perceval is the sole seeker of the Grail in Chrétien's treatment; Lancelot's involvement in the Grail Quest is first recorded in the romance Perlesvaus written between 1200 and 1210.
The Middle Dutch so-called Lancelot Compilation (c. 1320) contains seven Arthurian romances, including a new Lancelot one, folded into the three parts of the cycle; the creation of a new romance in the Netherlands indicates Lancelot's widespread popularity even prior to the Lancelot-Grail. In this story, Lanceloet en het hert met het witte voet ("Lancelot and the hart with the white foot"), Lancelot fights seven lions to get the white foot from a hart (deer) which will allow him to marry a princess. Near the end of the 15th century, Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur followed the Lancelot-Grail cycle in presenting Lancelot as the best knight, a departure from the prior English tradition in which Gawain was prominent.
In French prose cycles and Le Morte d'Arthur
Birth and childhood
In the Vulgate Cycle, Lancelot, birth name Galahad (originally written Galaad or Galaaz, not to be confused with his own son of the same name), is born "in the borderland between Gaul and Brittany" as the son of the Gallo-Roman King Ban of Benwick (or Benoic), which is overrun by their Frankish enemy, King Claudas. Ban and his wife Queen Elaine flee the destruction of their final stronghold, carrying the infant child with them. As Elaine is tending to her dying husband, Lancelot is carried off by a fairy enchantress known as the Lady of the Lake, who then raises the child in her magical realm while Elaine becomes a nun. (In an alternate version from the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, the newborn Lancelot is taken when the late Ban's wife Gostanza delivers him two months early and soon after also dies.)
The child Lancelot grows up and matures much faster than he would naturally do, and it is from this upbringing that he earns the name du Lac – of the Lake. His double-cousins Lionel and Bors the Younger, sons of King Bors of Gaul and Elaine of Benoic's sister Evaine, are first taken by a knight of Claudas and later spirited away to the Lady of the Lake to become Lancelot's junior companions. Lancelot's other notable surviving kinsmen often include Bleoberis de Ganis and Hector de Maris among other and usually more distant relatives. Many of them will also join him at the Round Table, as do all of the mentioned above as well as some of their sons, such as Elyan the White, and Lancelot's own son too. (In the Prose Lancelot, the minor Knights of the Round Table also mentioned as related to Lancelot in one way or another count Aban, Acantan the Agile, Banin, Blamor, Brandinor, Crinides the Black, Danubre the Brave, Gadran, Hebes the Famous, Lelas, Ocursus the Black, Pincados, Tanri, and more. They are different and fewer in Malory.)
Arthur and Guinevere
Initially known only as the nameless White Knight (Blanc Chevalier), clad in silver steel on a white horse, the young Lancelot arrives in Arthur's kingdom of Logres with the Lady of the Lake to be knighted by the king at her behest. The Lady gives him a powerful magic ring able to dispel any enchantment (as his anonymous fairy foster mother also does in Chrétien's version), among other enchanted items with various abilities (including a lance and a sword, a tent, and a mirror). She and her damsels also continue aiding him in various ways through the Vulgate Lancelot. In the Vulgate, the White Knight later takes the name of his grandfather, King Lancelot, upon discovering his identity. In the Post-Vulgate, where Lancelot is no longer the central protagonist, he instead comes to Arthur's court alone and eventually is made a knight after releasing Gawain from enemy captivity, previously also having almost defeated Arthur himself when the king dueled Lancelot without being known (Arthur's magic sword, meant to be used only for the sake of the kingdom and justice, may be broken either in this fight or the one against King Pellinore).
Almost immediately upon his arrival, Lancelot and the young Queen Guinevere fall in love through a strange magical connection between them, and one of his adventures in the prose cycles involves saving her from abduction by Arthur's enemy Maleagant. The exact timing and sequence of events varies from one source to another, and some details are found only in certain sources. The Maleagant episode actually marked the end of the original, non-cyclic version of the Prose Lancelot, telling of only his childhood and early youth, before the later much longer versions. In Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the adulterous relationship is postponed for years, as Lancelot's rescue of the Queen from Meleagant (during which, as Malory wrote, "Sir Launcelot wente to bedde with the Quene and toke no force of his hurte honed, but toke his plesaunce and hys lyknge untyll hit was the dawning of the day" after breaking through into her chamber) takes place following the Grail Quest. Nevertheless, just as in Malory's "French book" source, his Lancelot too devotes himself to the service of Guinevere already early in the tale.
