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Arthurian Quote from Le Morte d’Arthur

Now I have warned thee of thy vain glory and of thy pride, that thou hast many times erred against thy Maker. Beware of everlasting pain, for of all earthly knights I have most pity of thee, for I know well thou hast not thy peer on any earthy sinful man.


A recluse to Launcelot, 713

These words, spoken during the quest for the Sangreal, touch on Lancelot’s spiritual failings, and help to define the epic’s shift into a more Christian work. On the quest for the Sangreal, Lancelot has a hard time accepting the idea that he might not achieve his goal. After all, he has always been the world’s greatest knight. However, this pride is precisely what keeps him from fulfilling the goal. Finding the Sangreal requires spiritual fortitude, not just physical strength. The recluse’s words reveal to Lancelot that his best path is to repent of his sins. Redemption, another major theme of Le Morte d’Arthur, proves quite important to Lancelot’s story arc. Here, we see the beginning of Lancelot’s spiritual trial.

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Arthurian Quote from Le Morte D’Arthur

  

Nay, I may not so, for I have promised to do the battle to the uttermost by the faith of my body, while me lasteth the life, and therefore I had liefer to die with honour than to live with shame; and if it were possible for me to die an hundred times, I had liefer to die so oft than yield me to thee; for though I lack weapon, I shall lack no worship, and if thou slay me weaponless that shall be thy shame.


~King Arthur to Sir Accolon, 117

There are many examples throughout Le Morte d’ Arthur of knights refusing to yield out of honor. Such examples provide strong instance of the fame that knights pursue. Here, Arthur will not yield in a fight, even though he is weaponless. He knows there is some trickery at hand, but he also knows that the lives of the knights he is fighting for hang in the balance. His honor is more important to him than his life; at the same time, he would rather die than be shamed by yielding. Thankfully, Nimue steps in to help Arthur regain his sword, suggesting that honor breeds reward.

Here are 8 things you may not know about King Arthur!

The legend of King Arthur, a fifth-century warrior who supposedly led the fight against Saxon invaders, continues to fascinate today. Here, as part of our Myths and Legends Week, historian John Matthews reveals eight things you probably didn’t know about King Arthur…
  
1) The once and future king

Arthur, sometimes known as ‘the king that was and the king that shall be’, is recognised all over the world as one of the most famous characters of myth and legend. Yet, if he existed at all (which few scholars agree upon), he would not have been a king, but the commander of an elite force of fighting men. Furthermore, he would have lived more than 500 years before medieval legends suggest.

All that is known, with even the least degree of certainty, is that a man named Arthur, or Arturus, led a band of heroic warriors who spearheaded the resistance of Britons against the invading Saxons, Jutes, and others from the north of Europe, sometime in the fifth and sixth centuries AD.

Another theory claims that Arthur was a Roman centurion named Lucius Artorius Castus, who fought against the Picts [northern tribes that constituted the largest kingdom in Dark Age Scotland] on Hadrian’s Wall in the second century AD, some 300 years earlier than the time at which Arthur’s dates are normally set.

Even Arthur’s birthplace and base of operations are questionable. Camelot – the castled city associated with King Arthur – was invented by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes. Arthur’s association with Cornwall and parts of Wales is an idea fostered by 18th-century antiquarians such as William Stukeley, who carried out one of the first archaeological investigations at Cadbury Castle in Somerset, long believed in local folklore to be the original site of Camelot.

Whatever the truth – and we may never know for sure – the adventures of the legendary King Arthur, with his Round Table Fellowship of Knights based in the mythical city of Camelot, were told and retold between the 11th and 15th centuries in hundreds of manuscripts in at least a dozen languages. “What place is there within the bounds of the Empire of Christendom to which the winged praise of Arthur the Briton has not extended?” wrote the 12th-century chronicler Alanus ab Insulis (or Alain de Lille). Today Arthurian stories are told in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Icelandic, Dutch, Russian, and even Hebrew.
 
2) The Round Table

The Round Table is the centerpiece of the Arthurian world. According to the 13th-century poet Layamon, Arthur ordered the table to be built for him by a famous Cornish carpenter, who somehow made the table capable of seating 1,600 men (clearly an exaggeration), yet easily portable to wherever Arthur set up his mobile base of operations.

Other stories suggest it was Merlin, the king’s magician, who made the table – “round” he said, “in the likeness of the world” – and who sent out a call to the bravest and truest knights to join a great fellowship whose task was to care for the disenfranchised (especially women), and who would do no harm to anyone who did not deserve it.

Some 150 knights were said to have sat at the Round Table. Their adventures lead us into a magical realm of wonder: where ‘faery women’ test the nobility of the knights by offering them seemingly impossible tasks, and strange creatures lurk in the shadows of a vast forest, in whose depth are clearings where castles, chapels, hermitages, and ruins are found – some empty, others containing dangerous foes.

When they had largely rid the land of monsters, dragons, and evil customs, the knights undertook their greatest task of all – the quest for the Holy Grail. Many did not return.

