While on the quest of the triple goddess, Gawaine is brought to a meadow or
open land where a cross stood. The fairest and seemliest man that ever he saw came riding
by in great dole, Pelleas. Gawaine watches as ten knights confront this warrior and battle with him.
The dolorous knight encounters and defeats them all; but once defeated, the knight allows the defeated
men to take and bind him under his horse's belly in a shameful manner and then lead him away.
Gawaine is surprised at the knight's behavior but does not interfere even though his quest
damosel complains that to refrain from assisting proves he lacks worship.
During ensuing events, we learn about Pelleas' plight. Pelleas loves the Lady
Ettard. During a great tournament, Pelleas was proclaimed the champion. As victor, he received
a sword and a gold circlet which he could bestow on his lady love. Pelleas selected the Lady Ettard
but Ettard scorned Pelleas' advances. She returned to her lands, followed by Pelleas who is
attempting to win her. Each week, she sends knights to fight him and each time he overcomes
them but then allows them to bind him. As her prisoner, he can catch sight of her. But she will
not keep him and thus the events repeat.
Gawaine determines to help Pelleas and sets out the following morning to seek
him out. Because Gawaine is of Arthur's court and kin, Pelleas agrees to accept his support.
While wearing Pelleas' armor and pretending to have slain him in combat, Gawaine
arrives at Ettard's castle where he is greeted warmly. One might say very warmly, for
instead of championing Pelleas' suit, Gawaine takes the lady as his own. Ettard fulfills
Gawaine's wishes and spends two days and nights in his arms in a pavilion before the castle.
Growing uneasy, Pelleas arms himself and arrives to find Gawaine and the lady
asleep in each other arms in the pavilion. In sorrow, he leaves but anger overcomes him and
he returns. But he can not kill Gawaine in his sleep and departs again. He returns again but
still can not bring himself to slay them, so he lays his naked sword across them and departs,
returning to his own pavilions beside the priory. He makes his peace, stating his wishes to his
knights and enters the pavilion determined to die.
Ettard awakes and finds the sword. She accuses Gawaine of his betrayal to
Pelleas and to herself, forcing Gawaine to depart. But Pelleas is not destined to get his wish
to die in sorrow, for the Lady Nimue finds one of Pelleas' knights wandering in dole
through the forest. Hearing the story, she visits Pelleas and falls in love with him. She places
an enchantment of sleep on him and orders his men to keep him secure. She brings the Lady
Ettard to the pavilion and shames her for her acts toward Pelleas. She casts an enchantment
that reverses the fortunes of love, for now Ettard loves Pelleas without bounds and Pelleas hates
her more than any other. He casts Ettard from his presence while Nimue declares her love of him.
Their love will endure throughout their lives and never will he think of Ettard again, who dies of her sorrow.
The interesting aspect of this account is the similarities to the Quest of the White Hart
and Pellinore. Pelleas is almost a mirrored doppelganger to Pellinore. They both are kings from
the isles, handsome and fearsome knights. They both are associated with Nimue.
Pellinore rescues her in the White Hart and brings her to court. Pelleas is
rescued by her love in this quest and brought to court by her. Gawaine hates
Pellinore because of the death of Lot. Pelleas hates Gawaine for his betrayal
Pelleas is a name variation of Pelli or Beli and Pellinore, as
discussed in his own article, is a derivation of Pelli or Beli Mawr, 'mawr'
being an epitaph meaning great. There is enough circumstantial evidence to
suggest that the stories are different corruptions of an original story
concerning the feud between the two men or their families. Another intriguing
possibility is that Pellinore and Pelleas are brothers. When Gawaine learns of
Pelleas' plight from Carados and realizes that he is kin to Pellinore whom he
hates, he schemes to revenge himself on their family by claiming to offer
At the next Pentecost, Nimue arrives at Arthur's court with
Pelleas. A joust is held and Pelleas declared the victor. Arthur rejoices and
names him and Marhaus to the Round Table. But Pelleas cares little for Gawaine
and will often confront him, sparing his life only because of Arthur. Malory
foretells of events that will happen to Pelleas, for he will be one of the four
to achieve the Sangreal and of how Nimue kept Pelleas away from Lancelot and the
tournaments where Pelleas would have to meet Lancelot in combat.