Le Morte Darthur Book 17

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Book 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21      Characters  Seminar  Text

Whenever I think a passage to contain something of the below mentioned topics I will mark it with a corresponding letter. Hope that it will help. And yes, Book 17 seems really just to contain bits and pieces thrown together with no apparent order.

A - Aspect of cheap entertainment (Chapbooks) - personally I think all those "Action Scenes" could be part of this topic. B - Prophecies, predictions of what is to come, moments of reflection when things happened as predicted C - Marriage & Fidelity D - Violence & second thoughts E - Christianity and the heathen world, supernatural incidents, miracles, moments where other mythologies interfere F - Gender roles G - Is this text historical or fictional, do we get proofs, sources, doubts second thoughts on the status of the stories. H - Modern adaptations: key scenes (which that are is yet to be determined) I - Concepts of honour and morality in general and individual

Summary Book XVII

Four Arthurian knights receive visions and divine guidance to their way towards the Holy Grail as they prove themselves in several adventures. Galahad, Percival, Bors as a group and Lancelot on his own reach the Holy Grail. Lancelot may only see it shortly for he is not free of sin and then returns to Camelot. The other knights,fullfilling the prophecies, are blessed by Jesus himself and Galahad outshines the other two be his healing powers and his purity in his belief and deeds. In the end Galahad is crowned king and dies. While Percival follows him shortly, overcome with grief, Bors returns to Camelot to tell the tale.

Capitulum i

After having rescued Sir Percival from the 20 knights, Sir Galahad traveled a vast forest and persists through many, not further mentioned, adventures. On his way to the sea he comes past a castle were a siege is taking place. He quickly decides to help those "good knights" in the castle and is soon attacked by the besieging knights. With them are Sir Gawayn and Sir Hector de Marys who recognize Galahad's white shield with the red cross and attack him. Galahad defeats them all and Gawayn receives a near fatal head wound. After all the "knights without" are chased off and Gawayn is brought to safety by Hector, Galahad simple rides away. Gawayn marvels at the storys the tell about the sword from the lake and only after months is healed from his terrible wound. An Hector tells him that his quest has come to an end.

Sir Galahad rides on to Castle Carbonek (called Castle Corbin or Castle Corbin) rests nearby at a hermitage and is woken at night by a “gentilwoman” that asks him to get armed and follow her, for in the next three days she would grant him adventures never seen by a knight before. Galahad follows. A B

Capitulum ii

Galahad is lead to the castle of that “gentilwoman’s” lady where he rests some time before he is lead towards the sea by that “gentilwoman” and with them they carry a child and some riches. On the beach the ship,with cheering Bors and Percival on board, is waiting for them. As soon as they are on board the ship starts sailing again and all three knights exchange the storys of their adventures and their temptations. Bors is only missing Lancelot in his party. After a while they meet another ship between two big rocks. Writings on on the ship tell them, that only those of “steadfast believe” should enter the ship because the author of those letters would not help them if they should fail. At that point the “gentilwoman” reveals that she is Percival’s sister and warns him, that he will perish should he not firmly believe in Jesus Christ. Happy to see his sister, Percival replies that he, should he be an untrue knight, could as well perish. B E F I

Capitulum iii

On board of the other ship the the four find it full of riches and with a large bed in the middle, at it’s foot a sword could be found. The swords pommel was made a of multicolored stone and the cross guard (?) (“scales”) was made of the rips of two beasts: the Serpent of the Fiend and the Fish Ertanax. First should save its bearer from weariness and harm, the other would strengthen the bearer’s will as to focus solemly on the task before him and avoid distraction.. Percival and Bors both can’t draw the word and in Galahad’s hands it displayed strange red letters (like blood), telling him of the special powers of the sword and that only a man passing all other man would be able to draw it. Galahad doesn’t try to draw it out of disgust. Percival’s sister remembers some tales in which the word is found on a ship and could only be employed by a severly wounded man against a muslim king who then died after returning the sword to the ship. A E