 
3) Merlin

Merlin, Arthur’s advisor, appears in different legends as a magician, a prophet, a wildman, or a visionary poet. He is said to have helped bring about the birth of the future king by magically giving Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, the likeness of his rival, Gorlois of Tintagel, Duke of Cornwall, so that Uther could engender a child with Gorlois’ wife, Igraine. Once Arthur was born, Merlin is said to have carried him away to a secret location in the forest, and watched over him until he came of age.

At this point, Merlin supposedly arranged the test of the Sword in the Stone, which only the true king could draw. This sword is often confused with Arthur’s most famous weapon, Excalibur, the legendary sword said to have magical powers. In fact that blade was given to Arthur later by the Lady of the Lake (a ‘faery woman’ who appears in the stories), after the sword from the stone breaks during battle. 
It is another such faery being, Nimue, the handmaid of the Lady of the Lake, who becomes Merlin’s nemesis: Merlin falls passionately in love with the beautiful damsel, who tricks him into giving her the secrets of his magic and then uses them against him, locking him forever in a cave from which, years after, ‘the cry of Merlin’ could still be heard.
Merlin’s own origins are almost as difficult to establish as Arthur’s. A collection of poems, magical and mystical in nature, is attributed to a princely bard named Myrddin, whose British name was changed because of its unfortunate similarity to merde (excrement) in French. The 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth, who included Arthur in his History of the Kings of Britain (1138), also wrote a Life of Merlin (c1150), in which a sixth-century prince goes mad after seeing his nephews killed in battle and who hides in the forest, telling stories to a pet pig. Geoffrey clearly considered this was the same Merlin as the character included in his later History of the Kings of Britain.
 
4) Faery women
Many faery women thread together the stories of Arthur and his knights. This is probably because a good number of the stories originated not in Britain, but in Brittany – or, as it was known then, Armorica or Aermorica, where belief in ancient deities and the faery race lived on. These faery tales became interwoven with stories of chivalry beloved by the courtly circle. Within the courtly circle these stories were told by roving troubadours – poets who learned dozens of Arthurian tales by heart.
In c1150 Geoffrey of Monmouth named nine sisters in his Vita Merlini as the rulers of the enchanted island of Avalon. Among them was Morgen (more familiar to us as Morgan le Fay), who in later stories is described as Arthur’s half-sister and becomes his most implacable foe. Sir Thomas Malory, in his great 15th-century novel, Le Mort D’Arthur, tells us Morgan was “put to school on a nunnery, where she learned magic and necromancy”. 
Though this may sound odd to us today, many of the women in enclosed orders were learned, and since learning was frequently equated with magic, thus Morgan came to be considered a sorceress.

 
5) The grail
The greatest task undertaken by Arthur’s knights was the quest for the grail, a mysterious vessel linked to the Passion of Christ [the story of Jesus Christ’s arrest, trial, suffering, and eventual execution by crucifixion]. According to the 12th-century poet Robert De Boron, the grail was used to celebrate the Last Supper, and afterwards by Christ’s ‘uncle’, Joseph of Arimathea, to catch some of the blood that flowed from the Saviour as his body was taken down from the cross.
Earlier stories, from the mythology of the Celts, can be seen as precursors of the grail: they spoke of “cauldrons of plenty” that provided food for heroes and could even bring the dead to life. But once the links with Christian belief were established in the 12th century, the grail became a holy relic sought by mystics and heroes – and, most famously, by Arthur’s fellowship.
All 150 knights of the Round Table are said to have gone forth in search of the sacred vessel after it appeared at Camelot during Pentecost [a feast celebrated each year on the 50th day after the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter) and 10 days after the Feast of the Ascension of Christ]. Of those who went forth only three succeeded in their quest to find the grail: the saintly knight Sir Galahad, the simple Sir Percival, and the honest, plain-spoken Sir Bors.
Many other knights perished, and this undoubtedly weakened both the Round Table and Arthur’s court, preparing the way for the dark days to come when Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred rose up against him and ended the dream of Camelot.
 
6) Lancelot and Guinevere
Love stories feature a great deal in the Arthurian world. Tristan and Isolde, for example, best known these days from Wagner’s 1859 opera that retold their story, were famous doomed lovers. But another story, originating in France, became one of the best known of the Arthurian tales: the love story of Lancelot and Guinevere.
The 12th-century poet Chrétien de Troyes gave us an account of their romance in his Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart (c1177). No stories before this feature Lancelot, so we must assume that Chrétien invented him. Lancelot became known as the greatest knight of the Round Table and Arthur’s most trusted ally, but it was his illicit love for Queen Guinevere that made him famous.
Chrétien’s story tells a dramatic tale of Guinevere’s abduction by a lord named Melwas, who had fallen in love with the queen, and of Lancelot’s efforts to rescue her. In order to reach Melwas’ castle, where she is held, Lancelot is forced to ride in a cart – a vehicle reserved for criminals on their way to the gallows. But Lancelot hesitates for a moment, and when Guinevere learns of this this later on she spurns him as not worthy of her affections.
Later stories extended Lancelot and Guinevere’s love into a full-blown affair, which in the end brought down the Round Table and ushered in the end of Arthur’s reign when Lancelot rescued the queen, who had been condemned to burn at the stake, and in the process killed several of Arthur’s knights. With the king reluctantly forced to attack Lancelot, the way was left open for Mordred to attack Camelot.

