Explorations in Arthurian Legends

The People

  • Accolon: Gaulish knight who was given Excalibur by Morgan Le Fay, who hoped he would use it to kill Arthur. The Lady of the Lake intervened to help Arthur get back Excalibur, which he used to kill to Accolon. Click here and here for more or read Cawein's Accolon of Gaul.
  • Agravaine: son of Lot and Morgause, married Laurel. In Malory and others since, he is the Round Table Knight who arranged for Lancelot and Guinevere to be caught together in sin. In the ensuing confusion, he was killed by Lancelot. Click here for more.
  • Alan: Percival's father in the Didot Perceval, he is also thought to be a son of King Pellinore.
  • Anfortas: the Grail King/Fisher King according to Wolfram. Click here and here for more.
  • Anguish: King of Ireland and father of Isolde, according to Malory. Click here and here for more.
  • Bagdemagus: Round Table Knight who was a cousin of Arthur and the father of Malegraunce, who kidnapped Guinevere. He was killed by Gawain. Click here and here for more.
  • Balin and Balan: knights who met an untimely death at each other's hand. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Ban: King of Benwick and father of Lancelot, he was an ally of Arthur at the early battle of Bedegraine. Click here for more.
  • Banin: Ban's godson and a Round Table Knight.
  • Baudwin: served as constable of the realm and was a governor of Britain when Arthur fought against the Romans on the continent. He survived the Battle of Camlann and became a hermit. Click here for more.

  • Bedivere: according to Geoffrey the Duke of Normandy and Arthur's right-hand man. He is portrayed as such in Culhwch and Olwen, although there his name is Bedwyr. He is also reputed to be the one who cast Excalibur into the pool after Arthur's wounding. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Bertilak: the real name of the Green Knight, who arranges for the temptation and redemption of Gawain. Click here and here for more.
  • Blaise: wrote the story of Arthur's battles. Merlin's mother stayed with him when she was pregnant. click here for more.
  • Blamore: Round Table Knight who, with his brother Bleoboris, supported Lancelot in the quarrel with Arthur. Click here for more.
  • Blanchefleur: mistress of Perceval in Chretien de Troyes. Click here and here for more.
  • Bleoboris: Round Table Knight who, with his brother Blamore, supported Lancelot in the quarrel with Arthur. Click here for more.
  • Bors: knight who saw the Holy Grail but returned to Arthur's court to share the news. He later died on crusade. Click here and here for more.
  • Caxton, William: first English printer (at Westminster) and publisher of Malory's works, beginning in 1485. He was the source of the first-ever book published in English: Raoul Le Fevre's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1474), and the first-ever illustrated book published in English: The Myrrour of the worlde (1481). He also published Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1478). He published books on conduct, morality, history, and philosophy and even an encyclopedia. He translated 24 books and, in all, published 100 items. Click here for more and here to read technical information about Caxton's printing.
  • Clamadeus: according to Chretien de Troyes, king who laid siege to Blanchefleur's castle and who was killed by Perceval in single combat. Click here and here for more.
  • Claudas: king of the Desert Land who opposed King Bors and imprisoned Guinevere. Click here and here for more.
  • Cliges: son of Alexander Soredamurs who himself falls in love with Fenice, who is married to Cliges's uncle, the emperor of Constantinople. Unlike Isolde, Fenice won't be party to a love triangle. Still, all ends happily. Click here for more on Chretien in general and here to read Chretien's romance.
  • Colgrevance: Round Table knight who is on the plotting to catch Lancelot and Guinevere in the act of adultery and who is killed by Lancelot as he is escaping the trap. Click here and here for more.






