The Knight Errant

From a painting, 'The Knight Errant',
by Sir J. E. Millais P. R. A.

Sources on sex in the Arthurian World

Completed 6 December 2003.
Last modified 4 January 2004.
© Text Copyright 2003 Michael Wild

I can be reached at:- dagonet_uk 'at',uk


Sir Launcelot and Fair Elaine



. . . And fain would King Pelles have found the means to have had Sir Launcelot to have lain by his daughter, fair Elaine. And for this intent: the king knew well that Sir Launcelot should get a child upon his daughter, the which should be named Sir Galahad the good knight, by whom all the foreign country should be brought out of danger, and by him the Holy Greal should be achieved. Then came forth a lady that hight Dame Brisen, and she said unto the king: Sir, wit ye wll Sir Launcelot loveth no lady in the world in the world but all only Queen Guenever; and therefore work ye by counsel, and I shall make him to lie with your daughter, and he shall not wit but that he lieth with Queen Guenever. O fair lady, Dame Brisen, said the king, hope ye to bring this about? Sir, said she, upon pain of my life let me deal; for this Brisen was one of the greatest enchantresses that was at that time in the world living. Then anon by Dame Brisen's wit she made one come to Sir Launcelot that he knew well. And this man brought him a ring from Queen Guenever like as it had come from her, and such one as she was wont for the most part to wear; and when Sir Launcelot saw that token wit ye well he was never so fain. Where is my lady? said Sir Launcelot. In the castle of Case, said the messenger, but five mile hence. Then Sir Launcelot thought to be there the same night. And then this Brisen by the commandment of King Pelles let send Elaine to this castle with twenty-five knights unto the castle of Case. Then Sir Launcelot against night rode unto that castle, and there anon he was received worshipfully with such people to his seeming as were about Queen Guenever secret. So when Sir Launcelot was alit, he asked where the queen was. So Dame Brisen said she was in her bed; and then the people were avoided, and Sir Launcelot was led unto his chamber. And then Dame Brisen brought Sir Launcelot a cupful of wine; and anon as he had drunken that wine he was assotted and mad that he might make no delay, but withouten any let he went to bed; and he weened that maiden Elaine had been Queen Guenever. Wit you well that Sir Launcelot was glad, and so was that lady Elaine that she had gotten Sir Launcelot in her arms. For well she knew that same night should be gotten upon her Galahad that should prove the best knight of the world; and so they lay together until underne of the morn; and all the windows and holes of that chamber were stopped that in no manner of day might be seen. And then Sir Launcelot remembered him, and he arose up and went to the window.


AND anon as he had unshut the window the enchantment was gone; then he knew himself that he had done amiss. Alas, he said, that I have lived so long; now I am shamed. So then he gat his sword in his hand and said: thou traitoress, what art thou that I have lain by all this night? thou shalt die right here of my hands. Then this fair lady Elaine skipped out of her bed all naked, and kneeled down afore Sir Launcelot, and said: Fair courteous knight, come of king's blood, I require you have mercy upon me, and as thou art renowned the most noble knight of the world, slay me not, for I have in my womb him by thee that shall be the most noblest knight of the world. Ah, false traitoress, said Sir Launcelot, why hast thou betrayed me? anon tell me what thou art. Sir, she said, I am Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles. Well, said Sir Launcelot, I will forgive you this deed; and therewith he took her up in his arms, and kissed her, for she was as fair a lady, and thereto lusty and young, and as wise as any was that time living. So God me help, said Sir Launcelot, I may not wyte this to you; but her that made this enchantment upon me as between you and me, an I may find her, that same Lady Brisen, she shall lose her head for witchcrafts, for there was never knight so deceived so as I am this night. And so Sir Launcelot arrayed him, and armed him, and took his leave mildly at that lady young Elaine, and so he departed. Then said she: My lord Sir Launcelot, I beseech you see me as soon as ye may, for I have obeyed me unto the prophecy that my father told me. And by his commandment to fulfil this prophecy I have given the greatest riches and the fairest flower that ever I had, and that is my maidenhead that I shall never have again; and therefore gentle knight, owe me your goodwill. And so Sir Launcelot arrayed him and was armed, and took his leave mildly at that young lady Elaine; and so he departed, and rode till he came to the castle of Corbin, where her father was. And as fast as her time came she was delivered of a fair child, and they christened him Galahad; and wit ye well that child was well kept and well nourished, and he was named Galahad by cause Sir Launcelot was so named at the fountain stone; and after that the Lady of the Lake confirmed him Sir Launcelot du Lake.


. . . And on the morn King Pelles made great joy of Sir Bors; and then he departed and rode to Camelot, and there he found Sir Launcelot du Lake, and told him of the adventures that he had seen with King Pelles at Corbin. So the noise sprang in Arthur's court that Launcelot had gotten a child upon Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles, wherefore Queen Guenever was wroth, and gave many rebukes to Sir Launcleot, and called him false knight. And then Sir Launcelot told the queen all, and how he was made to lie by her by enchantment in likeness of the queen. So the queen held Sir Launcleot excused. And as the book saith, King Arthur had been in France, and had made war upon the mighty King Claudas, and had won much of his lands. And when the king was come again he let cry a great feast, that all lords and ladies of all England should be there, but if it were such that as were rebellious against him.


AND when Dame Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles, heard of this feast she went to her father and required him that he would give her leave to ride to that feast. The king answered: I will well ye go thither, but in any wise as ye love me and will have my blessing, that ye be well bisene in the richest wise; and look that ye spare not for no cost; ask and ye shall have all that you needeth. Then by the advice of Dame Brisen, her maiden, all thing was apparelled unto the purpose, that there was never no lady more richlier bisene. So she rode with twenty knights, and ten ladies, and gentlewomen, to the number of an hundred horses. And when she came to Camelot, King Arthur and Queen Guenever said, and all the knights, that Dame Elaine was the fairest and the best bisene lady that was ever seen in that court. And anon as King Arthur wist that she was come he met her and saluted her, and so did the most part of all the knights of the Round Table, both Sir Tristram, Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Gawaine, and many more that I will not rehearse. But when Sir Launcelot saw her he was so ashamed, and that by cause he drew his sword on the morn when he had lain by her, that he would not salute her nor speak to her; and yet Sir launcelot thought she was the fairest woman that ever he saw in his life-days. But when Dame Elaine saw Sir Launcelot that would not speak unto her she was so heavy that she weened her heart would have to brast, for wit you well, out of measure she loved him. And then Elaine said unto her woman Dame Brisen: The unkindness of Sir Launcelot slayeth me near. Ah, peace, madam, said Dame Brisen, I will undertake this night shall he lie with you and ye would hold you still. That were me lever, said Dame Elaine, than all the gold that is above the earth. Let me deal, said Dame Brisen. So when Dame Elaine was brought unto Queen Guenever either made other good cheer by countenance, but nothing with hearts. But all men and women spake of the beauty of Dame Elaine, and of her great riches. Then at night the queen commanded that Dame Elaine should sleep in a chamber nigh her chamber, and all under one roof; and so it was done as the queen commanded. Then the queen sent for Sir Launcelot and bad him come to her chamber that night: Or else I am sure, said the queen, that you will go to your lady's bed, Dame Elaine, by whom ye gat Galahad. Ah, madam, said Sir launcelot, never say ye so, for I did that against my will. Then, said the queen, look that you come to me when I send for you. Madam, said Sir Launcelot, I shall not fail you, but I shall be ready at your commandment. This bargain was soon done and made between them, but Dame Brisen knew of it by her crafts, and told it to her lady, Dame Elaine. Alas, said she, how shall I do? Let me deal, said Dame Brisen, for I shall bring him by the hand even to your bed, and he shall ween that I am Queen Guenever's messenger. Now well is me, said Dame Elaine, for all the world I love not so much as I do Sir Launcelot.