 

7) The death of Arthur
Weakened by the losses incurred during the quest for the grail, and then by the scandal of Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur’s kingdom began to break apart.
War broke out after Lancelot staged an armed rescue of Guinevere, condemned to death for her treasonous love for the great knight. In the heat of battle Lancelot killed two of Arthur’s best men, Gareth and Gaheris, who had defended the queen. Their brother, the famous knight Sir Gawain, thus became Lancelot’s most bitter foe, and as Arthur was forced to respond to Lancelot’s rescue of the queen, he reluctantly led an army to France to attack him.
While Arthur and Gawain were away attacking Lancelot, King Arthur’s son, Mordred, raised an army and declared himself king. With the hasty return of the true king to Britain, a final battle took place at Camlann. Arthur killed Mordred, but suffered a wound that seemed likely to kill him – though in the end he was taken to Avalon to be healed.
There follows one of the most famous scenes in the entire series of Arthurian stories: Arthur’s faithful follower, Sir Bedivere, throws the king’s mighty sword back into the lake from which it had come at the beginning of his reign (given him by the Lady of the Lake). A mysterious hand rises from the water and seizes the sword, drawing it under.
A ship then appears, carrying three queens, who take the wounded Arthur away, across the sea to the fabled Isle of Avalon, where it is said he would be healed of his wounds and live on, awaiting recall by his country in time of need – the ‘once and future king’ indeed.
 
8) Arthur’s bones
Belief in Arthur’s expected return to his country was kept alive in stories for many years by the people of Britain. Arthur’s bones were supposedly found at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191, though this was nothing more than a fabrication designed to quell the belief that Arthur would return to expel the invading Normans. Nevertheless, some bones were indeed interred in a black marble tomb in 1278 at the expense of Edward I.
To this day, countless new books, films, television shows and plays continue to be created about King Arthur, adding to the popularity of the legends, which remain among the most familiar and best-loved stories of all time.
John Matthews is a historian who has produced more than 100 books on myth, the Arthurian legends, and the history of the Grail. His latest book, King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero, co-written with Caitlín Matthews, will be published by Inner Traditions in 2016.

 

 

Arthurian Quote of the Day 

  

Alas, that ever I bare crown upon my head! For now have I lost the fairest fellowship of noble knights that ever held Christian king together. Alas, my good knights be slain away from me: now within these two days I have lost forty knights, and also the noble fellowship of Sir Launcelot and his blood, for now I may never hold them together no more with my worship. Alas that ever this war began.
-King Arthur, 881-882

This lamentation marks Arthur’s most poignant realization that the utopian days of Camelot will come to end. Though he foresaw the end of the Round Table at the time his knights left on the quest for the Sangreal, he here realizes that they will perish not from without, but from within, at the hands of their greatest brother Sir Launcelot. Arthur reveals that his own chivalric code has faded, as he soon condemns his queen to death, and a civil war soon follows.

Morning’s Journey by Kim Iverson Headlee

 

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BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Morning’s Journey
SERIES – The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, book 2
AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee
GENRE – Myths, Legends, Historical, Spiritual, Romance
PUBLICATION DATE – 2013
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 439 pages/140K words
PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
COVER ARTIST – Natasha Brown

BOOK SYNOPSIS

In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.

But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.

Morning’s Journey, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dawnflight, propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.

Mornings Journey - Book Cover

 

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EXCERPT: Chapter 1

THE CLASH OF arms resounds in the torchlit corridor. Blood oozes where leather has yielded to the bite of steel, yet both sweating, panting warriors refuse to relent.

Her heart thundering, Gyan grips her sword’s hilt, desperate to help the man she loves. Caledonach law forbids it.

Urien makes a low lunge. As Arthur tries to whirl clear, the blade tears a gash in his shield-side thigh. The injured leg collapses, and Arthur drops to one knee. Crowing triumphantly, Urien raises his sword for the deathblow.

Devil take the law!

Gyan springs to block the stroke. Its force jars her arms and twists the hilt in her grasp. She barely holds on through the searing pain.

Urien slips past her guard to slice at her brooch. The gold dragon clatters to the floor. Her cloak slithers to her ankles, fouling her stance. As she tries to kick free, Urien grabs her braid, jerks up her head, and kisses her, hard. Shock loosens her grip. Her sword falls. She thrashes and writhes, but he holds her fast, smirking lewdly.

“You are mine, Pictish whore.”

Urien’s breath reeks of ale and evil promises. She spits in his face. He slaps her. She reels backward, her cheek burning. He grabs her forearms and yanks her close.

“Artyr, help me!”

No response.

Her spirits plummet. Weaponless, she can do nothing—wait. A glint catches her eye.

When Urien kisses her again, she surrenders. He grunts his pleasure, redoubling the force of the kiss. Slowly, she works her hands over his chest until her left hand touches cold bronze on his shoulder. She snatches the brooch and rips it free, hoping to stab him with the pin.