Lancelot's knight-errant style initial adventures from the Vulgate Cycle that have been included in Malory's compilation range from proving victorious in a tournament fighting on behalf of King Bagdemagus, slaying the mighty villain Turquine who had been holding several of Arthur's knights prisoner, to overcoming a damsel's betrayal to defend himself unarmed against her husband Phelot. In the adventures exclusive to the Vulgate Lancelot, his further great deeds include slaying multiple dragons and giants. He also plays a decisive role in the war against the Saxons in Lothian (Scotland), when he again rescues Arthur and Gawain (as he does on different occasions) and forces the Saxon witch-princess Camille to surrender. Lancelot dedicates his deeds to his lady Guinevere, acting in her name as her knight. At one point, he goes mad when led to believe that Guinevere doubts his love, until he is found and healed by the Lady of the Lake. Another instance of Lancelot temporarily losing his mind occurs during his brief imprisonment by Camille, after which too he is cured by the Lady. The motif of his recurring fits of madness (especially "in presence of sexually charged women") and suicidal tendencies (usually relating to the false or real news of the death of either Gawain or Galehaut) returns often through the Vulgate and sometimes also other versions. He also may harbor a darker, more violent side of character that is usually suppressed by the chivalric code but can become easily unleashed during the moments of action.
Eventually, Lancelot wins his own castle in Britain, known as Joyous Gard (a former Dolorous Gard), where he learns his real name and heritage. With the help of King Arthur, Lancelot then defeats Claudas (and his allied Romans in the Vulgate) and recovers his father's kingdom. However, he again decides to remain at Camelot with his cousins Bors and Lionel and his illegitimate half-brother Hector de Maris (Ector). Lancelot, incognito as the Black Knight (on another occasion he disguises himself as the Red Knight as well), also plays a decisive role in a war between Arthur and Galehaut (Galahaut). Galahaut is Arthur's enemy and poised to become the victor, but he is taken by Lancelot's amazing battlefield performance and offers him a boon in return for the privilege of one night's company in the bivouac. Lancelot accepts and uses his boon to demand that Galehaut surrender peacefully to Arthur. At first, Lancelot continues to serve Galehaut in his home country Sorelois, where Guinevere joins him in refuge after Lancelot saves her from the bewitched Arthur during the False Guinevere episode. After that, Arthur invites Lancelot to become a member of the Round Table, and Galahaut as well. In spite of this happy outcome, Galahaut is the one who convinces Guinevere that she may return Lancelot's affection, an action that at least partially will result in the fall of Camelot. In the Prose Tristan and its adaptations, including the account within the Post-Vulgate Queste, Lancelot gives refuge to the fugitive lovers Tristan and Iseult as they flee from the evil King Mark of Cornwall.
Lancelot becomes one of the most famous Knights of the Round Table (even attested as the best knight in the world in Malory's own episode of Sir Urry of Hungary) and an object of desire by many ladies, beginning with the Lady of Malehaut when he is her captive already early on in the Vulgate Lancelot. Faithful to Queen Guinevere, he refuses the forceful advances of Queen Morgan le Fay, Arthur's enchantress sister. Morgan constantly attempts to seduce Lancelot, whom she at once lustfully loves and hates with the same great intensity. She even kidnaps him repeatedly, once with her coven of fellow magical queens including Sebile. On one occasion (as told in the Prose Lancelot), Morgan agrees to let Lancelot go save Gawain if he will return to her immediately afterwards, and then sets him free on promise that he will not spend any time with either Guinevere or Galehaut for a year; this condition causes Lancelot to go half-mad, and Galehaut to fall sick out of longing for him and eventually to die of anguish after he receives a false rumour of Lancelot's suicide. Another sorceress, named Hellawes, wants him for herself so obsessively that, failing in having him either dead or alive in Malory's chapel perilous episode, she soon herself dies from sorrow. Similarly, Elaine of Astolat (Vulgate's Demoiselle d'Escalot, in modern times better known as "the Lady of Shalott"), also dies of heartbreak due to her unrequited love of Lancelot. On his side, Lancelot himself falls in a mutual but purely platonic love with an avowed-virgin maiden whom Malory calls Amable (unnamed in the Vulgate).