Capitulum iv

They then see that the scabbard of the sword is made from snake skin and bears golden and silvern letters but the girdle was crude and unfitting to hold the scabbard. The letters read that he who wants to bear the sword should be hardier (" more harder") than any other man. And that despite of the crude girdle the bearer should not be ashamed. The girdle could only be replaced by the hands of a virgin from royal blood. And a virgin she must stay all her life or a dreadful death would befall her. As they turn the word they perceive it to be black, showing red letters which warn them, that the sword will turn on him that praises it most or to whom it is most courteous. Sir Percival's sister remembers a tale of a man called Nacyen who lived 40 years after the passion of Christ and who found the ship with the sword. First he couldn't draw it and the wind drives the ship to different places. And when he encountered a giant he found the sword out of his scabbard, praised it much and it broke at his first strike. After meeting king "Mordrayne" on another ship Nacyen learns that he must have sinned and he (Mordryane probably) sets the pieces of teh sword together which is as good as new. They are then asked to leave the ship and Nacyen receives a sword stroke to his right foot for, as a voice claims, he was never worthy to handle the sword. A G E

Capitulum v

another tale – King Pelles, later on called the Maimed King, was a great supporter of the church, found the ship after getting separated with all but one of his knightes he rode out for hunting. After reading the letters and entering the ship lone he tried to draw the sword and was struck by spear through both thighs a wound that could never be healed since then. We then switch back to the three knights, who find two swords and three white, green and red “spyndels” of vibrant color near the head of the bed. Sir Percival’s sister tells the knight’s the story how Eve planted the branch of the tree that carried “the apple” after their banishment from paradise into the earth and a majestic white tree grew out of it. After Adam and Eve had had sex under the tree it turned green and later, after Cain killed his brother Abel below it, it turned red and all plants except this tree withered. Much later wise king Solomon reigned the marvellous red tree still existed. King Solomon’s wife is said to be an evil woman and the king himself despises women in his books until the Holy Spirit tells him, that from his lineage will come a glorrious woman, from the man, who would not only be a formidable knight but also the last of Solomon’s bloodline and a virgin. [“man whiche shalle be a mayde”] E F

Capitulum vi

King Solomon kept studying and thought long time who could be this man and finally he told his wife about the prophecy. She asked him to have an excellent ship build and the sword of David fitted with a new pommel, crossguard and sheath. She herself outfitted the ship with riches and added the hempen girdle (against the protest of Solomon)to the sword. And she forced a carpenter to cut enough wood from the white, the green and the red tree to craft three “spyndlys” out of it. Those were added to the bed. After all is done Solomon wonders what this all is about but his wife just answers that he will get answers soon enough B E F G

Capitulum vii

At night Solomon dreams of angels that spray the ship with holy water (consecrate it?) and wirte on’s sides warnings for those that enter and on the sword another message. Shocked he retreated and the ship glided into the sea and vanished quickly while a little voice told Solomon that the knight he is looking for will rest on this bed and ship. He then told his wife about his dream. [Back on board the ship] Percival finds writings that tell them the story of the ship and the sword and they understand, that they must find a suitable girdle for the famous sword. Percival’s sister then produces a girdle made from her own hair that she had crafted as soon as she knew about her mission. And then Galahad is girded with the sword then called the Sword of the Strange Girdles. Then they leave the ship (of Solomon) and the winds drive them to the coast of Scotland, near to a castle on the cliffs. where Percival’s sister warns the knights about assailants, who know that they were Arthur’s knights. E A B G

Capitulum viii

After introducing themselves to a squire of that castle who then returned with the message the hear horns and are warned by a “gentilwoman” to leave or they would die. Some well armed knights are dispatched from the castle to take the knights prisoners but are quickly killed or flee, while the knights take some of the horses and follow the survivers into the castle, were the kill quite many people. As they wonder on what they have done and are quite sure to have sinned. But why had God given them the strength to kill them? A priest in the castle tells them that there is no need for self-doubt since the former lord (Earl Hernox) of this castle was fataly wounded thrown into prison by his three sons, who before that had raped and then, when she told her father, killed her sister and afterwards killed priests and destroyed churches. The priests also says, that Earl Hernox forsaw the arrival of servants of God to redeem this injustice. D(!) E I

Capitulum ix

Earl Hernox dies in Galahad’s arms and with his last breath asks the knight to go and seek out the Maimed King, for he will be healed by Galahad.

The three knights and Percival’s sister depart and on their travel they meet a white stag with four “lions” (?lyons) in a vast forest which they folllow to a hermitage were an armored priest conducts mass in a chapel, which the four travelers attend. In mass they see the white stag become a man and the lions turn into another man, a lion (…), an eagle, and an ox, that all receive a blessing at the altar and leave, somehow incorporeal, through the painted glaswindow. Then the knights hear a voice that tells them that like this the Virgin Mary received his son. They ask the priest about what had happened and he explains to them, that they are choosen to learn about secrets of God himself and that they will bring an end to the “Sancgreal” (Sangreal – Holy Grail, probably: the quest for the grail).