Her elation vanishes with her balance as her tangled cloak thwarts her plans. Face contorted with rage, Urien lunges and catches her wrist. She grits her teeth as his fingers dig in to make her drop the brooch. Pain shoots up her arm. She pushes away. Together, they fall—

***

Gyan gasped and sat bolt upright, pulse hammering. Sweat plastered her hair to her head, which felt like the ball in an all-night game of buill-coise. Bed linens ensnared her legs.

Fingers grazed her shoulder. She recoiled and cocked a fist. Her consort ducked behind his hand. “Easy, Gyan!” She relaxed, and he wrapped his arm about her. “What’s wrong?”

She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “A dream,” she replied, hoping that for once he’d be satisfied with a vague answer.

“Some dream.”

She sighed. “It was the fight—and yet not the fight.” Gently, she traced the thin red line at the base of his neck where she’d scratched him with Caleberyllus to seal his Oath of Fealty to her and to her clan. But dreams cared naught for oaths. “This time, Urien won.”

Arthur grimaced. “That’s no dream.” He hugged her, and she burrowed into his embrace. “I’d call it a nightmare.”

“Ha.” She bent forward to disengage the linens from her feet. The unyielding fabric ignited her ire. She pounded the straw-stuffed mattress, furious at Urien and even more furious at herself for allowing him to creep into her wedding chamber, if only in spirit. “Why must that cù-puc keep coming between us?” She gazed at the table where Braonshaffir, named for the egg-size sapphire that crowned its hilt, lay sheathed inside its etched bronze scabbard beside Caleberyllus. Indulging in the fantasy of her new sword shearing through Urien’s neck, she bared her teeth in a fierce grin. “Just let him cross me openly, and by the One God, I’ll settle this matter!”

Arthur’s warm sigh ruffled her hair. Together they righted the linens, but when she would have risen, he clasped her hands and regarded her earnestly. “I can’t afford to lose either of you.”

She looked at those hands, young and yet already scarred and callused by years of war: hands that cradled the future of Breatein. “I know.” Briefly, she squeezed his hands, hoping to convey her desire to help him forge unity among his people, the Breatanaich, as well as with Caledonaich, her countrymen.

One legion soldier in five called the northwestern Breatanach territory of Dailriata home, and one in three of those men hailed from Urien’s own Clan Móran. In a duel between Gyan and Urien, Arthur’s Dailriatanach alliance would die regardless of the victor.

If politics ever failed to constrain the Urien of the waking world, however, she couldn’t guarantee that diplomacy would govern her response.

She averted her gaze again to the table where their arms and adornments lay. Their dragon cloak-pins sparked a memory. Something else had been odd about that dream, but its details had receded like the morning tide. She couldn’t decide whether to be troubled or relieved.

Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, trying to purge Urien map Dumarec from her mind. Moist pressure against her lips announced her consort’s plans. She welcomed his kiss and deepened it. He ran his fingers through her unbraided hair, following the tresses down her neck and over her breasts. Her nipples firmed under his touch. She arched back, and he kissed his way down to one breast, then the other, drawing the nipples forth even farther and awakening the exquisite ache in her banasròn.

The swelling shaft of sunlight heralded a reminder of their duties.

“The cavalry games will be starting soon, mo laochan.” No other man had earned the Caledonaiche endearment from her, and none ever would. Her “little champion” bore her down onto the pillows, and his lips interrupted any other comment she might have made. As they explored the curve of her throat, she whispered, “We must make an appearance.”

“We will, Gyan.” His fingertips teased her banasròn, discovering its damp readiness. “Eventually.”

She stilled his hand. He looked at her, puzzled.

Being àrd-banoigin obligated her to ensure her clan’s future by bearing heirs, but was she ready to abandon the warrior’s path and devote her life to a bairn? She gave a mental shrug. A swift calculation assured her that her courses would return soon, leaving the question to be faced another day. Smiling, she began caressing one of the reasons he’d earned “laochan” as an endearment.

He cupped her face and kissed her, urgency for both of them soaring on the wings of desire. His thigh rubbed hers with slow, firm strokes. Gyanhumara nic Hymar, Chieftainess of Clan Argyll of Caledon, yielded to her consort’s unspoken command. She opened to him, and he plunged her into their sacred realm of mind-blanking bliss.

Whenever Arthur map Uther, Pendragon of Breatein, issued an order, on the battlefield or off, only a fool disobeyed.

BOOK TRAILER (with older cover by Jennifer Doneske)

CHARACTER BIOS

From Legion Headquarters in Caer Lugubalion, Brydein, I send you greetings.

I put pen to parchment in honor of my wife, Gyan—formally, Chieftainess Gyanhumara nic Hymar of Clan Argyll of Caledonia. We have been married a few short months, just since the calends of July, and we met each other for the first time only three months before that. Yet I feel so closely bonded with her in heart, soul, and mind that it seems as if I have known her my entire life.

