Arthurian Name Dictionary

Ubbi of Buderisborg

Father of Favida, a woman who was saved from two giants by Erec. Ubbi was an earl. [Erex]

Ucer

A Saxon king who, under King Aminaduc, fought Arthur’s forces at the battle of Vambieres. [Livre]

Uchdryd1 Cross Beard

One of Arthur’s warriors. His beard was so long that he could drape it over fifty rafters in Arthur’s hall. [Culhwch]

Uchdryd2 Host Protector

One of Arthur’s warriors. He was a son of Erim and one of five brothers. [Culhwch]

Uchei

A son of Gwyron. Uchei is mentioned in the Welsh Triads as a warrior “who could not be expelled from Arthur’s court.” [Triads]

Ugly Appearance [Laide Semblance]

An adventure established by Judas Maccabeus. It is found in the Livre d’Artus. The “Ugly Appearance” was the image of a fierce creature whose gaze could turn a man to stone. Arthur’s knight Greu delivered the realm of the Wise Lady from its terror, and Merlin dumped it into the gulf of Satellie. In Der Pleier’s German romances, its counterpart is the head belonging to the demon Vulganus. [Livre]

Ugly Hero [*Lais Hardis, Lais of Lardis]

A Knight of the Round Table first mentioned in the catalogues of Chrétien de Troyes, next to the Handsome Coward. The Vulgate Cycle provides his biography: a black knight from the castle of Amalvi, the Ugly Hero was properly named Acanor. Although the Ugly Hero and his father were both Christians, Acanor’s dark skin lent him the common nickname. He participated in Arthur’s wars against King Rions and King Claudas, and in several quests to find a missing Lancelot. After a tournament in Estrangorre, the Ugly Hero swore fealty to King Brandegorre’s daughter. Lancelot freed him from an imprisonment at the Forbidden Hill. Erec defeated him in combat during the Grail Quest. Aside from his deeds in the Vulgate Cycle, he also undergoes a series of knightly adventures in Claris et Laris. [ChretienE, Contin1, VulgLanc, VulgMer, PostMer, Claris]

Ui Liathain

According to historian John Morris, an Irish dynasty that ruled one of the few stable Irish settlements in Britain. Originating from Munster, the Ui Liathains invaded Demetia but were driven out in the Arthurian period by Agricola.

Ukerlant

A land ruled in Arthur’s time first by Count Narant and then by Narant’s son, Bernout de Riviers. [Wolfram]

Ulban of Sorelois [Ulbawes]

A Knight of the Round Table who appears at the Sorelois tournament and at the healing of Sir Urry. [ProsTris, Malory]

Ulfin [Ulfines, Ulfius, Ulphin, Ulphyne, Urfin]

A knight from Rescraddeck who served both Uther Pendragon and Arthur. He first appears in Geoffrey’s Historia. In Uther’s service, he fought in the Saxon Wars, acted as an envoy to Merlin, and participated in the breach of Tintagel (when Uther slept with Igerne). Upon Uther’s death, he supported Arthur’s claim to the throne, testifying to Arthur’s paternity, serving as an envoy to Kings Ban and Bors, and fighting against the rebellious kings at Bedegraine. Arthur awarded him a position as his chamberlain and a seat at the Round Table. His further credits included the wars against Rions, the Saxons, and Claudas, and the thwarting of the first False Guinevere plot. In one episode, he chastised Igerne for not preventing the revolution by admitting she was Arthur’s mother; he relented when she protested that she did not know this fact herself. He later became a hermit and lodged Galahad during the Grail Quest. Malory says that he lived in Corbenic in his retirement. Pierre de Langtoft calls him the son of Craddock, but this is probably just a misreading of Rescraddeck, his home. [GeoffHR, Wace, VulgQuest, VulgMer, Livre, Arthour, PostMer, Pierre, Malory, TennIK]

Ulian

A wicked giant who, with his brothers Margan and Durkion, served Lord Karedoz of Malmontan. All of the giants were slain by Arthur’s Sir Tandareis. [PleierT]

Ulster Hall

A location in Wales that Arthur gave to Gawain after Gawain fought a duel against Galleron of Galloway. [Awntyrs]

Ultius

Seneschal of Vortigern. [Butor]

