Arthurian Name Dictionary


A forest through which Galahad and Tristan rode during the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


A West German city named in the Alliterative Morte Arthure as part of Arthur’s vast empire. [Allit]


A knight whose physical similarity to Gawain lent him the nickname “the other Gawain.” In pursuit of a knight named Gigamec, who had slain his brother, Aamanz was intercepted and challenged by another knight named Zedoech. The real Gawain happened along and stopped Aamanz as he was about to behead his opponent. Gawain and Aamanz battled, with Gawain emerging as the victor. When Aamanz refused to surrender, Gawain turned him over to Zedoech and Gigamec, who cruelly murdered him as soon as Gawain had left. Gigamec then bore Aamanz’s head to Arthur’s court, representing it as Gawain’s. [Heinrich]


Steward of the castle Amonstus and the vassal of Lady Fortune. He hosted Gawain during the knight’s visit to the country. [Heinrich]


An ally of Thereus, Arthur’s Roman enemy. He ruled the kingdom of Armenia. [Claris]


A heathen knight slain by Arthur’s Sir Lucan at the first battle of Carhaix. [Arthour]


A kinsman of Lancelot who joined the Round Table to emulate his famous relative. He participated in the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


Son of Galehaut in La Tavola Ritonda. He ruled the castle Ferelois, where he held a tournament during the Grail Quest. His counterpart in French romance is Galehodin. [Tavola]

Abbey of the Cross

A Scottish abbey that served as the final resting place for Joseph of Arimathea in the Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal. [VulgEst]


A place visited by Galahad during the Grail Quest, just prior to his conquest of the Castle of Maidens. [Malory]

Abelleus [*Abelin]

The object of Tor’s first quest. Abelleus stole a white brachet from Arthur’s hall; Tor tracked him down and retrieved it. Having promised Abelleus’s head to the hound’s owner, Tor reluctantly decapitated him. [PostMer, Malory]

Aber Deu Cleddyf (“Estuary of the Two Swords”)

An estuary in southwest Dyfed (Wales) where Arthur and his warriors journeyed to retrieve the pups of the enchanted hound Rhymi. Obtaining the dogs was one of Culhwch’s tasks. Arthur received directions from Tringad, a local resident. [Culhwch]

Aber Tywi

A Welsh estuary where the Tywi river empties into the Bristol Channel. Here Arthur and his men fought one of several battles against the boar Twrch Trwyth, and the warriors Cynan and Gwilenhin were slain. From here, the chase moved on to Glynn Ystun. [Culhwch]


The grave site of Rhydderch the Generous, king of Cumbria and brother-in-law of Merlin. [WelshSG]


A mute maiden who lived with her blind mother, Corceca, in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. In Spenser’s allegory, the women are an unflattering portrayal of monasticism. The women lodged Princess Una after she was abandoned by her protector, the Red Cross Knight. Abessa’s lover, Kirkrapine, was killed by Una’s pet lion when he tried to break into their house. [Spenser]

Abilan of Estrangot

An Arthurian knight who was unsuccessful in the Perilous Passage adventure. [Palamedes]

Abilas [Ausile]

One of four brothers (Abilas, Casibilant, Dion, and Dyonis) who aided their uncle, Duke Calles, in a revolt led by Calles’ sons. Abilas and his brothers were joined by Gaheris, Agravain, and Gareth. [VulgLanc]


Duke of Scottish Borderlands and the Isles. He made war on Uther Pendragon. Merlin abducted his daughter and imprisoned her on the Turning Island, causing Abinors to die of grief. [Livre]


A land of which Segurant, a renowned knight of Uther Pendragon’s court, became king. [Palamedes]


A knight who joined the Round Table after Perceval visited his castle, slew his ferocious lions, defeated him in combat, and sent him to Arthur’s court. [Contin2]


Father of Arthur’s warrior Regian. [Wace]

Acadoes [Escades]

A fine knight in the service of King Bagdemagus of Gorre. He guarded the Sword Bridge between Logres and Gorre. When he died, Meleagant assumed his post. [VulgLanc]


A black knight from the castle Amalvi. Acanor and his father were both Christians, but Acanor’s dark skin led other’s to call him the Ugly Hero. Under this alias, he enjoyed many adventures as Arthur’s knight. There may be some connection with Escanor. [PostMer]

Acantan the Agile

A kinsman of Lancelot who joined the Round Table to emulate his famous relative. He participated in the Grail Quest. He may be the same character as Acorant. [PostQuest]


A lady from Lyonesse who figures into Tristan’s ancestry. Acarive’s daughter committed adultery and was executed on the advice of Queen Gloriande of Lyonesse. In revenge, Acarive tried to frame Gloriande for adultery, forging a letter which suggested that Gloriande was having an affair with a knight named Amanz. King Apollo of Lyonesse, Gloriande’s wife and Tristan’s ancestor, saw through the ploy and executed Acarive. [ProsTris]

Accalon [Accolon]

A knight from Gaul. Morgan le Fay, Accalon’s lover, used him as an unwilling participant in a plot against Arthur. She provided him with Excalibur, which she had stolen, and arranged for him to champion a knight named Ontzlake against Ontzlake’s brother Damas. Meanwhile, however, Damas had tricked Arthur into fighting as his champion. Both knights met in combat—Accalon thinking he was fighting Damas, and Arthur thinking he was fighting Ontzlake. Since Arthur had a fake version of Excalibur and its scabbard, and Accalon had the real one, Arthur fared poorly in the battle. As Accalon prepared to deliver the killing blow, Nimue arrived and caused Excalibur to fall from Accalon’s hands. Arthur picked up the sword, struck Accalon to the ground, removed his helmet, and realized Morgan’s treachery. After receiving Arthur’s forgiveness, Accalon died. Arthur had him buried at St. Stephen’s church in Camelot. A plot by Morgan to avenge his death failed. [PostMer, Malory]

Accursed Cemetery

A graveyard in Ireland visited by Arthur’s Sir Cliges in Les Merveilles de Rigomer. Cliges learned that any knight who entered the cemetery was bound to die there—a custom that Cliges ended by slaying the lord of the surrounding land. [Merveil]


A king in Arthur’s service in Floriant et Florete. He joined Arthur’s campaign against Maragoz, an enemy. [Floriant]

Aces [Acon, Ates]

A young nobleman from Beaumont in Quimper-Corentin. His father was named Ales and he had a brother named Alon. As a companion of the brothers Yvain, he fought against the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. Arthur knighted him for his service and appointed him to the Round Table. His cousin, Duke Galescalain of Clarence, made him the constable of Clarence. [VulgMer, Livre, Arthour]


A knight who wounded Tristan during a joust. [ProsTris]


Arthur’s sister and Perceval’s mother in the Middle English Sir Perceval of Galles. Her husband, also named Perceval, was slain by the Red Knight, leading Acheflour to raise Perceval ignorant of war and knighthood so that he might avoid the same fate. Eventually, Perceval left for Arthur’s court. Acheflour went insane when she mistakenly thought Perceval had been killed. At the end of the romance, however—and in contrast to other Perceval romances in which his mother dies—Perceval and Acheflour are joyously reunited and Acheflour regains her sanity. Her name is probably a corruption of Blancheflour. [SirPerc]


Father of Arthur’s warrior Gusg. [Culhwch]


In Perlesvaus, Gawain encounters a descendant of the Greek hero—a knight in the habit of slaying other knights who lodged at his tent. After defeating him, Gawain had to thrust his sword through the sole of the knight’s foot in order to kill him. This was apparently the case with all of Achilles’ descendants. [Perlesvaus]

Achilles2 the Blond

A squire of Sir Bors. After many years of faithful service, Bors knighted him and made him lord of the Forbidden Hill castle. [VulgLanc]


A maidservant of Amurfina. She served a love potion to Gawain, which caused him to fall in love with and marry Aclamet’s mistress. Aclamet herself loved Arthur’s Sir Aumagwin. [Heinrich]

Acorant the Agile [Acorante, Acourant]

Knight of the Round Table, brother of Danubre the Brave, and kinsman of Lancelot. During the Grail Quest, he was slain by Arpian of the Narrow Mountain, who hated Lancelot’s family for their prowess. His death was swiftly avenged by Danubre. He may be the same character as Acantan the Agile. [PostQuest, ProsTris]

Acorde the Insolent [Licoridés]

One of the noble Byzantine warriors that the knight Alexander brought to Britain from Constantinople. He fought for Arthur in the battle against the traitor Angres of Windsor. [ChretienC]


One of the noble warriors that the knight Alexander brought to Britain from Constantinople. He fought for Arthur in the battle against the traitor Angres of Windsor. [ChretienC]


A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]

Acquileia [Aquilea]

An ancient Roman city on the northern edge of the Adriatic Sea, where, according to the chronicles, Maximus was executed after his failed attempt to conquer Rome. Wolfram says that Perceval’s paternal uncle Trevrizent explored the city during his travels. [Gildas, Nennius, Wolfram]

Acquillans of the Green Mountain

Cousin of Arthur’s Sir Hervi of Rivel. [Palamedes]


In Eilhart von Oberge’s Tristrant, an evil little dwarf whose astrological powers won him a place in Mark’s court. He divined the affair between Tristan and Isolde, and conspired to expose it to Mark. Acquitain appears in Béroul as Frocin, and in Gottfried von Strassburg as Melot from Aquitaine. [Eilhart]


A beautiful sorceress in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene who ruled the Bower of Bliss, a garden that contained all things arousing to the physical senses. Her custom was to lure knights into the Bower and turn them into animals. Gloriana, the Fairy Queen, sent Sir Guyon to destroy the Bower. Guyon resisted Acrasia’s seductions, captured her, and destroyed her garden. [Spenser]


A city on the coast of Israel. Crusaders besieged the city between 1190 and 1191. Many of them were siezed by an illness. In Béroul’s Tristan, Tristan, disguised as a beggar as part of an elaborate ruse to vindicate Isolde (see Mal Pas), claims that his hands are “stiffened by the illness called ‘Mal d’Acre.”  This allusion has been taken by some critics to date the romance later than 1191. [Beroul, Claris]

Acricor the Handsome

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


A Saxon knight defeated by Arthur’s Sir Hervi. [Prophecies]


One of the kings of Listenois in Palamedes. His brother was the Lord of the Narrow Borderland and his sister was the Queen of Orkney. He was a companion of Hector the Brown. [Palamedes]

Adam the Fair [Adaind, Adayn]

One of Arthur’s knights. He twice accompanied Gawain and a collection of other knights on a quest to find Lancelot. [VulgLanc]


A British king mentioned in Arthour and Merlin among those who could not be counted on to help against the invading heathens. [Arthour]


The Arabian count of Alarie. At a battle in Damascus, Adan was captured by King Roaz of Glois, who had slain Adan’s three brothers. As Roaz’s prisoner, Adan was assigned to guard the gates of Roaz’s castle. He was freed from this service when Wigalois (Gawain’s son) journeyed to Glois and killed Roaz. In gratitude, Adan swore fealty to Wigalois and was baptized. He joined Wigalois in a war against King Lion of Namur, in which Adan’s granddaughter, the knight Marnie, was killed by Duke Galopear of Greece. Adan avenged her death by slaying Galopear. [Wirnt]


Perceval’s great-grandfather in Wolfram’s Parzvial. Descended from fairies, he was the son of Lazaliez and the father of Gandin. An active warrior, Addanz died in combat. [Wolfram]


Lancelot’s lover in Ulrich’s Lanzelet. She was the daughter of a the famous huntsman Patricius von den Bigen, and she was raised by her uncle, Linier, in the castle Limors. Lancelot came to Limors during his early adventures, and ran afoul of the ill-tempered Linier even as Ade cast eyes his way. Lancelot ended up killing Linier in combat, and he and Ade became paramours. Ade gave him her brother Tybalt as a squire. During an outing, Lancelot succumbed to the enchantment of the Schatel le Mort, which turned brave knights into cowards. Ade, seeing Lancelot acting cowardly, and not knowing of the enchantment, abandoned him in disgust and never saw him again.

Ade is not found in any other romance. It seems more than a coincidence that Hugh de Morville (who provided Ulrich with his source) had a mother and daughter named Ada. [UlrichZ]

Adelons the Gay

A knight who fought on the side of King Urien and the King of North Wales during a tournament at the city of Levegnic. [Palamedes]

Adeluf III

One of Arthur’s sons in Rauf de Boun’s Petit Brut. His brothers were Morgan the Black and Patrick the Red. Adelufs I and II were kings who preceded Arthur. [ProsBrut]


A castle where Morgan le Fay once kept Lionel prisoner. [Palamedes]


In La Tavola Ritonda, a courteous knight who lodged Tristan during his travels. In return for his hospitality, Tristan forced Adnain’s mortal enemy, Count Balie, to make peace. His name bears a similarity to Danain the Red of the Palamedes. [Tavola]


One of Arthur’s knights in La Tavola Ritonda. He fought in the Leverzep tournament. [Tavola]

Adoras of the Island of the Door

A Knight of the Round Table. [ProsTris]

Adragain the Brown [Adragein)(s), Adragenis, Agrauein(s)]

An early Knight of the Round Table who first served Uther Pendragon. He came from the Black Isle and was the brother of Mador the Black. He fought for Arthur in the early wars against King Rions and the Saxons, and he helped Sir Aglovale defend the Waste Land when Agrippe (Rions’ uncle) invaded. He later became a monk in Benoic, and he upbraided Arthur for neglecting to help Kings Ban and Bors when they were attacked by King Claudas. [VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre, Arthour]


A knight in the service of one of the kings who rebelled against Arthur in the early days of his reign. He was noted for his bravery in a battle against the Saxons near Cambenic. [VulgMer]


In Malory, a knight who found Isolde weeping in the forest, about to drown herself in a well, after she escaped from an abduction by Palamedes. Adtherpe gave her harbor in his castle, and then rode to fight Palamedes. Palamedes defeated him, and made him reveal Isolde’s location. The same character appears in the Prose Tristan unnamed; La Tavola Ritonda calls him Guirlandot. [ProsTris, Malory]

Adventurous Bed

An alternate name for the Perilous Bed found in the Grail legends. [VulgLanc]

Adventurous Castle

Another name for Corbenic, the Grail Castle. [ProsTris]

Adventurous Ford [*Gué Aventuros]

A ford in Cornwall. After Tristan and Isolde had lived in the forest of Morrois for a time, Mark agreed to take Isolde back. The exchange took place at the ford. Later, the Adventurous Ford was the location where Isolde proclaimed her innocence before a large assembly. [Beroul]

Adventurous Seats

According to La Tavola Ritonda, the Round Table seats occupied by the knights errant—in contrast to the Royal Seat (occupied by Arthur) and the Perilous Seat (filled by no one until Galahad). [Tavola]

Adventurous Sword [*Espee Aventureuse]

The sword that had belonged to Balin the Savage. It appears in several texts, but is not named in all of them. Balin had received it from a servant of the Lady of the Island of Avalon, and he used it to behead the Lady of the Lake. The Lady of Avalon’s messenger told Balin that the sword would bring him sorrow. Later, he used it to kill his brother Balan, receiving a mortal wound himself in the process. This episode occurred on Merlin’s Island. Merlin took the sword and thrust it into a block of marble. Gawain saw the sword on the island and was told by a hermit that the weapon, in the hand of his best friend, would cause his death. Evidently, the hermit was referring to Gawain’s battle with Lancelot, but if Lancelot ever received the sword, we are not told. Instead, the block of marble floated up to Camelot at the beginning of the Grail Quest. Gawain tried to draw it from the stone, failed, and was informed that he would suffer for having tried. Galahad drew the sword, girded it upon himself, and apparently kept it until he received the Sword of the Strange Hangings. (Possibly, he gave the Adventurous Sword to Lancelot, his father, after receiving the latter.) Fulfilling the second prophecy against Gawain, Galahad struck Gawain down with the sword during the Grail Quest, putting Gawain out of commission for the rest of the adventure. [VulgLanc, VulgQuest, PostMer]

Aedan mac Gabrain

Father of Arthur of Dalriada, a possible historical prototype for King Arthur. Aedan ruled the kingdom of Dalriada (modern Argyll and Kintyre) in the late sixth century. He was known for his prolific warfare; and Arthur of Dalriada was killed in one of Aedan’s battles against the Picts, at Miathi (Barber, Figure, 21–33). Aedan, called “the Wily,” appears in a Welsh Triad, in which he visits the court of Rhydderch the Generous, killed all of the beasts, ate all of the food, and drank all of the wine. [Triads]


A Welsh character adopted from Irish mythology. A Welsh Triad holds that Aedd’s son, Prydein, conquered and named Britain. In Culhwch and Olwen, two of Arthur’s warriors—Gwitart and Odgar—are noted as Aedd’s sons, and Aedd himself is called the King of Ireland. [Triads, Culhwch]

Ægelesthrep [Ægelsthrep]

A British plain where in 455, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Vortigern fought a battle against Horsa and Hengist, and Horsa was killed. Arthurian chroniclers place this battle at Episford. [Anglo]

Ælle [Aella]

A Saxon war-leader who came to Britain from Germany in 477, with his sons Cymen, Wlencing, and Cissa. He landed at Cymenesora and defeated a Briton army at Aldredeslea. In 485, he fought a battle at Mearcredesburna and, in 491, with his son Cissa, he defeated the Britons again at Andredsceaster. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not link him to Arthurian tradition, but if Arthur existed, Aelle would have been his contemporary (and probable opponent). [Bede, Anglo]


A hero of Greek mythology. As a member of the house of Troy, he journeyed to Italy after the Trojan War and became the ruler of Rome. Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth make him the ancestor of Brutus, the first king of Britain. In King Arthur, Dryden names him as Arthur’s ancestor. [Nennius, GeoffHR, Dryden]


A son of Hengist who assisted and succeeded his father in the beginnings of the Saxon conquest of Britain. Æsc joined the war in 456 or 457 and won a battle at Creacanford in Kent. In 465, he again defeated the Britons at Wippedsfleot. He won another victory with his father in 473, and became the ruler of Kent in 488. Mentioned in the non-Arthurian Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he may be identical to Eosa or Aschil of Arthurian tradition. [Anglo]


A hound needed by Culhwch, as one of his tasks, to hunt the boar Twrch Trwyth. Other tasks required that Culhwch find certain people to manage Aethlem. Arthur obtained the dog for his kinsman. After the hunt, Aethlem could not be found and was never seen again. [Culhwch]

Ætius [Agitius]

Historically, a steward of Gaul under the Roman emperor Valentinian in the second quarter of the fifth century. According to the Arthurian chronicles, the Britons entreated him for assistance when, after the Roman withdrawal, Britain was invaded by Picts and Scots. Beset by martial problems at home, Ætius refused to send aid. The Britons took their plea to King Aldroen of Brittany, who sent them his brother, Arthur’s grandfather, Constantine. [Gildas, Nennius, GeoffHR]

Afanc [Adanc]

A lake monster killed by Peredur. In modern Welsh, the word means “beaver,” but the Peredur creature is a terrible beast that devours maidens and throws poisoned spears at anyone who tries to enter its cave—characteristics uncommon to beavers.

On his way to slay the afanc, Peredur met the Empress of Constantinople. She gave him a magic stone, which turned him invisible. He entered the cave unseen and killed the monster with his spear. In another legend, Arthur was said to have slain one of the creatures himself on the shores of Llyn Barfog. [Peredur]

Afaon [Addaon]

One of Arthur’s warriors in Welsh legend. The son of Taliesin the bard, he was slain by Llawgad or Llongad. The Triads note cryptically that Afaon avenged his death from the grave. [Triads, Dream]


In a poem in the Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen, Cei remarks that “though Arthur was but playing, blood was flowing in the hall of Afarnach, fighting with a hag.” This passage may recall a familiar legend, represented in Culhwch and Olwen when Arthur kills the Black Hag. [WelshPG]


The Welsh name for Avalon, but also the name of the Celtic goddess Modron’s father, who was said to rule an otherworldly island. William of Malmesbury places his residence at Avalon. His name may be echoed in Evalach from the Grail histories. [WilliamM, Triads]

Affibla Delet

A Knight of the Round Table in Hartmann von Aue’s Erec. [HartmannE]

Affinamus1 of Amantisin

A duke from the Middle-East or Africa who became the vassal of Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]

Affinamus2 of Clitiers

A comrade of Gramoflanz, Gawain’s brother-in-law. [Wolfram]


A kingdom to which Tristan journeyed during one of his exiles from Cornwall. He was accompanied by Dinadan and his squire, Alcardo. [Tavola]

Aflawn [Halwyn]

Father of Arthur’s warrior Huarwar. His name means “not full.” [Culhwch]


Only Welsh legend suggests that Arthur himself had any involvement with this continent; at least, Arthur’s chief gatekeeper Glewlwyd claims to have been in Africa, and possibly implies some Arthurian association. In Geoffrey, the King of Africa, Munstensar, is an ally of the Roman Procurator Lucius and joins the war against Arthur. Wolfram gives Farjelastis, an ally of Perceval’s brother Feirefiz, as the Duke of Africa. Gottfried von Strassburg says that King Gurmun of Ireland, Isolde’s father, was the son of the King of Africa; and the Norse Saga of Tristan and Ísönd names it as Rions’ home land. A further Norse Tristan legend says that it was ruled by a King Turnes, who conquered Spain. [Culhwch, GeoffHR, Wolfram, Gottfried, TrisSaga, SagaTI]


Merlin made the Ship of Joy for the king of Northumberland and his friend Agad. The Ship was used by Tristan and Isolde. [ProsTris]


A king in Arthur’s service in La Tavola Ritonda. Agalone served as steward of Britain, along with a fellow king named Allielle, while Arthur was away in Gaul. He thus occupies the role assigned to Caradoc Shortarm in the Prose Tristan. [Tavola]


A vassal of Lord Golagros in the Scots poem of Golagros. During the war between Golagros and Arthur, Agalus was captured by Arthur’s knights. [Golagros]


A knight from Normandy who married Phenonee, sister of Arthur’s Sir Meliador. [Froissart]

Agamenor [Ganemor]

A Knight of the Round Table and companion of Arpian of the Narrow Mountain and Amatin the Good Jouster. The trio hated any knights of Lancelot’s family, and they consequently attacked Acorant the Agile and Danubre the Brave, two of Lancelot’s kinsmen, during the Grail Quest. Agamenor and Danubre were the last two survivors of the bloody brawl, and they killed each other. [PostQuest]


A knight who, with his brother Agion, joined their cousin Harpin in his siege of the Castle of Three Maidens. Sir Hector of the Fens and the King with the Hundred Knights arrived to defend the castle, and Agano and Agion were killed. [Palamedes]


A knight in the service of King Mordrain, ruler of the Arabain kingdom of Sarras. When Mordrain left his land to seek Joseph of Arimathea in Britain, he bequeathed his kingdom to Aganor. [VulgEst]


A healer who treated Tristan after he received a mortal wound at the hands of Bedalis. [ProsTris]

Agaran [Aguarus, Aragan]

A young knight whose lands were invaded by the Count of the Valley. Agaran’s uncle, a holy man, left his hermitage to come to Agaran’s aid. The two of them defeated the Count, but the Count’s nephews subsequently slew Agaran’s uncle in his cloister. During the Grail Quest, Lancelot visited the hermitage and saw the body. Lancelot’s host conjured a devil to explain the circumstances of the man’s death. [VulgQuest, Malory]


The home of Hardifius and Elimas, two warriors who participated in King Leigamar’s tournament at Sorgarda. [Heinrich]


A vassal of the duke of Aram. He participated in King Leigamar’s tournament at Sorgarda. [Heinrich]

Agarnices of Cologne

One of nine clerics sent by Arthur to Sorelois, to help King Galehaut interpret a disturbing dream. [VulgLanc]


One of Lancelot’s French lands. Lancelot appointed Sir Cleges earl of Agen in return for Cleges’ support in Lancelot’s war against King Arthur. [Malory]


Attendant to Rowena, Vortigern’s wife, in Thelwall’s The Fairy of the Lake. [Thelwall]


Tristan’s step-mother and Meliadus’s second wife in La Tavola Ritonda. The daughter of King Bramo, she is unnamed in previous versions of the legend, including the Prose Tristan. She hated Tristan because he stood to inherit Lyoness ahead of her own son, Allegreno. Her first attempt to poison Tristan ended in failure when Meliadus nearly drank the poisoned tonic himself, and Agia had to confess her treachery to save her husband. Meliadus sentenced her to die, but the generous Tristan intervened and his father spared her. She tried to murder Tristan a second time, but a nurse accidentally served the potion to young Allegreno, who died. Meliadus did not punish his wife, but he never spoke to her again. [Tavola]


A knight who, with his brother Agano, joined their cousin Harpin in his siege of the Castle of Three Maidens. Sir Hector of the Fens and the King with the Hundred Knights arrived to defend the castle, and Agion and Agano were killed. [Palamedes]


A Knight of the Round Table from Brittany. He and Sir Tor sought to learn the fate of Merlin, after he had been imprisoned by Nimue. In their travels, they encountered Bagdemagus, who resented them for having been promoted to the Round Table ahead of him. After defeating them both in joust, Bagdemagus told them of Merlin’s fate. [PostMer]


A Saxon king who invaded Scotland. Arthur and Lancelot repelled the invasion at the battle of Arestel. At the battle of the Ford of Blood, Agleot’s brother Aramont was captured. [LancLac, VulgLanc]

Aglinda [Aglinde]

The maiden daughter of King Nascor. The devil tricked her brother, Nabor, into raping her by a spring, but Aglinda prayed, and Nabor fell dead. In memory of Aglinda’s plight, the spring was called the Spring of the Virgin, and it was enchanted to paralyze visiting non-virgin knights. Erec became one of its victims [PostQuest]


In Renaut de Bâgé’s Le Bel Inconnu, a king from the land of Escoce, in northeastern Scotland. His sister, Margerie, was rescued from two giants by Gawain’s son Guinglain. His name may be a variation of Angusel, several of which occur in Renaut’s poem. [Renaut]

Agloas [Magloas]

One of Arthur’s knights in the Vulgate Lancelot. He joined one of Gawain’s quests to locate a missing Lancelot. [LancLac, VulgLanc]

Aglonde [Agloride]

A river in Gorre visited by Lancelot. There, he met a maiden who later died of love for him. [VulgLanc]

Aglons of the Valley

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]

Aglovale [Agglovale, Agloval, Agravale, Engloval(e)]

Son of King Pellinore and the Widowed Lady, and brother of Perceval, Lamorat, Meliodam, Alain, Drians, and Tor (all brothers do not appear in the same source). He first appears in the Vulgate Lancelot, where his primary function is to convey his young brother Perceval to Arthur’s court. In the Livre d’Artus, he joins Arthur’s service during the Saxon wars. Fourteen of his brothers were killed when King Agrippe invaded the Waste Forest, his mother’s home, but Aglovale eventually killed Agrippe in combat. The Dutch romance of Morien gives him a son named Morien, fathered by Aglovale on a Moorish princess. In the Dutch tale, Aglovale eventually marries the Saracen woman and becomes king of an Arabian land, but in the Vulgate romances he is slain either by Gawain during the Grail Quest or by Lancelot during the rescue of Guinevere from the stake. In the Third Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, he dies seven years after Perceval becomes the Grail King. His death prompts Perceval to retire to a hermitage. [VulgLanc, VulgQuest, Contin3, Livre, PostMer, PostMer, PostQuest, Perchevael, Morien, Malory]


