Sir Kay in Malory's le Morte

   Son of Sir Ector and foster-brother of Arthur. Kay was probably about a year older than Arthur and destined to be a great knight. At the jousts and tournaments leading up to Arthur's pulling forth the sword, we learn that Kay was knighted at All Hallowmass prior to the convocation of the barons at New Year's by the archbishop. At Ector's bequest, Kay is made Arthur's seneschal for life.
   In the early days of Arthur's reign, Kay is the champion. Like the Welsh legends, Kay stands at Arthur's side and in the forefront of battle. In the great tourney to celebrate Ban and Bors allegiance with Arthur, Kay is awarded the victor's prize. Throughout the battle of Bedegraine against the eleven rebelling kings, Kay's presence is felt. In the battle with Rience' and Lot's armies before Terrabil, Kay is mentioned first and foremost among the champions of the day. In the year following Arthur's wedding, when the realm is in jeopardy from an invasion by the five kings, Kay proves his mettle. When his counsel is ignored and the camp is overrun and Arthur forced to escape towards the Humber, Kay challenges and defeats two kings when the odds were against Arthur's success.
   His very acts of courage provide Arthur with the opportunity to rally the army and turn defeat into total victory. For this act, he becomes a knight of the Round Table and Arthur states that even if he did no more during his life, he deserved to be seated amongst them.
   We know that at that battle he is yet unmarried; for in Guenever's praise, she states that if any woman that Kay set his heart on did not return his love, then the lady would be to blame. Guenever praises his deeds before the others.
   But perhaps even now, we can begin to see the slow turn that will push Kay into the background of Arthur's knights. For whatever the reasons, Arthur does not turn to his brother for counsel. Arthur allows his own judgment and the judgment of younger less seasoned knights than Kay to command, for Kay is the lone voice counseling Arthur to maintain strong security and preparedness at the Humber. And that failure almost led to defeat.

more to come...