SO when time came that all folks were abed, Dame Brisen came to Sir Launcelot's bed's side and said: Sir Launcelot du Lake, sleep you? My lady, Queen Guenever, lieth and awaiteth upon you. O my fair lady, said Sir Launcelot, I am ready to go with you where ye will have me. So Sir Launcelot threw upon him a long gown, and his sword in his hand; and then Dame Brisen took him by the finger and led him to her lady's bed, Dame Elaine; and then she departed and left them in bed together. Wit you well the lady was glad, and so was Sir Launcelot, for he weened that he had had another in his arms. Now leave we them kissing and clipping, as was kindly thing; and now speak we of Queen Guenever that sent one of her women unto Sir Launcelot's bed; and when she came there she found the bed cold, and he was away; so she came to the queen and told her all. Alas, said the queen, where is that false knight become? Then the queen was nigh out of her wit, and then she writhed and weltered as a mad woman, and might not sleep a four or five hours. Then Sir Launcelot had a condition that he used of custom, he would clatter in his sleep, and speak of his lady, Queen Guenever. So as Sir Launcelot had waked as long as it pleased him, then by course of kind he slept and Dame Elaine both. And in his sleep he talked and clattered as a jay, of the love that had been betwixt Queen Guenever and him. And so as he talked so loud the queen heard him there as she lay in her chamber; and when she heard him so clatter she was nigh wood and out of her mind, and for anger and pain wist not what to do. And then she coughed so loud that Sir Launcelot awaked, and he knew her heming. And then he knew well that he lay not by the queen; and therewith he leapt out of his bed as he had been a wood man, in his shirt, and the queen met him in the floor; and thus she said: False traitor knight that thou art, look thou never abide in my court, and avoid my chamber, and not so hardy, thou false traitor knight that thou art, that ever thou come in my sight. Alas, said Sir Launcelot; and therewith he took such an heartly sorrow at her words that he fell down to the floor in a swoon. And therewithal Queen Guenever departed. And when Sir Launcelot awoke of his swoon, he leapt out at a bay window into a garden, and there with thorns he was all to scratched in his visage and his body; and so he ran forth he wist not whither, and was wild wood as ever was man; and so he ran two year, and never man might have grace to know him.


Now we turn unto Queen Guenever and to the fair Lady Elaine, that when Dame Elaine heard the queen so to rebuke Sir Launcelot, and also she saw how he swooned, and how he leaped out at a bay window, then she said unto Queen Guenever: Madam ye are greatly to blame for Sir Launcelot, for now have ye lost him, for as I saw and heard by his countenance that he is mad for ever. Alas madam, ye do great sin, and to yourself great dishonour, for ye have a lord of your own, and therefore it is your part to love him: for there is no queen in this world hath such another king as ye have. And if ye were not I might have the love of my lord Sir Launcelot; and cause I have to love him for he had my maidenhead, and by him I have borne a fair son, and his name is Galahad, and he shall be in his time the best knight in the world. Dame Elaine, said the queen, when it is daylight I charge you and command you to avoid my court; and for the love that ye owe unto Sir Launcelot discover not his counsel, for an ye do, it will be his death. As for that, said Dame Elaine, I dare undertake he is marred forever, and that have ye made; for ye nor I are like to rejoice him, for he made the most piteous groans when he leapt out at yonder bay window that ever I heard man make. Alas, said fair Elaine, and alas, said Queen Guenever, for now I wot well we have lost him for ever. So on the morn Dame Elaine took her leave to depart, and she would no longer abide. Then King Arthur brought her on her way with more than an hundred knights through a forest. And by the way she told Sir Bors de Ganis all how it betid that same night, and how Sir Launcelot leapt out out at a window araged out of his wit. Alas, said Sir Bors, where is my lord, Sir Launcelot, become? Sir, said Elaine, I wot near. Alas, said Sir Bors, betwixt you both ye have destroyed that good knight. As for me, said Dame Elaine, I said never nor did never thing that should in any wise displease him, but with the rebuke that Queen Guenever gave him I saw him swoon to the earth; and when he awoke he took his sword in his hand, naked save his shirt, and leapt out at a window with the grisliest groan that ever I heard man make. Now farewell Dame Elaine, said Sir Bors, and hold my lord Arthur with a tale as ye can, for I will turn again to Queen Guenever and give her a hete; and I require you, as ever ye will have my service, make good watch and espy if ever ye may see my lord Launcelot. Truly, said fair Elaine, I shall do all that I may do, for as fain would I know and wit where he is become, as you, or any of his kin, or Queen Guenever; and great cause enough have I thereto as well as any other. And wit ye well, said fair Elaine to Sir Bors, I would lose my life for him rather than he should be hurt; but alas, I cast me never for to see him, and the chief causer of this is Dame Guenever. Madam, said Dame Brisen, the which had made enchantment before betwixt Sir Launcelot and her, I pray you heartily, let Sir Bors depart and hie him with all his might as fast as he may to seek Sir Launcelot, for I warn you he is clean out of his mind; and yet he shall be well holpen an but by miracle. Then wept Dame Elaine, and so did Sir Bors de Ganis; and so they departed, and Sir Bors rode straight unto Queen Guenever. And when she saw Sir Bors she wept as she were wood. Fie on your weeping, said Sir Bors de Ganis, for ye weep never but when there is no boot. Alas, said Sir Bors, that ever Sir Launcelot's kin saw you, for now have ye lost the best knight of our blood, and he that was all our leader and our succour; and I dare say and make it good that all kings, christian nor heathen, may not find such a knight, for to speak of his nobleness and courtesy, with his beauty and his gentleness. Alas, said Sir Bors, what shall we do that be of his blood? Alas, said Sir Ector de Maris. Alas, said Lionel.

Gawain, Pelleas, Ettard and Nimue



. . . Now we begin at Sir Gawaine, that held that way till that he came unto a fair manor, where dwelled an old knight and a good householder, and there Sir Gawaine asked the knight if he knew any adventures in that country. I shall show you some to-morn, said the old knight, and that marvellous. So, on the morn they rode into the forest of adventures to a launde, and thereby they found a cross, and as they stood and hoved, there came by them the fairest knight and the seemliest man that ever they saw, making the greatest dole that ever man made. And then he was ware of Sir Gawaine, and saluted him, and prayed God to send him much worship. As to that, said Sir Gawaine, gramercy; also I pray to God that he send you honour and worship. Ah, said the knight, I may lay that a-side, for sorrow and shame cometh to me after worship.


AND therewith he passed unto the one side of the launde; and on the other side saw Sir Gawaine ten knights that hoved still and made them ready with their shields and spears against that one knight that came by Sir Gawaine. Then this one knight aventred a great spear, and one of the ten knights encountered with him, but this woful knight smote him so hard that he fell over his horse's tail. So this same dolorous knight served them all, that at the leastway he smote down horse and man, and all he did with one spear; and so when they were all on foot, they went to that one knight, and he stood stone still, and suffered them to pull him down off his horse, and bound him hand and foot, and tied him under the horse's belly, and so led him with them. O Jesu! said Sir Gawaine, this is a doleful sight, to see the yonder knight so to be entreated, and it seemeth by the knight that he suffereth them to bind him so, for he maketh no resistance. No, said his host, that is truth, for an he would they all were too weak so to do him. . . And then the knight (with whom Gawain has just fought) prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night. So as Sir Gawaine went with this knight he asked him, What knight is he in this country that smote down the ten knights? For when he had done so manfully he suffered them to bind him hand and foot, and so led him away. Ah, said the knight, that is the best knight I trow in the world, and the most man of prowess, and he hath been served so as he was even more than ten times, and his name hight Sir Pelleas, and he loveth a great lady in this country and her name is Ettard. And so when he loved her there was cried in this country a great jousts three days, and all the knights of this country were there and gentlewomen, and who that proved him the best knight should have a passing good sword and a circlet of gold, and the circlet the knight should give it to the fairest lady that was at the jousts. And this knight Sir Pelleas was the best knight that was there, and there were five hundred knights, but there was never man that ever Sir Pelleas met withal but he struck him down, or else from his horse; and every day of three days he struck down twenty knights, therfore they gave him the prize, and forthwithal he went thereas the lady Ettard was, and gave her the circlet, and said openly that she was the fairest lady that there was, and that would he prove upon any knight that would say nay.