If you were to ask me what first caught my attention about this remarkable woman, I would have to confess it was her exotic beauty. Her brilliant copper hair, sea-green eyes, berry lips, the wild blue doves winging across her forearm all beckoned to me to learn more about her. Since I knew her to be a warrior—though untried in battle at the time of our meeting—I had expected her to act aloof, cold, haughty, arrogant. From the moment my hand gripped her arm in welcome, I knew she was none of those things.

And I think I knew—on some level, at least, if not overtly—that my heart stood in grave danger of declaring its undying allegiance to her even as I realized that to do while she remained betrothed to Urien might plunge our lands into another war.

Fortunately for both our peoples, Gyan proved herself a canny diplomat and hid her feelings about me until the time was right for both of us to declare our love.

Problems remain, of course. Though together Gyan and I defeated the Scots and bought peace from that quarter for a season, the Saxon and Angli kings remain a looming threat. Urien stands to become chieftain of his clan, and may God deliver us all from that day. And I cannot shake the disturbing thought that, should Gyan and I have children, they might fall victim to treachery from without—or within.

But I also have deep abiding faith in that which makes us strongest: our love for each other, and the love of our God, our families, our clans, and our friends. Against an alliance of that nature no power in heaven or on earth stands a chance.

Arturus Aurelius Vetarus, Dux Britanniarum
Also called by many Arthur the Pendragon

 

Mornings Journey - Author PhotoAUTHOR BIO
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins — the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century — seem to be sticking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from “the other Washington”) and a direct descendent of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.

 

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The Thirteen Treasures of Britain by Human Odyssey

I was nicely surprised this morning when this amazing article was shared on my Facebook page Arthurian Romances! I’ve asked to post it here so you may enjoy it as well!

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The “Thirteen Treasures of Britain” are famous artefacts from Celtic legend. The kings and heroes of Britain possessed these divine hallows during the divine age – a time when Arthur and Merlin protected the realm.

Rulers and chieftains were given these treasures as a sign of their sovereignty. Each treasure had its own way of testing a king’s worthiness: they were designed to be wielded by the righteous and the brave, often failing in the hands of the wicked.

The Thirteen treasures of Britain included:

1. The Flaming Sword (Dyrnwyn) of Rhydderch Hael; Only the king of the north could wield this weapon which was said to burst into a flame from cross to the point.

2. The Chessboard of Gwenddolen was renowned for its ability to play opponents by itself. The board was made of gold, adorned with 32 silver pieces. The knight, Peredur, once played against it and lost. Outraged at his intellectual unworthiness, he threw the chess board into a lake.

3. The Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir acted like a food replicator. Any goods that was placed inside it was copied ten-fold. Once reopened, it would have a hundred servings to feed a whole army of people.

4. The Carriage of Morgan Mwynvawr was renowned for its speed. It was claimed that its passengers were swiftly transported to wherever their hearts desired. Some said it flew through the sky to its destination, other that it arrived at its target in the blink of an eye.

5. The Horn of Bran Galed was especially sought after by those who liked their drink. It could dispense any beverage its user wished for, including rum, wine, beer and ale. Bran the Blessed, who was the custodian of this artefact, later became a guardian of the Holy Grail.

6. The Halter of Clydno Eiddyn could tame any horse in the kingdom. It was kept at the end of Eiddyn’s bed. Whatever horse he wished for at night, would appear harnessed to the halter in the morning. This was a most prized possession for any horse-loving Celt.

7. The Knife of Llawfrodded Farchawg was so swift that it could serve up a hog-roast for twenty-four men all at once. It was great for a feast, but could also be a deadly weapon on the battlefield.

8. The Cauldron of Dyrnwch (a Celtic giant) could boil a most delicious stew, but it would only feed the most courageous of people. If a coward tried to boil meat in it, the flesh would remain uncooked. However, if a brave champion placed his kill in the pot, it would cook a sumptuous feast for him and his army.

9. The Tunic of Padarn Beisrudd was made to fit the kind and noble hearted. If a wicked person tried to adorn themselves with the armoured tunic, it would shrink in size, prohibiting the unworthy from its magical benefits.

10. The Whetstone of Tudwal Tudelud produced the most finely sharpened swords in the land. However, it would only hone the blade of a brave and fierce warrior. Any enemy struck by its finely polished blade was sure to die. However, if a coward sharpened his sword on its magical edge, it would blunt their weapon, rendering it useless in battle.

11. The Crockery of Rhegynydd Ysgolhaig produced the most wondrous feasts. It would fill itself to the brim with whatever food its master wished for, and was said to feed thousands of people during the harvest festival.

12. The Mantle of Arthur could conceal the user from his enemies. Whoever was robed in this magical cloth would become concealed to the outside world. Rather than a cloak of invisibility, it functioned more like a chameleon, blending in with its surroundings.

13. The Ring of Eluned was perhaps the most powerful artefact of all. Whoever concealed the stone of this ring would become invisible. They would not be able to kill anyone while concealed, for as soon as they took their hand away from the stone, they would become visible once again. This helped to ensure the ring wasn’t used as a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.

According to legend, Merlin the magician spent many years searching for all these divine artefacts. Eventually he procured all thirteen treasures from their owners and took them to his glass abode on Bardsey Island, Wales. When he eventually faded from this world, the divine age of Celts came to an end.

