Uwaine in Malory's le Morte
The son of King Uriens and Morgan le Fay. He is mentioned several times in the early
books and at the time of the war with the five kings, he was old enough to come to Camelot. At
that time, he would have been about sixteen. When Morgan le Fay schemed to have Arthur
killed by Accolon, she had Uriens delivered to her at Camelot. Believing that her scheme
had succeeded, she determined to slay Uriens in his bed. But the damosel sent to fetch a
sword awakens Uwaine and tells him of the plan. Before Morgan can deliver the blow,
Uwaine stops her. Had she not been his mother, he would have slain her on the spot;
but she claimed that she had been tempted to the act by a devil and would not act further
if he did not reveal what had happened. He agrees to the covenant if she will leave and
never return. Because he failed to act, Morgan has the opportunity to leave court. She
quickly reaches Arthur's side and attempts to steal Excalibur. She does manage to
escape with the scabbard and to throw it into a lake as she and her escort elude Arthur's pursuit.
When Arthur returns to Camelot, Morgan makes another attempt on his
life with a strange mantle. When the scheme is thwarted by Nimue, Arthur in his anger
sends Uwaine from court, believing that Morgan had to have assistance in her plot.
Perhaps in a small way Arthur is right, for Uwaine did fail to act against his mother
when she made the attempt on Uriens' life.
Uwaine, who must be just at the age of manhood, leaves but Gawaine determines
to depart with his cousin. Along the way, Gawaine and Uwaine travel through a deep forest
until they find a valley with a turret. Two knights seem to be protecting twelve damosels
as they throw mire and spit at a shield hanging on a tree. When our knights ask the cause,
they are told that it is because the owner
hates all women. Uwaine knows the knight whose name is Marhaus and claims him to
be a good knight and a powerful warrior. Gawaine and Uwaine retire a distance from
the tree just as Marhaus returns and defeats the two knights that protected the damosels,
sending them screaming into the turret like mad women. Marhaus takes the soiled shield
and approaches Gawaine and Uwaine to challenge them if need be. Uwaine is against
taking up the challenge but accepts at Gawaine's insistence. Marhaus strikes
Uwaine from his horse and wounding him in the left side. Gawaine follows up and is
likewise unseated but battles Marhaus on foot. When he is close to defeat, he accords
himself with Marhaus and they cease their battle. Gawaine and Uwaine stay with
Marhaus for a week to allow their wounds to heal.
Afterward, Marhaus accompanies them to the great forest called
Arroy where Marhaus declares that every knight that ventured into its domain
found strange adventures. As they rode, they came to a deep valley of stones
with a broad stream. At the head of the stream sit three ladies at a fair fountain.
But these are not just ordinary ladies, for in them we recognize the triple aspect of
the goddess. The eldest is an old wise woman with white hair crowned by a garland
of gold, the second, a woman of thirty with a circlet of gold, and the last, a maiden
of fifteen with flowers in her hair. The three await errant knights to teach them on
strange adventures. Note that Malory uses the word teach not take. Each of our knights must choose
one of the three and a direction and the damosel will lead them on a quest and
in twelve months the three will meet again at the fountain.
Uwaine chooses the eldest for being the youngest and least
experienced, he felt that she would be the one to best help him. Marhaus chooses
the damosel of thirty winters, leaving the young maiden to Gawaine. Once chosen,
the ladies lead them to a crossroad that leads in three directions. Gawaine will
travel north, Uwaine west, and Marhaus south, directions that could mirror their
own - Gawaine being from the northern Lothians, Uwaine from Rheged, and Marhaus
to be associated with Cornwall and the Tristram legends. Without delving into
the other sources, we can not from Malory determine the moral, chivalric purpose
of the quest. In some aspects, the tales should relate to love and a knight's
duty to protect those that have suffered for love or family's sake. But Malory
seems to have altered the tales' focus or combined the tales from other source
material using the triple goddess to present the stories as a combined quest.
The aged damosel of Uwaine's quest brought him to a tournament near
the marches of Wales. Uwaine wins the prize defeating thirty knights. Afterward,
she conducts him on other strange adventures until they arrive at the land of
the Lady of the Rock. The lady had been disinherited from her estates by two
brothers, Edward and Hue of the Red Castle. When the lady complains to Uwaine,
he determines to take up her cause and sends to the two brothers to meet with
the lady and him. The two brothers arrive in full force with an hundred men. The
lady refuses to allow Uwaine to go out and meet them for fear of treachery. From
a tower of her castle, Uwaine requires the brothers to return her lands without
success. When they refuse, he challenges one of them to trial by combat. But the
brothers state that the combat will be against the two of them together. Uwaine
accepts and the combat is set for the following morning. Securities are made to
prevent any treachery.
The next morning, Uwaine meets the brothers and unhorsed them; but
the brothers recover and demand Uwaine meet them on foot. After a vicious battle
lasting over five hours during which Uwaine suffered many wounds, he finally
manages to kill Edward and force Hue to yield. The lady is restored of her lands
and Hue is ordered to appear before Arthur at the next Pentecost feast.
Because of his wounds, Uwaine remains for the rest of the year before setting
out to rejoin Gawaine and Marhaus. On the appointed day, Marhaus and Uwaine
arrive with their damosels, but as we remember from the quest, Gawaine's young
damosel had left him early in his quest and he had to arrive alone. After
leaving the damosel's, the warriors rode through a great forest and meet a
messenger sent from Arthur wishing them to return to court. Obviously, Arthur
has forgiven Uwaine after his anger cooled or determined that he did not assist
his mother in her plots.