A British hill that in Nennius was site of Arthur’s eleventh battle against the Saxons (see Arthur’s Battles). As in all of the twelve battles, Arthur was victorious. Geoffrey of Monmouth identifies Agned with the Dolorous Mountain, where the Castle of Maidens stood. Geoffrey seems to mean Edinburgh in Scotland, though it is unsure whether Nennius intended this identification. Another theory holds that Agned is a corruption of Andegavum, or Angers in France. Some manuscripts of Nennius substitute Breguoin for Agned. [Nennius, GeoffHR, TennIK]


The sister of Medea, the lecherous female ruler of Crudele castle. Her other sisters included Lavina, Bresenda, and Pulizena. [Tavola]


Mother-in-law of Bredbeddle, the Green Knight in The Grene Knight. Her daughter loved Gawain, so she provided her son-in-law with the magic to lure Gawain to his castle. She takes the place of Morgan le Fay from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. [Grene]

Agoyer the Cruel

A peer of Sir Bors who swore fealty to the daughter of King Brandegorre of Estrangorre after a tournament there. He promised to decapitate any knight he defeated, and to send her the head. [VulgLanc]

Agravadain1 of the Vales of Galore

A Knight of the Round Table and brother of Belias. His companions were Moneval and Minoras the Wicked. The trio took a friendly rivalry between the Round Table and the Queen’s Knights too far, and they deliberately sought out three Queen’s Knights to attack. Agravadain was wounded by Sagremor in the battle, but other knights fortunately intervened before any lives were lost. He died soon afterwards, and was replaced at the Round Table by Banin. “Galore” my indicate Galloway. [VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre]

Agravadain2 the Black

A vassal of Arthur and Lord of the Castle of the Fens. His daughter was desired by Merlin, and then, because of an enchantment cast by Merlin, by King Ban of Benoic, who slept with her and fathered Hector. Because of her lost virginity, Agravadain had to deter any suitors. One of them, Sir Leriador, was so angry that he besieged the Castle of the Fens, but Agravadain triumphed. [VulgMer]

Agravain [Aggravain, Agrafrayn, Agravan, Agravano, Agreuein, Egrefayn, Engrevain(s), Gefferen, Geffreyn, Griffayn]

A Knight of the Round Table. Son of Lot and Morgause, brother of Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred. First mentioned by Chrétien de Troyes, he has a minor role in Perceval. His character was expanded in the Vulgate Lancelot, and he becomes a major figure in Malory, as one of the instruments of Arthur’s downfall.
   He accompanied his brothers when they abandoned their father for service with Arthur. He fought against the Saxons, was knighted by Arthur, and served the king in Gaul and Saxony. He liberated the prisoners of the Hill of Wretches. In Jehan Froissart’s Meliador, he courts and marries Florée, a princess from Scotland, while in Malory, he marries Laurel, the niece of his sisters-in-law.
   Portrayed as egotistical, proud, and uncourtly knight with a misshapen body, Agravain resented any honorable and brave warrior. He was handsome and skilled at arms, but he lacked knightly virtues such as mercy and compassion. He was ignoble towards women, and quarrelsome with his own brothers. His misdeeds include participation in the murder of Lamorat (part of a feud between the families of Pellinore and Lot); the slaying of Dinadan during the Grail Quest, with his brother Mordred; and the abduction of the King of North Wales’ daughter, during which he was terribly wounded and had to be cured with the blood of Gawain and Lancelot.
   His greatest offense was wrought near the end of Arthur’s reign, when he conspired with Mordred to expose the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. When Arthur was away from court, the two brothers roused a band of knights and captured the lovers in flagrante delicto in Guinevere’s chambers. Agravain was slain by Lancelot, either at the ensuing battle outside Guinevere’s room, when Lancelot rescued Guinevere from execution, or at the siege of Joyous Guard. [ChretienP, LancLac, VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre, PostMer, PostQuest, PostMort, Tavola, Stanz, Froissart, Malory]

Agravain’s Hill

A hill formerly known as the Hill of Wretches. Its lords, Druas the Cruel and Sorneham of Newcastle, imprisoned good knights there until it was liberated by Agravain and Gaheris. [VulgLanc]

Agraveil [Agrauel]

A good knight who fought on the side of Arthur and Leodegan in a battle against the Saxons at Camilyard. His mother was known as the Wise Lady of the Forest of No Return. [VulgMer]

Agregam the Angry

A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with his fellows on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


Perceval’s sister in La Tavola Ritonda. She accompanied Perceval, Bors, and Galahad during a portion of the Grail Quest. She provided a girdle, fashioned from her own hair, for Galahad’s Sword with the Strange Hangings. The questers visited the castle Aspetta Ventura, where the castle’s lady, Verdoana, was dying of leprosy. It was said that only the blood of a pure virgin could cure Verdoana, and she asked for some of Agresizia’s blood for this purpose. After Galahad, Perceval, and Bors fought valiantly but in vain with the castles knights, Agresizia consented to provide the blood and died during the bleeding. Perceval buried her in the holy city of Sarras.
   Agresizia’s character appears in the same context, but is unnamed, in the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal and its successors. Perceval’s sister is known as Dindrane in Perlesvaus. [Tavola]


An ancient pagan king of Camelot. When Josephus, the son of Joseph of Arimathea, began converting Agrestes’ people to Christianity, the king pretended to go along. As soon as Josephus had left, however, Agrestes forced his people back to their heathen religion and killed the disciples that Josephus had left in the city. Following this massacre, Agrestes went mad, began to eat his hands, slaughtered his family, and finally committed suicide by diving into a fire. After his death, Josephus returned and converted Camelot to Christianity for good. [VulgEst]

Agricol the Well-Spoken [Agrocol]

A peer of Sir Bors. He performed well in a tournament thrown by King Brandegorre of Estrangorre, and he swore fealty to Brandegorre’s daughter. [VulgLanc]


A king who lived in the traditional Arthurian period. John Morris discusses him in The Age of Arthur. According to several sources, Agricola liberated Demetia (Dyfed) from the pagan Irish Ui Liathain clan, driving them out of Britain. Agricola apparently became king of Dyfed in about AD 500. He was the son of Tribunis (which may have been a title rather than a personal name) and the father of Vortipore. Agricola is one of the few persons spoken of with favor by Gildas. Agricola may have been an ally or even a general of a historical Arthur. [Gildas]

Agrippe1 [Agrippes]

The King of Mabon Rock. He was besieged by a king named Vadalon, but Agrippe’s daughter poisoned the water supply used by the besiegers, and they were forced to abandon the assault. In revenge, Vadalon imprisoned Agrippe’s daughter in iron bands, from which she was eventually released by Sir Bors. [VulgLanc]


Uncle of King Rions, Arthur’s enemy. He invaded the Waste Land, owned by Perceval’s mother, and killed fourteen of the lady’s sons. Aglovale, one of the surviving sons, raised an army of Arthur’s knights, encountered Agrippe’s forces, and finally killed Agrippe. [Livre]

Agrippe3 the Tall [Agrippa, Gryp]

A count or earl whose lands bordered on those of King Hoel of Brittany. Agrippe waged war on Hoel, besieging the town of Alinge and wounding Kahedin, Hoel’s son. On the verge of defeat, Hoel enlisted the aid of Tristan, who subsequently killed Agrippe’s nephew, Alquin, and spurred Hoel’s forces to victory. Agrippe was slain in the battle. The same character is known as Albroino in the Italian La Tavola Ritonda. [ProsTris, Malory]


A nobleman who murdered Arthur’s Sir Dondinello (Dodinel), and who later died at the hands of Dondinello’s son, Carduino. Named as a brother of Gawain, the author likely intended either Gareth or Gaheris. [CantariC]

Agus of Boloan

One of Arthur’s noblemen who fought and died in the Roman War. [Wace]

Agusale the Desired [Augusale]

A knight who fought for Arthur and Leodegan against the Saxons at the first battle of Carhaix. [VulgMer, Arthour]


A knight from the French romance Gliglois. While on his way to join the Knights of the Round Table at the Castle Orgueilleux tournament, Aharer was stopped by Gliglois, a squire, who asked him to escort the lady Beauté (Gliglois’s love) to the tournament. Aharer agreed, and gave Beauté a falcon to present to the winner of the tournament. He was mystified, however, by Beauté’s cruelty toward Gliglois. [Gliglois]


A broad lake in the Land of Maidens visited by Gawain. A magical mobile island ferried knights across the lake, provided they were pure of heart. [Heinrich]

Aiglin of the Vales [Aglin, Aglu, Aigilin]

An Arthurian knight introduced in the Vulgate Cycle as the nephew of Kay of Estral. In the early days of Arthur’s reign, fought against the Saxons at the battle of Carhaix, against Raolais at Estremores, and against Agrippe in the Waste Land. He participated in quests to learn the fate of Merlin and to locate Lancelot. He brought news of Lancelot’s conquest of Dolorous Guard to Arthur’s court. He eventually became a companion of Kahedin and Gaheris of Carahew. In Claris et Laris, he saves some nuns from a marauder. [LancLac, VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre, ProsTris, Claris]


An Arthurian knight listed in Layamon’s Brut. [Layamon]


The true name of the Grey-Hammed Lady in an Irish romance. [IrishL]


A mythological Irish king, often presented as the Irish counterpart of King Arthur.


A misogynist knight who abused maidens. Aglovale defeated him in combat and sent him as a prisoner to Guinevere. The queen imprisoned him for life. [ProsTris]


A Saxon king who joined King Hargadabran in an attack on Arthur at the battle of Clarence. [Livre]

Aladuke [Aliduc, Alyduke]

A knight in Arthur’s service who was killed during the Roman War. Geoffrey of Monmouth calls him the Baron of Tintagel while the Alliterative Morte Arthure names him as a knight from Turrey who served under King Cador of Cornwall. Malory confusingly seems to place him on the Romans’ side, although he also names him as one of the knights rescued from the giant Tericam’s prison by Lancelot. [GeoffHR, Allit, Malory]


Perceval’s cousin in Perlesvaus. The son of Elinant of Escavalon, Alain was slain by the demonic Knight of the Burning Dragon. His embalmed body was carted around by a maiden, searching for someone to avenge him. Perceval accepted the challenge and slew the fierce knight, but not before the knight blasted Alain’s body to ashes with his enchanted shield. A near identical story is told of the unnamed lover of Claire in the Fourth Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval. [Perlesvaus]


King of Escavalon and father of Floree, a maiden saved by Gawain from a giant. He ruled the castle Brion and helped Arthur fight the Saxons at the battle of Vambieres. Alain had a nephew named Arquais. [Livre]

Alain3 [Aleyn]

Brother of Drian and, consequently, son of Pellinore and brother of Perceval, Aglovale, Lamorat, and Tor. With his brother Drian, he guarded a tower next to a bridge and made it a custom to joust with any knight who passed that way. He defeated Dinadan in this manner. Alain appears only once in the Prose Tristan. Malory includes him as the brother of “Tryan,” apparently not making the connection between Alain and Pellinore’s family. [ProsTris, Malory]


A knight who fought with his brother, Davis. Arthur’s knights Claris, Laris, and Bedivere found them fighting and forced them to reconcile. [Claris]


The nephew of Yonet, the servant of Kay’s wife Andrivette. Alain is also given as Yonet’s surname. [Girart]

Alain5 the Large [*Alain le Gros, Alaine, Alains, Alan, Alein(s), Helain, Hellyas, Julain]

A Grail character who first appears in Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie as the twelfth son of Bron, Joseph of Arimathea’s brother-in-law. Appointed the third Grail keeper, Alain was charged with leading his eleven brothers to Britain. There, his unborn son would become the eternal Grail King. (The mention of Alain’s son conflicts with Robert’s earlier statement that Alain remained celibate.)

      Joseph does not provide the name of Alain’s son; we learn this in the Didot-Perceval, which was possibly based on a lost romance by Robert. At the beginning of the story, Alain, having received instructions from the Holy Spirit, orders Perceval, his son, to depart for Arthur’s court. Thus, unlike Perceval’s father in other legends (e.g., Bliocadran and Gahmuret), Alain lived to see his son’s youth.
   Perlesvaus, written about the same time as Joseph, also continues Alain’s story past Perceval’s birth. Calling his father Gais the Large, the text says that he married Yglais and ruled the castle and valley of Kamaalot. In contrast to the Didot-Perceval, Alain opposes Perceval’s departure for Arthur’s court. As he grew old and infirm, his lands were invaded by the Lord of the Fens. Seeking to avenge his brother Aliban’s death, he challenged a giant called the Red Giant. Although he was victorious in the combat, he received a mortal wound and perished.
   The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal expanded and modified the story told by Robert de Boron. In the Vulgate, he is no longer named as Perceval’s father, since centuries span Alain’s time and Arthur’s. Still, however, he is the twelfth son of Bron and the third Grail keeper. He was called the Rich Fisherman (a title given to his father in Robert’s version) because he caught a single fish which God multiplied into thousands for Joseph’s followers to feast upon. When Josephus, Joseph’s son, died, the Grail was passed on to Alain. With 100 people, including his brother Joshua, Alain left the Christian stronghold of Galafort and traveled to the city of Malta in the Strange Land. There, he converted King Calafes to Christianity and used the Grail to heal the king’s leprosy. In reward, Calafes built the Grail Castle of Corbenic, where Alain’s brother Joshua ruled after his death. Alain was buried in the chapel of Notre Dame in Corbenic.
   The Vulgate Merlin and the Livre d’Artus, probably confused by the change in roles listed above, name him as the Fisher King in Arthur’s time. With his brothers, ruled the lands of Listenois or the Strange Land. He wasted away from an illness, and waited for the best knight in the world to come and ask the Grail Question. His brothers were Pelles and Pellinore. His soldiers fought with Arthur against the Saxons. In other Vulgate tales, however, his brother Pelles is identified with the Fisher King.
   Finally, in a brief interpolation at the end of one manuscript of the first continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, Alain, named as Perceval’s father, is called the husband, and not the son, of Enygeus. [RobertBorJ, Perlesvaus, Didot, VulgEst, VulgMer, Livre]

Alain6 the Large [*Alan le Gros]

A Christian king who was a descendant of the first Nascien, and the ancestor of Lancelot and Galahad. His father was named Nascien and his son was Isaiah. [VulgEst, Malory]

Alain7 the White [Elaine, Helain(e)(s), (H)elayne, (H)elias]

Son of Bors, begotten after King Brandegorre of Estrangorre’s daughter seduced Bors with a magic ring. Alain arrived at Arthur’s court just before the Grail Quest and was knighted by his father. He joined the Round Table shortly. During the Grail Quest, he traveled with Gawain and Hector, and he witnessed a marvelous vision at the Ancient Chapel. He was present at Corbenic when Galahad completed the quest. He eventually became the Emperor of Constantinople. [VulgLanc, VulgQuest, PostQuest, Malory]

Alain’s Pond [*Estanc Alain]

A lake where Alain the Large, the third Grail keeper, caught a fish which God multiplied into thousands to feed Joseph of Arimathea’s company. For this event, Alain became known as the Rich Fisherman. [VulgEst]


A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]

Alamis of Satarchjonte

A duke in the service of Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]

Alan Fyrgan

A warrior listed in the Welsh Triads as having one of the “faithless war-bands.” They apparently deserted him before the battle of Camlann and, as a consequence, he was killed there. It is unclear which side he was supporting. The name comes from an actual person—Alannus Fergannus, the Duke of Brittany from 1084 to 1112, who fought against and then allied with William the Conqueror. [Triads]

Alan of the Meadows

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


A city in Sorelois, ruled by Galehaut. [VulgLanc]

Alardin1 [Aalardin]

A knight from whom Caradoc, one of Arthur’s knights, rescued a maiden named Guignier. After their duel, Alardin and Caradoc became friends, and Alardin accompanied Caradoc to Arthur’s court. He had some knowledge of magic and later, when Guignier lost her breast to a serpent, Alardin provided a magical shield which replaced the lost flesh with gold. Alardin married Guigenor, Arthur’s grand-niece. His father was named Guiniacalc. [Contin1]

Alardin2 of the Isles

A knight encountered by Gawain during the latter’s quest to retrieve a white hart stolen from Arthur’s hall. Alardin refused to allow Gawain to cross a river without a battle, and Gawain slew him in the subsequent duel. [Malory]


A land, perhaps in the Middle-East, ruled by Count Adan, a knight rescued by Wigalois (Gawain’s son. The land was also home to a band of female knights led by Lady Marine. [Wirnt]


A knight in the service of King Mark of Cornwall. He was killed in a chance encounter with Sagremor in the forest of Morois. [ProsTris]


A knight who cuckolded Sir Claristant by riding off with his amie. Claristant caught up with them and engaged Alaris in combat. Alaris was assisted by Claristant’s treacherous maiden. Claristant would have been killed, but Kay and Gaswain intervened and saved him. [ProsTris]


The name given in La Tavola Ritonda to the Queen of Orkney. As Gawain’s mother and Arthur’s half-sister, she is therefore the counterpart of Anna or Morgause. [Tavola]


A knight who challenged Lancelot, when Lancelot was living on the Dry Island and calling himself the Wicked Knight. Lancelot defeated Alban in combat. [PostMer]


Grandfather of Albion, the woman who first populated Britain. [Palamedes]

Albanact1 [Alben]

Son of King Brutus (first king of Britain), brother of Camber and Locrine, and father of Embrunt, Dombart, and Arbrun. Albanact gave his name to Albany (Scotland). His kingdom was invaded by Huns, and Albanact was killed. [GeoffHR, Wace, Palamedes]


Captain of Arthur’s guard in Dryden’s King Arthur. [Dryden]

Albany [Albanie, Arbanie]

An early name for Scotland, though some texts refer to Albany as a Pictish kingdom within Scotland. Geoffrey of Monmouth says that it was named after Albanact, a son of Brutus. According to Yder, Albany was ruled by Nut, Yder’s father. [Yder]


One of seven brothers, including Ayaò and Dormadat, who usurped the throne of Tristan the Stranger, ruler of Jakobsland. Tristan the Stranger sought out his famous namesake, and the two of them returned and slew the seven brothers. [SagaTI]


A lovely maiden with whom Danain the Red fell in love. Consequently, Danain became involved in a great feud between Albe’s family and the clan of Helyom. [Palamedes]


A dwarf king in Der Pleier’s Garel. Albewin’s people were terrorized by the giant Purdan. Arthur’s Sir Garel saved them by slaying the giant, which the grateful Albewin rewarded by helping Garel kill a demon named Vulganus. Garel appointed Albewin the steward of Anferre. [PleierG]


One of the fourteen daughters of King Diodicias of Syria. She married King Sardacia of Damascus. Albine and her sisters revolted against their husbands, planning to form a matriarchy. They failed, and Albine and her sisters were exiled. They came to Britain, which at the time was unpopulated, and Albine named the island Albion after herself. Albine and her sisters became the mistresses of devils and gave birth to a race of giants that Brutus was fated to conquer. [Palamedes]


A city in Lyonesse, Tristan’s country. [ProsTris]


The oldest recorded name for the island of Britain, appearing in Roman documents several centuries before Christ (Ashe, Camelot, 25). The name may originate with the Latin “albus,” meaning “white,” referring to the White Cliffs of Dover. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and other chroniclers, Albion was populated by a race of giants, whom Brutus conquered. Brutus then gave the island his own name: Britain. As for the race of giants, we find in Palamedes that they were descended from Albine, an exiled Syrian princess, after whom the island was named. The fourteenth-century Short Metrical Chronicle credits the name to the giant Albin, who, like Albine, fathered the giant race conquered by Brutus. [GeoffHR, Wace, Palamedes, ShortMet]


Queen of the Wild Mountain. A malevolent knight named Kurian declared war on her, intending to steal her land. She was saved by Arthur’s Sir Tandareis, who defeated Kurian in combat. [PleierT]


Count of the city of Gippa and nephew of King Gilierchino of Brittany, Tristan’s father-in-law. He went to war with his uncle and besieged him at the city of Solona. Tristan arrived in the middle of the war, joined Gilierchino’s cause, and slew Albroino in combat. Albroino is known as Agrippe in the Prose Tristan. [Tavola]

Alcalec the Red [Aucales]

A knight who fought for Arthur and Leodegan against the Saxons at the battle of Carhaix. [VulgMer, Arthour]


Isolde’s cousin and Tristan’s squire. Tristan eventually knighted him and dubbed him Lantris. [Tavola]


The giant, pagan king of Sarras in Arthur’s time. He withstood an attack by King Richard of Jerusalem, but he was later baptized. [Prophecies]

Alchino of Logres

A knight liberated from the stronghold of Lucano the Great, a giant, by Tristan. Alchino’s wife, Argretta, had been forced to serve as Lucano’s concubine. Tristan made him lord of Dianfer, Lucano’s stronghold. [Tavola]

Alclud [Aklud]

An alternate name for Dumbarton, probably from the river Clyde, which flows through the city. The famed town of Escalot may be derived from it.


King of Iceland, who subjugated himself to Arthur in return for Arthur’s promise to make his son, Esscol, a knight. Alcus married the daughter of the King of Russia. [Layamon]

Alderly Edge

A forest in Cheshire containing a stone wishing well. On the stone is carved a face that local legend holds is Merlin’s. An inscription on the well, carved in modern times, reads “Drink of this and take thy fill, for the water falls by the wizard’s will.” According to a local tale, a farmer encountered Merlin at the well at the close of the seventeenth century. Merlin offered to buy the farmer’s horse, saying that one of Arthur’s knights needed it. The rock parted, revealing a gate which led into a cavern. Merlin told the farmer that Arthur and his knights were sleeping in the cave. The scared farmer sold the horse to Merlin and ran away. The rock closed behind him, and the cavern has remained hidden ever since (Ashe, Landscape, 159).


In the fourteenth-century Short Metrical Chronicle, the castle that served as Vortigern’s burial site. [ShortMet]

Aldroen [Adroenus, Aldroein]

A King of Brittany two generations before Arthur. When the Archbishop Guethelin, Aldroen’s kinsman, came to Brittany to beg for Aldroen’s help in driving the Picts and Huns from Britain, Aldroen sent his brother Constantine, Arthur’s grandfather, to accomplish the task and assume the throne of the island. [GeoffHR, Wace, Layamon]


A hermit priest encountered by Perceval in a forest, beating a giant cross with a rod. Perceval refrained from punishing this blasphemy only because Alecys looked like a priest. He later discovered that Alecys hated the cross because Christ had died on one, just as one would hate a weapon which had killed one’s relative. [Perlesvaus]


Queen of the White City on the Island of Beautiful Maidens. A monster terrorized her lands and swallowed her maidens. The creature was slain by Floriant. Alemandine offered herself to Floriant, but he declined and departed. [Floriant]


The Germanic tribes which inhabited western and central Europe in the Dark Ages. In the story of Meriadoc, the Emperor of the Alemanni, at war with King Gundebald of the Land From Which No One Returns, employs the services of Arthur’s Meriadoc. Meriadoc rescued the Emperor’s daughter from Gundebald, and planned to marry her, but he was betrayed by the Emperor, who wished to use his daughter to seal a truce with the King of Gaul. Meriadoc escaped from his prison, slew the Emperor, and married his daughter. In history, the Alemanni were defeated by King Clovis of the Franks in 506 a.d. The author of Meriadoc may have drawn on this history for his Emperor of the Alemanni. [Historia]


Greu, a Knight of the Round Table, was the son of the King of Alenie. [Livre]

Aleppo [Halape]

A city in northwest Syria; one of many visited by Gahmuret, Perceval’s father, during his Arabian adventures. [Wolfram]

Ales1 [Alles, Alon]

Father or brother of Arthur’s knight Aces. His cousin, Galescalain, made him the seneschal of Clarence. Yvain was another of his cousins. Ales fought in Arthur’s wars against the Saxons and in the conflict against Agrippe in the Waste Land. [VulgMer, Livre]


A knight Tristan defeated in joust by a spring in North Wales. [Tavola]


One of the lands ruled by King Malloas. [PleierM]


The Emperor of Greece and Constantinople, husband of Tantalis, and father of Alexander and Alis. He allowed his son Alexander to travel to Britain to earn renown at the court of Arthur. When he died, his sons jointly succeeded him to the throne after some fraternal strife. [ChretienC, Wolfram]


Son of the above Emperor Alexander of Greece and Constantinople, and of his queen Tantalis. When he came of age, he left his father’s kingdom and brought an army of Greek warriors to the famous court of King Arthur in Britain, where he hoped to win fame and honor. He fell in love with Soredamor, Guinevere’s maidservant and Gawain’s sister. Though he was reluctant to divulge his feelings, Alexander and Soredamor were wed through Guinevere’s intervention, and they had a son named Cliges. In Arthur’s service, Alexander and his companions helped to subdue a revolt led by the traitorous Angres of Windsor. Alexander himself captured Angres.
   When Alexander’s father died, messengers set out to find him to bring him back to Constantinople to be crowned Emperor. The ship bearing the messengers sank and only one man survived. This man favored Alexander’s brother Alis, and returned to Constantinople, telling the noblemen that Alexander was dead. Consequently, Alis was crowned emperor. When Alexander learned of this, he left Britain to claim his rightful throne. He became de facto emperor of Greece and Constantinople, while Alis retained the ceremonial station.
   Before he died of an illness, he charged his son Cliges to go to Britain when he came of age. His wife soon followed him in death, and Cliges had to struggle against Alis for the throne of Constantinople. [ChretienC]


A knight captured and imprisoned, along with his brother Floris, by Eskilabon of Belamunt. He was rescued by his uncle, Gilan, and Arthur’s Sir Garel. In reward, he fought alongside Garel in a war against King Ekunaver of Kanadic. His father was Duke Retan of Pergalt. [PleierG]


A prince of India who was enchanted in the form of the Crop-Eared Dog. [IrishD]

Alexander5 the Great

The French Perceforest presents the famed Macedonian king (356–323 BC) as an ancestor of Arthur. A storm drove him to Britain, where he quelled the war-torn island and established secure rulers. He loved Sebille, then the Lady of the Lake. Alexander is only one of many historical and legendary people connected to the Arthurian cycle in various texts. The association was to be expected, given the similarities between the legend of Alexander and the myth of Arthur: both were historical figures to whom fabulous legends were attached; both grew up away from the royal court; both became rulers following the assassinations of their fathers; both endured a period of rebellion before securing the throne; both experienced problems with neighboring barbarians; both conquered most of the known world; both were deified by their countrymen; both had their thrones usurped while leading military expeditions in foreign lands; both were rumored to have died; both returned to their homelands and killed the rebels; both left their countries in anarchy after their deaths; and, finally, both were said to be living in otherwordly kingdoms.