Una

A lovely maiden whose parents’ land was attacked by a dragon. Gloriana assigned the Red Cross Knight to go with Una to her land and free it from the dragon. On the way, the Red Cross Knight was tricked by the evil magician Archimago into thinking that Una was a wanton. The Red Cross Knight abandoned her and was thrown in prison by the giant Orgoglio. Una was protected by a lion, satyrs, and the knight Satyrane. They encountered Prince Arthur and convinced him to help. Arthur freed the Red Cross Knight and reconciled him with Una. They continued to Una’s lands, the Red Cross Knight killed the dragon, and Una and the Red Cross Knight were married. In Spenser’s allegory, Una, meaning “one,” stands for the Church of England, the “one” true church. [Spenser]

Unarmed Knight [*Chevalier Desarmé]

One of three guardians of Rigomer Castle. He was defeated in combat by Lancelot. [Merveil]

Unbridled Heart

A nickname of Sir Lionel, Lancelot’s cousin. [VulgLanc]

Underigo

One of King Mark’s seneschals. Mark commissioned him to seize Tristan and Isolde when he suspected them of having an affair. Underigo took a party of knights to the Palace of the Garden, where the lovers were staying, but Underigo and his companions were slain by Tristan and Lancelot. [Tavola]

Undewater Bridge

One of two dangerous causeways leading to the land of Gorre in Chrétien’s Lancelot. The other was called the Sword Bridge. The Underwater Bridge was also called the Lost Bridge, and it was actually submerged beneath the sea. Gawain tried to cross it during the quest to rescue Guinevere from Meleagant, but he nearly drowned. The description of the Underwater Bridge is used in the Prose Lancelot to explain the Irish Bridge and the North Wales Bridge. [ChretienL, VulgLanc]

Unfailing Bow [*Arc Qui Ne Faut]

A keen booby-trap invented by Tristan. While Tristan and Isolde were forced to hide in the forest of Morrois to escape Mark’s wrath, Tristan set up the Unfailing Bow to kill any animal or person that happened by—partially to procure food and partially for protection. [Beroul]

Urbain

A knight defeated by Perceval at the Perilous Ford in the Didot-Perceval. His lover was a fairy, and she sent a flock of birds to attack Perceval, but he defeated both Urbain and the birds. The birds spirited Urbain away. Urbain was the son of the Queen of the Black Thorn. His name may be a variation of Urien [Didot]

Urbano

In the Italian La Tavola Ritonda, a castle owned by Uther Pendragon and Arthur. Tavola opens with a tournament, held by Uther, at the castle. Guinevere holed herself up in the castle when Mordred usurped Arthur’s throne. Arthur, returning from his attack on Lancelot in Benoic, engaged Mordred at the castle. During the battle, Yvain was slain and Arthur received his mortal wound—an event that traditionally occurs at Camlann. In response to a summons from Guinevere, Lancelot came from France and killed Mordred in front of the castle. [Tavola]

Urbgennius [Urbigen(e), Urgain, Urgence, Urgennius, Urgent]

In Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthur’s earl of Bath. He fought in the Roman War and was killed at the battle of Soissons. His name is a variation of Urien, which also occurs in Geoffrey. It seems that Geoffrey misinterpreted his sources, identifying two characters instead of one. [GeoffHR, Wace, Layamon]

Urbino

A city near Rome where Arthur, in Malory, laid an ambush during the Roman War. The ambush decimated the Roman army, allowing Arthur to take the city of Rome itself. This city is unnamed in the Alliterative Morte Arthure. [Malory]

Urd

In Norse mythology, one of the three Fatal Sisters—the others were Schulda and Verandi—who presided over the past, present, and future. In Thelwall’s The Fairy of the Lake, Rowena, wife of Vortigern, seeks their foresight during her quest to seduce Arthur. [Thelwall]

Urgan the Hairy

A troublesome giant who terrorized one of Tristan’s friends—Duke Gilan in Gottfried’s Tristan, King Triamour in the Middle-English Sir Tristrem, and Duke Bramante in the Italian La Tavola Ritonda. Tristan, visiting his friend, decided to rid him of Urgan’s malicious presence in order to claim his friend’s dog as a present for Isolde. Tristan’s battle with Urgan was difficult, but after blinding him in both eyes and cutting off one hand, Tristan was able to kill Urgan by shoving him off of a bridge into a river. Tristan was also said to have killed a number of Urgan’s brothers, including Lucano the Great. [FolieO, Gottfried, TrisSaga, SirTris, Tavola]