Some say the treasures of Britain can be found in Merlin’s secret tomb, but sadly its location has been lost in the annals of time. Others say the treasures are still with us, buried beneath Britain, waiting for a virtuous and noble soul to reclaim them.

Morgan Le Faye, Queen of ‘Gore’

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Morgan Le Fay,
Queen of ‘Gore’
(Born c.AD 473)
(Welsh: Morgan; Latin: Morganna; English: Morgan)

The much maligned Morgan Le Fay was, to a large extent, the invention of medieval romance writers such as Sir Thomas Malory. In his “Le Morte D’Arthur” Malory tells us that Morgan was one of the half-sisters of King Arthur, daughter of Ygerna and her first husband, Gorlois. The Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian tales tells how she became Guinevere’s lady in waiting and fell in love with the King’s nephew, Giomar. Guinevere, however, put an end to the romance and, as a result, Morgan eventually betrayed the Queen’s affair with Lancelot to King Arthur. She even sent the Green Knight to Camelot in order to frighten Guinevere to death. Morgan herself took a fancy to Lancelot at one point and imprisoned him for some time before he was able to escape.

Chrétien describes Morgan as a giver of healing ointments, but the lady is usually portrayed as a wicked enchantress who learned her initial mysterious skills from her corrupt education in an early Christian nunnery. Later, Merlin helped her to extend her magical powers. The story that she enticed King Arthur into an incestuous affair from which Mordred was born is, however, a misconception derived from the desire of modern authors to merge Morgan with her more sympathetic sister, (Anna-) Morgause.

Malory shows how Morgan hated Arthur for his purity and plotted with her lover, Sir Accolon, to steal both Excalibur and the British throne. Arthur met Accolon in combat without his magical sword, but the Lady of the Lake helped him retrieve it and win the battle. In return, Morgan stole Excalibur’s scabbard and threw it into the nearest lake. She eventually escaped Arthur’s wrath by transforming her entourage into stone.

Morgan retired to Gore (North Rheged) and then to her Castle of Tauroc (possibly in North Wales). The Royal court appears to have thought her dead until Arthur came across her residence while out hunting one day. The two were immediately reconciled. In late life she moved to the Isle of Avalon, and it was to here that she and her allies, the Queens of Northgalis (North Wales) and the Wastelands, took her wounded brother to be healed after the Battle of Camlann.

Malory makes Morgan the wife of King Uriens of Gore, an actual historical mid to late 6th century monarch of North Rheged (what is now Cumberland and Westmorland in Northern Britain). Though technically this may have been just about possible, during this time period it is stretching credulity a little far. Morgan was an elder half-sister of King Arthur who fought at Mount Badon around 495-500 and traditionally died in 537. Urien was assassinated during a military campaign around 590. The earlier Vulgate Cycle, however, makes Morgan a generation younger, being the daughter of King Lot of Lothian (Gododdin). On the other hand, Welsh Tradition tells us that Urien’s wife was Modron ferch Afallach, apparently a sister-in-law of King Maelgwn Gwynedd, and it may be that two ladies have become confused.

Alternatively, this latter identification may betray the lady’s true origins as a Pagan Celtic Goddess. Modron was the name of the Celtic Mother-Goddess, often depicted in Romano-British times as having a triple personality. This may be seen in Arthurian tales through her association with the Queens of Northgalis (North Wales) and the Wastelands. The Lady of the Lake may have been another aspect of the lady. Modron’s father, Afallach, was the titular God of the Celtic Otherworld, Avalon. Morgan is said to have lived here with her nine sisters, a not insignificant group similar to the Greek Muses. Some early sources actually refer to Morgan as “the Goddess,” while her shape-shifting and healing aspects clearly indicate heavenly powers. She appears to have gradually degenerated into “Le Fay” – a fairy – who could fly through the air on enchanted wings: to this day, the Breton name for a water-nymph is a Morgan.

The lady’s wicked character appears to have been the invention of the Cistercian monks who wrote the stories of the Vulgate Cycle. Influenced by memories of the ancient Irish Goddess, the Morrighan (Phantom Queen), another triple-aspect divinity representing life & death, sexuality and conflict, they painted poor pagan Morgan as black as they could. They believed it blasphemous for a healer to be neither male nor a member of a religious order and Morgan paid dearly for her reputation.

Sources

Geoffrey Ashe (1990) Mythology of the British Isles.
Peter C. Bartrum (1993) A Welsh Classical Dictionary.
Ronan Coghlan (1991) The Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends.
David Day (1995) The Quest for King Arthur.
Chrétien De Troyes (1160) Erec and Enide.
Chrétien De Troyes (1170) Yvain.
Miranda J. Green (1992) Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend.
Phyllis Ann Karr (1997) The Arthurian Companion.
Thomas Malory (1485) Le Morte D’Arthur.
John & Caitlin Matthews (1988) The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology.
John Matthews (1994) The Arthurian Tradtion.
Geoffrey of Monmouth (1150) The Life of Merlin.