Alexander6 the Orphan [Alisandre]

Son of Prince Bodwyne and Angledis, and nephew of King Mark of Cornwall. When Mark murdered his father, Angledis and Alexander fled to Sussex to escape Mark’s reach. Alexander was raised by Berengier the Constable in the Castle Magance. Upon receiving his knighthood, his mother charged him to avenge his father’s death. He soon won fame at a tournament thrown by King Caradoc, and by saving a maiden from the evil Sir Malagrin.
   King Mark had put a price on Alexander’s head, and it wasn’t long before he ran afoul of the minions of Morgan le Fay, Mark’s ally. After defeating several of her knights, he eventually ended up, wounded, in her care, at the castle Fair Guard. Though he rejected her advances, he was forced to pledge to remain at Fair Guard for a year, as a condition of Morgan’s succor. This oath stood even after the castle’s owner, the Count of the Pass, burned it to the ground, and Alexander found himself guarding an empty lot.
   A passing maiden, Alice la Belle Pilgrim, heard of his oath, and offered herself to any knight who could defeat him. Many rose to the challenge, but none succeeded. At the end of the year, Alexander left Britain for Benoic, married Alice, and had a son named Bellangere. According to Palamedes, he was killed by a knight named Helin, but Malory says that King Mark eventually caught up with him and killed him, and that Bellangere avenged the deaths of his father and grandfather. [Palamedes, ProsTris, Prophecies, Malory]


A Mediterranean seaport, built during the heyday of Rome on the coast of Egypt, near the Nile Delta. Wolfram von Eschenbach records that it was besieged by the Baruc of Baghdad during the reign of Uther in Britain. Perceval’s father Gahmuret assisted in the attack. According to the Alliterative Morte Arthure and Malory, Alexandria was allied to Lucius, Arthur’s enemy in the Roman War. In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, its queen is named as Lenomie, Guinevere’s sister. [Wolfram, Heinrich, Allit, Malory]


A castle four leagues from Camelot where Lancelot, Hector, and Bors once lodged on their way to Arthur’s court. [VulgMort]

Alfred [Alvrez]

An Irish king and Knight of the Round Table in the romance of Yder. Alfred and his two sons, Kamelin and Miroet, discovered Yder after he had been poisoned by Kay. They cured him and returned him to Arthur’s court. [Yder]


A knight who served the Duke of Lorraine in a battle against Gawain during the Roman War. His brother, Earl Antele, fought by his side. [Allit]


A squire present at the tournament of Lancien, held by King Mark. [Contin4]


One of Perceval’s eleven paternal uncles in Perlesvaus. He was the twelfth son of Gais the Large and the brother of Alain. Aliban reigned as lord of the Waste City until slain by the Red Giant. Alain avenged his death. [Perlesvaus]


A Saxon knight defeated by Lancelot at a fountain. [Novellino]

Alibel1 [Caltbiaus]

A strong knight who served King Claudas of Gaul. His brothers were Brumand, Canart, and Cadant. He fought in Claudas’s war against Arthur. [VulgLanc]


A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]

Alibon1 of the Spur [Albyon]

A valorous knight who brashly challenged a young Lancelot at the Queen’s Ford, where Alibon’s father served as vavasor. Lancelot defeated him and sent him to Arthur’s court. Alibon later participated in a quest to find Merlin. [VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre]

Alibon2 the Red

One of the sons of the evil Helin the Red. His brothers were Marin and Helin. Lancelot killed him. [Palamedes]


A knight who fought against the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. Aliborc served the noblemen in rebellion against Arthur. [VulgMer]

Alice the Fair Pilgrim [Aleys, Aylies]

Daughter of Duke Rancier the Pilgrim, wife of Alexander the Orphan, and mother of Bellangere. She met her future husband after he had sword to guard the castle Belle Regard for a year. She offered herself to any knight who could defeat Alexander, but soon fell in love with him. At the end of the year, no knight had been able to succeed in Alice’s challenge, so she brought Alexander to her home in Bovaine or Benoic and married him. [ProsTris, Prophecies, Malory]


Mother of Escanor the Handsome, a knight defeated by Gawain. She was the brother of Escanor the Large and the wife of Bruns the Prophet. [Girart]

Alier1 [Al(I)e(r)s]

An earl defeated by Yvain. The lord had made war against a defenseless countess (called the Lady of Norison in Chrétien’s Yvain), whom Yvain had agreed to help in return for her healing services. [ChretienY, Ivens, Ywain]

Alier2 of Tanningues

One of Arthur’s knights who joined the fighting against the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. When fourteen of Alier’s sons were killed in a single battle against the Saxons, he retired to a hermitage, giving his remaining son, Marec, to be raised by the Lady of Roestoc. Alier abandoned his robe for his sword when Marec was later dispossessed by Sir Seguarades. [VulgLanc, Livre]

Alifatima [Alipanton, Aliphatim, Aliphatma]

King of Spain under the Roman Procurator Lucius. He joined Lucius’s war against Arthur, bringing soldiers from his nation. He was slain at the battle of Soissons, either by Duke Holdin of Flanders or King Nentres of Garlot. Layamon calls him Meodras. The elements of his name—Ali and Fatima—are known in Arabian texts. [GeoffHR, Wace, VulgMer]


A knight who served Lord Parsamant, a ravisher. Perceval defeated Aligrés when he conquered Parsamant. [Contin4]


A town in King Hoel’s Brittany, besieged by Count Agrippe the Tall and saved by Tristan. [ProsTris]


One of the Saxon kings who invaded Britain at the beginning of Arthur’s reign. Known as the lord of the Grazing Fields, he served King Rions. [VulgMer]


Emperor of Greece and Constantinople. He ruled jointly with his brother, Alexander, after his parents, Alexander and Tantalis, died. Alis had agreed not to take a wife, so that Alexander’s son, Cliges, would rule upon the brothers’ deaths. After Alexander’s death, however, he broke the pact and married Fenice, the daughter of the Emperor of Germany.
   Fenice had fallen in love with the young Cliges, and she had her servant concoct a potion that made Alis think he was making love to her, when in fact he was dreaming. For years, Alis’s wife preserved her virginity in this manner. Eventually, she faked her own death and was able to live with Cliges in his stronghold. Alis soon learned the truth, swore vengeance, and Cliges and Fenice were forced to flee Constantinople. Alis was unable to find them, and he eventually died from the obsession consuming him. After his death, Cliges and Fenice returned to Constantinople, where Cliges ruled as Emperor. [ChretienC]


A knight who participated in the Grail Quest. His companion was named Gloans the Red. [ProsTris]

Alixans the Proud

A malevolent knight who invaded the Brown Valley and forced a maiden of the “Brown” family to marry him. Girflet killed him. [ProsTris]


The sister of King Hardiz of Gascony. Her first love was King Kaylet of Spain, but she was given by her brother in marriage to Duke Lambekin of Brabant. [Wolfram]


A knight saved by Lancelot and Tristan from the prison of the giant of the Dark Forest. Allebran’s father, Henry, was a vassal of Lancelot’s father, King Ban of Benoic. [Sala]


In Geoffrey’s chronicle, a Roman war leader in the third century who was sent by the Roman senate to deal with Carausius, another Roman who had betrayed the British king and taken the throne for himself. Allectus succeeded in killing Carausius and assuming the throne. He then began to slaughter the Britons in return for their support of Carausius. After several years of this bloody reign, Allectus was overthrown and killed by the Briton Asclepiodotus, who succeeded him.
   These are real people, but Geoffrey has their situation confused. Allectus served as finance minister to Carausius, who was a Roman admiral rather than a British king. Carausius plotted to overthrow the Roman Emperor Diocletian and invaded Gaul. Allectus murdered him, and was himself slain by the Roman general Constantius Chlorus (Lindsay, 10). [GeoffHR]


Tristan’s half-brother, named only in the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, though he appears in the Prose Tristan and in Malory’s version. He was born to Tristan’s father (Meliadus) and stepmother (named as Agia in the Tavola). Seeking to move Allegreno in place as Meliadus’s heir, Agia prepared a poison potion for Tristan. A nurse accidentally served the concoction to young Allegreno, who perished. [Tavola]


A king in Arthur’s service in the Italian La Tavola Ritonda. With another king named Agalone, Alliele served as steward of Britain while Arthur was away in Gaul. (He thus occupies the role assigned to the King of Scotland in the Prose Tristan.) [Tavola]


A beautiful virgin whose castle was besieged by evil knights, but was rescued by Prince Arthur and Sir Guyon. She welcomed the two knights into her house. The robber knights resumed their siege, but Arthur defeated them for good by slaying their leader, Maleger. [Spenser]

Alma2 of Camelot

A Knight of the Round Table who was slain during the Grail Quest. His brothers, Luzes and Tanadal, were also killed. [PostQuest]


A land owned by Tristan in the Middle-English Sir Tristrem. [SirTris]


A castle in Northumberland that is one of the possible locations given by Malory for Joyous Guard, Lancelot’s castle. It may appear in Girart d’Amien’s Escanor as Annuec. [Malory]


A Saxon king killed by Gawain at the siege of Vambieres. [Livre]


The King of North Wales in La Tavola Ritonda. He went to war with King Amoroldo of Ireland over a castle called Lerline. Lancelot fought as his champion, but the war was settled—through the intervention of Arthur—in Amoroldo’s favor. After the Grail Quest, Alois renewed the war, and was killed in combat by Amoroldo. Oddly, one Ansalinero is named as the king of North Wales in the same story. [Tavola]


An Arthurian knight defeated in joust by Daniel of the Blossoming Valley. [Stricker]


A knight serving Ladas, a lord defeated by Caradoc, Claris, and Laris. [Claris]

Alout [Alous]

The count of the Land of the Heather. When he died, his brother, Gallidés, made war on his daughters, Amide and the Lady of Hungerford Castle. They were championed by Sir Bors. [VulgLanc]

Alphasan [Alfasein, Arfasan]

The baptismal name of King Calafes, who built the Grail Castle of Corbenic. He was named after the priest who baptized him, a companion of the third Grail keeper, Alain the Large. [VulgEst]


A Spanish knight slain by Sir Urry of Hungary during a tournament. Alpheus’s mother, a sorceress, cast a spell upon Urry so that the wounds he had received wound not heal until examined by the best knight in the world (Lancelot). [Malory]


Nephew of Count Agrippe the Tall. He assisted his uncle in a war against King Hoel of Brittany, and was slain by Tristan during the siege of Alinge. [ProsTris]


A son of Maelgwn, one of Arthur’s chieftains in Welsh legend. He rode a horse named Grey. [Triads]


According to La Tavola Ritonda, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne visited England and found a statue of Lancelot in front of the castle of Leverzep. One of Charlemagne’s noblemen took the sword hanging around the statue’s neck, naming it Altaclara. [Tavola]


A lord of Listenois encountered by Tristan during the Grail Quest. Tristan jousted with, and defeated, one of Altamondo’s companions. [Tavola]

Altan the Handsome

A son of Febus and Florine and brother of Lannor, Siraouc, Argons, and Niatar. [Palamedes]

Alte Montanje

A land neighboring Britain under Arthur’s control. [HartmannE]

Alun of Dyfed

Son of Seidi, brother of Cas and Cadrieth, and father of Cunyn Cof and Dyfyr (two of Arthur’s warriors). Culhwch needed the assistance of one of Alun’s sons to hunt the boar Twrch Trwyth. [Culhwch, Dream]


A castle on the island of Effin, ruled by King Flois and Count Blant. It was besieged by a giant named Assiles, and was saved by Gawain. [Heinrich]


A Saxon warrior in Thelwall’s The Fairy of the Lake. He served Queen Rowena, wife of King Vortigern of Britain. [Thelwall]


One of Arthur’s knights who fought in the war against Mordred. [Allit]


In Malory, the daughter of the Lady of the Rule by King Pellinore, who was not aware of her existence. Her betrothed, Sir Myles of Laundis, was mortally wounded in combat with Sir Lorayne the Savage. Her father rode by but, and intent on his quest, did not respond to her cries for help. Myles soon died, and Alyne killed herself. Pellinore came to regret his failure to assist Alyne, particularly when Merlin told him that Alyne was his daughter. Pellinore buried the bodies of the lovers and bore Alyne’s head to Camelot in penitence. A similar character appears in the Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation, but is unnamed. [Malory]


Sister of Carmadan. She healed Lancelot after he drank water from a poisoned well. She fell in love with Lancelot and nearly died from lovesickness, but Lancelot, though he could not become her lover, agreed to become her champion. [VulgLanc]

Amadan the Proud

A knight who fought for King Arthur and King Leodegan against the Saxons in the first battle of Carhaix. [VulgMer, Arthour]

Amadant of the Hilltop

One of several of Arthur’s knights who embarked on a quest to learn Merlin’s fate, after he had been imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake. [VulgMer]

Amadis of Gaul

Hero of late Medieval Spanish romance, whose legend offers many parallels to the Arthurian cycle. Like Lancelot, Amadis fell in love with the wife of his king, rescued her from a kidnapping, and endured her jealous wrath.

Amador1 of the Lovely Home

A Knight of the Round Table who embarked on the Grail Quest. He engaged in combat with Sir Bors, who left him wounded at a roadside. Sir Meleagant came upon him and took his lady, for he thought that Amador was near death. When Amador knew his lady was gone, he arose and charged after Meleagant, but in his weakened state, he succeeded only in turning a serious wound into a mortal one. He slew his own lady because he perceived her activities to be the cause of his death. He died in the arms of Galahad. [PostQuest]

Amador2 the Well-Behaved

In La Tavola Ritonda, the squire of Belide, a maiden who killed herself out of love for Tristan. Tristan later encountered Amador, knighted, at a tournament in Ireland. He seems to take the place of Hebes in the Prose Tristan. [Tavola]


A seaside castle ruled by a King Orions in the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin. When Arthur set hundreds of infants adrift at sea in a vain effort to destroy his incestuous son, Mordred, the boat came ashore at Amalvi. Orions took the children into his care. There is a town called Amalfi on the Gulf of Salerno in southern Italy. [PostMer]


Daughter of the king of Spain. She married Sir Manuel of Greece at Arthur’s court. [Manuel]

Amangon1 [Amagons, Amangons, Amaugon]

A king in Arthur’s service in Renaut de Bâgé’s Le Bel Inconnu, probably from Chrétien’s Amauguin. He suggested a tournament at the Castle of Maidens when Arthur wanted to lure Guinglain, Gawain’s son, back to court. Amangon is also mentioned briefly in La Bataille de Loquifer and Les Merveilles de Rigomer. [Renaut, Bataille]


A wicked king who ravaged a collection of well fairies who lived in the Grail kingdom, stealing their golden cups. Other knights followed his example. Afterwards, the kingdom became a waste land, and the Grail Castle was hidden. Amgangon had a son named Pecorins. [Elucid]


The King of Greenland and father of Guenloie, Gawain’s love, in Meriadeuc. He served Arthur. He is also named as the ruler of the land from which no one returns. [Meriadeuc]

Amant1 [Anyause]

A king who gave all his lands to a noblewoman, but stripped her of them when he discovered her evil nature. Amant then bestowed the realms on the evil woman’s maiden sister. When Amant died, his first beneficiary made war on his second. The evil woman’s champion, Priadan the Black, was defeated during the Grail Quest by Bors. [VulgQuest, Malory]


King of Lambal and enemy of Uther Pendragon, who had robbed Amant of the castle Charroie. When Arthur came to power, Amant saw an opportunity to both avenge himself and reclaim his castle. He marched on Carnelide, where Arthur was battling Saxons. Merlin, however, wove a magical mist which led Amant’s army to clash with the forces of King Galahad, a Saxon. Amant’s army was decimated. He was later killed in single combat with King Bors of Gannes. His son, Gosengos, inherited his kingdom and swore fealty to Arthur. [VulgMer]

Amant3 [Armant]

A Cornish knight who accompanied King Mark on an expedition to Camelot, learning on the way that the purpose of the trip was to kill Tristan. Upon hearing this, Amant and his companion, Berluse, refused to continue. Mark killed Berluse but was convinced to let Amant go on his promise not to reveal Mark’s intentions. After burying Berluse, Amant marched to Arthur’s court and accused Mark of murder. In a subsequent combat, Mark mortally wounded him. [ProsTris, Malory]

Amaspartins of Schipelpjonte

A king in the service of Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]


Son of Dôn and brother of Gofannon. As one of his tasks, Culhwch had to convinced Amathaon to plow the lands of the giant Ysbaddaden. [Culhwch]

Amatin the Good Jouster [Amant]

A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with the others on the Grail Quest. He joined company with Agamenor and Arpian of the Narrow Mountain. All three knights hated Lancelot’s family, so they attacked Galahad, but were defeated. Later, they assaulted Acorante the Agile and Danubre the Brave, Lancelot’s cousins. Amatin was slain by Danubre. [PostQuest, ProsTris]

Amauguin the Red [Aumagwin]

A king and Knight of the Round Table in Chrétien’s Erec and Heinrich’s Diu Crône. Among the two romances, he appears at a white stag hunt and two chastity tests. His lover, lady Aclamet, failed in one of the latter. He was defeated by Sir Gasozein of Dragoz while traveling in Arthur’s company. [ChretienE, Heinrich]


An Arthurian knight in Les Merveilles de Rigomer. He joined Gawain’s quest to conquer Rigomer castle. [Merveil]


An elderly, honorable knight who served Queen Blanche, a queen saved by Claris and Laris. [Claris]

Amaury of the Islands

One of Arthur’s knights who fought in the Roman War. He died when a prisoner train that he was accompanying to Paris was attacked by the Romans. [Wace]


A lady who killed herself after her husband, Mordaunt, died. Mordaunt had fallen victim to the sorceress Acrasia in the Bower of Bliss. Sir Guyon was present at Amavia’s suicide, and he vowed to destroy the Bower. Amavia’s infant son was taken to safety by Guyon. [Spenser]


In a link to Greek mythology, the queen of the Amazons appears in the Italian I Due Tristani. She forces herself by enchantment on Tristan, the son of Tristan and Isolde. The young Tristan later saves her from the King of the Idumeans. In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, we learn that Lucius the Roman had allies in the land of the Amazons. In Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Queen Radigund of the Amazons is slan by the warrior maiden Britomart. FInally, in Johnson’s Tom a Lincolne, an Amazon is briefly Tom a’ Lincoln’s lover. [DueTris, Allit, Spenser, Johnson]


In the First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, Lionel, Gawain’s son, is to go to the wedding of the King of Amberval and to retrieve a magical shield. [Contin1]

Ambigal of Salie

A count who joined Wigalois (Gawain’s son) in a war against King Lion of Namur. [Wirnt]


A monastery near Salisbury, named after its abbot. In Geoffrey’s chronicle, it was the location of a battle between Vortigern’s Britons and Hengist’s Saxons. The two sides had convened to sign a peace treaty, but the Saxons betrayed the Britons and attacked. Eldad, the bishop of Ambrius, buried the victims of the battle. [GeoffHR]


A monk at the monastery where Perceval retired after the Grail Quest in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. His questioning prompts Perceval’s recollection of the Grail story. [TennIK]

Ambrosius2 Aurelianus [Ambrolius, Ambrose, Ambrosius Aurelius, Aurelius Ambrosius, Aurilambros, Aurlis Brosias, Embres, Emreis, Emrys]

A historical British war-leader, first mentioned by Gildas. Noting that Ambrosius was of Roman descent, Gildas praised him for organizing the Britons and routing the Saxons in the chaotic years following the Roman departure of Britain. His period of activity was likely somewhere between 435 and 460. He may have led a pro-Roman faction that contended with King Vortigern, and it is not impossible that he became some kind of king after Vortigern’s death (Lindsay, 212). Gildas does not mention Vortigern’s death or the end of his career, and it is possible (though not likely) that he was the British commander at the decisive battle of Badon. In any event, he is one of the few characters noted favorably in Gildas’s diatribe, and later sources were to have Arthur continue the resistance that Ambrosius began.
   Bede, writing almost 200 years later, repeats Gildas’s account, but Nennius, at the beginning of the ninth century, shows the modifications that centuries of legend made to Ambrosius’s character. Using the Welsh form Emrys, Nennius agrees with Gildas in one passage that Ambrosius was of Roman blood (specifically, the son of a Roman consul). Nennius’s tale of Emrys, however, revolves around the belief of Emrys as a fatherless child.
   King Vortigern was informed by his advisors that his fortress at Snowdon—the walls of which kept collapsing each night—could only be built if its foundation was first splattered with the blood of a fatherless child. Vortigern’s envoys, searching for such a child, came to the town of Elledi in South Wales, where they heard a bully taunting Emrys for having no father. Upon interrogation, Emrys’ mother admitted to an immaculate conception, and Vortigern’s men hauled him before the king. Emrys halted his execution by showing Vortigern that an underground lake lay beneath the site of the fortress. Within the lake, they found a chest which contained a cloth with a red and white worm. As Vortigern and his soldiers looked on, the worms fought, and the white defeated the red, which signified, Emrys said, the coming defeat of the Britons by the Saxons. Vortigern bestowed Snowdon upon Emrys and fled north. Curiously, we learn in another passage that Vortigern was afraid of Emrys. Clearly, a memory of historical events has been uncomfortably merged with legendary material in Nennius’s account.
   William of Malmesbury’s chronicle (1125) ignores Nennius’s tale and links Ambrosius, for the first time, to Arthur. Calling him the “lone survivor of the Romans,” William says that Ambrosius ruled Britain after Vortigern, and that he drove out the Saxons with the aid of Arthur, apparently Ambrosius’s general. The idea of Ambrosius and Arthur as contemporaries does not recur until Thelwall’s The Fairy of the Lake (1801).
   Geoffrey of Monmouth’s chronicle (c. 1138) developed the most enduring biography of Ambrosius. Geoffrey assigned Nennius’s tale of Emrys to a character largely of Geoffrey’s own creation—Merlin—and retained Gildas’s and William’s picture of Ambrosius as a noble Roman warrior. The son of King Constantine, Ambrosius and his brother Uther were forced to flee Britain after their father was assassinated and their older brother, Constans, was foisted to the throne by a power-hungry Vortigern. They found harbor with King Budec of Brittany. When they came of age, Ambrosius and Uther led an army to Britain, and Ambrosius was almost immediately anointed as king. He destroyed Vortigern at the siege of Ganerew, and soon defeated and executed Hengist and the Saxons at the battle of Consibrough. He then defeated and banished Octa, Hengist’s son, and set about constructing a new Britain.
   He commissioned Merlin to bring the Giant’s Dance—a circle of enormous stones—from Ireland to Amesbury. During the expedition, a new threat arose when Pascentius, Vortigern’s son, allied with King Gilloman of Ireland. Ambrosius was assassinated when one of their agents, a Saxon named Eopa, visited his court posing as a doctor. He was buried in Amesbury under the Giant’s Dance, and his brother Uther became king.
   After Geoffrey’s chronicle, Ambrosius disappeared from legend and romance for some time. The authors of the Prose Merlin and the Vulgate Cycle renamed him Pendragon. He resurfaces in the seventeenth century, most notably in The Birth of Merlin (1662), a play attributed apocryphally to Shakespeare, in which his marriage to a Saxon maiden named Artesia jeopardizes the security of his kingdom and causes a rift between Ambrosius and Uther. [Gildas, Bede, Nennius, WilliamM, Birth, Thelwall]

Ambyganye [Ambage]

A country allied to the Roman Emperor Lucius. Warriors from the nation fought in Lucius’s war against Arthur. [Allit, Malory]


Cousin of Danain the Red. With her lover, Ernant, she was captured by the giant Trudet. She was freed when Guiron the Courteous killed Trudet. [Palamedes]


Wife of King Lar of Korntin, and mother of Larie. Her husband was killed by King Roaz of Glois, and Amena was driven to a castle called Roimunt at the edge of Korntin—the only fortress strong enough to withstand Roaz. There she remained for a decade, offering her daughter as a prize to any knight who would kill Roaz. Finally, her lady Nereja brought Wigalois (Gawain’s son) from Arthur’s court. Wigalois killed Roaz, married Larie, and, although assuming the crown of Korntin for himself, restored Amena to a life of comfort. [Wirnt]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a lady at Arthur’s court. Her lover was a giant. Both Amerclie and her sister Jare failed a chastity test involving an enchanted goblet. [Heinrich]

Amesbury [Almesbury, Ambresbury, Aumsbury]

A city in Wiltshire, on the edge of Salisbury Plain. Merlin set up the Giants’ Dance—which he brought from Ireland—here, at the site that became known as Stonehenge. According to several sources, Guinevere retired to a nunnery in Amesbury after Arthur’s death. The chronicles suggest that it was named after Ambrosius, though Layamon says that its founder was Ambrius. [Geoffrey, Stanz, Malory, TennIK]


A friend of Lady Lidoine. When Lidoine was captured and imprisoned by Belchis, Amice journeyed to Arthur’s court to seek assistance. [Raoul]


Youngest daughter of Count Alout of the Land of the Heather. Upon Alout’s death, Amide’s uncle, Gallidés, besieged her in the castle of Hungerford because Amide’s sister would not marry Gallidés’s seneschal. Amide left the castle to seek out a champion, and she returned with Sir Bors, who defeated Gallidés in combat. [VulgLanc]


The mother by Gawain of Sir Beaudos. Her father was the King of Wales. [RobertBlo]


A king slain by Tristan. He made frequent raids on Emperor Donísus of Saxony, who sent for Tristan (then the king of Spain) for assistance. [SagaTI

Amilion [Amylion, Amylyon]

An island of fairies west of Britain; home of the fairy lover of Sir Landevale and Sir Lambewell (versions of Launfal) in their respective Middle English romances. The name is probably a variation of Avalon, used by Marie de France in her version of Launfal’s story. In Thomas Chestre’s tale of Lanfal, the island is known as Oléron. [SirLand, SirLamb]

Aminadap [Aminadab]

One of the early kings of Corbenic, the Grail Castle, in the Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal. His father was Joshua, son of Bron. He married the daughter of the British king Lucius, and his son, Carcelois, reigned after him. His descendants included Pelles, Elaine, and Galahad. John of Glastonbury names him as a maternal ancestor of Arthur. The name is found in Exodus 6:23 as the father-in-law of Aaron. [VulgEst, JohnG]

Aminaduc [Aminaduf, Ammaduc, Minaduc]

Giant high king of the Saxons and brother of Magaat, Mahaglant, and Maglahant. His son was the Saxon king Oriel, and his nephews were Hargadabran and Hengist. He ruled the country of Hoselice. Aminaduc and the Saxons invade Britain in the early days of Arthur’s reign, but were expelled by Arthur and the other British kings. [VulgMer, Livre]

Amincas of Sotofeititon

A king and vassal of Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]


A castle near which Sir Tor was conceived when King Pellinore raped the wife of Ares the Cowherd. [PostMer]


In the Didot-Perceval, a pagan ally of Lucius the Roman is known simply as “the Amiraut,” or “the Emir.” One manuscript calls him the Sultan. Lucius had married his daughter. The Amiraut was slain by Gawain during the Roman War. [Didot]


The King of Libya. His wife, Liamere, was coveted by King Lion of Namur, and Lion killed Amire in a joust. Liamere soon died from sorrow. Amire had been scheduled to attend the wedding of Wigalois (Gawain’s son), so when Wigalois learned of Amire’s murder, he gathered his knights, waged war on Lion, and avenged Amire by slaying the King of Namur. [Wirnt]