AND so he chose her for his sovran lady, and never to love other but her, but she was so proud that she had scorn of him, and said that she would never love him though he would die for her. Wherefore all the ladies and gentlewomen had scorn of her that she was so proud, for there were fairer than she, and there was none that was there but an Sir Pelleas had proffered them love, they would have loved him for his noble prowess. And so this knight promised the lady Ettard to follow her into this country, and never to leave her till she loved him. And thus he is here the most part nigh her, and lodged by a priory, and every week she sendeth knights to fight with him. And when he hath put them to the worse, then will he suffer them wilfully to take him prisoner, by cause he will have a sight of this lady. And always she doth him great despite, for sometimes she maketh her knights to tie him to his horse's tail, and some to bind him under the horse's belly; thus in the most shamefullest ways that she can think he is brought to her; and she doth it for to cause him to leave this country, and to leave his loving; but all this cannot make him to leave, for an he would have fought on foot he might have had the better of the ten knights as well on foot as on horseback. Alas, said Sir Gawaine, it is a great pity of of him; and after this night I will seek him to-morrow, in this forest, to do him all the help I can. So on the morn Sir Gawaine took his leave of his host Sir Carados, and rode into the forest; and at last he met with Sir Pelleas, making great moan out of measure, so each of them saluted other, and asked him why he made such sorrow. And as it is above rehearsed, Sir Pelleas told Sir Gawaine: But always I suffer her knights to fare so with me as ye saw yesterday, in trust at last to win her love, for she knoweth well all her knights do not lightly win me, an me list to fight with them to the uttermost. Wherefore an I loved her not so sore, I had lever die an hundred times, an I might die so oft, rather than I would suffer that despite; but I trust she will have pity upon me at the last, for love causeth many a good knight to suffer to have his entent, but alas I am unfortunate. And therewith he made so great dole and sorrow that unnethe he might hold him on horseback. Now, said Sir Gawaine, leave your mourning and I shall promise you by the faith of my body to do all that lieth in my power to get you the love of your lady, and thereto I will plight you my troth. Ah, said Sir Pelleas, of what court are ye? tell me, I pray you, my good friend. And then Sir Gawaine said, I am of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son, and King Lot of Orkney was my father, and my name is Sir Gawaine. And then he said, My name is Sir Pelleas, born in the Isles, and of many isles I am lord, and never have I love lady or damosel till now in an unhappy time; and, sir knight, syne ye are so nigh cousin to King Arthur, and a king's son, therefore betray me not but help me, for I may never come by her but by some good knight, for she is in a strong castle here, fast by within this four mile, and over all this country she is lady of. And so I may may never come to her presence, but as I suffer her knights to take me, and but if I did so that I might have a sight of her , I had been dead long or this time; and yet fair word had I never of her, but when I am brought tofore her she rebuketh me in the foulest manner, and then they take my horse and harness and putten me out of the gates, and she will not suffer me to eat or drink; and always I offer me to be her prisoner, but that she will not suffer me, for I would desire no more, what pains so ever I had, so that I might have a sight of her daily. Well, said Sir Gawaine, all this shall I amend an ye will do as I devise: I will have your horse and your armour, and so I will ride unto her castle and tell her that I have slain you, and so shall come within her castle and tell that I have slain you, and so shall I come within her to cause her to cherish me, and then shall I do my true part that ye shall not fail to have the love of her.


AND therewith Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir Pelleas to be true and faithful unto him; so each one plight their troth to the other, and so they changed horses and harness, and Sir Gawaine departed, and came to the castle whereas stood the pavilions of this lady without the gate. And as soon as Ettard had espied Sir Gawaine she fled in toward the castle. Sir Gawaine spake on high, and bade her abide, for he was not Sir Pelleas; I am another knight that have slain Sir Pelleas. Do off your helm, said the Lady Ettard, that I may see your visage. And so when she saw that it was not Sir Pelleas, she bade him alight and led him unto her castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had slain Sir Pelleas. And he said to her yea, and told her his name was Sir Gawaine of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son. Truly, said she, that is a great pity, for he was a passing goood knight of his body, but of all men a-live I hated him most, for I could never be quit of him; and for ye have slain him I shall be your woman, and to do anything that might please you. So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer. Then Sir Gawaine said he loved a lady and by no means she would love him. She is to blame, said Ettard, an she will not love you, for ye that be so well born a man, and such a man of prowess, there is no lady in the world too good for you. Will ye, said Sir Gawaine, promise me to do all that ye may, by the faith of your body, to get me the love of my lady? Yea, sir, said she, and that I promise you by the faith of my body. Now, said Sir Gawaine, it is yourself that I love so well, therefore I pray you hold your promise. I may not choose, said the Lady Ettard, but if I should be forsworn; and so she granted him to fulfil al his desire. So it was then in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine went out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and there was made a bed, and there Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ettard went to bed together, and in another pavilion she laid her damosels, and in the third pavilion she laid part of her knights, for then she had no dread of Sir Pelleas. And there Sir Gawaine lay with her in that pavilion two days and two nights. And on the third day, in the morning early, Sir Pelleas armed him, for he had never slept syne Sir Gawaine departed from him; for Sir Gawaine had promised him by the faith of his body, to come to him unto his pavilion by the priory within the space of a day and a night. Then Sir Pelleas mounted upon horseback, and came to the pavilions that stood without the castle, and found in the first pavilion three knights in three beds, and three squires lying at their feet. Then went he to the second pavilion and found four gentlewomen lying in four beds. And then he yede to the third pavilion and found Sir Gawaine lying in bed with his Lady Ettard, and either clipping other in arms, and when he saw that his heart wellnigh brast for sorrow, and said: Alas! that ever knight should be found so false; and then he took his horse and might not abide no longer for pure sorrow. And when he had ridden nigh half a mile he turned again and thought to slay them both; and when he saw them both so lie sleeping fast, unnethe he might hold him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself, Though this knight be never so false, I will never slay him sleeping, for I will never destroy the high order of knighthood; and therewith he departed again. And or he had ridden half a mile he returned again, and thought then to slay them both, making the greatest sorrow that ever man made. And when he came to the pavilions he tied his horse unto a tree, and pulled out his sword naked in his hand, and went to them thereas they lay, and yet he thought it were a shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the naked sword overthwart both their throats, and so took his horse and rode his way. And when Sir Pelleas came to his pavilions he told his knights and his squires how he had sped, and said thus to them, For your true and good service ye have done me I shall give you all my goods, for I will go unto my bed and never arise until I am dead. And when that I am dead I charge you that ye take the heart out of my body and bear it to her betwixt two silver dishes, and tell her how I saw her lie with the false knight Sir Gawaine. Right so Sir Pelleas unarmed himself, and went unto his bed making marvellous dole and sorrow. When Sir Gawaine and Ettard awoke of their sleep, and found the naked sword overthwart their throats, then she knew well it was Sir Pelleas' sword. Alas! said she to Sir Gawaine, ye have betrayed me and Sir Pelleas both, for you told me ye had slain him, and now I know well it is not so, he is on live. And if Sir Pelleas had been as uncourteous to you as ye have been to him ye had been a dead knight; but ye have deceived me and betrayed me falsely, that all ladies and damosels may beware of you and me. And therewith Sir Gawaine made him ready, and went into the forest. So it happed then that the damosel of the lake Nimue met with a knight of Sir Pelleas, that went on his foot in the forest making great dole, and she asked him the cause. And so the woful knight told her how his master and lord was betrayed through a knight and a lady, and how he will never arise out of his bed till he be dead. Bring me to him, said she anon, and I will warrant his life he shall not die for love, and she that hath caused him so to love, she shall be in as evil plight as he is or it be long to, for it is no joy of such a proud lady that will have no mercy of such a valiant knight. Anon that knight brought her unto him, and when she saw him lie in his bed, she thought she saw never so likely a knight; and therewith she threw an enchantment upon him, and he fell on sleep. And therewhile she rode unto Lady Ettard, and charged no man to wake him till she came again. So within two hours she brought the Lady Ettard thither, and both ladies found him on sleep: Lo, said the damosel of the lake, ye ought to be ashamed for to murder such a knight. And therewith she threw such an enchantment upon her that she loved him sore, that well nigh she was out of her mind. O Lord Jesu, said the Lady Ettard, how is it befallen unto me that I love now him that I have most hated of any man alive? That is the righteous judgement of God, said the damosel. And then anon Sir Pelleas awaked and looked upon Ettard; and when he saw her he knew her, and then he hated her more than any woman alive, and said: Away, traitress, come never in my sight. And when she heard him say so, she wept and made great sorrow out of measure.


