Study Guide

Le Morte D'Arthur Book 11

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Book 11

The Birth of Galahad and the Quarrel between Launcelot and Gwenyvere

  • In King Arthur's court, a hermit prophesies that a knight who is to sit in the Siege Perilous will be born that same year. Let's keep that information handy, shall we?
  • Launcelot rides into a town whose people beg him to rescue their lady from a tub of boiling water where she has been imprisoned because Morgan le Fay is jealous of her beauty.
  • Thankfully, Launcelot is able to break the curse and rescue her because he is the best knight in the world, after all. When he and the lady go to a chapel to give thanks, Launcelot kills a dragon that lives inside.
  • The King of the land, Pelles, invites Launcelot to dine with him in the Castle Corbin. During dinner, a maiden carrying a golden chalice enters, before which Pelles and his men pray.
  • Pelles tells Launcelot that the chalice is the "Sankgreall," or Holy Grail. Whoa. That's kind of a big deal.
  • As it turns out, Pelles wants Launcelot to sleep with his daughter, Elayne. He and a wise-woman, Dame Brusen, conspire to enchant Launcelot into believing he is sleeping with Gwenyvere when it is really Elayne.
  • When Launcelot awakens from the enchantment and realizes what has happened, he's super angry and raises his sword against Elayne, who begs for mercy and tells him that she has conceived a son with him in fulfillment of a prophecy. Could this be the kid who'll sit in the Siege Perilous?
  • In any case, Launcelot leaves the Castle Corbin.
  • Sometime later, his cousin, Sir Bors, arrives at the Castle Corbin and sees the Holy Grail, and the young Galahad, whom he learns is Launcelot's son.
  • Bors spends the night at Corbin. While there, he has a vision of a dragon with "King Arthur" engraved on its head. The dragon fights with a leopard, then spits out of its mouth hundreds of smaller dragons that tear it to pieces. Serious business, folks.
  • He also has a vision of an old man who sings a song about Joseph of Arimathea, and four children surrounding an old man bearing the Spear of Vengeance. In the vision, the old man tells Bors to recount his visions to Sir Launcelot and tell him that although he's the best knight in the physical world, others will surpass him in things spiritual.
  • So Sir Bors returns to Arthur's court and tells everyone what he has seen.
  • When Gwenyvere learns about Elayne and Galahad, she's really angry with Launcelot, but she ends up forgiving him when he explains how he was tricked.
  • Elayne travels to Camelot for a great joust. While there, she and Dame Brusen trick Launcelot into sleeping with her again.
  • As luck would have it, Gwenyvere discovers Launcelot in bed with Elayne and banishes him from Camelot, causing him to go mad and jump out the window completely naked.
  • Elayne chides Gwenyvere for destroying the world's greatest knight, which sounds suspiciously like the pot calling the kettle black.
  • Sir Bors, too, berates Gwenyvere for what she has done, and then rides away with his kinsmen to seek Sir Launcelot.
  • King Arthur sends Sirs Gawain, Uwayne, Sagramour, Agglovale, and Percivale out in search of poor, crazy Launcelot.
  • Agglovale and Percivale first ride to their mother's house. Although she begs them to stay longer, because she's lonely after the death of her husband, Pellynore, and son, Lamerok, they tell her it's just their nature to seek adventure.
  • After they take off, their mother sends a squire in search of then. But he is killed by a lord whose brother was killed by Agglovale. Agglovale of course immediate avenges this death.
  • Percyvale leaves Agglovale sleeping at Cardycan and rides out on his own adventures.
  • He rescues a knight named Sir Persydes from a woman who chained him to a pillar when he refused to become her lover, and he jousts with Sir Ector de Marys, too. They both wound one another mortally, but are healed by the Holy Grail, which Percyvale is able to see because he is a virgin.

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