The mother of Galahad according to the Vulgate Lancelot. The daughter of King Pelles, she was one of the most beautiful maidens in Britain. Although called “Amite,” her true name was Helizabel. In later stories, her name is changed to Elaine. [VulgLanc]

Amlawdd [Anl(l)awd(d)]

In Welsh legend, a ruler (wledig) who was the father of Goleuddydd, Rieingulid, and Igerne, and the grandfather of Arthur and Culhwch. His wife was named Gwen. [Culhwch]


Duke of the Flowers of the Wilderness. He served King Ekunaver of Kanadic and joined Ekunaver’s war against Arthur. [PleierG]


A knight freed by Tristan from the prison of an island castle. At Tristan’s urging, he agreed to become a vassal of Lancelot. [Povest]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a castle in Ordohorht, the land of Lady Fortune. Its steward, Aanzim, gave lodging to Gawain when he visited the country. [Heinrich]


A king who owned the enchanted Sword with Two Rings. Gawain needed the sword so he could trade it for a magic chessboard owned by King Wonder. Amoraen agreed to give the sword to Gawain on the condition that Gawain locate and bring to him the beautiful maiden Ysabele. [Penninc]

Amorat of Sorelois

A knight slain by Tristan in a duel at the Plain of Assorted Flowers. [Sala]


The kingdom belonging to Aristor, an enemy of Perceval and his family. Its capital was called Ariste. [Perlesvaus]

Amores the Swarthy

A knight who served Arthur and Leodegan in the war against the Saxons. [VulgMer, Arthour]


A lady who is one of the representatives of chastity in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. Amoret and her sister, Belphoebe, were raised by goddesses; Amoret’s mistress was Venus. Engaged to Sir Scudamore, she was abducted by the magician Busirane. Britomart, a warrior maiden and friend of Arthur, saved her and became her loyal companion. She was kidnapped again, by the Hairy Churl, and was rescued by her sister and Timias, Arthur’s squire. Arthur became her protector and delivered her to Scudamore, whom she finally married. [Spenser]

Amoroldo [Amoroldino]

The Italian version of Morholt, the Irish giant slain by Tristan. In La Tavola Ritonda, the name is also given to Morholt’s son, Golistant, when Tristan knighted him and bestowed the kingdom of Ireland upon him. The younger Amoroldo took a queen named Vermiglia, and developed a vast kingdom that included parts of England, Logres, Aquitaine, and Gaul. Arthur eventually made him a Knight of the Round Table. He went to war with King Alois of North Wales over a castle called Lerlinte, enlisting Tristan as his champion, while Alois retained the services of Lancelot. Arthur brokered a peace, but Alois renewed the war after the Grail Quest. In this second campaign, Amoroldo was slain by Lancelot. [Tavola]

Amorotto of Listenois

A king in La Tavola Ritonda; one possible father of Suziano, a knight slain by Tristan. He gave the rich city of Latinale to Largina, his lover. The same name is used in Tavola as the Italian variation of Lamorat. [Tavola]

Amorous City [*Cité Amoureuse]

A city in Le Chevalier du Papegau, saved by Arthur from the demonic Fish-Knight. It was ruled by the Lady of the Blonde Hair, who fell in love with Arthur. [ChevPap]

Amorous Ford

A river crossing where Perceval defeated the White Knight, who had defended the ford for seven years. [Contin2]

Amorous Knight of the Savage Castle

A knight whom Arthur saved from the jaws of a giant, poisonous serpent. In return, the Amorous Knight cured Arthur of poisonous wounds received in the battle. He also told Arthur how to end the enchantments ensnaring the Kingdom of Damsels. [ChevPap]


The Queen of France during Uther’s time in Wolfram’s Parzival. She loved and was loved by Perceval’s father Gahmuret. When her husband died, she sent envoys to Wales (where she heard Gahmuret was staying to participate in a tournament) to woo Gahmuret back to France; Gahmuret would have gone willingly, but he was bound to marry Queen Herzeloyde of Wales because he had won her tournament. Ampflise gave her foster-son, the ill-fated Schionatulander, to Gahmuret for training in knightly affairs. [Wolfram]


The beautiful, virtuous daughter of Count Jernis of Ryl. She was a Grail Maiden living at Munsalvæsche and member of the Grail Procession. [Wolfram]


The church in Winchester where Constans, son of Constantine, was raised and educated to become a monk. [GeoffHR]

Amr [Amhar, Anir]

A son of Arthur who appears in Nennius and Welsh legend. Nennius notes (without explanation) that Arthur killed him and buried him in a tomb in Ercing, called Licat Anir. In the Welsh story of Geraint, we learn that Amr served as his father’s squire, guarding his bed. [Nennius, Geraint]

Amren the Tall

Son of Bedwyr, and one of Arthur’s warriors. He held the position of chamberlain and guarded Arthur’s bed. He accompanied Arthur on an adventure to the cave of the Black Hag in the Valley of Distress. Amren was beaten senseless by the hag. [Culhwch, Geraint]


Count of Turtus, husband of Klarine, and father of Duzabel. Sir Garel rescued his daughter when she was captured by a giant named Purdan. Amurat rewarded Garel by bringing his army to Arthur’s war against King Ekunaver of Kanadic. [PleierG]


The wife of Blandukors, a nobleman who hosted Gawain during one of his adventures in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. She had a daughter named Sgaipegaz. [Heinrich]


Daughter of Lord Laniure of Serre and Ansgien, sister of Sgoidamur, and eventual wife of Gawain in Heinrich’s Diu Crône. When her father died, Amurfina took possession of a magic bridle that controlled the family fortune, thus disinheriting her sister. In the dispute, both of them solicited Gawain as their champion. While Gawain was visiting her castle, her servant Aclamet served him a love potion which caused him to fall madly in love with Amurfina. They married and Gawain became the lord of Serre. Amurfina’s uncle, Gansguoter, was Arthur’s step-father. A character of similar nature appears unnamed in La Mule sans Frein. [Heinrich]


The chaplain of King Leodegan of Carmelide (Guinevere’s father) in the Vulgate romances. He married Arthur and Guinevere and accompanied them to Arthur’s court, where he continued his service as chaplain. He later became a hermit, but he helped Arthur during the False Guinevere episode by identifying the real Guinevere. He be represented in Lancelot of the Laik as Amytans. [VulgLanc, VulgMer]


In Lancelot of the Laik, the name given to the character unnamed in the Vulgate Lancelot who, during Arthur’s war with Galehaut, upbraids Arthur for his failings, and instructs him on how to be a virtuous and noble king. His name may have been inspired by Amustan in the Vulgate romances. [LancLaik]

Anaraut [Anavalt, Arnalf, Euerad]

The Earl of Salisbury under King Arthur. Galluc is also given this distinction. [GeoffHR, Wace, Layamon]

Anarom the Fat

A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with the others on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]

Anascor [Anacoron, Nascar]

A follower of Joseph of Arimathea who, in Sarras, was once charged with guarding the Holy Grail. [VulgEst]


A knight who lived almost a century before Arthur’s time. His father, King Assen, strongly disapproved of Anasteu’s love for a lowborn woman. Fleeing his father’s wrath, Anasteu took his lady into a forest, and carved a home for them out of solid rock, equipping it with various luxuries. Later, this cavern served as Merlin’s prison after he was shut up by the Lady of the Lake. [VulgMer]


The Christian bishop left in Sarras by Joseph of Arimathea to preserve the faith. [VulgEst]


A castle near Camelot. [PostMer]


Seneschal of Queen Lidoine, wife of Sir Meraugis of Portlesguez. [Raoul]


A relative of Sir Bors of Gannes slain by a giant. Bors killed the giant and erected an abbey, called the Abbey of Gannes, on the spot. [ProsTris]

Ancient Castle [*Chastel Anchien]

A castle on the border of Ireland where Uther Pendragon won a tournament. Leodegan, Guinevere’s father, once besieged it. [Palamedes]

Ancient Chapel

A chapel near Salisbury where Arthur was taken after the final battle with Mordred. From there, Arthur departed on the sea with Morgan le Fay. Sir Girflet later found Arthur’s “tomb” there, but it contained only his helmet. Girflet retired there as a hermit. [PostMort]


A fortress on the Hidden Isle in the Uziano Sea. It was ruled by Lasancis, a knight who tried to massacre the Knights of the Round Table. [Tavola]


A forest that Tristan and Galahad traversed during the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, an allusion is made to Gawain’s battle with one Iaphine, who had slain the lover of Lady Andeclis. [Heinrich]


Mother of Sir Durmart by King Jozefent. Her father was the King of Denmark. [Durmart]


A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


One of Arthur’s noblemen in the Norse Erex Saga. [Erex]


Arthur’s host in the Kingdom of Damsels in Le Chevalier du Papegau. Arthur came to the kingdom to save its lady, Flor de Mont, from her late father’s steward, who had seized the land for himself. Andois declined to help the lady himself because he felt that her father, King Beauvoisin, had not sufficiently rewarded him for his service in foreign wars. [ChevPap


According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a king of Britain in the third or second century BC. He was the son of King Cherin. He succeeded his brother, King Eldad, and was succeeded by his son, King Urian. [GeoffHR]

Andred [Adreitte, Aldret, Andret, *Andrew, Antret, Audret, Alebruno, Adriecche]

Nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, cousin of Tristan. In Béroul’s Tristan, he appears as a good friend of Tristan and Isolde, and he urges Mark not to banish Tristan from the court. In later versions, however, he becomes Mark’s sniveling seneschal and spy. Jealous of Tristan’s prowess, Andred conspired (with his girlfriend, Girida or Bessille) to entrap the lovers and expose their affair. He succeeded on several occasions. In the Prose Tristan, his final tattle leads to Mark’s murder of Tristan with a poisoned lance. The Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal tells us that Mark raped Andred’s wife, Ladiana, begetting Sir Meraugis. In the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, Mark, despondent without his nephew and wife, slays Andred for his despicable behavior. In other versions, Andred is executed by Tristan’s friends after Mark’s death or is drowned while trying to board the ship bringing Isolde to the mortally wounded Tristan. [Beroul, Eilhart, PostQuest, ProsTris, Tavola, Malory]

Andremo the Old of Sobicio

Tristan’s maternal grandfather. He married Felice, Arthur’s sister, and became the father of Elizabeth (Tristan’s mother). Andremo was cousin to Ban of Benoic (Lancelot’s father). [Tavola]

Andrivete [Androete]

Daughter of Cador of Northumberland in Girart d’Amien’s Escanor. Her father threw a tournament at Banborc to find her a husband. Kay distinguished himself in the tournament and fell in love with Andrivete, but, bashful, he returned to Arthur’s court without confessing his affections. When her father died, her uncle Ayglin tried to force her to marry a commoner. Kay learned of her plight, returned to Banborc, rescued Andrivete, and married her. In a romance preceding Girart’s, Andrivete is proven unfaithful by a chastity test at Arthur’s court involving a mantle. [MantelM, Girart]


In La Tavola Ritonda, the King of Scotland in the time of Uther and in Arthur’s early days. He joined King Meliadus of Lyonesse’s war against Arthur. [Tavola]

Aneblayse [Danbleys, Danebleise, Denebleise]

A wealthy city in King Leodegan’s Carmelide, featured in the Vulgate Merlin. It was besieged by King Rions and the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign, but its fortifications were so strong that the defenders only had to worry about being starved out. A combined force of Arthur, Ban, and Bors routed Rions and lifted the siege. The English Arthour and Merlin places this battle at Carhaix. [VulgMer, Arthour]


A hound needed by the warrior Culhwch, as one of tasks, to hunt the boar Twrch Trwyth. Other tasks required that Culhwch find certain people to manage Aned and another hound, Aethlem. Arthur helped Culhwch obtain the hound for the hunt. After the hunt, Aned could not be found and was never seen again. [Culhwch]


A valley in Ireland in which a vicious, fire-breathing dragon lived. Tristan slew the dragon, earning him favor at the court of King Gurmun (Isolde’s father). [Gottfried]


A knight who participated in the tournament of Sorgarda, won by Gawain. [Heinrich]


The Fisher King or Grail King in Wolfram’s Parzival. The lord of Munsalvæsche, he was Perceval’s maternal uncle, son of Frimutel, and brother of Herzeloyde, Trevrizent, Schoysiane, and Repanse de Schoye. He neglected his duties as Grail King by engaging in a joust for the love of Queen Orgeluse, and was wounded in the groin as punishment. Because of the festering wound, he lived in excruciating pain, but could not die because he was sustained by the Grail. He was cured—after one failed attempt—when Perceval asked the Grail Question. Perceval succeeded him as Grail King. His name may be a variation of the Old French enfertez or enfermetez, meaning “infirmity” (Bruce, 317n). [Wolfram]


In a monologue in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, Gawain recounts that he once saved a maiden named Isazanz from abduction by a knight named Anfroihin. [Heinrich]

Angale [Orvale]

The lady of the castle Raguidel and a cousin of Lancelot. Her lord, an evil man named Marigart the Red, was slain by Sir Hector, who later rescued Angale from a pair of lions. [VulgLanc]


An Arthurian knight in Wace’s Roman de Brut. [Wace]


Son of the lord of Karamphi in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. Gawain had killed his brother Dahamorht, so he attacked Gawain when the latter was visiting Karamphi. Angaras’s father stopped the fight, but as a condition of his freedom, Gawain had to perform a service for Angaras: to learn all that he could about the mystic Grail. At the conclusion of the romance, Gawain satisfied this requirement. Angaras and Gawain became friends, and Angaras was awarded a place at the Round Table. His counterpart in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival is Vergulaht. [Heinrich]


Son of Caw, one of twenty brothers, and a warrior of King Arthur. [Culhwch]

Angelis of the Vaaos

A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with the others on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


Saxon queen who was captured by the British. Her armor and enchanted spear were taken by Britomart, the warrior maiden, for her adventures in Fairy Land. [Spenser]


Daughter of the Earl of London. With Arthur, she had an illegitimate child named Tom a’ Lincoln. [Johnson]


The noble king of Iserterre. Allied to King Ekunaver of Kanadic, he joined Ekunaver’s war against Arthur, in which he was slain by Duke Gilan of Wales. [PleierG]


A region of France, conquered by Arthur and bestowed upon Kay. [Wace]

Angharad Golden Hand [Angharat]

In the Welsh tale of Peredur, a lady at Arthur’s court; in Thomas Hughes’ play The Misfortunes of Arthur, Guinevere’s sister. Peredur relates how the hero fell in love with her, and vowed not to speak to any Christian man until Angharad professed to love him. For this, he was nicknamed the Mute Knight. Later, Angharad saw Peredur defeat a strong knight in joust. She did not know Peredur’s identity, but she went to him and told him she loved him for his knightly prowess. At this, Peredur revealed himself and was able to talk to his companions again. In Hughes’ play, Angharad dissuades Guinevere from suicide after the latter has learned that Arthur is returning to Britain to deal with Mordred’s treason. [Peredur, HughesT]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a king and one of Arthur’s vassals. [Heinrich]


Arthur’s king of Ireland in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. [Heinrich]


Daugher of Ranner, wife of Prince Bodwyne, and mother of Alexander the Orphan. When Bodwyne was killed by his brother, King Mark, Angledis took Alexander and fled Cornwall. She arrived in Sussex, at the Castle Magance, where she raised Alexander to manhood. Upon his knighting, Angledis charged her son to avenge his father’s death. [ProsTris, Prophecies, Malory]


A Germanic tribe that invaded and settled in eastern England in the fifth century, during and after the time of King Arthur. The Angles gave their name to England (Angle-Land). William of Malmesbury wrongly calls the war-leaders Hengist, Horsa, and their kinsmen Angles, when in fact they were Saxons. “Angle” and “Saxon” are often used interchangeably. [WilliamM]


A large island in the Irish sea of the northern coast of Wales, known as Môn to the Welsh. A Welsh legend relates how Cei (Kay) went to the island to fight lions and engaged in combat with the fearsome Cath Palug (Clawing Cat). [WelshPG]


Daughter of Prester John. She loved and had a child with Tom a’ Lincoln, Arthur’s son, but she scorned Tom when she discovered he was an illegitimate child. She betrayed Tom, and her new lover, a sultan, murdered him. Her son, known as the Black Knight, avenged Tom’s death by slaying Anglitora and her lover. [Johnson]


Lady of the Beautiful Forest and wife of Moralde. Her daughter, Claudin, was saved by Arthur’s Sir Tandareis. [PleierT]


A city from which Gawain received a dozen lances. [Wolfram]


In Chrétien’s Cliges, a nobleman from Windsor whom Arthur left in charge of Britain during an expedition to Brittany. While Arthur was in Brittany, he received word that Angres had betrayed him and seized the throne. Arthur returned to Britain, raised an army, and began a war against Angres. Eventually, Arthur’s army drove Angres back to his castle in Windsor where, at a final battle, the Greek warrior Alexander captured him, but not before Angres killed Alexander’s companion Macdor. Arthur executed him. Chrétien has made an obvious thematic connection with Mordred. [ChretienC]

Angsir of Slaloi

In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a reference is made to a tournament fought at Babylon between Arthur and three knights, one of whom was Angsir. [Heinrich]

Anguiguerron [Aguigneron, Anguigeron]

Seneschal of Clamadeu of the Isles. He appears in Chrétien’s Perceval and in the Vulgate romances. He was one of a number of rulers that rebelled against King Arthur’s ascension to the throne. He also fought the Saxon invasion, leading a battalion at Salisbury. In the service of Clamadeu, he defeated, captured, and imprisoned hundreds of knights from the town of Beaurepaire, in an effort to persuade the lady of the town, Blancheflor, to marry Clamadeu. Perceval agreed to serve as Blancheflor’s champion, and he defeated both Anguiguerron and Clamadeu in combat. In some versions, Perceval slays Anguigerron; in others, he sends him to Arthur as a prisoner. Anguigerron’s counterpart in Wolfram’s Parzival is Kingrun. [ChretienP, Contin1, VulgMer, PostMer]


A knight raised with Lionel and Bors by the Lady of the Lake. His father, Pharien, was a servant of King Bors of Gannes. Anguin and his brother Tantain remained with the Lady after their father’s death. [VulgLanc]

Anguish [Ang(u)ins, A(n)guisant, Anguisshe, Languis, Hanguin, Lenvis]

King of Ireland and father of Isolde in the Prose Tristan and in Malory. His name could be a derivation of Geoffrey’s Angusel of Scotland, though some scholars have suggested a connection with an historical Irish king named Óengus. His counterpart in Gottfried von Strassburg is Gurmun. Malory, perhaps conflating him with Angusel, says that he was one of the kings who rebelled against Arthur, and was defeated with his comrades at Bedegraine. Tennyson gives a similar account, saying that he joined with Urien in an invasion of Carmelide.
   His brother-in-law (or nephew), Morholt, was slain in his service by Tristan. When the latter turned up at Anguish’s court, Anguish considered killing him but ultimately decided to acquit him over the objections of his wife (variously called Lotta or Isolde). Afterwards, Anguish and Tristan became friends, and Tristan defended the King of Ireland against a murder charge brought by Sir Blamor of Gannes, Lancelot’s cousin. Anguish had a dream portending Tristan’s affair with Isolde, but still handed his daughter over when Tristan came to collect her for King Mark of Cornwall. [ProsTris, Tavola, Malory, TennIK]

Angusel [A(u)ngel, Aguiflet, Aguillars, Aguisans, Aguisant, A(n)guisel, A(n)guissans, Aguissant, A(n)guizans, Angus, Angvisa(u)nt, Angwisshe, Angwisiez, Auguselus, Aungers]

King of Scotland, first named by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The numerous variations of his name may include Anguish of Ireland. Geoffrey tells us that he was the brother of Urien and Lot, but the Vulgate Merlin calls him the son of King Caradoc and one of Arthur’s unnamed half-sisters (and therefore Arthur’s nephew). In a Welsh adaptation of Geoffrey, his counterpart is Arawn. He name suggests the common Scottish Angus, which belonged to an earl of Moray in the early twelfth century.
   In Geoffrey’s version, Arthur restores him to his position as king of Scotland after the country was reclaimed from the Saxons. In later works, however, he is portrayed as an early enemy of Arthur. He was one of the kings who rebelled against Arthur’s ascension to the throne. Arthur defeated the confederation at the battle of Bedegraine, after which the Saxons invaded Scotland, and Angusel had to return to fortify his city of Caranges. Joined by Kings Urien and Nentres, he successfully fought off the invaders, led by King Oriel. Eventually, Angusel and the other rebelling kings reached a truce with Arthur and together crushed the Saxons at Clarence. He later joined Arthur’s wars against Rome, Galehaut, and Claudas. He died fighting Mordred’s army at the battle of Richborough or Salisbury, where he led a battalion. Chrétien de Troyes gives him two sons named Cadret and Cuoi, and the Prophecies de Merlin assigns him another named Archemais. Prophecies de Merlin assigns him another named Archemais. hur. [Geoffrey, Wace, Layamon, Wolfram, Arthour, Malory]

Anna [Anne]

The daughter of Uther and Igerne, wife of Lot, and mother of Gawain and Mordred in Geoffrey’s account. The character of Morgause replaced her. De Ortu Waluuanii relates how Anna fell in love with Lot, who was staying at Uther’s court as a hostage from Norway. They engaged in a clandestine affair, which produced the illegitimate Gawain. Anna, who had kept her pregnancy secret, decided to send Gawain away at his birth to avoid trouble with Uther—but she sent with him a ring and parchment attesting to his lineage, which he later used to gain entry to Arthur’s service. In his play The Misfortunes of Arthur, ThoThomas Hughes says Gawain inherited his kingdom. [GeoffHR, ChretienE, Wace, Layamon, VulgLanc, VulgMort, VulgMer, Prophecies, Malory, HughesT]

Anjou [Angeoy, Angers, Anschowe]

This region of western France was the country of Perceval’s paternal ancestry in Wolfram’s Parzival. The country was ruled by Perceval’s grandfather Gandin and then by Gandin’s son Galoes. The scepter was later passed to Perceval’s son Kardeiz. It’s capital was Bealzenan.
   According to Arthour and Merlin, Uther conquered Anjou from Harinan, Igerne’s first husband. Geoffrey says that it was conquered by Arthur and given to Kay. Malory says that it was owned by Lancelot, and that Lancelot made Sir Dinas the duke of Anjou in return for Dinas’s support in the war against King Artmas Hughes uses Anna rather than Morgause, but he makes Mordred a product of Anna and Arthur’s incest, which Geoffrey does not. [Geoffrey, DeOrtu, HughesT]


In two sixteenth-century English versions of Joseph of Arimathea’s life, the Jew Annas is one of Joseph’s jailers in Jerusalem. Caiaphas, mentioned in the Vulgate texts, is his companion. Annas appears as one of Christ’s accusers before Pilate in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus. [HereJoA, LyfeJoA]


A godson of King Bors of Gannes who fought for Arthur at the battle of Bedegraine. [Malory]

Annore [Anfole]

Queen of Averre in Wolfram’s Parzival. She was loved by Galoes of Anjou (Perceval’s uncle), who died in her service. Der Pleier adds that she was married to King Avenis and had two daughters named Laudamie and Anfole. [Wolfram, PleierG]


The King of Annuec’s son took part in the tournament of Banborc, at which Kay met his future wife, Andrivete. Annuec may be Alnwick in Northumberland. [Girart]

Annwn [Annwf(y)n]

The Celtic otherworld, akin to Hades or Hell, inhabited by fairies, demons, maidens, and warriors. It is variously described as an island, a valley, and an underworld. It is said to have various portals of entry from the mortal world. An early Welsh poem known as Preiddeu Annwfn describes an expedition by Arthur and his warriors to the mysterious otherworld, where they defeat 600 warriors and obtain a magic cauldron kept by nine maidens. In the poem, Annwn is called, among other things, a fairy fortress, a glass fortress, and a “fort of carousal.” Although three boatloads of warriors went with Arthur to Annwn, only seven men returned. The references to the ships, including Arthur’s ship Prydwen, suggests that Annwn is an island. According to Culhwch and Olwen, the powers of the demons of Annwn were vested in the warrior Gwynn, son of Nudd. [Culhwch, Spoils]

Annynawg [Anynnawg]

One of Arthur’s warriors who was the son of Menw. [Culhwch]


A British city in which Arthur was imprisoned by Gwen Pendragon for three days, according to a Triad. The word anoeth is an intensifier comparable to the English “incredible,” possibly meaning either “wonderful” or “difficult.” The word is used to describe Arthur’s grave in a Welsh poem, which may indicate an early Welsh belief in the mysterious circumstances surrounding Arthur’s death (see Artur’s Grave). [WelshSG, Triads]

Anoeth2 the Bold

One of Arthur’s warriors. [Culhwch]


A North Welsh king in La Tavola Ritonda. Arthur and King Amoroldo of Ireland appointed him to judge the great tournament at Leverzep. Another king named Alois is named as the King of North Wales in the same story. [Tavola]


A knight present at the Sorgarda tournament in Diu Crône. [Heinrich]

Anseïs [Ossaise]

A knight from Sorelois who fought in the tournament at Sorelois. [ProsTris, Malory]


In the Elizabethan play The Birth of Merlin, a prophetic hermit who visited Aurelius Ambrosius’s court. He condemned Aurelius’s marriage to Artesia, a Saxon maiden. [Birth]


One of two “toll collectors” from Ansgiure defeated by Gawain in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. Ansgavin’s brother Salmanide was slain in the battle. [Heinrich]

Ansgien of Ilern

The mother of Amurfina (Gawain’s wife) and Sgoidamur by Lord Laniure of Serre. Her brother, Gansguoter, was Igerne’s second husband. [Heinrich]


A land visited by Gawain, where he defeated two tyrannical “toll collectors” named Ansgavin and Salmanide. [Heinrich]


The location of Sorgarda Castle, where Gawain won a tournament in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. Its lord was named Leigamar. [Heinrich]


An evil warrior in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône. His companion, Lohenis of Rahaz, stole Gawain’s horse. Ansgü, knowing that Gawain had replaced his warhorse with a nag, challenged him to a joust. Gawain was victorious despite the disadvantage. Ansgü’s counterpart in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival is Florant of Itolac. [Heinrich]

Ansoit of Riviere

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


The nephew of King Gilierchino of Brittany (Tristan’s father-in-law). When Tristan conquered the city of Gippa, he left Antalino as viceroy. [Tavola]

Antanor the Silent

A mute knight in Arthur’s court, sworn to refrain from speaking until he saw the best knight in the world. A lady in court, named Cunneware, refrained from laughing for the same reason. When Perceval came to court, Cunneware laughed and was beaten by an insulted Sir Kay. Antanor reproached Kay and predicted retribution for his actions. In response, Kay tanned Antanor. Perceval later revenged Kay’s abusive deeds by breaking his arm and collarbone in a joust. Antanor is called Kulianz the Fool in Diu Crône. [Wolfram]


A dwarf king from Scotland who journeyed to Arthur’s court to seek adventure. After defeating Perceval, Gawain, and Galleman in combat, he returned home. [Antelan]


An earl in the service of the Duke of Lorraine in the Alliterative Morte Arthure. With his brother Algere, he fought in a battle against Gawain during the Roman War. Malory includes this character but re-names him Ethelwold. [Allit]

Anthemes [Alelme, Anslem, Antemes, Anteaumes, Anthiaume]

Seneschal to King Ban of Benoic in the Vulgate Merlin. He fought with Ban and Arthur against the Saxons, and in the wars against King Claudas. He may be identical to the unnamed seneschal in the Vulgate Lancelot who betrays Ban by allow Claudas entry into Ban’s city of Trebe. [VulgMer, Livre, Malory]


The western Roman emperor between 467 and 472. He was appointed by Emperor Leo I, who ruled in Constantinople. He is not mentioned in Arthurian chronicle or romance, but he figures into the history of Riothamus, a historical British king who many have seen as the origin of Arthur. At the behest of Anthemius, Riothamus brought an army of Britons into Gaul in 468 to drive out the Visigoths. The expedition failed and Riothamus was defeated.