SIR knight Pelleas, said the damosel of the lake, take your horse and come forth with me out of this country, and ye shall love a lady that shall love you. I will well, said Sir Pelleas, for this lady Ettard hath done me great despite and shame, and there he told her the beginning and ending, and how he had purposed never to have arisen till that he had been dead.__And now such grace God hath sent me, that I hate her as much as ever I loved her, thanked be our Lord Jesus! Thank me said the damosel of the lake. Anon Sir Pelleas armed him, and took his horse, and commanded his men to bring after his pavilions and his stuff where the damosel of the lake would assign. So the Lady Ettard died for sorrow, and the damosel of the lake rejoiced Sir Pelleas, and loved together during their life days

Gareth and Liones



AND then came forth Dame Liones arrayed like a princess, and the she made him passing good cheer, and he her again; and they had goodly language and lovely countenance together. And Sir Gareth thought many times, Jesus, would that the lady of the Castle Perilous were so fair as she was. There were all manner of games and plays, of dancing and singing. And ever the more Sir Gareth beheld that lady, the more he loved her; and so he burned in love that he was past himself in his reason; and forth toward night they yede unto supper, and Sir Gareth might not eat, for his love was so hot that he wist not where he was. All these looks espied Sir Gringamore, and then at after-supper he called his sister Dame Liones into a chamber, and said: Fair Sister, I have well espied your countenance betwixt you and this knight, and I will, sister, that ye wit he is a full noble knight, and if ye can make him to abide here I will do him all the pleasure that I can, for an ye were better than ye are, ye were well bywaryd upon him. Fair brother, said Dame Liones, I understand well that the knight is good and come he is of a noble house. Notwthstanding, I will assay him better, howbeit I am most beholden to him of any earthly man; for he hath had great labour for my love, and passed many a dangerous passage1. Right so Sir Gringamore went unto Sir Gareth, and said, Sir, make ye good cheer, for ye shall have none other cause, for this lady, my sister, is yours at all times, her worship saved, for wit ye well she loveth you as well as ye do her, and better if better may be. An I wist that, said Sir Gareth, there lived not a gladder man than I would be. Upon my worship, said Sir Gringamore, trust unto my promise; and as long as it liketh you ye shall sojourn here with me, and this lady shall be with us daily and nightly to make you all the cheer that she can. I wll well, said Sir Gareth, for I have promised to be nigh this country this twelvemonth2. And well I am sure King Arthur and other noble knights will find me where that I am within this twelvemonth. For I shall be sought and found, if that I be on live. And then the noble knight Sir Gareth went unto Dame Liones, which he then much loved and kissed her many times, and either made great joy of other. And there she promised him her love certainly, to love him and none other the days of her life. Then this lady, Dame Liones, by the assent of her brother, told Sir Gareth all the truth what she was, and how she was the same lady he did battle for, and how she was lady of the Castle Perilous, and there she told him how she caused her brother to take away his dwarf3.

1This refers to Sir Gareth's defeat of the Red Knight of the Red Laundes, who was besieging Dame Liones' castle (the Castle Perilous), and to the journey that Sir Gareth undertook to reach the castle, during which he had to defeat four strong knights.
2After Sir Gareth had defeated the Red Knight of the Red Laundes, Dame Liones insisted that he engage in knight errantry for twelve months until 'that thou be called one of the number of the worthy knights' (Book VII, Chap. XIX).
3It was the kidnapping of this dwarf that led Gareth to follow Sir Gringamore to his castle.


FOR this cause, to know the certainty what was your name, and of what kin ye were come. And then she let fetch tofore him Linet, the damosel that had ridden with him many wildsome ways. Then was Sir Gareth more gladder than he was tofore. And then they troth-plight each other to love, and never to fail whiles their life lasteth. And so they burnt both in love, that they were accorded to abate their lusts secretly. And there Dame Liones counselled Sir Gareth to sleep in none other place but in the hall. And there she promised him to come to his bed a little afore midnight. This counsel was not so privily kept but it was understood; for they were but young both, and tender of age, and had not used such crafts tofore. Wherefore the damosel Linet was a little displeased, and she thought her sister Dame Liones was a little overhasty, that she might not abide the time of her marriage; and for saving their worship, she thought to abate their hot lusts. And so she let ordain by her subtle crafts that they had not their intents neither with other, as in their delights, until they were married. And so it passed on. At after-supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady should go unto his rest. But Sir Gareth said plainly he would go no farther than the hall, for in such places, he said, was convenient for an knight-errant to take his rest in; and so there were ordained great couches, and thereon feather beds, and there laid him down to sleep; and within a while came Dame Liones, wrapped in a mantle furred with ermine, and laid her down beside Sir Gareth. And therewithal he began to kiss her. And then looked afore him, and there he perceived and saw come an armed knight, with many lights about him; and this knight had a long gysarme in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him. When Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he leapt out of his bed, and gat in his hand his sword, and leapt straight toward that knight. And when the knight saw Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon him, he smote him with a foyne through the thick of the thigh that the wound was a shaftmon broad and had cut a-two many veins and sinews. And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the helm such a buffet that he fell grovelling; and then he leapt over him and unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from the body. And then he bled so fast that he might not stand, but so he laid him down upon his bed, and there he swooned and lay as he had been dead. Then Dame Liones cried aloud, that her brother Sir Gringamore heard, and came down. and when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully wounded he was sore displeased, and said: I am shamed that this noble knight is thus honoured. Sir, said Sir Gringmore, how may this be, that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded? Brother, she said, I can tell you, for it was not done by me, nor by mine assent. For he is my lord and I am his, and he must be mine husband; therefore my brother, I will that ye wit I shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the pleasure that I can. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will that ye wit it, and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by me, nor by my assent that this unhappy deed was done. And there they staunched his bleeding as well as they might, and great sorrow made Sir Gringamore and Dame Liones. And forthwithal came Dame Linet, and took up the head in the sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment thereas it was smitten off; and in the same wise she did to the other part thereas the head stuck, and then she set it together, and it stuck as fast as ever it did. And the knight arose lightly up, and the damosel Linet put him in her chamber. all this saw Sir Gringamore and Dame Liones, and so did Sir Gareth; and well he espied that it was the damosel Linet, that rode with him through the perilous passages. Ah well, damosel, said Sir Gareth, I weened ye would not have done as ye have done. My lord Gareth, said Linet, all that I have done I will avow, and all that I have done shall be for your honour and worship, and to us all. And so within a while Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and jocund, and sang, danced, and gamed; and he and Dame Liones were so hot in burning love that they made their covenant at the tenth night after, that she should come to his bed. And by cause that he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his sword nigh his bed side.


RIGHT as she promised she came; and she was not so soon in his bed but she espied an armed knight coming toward the bed: therewithal she warned Sir Gareth, and lightly through the good help of Dame Liones he was armed; and they hurtled together with great ire and malice all about the hall; and there was a great light as it had been the number os twenty torches both before and behind, so that Sir Gareth strained him, so that his old wound brast again on bleeding; but he was hot and courageous and took no keep, but with his great force he struck down that knight, and voided his helm, and struck off his head. Then he hewed the head in an hundred pieces. And when he had done so he took up all those pieces, and threw them out at a window into the ditches of the castle; and by this done he was so faint that unnethes he might stand for bleeding. And by when he was almost unarmed he fell in a deadly swoon on the floor; and then Dame Liones cried so that Sir Gringamore heard; and when he came and found Sir Gareth in that plight he made great sorrow; and there he awaked Sir Gareth, and gave him a drink that relieved him wonderly well; but the sorrow that Dame Liones made there might no tounge tell, for she so fared with herself as she would have died. Right so came this damosel Linet before them all, and she had fetched all the gobbets of the head that Sir Gareth had thrown out of the window, and there she anointed them as she had done tofore, and set them together again. Well, damosel Linet, said Sir Gareth, I have not deserved all this despite that ye do unto me. Sir knight, she said, I have nothing done but I will avow, and all that I have done shall be for your worship, and to us all. And then was Sir Gareth staunched of his bleeding. But the leeches said that no man that bare the life should heal him throughout of his wound but if they healed him that caused that stroke by enchantment.