The white stag and the lions are a symbol for Jesus and the Evangelists but assumes that the knights won’t see these anymore. The knight’s rejoice and travel past a castle on the next day, when a knight bearing a message comes after them. E B

Capitulum x

The knight from the castle asks Percival’s sister to give a dish full of her maiden blood as it is custom. The three knights defend her and even manage fend off a superior number of knights (soldiers), Galahad seemingly going berserk, until nightfall. They are then invited into the castle to rest and learn about this custom. I A

Capitulum xi

Bors, Galahad, Percival and his sister accept and learn that the blood of a maiden is needed to cure the Lady of the castle. Percival’s sister offers to heal the lady with her blood and voluntarily gives enough to heal the lady as well as to kill herself. Her last wish is her body to be send forth on a ship so that, as she forsees, she will arrive in due time at the city of Sarras where she is going to be buried under a tower were Percival and Galahad,too, shall be buried at some point in time. Percival fullfills her wish and even adds a letter that contains all her deeds to her dead hands. After a strong tempest the three knights see a wounded knight praying to God for help and being chased by a “dwarf” and Bors sets out save that knight. B D E

Capitulum xii

Galahad and Percival pray all night for Bors save return. And when they leave the chappel the find everyone in the castle dead and hear a voice that names this God’s vengeance for the shedding of virgin blood. They then find 36 the well preserved tombs of the “maydens that were martred for the seke ladyes sake”, all of whom were of royal blood. Then they leave the castle. E

Capitulum xiii

While Lanceleot is resting near the “waters of Mortoyse” he receives a vision that aks him to board the first ship that he may find. On a beach he finds a ship without sail or oars and as soon as he enters he is overwhelmed with joy and falls asleep. As he awakes he finds Percival’s dead sister on a bed in the ship and reads of her and her brother’s deeds. Lancelot stays onboard the ship for a month and ist sustained by prayers alone. One night he meets his son Galahad and both are full of joy and, as he sees Percival’s dead sister on the bed, tell each other stories of their deeds. Lancelot is especially keen to hear and praise the sword Galahad procured on the ship of Solomon. Both travel together on the ship for half a year and worship good, while again and again fight against wild beasts on unchartered isles, which is not elaborated on since it has nothing to to with the grail.B E

Capitulum xiv

On a Monday Galahad is picked up by heavily armored knight who tells him, that he had passed enough time with his father and a voice tells them, that they will only see each other again on Judgement Day. Thy bid farewell to each other and Lancelot ist driven out unto the sea again for another month full of prayers.

Lancelot finally arrives at a castle whose doors are open but guarded with two lions but before he canenter he is reprimanded by a voice that he will need the strength in the Lord more than his armor. (actually a suddenly appearing dwarf hits him after he readies sword and armor O_o )

Lancelot thanks the Lord and manages to enter the castle through open doors and non-aggressive lions. Only a last door is closed to him and he tries to open it. B E

Capitulum xv

With all his strength he can’t open the door. He only hears an angelic voice praising the Lord. So he prays for God to let him in if he had done something in his life that had pleased him. The door opens and he sees that inside there is a richly decorated and bright altar, some angels and a holy vessel with a priest holding mass in front of it. Lancelot is warned to by that mysterious voice but after seeing the priest struggling while holds the young child of two other people aloft he enters to help the priest. And feels instantly burned and weakened. He falls to the ground, absolutely powerless, and is brought outside. There he is found the next morning and the people of the castle decide to look after him although he seems dead for many of them. B E

Capitulum xvi

For 24 days they serve Lancelot and as he suddenly awakes he is furious about it since he was shown great secrets and miracles in his sleep. He perceives those 24 (25th day he awakes) as his punishment for his 25 years being a sinner and he remebers that he hadn’t worn the hair-shirt (“hayr”) a hermit had given to him as he promised a year ago. Afterward wears the hair-shirt beneath his other clothing. He also is told that he will never see the Grail any closer than he already has and he accepts it, grateful for the mercy shown to him by God.