Arthur’s sister in the Pleier’s Meleranz, who married the King of Gritenland and became the mother of Gaheris. Gaheris’s mother in other romance is usually Morgause, by King Lot. [PleierM]


The seneschal of King Brandon the Saxon. He participated in the Saxon invasion of Britain in the early days of Arthur’s reign. He was killed at the siege of Clarence by Arthur’s Sir Eliezer. [VulgMer]

Antikonie [Anticoni]

Sister of King Vergulaht of Ascalun. She became infatuated with Gawain during one of his visits, which caused her brother to attack him. She later married King Dulcemar of Tandernas and gave birth to Tandareis, who became one of Arthur’s knights. [Wolfram, PleierT]


An Irish keep visited by Lancelot on his way to Rigomer Castle in Les Merveilles de Rigomer. There, he was warmly hosted by Sir Baudris, who provided information on Rigomer. [Merveil]

Antoagais [Autragais]

A large knight encountered by Lancelot on his first quest, which was to defend the Lady of Nohaut against an invader. Lancelot wished to steal a glance at Antoagais’s lady, but Antoagais refused to let him into her tent. Lancelot fought him for this right, and Antoagais was miserably defeated. Lancelot took his lady after making Antoagais promise to never fight anyone again except in self-defense. Lancelot later learned that the encounter had been arranged by the Lady of Nohaut in order to test the young Lancelot’s prowess. [LancLac, VulgLanc]


The niece of King Bagdemagus of Gorre. She lived in Montikluse with her brother, Kandalion. Kandalion imprisoned Tandareis, one of Arthur’s knights, and left him to starve, but Antonie kept him alive until her brother decided to free him. She wanted to marry Tandareis, but his betrothal to another prevented it. At his suggestion, she married King Beacurs of Norway, Arthur’s nephew. [PleierT]


A knight slain by Tristan during a tournament in Ireland. Antonio’s son later encountered Tristan in Cornwall, and tried to slay him with a poisoned arrow. He succeeded only in wounding Tristan, who slew him for the deed. The knight is named only in the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, though this episode appears in the Prose Tristan and in Malory’s version. [Tavola]

Antonio2 [Antoine]

A bishop from Ireland or Wales who became one of Merlin’s scribes. [VitaMer, Prophecies, Pieri]

Antor [Anton, Antore, Antour, Entor]

Arthur’s foster-father, and the father of Kay, in the Prose and Vulgate Merlins, the Didot-Perceval, and Tennyson. Robert de Boron seems to have originated the character. Renowned as a wise man, Antor raised Arthur after Merlin presented him with the child. When his foster-son became king, Antor joined the wars against the Saxons. His character appears in the Post-Vulgate and Malory as Ector. J. D. Bruce suggests a possible corruption of Arthur, given the literary tradition of naming children after their foster fathers (cf. Gawain in De Ortu Waluuanii). [ProseMer1, VulgMer, Livre, Didot, Arthour, TennIK]


The father of Vyolette, a maiden saved from two giants by Guinglain (Gawain’s son). In reward for his heroism, Antore gave Guinglain a fine suit of armor. [ChestreLyb]


A knight in the service of King Claudas (Lancelot’s enemy), killed by Gawain in the battle of Trebe. [VulgMer]


A castle that King Mark of Cornwall gave to Isolde after she passed a test of chastity at Vermilion Rock. [Tavola]


A city on the coast of Brabant where Loherangrin, Perceval’s son, met his future wife. [Wolfram]


Palamedes’ father in the Serbo-Russian Povest O’ Tryshchane, replacing Astlabor from the Prose Tristan. [Povest]

Anurez the Bastard

An enemy of Gawain. His brother, Nabigan, was killed by Gawain, so he attacked Gawain and Arthur on their return from a pilgrimage to the Grail Castle. Besieging them in a manor, he had them well trapped, but Sir Meliot of Logres made a timely arrival and killed Anurez in combat. [Perlesvaus]

Anwas the Winged

Father of Twrch, and one of Arthur’s warriors. [Culhwch]


A lady who, with her husband Rivalin, healed Gawain after he had been injured in a battle with some giants. [Heinrich]


A murderer who figures into Tristan’s ancestry. He was born the son of King Clodoveus. His sister was named Cressile or Trasfilas. He slew Appollo, the first King of Lyoness (and Tristan’s great-great-great-grandfather), for which his father executed him. Appearing in the Prose Tristan and La Tavola Ritonda, he is unnamed in the former. [ProsTris, Tavola]

Aplasat the Large

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]

Apollo [Apolon]

The first king of Lyoness, descended from Alexander the Great. He was Tristan’s great-great-great grandfather. The son of Sador (son of Bron) and Chelinde, he was abandoned in the forest as an infant by Canor, his step-father, and was found and raised by Sir Nichoraut of Cornwall and his wife Madule. He grew up to be a good knight but, in a tragic Oedipal situation, he unknowingly killed his father Sador and married his mother Chelinde. St. Augustine converted Apollo to Christianity and revealed these facts to him. Chelinde was killed by a lightning bolt while attempting to murder St. Augustine. Apollo re-married Gloriande and had a son named Candaces, who succeeded him. Apollo was killed by Anzilere, son of the King of Cornwall, who desired his wife. [ProsTris, Tavola, Povest]

Apulia [Apolon]

A region of Italy. In Claris et Laris, its king, Celias, enters into a brief war with Arthur. [Claris]


One of Arthur’s castles in Logres. [Palamedes]


Ruler of the castle Helyn. When Aquilian mistreated Galehaut the Brown, Galehaut killed Aquilian and all of his fourteen sons. [Palamedes]

Aquin of Orbrie

One of Arthur’s knights. [Renaut]


Region of southwest France. According to Geoffrey, Duke Guitard ruled it until Duke Hoel conquered it as part of Arthur’s campaign in Europe. Gottfried tells us that it was the homeland of the evil dwarf Melot, Tristan’s betrayer. In the Vulgate Lancelot, it is ruled by King Claudas, and in La Tavola Ritonda, King Amoroldo of Ireland holds the dukedom of Aquitaine. [GeoffHR, Gottfried, VulgLanc, Tavola]

Arab the Dwarf

A king who was a vassal of Arthur. [Heinrich]


Literally, the peninsula in southwest Asia, between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, though some Arthurian authors undoubtedly used it loosely to cover northern Africa as well. Wolfram names the King of Arabia as Zoroaster, a vassal of Perceval’s half-brother Feirefiz. The Alliterative Morte Arthure suggests that the region was under the control of the Lucius, Arthur’s enemy in the Roman War. [Wolfram, Allit, Malory]

Aragon [Arragon]

A region of northwest Spain, ruled in Uther’s time, according to Wolfram, by King Schaffilor. Chrétien names the son of the king of Aragon among the participants at the Noauz tournament. It is presented in the Pleier’s Tandareis und Flordibel as a land allied with Arthur, and shows up in Claris et Laris as the kingdom ruled by Lempres, an enemy of Arthur. [ChretienL, Wolfram, PleierT, Claris]


An eloquent knight in Arthur’s service. Arthur named him as an envoy to Gaul when the land was divided and at war. On Arthur’s behalf, Aram proposed Lancelot as Gaul’s overlord, which was acceptable to all except King Frollo. Later, Aram participated in the Grail Quest. [VulgLanc, ProsTris]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, the Duke of Aram and his vassals participate in a tournament at Sorgarda. [Heinrich]

Aramont1 [Atramont]

The King of Brittany in the time of Uther Pendragon. He was the overlord of Gannes, Benoic, and surrounding lands, but King Claudas of Bourges refused to acknowledge him. Aramont went to war with Claudas, but Claudas drew on his allies from Gaul and managed to stalemate Aramont. Aramont then allied with Uther, and together the two kings smashed Claudas, turning his country into a wasteland. After Aramont’s death, Claudas returned and waged war on Benoic and Gannes. Aramont was also known as Hoel. It is unclear whether he is identical with Faramon from the Tristan legends. [LancLac, VulgLanc]


A Saxon warrior, brother of the Saxon king Agleot. He participated in a Saxon invasion of Scotland, but he was captured by Lancelot while fighting Arthur’s men at the Ford of Blood. [LancLac, VulgLanc]


The Count of Flanders and an ally of King Claudas. Arthur’s troops landed in Flanders to go to war against Claudas, and Aran met them in battle. He was slain by Arthur’s Sir Patrides. [VulgLanc]


In La Tavola Ritonda, a Gaulish king who, along with a king named Brandino, invaded and conquered Benoic—the land of Lancelot’s father Ban. Arandus and Brandino replace Claudas, named as Benoic’s destroyers in most other versions. [Tavola]


One of the many Saxon kings who invaded Britain during Arthur’s struggle to establish power. [Livre]

Aravius [Araby, Derane, Ravinity]

The mountain where Arthur overcame and slew the giant Ritho in Geoffrey’s chronicle. The name seems to be a Latin form of Eryri, the Welsh name for Mount Snowdon. Layamon calls it “Mount Ravinity,” which may be either a corruption or a deliberate variation. [GeoffHR, Wace, Bek, Malory]


King of Annwn, the Welsh otherworld, in the non-Arthurian tale of Pwyll. After clashing with Pwyll during a hunting incident, the two warriors became friends and agreed to exchange countenances, kingdoms, and wives for a year. Pwyll, however, refused to take advantage of the situation and sleep with Arawn’s wife. Arawn’s mortally enemy, Hafgan, was killed by Pwyll. R. S. Loomis thought that a number of Arthurian characters showed Arawn’s influence, including the Green Knight and Orguelleuse. In a Welsh version of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arawn becomes the counterpart of Angusel, Urien’s brother. Arawn may therefore be identical to Aron, Urien’s brother and Arthur’s knight in the Triads.


A castle in Lyonesse or Cornwall where Sir Sadoc and Sir Dinas made a pact to defect from the court of King Mark. [ProsTris, Malory]


Grandson of Brutus, son of Albanact, and brother of Embrunt and Dombart. He became king of the Savage Realm and ruled the castle of Sauf. He married the lady Vagés, the companion of a giant he defeated. Arbrun’s sons were Brun and Silhaut. [Palamedes]


The maiden loved by Pelleas in the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin. Malory calls her Ettard. Though Pelleas won a tournament in her honor, Arcade treated him with disdain. He kept attacking her knights and allowing himself to be defeated, just so he could catch a glimpse of her as they threw him in her prison. Gawain learned of his plight and offered to help him by going to Arcade’s court and claiming that he had slain Pelleas. What Gawain hoped to accomplish is unclear, but in any event, he abandoned the plan when he saw the lovely Arcade, who responded to his advances and slept with him. Pelleas found them sleeping together and considered killing them, but instead left his sword laying beside them. When Arcade awoke, she realized that Gawain had lied and that Pelleas had spared her life. Gawain confessed his fib and persuaded Arcade to reconcile with Pelleas. The two married and had a son named Guivret the Younger. [PostMer]


Brother of the king of the Saxons. He allied with Mordred when the latter revolted against Arthur. He fought in Mordred’s army at the battle of Salisbury, where he was slain by Yvain. [VulgMort]

Arcelas [Celas]

The King of Trebes slain by Sir Laris during Arthur’s war against Thereus of Rome. [Claris]


A knight slain by Palamedes while trying to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of Palamedes. [Malory]


A knight killed by Bleoberis while trying to kidnap a maiden. [ProsTris]

Archemais [Archenais]

Son of King Angusel of Scotland in the Prophecies de Merlin. He took part in the expedition to save King Richard of Jerusalem from the King of Baghdad. He succeeded his father to the throne of Scotland. [Prophecies]


A cousin and enemy of Tristan. King Mark of Cornwall was his uncle, and the evil Andret was his brother. Tristan killed Archeman at the Fountain of the Lion. [ProsTris]

Archenior of Nourient

A duke and vassal of Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]


The baptismal name of King Gurguran, after Gawain’s example led him to accept Christianity into his kingdom. [Perlesvaus]


An evil magician in The Faerie Queene who represents, at various places in Spenser’s elaborate allegory, the pope and Satan. Archimago hinders the successes of the heroes Guyon,  the Red Cross Knight, and Arthur through sorcery and trickery. The Red Cross Knight throws him into a dungeon, but he manages to escape. [Spenser]


Nephew of King Evalach of Sarras. He led a battalion of Evalach’s soldiers against King Tholomer of Babylonia at the battle of La Choine. [VulgEst]


A Knight of the Round Table who killed his brother, Sanades, in combat for the love of a maiden. Arciel received a mortal wound in the fight. As soon as he was aware of it, he tried to slay the maiden to keep any other man from having her, but she fled. Galahad found Arciel in his death throes and had him buried. [PostQuest]


A brave knight from Flanders in the service of King Claudas. Arcois spoke up against Claudas when Claudas suggested that he might go to war with Arthur. Claudas respected Arcois’ honesty and sense of justice, and he made Arcois the constable of his court. [VulgLanc]


King of Rivelanze. Allied to King Ekunaver of Kanadic, he joined Ekunaver’s war against Arthur. Defeated by Sir Garel, he was forgiven by Arthur and awarded a place at the Round Table. [PleierG]

Ardan2 [Adrawns]

A duke and uncle of Arthur defeated in joust by Palamedes. His son Helis tried to avenge the insult but failed. [Palamedes, ProsTris, Malory]


Daughter of Eliffer and sister of Peredur and Gwrgi. [Triads]

Arderoch Amander

A Knight of the Round Table. [HartmannE]


Son of Caw, one of twenty brothers, and one of King Arthur’s warriors in Welsh legend. His name means “protector” or “sustainer.” [Culhwch]

Arebech [Aresbeth]

A city or castle in Scotland (perhaps in Arestel), besieged by the Saxons during Arthur’s reign. Arthur, with the help of Lancelot, drove the Saxons away. [LancLac, VulgLanc]

Ares1 [Arec, Arel(s), Aret(h)(a), Aries]

One of Arthur’s various kings; the father or foster-father of Arthur’s knight Tor. In early French romance, he is the king of Autice, and Tor is, in fact, his son. The Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation, alternatively, gives him as poor cowherd who arrived at Camelot on the day of Arthur’s wedding and asked Arthur to knight his estranged son, Tor. Arthur complied, and it was later discovered that Tor was in fact the son of King Pellinore by Ares’ wife before they were married. [ChretienE, Erex, Yder, LancLac, VulgLanc, PostMer, PostMer, Malory]


Father of Do and grandfather of Arthur’s Sir Girflet. [ProsTris]


A wooded region in Scotland, known for its fine hunting grounds. During Arthur’s reign, it was twice invaded by Saxons. On the fist occasion, King Lot of Lothian called a meeting of all the nobles there, proposing that the princes in rebellion against Arthur ally with him temporarily to face the Saxon threat. On the second invasion, Arthur met the Saxons there (at nearby Saxon Rock) and, with the help of Lancelot, drove them away. [LancLac, VulgLanc, VulgMer]


The site of a battle, probably historical, fought between warring British clans. Scholars have plausibly identified it with Arthuret (no connection to Arthur), eight miles north of Carlisle, in Liddesdale. The Annales Cambriae say that the battle occurred in 573, and the Triads call it “futile,” saying that it began over a lark’s nest, referring to the Fort of the Lark on the edge of Solway Firth (Ashe, Landscape, 102). At the battle, the warlord Gwenddolau, son of Ceido, opposed a joined force of Peredur and Gwrgi (the sons of Eliffer) and Rhydderch the Generous. Gwenddolau was killed and his warriors kept fighting for a month and a half to honor their slain leader. Merlin was present at the battle, fighting on Gwenddolau’s side in the Welsh verses and with Rhydderch and Peredur in Geoffrey’s Vita Merlini. He was driven mad—either by the sight of all the dead, by an apparition he saw in the sky blaming him for the deaths, or by the fact that he killed his nephew—and thereafter roamed the Caledonian Wood. [Annales, Triads, Myrddin]

Arfusat the Fat

A peer of Sir Bors who fought in a tournament thrown by King Brandegorre. He swore fealty to Brandegorre’s daughter, promising never to enter a castle or house until he had fought and defeated half a dozen knights. [VulgLanc]


A knight whose wife, Dyagenne, was loved by Uther Pendragon (after the latter’s marriage to Igerne). Argan discovered their affair and challenged Uther, defeating him in combat. Argan spared Uther’s life but slew Dyagenne. As a condition of Uther’s surrender, Argan made him build an impenetrable castle called Uther’s Shame. Argan re-married, but was cuckolded and defeated by Hector, Lancelot’s brother. Enraged, Argan built the Red Tower Bridge and tried to defeat any knights who wanted to cross. This custom was continued by his four sons. [ProsTris]


A Knight of the Round Table who joined in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


A king and vassal of King Rions of Ireland, an enemy of Arthur. He assisted Rions in his attack on King Leodegan of Carmelide, which failed. Argant was slain in the battle by Sir Cleodalis, a vassal of Leodegan. [VulgMer]


Layamon’s Queen of Avalon, a “radiant elf” to whom Arthur was taken when mortally wounded from the battle at Camlann. The name Argante may be a corruption of Morgan, who is traditionally the queen that receives Arthur’s body. [Layamon]


A giantess who was the daughter of a Titan. She lived in incest with her brother, Ollyphant, but her insatiable lust drove her to enslave men whenever she found them. The knight Satyrane tried to slay her but was knocked unconscious. She was pursued by the warrior maiden Pallantine, who was fated to eventually destroy her. [Spenser]


According to the Alliterative Morte Arthure, one of the lands conquered by Arthur. [Allit]


A land ruled first by Duke Elimar, who was slain by a giant, and then by Duke Klaris, who was rescued by Arthur’s Sir Garel. [PleierG]

Argistes [Agristes]

Gawain’s great-grandfather, descended from Joseph of Arimathea. A king, Argistes was the son of Meliant. He married a Saxon noblewoman and had a son named Hedor. [VulgEst]


A forest in Wales (on the Clyde River, at the present location of Dumbarton) where King Meriadoc, as a youth, was supposed to be hanged by his uncle’s henchmen. He was saved by his foster-father, Ivor, and later taken to Arthur’s court. [Historia]

Argodras the Red

A knight who served King Bagdemagus of Gorre. He arrived at Arthur’s court and accused Lancelot of murdering Meleagant, Bagdemgaus’s son. Lancelot protested that Meleagant had been killed in a fair fight, but he agreed to meet Argodras in combat at Windesant, Bagdemagus’s court. The fight went poorly for Argodras, and he was eventually killed. [VulgLanc]


The Saracen lord of the Rock, a British castle. Joseph of Arimathea raised Argon from the dead after a wild lion slew him. Beholding this miracle, Argon, his brother Matagran, and all their people converted to Christianity. [VulgEst]


Grandfather of Sir Guiron the Courteous. He was the son of Febus and Florine and the father of Fragus. His brothers were Siraouc, Niatar, Altan, and Laimors. [Palamedes]

Argons2 [Argu(y)s]

A Cornish knight related to King Mark. He led a company of soldiers against a group of Saxon invaders under Sir Elyas. [ProsTris, Malory]


The beautiful concubine of Lucano the Great, a giant slain by Tristan. When Tristan freed her, she was joyously reunited with her husband, Alchino of Logres. [Tavola]


The King of Escavalon. His son, Galescalain, was the Duke of Clarence and one of Arthur’s knights. [VulgLanc]

Arguisiaus of Carhaix

A knight who was defeated and wounded by a marauder named Dragonel the Cruel. Dragonel tried to force Arguisiaus’s paramour, Rohais, into marrying him. Perceval arrived, rescued the maiden, and sent Arguisiaus to the castle of Belrepaire for healing. [Contin4]

Arguste [Argustus]

Son of King Harlon. During the Grail Quest, Argustus led a force of sinful knights, dressed in black, in a tournament against Sir Eliezier, leading good knights dressed in white. Eliezier was winning when Lancelot arrived and began to fight on the side of Argustus, just because he was losing. Lancelot did not realize that the black knights were sinful. The white knights eventually overcame Lancelot, and then defeated Argustus’s knights. [VulgQuest, Malory]


A plain upon which Rhonabwy began his journey during his epic dream. [Dream]


King of Galore and an ally of King Rions of Ireland, Arthur’s enemy. He joined Rions in a failed invasion of Carmelide. [VulgMer]


Lord of Dusbergo in La Tavola Ritonda. He presided over a duel between Lancelot and the Knight of the Ill-Fitting Coat, and he forced them to separate before either suffered serious injury. [Tavola]

Arimathea [Aremathie, Arimatia, Arymathye, B(e)remachie, B(e)remat(h)ie, Bramanzia]

A city in ancient Palestine that was the homeland of Joseph, the first Grail bearer. The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal places it “in the land of Ramathaim, beyond the River Jordan.” It was ruled in Joseph’s time by Elcan, the father of Samuel. [RobertBorJ, VulgEst]

Ariohan [Aroan]

Father of Frollo, the ruler of Gaul slain by Arthur. After his son’s death, he raised an army of Saxons to invade North Wales. Kings Arthur, Meliadus, Pellinore, and the Good Knight Without Fear opposed him, and he was defeated in single combat by Meliadus. He returned home and became ruler of Denmark by marrying the king’s daughter. Ogier the Dane was one of his descendants. [Palamedes]


A knight who wished to challenge Lancelot when the latter was living in exile on the Island of Joy. Unfortunately, Arion’s horse foundered as he crossed the water to the island, and he was drowned under the weight of his armor. This prompted Lancelot to install a boat at the location. [PostMer]

Arise [Arsie]

One of two rivers in France that flanked Benoic (Lancelot’s homeland). The other was the Loire. [LancLac, VulgLanc]

Aristant [Arysta(u)nse]

A Knight of the Round Table who fought at the tournament of Sorelois. He was also one of the contestants at the healing of Sir Urry. [ProsTris, Malory]


The castle in the land of Amorave, belonging to Aristor. Aristor kidnapped Perceval’s sister, Dandrane, and kept her in Ariste until Perceval rescued her. [Perlesvaus]


Son of Salandres and brother of Dinisordres, Menastide, Nastor, and Gogonne. Perceval defeated the whole family and sent them to Arthur’s court as prisoners. [Contin3]


Son of Arthur in the Icelandic Möttuls Saga. His wife was proven unfaithful—along with all the other ladies at court—by an enchanted mantle. [Mottuls]


A Knight of the Round Table who fought against the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. He was wounded at the battle of Garlot. [VulgMer]

Aristoc the Strong

A knight who tried to kill Yvain to avenge the death of his father. Yvain defeated him and, because Aristoc refused to yield, killed him. [ProsTris]


Lord of the castle of Ariste and the land of Amorave. He made a gruesome habit of marrying women and beheading them around their first anniversary. His cousin, the Lord of the Fens, was killed by Perceval, so Aristor decided to take revenge. First, he kidnapped Perceval’s sister, Dandrane, intent on forcing her to marry him. Then he murdered Perceval’s uncle, Pelles, and killed the Bold Knight, a friend of Perceval’s. Perceval journeyed to Ariste and defeated Aristor in combat. He decapitated the wretch, and happily presented his head to Dandrane. [Perlesvaus]


Father of Corsabrin (a knight slain by Palamedes) and Rechaux. [ProsTris]


Prince of Medarie and Belakun, and companion of princes Darel and Gamer. Their lord, King Schaffilun, was killed in combat by Wigalois (Gawain’s son), to whom the three princes transferred fealty. They accompanied Wigalois in a campaign against the evil King Lion of Namur. [Wirnt]


Lancelot’s homeland in several German sources, probably a scribal corruption of “au Lac.” [HartmannE, Heinrich]


A region of southwest France owned by Lancelot. Lancelot made Sir Lavaine the Earl of Armagnac in return for Lavaine’s support in the war against King Arthur. [Malory]

Armand the Handsome

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]

Armant [Arduano, Harmaunce, Hermaunce]

King of the Delectable Isle and the Red City. Armant was slain by two treacherous protégés (Helain and an unnamed knight in the Prose Tristan; Passauver and an unnamed knight in La Tavola Ritonda; Helyus and Helake in Malory). After his death, friends bore his body to the mainland, where they encountered Palamedes and convinced him to avenge their master’s death. Palamedes journeyed to Armant’s kingdom, killed the traitors, and gave the Red City to Marin, Armant’s brother. [ProsTris, Tavola, Malory]

Armenia [Ermonye]

A former kingdom of Southwest Asia, south of the Caucas mountains. According to the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the land was allied to Lucius, Emperor of Rome, and assisted in Lucius’s war against Arthur. In other legends, its ruler is called Turcans or Aaron. [Allit, Malory]


A cowardly knight who roused 50 warriors to attack the noble Galehaut the Brown, who was unarmed. Galehaut killed Armond by strangulation and slew almost 20 more of his attackers before he fell under their blades. [Palamedes]

Armorica [Armoryk]

The former Latin name of Brittany before it was invaded by the Britons in the fifth century. Geoffrey of Monmouth says that Maximus took it from Duke Inbalt and gave it to Conan Meriadoc, who brought British culture to the region. [GeoffHR]

Arnal the Handsome [Argas]

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [PostQuest, ProsTris]


In Wolfram’s Parzival, the mother of Arthur and wife of Uther Pendragon. Most authors assign this role to Igerne. Abducted from her husband by the sorcerer Clinschor, she was imprisoned in the Castle of Marvels until rescued and released by Gawain, many years after Uther’s death. [Wolfram]


A knight from Cornwall and brother of Sir Gautere. Arnold and Gautere fought against King Arthur in the tournament at the Castle Perilous. [Malory]

Arnold2 le Breuse

Arnold and his brother Gerard were the first two knights encountered by Gareth on his quest to defeat the Red Knight of the Red Lands. Gareth slew them both at a passage over the Marcosia River. [Malory]

Arnoullant the Fair

Companion of the mighty Seguarnt the Brown. Arnoullant was eaten by a dragon in the forest of Hurbise. [Palamedes]

Aroans of Betina

A king and an ally of Arthur’s enemy King Rions. With Rions, he opposed Arthur and Leodegan at the second battle of Carhaix, where he was wounded by King Bors of Gannes. [VulgMer, Arthour]

Arodalus the Large

An Arthurian knight who fought against the Saxons at the battle of Vambieres. [Livre]