Dame Liones is summoned to court by King Arthur and asks Gareth what she should do there. He tells her to deny any knowledge of his whereabouts. In addition she is to announce that she will hold a tournament on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The prize at the tournament, for the knight who excels, being her hand in marriage, if the winner be unmarried. This tournament, she tells King Arthur, will be a sure means of attracting Sir Gareth. She then returns to her brother's castle.

When Dame Liones was come to the Isle of Avilion, that was the same isle thereas her brother Sir Gringamore dwelt, then she told them all how she had done, and what promise she had made to King Arthur. Alas, said Sir Gareth, I have been so wounded with unhappiness sythen I came into this castle that I shall not be able to do at that tournement like a knight; for I was never throroughly whole syne I was hurt. Be ye of good cheer, said the damosel Linet, for I will undertake within these fifteen days to make ye whole, and as lusty as ever ye were. And then she laid an ointment and a salve to him as it pleased to her, that he was never so fresh nor so lusty.

Sir Dinadan is dresssed up as a woman



These events take place at the tournament at Surluse that was organised by Sir Galahalt the haut prince.

Then they blew to jousts (on the fifth day of the tournament); and in came Dinadan, and met with Sir Gerin, a good knight, and he threw him down over his horse's croup; and Sir Dinadan overthrew four knights more; and there he did great deeds of arms, for he was a good knight, but he was a scoffer and a japer, and the merriest knight among fellowship that was that time living. And he had such a custom that he loved every good knight, and every good knight loved him again. So then when the haut prince saw Dinadan do so well he sent unto Sir Launcelot and bad him strike down Sir Dinadan: And when that ye have done so bring him afore me and the noble Queen Guenever. Then Sir Launcelot did as he was required. Then Sir Lamerok and he smote down as many knights, and raced of helms, and drove all the knights afore them. And so Sir Launcelot smote down Sir Dinadan, and made his men to unarm him, and so brought him to the queen and the haut prince, and they laughed at Dinadan so sore that they might not stand. Well. said Sir Dinadan, yet have I no shame, for the old shrew, Sir Launcelot, smote me down. So they went to dinner, and all the court had good sport at Dinadan.


. . . Then they blew to lodging (after the sixth day of the tournament), and the knights unarmed them and drew them to their dinner; and at the midst of their dinner in came Sir Dinadan and began to rail. Then he behold the haut prince (Sir Galahalt), that seemed wroth with some fault that he saw; for he had a custom he loved no fish, and by some cause he was served with fish, the which he hated, therefore he was not merry. When Sir Dinadan had espied the haut prince, he espied where was a fish with a great head, and that he gat betwixt two dishes, and served the haut prince with that fish. And then he said thus: Sir Galahalt, well may I liken you to a wolf, for he will never eat fish, but flesh; then the haut prince laughed at his words. Well, well, said Dinadan to Launcelot, what devil do ye in this country, for here may no mean knights win no worship for thee. Sir Dinadan, said Launcelot, I ensure thee I shall no more meet with thee nor with thy great spear, for I may not sit in my saddle when that spear hitteth me. And if I be happy I shall beware of that boistous body that thou bearest. Well, said Launcelot, make good watch ever: God forbid that ever we meet but if it be at a dish of meat. Then laughed the queen and the haut prince, that they might not sit at their table; thus they made great joy till on the morn, and they (sic) they heard mass, and blew to field, and judges armed clene with their shields to keep the right.


NOW beginneth the seventh battle. There came in the Duke Cambines, and there encountered with him Sir Aristance, that was counted a good knight, and they met so hard that either bare other down, horse and man. The came there the Earl of Lambaile and helped the duke again to horse. Then came there Sir Ossaise of Surluse, and he smote the Earl Lambaile down from his horse. Then began they to do great deeds of arms, and many spears were broken, and many knights were cast to the earth. Then the king of Northgalis and the Earl Ulbawes smote together that all the judges thought it was like mortal death. This meanwhile Queen Guenever, and the haut prince, and Sir Launcelot, made there Sir Dinadan make him ready to joust. I would, said Dinadan, ride into the field, but then one of you twain will meet with me. Par dieu, said the haut prince, ye may see how we sit here as judges with our shields, and always mayest thou behold whether we sit here or not. So Sir Dinadan departed and took his horse, and met with many knights, and did passing well. And as he was departed, Sir Launcelot disguised himself, and put upon his armour a maiden's garment freshly attired. Then Sir Launcelot made Sir Galihodin lead him through the range, and all men had wonder what damosel it was. And so as Sir Dinadan came into the range, Sir Launcelot, that was in damosel's array gat Sir Galihodin's spear, and ran unto Sir Dinadan. And always Sir Dinadan looked up there as Sir Launcelot was, and then he saw one sit in the stead of Sir Launcelot, armed. But when Dinadan saw a manner of a damosel he dread perils that it was Sir Launcelot disguised, but Sir Launcelot came on him so fast that he smote him over his horse's croup; and then with great scorns (text defective at this point)1 they gat Sir Dinadan into the forest there beside, and there they despoiled him unto his shirt, and put upon him a woman's garment, and so brought him into the field: and so they blew unto lodging. And every knight went and unarmed them. Then was Sir Dinadan brought in among them all. And when Queen Guenever saw Sir Dinadan brought so among them all, then she laughed that she fell down, and so did all that were there. Well, said Dinadan to Launcelot, thou art so false that I can never beware of thee.

1But whan sir Dynadan saw a maner of a damesell, he dradde perellys lest hit sholde be sir Launcelot disgysed. but sir Launcelot cam on hym so faste that he he smote sir Dynadan over his horse croupe. And anone grete coystrons gate sir Dynadan, and into the foreyste there besyde, and there they dispoyled hym unto his sherte and put uppon hym a womans garmente and so brought hym into fylde. From MALORY: WORKS, edited by Eugene Vinaver, Oxford, 1954, P. 499.

Morgause's lovers



THEN after the departure of King Ban and of King Bors, King Arthur rode to Carlion. And thither came to him King Lot's wife, of Orkney, in the manner of a message, but she was sent thither to espy the court of King Arthur; and she came richly bisene, with her four sons Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravine and Gareth, with many other knights and ladies. For she was a passing fair lady, therefore the king cast great love unto her, and desired to lie by her; so they were agreed, and he begat upon her Mordred, and she was his sister, on his mother's side, Igraine. So there she rested her a month, and at the last departed. Then the king dreamed a marvellous dream whereof he was sore adread. But all this time King Arthur knew not that King Lot's wife was his sister. Thus was the dream of King Arthur: Him thought there was come into this land griffins and serpents, and him thought they burnt and slew all the people in the land, and then he thought he fought with them, and they did him passing great harm, and wounded him full sore, but at last he slew them. When the king was awaked, he was passing heavy of his dream, and so put it out of thoughts, he made himself ready with many knights to ride a-hunting.