Could the two of my favorite women in Celtic Mythology be related or one in the same?

As an Arthurian scholar and enthusiast, I love Morgan Le Faye. She has a very sensual and powerful je ne sais quoi. On the other hand, I also like the Morrighan in Irish mythology. These two women share so many characteristics could they be one in the same? I did a little research, and below you’ll see what I found.

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The Morrighan

The Morrigan, the Great Queen, the Phantom Queen and the Monster Queen and her sisters Babd and Macha, are a triple Fairy Queen. They are mistresses of war, magic and prophesy. The Morrigan’s animal form is a crow, and thus she appears as the fairy of death in battle.
It was by her valor, future sight and druid’s magic that Tuatha Dé Danann, the Tribe of Danu, defeated the Fir Blogs in the first battle of Mag Tuired. That the Celtic war diety is female, and not male, says a lot about the deep cultural chasm between bronze age Keltic folk and their Greco-Roman, Levantian and Egyptian contemporaries.
More than with most Irish mythic characters, the tales and personas of The Morrighan vary from time to time and place to place. As a cattle fairy she reigns over property, sovereignty and fertility. But as fairy of death in battle she transforms into crows, bansees, and the death eaters of the Harry Potter cycle.

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Morgan Le Faye

Morgan Le Fay: popularly known as Arthurian sorceress, benevolent fairy, priestess, dark magician, enchantress, witch, sea goddess, shape-changer, healer, and the sole personage of Avalon the Isle of Apples, not to mention daughter of Ygerna (Igraine) and Gorlois, half-sister to King Arthur, mother of Mordred, lady-in-waiting to Guinevere, wife of Uriens, lover of Sir Accolon, fancier of Sir Lancelot, and ‘as fair a lady as any might be’.
Morgan Le Fay was first introduced into Arthurian legend by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the Vita Merlini (c. 1150) but her true origin, as with many Arthurian characters, leads back into Celtic mythology and inevitably develops with each new rendition of the tale. Morgan Le Fay’s character is interesting enough, but so is her name.
The name ‘Morgan Le Fay’
In Celtic terms, Morgan (or Morcant) is a man’s name. The feminine version is more correctly Morgain (or Morgue or Morgne). Also Morrigan equates with Morrigu of Irish mythology. According to Celtic tradition the Morrigan (a Triple Goddess of Celtic myth, thought of as the Goddess of Death) flew over battles, shrieking like ravens and claiming dead soldiers’ heads as trophies. Or the answer may lie in Uriens – in early Welsh literature Modron (a version of Matrona) was the daughter of Avallach, wife of Urien, and mother of Owein. The Welsh and Arthurian story lines were later merged, forming a link between Modron and King Arthur. Further, there was a sixth-century Cumbrian ruler called Urien Rheged who presided over a loose coalition of kings (according to some accounts there was also an Arthur, son of King Aedan of dal Riada). Urien had a loose ally: Morcant Bulc – a man – who eventually plotted to assassinate him, which could have been Sir Thomas Malory’s inspiration for the plot in Le Morte d’Arthur where Morgan Le Fay attempts to kill Arthur and Uriens.
‘Le Fay’ is an ancient word for a fairy and to this day, apparently, the Breton name for a water-nymph is a ‘Morgan’.
The possible roots of the Arthurian character Morgan Le Fay therefore run deep into early British mythology and can be traced across several hundred years up to her final act as one of the three women who transported the fatally wounded King Arthur in a barge to the Isle of Avalon to be healed (outcome unrecorded). A speculative summary, based on Welsh and other Arthurian legend, suggest an identification with Modron and also with the river goddess Matrona, possibly derived from the Irish goddess Morrigan. Given the superstitious Christian attitude to supernatural women in the medieval era, the more she is humanised, the more the name Morgan Le Fay descends into an easy literary metaphor for devious, sometimes evil mischief.
Nonetheless the much-maligned Morgan Le Fay never becomes purely evil. Her attractive qualities remain – a healer, she is associated with art and culture, she is sexy, and in the end is worthy of redemption.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and questions.

Family of Arthur

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Family of Arthur

Arthur was the great legendary British king. Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine. Igraine was the wife to Duke Gorlois of Cornwall (or Hoel of Tintagel), at the time she had conceived Arthur. Through Merlin’s magic, Uther was transformed to look exactly like her husband. Uther made love to Igraine, when Gorlois was absence. When Gorlois was killed, Uther immediately married Igraine.

In the Welsh legend, his mother was named Eigr (Igraine), daughter of Anlawdd Wledig, and his father was Uthr Bendragon (Uther Pendragon). Arthur had a sister named Gwyar, who was the mother of Gwalchmai or Gwalchmei, which means the Hawk of May, and of Gwalhaved. Gwalchmai was better known in English and French legend as Gawain or Gauvain. But there is frequent confusion of who were Arthur’s sisters and who was mother of Gawain in the mainstream Arthurian legend.

