Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 4, Chapter 10

By T.H. White

Book 4, Chapter 10

  • So, the Pope has ordered peace, and Guenever has been escorted back to Arthur.
  • We also find out that Mordred is the ringleader of a sort of popular revolt. He's standing up for the little guy (yeah, sure), while mercilessly massacring Jews.
  • Guenever was taken back to Camelot in a grand procession, full of symbolism like olive branches and white garments.
  • In the meantime, Lancelot has sent a letter to Gawain, letting him know that he didn't mean to kill Gareth or Gaheris.
  • Mordred is having none of it. He thinks Lancelot did it out of spite, and because he was jealous of Gareth, who was well on his way to becoming as great a knight as Lancelot (his idol).
  • After a short time, Mordred has Gawain whipped up into such an angry frenzy that he's refusing to make peace with Lancelot and his men.
  • The procession comes to an end, with Lancelot returning Guenever, and announcing that she is clean and true to King Arthur.
  • Several times during this ceremony, Gawain interrupts with rude words. Finally, he calls Lancelot a recreant knight, which is the worst insult ever toward a knight.
  • A big, loud argument erupts between Gawain and Lancelot, about the murder of Gareth. Lancelot protests his innocence.
  • Gawain makes it clear that Lancelot isn't leaving with any protection like that he came with (the protection of the Church).
  • Even though Lancelot tries to get Gawain to understand, Gawain isn't going for it. His famous temper won't let him. He swears vengeance against Lancelot.
  • To make up for accidentally killing the G-bros, Lancelot will do a penance, walking barefoot and only in a shirt from Sandwich to Carlisle, setting up a chapel every ten miles for Gareth.
  • Nope—not good enough.
  • Arthur won't step in and stop this. He's been listening to Gawain and has allowed him to bully him into taking the side against Lancelot.
  • Speaking on behalf of the King, Gawain banishes Lancelot, and claims that he and his men will follow him and bring down his castle.
  • Lancelot warns Gawain not to follow him, and not to have Arthur come against him. He won't fight against his friends.
  • This horrible scene is the very last time that Arthur, Guenever, and Lancelot will all be together.
  • Before he leaves, Lancelot tells everyone he's still the Queen's Champion. He'll come defend her if anything happens.
  • Lancelot is only given safe passage for fifteen days, and he has to get to Dover (where he'll depart for France) unarmed, barefoot, and carrying a cross, while walking down the middle of the road.
  • Even so, anyone would have recognized him as Sir Lancelot. He still has that kind of dignity.

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