NOW turn we unto Sir Lamorak, that much was there praised. Then, by means of Sir Gawaine and his brethren, they sent for their mother there besides, fast by a castle besides Camelot; and all was to that intent to slay Sir Lamorak. The Queen of Orkney was there but a while, but Sir Lamorak knew of their being, and was full fain; and for to make an end to this matter, he sent unto her, and there between them was a knight (sic) assigned that Sir Lamerok should come to her. Thereof was ware Sir Gaheris, and there he rode afor the same night, and waited upon Sir Lamorak, and when he saw where he came all armed. And where Sir Lamorak alit he tied his horse to a privy postern, and so he went into a parlour and unarmed him; and then he went to the queen's bed, and she made of him passing great joy, and he of her again, for either loved other passing sore. So when the knight, Sir Gaheris, saw his time, he came to their bedside all armed, with his sword naked, and suddenly gat his mother by the hair and struck off her head. When Sir Lamorak saw the blood dash upon him all hot, the which he loved passing well, wit you well he was sore abashed and dismayed of that dolorous knight. And therewithal, Sir Lamorak leapt out of the bed in his shirt as a knight dismayed, saying thus: Ah, Sir Gaheris knight of the Round Table, foul and evil have ye done, and to you great shame. Alas, why have ye slain the mother that bare you? with more right ye should have slain me. The offence hast thou done, said Gaheris, notwithstanding a man is born to offer his service; but yet shouldst thou beware with whom thou meddlest, for thou hast put me and my brethren to a shame, and thy father slew our father; and thou to lie with our mother is too much shame for us to suffer. And as for your father, King Pellinore, my brother Gawaine and I slew him. Ye did him the more wrong, said Sir Lamorak, for my father slew not your father, it was Balin le Savage: and as yet my father's death is not revenged. Leave those words, said Sir Gaheris, for an thou speak feloniously I will slay thee. But by cause that thou art naked I am ashamed to slay thee. But wit ye well, in what place I may get thee I shall slay thee; and now my mother is quit of thee; and withdraw thee and take thine armour, that thou were gone. Sir Lamorak saw that there was none other boot, but fast armed him, and took his horse and rode his way making great sorrow. But for the shame and dolour he would not ride to King Arthur's court, but rode another way. But when it was known that Gaheris had slain his mother the king was passing wroth, and commanded him to go out of his court. Wit ye well that Sir Gawaine was wroth that Gaheris had slain his mother and let Sir Lamorak escape. And for this matter was the king passing wroth, and so was Sir Lamorak, and many other knights. Sir, said Sir Launcelot, here is a great mischief befallen by felony, and by forecast treason, that your sister is this shamefully slain.

Morgan le Fay captures Launcelot



...speak we of Sir Launcelot du Lake that lieth under the Apple Tree sleeping. Even about the noon there come by him four queens of great estate; and, for the heat should not annoy them, there rode four knights about them, and bare a cloth of green silk on four spears, betwixt them and the sun, and the queens rode on four white mules. Thus as they rode they heard by them a great horse grimly neigh, then were they ware of a sleeping knight, that lay all armed under an apple tree; anon as these queens looked upon his face, they knew it was Sir Launcelot. Then they began for to strive for that knight, every each one said they would have him to her love. We shall not strive, said Morgan le Fay, that was King Arthur's sister, I shall put an enchantment on him that he will not awake six hours, and then I will lead him away unto my castle, and when he is surely within my hold, I shall take the enchantment from him and then him chose which of us he will have unto paramour. So this enchantment was cast upon Sir Launcelot, and then they laid him upon his shield, and bare him so on horseback betwixt two knights, and brought him unto castle Chariot, and there they laid him in a chamber cold, and at night they sent to him a fair damosel with his supper ready dight. By that the enchantment was past, and when she came she saluted him, and asked him what cheer. I cannot say, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, for I wot not how I came unto this castle but it be by an enchantment. Sir, said she, ye must be of good cheer, and if ye such a knight as it is said ye be, I shall tell more to-morn by prime of the day. Gramercy, fair damosel, said Sir Launcelot, of your good will I require you. And so she departed. And there he lay all thqt night without comfort of anybody. And on the morn early came these four queens, passingly well bysene, all they bidding him good morn, and he them again. Sir knight, the four queens said, thou must understand thou art our prisoner, and we here know thee well that thou art Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son, and by cause we understand your worthiness, that thou art the noblest knight living, and as we know that there can be no lady have thy love but one, and that is Queen Guenever, and now thou shalt lose her for ever, and she thee, and therefore thee behoveth now to chose one of us four. I am Queen Morgan le Fay, queen of the land of Gore and here is the queen of Northgalis, and the queen of Eastland, and the queen of the Out Isles; now choose which of us thou wilt have to thy paramour, for thou mayest not choose or else in this prison to die. This is an hard case, said Sir Launcelot, that either I must die or chose one of you, yet I had lever to die in this prison with worship, than to have one of you to my paramour maugre my head. And therefore ye be answered, I will none of you, for ye be false enchantresses, and as for my lady, Dame Guenever, were I at my liberty as I was, I would prove it on you or on yours, that she is the truest lady unto her lord living. Well, said the queens, is this your answer, that ye will refuse us. Yea on my life, said Sir Launcelot, refused ye be of me. So they departed and left him alone and made great sorrow.

Alisander le Orphelin and Morgan le Fay



NOW turn we unto Sir Alisander, that at his departing his mother, took with him his father's bloody shirt. So that he bare it with him always till his death day, in tokening to think of his father's death. So was Sir Alsiander purposed to ride to London, by counsel of Sir Tristram, to Sir Launcelot. And by fortune he went by the seaside and rode wrong. And there he won at a tournament the gree that King Carados made. and there he smote down King Carados and twenty of his knights, and also Sir Safere, a good knight that was Sir Palomides' brother, the good knight. All this saw a damsel, and saw the best knight joust that ever she saw. And ever as he smote down knights he made them to swear to wear none harness in twelvemonth and a day.. This is well said. said Morgan le Fay, this is the knight that I would fain see. And so she took her palfrey, and rode a great while, and then she rested her in her pavilion. So there came four knights, two were armed, and two were unarmed, and they told Morgan le Fay their names: the first was Elias of Gomeret, the second was Cari of Gomeret, those were armed; the other twain were of Cameliard, cousins unto Queen Guenever, and that one hight Guy, and that other hight Garaunt, those were unarmed. There these four knights told Morgan le Fay how a young knight had smitten them down before a castle. For the maiden of that castle said that he was but late made knight, and young. But as we suppose, but if it were Sir Tristram, or Sir Launcelot, or Sir Lamorak the good knight, there is none that might sit him a buffet with a spear. Well, said Morgan le Fay, I shall meet with that knight or it be a long time, and he dwell in that country. So turn we to the damosel of the castle,that when Sir Alisander le Orphelin had forjousted the four knights, she called him to her, and said thus: Sir knight, wilt thou for my sake joust and fight with a knight, for my sake, of this country, that is and hath been long time an evil neightbour to me? His name is Malgrin, and he will not suffer me to be married in no wise for all that I can do, or any knight for my sake. Damosel, said Alisander, an he comes whiles I am here I will fight with him, and my poor body for your sake I will jeopard. And therewithal she sent for him, for he was at her commandment. And when either had sight of other, they made them ready for to joust, and they came together eagerly, and Malgrin brised his spear upon Alisander, and Alisander smote him again so hard that he bare him quite from his saddle to the earth. but this Malgrin arose lightly, and dressed his shield and drew his sword, and bade him alight,saying: Though thou have the better of me on horseback, thou shalt find that I shall endure like a knight on foot. It is well said, said Alisander; and so lightly he avoided his horse and betook him to his varlet. And then they rushed together like two boars, and laid on their helms and shields long time, by the space of three hours, that never man could say which was the better knight. And in the meanwhile came Morgan le Fay to the damosel of the castle, and they beheld the battle. But this Malgrin was an old roted knight, and he was called one of the most dangerous knights in the world to do battle on foot, but on horseback there were many better. And ever this Malgrin awaited to slay Alisander and so wounded him so wonderly sore that it was a marvel that ever he might stand, for he had bled so much blood; for Alisander fought wildly, and not wittily. And that other was a felonious knight, and awaited him, and smote him sore. And sometime they rushed together with their shields, like two boars or rams, and fell grovelling both to the earth. Now knight, said Malgrin, hold thy hand a while and tell me what thou art. I will not, said Alisander, but if me list: but tell me thy name, and why thou keepest this country, or else thou shalt die of my hands. Wit you well, said Malgrin, that for this maidens love, of this castle, I have slain ten good knights by mishap; and by outrage and orgulite of myself I have slain ten other knights. So God help me, said, Alisander, this is the foulest confession that ever I heard knight make, nor never heard I speak of other men of such a shameful confession; wherefore it were great pity and great shame to me that I should let thee live any longer; therefore keep thee as well as ever thou mayest, for as I am a true knight, either thou shalt slay me or I shalt slay thee, I promise thee faithfully. Then they lashed together fiercely, and at the last Alisander smote Malgrin to the earth. And then he raced off his helm, and smote off his head lightly. And when he had done and ended this battle, anon he called to him his varlet,the which brought him his horse. And then he, weening to be strong enough, would have mounted (text defective at this point)1. And so she laid Sir Alisander in an horse litter, and led him into the castle, for he had no foot nor might to stand on the earth; for he had sixteen great wounds, and in especial one of them was like to be his death.