Galahad and the Grail
Princess Elaine of Corbenic, daughter of the Fisher King, also falls in love with him; she is more successful than the others. With the help of magic, Elaine tricks Lancelot into believing that she is Guinevere, and he sleeps with her. The ensuing pregnancy results in the birth of his son Galahad, whom Elaine will send off to grow up without father and who later emerges as the Merlin-prophesied Good Knight. But Guinevere learns of that affair and, furious when she finds that Elaine has made Lancelot sleep with her by trickery for the second time and in Guinevere's own castle, she blames Lancelot and banishes him from Camelot. Broken by her reaction, Lancelot goes mad again and wanders the wilderness for (either two or five) years. During this time, he is searched for by the remorseful Guinevere and the others. Eventually, he arrives back at Corbenic where he is recognised by Elaine. Lancelot, shown the Holy Grail through a veil, is cured of his madness, and then chooses to live with her on a remote isle where is known incognito as the Wicked Knight (Chevalier Malfait, the form also used also by Malory). After ten years pass since his recovery, Lancelot is finally found by Perceval and Ector, who have both been sent to look for him by Guinevere.
Upon his at long last return to the court of Camelot, Lancelot takes part in the great Grail Quest. The quest is initiated by Lancelot's estranged son, the young teenage Galahad, having prevailed over his father in a duel during his own dramatic arrival at Camelot, among other acts that proved him as the most perfect knight. Following further adventures, during which he experienced defeats and humiliation, Lancelot himself is allowed only a glimpse of the Grail because he is an adulterer and furthermore was distracted from the faith in God by earthly honours that have come through his knightly prowess. It is instead his spiritually-pure son who ultimately achieves the Grail. Galahad's also virgin companions, Lancelot's cousin Bors the Younger and Pellinore's son Perceval, then witness his ascension into the Heaven.
Later years and death
Ultimately, Lancelot's affair with Guinevere is a destructive force, which was glorified and justified in the Vulgate Lancelot but becomes condemned by the time of the Vulgate Queste. After his failure in the Grail quest, Lancelot tries to live a chaste life, angering Guinevere who sends him away, although they soon reconcile and resume their relationship as it was before Elaine and Galahad. When Maleagant tries to prove Guinevere's infidelity, he is killed by Lancelot in a trial by combat. Lancelot also saves the Queen from an accusation of murder by poison when he fights as her champion against Mador de la Porte upon his timely return in another episode included in Malory's version. (In all, he fights in five out of the total of eleven such duels taking place through the Prose Lancelot.) But when the truth is finally revealed to Arthur by Morgan, it leads to the death of three of Gawain's brothers (Agravain, Gaheris and Gareth) when Lancelot with his family and followers arrive to violently save Guinevere from being burned at the stake and slaughter the men sent by Arthur to guard the execution, including those who went unwilling and unarmed. In Malory's version, Agravain is killed by him earlier, during Lancelot's also bloody escape from Camelot. In the Mort Artu, Lancelot's own, now vacated seat at the Round Table is given to an Irish knight named Elians.
The massacre of Arthur's nephews sets in motion the events leading to the treason by Mordred and the disappearance and apparent death of Arthur, in the new version introduced in the Vulgate Mort Artu by replacing the great Roman War from the chronicle tradition. What first follows it is a war waged against Lancelot's faction by Arthur and the vengeful Gawain: they besiege Lancelot at Joyous Gard for two months and then pursue him with their army into Gaul (France in Malory). The eventual result of this is the betrayal of Arthur by Mordred, the king's bastard son (and formerly one of Lancelot's young followers), who falsely announces Arthur's death to seize the throne for himself. Meanwhile, Gawain challenges Lancelot to a duel twice; each time Lancelot delays because of Gawain's enchantment that makes him grow stronger between morning and noon, then strikes down Gawain with Galahad's sword but spares his life. However, Gawain's head wound he received nevertheless proves to be fatal later, reopened during the war with Mordred back in Britain. Upon receiving a desperate letter from the dying Gawain offering him forgiveness and asking for his help in the fight against Mordred, Lancelot hurries to return to Britain too, only to hear the news of Arthur's death at Salisbury Plain (romance version of the Battle of Camlann).