Arodion of Cologne

A scribe at Arthur’s court. Arodion and three other scribes recorded the deeds of Arthur’s knights, including Gawain, Hector, and Lancelot. [LancLac, VulgLanc]


The Duke of Aroel, who came from Sorelois, was an ally of Lancelot. A skilled and experienced knight, he assisted Lancelot in the battles against King Arthur. [VulgMort]

Aroie [Arroy]

A Scottish forest through which Perceval, in Fergus, pursued a white stag in a long hunt that finally ended in the forest of Ingegal. In the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, it is the location of the Forest of Adventures. This was where Gawain, Yvain, and Morholt met with three maidens who led them on separate quests. Scholars have suggested Ayrshire as a possible location. [Guillaume, PostMer, Malory]


Son of Cynfarch and brother of Urien, named in the Welsh Triads as one of Arthur’s three Counselor Knights. He may be identical to Arawn, a king found in non-Arthurian Welsh legend. [Triads]


A maidservant of Lady Galiene of Lothian in Guillaume le Clerc’s Fergus. She set out to find a champion when Galiene’s castle, Roucebourc, was besieged, but, upon arriving at Arthur’s court, found that most of Arthur’s knights were on a quest to find the absent Sir Fergus. Arondele eventually located Fergus himself, who gladly agreed to serve as Galiene’s champion. She is called Lunette in the Dutch Ferguut. [Guillaume]


The horse belonging to Arthur’s Sir Fergus. It was given to Fergus by his father. The animal was slain during Fergus’s combat with the giant of the Dolerous Mount. [Guillaume]

Arphasar the Unknown [Alphazar]

Brother of Esclabor the Unknown and uncle of Palamedes. [Palamedes]

Arpian1 [Harpin]

A Knight of the Round Table from the Narrow Mountain or the Strange Mountain. He embarked with the others on the Grail Quest, during which he joined company with Agamenor and Amatin the Good Jouster. All three knights hated Lancelot’s family, so they attacked Galahad, but were defeated. Later, they assaulted Acorante the Agile and Danubre the Brave, Lancelot’s cousins. Arpian was slain by Danubre. [PostQuest]

Arpian2 [Harpion]

The Lord of the Treacherous Castle, an evil pagan stronghold, where he imprisoned maidens and killed Arthur’s knights. He imprisoned Galahad, Hector, and Meraugis, but was slain by them after a holy cataclysm freed the three knights from his prison. [PostQuest]


The lord of Bauttiganero. He showed Tristan the way to the castle of Caradoc the Thirteenth. Arpinello had previously been defeated by the mighty Caradoc at the Victorious Tower. Once Tristan had defeated Caradoc, he gave the Victorious Tower to Arpinello. [Tavola]


Nephew of King Alain of Escavalon. His cousin, Floree, was saved by Gawain from a giant. [Livre]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, the Prince of Arrac is named as one of Arthur’s vassals. [Heinrich]

Arramant the Fat [Atramant]

A knight defeated by Lancelot after he stole Lancelot’s armor and steed, and kidnapped a squire, from Lancelot’s lodgings. Lancelot spared his life after receiving Arramant’s oath of allegiance. [VulgLanc]


A Saxon king of Denmark. He was the son of Magaat and nephew of the Saxon King Aminaduc. As part of the Saxon invasion of Britain at the beginning of Arthur’s reign, he was assigned the task of plundering Lothian and Orkney. He was present at the battle of Clarence, the razing of Cardueil, and the plundering of Caradigan. At this final battle, Arthur killed him. [VulgMer, Livre]

Arrouans the Felon

In Palamedes, the father of the evil Breus the Pitiless. Seguarant the Brown killed him. [Palamedes]


An earl from the island of Ponmecainne who fought against Galehaut at the tournament at Sorelois. [Malory]

Arroux [Aroaise]

A little river in Benoic where Duke Frollo of Germany encamped before a battle with Arthur. [VulgMer]


A fine seaside castle in the land of Gorre, where Lancelot once lodged on his way to fight at King Bagdemagus’s court. It was well situated in the midst of lush meadows and farmland. [VulgLanc]

Arsonne [Aisurne]

A river in Benoic that flowed near King Ban’s castle of Trebe. [VulgMer]

Art Aoinfhear

A son of Arthur. [IrishM]


Champion of justice in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. In Spenser’s allegory, Artegall is Arthur Lord Grey of Wilton, whom Spenser once served as secretery. Artegall was raised by the goddess Astraea. Glorana, the Fairy Queen, assigned him to liberate the kingdom belonging to the maiden Irena from a giant named Grantorto. The maiden warrior Britomart fell in love with Artegall after seeing an image of him, in Fairy Land, in a mirror. With their faces hidden by visors, Artegall and Britomart encountered each other in duel, but Britomart eventually recognized her opponent and Artegall became entranced by Britomart’s beauty. They agreed to marry, but Artegall had to leave Britomart to finish his quest. After several successful adventures, Artegall was enslaved by Queen Radigund of the Amazons. Britomart learned of his plight from his squire, Talus, and rescued him. In further adventures, Artegall was joined by Arthur. Eventually, he arrived at Irena’s kingdom and killed Grantorto in combat. [Spenser]


A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with the others on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


In the Elizabethan play The Birth of Merlin, the sister of the Saxon leader Ostorius. She used her wiles to seduce King Aurelius Ambrosius of Britain, blinding him to the gradual Saxon invasion of his kingdom. Uther Pendragon discovered her treachery, but she managed to have Aurelius banish his brother from court. In the end, Artesia and her brother betrayed and murdered Aurelius. When Uther reclaimed the kingdom, he had Artesia executed. [Birth]

Arthgal [Algal]

The Earl of Warwick under Arthur. [GeoffHR, Wace]


In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s chronicle, a son of King Morvid who succeeded his brother Gorbonian to the throne of Britain in the third century BC. Unlike his brother, he was a tyrant. His nobles eventually deposed him and installed his brother Elidur as king. Elidur reconciled with Arthgallo and forced the nobles to accept him as king again. Arthgallo reigned for another ten years, this time in justice. Elidur succeeded him again when he died. Arthgallo’s sons, Margan and Enniaun, were both later kings. [GeoffHR]


According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a king of Britain in the second century BC. He succeeded his brother King Bledgabred and was succeeded by King Eldol. [GeoffHR]


In Guillaume le Clerc’s Fergus, the nephew of a malevolent king who besieged Lady Galiene of Lothian in the castle of Rocebourc. Galiene obtained the services of Sir Fergus, Arthur’s knight, as her champion. Fergus slew Arthofilaus and defeated his uncle. In the Dutch Ferguut, Arthofilaus becomes Macedone. [Guillaume]

Arthur1 [Arrtor, Arther, Arthour(e)(s), Arthure, Arthus, A(r)thyr, Artijus, Arto(u)r(et, Artourys, Artouzos, Artui, Artu(u)(r)s, Artusin, Artuxe, Artuz, Hartu, Ortus]

Legendary British warlord and king. Tales revolving around Arthur, his court, and his knights form the subject matter of the Arthurian Legends. In history, Arthur was likely a Briton war-leader who staved off the Saxon invasion of Britain for a time. In legend, he becomes a great king; the conqueror of dozens of realms; the ruler of the fantasy realm of Camelot; the founder of the Round Table; and the bastion of justice in a “might is right” world. His downfall is wrought by the people closest to him: his wife, Guinevere; his best knight, Lancelot; his nephew, Gawain; his sister, Morgan; and his son, Mordred. He perishes during a great battle against the latter, who has usurped his throne, but legend holds that he still lives on the island of Avalon, from which he will return to lead his people again.


Any discussion of the Arthurian mythos must begin with Arthur himself—specifically, whether he existed at all. The answer is an unsatisfying “probably.”
   The problem is the abysmal lack of historical evidence concerning the period between the end of the Roman rule over Britain (early fifth century) and the end of the Saxon conquest of Britain (late sixth century). There are virtually no surviving written records from Britain during this 150-year period (see Britain). What we do know of this dark age, often called the “Arthurian period,” is constructed basically from four sources:
1. Existing British written sources. For our purposes, this is only a single source: Gildas’s De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (“Of the Ruin and Conquest of Britain”), written about 540, forty to eighty years after the time of a “historical” Arthur. Unfortunately, Gildas was writing a diatribe, not a history, and he never mentioned Arthur’s name. He outlines the Roman and post-Roman era before launching into a tirade against the lechery of rulers living in his own time. Gildas does mention Ambrosius (later to become Arthur’s uncle), and probably Vortigern, and other characters who become linked to Arthur in later chronicle and legend. He tells of the great Saxon defeat at Mount Badon, but does not name the British leader. In later sources, this man is to be named as Arthur. Gildas’s omission of Arthur’s name is frustrating, but is hardly conclusive given the intent and form of his work.
2. Archaeological Evidence. Excavations throughout Britain cast light onto living conditions, military circumstances, settlements, and so on. Unfortunately, archaeology cannot, for the most part, provide names. Still, it has contributed valuable information to the Arthurian question. To use one example, sixteenth-century writer John Leland’s identification of Camelot with Cadbury is lent support by Leslie Alcock’s excavations at Cadbury, which suggest that it was an important military headquarters during the late fifth century.
3. Continental Sources. Histories written on the continent during this period provide some slight information on the situation in Britain, though none of them mention Arthur specifically. Gregory of Tours’s History of the Franks and Jordanes’s Gothic History are two examples. The latter provides information about Riothamus, a late fifth-century king of the Britons who some have connected to Arthur. Riothamus reportedly brought an army of Britons into Gaul, at the behest of the Romans, to deal with the Visigoths. Riothamus was defeated. Forced to retreat, he disappeared into Burgundy, near a place called Avallon.
4. Later British Sources. Nennius’s Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae are two sources written within 500 years of the Arthurian period that provide information on British history and on Arthur specifically. Nennius lists twelve great battles fought between Arthur against the Saxons, including Badon. the Annales also tell of Arthur’s victory at Badon and, later, “the strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut (Mordred) fell…” The problem with this later sources is not only that they were written hundreds of years after the events described, but also that they have become so tainted with legend as to have their historical veracity impeached. Nennius, for instance, says that Arthur killed 960 men by himself at the battle of Badon, and the Annales entry prior to Badon tells of a bishop who lived to be 350 years old.

There are three other factors that argue for the existence of an historical figure named “Arthur.” The first is literary: around the year 600, a northern bard named Anierin wrote Y Gododdin, a lamentation describing the deaths of British warriors against the Angles at the battle of Catraeth. In one stanza, a warrior’s prowess is extolled; however, the warrior “was not Arthur,” meaning that his skill in battle was second only to a mighty (and presumably famous) warrior named Arthur. Clearly, the audience of the poem was expected to know the identity of “Arthur”; conventional scholarship holds that the reference alludes to the famed battle-leader of a century prior, but some scholars (e.g., Richard Barber, Figure, 21–34) have argued that the passage refers to Arthur of Dalriada, a northern figure who lived contemporary to the writing of Y Gododdin, and in close geographic proximity to its writer and audience.
   It is clear, too, that a great body of Arthurian oral tradition developed among the Celts between the sixth and twelfth centuries. There are allusions to tales in this tradition in the Welsh Triads, the Black Book of Carmarthen, the body of literature called the Mabinogion, and other sources. Most of these were written late, but they bespeak a much earlier tradition. It is almost inconceivable that some historical figure named Arthur did not exist to inspire an oral tradition of such heroic proportions.
   Finally, Arthurian scholars note the increased usage of the name “Arthur” in the two centuries following the “Arthurian period.” Irish princes are recorded with the name in the sixth and seventh centuries, as a are Welsh prince who ruled Dyfed in the early seventh century, a British prince who lived in the seventh century, and another Irishman (Bruce, 6). Logic dictates that some noteworthy historical figure named “Arthur” existed to inspire the subsequent uses of the name.
   This can be considered the hypothetical sum of these fragments, investigations, and allusions:
   Arthur was a British war-leader who, continuing a revolt begun by Ambrosius before him, battled the Saxon invasions in the late fifth or early sixth century. He may have been a regional ruler, and may have held the title of “king,” or he may have been a general under another king or collection of kings. He was almost certainly of Roman descent, with Roman ideas. He may have revived the Roman cavalry in Britain as a means to achieve victory. His headquarters may have been at Cadbury. He enjoyed several successes before he smashed the Saxons at Badon Hill, causing them to retreat to their settlements on the eastern shore. Several decades of relative peace followed, with no further Saxon encroachments. Arthur may have enjoyed further victories in Gaul. He possibly died at a battle called “Camlann,” fighting someone named Medraut. On the other hand, if he is indeed identical to Riothamus, he eventually led a military excursion into Gaul to help Rome drive away the Visigoths under Euric. He was betrayed by the Roman prefect in Gaul and defeated by the Visigoths. His death is not reported, but he is last recorded in Burgundy near a place called Avallon.
   There are a lot of “ifs” in this summary, and it must be considered that “Arthur” may be multiple people (cf. Arthur of Dalriada, Riothamus), fused through legend and hazy history, into a single character.


It is almost certain that Arthur is a Celtic form of the Roman Artorius, which belonged to several Roman figures and to a gens, or clan. It was known in Roman Britain as early as the second century: a officer named Lucius Artorius Castus led a military excursion into Brittany around 150 a.d.
   Certain scholars have proposed alternatives to this theory. E. W. B. Nicholson regards Arthur as a combination of two Celtic words: artos (“bear”) and viros (“man”), which would make Arthur’s name a metaphor for a strong warrior: “Bear-Man.” A. Holder proposed a connection with the Irish art (“stone”), and M. Müller tried to link Arthur to a culture-divinity in part by noting that the Aryan term for “to plough” is ar (Bruce, 4n). None of these theories have won wide acceptance.

Development of the Legend

Early Historical Tradition: About 1138, Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the history of Britain that brought Arthur to the world. Geoffrey’s Historia Regum Brittaniae would be a font of historical information and a masterpiece of historical research and presentation if it were not for the simple fact that he made most of it up, or adopted it irresponsibly from obviously fictional sources. Unfortunately, Geoffrey’s chronicle was considered genuine history by many people in his day, and almost all Arthurian texts that followed were based on it.
   The chronicles that precede Geoffrey are full of odd allusions, enticing pieces of information, and contradictory facts, all of which Geoffrey superceded. These chronicles form the “early tradition” of Arthurian literature. (At the same time, the Welsh built a body of fantastic, supernatural Arthurian literature which is covered in the next section.)
   The earliest reference to Arthur, as mentioned before, is in Y Goddodin (c. 600), in which a warrior’s prowess is compared to Arthur’s. But the earliest text to describe Arthur in detail is Nennius’s Historia Brittonum (early ninth century). The author claimed to have “made a heap” of all the fragments and extracts he found concerning British history. The narrative certainly is a “heap,” with little form or structure, but it includes a number of interesting tales, including the story of Ambrosius and Vortigern, and a description of Arthur’s twelve great battles against the Saxons. Arthur, whom Nennius describes as the dux bellorum or “battle leader” of the British kings, is implicitly not a king himself. Dux bellorum may imply some kind of official title, much like the Roman Dux Brittanium (“Duke of the Britains”).
   Arthur was victorious in all of the battles (see Arthur’s Battles), the last of which was the battle of Badon Hill, where Arthur personally killed 960 opponents, sending the Saxons screaming back to Germany for help. Nennius’s narrative dives into genealogies at this point, never returning to Arthur or his fate. However, in an appendix, he describes several mirabilia (“miracles”) of Britain, two of which cocern Arthur: the tomb of Arthur’s son Amr, whom Arthur had killed; and a stone where Arthur’s dog, Caval, left a pawprint during the hunt for the boar Troynt. Both Amr and Troynt (Twrch Trwyth) appear in Welsh Arthurian legends and reflect elements of the early legendary tradition about Arthur (see below).
   The Annales Cambriae date from the late tenth century. This simple list of events by date includes two episodes which concern Arthur: in the year 516, “the battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors”; and in the year 537, “the battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell.” Both of the dates seem about 20 years too late, and they do not square with Gildas or Nennius. This is the first mention of Camlann, and of Medraut, who was to become Mordred, though it must be noted that the Annales, contrary to later tradition, do not specify that Mordred and Arthur were on opposite sides.
   The next historical chronicle we need to be concerned with is the Legenda Sancti Goeznovii (“Legend of St. Goeznovius”) written in Brittany in, according to the text itself, 1019. There has been some debate over the correctness of the date, but modern scholarship seems to regard it as accurate. The text describes, in simple, non-legendary terms, how Vortigern invited too many Saxons to Britain, and how Arthur, in the 460s or 470s, drove them away again. Arthur is said to have been “called from human life” after a number of victories in Britain and Gaul, allowing the Saxons to return. Goeznovii specifically calls Arthur “King of the Britons.” The importance of this text lies in the fact that it is, as Geoffrey Ashe (Lacy, NAE, 204) says, “the only early historical narrative in which Arthur is mentioned plainly, with no obviously dubious or fantastic touches.”
   We come now to the last important chronicle before Geoffrey of Monmouth: William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum Anglorum (c. 1125). According to William, Arthur was a general under Ambrosius, who staved off the invasion of the “Angles” (rather than the Saxons). William belittles the “trifles” told of Arthur by the Britons, saying that a warrior as great as Arthur deserves to be remembered in authentic history. Given the next “authentic history,” Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia, William’s statement is thick with unintentional irony.

Early Legendary Tradition: While Nennius, the authors of the Annales and Goeznovii, and William of Malmesbury were attempting to write authentic histories, the Welsh were building a body of legendary tradition about King Arthur. Evidence shows that Breton conteurs carried these legends from Britain to Brittany, and eventually to Gaul and the rest of the continent. These legends, in contrast to the “courtly” French romances which would follow, are characterized by blood, sweat, and tears; by magnificent palaces, fearsome beasts, mysterious otherworlds, supernatural occurrences, hags and giants and sorcerers, bloody battles, and Arthur presiding over all as an “emperor.”
   The earliest existing example of Welsh legend is a poem known as The Spoils of Annwn. Taliesin, an historical northern bard who lived in the century after Arthur, is the supposed narrator. Arthur and three shiploads of warriors sail to Annwn, the Welsh otherworld, for some unclear purpose (to free a prisoner, perhaps, or to find treasure). Arthur returns with a magical cauldron, but only seven warriors have survived the expedition.
   Unfortunately, there are few existing cogent narratives to come out of this body of early legend. Complete tales such as Culhwch and Olwen (Arthur, presented as an emperor of a vast but realm, helps his nephew Culhwch conquer beasts, witches, and warriors so that he may marry Olwen, the daughter of a giant) are rare. Most of what we have are hints and allusions. One poem tells of the mysterious properties of Arthur’s grave, another alludes to Arthur’s battles with a hag at the hall of Afarnach, and against the Cudgel-Head at Dissethach, and against the Dog-heads at Mount Eidyn. Bedwyr (Bedivere), Cei (Kay), and Gwalchmei are extolled among his bravest and boldest warriors. The Triads, which are annotations or indices of early legend, talk of Arthur’s courts, of his son Llacheu, of his strife with Mordred, of his three wives named Gwenhwyfar, of how one was unfaithful, and of the battle of Camlann. Most of this material was not written until the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, and some of it shows traces of contamination by Geoffrey of Monmouth, but the majority of it harkens to an earlier era of bold, bloody, and wonderous legend that has since been lost.
   Another significant “body” of tradition concerning Arthur is the lives of the Welsh saints, one of which is of particular interest: Caradoc’s Vita Gildae, which includes an account of the abduction of Guinevere by Melwas of the Summer Region. This seems to be the original abduction story, and is possibly the source of Chrétien de Troyes’s tale of Guinevere, Lancelot, and Meleagant.

Geoffrey of Monmouth: Now we come to what is arguably the most important Arthurian text ever written: Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittaniae (“History of the Kings of Britain”), a Latin chronicle from 1138. Beginning with Brutus, the expatriated Roman who conquered Britain (then called Albion) from giants, Geoffrey chronicles a line of British kings through the seventh-century Cadwallar. Though Geoffrey claimed to have adapted his material from an ancient book of British history, it is clear that he embellished or completely invented the main episodes, taking names from wherever he found them: authentic histories, Welsh genealogies, contemporary figures, and his own imagination. Some Celtic material—mostly names—creeps in here and there, such as Arthur’s battles with the giant of Mont St. Michel and the giant Ritho.
   Geoffrey’s book provides the first full “biography” of King Arthur and his famous predecessors. Summarized, it reads something like this:

After Britain lost support from the Roman military in the early fifth century, the country was beset from all sides by barbarian Picts, Irish, and Huns. The ranks of Britain’s warriors had been depleted during Maximus’s war with Rome. Rome refused to send aid. With no one else to turn to, the Britons asked King Aldroenus of Brittany for assistance. Aldroenus sent his brother Constantine with legions of warriors. Constantine drove out the barbarians and was crowned king of Britain. He had three sons named Constans (who became a monk), Ambrosius, and Uther. Constantine was assassinated by a Pict. Earl Vortigern of Guent, seeking to increase his own power, removed Constans from his monastery and foisted him to the throne. Once Vortigern had established power as Constans’s advisor, he arranged for Constans’s assassination. Ambrosius and Uther, just children, fled Britain for Brittany to escape Vortigern’s hand. Vortigern ascended to the throne.
   Beset with the same barbarian problems, Vortigern hired Saxon mercenaries to swell the ranks of the British army. The Saxons were led by Hengist, who saw a chance to win power and territory. Hengist brought far more Saxons than were needed into Britain, settling in Kent. When their intentions became obvious, they attacked, decimating the British army at the battle of Amesbury. Vortigern fled into Wales, where he tried to build a fortress at Snowdon and encountered Merlin.
   Meanwhile, Ambrosius and Uther raised an army in Brittany and came to Britain. They destroyed Vortigern, killed Hengist, and checked the Saxon advance. Like his father, Ambrosius was poisoned by a Pictish agent. Uther became king and adopted the name Pendragon. He enjoyed further victories against the Saxons. At a victory feast, he fell in love with Igerne, the wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall. Gorlois, understanding Uther’s intentions, took his wife and left the feast. Uther took affront to this offense and attacked Gorlois, but could not breach the defenses of the castle Tintagel in Cornwall, where Igerne was in safekeeping. Uther called on Merlin’s help.
   Merlin transformed Uther into the likeness of Gorlois, allowing him to enter Tintagel undetected and to sleep with Igerne, begetting Arthur. Gorlois, meanwhile, was killed fighting Uther’s soldiers. Uther married Igerne and had, besides Arthur, a daughter named Anna.
   The Saxon wars resumed. Uther fell ill and had to take to the field in a litter. Nevertheless, at the battle of St. Albans, he killed the Saxon leaders Octa and Eosa. Then, like his brother and father, he was poisoned. Arthur was crowned king at the age of 15.
   Assisted by Cador of Cornwall and Hoel of Brittany, Arthur resumed the war against the Saxons, now led by Colgrim, Baldulph, and Cheldric. Arthur wielded a sword called Caliburn, fought with a lance called Ron, and carried a shield known as Pridwen. His victories against the Saxons culminated in the battle of Bath (Geoffrey’s Badon), in which they were utterly destroyed. Arthur married the lady Guinevere, who had been raised in the house of Cador. Arthur then turned his attention to the Picts and the Irish (led by King Gillamaur), crushing them at Loch Lomond in Scotland.
   Having pacified all of Britain, Arthur, in quick succession, conquered Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, and Orkney. Having thus established his power thoughout the British Isles, Arthur enjoyed twelve years of relative peace (during which, in the romances, the bulk of the quests and adventures occurred).
   After this interval, Arthur proceded to conquer Norway and Denmark. He then conquered Gaul by defeating Frollo, the Roman governor, in single combat. Following this victory, Arthur held a magificent court in Caerleon, establishing bishops, dukes, earls, and kings all over his domain.
   During the court, however, a notice came from Emperor Leo of Rome demanding tribute from Arthur. Arthur replied that no tribute was due, and both sides prepared for war. Lucius, the Roman procurator, led the Roman armies and summoned allies from all over the known world. Arthur sailed to Brittany to join forces with his cousin Hoel. When he arrived he learned that Hoel’s niece had been kidnapped by the giant of Mont St. Michael. Taking Bedivere and Kay, Arthur went to the mountain and killed the giant, but was too late to save the life of the maiden.
   Arthur led his army into Gaul and met Lucius’s forces. A meeting to negotiate a truce ended in disaster when Gawain, Arthur’s nephew and the best of Arthur’s warriors, took offense to a comment by one of Lucius’s soldiers and cut off his head. Several battles followed, culminating in the battle of Soissons, where Arthur was victorious and Lucius was killed. Kay and Bedivere also fell in the battle.
   Arthur wintered in Gaul and prepared to march on Rome itself, but he received word from Britain that Mordred, his nephew (the son of Anna and the brother of Gawain), whom Arthur had left as regent, had usurped the throne, and had taken Guinevere as his wife. As Arthur prepared to return to Britain to deal with Mordred, Mordred allied with Saxons and swelled his ranks with their numbers. Arthur landed at Richborough, battled Mordred’s army, and lost Gawain in the fighting. Guinevere, hearling of Arthur’s advance, fled to Caerleon and took the veil.
   Pressing on, Arthur encountered Mordred’s army again at the river Camel in Cornwall (Geoffrey’s version of Camlann). At this final battle, both armies were obliterated. Mordred died, and Arthur received a mortal wound. Before he was taken to the island of Avalon for healing, he bestowed the crown of Britain on Constantine, son of Cador of Cornwall.
No more, then, is Arthur a simple dux bellorum who staves of the Saxon invasion of Britain: he is a full-blown emperor; a conqueror of a vast realm who manages to amass enough power to challenge Rome itself. Geoffrey’s chronicle was a hit. The British people enjoyed having such a conqueror in their history. The Normans, who had been in power for just over 70 years at the time of Geoffrey’s writing, now had an historical claim to the island: they were descendants of Arthur’s relatives in Brittany, come again to defeat the Anglo-Saxons. There were skeptics even in Geoffrey’s own time, but for the most part, his history was accepted as more-or-less authentic for centuries.
   In 1155, Wace adapted Geoffrey’s chronicle into the French verse Roman de Brut and, for the most part, dropped the pretext of history, infusing the saga with romance and paving the way for the great French romances. Around 1190, Layamon wrote Brut, an adaptation of Wace, in English. Though Wace’s (and, ultimately, Layamon’s) primary source was Geoffrey, both Wace and Layamon show the influence of Celtic and Breton oral tradition in their versions of Arthur’s life. Wace contributed at least one major addition to the Arthurian saga: the Round Table, which, he said, Arthur established to end disputes about precedence among his knights. Wace claimed to have heard of the Round Table from the Bretons. An important addition from Layamon is the statement that Arthur was taken to Avalon by an elfin queen named Argante (probably a corruption of Morgan).