According to Geoffrey, Wace and Layamon, Uther and Igraine were parents of Arthur and a daughter named Anna, who married King Lot of Orkney. Morgan le Fay was also considered to be Arthur’s sister, but I am not certain that if she was Arthur’s sister or half-sister. Geoffrey never mention Morgan in his History, but in his later work, (Vita Merlini, c. 1151) Morgan was one of the sisters and sorceresses who lived in Avalon. In Gerald of Wales’ work called Tour of Wales (1188), the scholar wrote that Morgan was Arthur’s cousin. Some had identified Morgan with the Welsh mother goddess Modron, the mother of Mabon, the Welsh god of youth. Modron had also being identified as being the wife of Uryen Rheged (Urien) and the mother of Owain (Yvain).

Later legends say that Arthur had three half-sisters: Morgawse, Elaine (Blasine) and Morgan le Fay. Morgawse had married King Lot of Orkney, Elaine (Blasine) was married to King Nentres of Garlot, while Morgan was wife of King Urien of Gorre, brother of Lot.

Arthur said to have no children from his wife Guinevere, except for in Perlesvaus, where Lohot was their son, and Guinevere is his mother. However, Lohot (or Loholt) was said to be Arthur’s son, not by his wife Guinevere, but more frequently by a woman named Lisanor [Chretien de Troyes’ Erec [from Arthurian Romances, translated by William W. Kibler, p. 58]. Lohot was one of the Round Table knights. Lohot was also one of the knights captured by the lord of Dolorous Guard, where he fell ill during the imprisonment.

According to Malory, the son was named Borre (Boarte in Suite du Merlin) and the mother was named Lionors [le Morte d’Arthur, book I ch. 17] (or Lyonors in Suite du Merlin). The similarity between the two women’s names – Lisanor and Lionor, suggested that Lohot and Borre is one and the same person.

According to the ninth century historian, Nennius, Arthur had a son named Amr, as well as a dog, called Cabal. Nennius say that Arthur had killed his own son, but doesn’t state why he had done so. Arthur had set up tomb near the spring called Licat Amr, in the region of Ercing. What was marvelous about this tomb is that it change in length in various days. Amr could be the prototype to Mordred. As for his dog, the mound was called Carn Cabal, located in Buelt. Cabal was killed when they went hunting against the wild boar Troynt (possibly Twrach Trwyth in Culhwch and Olwen?).

In Culhwch and Olwen (c. 1100), Arthur was the father of Gwydre, possibly by Gwenhwyvar (Guinevere). Gwydre was killed by a wild boar known as Twrach Trwyth. At the end of the Dream of Rhonabwy, Arthur had a different son named Llacheu. While in the beginning of the Welsh romance “Gereint and Enid”, the story mentioned that Arthur had a son named Amhar. Amhar could be the same as Nennius’ “Amr”, but I am not certain about this. None of these tales gave any indication that they were the sons of Gwenhwyvar (Guinevere).

Also in the Welsh myth, the Welsh Triad listed three queens of Arthur. All three queens were named Gwenhwyvar. They were called Gwenhwyfar daughter of Gwent (Cywryd), and Gwenhwyfar daughter of Gwythyr son of Greidiawl, and Gwenhwyfar daughter of Gogfran the Giant. This reminded me of the triple war-goddesses Morrigan or triple mother-goddesses Danu in Irish myths. In some cases, Guinevere or Gwenhwyfar was seen as a goddess, just like Morgan le Fay.

The Welsh Triad also listed Arthur of having three mistresses – Indeg daughter of Garwy the Tall, and Garwen (“Fair Leg”) daughter of Henin the Old, and Gwyl (“Modest”) daughter of Gendawd (“Big Chin”).

In Irish literature, Arthur appeared as Artúir (Artuir), the son of Benne Brit (“of the Britons”). In the Acallam na Senórach, the Irish hero, Cailte reminisced how he and nine other Fian warriors recovered the hounds of Finn Mac Cumaill. Artuir had stolen Finn’s hounds, called Bran, Sceolaing and Adnúall.

In Irish myth, Arthur was not a hero at all. He was nothing but a thief.

However, his most famous son was Mordred. Normally, in the early tradition, (by Geoffrey of Monmouth and others), Mordred was Arthur’s nephew, because Mordred was the son of King Lot and Anna or Morgawse, the sister of Arthur. But as early as the Huath Merlin and the prose Merlin (Vulgate version), it was implied that Mordred was his son by Arthur’s half-sister, Morgawse. In the Suite du Merlin (a continuation of the Vulgate Merlin), Arthur had unwittingly slept with Morgawse, because he did not know that she was his half-sister. Some even say that Morgan le Fay was Mordred’s mother.

In the Mort Artu (Vulgate Cycle), Gawain did not know that Mordred was only his half brother until Mordred had seized power during their absence in the wars against Lancelot and the Romans. The only person who knew of Arthur relationship with Mordred was Morgawse and Merlin.

In the tenth century Annale Cambriae, Arthur and Medraut (Mordred) fell in battle at Camlann. The ambiguous statement did they fought against, or if they against each other as enemies, or what their relationship to one another. But in the Dream of Rhonabwy (Mabinogion), Medrawd (Modred) was his nephew and only his foster-son.

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