He then gives his full name and is happily greeting by the king for he is at the Castle of Carbonek and at King Pelles court. The King relates the sad story of his dead daughter whereof Lancelot is genuinely sorry. After four days he wants to leave the court and suddenly during their last meal, that the Grail had provided, all the windows and doors of the castle close magically. A single knights shouts outside the castle that he wihes to enter and finally the king himself asks him, from a window, what this knight's business is and that he surley is not one knight of the quest and not in the service of the Lord. The knight introduces himself as Hector de Marys, brother of Sir Lancelot. When the king tells him that Lancelot is inside his castle, Sir Hector tells the king that his (Hector's) sorrow and shame are thereby doubled and that the "good man of the hill" said the truth about Gawayns and his dreams. The Sir Hector leaves as fast as possible.B I E

Capitulum xvii

Sir Lancelot departs from King Pelles to travel back to the realm of Logrys and after a long travel he rests at a white Abbey. Here he finds a newly made tomb with an inscription stating that this is the grave of Bagdemagus of Gore who had been killed by Sir Gawayn. Lancelot mourns the loss. On his further way he visits the Abbey where Galahad won his shield and finally reaches Camelot, where he is greeted happily. More than half of the knights had been killed on their quest so far. The Sirs Hector, Gawayn and Lyonel were among those returned. Lancelot tells them all about his adventures and about the adventures of Percival, Galahad and Bors, of which he knew through the letter of Sir Percival's dead sister. He also tells the king that only one of these three knights will return to his court.B D

Capitulum xviii

E G I After many travels Sir Galahad comes to an Abbey, where he meets King Mordrayns (who must be quite old be now). The King tells him that he is the purest of all knights asks him to embrace him so that he may die (of age) in his arms. Galahad does as asked and even prays to God to visit him and god hears his prayer and the King departs.

As he travels on pure Galahad calms a boiling well, called Callahady's well, with a touch of his hand. And he later reaches the Abbey where Badgemagus tomb could be found and extinguishes the flames of teh burning tomb of Simeon, which only the knight that passes all other knights of the table round could accomplish and in which Sir Lancelot had already failed. Galahad relieves the spirit of a sinner that had done wrong to Joseph of Arimathea 354 years before by granting him a proper burial. [not sure I got the "who is who" right here]

Capitulum xix

Galahad departs and meets Bors and Percival on the way. Together, they ride to the castle of Carbonek. The son of their host King Pelles shows them the sword that struck Joseph through the thigh; it's broken, and one by one they try to make it whole again, but only Galahad succeeds. He gifts the repaired sword to Bors.

After they have all sat down for dinner, nine foreign knights come to meet Galahad - three from Gaulle, three from Ireland, and three from Denmark - and sit with them.

An old, sick man wearing a gold crown is brought into the room where dinner is held, lying in a bed. Without identifying himself, he welcomes Galahad and tells him that he's long wanted to meet him, and sends King Pelles and his son away.

Capitulum xx

A man in the garments of a bishop and four angels descend from heaven; the bishop is holding a cross, and letters written on his forehead identify him as Joseph, the first bishop of Christendom. The angels who accompanied him return, two of them bearing candles, one a towel, and one a spear with blood dripping from it. Galahad takes some of the blood and anoints the sick man's legs with it, making him healthy again.

Then, Jesus himself appears and blesses everyone present. He gives Galahad a special plate and tells him it can't be in Britain any longer; Galahad should take his sword, Bors and Percival, and depart on a ship that he'll find waiting for him at the coast. Jesus also prophecies that two of them won't return from their quest.

Capitulum xxi

Galahad asks the three knights from Gaulle to greet Lancelot for him if they go to Arthur's court, and then departs. On the ship, Galahad prays and is granted the gift that he'll be able to die when- and wherever he chooses, and his soul will go on to eternal life.

Upon their landing in Sarras, Galahad heals a cripple. Percival buries his sister there, who had died in the meantime. They see the tyrant king and tell him the story of their quest, but he throws them into prison.

Capitulum xxii

Eventually the king dies, asking forgiveness of the three, which they grant. The people of Sarras make Galahad their new king; he accepts, but soon after his coronation, he dies during Mass.

Capitulum xxiii

Percival and Bors grieve for him, Percival so much so that he enters a hermitage to live as a holy man for a year and two days, before he, too, dies. Bors buries him next to his sister and Galahad and then returns to Britain, where he is warmly welcomed at court and the story he has to tell is written down in books.