  • Dagonet: fool at Arthur's court. Arthur eventually makes him a knight. In Tennyson, he is portrayed, especially in the tale of Tristan, as the only member of the court who has faith left in Arthur. Click here for more and here and here to read poems all about Dagonet.
  • Dinadan: Round Table knight who didn't believe in fighting just for fighting's sake. He was killed my Mordred and Agravaine. Click here and here for more.
  • Dinas: Round Table knight and Mark's seneschal, he went with Lancelot and Guinevere to France and became the Duke of Anjou. Click here for more.
  • Dindrane: sister of Parzival, she went on the Grail Quest and died giving blood to cure the leprous chatelaine. Curiously, she was also known as Blanchfleur, who Chretien says was Perceval's mistress. Click here and here for more.
  • Dodinel: Round Table knight called "the Savage" because he hunted game in wild forests. Click here for more.
  • Ector: foster father of Arthur and father of Kay. Tennyson calls him Anton. Click here for more and here to read an excerpt from The Once and Future King.
  • Ector de Maris: brother of Lancelot who succeeded their father as King of Benwick.
  • Elaine: the name of two famous women. The first is the wife of Ban, King of Benwick, and the mother of Lancelot. The second is the Lady of Astolat, who loves Lancelot but dies with grief that she can't have him. Even though she has kept his shield and given him her favor to wear on his armor, he loves her not. Her barge arrives at Camelot. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Elizabeth: sister of Mark, King of Cornwall, and wife of Meliodas, father of Tristan.
  • Enid: the objects of Erec's affections according to Chretien (though he spells her name Enide) and Geraint's affections according to Malory and Tennyson. Click here and here for more, here to read Chretien's Erec, and here and here to read Tennyson's Geraint-Enid idylls.
  • Erec: knight who overcomes many trials and his own suspicions to win the hand of his love, the beautiful Enide. His tale was Chretien's first Arthurian tale, and it contains many descriptions of the knights and the goings-on at Camelot. Click here and here for more and here to read Chretien's Erec.
  • Ettard: damsel whom Pelleas fell in love with. Nimue made her love him by magic, then transferred his love to Nimue. Click here for more. Tennyson calls her Ettare. She is the symbol of wickedness, pride, and greed; as such, she is the downfall of Pelleas.
  • Evelake: King of Sarras, fought with Joseph of Arimathea, who baptized him and renamed him Mordrain. As this character, he lived with unhealed wounds, waiting for the Grail Knight to come. Click here for more. He is also known as Afallach.









  • Fenice: wife of the emperor of Constantinople and lover of Cliges, according to Chretien. Unlike Isolde, she would not be part of a love triangle. Click here for more on Chretien in general and here to read Chretien's romance.
  • Fisher King: the king who waits at the Grail Castle for a knight to ask the necessary question: "What ails thee?" In the Vulgate Cycle, he is called Pelles; Robert de Boron calls him Bron; Wolfram calls him Anfortas. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Florence: son of Gawain who was killed by Lancelot when the latter was escaping Camelot after being nearly caught in the act of adultery with Guinevere.
  • Gaheris: Round Table knight and son of Lot and Morgause who saw her in bed with Lamorak and killed her. He was banished from Camelot because of this, later killed Lamorak, and was himself killed by Lancelot when the latter rescued Guinevere from certain death. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Galahad: the purest of the knights. He was the son of Lancelot and Elaine, a noble warrior in his own right, and he has emerged as the hero of the Quest for the Holy Grail, beginning with the Prose Lancelot, part of the Vulgate cycle. Subsequent stories added the element that only Galahad could look into the Grail and behold the divine mysteries that cannot be put into words. He was also the only knight who could sit in the Siege Perilous. Click here and here for more.
  • Galehaut: "high prince" and ruler of the District Isles, he invaded Britain but become friends with Lancelot. He was made a Round Table knight but later died from grief when he thought Lancelot was dead. His cousin Galihadin was also a Round Table knight. Click here for more.
  • Galihadin: Round Table knight who was a cousin of Galehaut and who joined Lancelot in France and became the Duke of Sentage.
  • Gareth: knight of the Round Table who didn't start out that way. Son of Lot and Morgause, he earns his way to the Round Table and into the arms of Lynette with a series of adventures, culminating in the defeat of four knights who were holding Lynette's sister hostage. Click here and here and here for more and here to read Tennyson's idyll Gareth and Lynette.
  • Gawain: son of Morgause and Lot and nephew of Arthur, he was from the first portrayed as a model of knightly perfection. With the integration of the Holy Grail theme came Gawain's displacement by Lancelot as champion in arms and Perceval (and later Galahad) as champion in spirit. Gawain is perhaps most famous for the story of his adventures at the hands of the Green Knight. Click here and here and here and especially here.
  • Geraint: prince of Devon and husband of Enid, according to Tennyson. In two idylls, Geraint is portrayed as suspicious of his wife's infidelity; he is boorish toward her and makes her prove her fidelity. Click here and here for more
  • Gorlois: husband of Igraine. Arthur is born of Gorlois's wife in a tryst with Uther Pendragon. Click here and here and here for more.

