I have to write a paper for my English class that “sets the record straight ” about one of the characters from the legend of King Arthur. Did Lancelot even exist? Someone please help me.

4 Responses to “Does anyone know about what Sir Lancelot’s life was really like outside of the legend?”

  • Terri Genius:

    I don’t think he really exist. that legend is based on a celtic chiefton a few hundreds years before sir Thomas Mallory wrote some of the stories during his jail time.

    maybe you can search about how the legend of lancelot came about. remember, if you’re using wikipedia, use its cited resources at end of the articles.

  • I<3HW:

    oh, i know because i was there

  • kle:

    How about doing it on Count Dracula? It too is a fictional character but based on Vlad Dracula.

    Either way good luck

  • Jallan:

    It is very doubtful that Lancelot ever existed. In native Welsh Arthurian tales he is not mentioned. Where he does appears in Welsh tales, he is taken from French Arthurian tales and is called “Lawnslot”. No native Welsh name or word begins with the the single letter “L”. They begin with the double letter “L”, as in Llewelyn, which is a voiceless “l”.

    The scholar Roger S. Loomis thought Lancelot originated as a humanized form in story of the British god Lleu, but this theory has not caught on.

    The only possibly genuine figures in Arthurian tales likely to be historical Arthurian figures of the promenent characters are Arthur himself, Guenevere, Kay, Bedwyr, and Mordred and even they may be imaginary. We certainly know almost nothing about them if they were historical.

    The French tales tell of Yvain son of King Urien, whom the Welsh call Owein son of Urien, and Malory calls Uwaine son of King Uriens. He is almost certainly historic, but his historical prototype lived at the end of he 6th century and/or the beginning of the 7th century, after even the latest dates provided for Arthur in medieval texts. This is at least someone you might write about. For a beginning, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ywain ,

    Outside of the characters who appear in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Historia Regum Britanniae” and its Welsh adaptations, the only characters who appear both in Welsh and French/English tradition are:

    Edern son of Nudd whom French romances call Yder son of Nut and Malory only mentions from a source where he has been corrupted into Idres son of Uwaine son of Uriens,
    Gwalchmei son of Gwyar (his mother) who equates to Gawain,
    Gwalhaved son of Gwyar, Gwalchmei’s brother who may be the same as the French/English Agravaine or possibly Gaheriet/Gareth,
    Lleu father of Gwalchmei who in French is King Loth, father of Gawain and who in Malory is King Loth,
    Gwyar, mother of Gwalchmei who in French is called Morcadés and who in Malory is called Morgause,
    Llacheu son of Arthur who in the Welsh translation of the French “Perlesvaus” is equated with Lohot son of Arthur,
    Rica/Gwrlais, Arthur’s foster father who appears in French romances as Gorlois,
    Cynyr Fairbeard father of Cei who in French romances is equated to Antor father of Keu, whom Malory calls Ector, father of Kay,
    Garanwyn son of Kay who may be the same as Gronosis Versed in Evil the son of Keu the Seneschal, mentioned in Chrétien de Troyes’ “Erec et Enide”,
    Duke Cadwr of Cornwall, who appears in a few French/English romances as Cador of Cornwall and who may not be historical,
    Howel son of Emyr Lydaw who appears in French/English romances as King Howel of Little Britain and is probably not historical,
    King Melwas of the Summer Country, the abductor of Gwenhwyfar/Guenevere who appears in French tales as Meliagant in and Malory as Meliagrance,
    Eigyr, Arthur’s mother who appears in French romances as Ygerne, and in Malory as Igraine,
    Uthyr Benndragon, Arthur’s father, who appears in English/French romances as Uther Pendragon
    Myrddin Emrys who appears in French/English romances as Merlin Ambrosius.

    But all these personages are ONLY known in fantastic Arthurian tales, not in any history. There is no known history to set the record straight.

    Gereint son of Erbin was equated in Welsh tales with Erec son of Lac in the French tales, whom Malory calls Harry le Fise Lake. The French name “Erec” is a form of the Breton name “Guerec”.

    Peredur Longspear was equated in Welsh tales with Perceval in French tales, whom Malory calls Percivale.

    Cynon son of Clydno was equated in one Welsh tale with Calogrenant in French tales, whom Malory calls Colgrevaunce.

    It appears that later Welsh story tellers, when adapting French Arthurian tales, equated the heroes of these French tales with Welsh Arthurian figures of similar names to make them seem more familiar to Welsh listeners.

    I am not discussing the Tristan stories here, of which the Welsh had at least one version, but here also there is no known history to relate it to.

    You have been assigned an impossible task. You might point out how Lancelot seems to have been wedged into the Arthurian story. See a summary of the most popular account in the last three sections at http://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/vulgate.html and compare it to the earlier Arthurian history at http://www.lib.rochester.edu/Camelot/geofhkb.htm .

    Arthur is a great conqueror of the Saxons in the earlier tale. In the “Prose Lancelot”, Arthur is shamefully seduced by a Saxon princess and thrown in prison. It is then Lancelot, clad in Arthur’s armour, who leads the army to defeat the Saxons and rescue Arthur.

    In the earlier account Mordred in Guenevere’s lover, not Lancelot. In the Lancelot version, Guenevere flees from Mordred.

    In the early account at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/1150-Caradoc-LifeofGildas.html , it is Arthur who finds his wife when she is abducted by King Melwas. In the later Lancelot version, Arthur does nothing and it is Lancelot who follows after and rescues her.

    The story of how Arthur won the throne of Gaul in single combat with Frollo is repeated from the earlier versions in the “Prose Lancelot”, but in the “Prose Lancelot” it occurs as only part of a campaign to restore Lancelot and his kinsmen to their rightful inheritance.

    In earlier versions of the grail quest, the hero is Perceval, or once Gawain. Now, Lancelot being unsuitable as a grail hero because of his adulterous relationship with Guenevere, the authors come up with the son of Lancelot, unknown to us from any earlier text. His name is Galahad and he becomes the primary grail hero, pushing Perceval to second place. A third hero is Bohort (Bors) and it is not coincidental that he is Lancelot’s first cousin and is also unknown before these romances, at least in surviving texts.

    In the earlier version, Arthur appoints Mordred as his regent when he goes to Europe to fight the Romans. In this version, Arthur goes to fight Lancelot, and fails miserably. The Roman war does occur at this point, but is related very briefly. Malory leaves it out altogether at this point in his tale.

    You could write an essay showing how the earlier Arthurian tales were distorted to make Lancelot more important to Arthurian pseudo-history. But the earlier Arthurian tales were also not history.

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