There are two main variants of Lancelot's demise, both involving him spending his final years living away from the society as a hermit monk. In the original one from the Vulgate Mort Artu, after mourning his comrades, Lancelot's participation in a victorious war against the young sons of Mordred and their Saxon allies provides him a partial atonement for his earlier role in the story. Lancelot personally kills the younger of Mordred's sons after chasing him in a forest in the battle at Winchester, but then goes abruptly missing. Separated from the society, Lancelot dies of illness four years later while accompanied by only Hector, Bleoberis, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury. It is implied that he wished to be buried beside the king and queen, however he had made a vow some time before to be buried at Joyous Gard next to Galehaut, so he asks to be buried there so as to keep his word. In the Post-Vulgate, the burial site and bodies of Lancelot and Galehaut are later destroyed by King Mark when he ravages Arthur's former kingdom.
There is no war with the sons of Mordred in the version included in Le Morte d'Arthur. In it, Guinevere blames all the destruction of the Round Table upon their adulterous relationship, which is the seed of all the dismay that followed, and has become a nun. She refuses to kiss Lancelot one last time, telling him to return to his lands and that he will never see her face again. Instead, Lancelot declares that, if she will take a life of penitence, then so will he. Lancelot retires to a hermitage to seek redemption, with eight of his kin joining him in monastic life, including Hector. As a monk, he later conducts last rites over Guinevere's body (who had become an abbess). As she had declared, he never saw her face again in life: in a dream, he is warned that she is dying; he sets out to visit her, but Guinevere prays that she might die before he arrives, which she does, half an hour before his arrival. After the queen's death, Lancelot and his fellow knights escort her body to be interred beside King Arthur (in the same place where Gawain's skull is kept). The distraught Lancelot's health then begins to fail (in fact, even before this time, Le Morte d'Arthur states that he had lost a cubit of height due to his fastings and prayers). Lancelot dies six weeks after the death of the queen. His eight companions return to France in order to take care of the affairs of their lands after his death. Acting on Lancelot's death-bed request, they go on a crusade to the Holy Land and all die there fighting the Saracens ("Turks" in Malory).
In modern culture
Lancelot appeared as a character in many Arthurian films and television productions, sometimes even as the protagonistic titular character. He has been played by Robert Taylor in Knights of the Round Table (1953), William Russell in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956–1957), Robert Goulet in Camelot (1960), Cornel Wilde in Sword of Lancelot (1963), Franco Nero in Camelot (1967), Luc Simon in Lancelot du Lac (1974), Nicholas Clay in Excalibur (1981), Richard Gere in First Knight (1995), Jeremy Sheffield in Merlin (1998), Phil Cornwell in King Arthur's Disasters (2005–2006), Thomas Cousseau in Kaamelott (2005–2009), Santiago Cabrera in Merlin (2008–2011), Christopher Tavarez in Avalon High (2010), Sinqua Walls in Once Upon a Time (2012, 2015), Dan Stevens in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), and Martin McCreadie in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), among others.
- T. H. White's novel The Once and Future King (1958) portrays Lancelot very differently from his usual image in the legend. Here, Lancelot is immensely ugly and introverted, having difficulty dealing with people.
- Lancelot is played by John Cleese in the Arthurian parody Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). He is portrayed as an awkward knight prone to sudden and uncontrolled outbursts of violence in the section "Sir Lancelot the Brave" that shows his misguided rampage to save a princess who turns out to be a prince and who did not really need to be rescued. He is also a principal character in the follow-up musical Spamalot (2005), played by Hank Azaria. In this version, Lancelot is gay and marries Prince Herbert, who is portrayed by Christian Borle.
- In Roger Zelazny's short story "The Last Defender of Camelot" (1979), the magically-immortal Lancelot finally dies helping Morgana save the world from the mad Merlin in the 20th century. He is played by Richard Kiley in a 1986 episode of The Twilight Zone based on the story.