1wolde have mownted uppon his horse, but he myght nat for faynte. And then he seyde,
'A. Jesu succoure me!'
So by that com Morgan le Fay and bade hym be of good comforte. And so she layde hym, this Alisandir, in an horse-lettir, and so led hym into the castell,

Malory Works, ed by Vinaver, E., Oxford 1966 (1954), P. 479.


THEN Queen Morgan le Fay searched his wounds, and gave such an ointment to him that he should have died. And on the morn when she came to him he complained him sore; and then she put other ointments upon him, and then he was out of his pain. The came the damosel of the castle, and said unto Morgan le Fay: I pray you help me that this knight might wed me, for he hath won me with his hands. Ye shall see, said Morgan le Fay, what I shall say. Then Morgan le Fay went unto Alisander, and bad in anywise he should refuse this lady, an she desire to wed you, for she is not for you. So the damosel came and desired of him marriage. Damosel, said Orphelin, I thank you, but, as yet I cast me not to marry in this country. Sir, said she, sithen ye will not marry me, I pray you inasmuch as ye have won me, ye will give me to a knight of this country that hath been my friend, and loved me many years. With all my heart, said Alisander, I will assent thereto. then was this knight sent for, his name was Gerine le Grose. And anon he made them handfast, and wedded them. Then came Morgan le Fay to Alisander, and bad him arise, and put him in an horse litter and gave such a drink that in three days and three nights he waked never, but slept; and so she brought him to her own castle that at that time was called La Beale Regarde. Then Morgan le Fay came to Alisander, and asked him if he would he fain be whole. Who would be sick, said Alisander, an he might be whole? Well, said Morgan le Fay, then shall ye promise me by your knighthood that this twelvemonth and a day you shall not pass the compass of this castle, and without doubt ye shall lightly be whole. I assent,said Sir Alisander. And there he made her a promise: then was he soon whole. And when Alisander was whole, then he repented him his oath, for he might not be revenged on King Mark (jealous at the victory he had gained over invading Saracens, King Mark had murdered his brother Prince Boudwin, who was the father of Alisander). Right so there came a damosel that was cousin to the Earl of Pace and she was cousin to Morgan le Fay. And by right that castle of La Beale Regarde should have been hers by true inheritance. So this damosel entered this castle where lay Alisander, and there she found him upon his bed, passing heavy and all sad.


SIR knight, said the damosel, an ye would be merry I could tell you good tidings. Well were me, said Alisander, an I might hear of good tidings, for now I stand as a prisoner by my promise. Sir, she said, wit you well that ye be a prisoner, and worse than ye ween; for my lady, my cousin Queen Morgan le Fay, keepeth you here for none other intent but to do her pleasure with you when it liketh her. O Jesu defend me, said Alisander, from such pleasure; for I had lever cut away my hangers than I would do her such pleasure. As Jesu help me, said the damosel, an ye would love me and be ruled by me, I shall make your deliverance with your worship. Tell me, said Alisander, by what means, and ye shall have my love. Fair knight, said she, this castle ought of right to be mine, and I have an uncle the which is a mighty earl, he is Earl of Pase, and of all folk he hateth most Morgan le Fay; and I shall send unto him and pray him for my sake to destroy this castle for the evil customs that be used therin; and then will he come and set wild-fire on every part of the castle, and I shall get you out by a privy postern, and there shall ye have your horse and your harness. Ye say well, damosel, said Alisander. And then she said: Ye may keep the room of this castle this twelvemonth and a day, then break ye not your oath. Truly, fair damosel, said Alisander, ye say sooth. And then he kissed her and did to her pleasance as it pleased them both at times and leisures. So anon she sent unto her uncle and bad him come and destroy that castle, for as the book saith, he would have destroyed the castle afore time had not that damosel been. When the earl understood her letters he he sent her word that on such a day he would come and destroy the castle. So when that day came she showed Alisander a postern wherethrough he should flee into a garden, and there he should find his armour and his horse. When the day came that was set, thither came the Earl of Pase with four hundred knights, and set on fire all the parts of the castle, that or they ceased they left not a stone standing. And all this while that the fire was in the castle he abode in the garden. And when the fire was done he let make a cry that he would keep that piece of earth there as the castle of La Beale Regarde was a twelvemonth and a day, from all manner of knight that would come.

Sir Percival the self-mutilator



BY that Sir Percivale had abiden there till mid-day he saw a ship came rowing in the sea as all the wind of the world had driven it. And so it drove under that rock. And when Sir Percivale saw this he hied him thither, and found the ship covered with silk more blacker than any bear, and therein was a gentlewoman of great beauty, and she was clothed richly that none might be better. And when she saw Sir Percivale she said: Who brought you to this wilderness where ye be never like to pass hence, for ye shall die here of hunger and mischief? Damosel, said Sir Percivale, I serve the best man of the world, and in his service he will not suffer me to die, for who that knocketh shall enter, and who that asketh shall have, and who that seeketh him he hideth him not. But then she said: Sir Percivale, wot ye what I am? Yea, said he. Now who taught you my name? said she (an obvious error for Sir Percivale). Now, said Sir Percivale (another obvious error for the gentlewoman) I know you better than ye ween. And I came out of the waste forest where I found the red knight with the white shield (Sir Galahad), said the damosel. Ah, damosel, said he, with that knight would I meet passing fain. Sir knight, said she, and ye will ensure me by the faith that ye owe unto knighthood that ye shall do my will what time I summon you, and I shall bring you unto that knight. Yea, said he, I shall promise you to fulfil your desire. Well, said she now shall I tell you. I saw him in the forest chasing two knights into a water, the which is called Mortaise; and they drove him into that water for dread of death, and the two knights passed over, and the red knight passed after, and there his horse was drenched, and he, through great strength, escaped unto the land: thus she told him, and Sir Percivale was passing glad thereof. Then she asked him if had ate any meat late. Nay, madam, truly I ate no meat nigh this three days, but late here I spake with a good man that fed me with his good words and holy, and refreshed me greatly. Ah, sir knight, said she, that same man is an enchanter and a multiplier of words. For an ye believe him ye shall plainly be shamed, and die in this rock for pure hunger, and be eaten by wild beasts; and ye be a young man ans a goodly knight, and I shall help you an ye will. What are ye, said Sir Percivale, that proffered me thus great kindness? I am, said she, a gentlewoman that am disinherited, which was sometime the richest woman in the world. Damosel, said Sir Percivale, who hath disinherited you? for I have great pity of you. Sir, said she, I dwelled with the greatest man of the world, and he made me so fair and clear that there was none like me; and of that great beauty I had but a little pride more than I ought to have had. Also I said a word that pleased him not. And then he would not suffer me me to be any longer in his company, and so drove me from mine heritage, and so disinherited me, and he had never pity of me nor of none of my council, nor of my court. And sithen, Sir knight, it hath befallen me so, and through me and mine I have benome him of many of his men, and made them to become my men. For they ask never nothing of me but I give it them, that and much more. Thus I and all my servants were against him night and day. Therefore I know no good knight, nor no good man, but I get them on my side an I may. And for that I know that thou art a good knight, I beseech you to help me; and for ye be a fellow of the Round Table, wherefore ye ought not to fail no gentlewoman which is disinherited, an she besought you of help.