Urgans [Hurganet]

A knight of the Round Table slain by Orguelleus. His death was avenged by Perceval. [Didot]

Urglay

An abbey in Scotland that was the final resting place of Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea. He had been buried first in Britain, but the Scots exhumed his body and brought it to Urglay, hoping that its presence would stave off a famine. [VulgEst]

Urian

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, a king of Britain in the third or second century BC. Urian succeeded his father, King Andragius, and was succeeded by King Eliud. [GeoffHR]

Uriées [Orices]

A knight murdered by his brother Pinabel. Uriées had murdered a knight named Garionne, and Pinabel had to slay him in order to wed Garionne’s niece, Tessina. The killing sparked a feud between Pinabel, his wife, and his brothers, which ended in Pinabel’s death. Tristan had to save Tessina from execution at the hands of Lossana, Uriées’s sister. [ProsTris, Tavola]

Urien [Uria(i)n, Urien(c)e, Uriens, Uriien, Urijan, Urjen, Uryen(s), Vrien, Vrweyn]

A historical king of Rheged and father of Owain who ruled around 570, but was made Arthur’s contemporary by later legends. A number of early Welsh poems glorify his various victories without connecting him to Arthur. In Nennius, he is mentioned as one of the kings who continued the battle against the Angles in the north, but was assassinated by his fellow, King Morcant (Morgant). He first appears as Arthur’s warrior in Welsh legend, in which he is the son of Cynfarch and Nefyn, the brother of Efrddyl, Arawn, and Lleu, and the father of Owain, Morfudd, Rhiwallawn, Pasgen, and Run. Owain, his most important son, becomes Yvain in the French romances, and Welsh legend makes him Urien’s son by the Celtic goddess Modron. The Triads name Urien’s assassin as Llofan Severing Hand.
   Geoffrey of Monmouth says that Urien was the brother of Loth (Lot) and Angusel, but most later legends make the three unrelated except by marriage. Geoffrey also makes him King of Moray rather than Rheged. In Geoffrey, Urien is Arthur’s supporter, and he assists the king in his campaigns against Gaul and Rome.
   Beginning with the Vulgate Cycle, however, he becomes an antagonist to Uther and Arthur. Descended from Joseph of Arimathea, Urien ruled the land of Gorre and the city of Sorhaut. Urien went to war with Uther over Gorre, and Uther was victorious. Urien eventually reclaimed the land, however, and appointed his nephew Bagdemagus to the throne. When Arthur drew the sword from the stone, Urien refused to accept Arthur as his overlord. He joined King Lot and a number of other kings in a rebellion against Arthur. In one source, he kidnaps Guinevere during the revolt. Arthur defeated them at the battle of Bedegraine. The kings had to cancel their rebellion when the Saxons invaded their lands. After experiencing several defeats against the Saxons, Urien and his companions allied with Arthur and crushed the Saxons at the battle of Clarence. Urien swore fealty to Arthur and married Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s half-sister. He had two sons named Yvain and Yvain the Bastard. Urien participated in Arthur’s war against Rome and in his battle against the five kings at the Humber River before disappearing from the adventures. His death is not described in the Vulgate romances.
   Most variations to Urien’s Vulgate character involve giving him different kingdoms. In Meriadoc, he is the King of Scotland and he becomes steward of Wales upon marrying Orwen, the sister of King Meriadoc of Wales. In Claris et Laris, he has a daughter named Marine. In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, his land is called Lof, and in Palamedes, he conquers Ireland. In Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, he invades the land of King Leodegan, his brother, taking the role of Rions in the Vulgate Merlin. [Nennius, Culhwch, GeoffHR, Wace, Layamon, Triads, VulgLanc, VulgMer, Livre, PostMer, Heinrich, Palamedes, Claris, Arthour, Malory, TennIK]