- In Marion Zimmer Bradley's novel The Mists of Avalon (1982), Lancelet is another name of Galahad, and an estranged son of the Lady of the Lake, Viviane. A handsome and great warrior, he is the protagonist Morgaine's cousin and first love interest, himself bisexual and loving both Gwenhwyfar and Arthur. He is played by Michael Vartan in the novel's film adaptation (2001).
- Lancelot is a major character in Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles trilogy of novels (1995–1997). This version of Lancelot is presented as a self-serving, narcissistic and cowardly prince of the lost kingdom of Benoic, left by him to be destroyed by Frankish barbarians. To seize the throne of Dumnonia, Lancelot conspires against Arthur with Guinevere, incites a Christian rebellion, and defects to the invading Saxons, ending up being hanged by his own half-brother Galahad and by the narrator Derfel (who had lost his daughter to Lancelot's scheming). Lancelot's glowiing depictions in legend are explained as merely an influence of the stories invented by the bards hired by his mother.
- The 2003 novel Clothar the Frank by Jack Whyte is told from the perspective of Lancelot. It follows his journeys, starting as a young child until his arrival in Camelot and his meeting with Merlyn and Arthur Pendragon.
- Lancelot is played by Ioan Gruffudd in the non-fantasy film King Arthur (2004), in which he is one of Arthur's warriors. He is mortally wounded when he saves the young Guinevere and slays the Saxon chieftain Cynric during the Battle of Badon Hill.
- Jason Griffith portrayed him in the video game Sonic and the Black Knight (2009). Lancelot's appearance is based on Shadow the Hedgehog.
- Lancelot appears in the light novel and its 2011 anime adaptation Fate/Zero as the Servant "Berserker", played by Ryōtarō Okiayu/Kyle Herbert. Lancelot also appears in the mobile game Fate/Grand Order as a Berserker but also as a Saber class Servant.
- Sophie Cookson's character Roxanne "Roxy" Morton in the film Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and its sequel uses the code name Lancelot.
- Lancelot is the primary antagonist in the first season of The Librarians (2014), portrayed by both Matt Frewer and Jerry O'Connell. He gained immortality sometime after the fall of Camelot through magic, and has spent centuries seeking to reverse the events that brought about its destruction. As the mysterious Dulaque (a respelling of his name du Lac), he leads the Serpent Brotherhood, a cult that has long opposed the Library's mission to keep magic out of the hands of humans.
- Giles Kristian's novel Lancelot (2018) is an original telling of the Lancelot story.
- The immortal Lancelot Du Lac, voiced by Gareth David-Lloyd, is a co-protagonist of Du Lac & Fey: Dance of Death (2019), an adventure video game set in Victorian London.
- The video game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings features Lancelot as a paladin.
- Lancelot is the major character in the animated series Wizards: Tales of Arcadia.
- In the illustrated novel Cursed by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler Lancelot is a violent Christian fanatic known as "The Weeping Monk". In the Netflix adaptation of Cursed, he is played by Daniel Sharman.
- Lancelot is featured in Nakaba Suzuki's The Seven Deadly Sins, where he is the son of Ban and the fairy queen Elaine.
- Bruce, The Arthurian Name Dictionary, p. 305-306.
- Johnson, Flint (14 August 2002). The British Sources of the Abduction and Grail Romances. University Press of America. ISBN 9780761822189 – via Google Books.
- Alfred Anscombe (1913), "The Name of Sir Lancelot du Lake", The Celtic Review 8(32): 365–366.
- Alfred Anscombe (1913), "Sir Lancelot du Lake and Vinovia", The Celtic Review 9(33): 77–80.
- International Arthurian Society (1981). Bulletin bibliographique de la Société internationale arthurienne (in French). p. 1–PA192. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
- Hughes, D. (2007). The British Chronicles. The British Chronicles. Heritage Books. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-7884-4490-6. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
- Ashley, M. (2012). The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. Mammoth Books. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-4721-0113-6. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
- Littleton, C.S.; Malcor, L.A. (2000). From Scythia to Camelot: A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail. Arthurian Characters and Themes. Garland. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8153-3566-5. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
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