THEN Sir Percivale promised her all the help that he might; and then she thanked him. And at that time the weather was hot. Then she called unto her a gentlewoman and bad her bring forth a pavilion; and so she did, and pyght it upon the gravel. Sir, said she, now may ye rest you in the heat of this day. Then he thanked her, and she put off his helm and his shield, and there he slept a great while. And then he awoke and asked her if she had any meat, and she said: Yea, also ye shall have enough. and so there was set enough upon the table, and thereon so much that he had marvel, for there were all manner of meats that he could think on. Also he drank there the strongest wine that ever he drank, him thought, and therwith he was a little chafed more than he ought to be; with that he beheld the gentlewoman, and him thought she was the fairest creature that ever he saw. And then Sir Percivale proffered her love, and prayed her that she would be his. Then she refused him, in a manner, when he required her, for the cause he should be the more ardent on her, and ever he ceased not to pray of her love. And when she saw him well enchafed, then she said: Sir Percivale, wit you well I shall not fulfil your will but if ye swear from henceforth ye shall be my true servant, and to do nothing but that I shall command you. Will ye ensure me this as ye are a true knight? Yea said he, fair lady, by the faith of my body. Well, said she, now shall ye do with me what so it please you; and now wit ye well ye are the knight in the world that I have most desire to. And then two squires were commanded to make a bed in middes of the pavilion. And anon she was unclothed and laid therein. And then Sir Percivale laid him down by her naked; and by adventure and grace he saw his sword lie on the ground naked, in whose pommell was a red cross and the sign of the crucifix therein, and bethought him on his knighthood and his promise made toforehand unto the good man; then he made the sign of the cross in his forehead, and therewith the pavilion turned up so down, and then it changed unto a smoke, and a black cloud, and then he was adread and cried aloud:


FAIR sweet father, Jesu Christ, ne let me not be shamed, the which was nigh lost had not thy good grace been. And then he looked into a ship, and saw her enter therein, which said: Sir Percivale, ye have betrayed me. And so she went with the wind roaring and yelling, that it seemed all the water brent after her. Then Sir Percivale made great sorrow, and drew his sword unto him, saying: sithen my flesh will be my master I shall punish it; and therewith he rove himself through the thigh that the blood start about him, and said: O good Lord, take this in recompensation of that I have done against thee, my Lord. So then he clothed him and armed him, and called himself a wretch, saying: How nigh was I lost, and to have lost that I should never have gotten again, that was my virginity, for that may never be recovered after it is once lost. and then he stopped his bleeding wound with a piece of his shirt. Thus as he made his moan he saw the same ship come from the Orient that the good man was in the day afore, and the noble knight was ashamed with himself, and therewith he fell in a swoon. And when he awoke he went unto him weakly, and there he saluted this good man. And then he asked Sir Percivale: How hast thou done sith I departed? Sir, said he, here was a gentlewoman and led me into deadly sin. And there he told him altogether. Ye knew not the maid? said the good man. Sir, said he, nay, but well I wot the fiend sent her hither to shame me. O good knight, said he, thou art a fool, for that gentlewoman was the master fiend of hell, the which hath power above all devils, and that was the old lady that thou saw in thine advision riding on the serpent. Then he told Sir Percivale how our Lord Jesu Christ beat him out of heaven for his sin, the which was the most brightest angel of heaven, and therefore he lost his heritage: And that was the champion that thou foughtest withal, the which had overcome thee had not the grace of God been. Now beware Sir Percivale, and take this for an ensample. And then the good man vanished away. the Sir Percivale took his arms, and entered into the ship, and so departed from thence.

The paternity of Sir Tor


FORTHWITHAL there came a poor man into the court, and brought with him a fair young man of eighteen years of age riding upon a lean mare; and the poor man asked all men that he met, Where shall I find King Arthur? Yonder he is, said the knights, wilt thou anything of him? Yea, said the poor man, therefore I came hither. Anon as he came before the king, he saluted him and said: O King Arthur the flower of all knights and kings, I beseech Jesu save thee. Sir, it was told me that at this time of your marriage ye would give any man the gift that he would ask, out except that were unreasonable. That is truth, said the king, such cries I let make, and that I will hold, so it impair not my realm nor mine estate. Ye say well and graciously, said the poor man; Sir I ask nothing else but that ye will make my son here a knight. It is a great thing thou asketh of me said the king. What is thy name? said the king to the poor man. Sir, my name is Aries the cowherd. Whether cometh this of thee or of thy son? said the king. Nay, sir, said Aries, this desire cometh of my son and not of me, for I shall tell you I have thirteen sons, and all they will fall to what labour I put them, and will be right glad to do labour, but this child will not labour for me for anything that my wife or I may do, but always he will be shooting or casting darts, and glad for to see battles and to behold knights, and always day and night he desireth of me to be made a knight. What is thy name? said the king unto the young man. Sir, my name is Tor. The king beheld him fast, and saw he was passingly well-visaged and passingly well made of his years. Well, said King Arthur unto Aries the cowherd, fetch all thy sons afore me that I may see them. And so the poor man did, and all were shaped much like the poor man. But Tor was not like none of them all in shape nor in countenance, for he was much more than any of them. Now,said King Arthur unto the cowherd, where is the sword he shall be made knight withal? It is here, said Tor. Take it out of the sheath, said the king, and require me to make you a knight. Then Tor alit off his mare and pulled out his sword, kneeling, and requiring the king that he would make him knight, and that he might be a knight of the Table Round. As for a knight I will make you, and therewith smote him in the neck with the sword, saying, Be ye a good knight, and so I pray to God so ye may be, and if ye be of prowess and of worthiness ye shall be a knight of the Table Round. Now Merlin, said Arthur, say whether this Tor shall be a good knight or no. Yea , sir, he ought to be a good knight, for he is come of as good a man as any alive, and of kings' blood. How so, sir? said the king. I shall tell you, said Merlin: This poor man, Aries the cowherd, is not his father, he is nothing syb to him, for King Pellinore is his father. I suppose nay, said the cowherd. Fetch thy wife afore me, said Merlin, and she shall not say nay. Anon the wife was fetched, which was a fair housewife, and there she answered Merlin full womanly, and there she told the king and Merlin that when she was a maid, and went to milk kine, there met with her a stern knight, and half by force he had my maidenhead, and at that time he begat my son Tor, and he took away away from me my greyhound that I had that time with me, and said that he would keep the greyhound for my love. Ah, said the cowherd, I weened not this, but I may believe it well, for he had never tatches of me. Sir, said Tor unto Merlin, dishonour not my mother. Sir, said Merlin, it is more to your worship than hurt, for your father is a good man and a king, and he may right well advance you and your mother, for ye were begotten or ever she was wedded. That is truth, said the wife. It is the less grief unto me said the cowherd.


SO on the morn King Pellinore came to the court of King Arthur, which had great joy of him, and told him of Tor, how he was his son, and how he had made him knight at the request of the cowherd. When Pellinore beheld Tor, he pleased him much. So the king made Gawaine knight, but Tor was the first he made at the feast.

Merlin and Nimue


SO, after these quests of Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor and King Pellinore, it fell so that Merlin fell in a dotage on the damosel that King Pellinore brought to court, and she was one of the damosels of the lake, that hight Nimue. But Merlin would let have her no rest, but always he would be with her. And ever she made Merlin good cheer till she had learned of him all manner of thing that she desired; and he was assotted upon her, that he might not be from her. So on a time he told King Arthur that he should not dure long, but for all his crafts he would be put in the earth quick...Ah said the king, since ye know of your adventure, purvey for it, and put away by your crafts that misadventure. Nay, said Merlin, it will not be; so he departed from the king. And within a while the damosel of the lake also departed, and Merlin went with her evermore wheresomever she went. And ofttimes Merlin would have had her privily away by his subtle crafts; then she made him swear that he should never do none enchantment upon her if he would have his will. And so he sware; so she and Merlin went over the sea unto the land of Benwick... And so soon after the lady and Merlin departed, and by the way Merlin showed her many wonders, and came into Cornwall. And always Merlin lay about the lady to have her maidenhead, and she was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of him, for she was afeared of him because he was a devil's son, and she could not beskyfte of him by no mean. Ans so on a time it happed that Merlin showed to her in a rock whereas there was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, that went under a great stone. So by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under that stone to let her wit of the marvels there, but she wrought so there for him that he came never out for all the craft he could do. And so she departed and left Merlin.


So, as Sir Bagdemagus rode to see many adventures, it happed him to come to the rock whereas the Lady of the Lake had put Merlin under the stone, and there he heard him make great dole; whereof Sir Bagdemagus would have holpen him, and went unto the great stone, and it was so heavy that an hundred man might not lift it up. When Merlin wist he was there, he bad leave his labour, for all was in vain, for he might never be holpen, but by her that put him in there.

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