Urjans

A malicious prince from Punturteis. While at Arthur’s court, he raped a visiting noble maiden and fled. Gawain caught him and brought him back to Arthur’s court for justice. Urjans was tried and convicted. Arthur and his company were keen on sentencing him to death, but Gawain, moved by a sense of honor, pleaded for his life. Instead, Urjans was sentenced to eat out of a trough with hounds for forty days.
   Despite Gawain’s intervention on his behalf, Urjans blamed Gawain for his plight, and he found a serendipitous chance to exact his revenge: Gawain came upon Urjans while Urjans was lying on the ground, wounded, after losing a battle on the behalf of Orgeluse, the Duchess of Logres. Gawain, not recognizing the wounded knight, helped to heal him. Urjans repaid him by jumping on Gawain’s horse and riding away. Somehow, the horse—called Gringolet—soon fell into the hands of Lischois Gwelljus. Presumably, Lischois killed Urjans, as he was in the habit of doing with other knights. Gawain soon re-acquired the steed. [Wolfram]

Urpin of the Red Mountain

A tyrant defeated by Gawain in the Fourth Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval, possibly identical to Chrétien’s Harpin. He was the father of Brun and the lady Bloiesine. Bloiesine prevented Gawain from killing her father. [Contin4]

Urry of the Mount

A Hungarian knight who was badly wounded in a tournament in Spain. In the tournament, he killed his opponent, Sir Alpheus. Alpheus’s mother was a witch, and she cast a spell on Urry that caused his wounds to eternally fester, only to be cured when the best knight in the world examined them. Urry’s mother and sister, Feleloye, carried him from country to country in a litter, hoping to find the knight who could heal him.
   Eventually, they came to Arthur’s court at Carlisle after the Grail Quest. When Arthur heard Urry’s story, he commanded all the knights, dukes, earls, and kings in attendance to attempt to heal the poor knight’s wounds. When Arthur attempted it, the wounds closed partially but renewed their bleeding. A hundred and ten other knights gave it their best, but failed. Finally, Lancelot, with reluctance, ran his hands over the wounds. They closed themselves as if they had been healed for many years, proving that God had again granted Lancelot the title of best knight of the world.
   Urry became a Knight of the Round Table and was fiercely loyal to Lancelot. When Lancelot and Guinevere were accused of treason, Urry pledged his support to Lancelot and helped to rescue Guinevere from the stake. In return for his support, Lancelot made him the earl of Estrake. [Malory]

Ursin

A count of Salie who joined King Wigalois’s war against King Lion of Namur. [Wirnt]

Ursula

Daughter of King Dionotus (or Athionard) of Cornwall. She married Conan Meriadoc after he became ruler of Brittany, and she helped her husband to spread British influence throughout “Other Britain.” [GeoffHR, Wace]

Uryelle

A knight of Arthur’s who participated in the Roman War. [Allit]

Uter of Camelot

A knight in Uther Pendragon’s service defeated in combat by Guiron the Courteous. He is apparently a doublet of Uther himself. [Palamedes]

Uther Pendragon [Outeropantragoras, Utepandragon, Utepantragun, Uter(pandragon), Uthir Pen Dragon, Uthur, Uthyr, Utpandragon, Vtere, Vther]