Early French Romances: Wace brought the story of King Arthur across the channel and on to the continent, where it was to remain for the next two centuries.
   The lines of transmission have been the subject of much debate. As stated before, Breton storytellers, who traveled far and wide, probably brought Arthurian tales out of Britain for centuries, but very little has survived. Marie de France’s lays (c. 1170) were adapted from Breton tales, as were other scattered stories. The tale of Guinevere’s abduction reached Modena, Italy as early as 1135, when a sculptor fashioned the Modena Archivolt, depicting the rescue of “Winlogee” (Guinevere) from “Carrado” (Caradoc) and “Mardoc” by “Artus de Bretania” (Arthur), “Isdernus” (Yder), “Galvagin” (Gawain), and “Che” (Kay).
   But these tales inspired no body of literature until Wace’s Roman de Brut, as if French romancers needed Wace’s pseudo-historic framework to tell them who Arthur was and to structure their tales. In any event, Arthurian literature exploeded in France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Italy over the next 200 years, with the first and most prominent romancer being Chrétien de Troyes.
   Chrétien’s Erec, Cliges, Yvain, Lancelot, and Perceval, all composed in the late twelfth century, portray and Arthurian world characterized by courtly love and chivalry, with Arthur’s court at the very center of civilization. Arthur himself recedes into the background. He is neither the great general of the chronicles nor the glorious emperor of the Welsh legends; he is a generous, benevolent monarch who supervises the action of the story but rarely participates in it. Sometimes the portrayal of Arthur is negative; he is bland, impotent, passive, selfish, disinterested. And yet, Arthur is regarded with respect and awe, and his court is considered the epitome of civlized society and chivalric virtue.
   To analyze each author’s treatment of Arthur and his court is beyond the scope of this entry and, indeed, this book. Suffice to say that people and places and themes are introduced in these early romances that will stay with the Arthurian legend to the modern day: the heroes Lancelot, Perceval, Yvain, Yder, Tristan, and Erec; the Grail and the quest to achieve it; the abduction of Guinevere by Meleagant; the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere; Camelot; Chastity Tests; tournaments; and the tale of the Fair Unknown, to name only a few.

Robert de Boron, the Vulgate Romances, and the Post-Vulgate Romances: These texts, written between 1200 and 1240, constitute the last major contributions to the basic text and structure of Arthur’s biography. They succeeded, on a grandoise scale, to unite the themes introduced by Chrétien de Troyes and other French writers (the Round Table, the Grail, the affair, the adventures of the heroes) with the history of Arthur’s court provided by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace. Together, these sources introduced the theme of the Arthur-Grail “cycle,” formed of at least four parts: the ancient history of the Grail (Robert de Boron’s Joesph d’Arimathie and the Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal), the establishment of Arthur and the Round Table (the Merlins), the quest for the Grail (Robert de Boron’s Perceval/Didot-Perceval and the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Queste del Sainte Graal), and the downfall and death of Arthur (the Mort Artus). The Vulgate Cycle also adds a fifth section that falls between the Merlin and the Queste: a Lancelot, which describes the many adventures of Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table. The stories have a religious subtext and portray Arthur’s reign in the context of the growth of Christianity throughout the known world.
   In a sense, these cycles are the first true “Arthurian” tales because they are the first to show Arthur as an individual rather than as a emperor, conqueror, or kindly old patriarch. For the first time, we see multiple expressions of Arthur’s personal joys and woes; his reactions to the events taking place around him.
   The prose cycles modify the biography given by Geoffrey of Monmouth considerably and deserve an individual summary:
   When Jesus Christ was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea, a soldier of Pontius Pilate and a closet Christian, caught some of the Christ’s blood in the cup or dish used at the Last Supper. This became the Holy Grail. Joseph eventually brought the Grail to Britain, and his followers established the Grail Castle at Corbenic. Arthur and his famous knights were descendants of this fellowship.
   Merlin is born when a devil lies with a maiden, but he is baptized upon birth and loses his father’s evil spirit.
      The reign of Vortigern and Ambrosius is described much as in Geoffrey of Monmouth, but Ambrosius becomes “Pendragon” and his brother Constans becomes “Maine.” Pendragon and Uther contend with the Saxons as well as with native rebellions.
   Uther becomes king after Pendragon dies in battle against the Saxons. Uther falls in love with Igerne, the wife of the duke of Tintagel, and Merlin helps him enter the castle as in Geoffrey of Monmouth, but makes Uther promise to give him the child that is conceived. Uther marries Igerne. Merlin takes Arthur when he is born and gives him to Antor or Ector, a duke, to be raised. Antor has a son named Kay, who becomes Arthur’s foster-brother. Uther’s vassals revolt against him, and Uther becomes sick and dies. Merlin assures the kings of Britain that God will appoint their new leader at Christmas.
   At Christmas, Antor, Kay, and Arthur go to Logres (London) for a tournament. Arthur is Kay’s squire. After mass, the nobles exit a church to find a huge stone in the churchyard. A sword (Excalibur) is thrust through the anvil and into the stone, and a message proclaims that the person who draws the sword from the stone will be the new king. All the nobles try to pull it out, but in vain. During the tournament, Kay realizes that he’s forgotten his sword, so he sends Arthur to get it. Arthur cannot find it, so he pulls the sword from the stone and gives it to Kay. Antor makes Arthur return it, and Arthur draws it again in front of everyone. At Antor’s request, Arthur makes Kay his seneschal. The nobles protest Arthur’s appointment at first but eventually accept it.
   Some of the more irate kings, with ambitions to the throne themselves, organize a rebellion against Arthur. They include Lot, father of Gawain, and Urien, father of Yvain. At Merlin’s advice, Arthur summons help from the French Kings Ban of Benoic and Bors of Gannes, promising to aid them against their mortal enemy, King Claudas, if they assist Arthur against the rebellion. With their assistance, Arthur routs the rebels at the battle of Bedegraine. Arthur unknowingly sleeps with his half-sister, the wife of Lot, and begets Mordred. He has a dream portending the destruction of his kingdom.
   The Saxons begin their invasion of Britain anew, and the rebel kings return to their own lands to defend their homes. Arthur meets a maiden named Lisanor and fathers a son named Loholt with her. Gawain, Yvain, and other sons of the rebels break from their fathers and go to join Arthur’s forces. Arthur, Merlin, Ban, and Bors go to the kingdom of Carmelide, ruled by Leodegan, and defend it against the Saxon king Rions (Geoffrey’s Ritho). Arthur falls in love with Leodegan’s daughter, Guinevere, and marries her. As a wedding present, Leodegan gives Arthur the Round Table that had belonged to Uther.
   Arthur and his young allies enjoy victory while the rebels are continually defeated. Finally, the rebel kings agree to submit to Arthur, the forces unite, and the Saxons are crushed at the battle of Clarence. Arthur goes to Gaul and defeats King Claudas, who has allied with Romans and with Duke Frollo of Germany. Returning to Britain, Arthur kills Rions in Carmelide. He has pacified Britain.
   Rome demands Arthur’s submission. Arthur raises an army and goes to Gaul. He stops to kill the giant of Mont St. Michel. Arthur defeats the Roman Emperor Lucius at the battle of Soissons and kills him. Arthur also kills a devil cat at Lake Lausanne, then returns to Britain. Merlin is imprisoned by the Lady of the Lake and disappears from the story.
   Arthur’s court becomes the most renowned in the world, and it attracks the greatest knights from every kingdom. Lancelot eventually arrives and becomes one of Arthur’s most famous and valuable warriors, but he falls in love with Guinevere. Arthur is attacked by an imperialistic lord named Galehaut, but Lancelot brings an end to the hostilities. The adventures of Lancelot, Gawain, Hector, Balin, Agravain, Sagremor, Gaheris, Gareth, Lionel, Galescalain, Erec, Pelleas, Dodinel, Tristan, Aglovale, Perceval, Tor, Bors, and Yvain are related in detail. Arthur has his own adventures involving Pellinore, Accolon, and the Lady of the Lake. Arthur’s half-sister, Morgan le Fay, hates him and tries to kill him. The Saxons invade again, briefly, but are defeated at Saxon Rock. During the invasion, Arthur sleeps with the Saxon sorceress Gamile on the same night that Guinevere is first unfaithful with Lancelot.
   Soon afterwards, Guinevere’s half-sister, called the False Guinevere, proclaims that she is the true queen and that Guinevere is an impostor. The False Guinevere seduces Arthur, and he exiles the real Guinevere, who goes to live with Lancelot. Eventually, Arthur discovers his mistake; the False Guinevere dies; and the true Guinevere is welcomed back to court. She is later abducted by Meleagant but is rescued by Lancelot.
   In Gaul, Claudas has rebuilt his forces. Arthur goes to war with him, defeats him, and Claudas flees Gaul for good.
   Galahad, Lancelot’s son, arrives at Camelot. The Grail appears to the Knights of the Round Table, and all swear to seek it. Arthur laments because he knows he will lose his best knights in the quest. The quest is eventually completed by Galahad, Perceval, and Bors. Only Bors returns to court. Many knights have been slain. Gawain has murdered over a dozen of them.
   Arthur holds a tournament at Winchester to restore the chivalric code, but it is clear that the soul of the court has been lost in the Grail Quest. Knights fight and murder each other; jealousy abounds; Arthur begins to suspect the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere; the queen is accused of murder.
   Agravain and Mordred expose the affair by catching the lovers in flagrante while Arthur is hunting. Lancelot kills his attackers and flees, and Arthur sentences Guinevere to be burned at the stake. Many Knights of the Round Table join Lancelot’s side. Lancelot shows up and rescues Guinevere, slaying more of Arthur’s knights, including Gawain’s brothers. Arthur, egged on by an infuriated Gawain, pursues Lancelot to his castle at Joyous Guard and fights him there. The pope intervenes and forces Arthur to restore Guinevere as queen. Arthur exiles Lancelot, and Lancelot goes to his homeland of Benoic.
   Gawain urges Arthur to war. Leaving Mordred in charge of Britain and the queen, Arthur sails to Benoic with his army and attacks Lancelot. Lancelot tries to make peace; Arthur is tempted, but a vengeful Gawain rejects the proposal and forces Arthur to do the same. Gawain and Lancelot fight single combat, and Gawain is mortally wounded.
   Romans invade Gaul. Arthur meets them and slays the emperor, but Kay is killed. News arrives that Mordred has faked Arthur’s death, has siezed the throne, and has tried to force Guinevere into marriage. Arthur arrives at Dover and fights Mordred’s forces. Gawain dies. Guinevere flees to a nunnery at Amesbury. The fighting reaches Salisbury Plain. The armies are obliterated. Arthur kills Mordred but receives a mortal wound. The only knights remaining are Lucan and Girflet. They bring Arthur to the Ancient Chapel, and Lucan soon dies. Arthur orders Girflet to throw Exclaibur into a lake and, after some hesitation, Girflet complies. Morgan le Fay arrives to bear Arthur away for healing. A body is later buried in the Ancient Chapel, but it is unclear whether it is Arthur’s.
   Lancelot contends with Mordred’s sons and kills them, then retires to a monastery. Arthur’s remaining knights do the same. In the Post-Vulgate version, King Mark of Cornwall invades Logres and destroys Camelot and the Round Table.
This version of Arthur’s life and death became canonical, and it forms the conext of most of the subsequent romances, such as the Prose Tristan, the Italian Tavola Ritonda, the English Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur, Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, and, with a few exceptions, most modern texts.

Dates of Reign

No two sources seem to agree as to the date of Arthur’s reign. The following facts are noted:
  • Gildas places the battle of Badon at around 500. He does not name the British leader, but if it was Arthur, than Arthur flourished at this time. It is uncertain whether, in history, the battle of Badon marked the beginning or end of Arthur’s career.
  • Nennius places the arrival of the Saxons in King Vortigern’s Britain in 428. Arthur’s activities seem to lie between 440 and 460.
  • The Annales Cambriae put Arthur’s victory at Badon at 516 and his death at Camlann at 537. These dates seem late.
  • The Legenda Sancti Goeznovii places Arthur’s activities in the 460s or 470s.
  • Henry of Huntingdon puts Arthur’s twelve battles against the Saxons between 527 and 530. Again, this seems late.
  • The Chronicle of Saint Michael’s Mount, a Breton document likely written in the twelfth century, says that Arthur was king in 421. This date is probably too early.
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth has Arthur ruling in Britain while Emperor Leo I reigns in Constantinople. Leo held the throne between 457 and 474. However, Geoffrey gives the date of Arthur’s death as 542. Modern scholars believe that Geoffrey made a calculation error and meant to put Arthur’s death at 470. Other chronicles were to continue to report Arthur’s death at 542, however.
  • The Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal places the beginning of the Grail Quest at about 475, and Malory ups this by four years.
  • The English Short Metrical Chronicle puts Arthur’s reign during the time of Pope Eleutherius in Rome (c. 175). This of course is far too early. Later, however, the Chronicle dates Arthur’s coronation at 560, which is almost certainly too late.
  • The Italian La Tavola Ritonda says that Arthur died in 399, but previously said that the Grail Quest began in about the same year.
  • The English ballad “The Legend of King Arthur” places Arthur’s reign between 490 and 512.
  • Riothamus, who may be Arthur under a different name, reportedly went to Gaul in 468 and was defeated by the Visigoths in 469 or 470.

An analysis of Arthurian texts shows at least eight different descriptions of Arthur’s basic character:
  • British National Hero
    In the the earliest historic traditions, Arthur is presented as a British hero who fought off the Saxon invasions, postponing their conquest of Britain by several decades. In 1125, historian William Malmesbury disparaged the “trifles” told of Arthur by the Bretons, saying that Arthur is “a man who is surely worthy of being described in true histories rather than dreamed about in fallacious myths—for he truly sustained his sinking homeland for a long time and aroused the drooping spirits of his fellow citizens to battle.” The historian John Morris, who has no doubt as to Arthur’s reality, says, “His triumph was the last victory of western Rome; his short lived empire created the future nations of the English and the Welsh; and it was during his reign and under his authority that the Scots first came to Scotland. His victory and his defeat turned Roman Britain into Great Britain. His name overshadows his age.” (Morris, xiii).
  • World Conqueror
    As an extension of the national hero character, Geoffrey of Monmouth and other chroniclers portrayed Arthur as a great conqueror who brought Britain, the surrounding Islands, Scandinavia, Gaul, and Rome under his control. Sometimes his empire extends farther, to Africa and the far east. Arthur joins the ranks of such legendary warlords as Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. In creating this portrayl, Geoffrey gave the British a past “golden age” upon which they might look with pride and for inspiration.
  • Mythological Emperor
    This portrayal is found in Welsh lore. Arthur presides over a kingdom of Celtic fantasy, full of beast-men, witches, one-eyed giants, dwarves, devils, fairies, and magicians. He sails to the otherworld and leads his army into the highlands of hell. He rules the known world, from Europe to Africa. Arthur and his warriors are giants among men. They can run lightly across the tops of reeds and can hit a fly with an arrow from the other side of the realm. They create fire with their bodies and carry knives as big as bridges and crush mountains under their feet. They are like the gods of classical mythology.
  • Passive Patriarch
    In the continental romances, Arthur himself yields importance to his famous knights, whose individual adventures occupy the narratives. Arthur seems impotent, confused, and self-absorbed, sitting in the background. Nevertheless, he commands complete respect from his knights, and his court is considered the very center of civilization.
  • Human High King.
    In the French prose cycles and some of their adaptations, including Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, Arthur becomes a far more human character than in previous texts. He is a fearsome warrior and a respected potentate, but his human failings are all too apparent. He tries to drown his infant son. He is unfaithful to his wife at least twice, with the Saxon sorcereress Gamille and the mother of Arthur the Less. The latter, he rapes. He fails to keep his promise to Kings Ban and Bors and, consequently, they are conquered by Claudas. When he discovers the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere, he handles it poorly and eventually allows himself to be egged into war by his nephew Gawain. These failings are carefully balanced by deeds of nobility and kidness and, in the end, we are forced to conclude that he is a human character placed in a super-human situation. The tragedy of his life, beginning with his incest, is beyond his ability to control; he is almost helpless as his kingdom crumbles around him. Our sympathy for him is increased if our awe is somewhat diminished.
  • Daring Young Warrior
    In most texts, when Arthur is not fighting wars against Saxons or Romans, he is concerning himself with the duties of holding court. A small number of texts, however, show Arthur donning sword and armor and seeking adventure just as Lancelot or Gawain might do. His knights are amazed and pleased that their mighty king can also be a knight-errant. In the Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation, he personally jousts with King Pellinore to avenge a wound Pellinore gave to Girflet; he has further adventures with Merlin. Le Chevalier du Papegau describes the adventures of the young king, who goes under the alias the Knight of the Parrot, with fearsome beasts and beautiful ladies. Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is largely concerned with the adventures of the dashing young Prince Arthur, a Christ figure, in the realm of Faerie.
  • God-Appointed Sovereign
    An Arthur of infalliable character, given his throne by the approval of God. Robert de Boron and the author of the Vulgate Merlin show signs of leaning towards this portrayal with the Sword in the Stone test, but this characterization is nowhere more obvious than in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Arthur is not the son of Uther; he emerges from the waves and washes to shore at Merlin’s feet, who makes him Uther’s heir. None of his knights can match him in virtue. Guinevere’s infidelity is partially inspired by the fact that Arthur is “high, self-contain’d, and passionless”; that she could not endure “that pure severity of perfect light.”
  • Petty, Lecherous Tyrant
    A portrayal found in a minor but significant number of texts. The Welsh saint’s lives generally characterize Arthur in an unflattering light. Always the ruler of some small territory, Arthur invariably does something to offend a visiting saint, such as stealing the saint’s robe or altar. The saint then, through his superior spirituality, teaches Arthur a much-needed lesson. In these tales, Arthur represents the secular forces at work against God’s spiritual mandates. Why the biographers chose Arthur instead of less famous, less-admired figures is unknown, but there may be at work some resentment towards a secular figure eclipsing in fame the legendary St. Patrick or St. Germanus.
       The other group of literature to portray Arthur as a tyrant are the Scottish chronicles, which have their own agenda. In Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historiae (1527), Arthur is a cruel king who never extends his borders beyond the boundaries of Britain. He throws drunken orgies at Christmastime. He names Mordred as his successor but later breaks his promise, causing Mordred’s righteous revolt. Mordred, of course, is from Lothian: a Scot. John of Fordun’s previous Chronica Gentis Scotorum (c. 1385) is nicer to Arthur but agrees that Mordred, as a Scot, had a better claim to Britain than Arthur.

In Nennius’s description of the battle of the Castle Guinnion, Arthur is said to have “carried an image of St. Mary, the Perpetual Virgin on his shoulders.” The Annales Cambriae similarly describe the “Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders.” Both of these passages, particularly the second, invoke an interesting and somewhat absurd image. It is likely, however, that the sources of both authors intended for Arthur to bear the insignia on his shield, with the Welsh word for “shield” (yscuit) mistranslated as “shoulder” (yscuid). Geoffrey of Monmouth, consequently, transfers the image of the Virgin Mary back to his shield. In Medieval times, the church of St. Mary of Wedale in Selkirkshire claimed to have a fragment of this emblem; however, it is unlikely that either of these allusions are authentic, since emblems or devices on shields are unknown this early in history (Barber, Figure, 101). [Nennius, Annales, GeoffHR]


Given the prolific belief that Arthur would eventually return from the island or valley of Avalon, his grave is rarely mentioned. We first find a reference to it in the early Welsh poem known as The Stanzas of the Graves, which discusses the grave sites of famous heroes. The pertinent line reads “anoeth bit bet y Arthur.” This line has been translated as “Arthur’s grave is hard to find,” “a grave for Arthur would be ridiculous,” and “the wondrous grave of Arthur.” Anoeth is the difficult word; it is an intensifier compared to the English “incredible.” It could mean that the location of the grave is mysterious, or that the grave itself has mysterious properties. Thus, it is unclear what, exactly, the line is indicating, but it does seems to anticipate later legend in suggesting a enigma surrounding the final resting place of the legendary king. William of Malmesbury, in 1125, wrote that the location of Arthur’s grave was unknown and that the Britons expected his eventual return, and this sentiment is echoed throughout the Middle Ages, even after the discovery of his “grave” at Glastonbury (below).
   A much clearer description of Arthur’s grave was reported by Giraldus Cambrensis in De Instructione Principum. About 1190, the monks at Glastonbury Abbey, supposedly directed by Henry II, who had heard tales from bards, located Arthur’s grave in the abbey churchyard and exhumed it. The grave, six feet underground in a hollowed oak tree between two stone pyramids, was unmarked on the surface. The Britons had apparently buried Arthur this way so that the Saxons would not defile the sepulcher. A cross, face down atop the wooden coffin, according to Giraldus read: “Here lies buried the famous King Arthur with Wenneveria his second wife on the Island of Avalon.” Hence, the identification of Glastonbury with Avalon. Within the oak, two skeletons were found. Arthur’s was notable for its enormous bones and a wound in the skull, presumably delivered by Mordred at the final battle. A tuft of golden hair was found on Guinevere’s skull, but it crumbled to dust when a monk touched it. The monks moved the bodies to a marble tomb to prevent any violation. Contemporaries of Giraldus also reported the finding; all reports differ in details—some significant, such as the exact writing on the cross—but Giraldus’s is the most detailed
      Some modern scholars have accused the Glastonbury monks of the twelfth century of deliberate fraud, orchestrated to enhance the reputation of the church and to bring in much needed funds following a disastrous fire. Such a scheme is not unlikely, but is impossible to prove. The cross itself, whether authentic or a forgery, seems to have existed, but it has been lost. We have a drawing of the artifact in a 1607 book by William Camden, and some scholars have suggested that the words—“Here lies buried the famous King Arthur on the Island of Avalon”—contains antiquated forms and spellings that would have been unknown to a twelfth-century forger.
   (The Alliterative Morte Arthure, perhaps influenced by the report of the cross, said that Arthur’s gravestone read Hic jacet Arthurus, rex quondam, rexque futurus—“Here lies Arthur, king that was, king that shall be.” Malory reports the same.)
   In any event, the report seemed to have little effect on the medieval romances, which continued to describe Arthur’s journey to Avalon after the final battle. In the Vera Historia de Morte Arthuri, his body is said to disappear from the funeral bier in a mist. Cervantes spoke of the widespread folklore belief that Arthur had been changed into a crow and would some day find his true form again. The great “Briton hope” of Arthur’s return thus remained alive. Malory is an exception, and even he hedges, merging both versions of Arthur’s end and leaving room for doubt as to whether the body delivered to Glastonbury was truly Arthur’s. [WelshSG, Giraldus, Vera, Allit, Malory, Camden]


Arthur’s relatives are listed below. More information can be found under their respective entries.
Parents: Usually, Uther Pendragon and Igerne (or Eigyr in Welsh). In Wolfram’s Parzival, his mother is named Arnive.
Wives and Lovers: Angellica, Dollalolla, Emmeline, Gamile, Gilaneier, Grey-Hammed Lady, Guinevere, Gwenhwyfar, Inogen, Lady of the Blonde Hair, Lisanor
Sons: Adeluf III, Amr, Aristes, Art Aoinfhear, Arthur the Less, Borre (Bohort), Garnot, Gwydre, Ilinot, Llacheu, Loholt, Mordred, Morgan the Black, Patrick the Red, Tom a’ Lincoln
Daughters: Gyneth and Huncamunca
Sisters: Acheflour, Albagia, Anna, Anthonje, Belisent, Blasine, Brimesent, Clarine, Elaine, Felice, Morgan le Fay, Morgause, Olimpia, Orchades, Sangive, and Seife
Brothers: Cador, Gormant, and Madawg
Uncles: Ambrosius, Ardan, Constans, David, Gweir, Gweir False Valor, Gweir Servant of Birds, Gweir White Shaft, Gwrfoddw the Old, Llygadrudd Emys, Maine, Pendragon, Yttra
Aunts: Enfeidas, Goleuddydd
Nephews: Agravain, Beacurs, Borel, Constantine, Gaheris, Galescalain, Gareth, Gawain, Gwidon, Hoel, Lancelot, Meleranz, Mordred, Perceval, Tristan, Yvain
Nieces: Clarissant, Cundrie, Elaine, Elyabel, Itonje, Lore, Soredamor
Grandchildren: Black Knight, Fairy Knight, Melehan
Cousins: Bagdemagus, Borel, Constantine, Culhwch, Helis, Hoel, Illtud, Ither of Gaheviez, Lady of Cabrion, Laris, Leonce, Lidoine, Mark, Mordred, Richard

Arthur2 of Brittany

Hero of a fourteenth-century French romance called Artus de la Petite Bretagne and John Bourchier’s sixteenth-century English translation, Arthur of Little Britain. Arthur of Brittany was a descendant of Lancelot named after Arthur. Other than Arthur of Brittany’s connection to these two figures, the tale is non-Arthurian. Arthur became the greatest knight in the world and married a princess.

Arthur3 of Dalriada

Son of King Aedan, who ruled Dalriada (a Scottish kingdom settled by the Irish c. 500) in the final quarter of the sixth century. His existence is attested in the Life of St. Columbia (c. 700) and other Irish texts. He had several brothers, including Echoid Find and Domingart. Aedan apparently fought a battle against the Picts at Miatha, in which Arthur was killed. Aedan was known as a prolific campaigner, and it is likely that Arthur participated in a number of battles before his death. Some scholars, includng Richard Barber (The Figure of Arthur), argue for Arthur of Dalriada as the original prototype of King Arthur. According to this theory, Arthur of Dalriada was the “Arthur” to which Y Gododdin (a poem written in the north for northern audiences, contemporary to the life of Arthur of Dalriada) refers; his fame grew in oral legend until he was eventually attached to battles fought before his time, by other warleaders. A less controversial theory holds that some of Arthur of Dalriada’s exploits were later conflated with his more famous predecessor’s (after whom, presumably, Arthur of Dalriada was named).

Arthur4 of Dyfed

A prince recorded in the genealogies of Dyfed. He was the son of Reitheoir, grandson of Vortipore, and the father of Naiee. He would have lived in the late sixth or early seventh century (Barber, Figure, 34–38).

