Study Guide

Le Morte D'Arthur Book 6

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Book 6

A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot Du Lake

  • Sir Launcelot has proven himself to be the best of the Knights of the Round Table in jousting, tournaments, and deeds of arms. In other words, Lance is a total stud.
  • Queen Gwenyvere loves Launcelot more than any other knight, and he, in turn, is totally devoted to her. There's just the tiny problem of the fact that she's married to the king.
  • One day, Launcelot decides to ride away from court in search of adventures. He takes his nephew, Sir Lionel, along with him.
  • Feeling tired in the mid-day sun, Lionel and Launcelot fall asleep in the shade of a large tree.
  • While Launcelot sleeps, Lionel rides away in pursuit of a knight he has seen capture three other knights. Unfortunately, Lionel's defeated and captured, too, and put in the knight's dungeon.
  • When Sir Ector de Maryse, Lionel's brother, learns that Launcelot and Lionel have left the court, he rides out in pursuit of them.
  • Soon, he comes to a large tree with many shields hanging from it, including Sir Lionel's. Near the tree is a copper basin. A forester has told Sir Ector to strike the basin if he wants adventure, so he does (no surprise there; these knights are always on the lookout for adventure).
  • A knight rides up to the tree and defeats Sir Ector, then throws him in his dungeon as well, where Sir Ector finds Sir Lionel.
  • Meanwhile, four ladies, including Morgan le Fay, ride by Launcelot sleeping under the tree. They decide to enchant him into a deep sleep and carry him to their palace in the hope of winning his love.
  • When Launcelot wakes up, Morgan le Fay tells him to choose one of the four ladies, but Launcelot refuses because he's totally devoted to Gwenyvere.
  • One of Morgan's ladies-in-waiting kindly helps Launcelot escape from the palace in exchange for his promise to help her father, King Badgemagus, win a tournament. No big deal, thinks Launcelot.
  • Sleepy again, Launcelot falls asleep in a tent he finds along his journey home. The knight whose tent it is crawls into bed with Launcelot accidentally, mistaking him for his lady-love. Oops.
  • After they joust for a bit, the knight's actual lady-love convinces Launcelot to knight her lover, Sir Pelleas (sound familiar?), at the next high feast, and Launcelot agrees.
  • Launcelot meets with King Badgemagus and his daughter at an abbey, and gets three of Sir Badgemagus' knights, all dressed in white, to help him win the tournament.
  • Of course Launcelot wins the tournament against the King of North Gales, engaging with some of Arthur's knights in the process.
  • After this, Launcelot meets with Sir Tarquin, the knight who has imprisoned Lionel, Ector, and many more of Arthur's knights in that dungeon we heard about earlier. Sir Tarquin has just captured Sir Gaheris. They joust.
  • Tarquin tells Launcelot that he hates him and has imprisoned many of Arthur's knights because Launcelot killed his brother, Sir Carados. Launcelot's response? He cuts Sir Tarquin's head off, of course.
  • Then he sends Gaheris to free the knights in Sir Tarquin's dungeon.
  • Later, Launcelot rescues a lady from a downright evil knight who has been kidnapping and raping all the ladies in the area. The lady asks Launcelot why he doesn't have a wife or a lover, and he replies that a wife would constrain his adventure-seeking, and that it's not seemly for a good Christian knight to have a lover. (Notice that he doesn't mention dear Gwen.)
  • Then Launcelot rescues the fortress of Tintagel from two giants that have captured it. Is there anything this guy can't do?
  • While lodging in a little cottage, Launcelot is woken up by the sound of three knights fighting against one, and rescues the single knight, Sir Kay, from the three who have overpowered him.
  • Launcelot switches armor with Sir Kay and rides away before he wakes, and later jousts with three of Arthur's knights who realize he's not Sir Kay when his strength and prowess become clear.
  • Then Launcelot follows a black hound into a castle, where he meets a lady weeping by the body of a dead knight. The lady tells Launcelot it is her husband, Sir Gilberd the Bastard.
  • So Launcelot leaves the castle and meets with the sister of the man who killed Sir Gilberd. She asks Launcelot to go to the Chapel Perilous to retrieve a bloody cloth and sword that can heal her brother's wounds.
  • After Launcelot retrieves the sword and cloth, he meets with the weeping lady again. She asks him to kiss her, but he refuses.
  • She tells Launcelot that she has enticed him there in an attempt to either win his love or keep his body embalmed with her forever (crazy woman alert), but since Launcelot has refused to kiss her, she has failed with at least that first goal. Close call.
  • Launcelot rides away and heals the wounded knight, Sir Melyot, with the sword and bloody cloth he took from Sir Gilberd's body.
  • Sir Launcelot comes upon a castle, next to which he meets a lady who asks him to retrieve her stray falcon from a tree.
  • You'd think he would have learned his lesson from the last favor he did for a lady, but nope. Launcelot promptly takes off all his armor and climbs the tree. When the lady's husband, Sir Phelot, arrives and announces his intention to kill him, he realizes it is a trap. Launcelot, dude, didn't you see that coming?
  • But our guy's quick on his feet, so he knocks Sir Phelot out with a tree branch, and then cuts off his head. Problem solved.
  • Later, as he's riding in a valley, Launcelot comes upon a knight chasing a lady, his wife. The knight claims the lady is unfaithful to him, but she denies it.
  • They joust, but the knight distracts Launcelot in order to cut off his wife's head. Launcelot sends him to Queen Gwenyvere for judgment.
  • Launcelot returns to Arthur's court where he recounts his adventures and meets again with many of the defeated knights he sent there. Awkward.

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