Father of Arthur and king of Britain before his son. Geoffrey of Monmouth seems to be the first author to make him Arthur’s father. In one Welsh poem, Mabon son of Modron is called Uther’s man, and in another, Uther claims “a ninth part in the prowess of Arthur,” but none of the Welsh texts mentions any relationship between them. One manuscript of Nennius’s Historia refers to Arthur as “mab uter,” which could mean “the terrible,” but may have been interpreted by Geoffrey (or his source) as “son of Uter (Uther).”
   As Geoffrey tells it, Uther was the son of King Constantine of Britain, who had previously been a prince in Brittany. His mother is unnamed except by Bauduin Butor, who calls her Ivoine. His older brothers were Constans and Ambrosius. Uther’s father was assassinated by a Pictish agent, and Earl Vortigern of Gwent foisted Constans to the throne. Uther and Ambrosius were only children at the time, and friends of their father spirited them to safety in the court of King Budec of Brittany. Meanwhile, in Britain, Vortigern arranged Constans’s assassination and assumed the throne himself. When Ambrosius and Uther came of age, they amassed an army and invaded Britain. Vortigern was embroiled in a war with the Saxons, led by King Hengist, at the time, and the two brothers managed to defeat and slay both Hengist and Vortigern. Ambrosius became king of Britain. Ambrosius commissioned Merlin to bring the Giant’s Dance from Ireland, and Uther led the expedition, defeating King Gilloman of Ireland. In the meantime, Ambrosius was slain by a Saxon, and Britain once again faced a threat from an alliance between King Gilloman of Ireland and Vortigern’s son Pascentius. Uther, however, destroyed both these men and assumed the crown of Britain in his brother’s place. At his coronation, he was dubbed with the surname “Pendragon” or “dragon’s head” in memory of the comet that Merlin had seen in the sky upon the death of Ambrosius. Uther immediately faced a Saxon threat in the form of Octa, the son of Hengist, and Eosa, Octa’s kinsman. After a series of battles, Uther defeated and imprisoned the Saxon leaders.
   At the feast celebrating his victory over the Saxons, Uther fell in love with Igerne, the wife of Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall. Gorlois sensed Uther’s intentions and returned to Cornwall with his wife, who he secured in the castle of Tintagel. Uther declared war on Gorlois and besieged Tintagel and Dimilioc, Gorlois’s own castle, but was unable to break the defenses of either. At the suggestion of his knight Ulfin, Uther sent for the assistance of Merlin. Merlin got Uther into Tintagel by magically changing Uther’s countenance to match Gorlois. Uther enjoyed a night of passion with Igerne, and Arthur was conceived. Gorlois was soon killed in battle against Uther’s soldiers, and Uther married Igerne, with whom he also conceived a daughter named Anna. He fell ill, but nevertheless took to the battlefield of St. Albans, in a litter, to fight Octa and Eosa, who had escaped from prison. After the battle, his sickness grew worse, and he had only enough time to proclaim Arthur his heir before he died. He was buried under the Giant’s Dance, next to his brother.
   Geoffrey’s version of Uther’s story is followed relatively faithfully in subsequent texts, with a few notable variations. Wolfram von Eschenbach makes him the son of Brickus, a descendant of fairies, the husband of Arnive (rather than Igerne) and the father of Sangive (rather than Anna). The Welsh Triads give him a second son named Madawg. In Heinrich von dem Türlin’s Diu Crône, he has a sister named Enfeidas who is the queen of Avalon. La Tavola Ritonda makes him the father of Morgan le Fay, who is usually given as his daughter-in-law.
   The Vulgate Lancelot tells us that Uther was born in Brittany, in the city of Bourges, which would be consistent with Geoffrey’s facts if we assume that Uther was already born when Constantine came to Britain. We learn in the same story that Uther assisted King Aramont of Brittany in the destruction of the lands of the treacherous King Claudas, and that he went to war with King Urien over the land of Gorre.
   Robert de Boron’s Merlin and the Vulgate Merlin change the names of his brothers to Maine and Pendragon. In contrast to the chronicles, Robert says that Uther invented the Round Table, inspired by Merlin’s tales of the table of the Last Supper and the Grail Table. Merlin places his death in the midst of a native revolt, not a Saxon invasion.
   In the Short Metrical Chronicle, he is not Arthur’s father, but is a king of Britain whose reign lies between Cassibelan and Vortigern. Finally, Malory changes the facts of his relationship with Gorlois, purporting that Uther had been at war with the duke before meeting Igerne, and that Uther fell in love with Igerne at a feast celebrating a peace between Uther and the duke. [WelshPG, GeoffHR, Wace, Layamon, Wolfram, LancLac, VulgLanc, VulgMer, Heinrich, ProsTris, PostMer, PostQuest, Butor, Arthour, Short, Tavola, Malory, TennIK]

Uther Pendragon Abbey

An abbey constructed by Uther Pendragon. It was renamed Galahad’s Marvel during the Grail Quest. [PostQuest]

Uther’s Castle

A castle near Sorelois that Uther Pendragon built. Bleoberis cuckolded the castellan of Uther’s Castle. The castle was thereafter an enemy of the Round Table, and knights who strayed there were imprisoned. [ProsTris]

Uther’s Shame [*Vergogne Uter]

A castle built by Uther Pendragon for Lord Argan, after the latter discovered that the former was having an affair with his wife, Dyagenne. Argan defeated Uther in combat and made the construction of the castle a condition of his surrender. [ProsTris]

Utolf

A mighty warrior who fought under Lucius the Roman in the war against Arthur. [Allit]

Utrenal

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

Uwayne

Malory’s version of Yvain. [Malory]

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