Arthur5 the Less

The son of Arthur by the daughter of Tanas, a lovely maiden that Arthur forced himself upon when he encountered her in the forest of Bretheam. Tanas later killed his daughter over an unrelated matter, and abandoned Arthur the Less, still a baby, in the forest. A widow found him and took him in, raising him to the age of fifteen. He was knighted by Tristan, and he soon proved his prowess by defeating both Perceval and Gawain in combat. He called himself “the Unknown Knight” until his true lineage was revealed to him at Arthur’s court.
   Arthur concealed the fact that Arthur the Less was his son, as he did not want others to know of the rape. Arthur the Less kept the secret, but remained fiercely loyal to his father. He accompanied Galahad during the Grail Quest, and was present at Corbenic, the Grail Castle, to witness Galahad’s success. He also helped to repel King Mark’s invasion of Camelot. He was slain by Bleoberis, whom he attacked for supporting Lancelot in the war against Arthur. [PostQuest, ProsTris, PostMort, ProsTris]

Arthur’s Battles

The Arthur found in Nennius is not a king, but is called dux bellorum, meaning “duke of war,” or “war-leader.” After the reign of Vortigern, Nennius says, “the Saxons were thriving and increasing in multitudes in Britain.” Their leader was Octa (though it is not clear if Octa still holds his position during the wars with Arthur). Arthur appears out of nowhere, leads the British kings in combat, and enjoys twelve victories against the Saxons and nine different locations: the River Glein, the River Dubglas (four battles here), the River Bassas, the Forest of Celidon>, the Castle Guinnion, the City of the Legion, the River Tribruit<, Mount Agned (or Breguion), and Badon Hill.
   Celidon is the Caledonian Forest in Scotland (Arthur may have been fighting Pictish allies of the Saxons rather than the Saxons themselves), and the City of the Legion is probably Chester. None of the other locations can be identified with any certainty, though many different possibilites have been suggested for each one. Proponents of Arthur as a northern hero locate all of them at northern localities, while other theorists manage to place them in Wales, or Cornwall. The best possibilities for each battle site—Badon at Bath or Badbury Rings, Glein at Glen in Lincolnshire, Agned at Edinburgh, and so on—are all over the British map, leading some scholars to conclude that the battles were fought by different warriors and were later attributed to Arthur as his fame grew. (Others have used this distances as evidence that Artur had revived the cavalry in Britain.) This theory is feasible, but it should be noted that Nennius does not supply a time frame for the twelve battles. We could easily assume that these battles represent a ten or twenty-year career for Arthur, in which case the distances seem less daunting. Another theory holds that the British forces at each battle called themselves “Arthur’s Men,” confusing later authors into believing that Arthur himself was present. [Nennius]

Arthur’s Bed

The name given to a group of hills in Cornwall, signifying a local legend about Arthur. [Topography]

Arthur’s Cave

Describes at least two caves in which Arthur is said to rest. The first is on the edge of the Forest of Dean in Wales. The other, in Anglesey, is said to contain a fabulous treasure guarded by spectral creatures. [Topography]

Arthur’s Chair

Refers to four locations in Britain: a rock formation at Tintagel, the saddle between the two highest peaks at Brecon Beacons in Wales, an extinct volcano east of Edinburgh, and a sandstone formation near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. The legends associated with these features, if any existed, have been lost. [Topography]

Arthur’s Cups and Saucers

Natural rock basins on the side of the headland of Tintagel, on the coast of Cornwall. [Topography]

Arthur’s Men

A hypothetical force of British soldiers who may have continued to go by Arthur’s name even after the death of the historical Arthur. Geoffrey Ashe (Handbook, 370) thought that the appearance of “Arthur’s men” at several historical battles may have confused later authors into believing that Arthur himself was present. These battles include Llongborth, which appears in a Welsh poem with Geraint as the hero, and any of the twelve battles listed by Nennius (see Arthur’s Battles).

Arthur’s Oven

Priests from Laon were supposedly shown a rock formation called “Arthur’s Oven” in 1113 in Dumnonia. There is no modern locality with this name, though “King’s Oven” on Dartmoor is a possibility. [Topography]

Arthur’s Stone

Describes several landmarks in Britain. One is on the peninsula of Gower in Wales. Legend has it that Arthur took it from his boot during the battle of Camlann. The “stone” is a boulder, and the legend thus implies that Arthur was a giant. Another “Arthur’s Stone” lies in Herefordshire and is reportedly the same stone from which Arthur drew Excalibur. [Topography]


Alternate form of Arfderydd, the battle where Myrddin supposedly went insane. Despite the name, it is unrelated to Arthur.

Artis the Pale [Hartus]

A Knight of the Round Table who participated in the Grail Quest. [ProsTris]


A Roman gens which seems to have supplied the name Arthur. Evidence of the gens is found in the first-century writings of the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus and the Roman poet Juvenal (Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis). The name was known in Roman Britain as early as the second century: a officer named Lucius Artorius Castus led a military excursion into Brittany around 150 a.d.


A river in south West Sussex, along which lies the castle of Arundel. The river was the site of a battle between Arthur’s forces and the Saxons in the early days of Arthur’s reign. [VulgMer]

Arundel [Arondel, Arundels]

The duchy ruled by Tristan’s father-in-law Jovelin (Havelin), father of Isolde of the White Hands in Gottfried’s Tristan. Its capital was Karke. Other writers make Isolde’s homeland Brittany, but Gottfried apparently changed it to Arundel since he had already given Morgan as the Duke of Brittany. Nevertheless, he erroneously places Arundel next to Brittany and Parmenie, across the English Channel from Britain. The actual Arundel lies along the Arun River in southern West Sussex, England.
   The Vulgate Merlin, which seems to place Arundel in Wales, says that it was the site of a crucial battle between the kings in rebellion against Arthur—led by King Tradelmant of North Wales—and the Saxons. The Saxons were routed and fled to Saxon Rock. A second battle at Arundel involving King Yder, Yvain, and Gawain against the Saxons resulted in a defeat. Merlin, however, warned Gawain to withdraw his forces from the field in time, and Gawain managed to save the castle and fortify it with a garrison. The story of Arthour and Merlin, which equates Arundel with Cambenic, places it in Cornwall and gives its ruler as Duke Escant. In Durmart le Gallois, it is ruled by Count Briains. [Gottfried, VulgMer, Durmart, Arthour]


One of Britain’s kings in Geoffrey’s account. He is a historical figure who, according to the Roman historian Juvenal, opposed the Roman rule of Britain. According to Geoffrey, Arviragus was the son of King Cymbeline and the brother of Guiderius. Guiderius became king of Britain after Cymbeline’s death. He broke faith with Rome and went to war with Emperor Claudius. When Guiderius was slain in the war, Arviragus ascended the throne, made peace with the empire, and married Claudius’s daughter, Genuissa. Arviragus broke with Rome again a few years later, but he was quelled by the Roman General Vespasian. Eventually, he quieted down and became a benevolent, just king. When he died, his son Marius succeeded him. Legend not found in Geoffrey holds that Arviragus gave the city of Glastonbury to Joseph of Arimathea and his followers, allowing Joseph to found an abbey there. [GeoffHR, HereJoA, TennIK]


A mountainous region in Wales. While hunting in the area, Merlin and some other warriors encountered a fountain of pure water with apples lying around it. Merlin collected the apples but, finding that there were not enough to go around, generously distributed them to the other warriors and took none for himself. When the other warriors ate the apples, they promptly went insane. Merlin later discovered that a jealous woman—who had desired him but who he had rejected—had deliberately poisoned the apples to take revenge on Merlin. Merlin was later able to heal Maeldinus, one of the unfortunate warriors. [GeoffVM]

Asalim the Poor [Anselian]

A Knight of the Round Table who was slain during the Grail Quest. His brothers, Delimaz the Poor and Caligante the Poor, were also Round Table knights. [PostQuest]

Ascalun [Ascalon]

A land ruled by Kingrisin and then his son Vergulaht in Wolfram’s Parzival. Its capital was Schanpfanzun. Gawain was summoned to the country by Kingrimursel, the landgrave, to answer a murder charge, and became involved in a scuffle with Vergulaht in a misunderstanding involving Kingrisin’s sister. In Chrétien’s Perceval, the land is called Escavalon. [Wolfram, Wirnt, PleierT]


One of Arthur’s dukes in the Norse Erex Saga. He was present at the wedding of Erec and Enide. [Erex]

Ascamore [Achinour, Ascamour(e), Ascomore, Askanere, Askanore, Escamour, Escanor]

A Knight of the Round Table. He fought in the Roman War and was wounded by the King of Libya. He joined Agravain and Mordred’s plot to expose the affair of Lancelot and Guinevere by trapping the two lovers in the queen’s chamber. Lancelot killed Ascamore in the ensuing battle. [Allit, Parlement, Malory]

Ascanior the Fierce

An evil giant killed by Guiron the Courteous. Guiron also killed Ascanior’s son, Trudet. [Palamedes]


A knight present at the Sorgarda tournament in Diu Crône. [Heinrich]

Aschil [Acil, Aescil, Archyl, Aschis, Askil, Echil]

The King of Denmark who, in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia, voluntarily subjugated himself to Arthur to avoid being conquered. He fought for Arthur in the invasion of France and in the war against the Roman emperor Lucius, leading a battalion at the battle of Soissons. He was killed fighting Mordred’s army at the battle of Camlann. Geoffrey Gaimar, who adapted Geoffrey of Monmouth’s chronicle, makes Aschil’s brother, Odulf, the king of Denmark under Arthur. Aschil’s other brother, Gunter, had previously been king, but Arthur killed him. [GeoffHR, Gaimar, Wace, HughesT]

Asclepiodotus [Asclepidiot]

A Briton war leader from the third century who became the choice of the Britons to overthrow the tyrant Roman king Allectus. Asclepiodotus succeeded and became king himself. He ruled fairly and justly for ten years before being conquered by Coel of Kaercolun. Historically, Asclepiodotus was an administrator under a war general named Constantine Chlorus, who, history believes, really re-conquered Britain from Allectus. [GeoffHR, Wace]

Asgares the Sad

A Knight of the Round Table from Cardueil. He was badly wounded in a battle against Tristan, who was overcome with grief when he learned that Asgares was a Round Table knight. Sir Dodinel bore Asgares to a friend’s house for healing. [PostQuest]


The name of Yvain’s father in the Middle English Sir Perceval of Galles. He is usually called Urien. [SirPerc]

Aspetta Ventura (“Expected Fortune”)

In La Tavola Ritonda, a castle visited by Galahad, Perceval, Bors, and Perceval’s sister Agresizia during the Grail Quest. It’s lady, Verdoana, suffered from a leprosy which could only be cured by the blood of a virgin. All passing ladies were therefore asked to provide a sample of their blood. The three knights fought to protect Agresizia, but she eventually consented and perished during the bleeding. Verdoana, however, was cured. This episode appears in the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal and its other adaptations, but the castle is unnamed. [Tavola]


The noble duke of Tymant in Genewis. He took tentative command of the nation after Lancelot’s father, Pant, was deposed and slain. He also cared for Pant’s widow, Clarine. When Lancelot returned many years later, Aspyol gladly returned the land to its rightful heir. [UlrichZ]


Brother of Senahar, a knight imprisoned by Erec and Galahad. Seeking revenge, Assanon laid an ambush for Galahad, but he planned it badly, and Galahad killed him. [ProsTris]


A knight whose sister was raped by King Mark of Cornwall. With his brother Helyas, Assar fled Mark’s kingdom for the Island of Two Brothers. The brothers later broke when Helyas abducted Assar’s wife. During the war, Assar found Tristan stranded on the Rock of Hermits and rescued him. In gratitude, Tristan agreed to help Assar against Helyas. Tristan killed Helyas in single combat. [ProsTris]


A British city once inhabited or visited by Arthur’s chief gatekeeper Glewlwyd. [Culhwch]


A king who ruled the Perilous Forest a century or so before Arthur’s time. His son, Anasteu, loved a peasant woman, which sparked Assen’s ire. Anasteu fled his father’s wrath and carved a home for himself and his lady in a rock. This cavern was later the final resting place of Merlin, when he was imprisoned there by the Ninianne. [PostMer]


A fierce king. Gawain visited his court seeking the king’s maiden daughter, Ysabele, whom Gawain needed as part of an elaborate series of quests designed to obtain the magical Floating Chessboard from King Wonder. Assentin imprisoned Gawain and told his daughter to care for the knight. Later finding the two in flagrante, Assentin threw them both in his dungeon, from which they were rescued by the ghost of a knight Gawain had slain. [Penninc]


A terrible giant slain by Gawain. He inhabited a desert island and had the strength to move mountains. Assiles and his foster son, Galaas, plagued King Flois of Effin, who enlisted Gawain’s services as champion. Gawain’s victory against the monster saved the castle of Eigrun. [Heinrich]

Assurne [Ausurne]

A salt-water strait separating Arthur’s Britain from Galehaut’s land of Sorelois in the Prose Lancelot. It could only be crossed by two bridges: the North Wales Bridge and the Irish Bridge, both of which were long, dangerous, and partially submerged. In the midst of the waterway was the Lost Island, where Galehaut had a residence. According to the Livre d’Artus, the Assurne separated Britain from Gorre, which has similarities with Sorelois. R. S. Loomis (Tradition, 452) thought that it was the river Severn. [LancLac, VulgLanc, Livre]


In Konrad von Staffelin’s Gauriel, the Count of Asterian’s daughter is kidnapped but rescued by Gauriel, Erec, and Pliamin. [Konrad]


The Duke of Lanverunz in the time of Arthur. He was an ally of both King Meljanz (Meliant) of Liz and King Poydiconjunz (Bagdemagus) of Gors. With these two, he attacked the town of Bearosche but was held off by the opposition of Gawain. [Wolfram]

Astor2 of Panfatis

An infidel count who served Feirefiz, Perceval’s half-brother. [Wolfram]


A giant fated to be killed by Tristan. He attacked the Dolorous Guard and, as a condition of the castle’s surrender, required an annual tribute of a dozen children. [Palamedes]


A city in Lombardy where Sir Launfal met Sir Valentyne in joust. [Launfal]


The lord of the Giant’s Tower, also called the Knight of the Tower or the Knight of the Spring, after the Spring of Healing which ran near his fortress. He guarded the Spring and fought any knight who came his way. Although he was often less powerful than his opponent, he won the combats because he know the secret of the Spring of Healing. In this manner, he defeated and imprisoned Gawain, Gaheris, Bleoberis, and Sagremor. He was finally defeated by Palamedes during the Grail Quest, and he was forced to free his prisoners, although Palamedes allowed him to continue guarding the Spring. [PostQuest]


A Knight of the Round Table who embarked with the others on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


A castle near the city of Taneburgh. Hector and Lionel, two of Arthur’s knights, lodged at the castle before attending a tournament at Taneburgh. [VulgMort]


According to Chrétien de Troyes, this Greek city served as the capital of the empire of Greece and Constantinople. [ChretienC]


Servant of the brash knight Pyrochles. [Spenser]


Echoes of the tale of Atlantis—a Utopian Atlantic island which, according to Greek mythology, sank beneath the ocean after an earthquake—can be found in the legend of Lyonesse, the land of Tristan, which supposedly sank beneath the sea between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Only in modern times have occultists and novelists attempted to connect the legend of Atlantis directly to the Arthurian saga.


Son of Naf, brother of Gwenwynwyn, and one of Arthur’s warriors. [Culhwch]


A king who enlisted the help of Sir Wigamur, an Arthurian knight, in a combat against King Paldriot of Lendrie. Before the battle, Wigamur discovered that Paldriot was his own father. Wigamur married Atroclas’s daughter, Dulceflur. [Wigamur]

Atrwm the Tall

One of Arthur’s warriors in Welsh legend. He had an enormous appetite, and could eat all the food from three cantrevs (counties). His companion was Erwm the Tall, who had a similar hunger. [Culhwch]


The name of Arthur’s horse in Chrétien’s Erec. [ChretienE]


A river in Burgundy where Arthur camped on his way to the Roman War. His forces met with those of King Ban of Benoic and King Bors of Gannes. Arthur later built a castle along the river. [VulgMer]

Audolus [Andalas]

A knight of great renown who served Arthur. He led an echelon of soldiers in the second battle of Carhaix, in which Arthur and King Leodegan defeated King Rions and the Saxons. [VulgMer, Arthour]

Auferrante (“Iron-Shod”)

One of Tristan’s several horses in La Tavola Ritonda. [Tavola]


A dangerous country to which Gawain was directed by a malicious goddess named Giramphiel. [Heinrich]


One of Arthur’s knights. [Heinrich]


A cousin of Morholt of Ireland who plotted to avenge Morholt’s death by making Tristan fall into a pit full of vermin. Auguste made the mistake of revealing his plan to Tristan, who was lodging with Auguste incognito. [ProsTris]

Augustine, Saint

A Roman monk sent by Pope Gregorio to convert the English to Christianity in AD 596. St. Augustine and his companions entered Britain under the authority of King Aethelbert of Kent and established the church at Canterbury. Though he lived a century after the Arthurian period, the Prose Tristan says that he converted Lyonesse and Cornwall to Christianity several generations before Arthur’s time, and in Perlesvaus, Arthur experiences a spiritual rebirth at St. Augustine’s chapel in the White Forest. [Perlesvaus, ProsTris]


A British castle named after St. Augustine. Sir Bors accidentally killed the son of Augut’s lord. He was scheduled to be executed, but he was rescued by Erec. [PostMer]


A forest through which Galahad, Perceval, and Bors rode on the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]


A great sorceress who, according to Malory, fell in love with Arthur and imprisoned him in her castle in the Perilous Forest. Arthur remained faithful to Guinevere and refused to indulge Aunowre’s desires. She plotted to murder him, but Nimue learned of his plight and brought Tristan to rescue him. In the ensuing battle, Arthur awoke from his enchantment and beheaded the enchantress. She is called Elergia in La Tavola Ritonda. [Malory]


Father of Lord Caradoc of the Dolorous Tower. An evil giant, Aupatris abducted 12 maidens from the Castle Tarquin annually. Gawain’s brother Gaheris sought to end the custom, and he killed the giant. The people of Tarquin erected a statue to commemorate the victory, but it was destroyed by Mordred’s sons. [PostMer]


Shortened form of Ambrosius Aurelius; also the name of one of Arthur’s warriors in Dryden’s King Arthur. [Dryden]


Daughter of Lord Boncenes. During the Grail Quest, Galahad visited their castle and convinced Aurience to become a nun. [ProsTris]


A knight of Arthur’s court. [Merveil]

Austria [Estriche]

According to the Alliterative Morte Arthure, this country was part of Arthur’s kingdom. [Allit]


A river near the Castle Campadoine, which was ruled by Lord Belchis, an enemy of Arthur’s knights. [Raoul]

Autice [Altice]

The land ruled by King Ares, the father of Arthur’s Sir Tor. [LancLac, VulgLanc]

Autler [Auter, Haulter]

A knight slain by Lancelot. [Sala]


A town along the river Aube in Burgundy where Arthur mustered his forces during the Roman War. [GeoffHR, Wace]

Auvergne [Overgne]

A region in south central France, conquered in Layamon’s Brut by Hoel of Brittany for Arthur. The Prose Lancelot gives King Aramont of Brittany as its overlord. According to Malory, it was one of Lancelot’s lands. Lancelot made Sir Gahalantyne the duke of Auvergne in return for Gahalantyne’s support in the war against Arthur. [Layamon, LancLac, Malory]


King of the Isles. He was one of many rulers conquered by Galehaut. There may be some confusion with the King of Valdoan. [Livre]

Avalon [Afallach, Auelon, Avallon, Avalona, Avaron, Aveloun, Avilion, Vallone]

Arthur’s final resting place, variously described as an island or valley, from which, according to legend, the king will one day return. Most versions of Arthur’s death recount that his sister, Morgan le Fay, carried him to Avalon after he received a mortal wound at the final battle with Mordred.
   Geoffrey of Monmouth first introduces this idea at the end of the Arthurian section of his Historia Regum Britanniae, where he says that “the glorious King Arthur was mortally wounded, and was carried from [the battlefield of Camlann] to the Isle of Avalon [Insula Avallonis], so that his wounds might be healed.” In a previous section, Geoffrey notes that Arthur’s sword, Caliburn, was forged on the isle of Avalon.
   In his Vita Merlini, Geoffrey adds further details. Calling it Insula Pomorum, or “Apple Island,” he says that Merlin and Taliesin brought Arthur to the isle, which was ruled by Morgan and her eight sisters, all adept healers. The island was to the west of Britain. Geoffrey’s Avalon is a lush otherworld paradise that produces grain without cultivation and provides longevity to its residents. His descriptions recall the Fortunate Isles of classical myth and, indeed, Geoffrey gives “Fortunate” as an alternate name for the island. Morgan’s nine sisters recollect the nine maidens of Annwyn who kept a magic cauldron in Preiddeu Annwfn (see also Nine Witches).
      Given the numerous mythological examples of apples as otherworldly or magical fruits, and given that the Celtic word for “apple” is avallo, Geoffrey’s equation of “Avalon” to “Apple Island” is probably correct. We must also note, however, the appearance of a ruler named Affalach in Celtic myth. Named as the father of Modron—the Celtic progenitor of Morgan le Fay—he is said to rule an island with the qualities of Geoffrey’s Avalon. Geoffrey’s Insula Avallonis equals the Welsh Ynys Avallach, which may signify “Apple Island,” or may mean “Avallach’s Island.” Scholars have also pointed out that the Irish sea-god Manannan was said to live on an island called Abhlach (“lush with Apple trees”).
   “Avallon,” however, is also the name of a town in Burgundy. Burgundy, whether coincidentally or not, is near where the British high king called “Riothamus” in continental chronicles ended his career, probably slain in battle against the Visigoths. In their Arthurian Handbook, Geoffrey Ashe and Norris Lacy trace the career of Riothamus and argue, as other scholars have done, for an identification between Riothamus and Arthur. If this identification is correct, it adds an entirely new angle to the idea of Avalon or Avallon as Arthur’s final resting place.
   Successive authors added sporadically to the concept of Geoffrey’s Insula Avallonis. Wace and Layamon both relate the Briton belief that Arthur would return from Avalon to rule again. Layamon gives its fairy queen’s name as Argante rather than Morgan. Chrétien de Troyes names its ruler as Guinguemar, Morgan’s lover, while Heinrich von dem Türlin calls its queen Enfeidas, Arthur’s aunt. In the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, the island, located in the Soriano Sea, is inhabited by a wicked sorceress named Escorducarla. Durmart le Gallois names its ruler as King Bangon. The French tale of Les Merveilles de Rigomer refers to all of the British Isles as the “Isles of Avalon.” Italian legend equates Avalon with the Isle of Sicily.
   Perlesvaus reports that Guinevere and Loholt, Arthur’s son, were buried there prior to Arthur’s own death. (In Perlesvaus, Avalon may be identical to Glastonbury.) Perlesvaus somewhat strips it of its otherworldly associations by having Lancelot simply happen upon it during his adventures. In Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur is borne to a manor there, but a surgeon from Salerno fails to cure him and he dies.
   In 1191, the monks at Glastonbury Abbey in England supposedly unearthed the bones of Arthur and Guinevere, leading them and several authors, including Giraldus Cambrensis, to conclude that Avalon was Glastonbury—an “island” in the sense that it is surrounded by marshes. This idea caught on with writers of the Grail legend who told of the establishment of Glastonbury Abbey by Joseph of Arimathea. Malory remains divided on the question, saying that Morgan and three other queens took Arthur to Avalon, but later relating how they brought his body to be buried at Glastonbury.
      The identification with Glastonbury had the effect of stripping the paradisiacal elements from Avalon, as well as removing the great “Breton hope” of Arthur’s return. Consequently, a number of authors rejected it, favoring Geoffrey’s celestial description. Tennyson describes Avalon as an “island-valley…where falls not hail, or rain, or snow…[d]eep-meadow’d, happy, fair with orchard lawns” where Arthur is to be healed. [GeoffHR, GeoffVM, ChretienE, Triads, Layamon, Giraldus, Gottfried, Perlesvaus, Durmart, Merveil, Tavola, Stanz, Allit, Malory, TennIK]


The Roman name for Bourges, a city in Gaul that serves as the setting for Luigi Alamanni’s Avarchide. The text follows the plot of Homer’s Iliad, but the characters have Arthurian names; hence, Avaricum is the counterpart of Troy. Arthur appears in the role of Agamemnon, Lancelot takes the place of Achilles, and Gawain assumes the character of Menelaus. A number of other Arthurian characters take part: Claudas as Priam, Meleagant as Ulysses, the Lady of the Lake as Thetis, Galehaut as Patrocles, Tristan and Bors as Ajax and Diomede, Claudin as Paris, Lac as Nestor, and Segurant as Hector. Arthur’s forces did, eventually, conquer the city. [AlamAvar]


In the Vulgate Mort Artu, a knight who hated Gawain. He poisoned some fruit, which he expected Guinevere to give to Gawain at dinner; Guinevere, however, offered the fruit to Gaheris of Carahew instead. Gaheris died and Guinevere, completely innocent, was accused of murder. Lancelot eventually acquitted her. Malory renamed the character Pionel. [VulgMort]


A castle in Britain where Gaheris, Gawain’s brother, fought a duel against Baudon, the Red Knight. Gaheris was victorious. [PostMer]


In Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie, Peter, a follower of Joseph of Arimathea, is instructed to journey to the Vale of Avaron to await the coming of Alain’s son, probably Perceval. Avaron almost certainly is meant to be Avalon, which would make this romance the first reference of Avalon as a valley rather than an island. [RobertBorJ]

Avenable (“Lovely”)

The daughter of Duke Mathem of Soane. When her father’s lands were stolen by Duke Frollo of Germany, Avenable fled to Julius Caesar’s Roman court, disguised herself as a man, and called herself Grisandoles. Caesar knighted her and made her his seneschal before Merlin exposed her true gender. On Merlin’s advice, Caesar married her. Her brother, Patrick, married Caesar’s daughter. A similar story is recounted in the romance of Silence. [VulgMer, ProsMer2]

Avenging Lance

The name given in the Vulgate Cycle for the Bleeding Lance, an artifact from the Grail legends. [VulgQuest, VulgMer]


King of Averre, husband of Queen Anfole, and father of Anfole and Laudamie. Upon his death, Laudamie became queen of Averre and married Arthur’s Sir Garel. [PleierG]

Averre [Anferre]

The kingdom ruled by Garel, one of Arthur’s knights. It was awarded to him after he slew the demon Vulganus and married Queen Laudamie. Previously, it had been ruled by King Avenis and Queen Anfole, Laudamie’s parents. Its chief castle was Muntrogin. [Wolfram, PleierG]


An alternate spelling of Avalon.


A county of southwest England, on the Severn estuary. The Saxon leader Cheldric fled through Avon after the battle of Bath. [Layamon]


One of seven brothers, including Albaò and Dormadat, who usurped the throne of Tristan the Stranger, ruler of Jakobsland. Tristan the Stranger sought out his famous namesake, and the two of them returned and slew the seven brothers. [SagaTI]


Brother of Cador of Northumberland. When Cador died, Ayglin tried to seize his niece’s inheritance by marrying her to a commoner. Kay rescued her and besieged Ayglin. The people of Northumberland forced Ayglin to surrender. [Girart]


A variation of Episford, where Vortimer fought the Saxons. [Wace]

Aymere [Eymer(e), Eymur, Gaymere]

In Sir Degrevant, the steward of Earl Sere, Degrevant’s enemy. Aymere learned of a romance between Degrevant and the earl’s daughter. Conspiring to trap the two lovers, he was slain. [SirDeg]


A land and forest in the Middle East or Africa. The Queen of Zazamanc’s suitor, Isenhart, and her prince, Prothizilas, fought each other to their mutual deaths here. Its mightiest prince was named Razalic. It fell under the rule of Perceval’s father Gahmuret and then Gahmuret’s other son, Feirefiz. Feirefiz later bestowed the land upon Perceval. [Wolfram]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a knight named among the lists at Sorgarda, a tournament won by Gawain. [Heinrich]


In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, a knight who appears at Sorgarda, a tournament won by Gawain. [Heinrich]


Steward of the castle Roimunt in Korntin. His mistress, Amena, was the mother-in-law of Wigalois, Gawain’s son. [Wirnt]

Copyright Christopher Bruce. All Rights Reserved. Provided here by his kind permission. Layout of book modified to fit the Celtic Twilight format.