January 2019 – King Arthur building the legend contd

By | March 17, 2019

The session:

Continued Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur”

1/.  The story continued and it was interesting to see the impact on the story of the life and times of Malory, there was a bitter civil war.  Although he used the existing stories as sources he added in his own interpretation and elements to the story.  One particular character “improved” upon by Malory was Morgan Le Fay who in earlier stories was a loving sister to Arthur became an almost James Bond-like villain in her attempts to remove/kill him in his version.

2/.  The concept of Camelot was introduced by Chretien de Troyes and included by Malory.  Malory first suggested that Camelot was Winchester however later in the story writes as if Camelot and Winchester were different places.  The Round Table was also introduced as a wedding present to Arthur and Guinevere and was big enough to seat 150 knights.  Malory set out the rules of Knightly Conduct.

3/.  Merlin was introduced as a magician who could see the future along with his nemesis a water sprite called Nenive/Nimue/Vivienne who was one of the handmaidens of the Lady of the Lake.  She tried to manipulate Merlin, wheedling knowledge from him.  Merlin knew what was going on because he knew everything but was powerless to do anything about it.  Merlin knew his time with Arthur was limited and tried to give Arthur as much information as possible.  He told Arthur to look after his sword as a woman would try to take it.  Once Nenive had gained as much information from Merlin as she could, she trapped him for eternity in a cavern.

4/.  Arthur went on a hunting trip with Sir Accolon and King Uriens of Gore.  They got lost in the forest and found themselves in the other world.  Arthur was faced with having to fight to rescue the others but Accolon gets a secret message from Morgan Le Fay telling him he has to fight a battle to the death with an unknown knight.  She gave him Excalibur which was taken from Arthur while he slept.  Arthur, the unknown knight, agreed to fight and Morgan Le Fay manoeuvred it so that Accolon and Arthur fought each other.  During the fight Arthur realized that his sword wasn’t Excalibur and Nenive took pity on Arthur and made Accolon drop Excalibur so that Arthur could pick it up.  Arthur revealed who he was and Accolon spared him and crossed Morgan Le Fay.  Morgan Le Fay stole the scabbard of Excalibur and threw it into a lake.  Morgan couldn’t resist one final attempt to kill Arthur so sent him a special cloak.  Nenive advised Arthur not to try the cloak on and had it put on a handmaid who instantly dropped dead and then burst into flames.  Arthur then left Morgan Le Fay in the Land of Gore.

Arthur gathered an army and set off to Gaul to kill a giant and then went on to conquer Rome.  Rome had insisted that Arthur should pay taxes to them.

5/.  We considered the story of Lancelot du Lake.  Lancelot became Queen Guinevere’s champion and bound by the conventions of courtly love.  However the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere moved beyond courtly love and gossip soon started to spread.  To protect Guinevere Lancelot tried to distance himself but Guinevere was unhappy with this.  Lancelot faced many trials.

Guinevere and her party of knights and ladies were kidnapped by Sir Meleagant.  Guinevere managed to smuggle out a message to Lancelot to rescue her.  After the rescue Guinevere released Sir Lancelot.