  • Guinevere: queen of Arthur who fell in love with Lancelot and failed to give the king an heir. Early Welsh literature names her Gwenhwyfar, the "White Phantom" and the "first lady of the island." Geoffrey of Monmouth names her Gunhamura, a Roman lady. Some accounts, including for a time the monks at Glastonbury, maintain that Guinevere was Arthur's second wife. The idea of her being rescued dates from 11th century literature, which tells of her abduction by King Melwas and rescue by Arthur. With Chretien de Troyes comes the listing of her rescuer as Lancelot, who saved her from captivity at the hands of Melegeant in Gorre. Later traditions have her as the daughter of Leodegrance, who gave as part of her dowry the Round Table. Her first meeting with Lancelot is also in dispute: Some sources say he escorted her to her wedding to Arthur; other sources say they met when Lancelot came to court. Whatever the case, they are always portrayed as lovers in the end. Later tales have her retiring to a nunnery or being abducted by Mordred. Click here and here and here and here for more.
  • Gwenhwyfar: older name of Guinevere meaning the White Phantom. For more, click here and especially here The Welsh Triads tell us that there were three Gwenhwyfars. Marion Zimmer Bradley resorts to this name for Arthur's queen, who is the symbol of Christianity, the new religion that clashes with the pagan ways of old.
  • Igraine: Wife of Gorlois and then Uther Pendragon and mother to Arthur. Some stories have her also as mother to either Morgause, Morgan, or both. In The Mists of Avalon, she is the sister of Viviane, the Lady of the Lake. Click here and here and here and here for more.
  • Ironside: name of the Red Knight of the Redlands. He was a Round Table knight and later defeated by Gareth. Click here for more.
  • Iseult: Tristan's lover and Mark's wife, she was also called Isolde.
  • Isolde: famous lover of Tristan and wife of King Mark. Click here and here and especially here for more.




  • Joseph of Arimathea: buried Jesus, of whom he was a secret disciple, in his own tomb. We see him first in Robert de Boron's "Joseph d'Arimathie," which tells of his being entrusted with the Holy Grail, which he brings to England. The village of Glastonbury is the reputed home of Joseph's first church. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Julius Caesar: in the Vulgate Cycle called emperor. Merlin disguised as a stag visits the court of Caesar, who tells him that he has had a disturbing dream. Merlin and Grisandole capture the Wild Man of the Woods, who tells Caesar that his dream means that his wife will be an adulteress. Click here and here and especially here for more.
  • Kahedrin: son of Hoel of Brittany and brother of Isolde of the White Hands, whom Tristan later married. Kahedrin loved Isolde of Ireland, Tristan's lover, and died of love for her. Click here for more.
  • Kay: In Welsh traditions, he is thought to be the first to join Arthur's cause. In Malory and elsewhere, he is Arthur's foster brother. Click here and here for more.
  • Lady of the Lake: the mysterious woman who gave Arthur Excalibur. Stories about her diverge at this point. Marion Zimmer Bradley tells us that her name was Viviane and that she raised Lancelot and was the high priestess of a much older religion. She is also named as the healer of Arthur at Avalon. Click here and especially here.
  • Lamorak: Pellinore's son and Perceval's brother, he was a Round Table knight who was found in bed with Morgause and later killed for it. Click here and here for more.
  • Lavaine: son of Bernard and brother of Elaine, both of Astolat, Lavaine was a follower of Lancelot. Click here for more and here to read Tennyson's idyll Lancelot and Elaine and here to read a poem in which Lavaine is a main character.






  • Lancelot: The bringer of romance to the Arthurian legends. Before his advent, Arthurian tales were songs of war. Most traditions have Lancelot as the son of King Ban of Benwick. Lancelot is cared for by the Lady of the Lake, who teaches him how to fight. Whether he meets Guinevere because he is her escort back to Camelot to wed Arthur or because he arrives at court when she is already queen and catches her fancy with his knightly abilities is an open question. He is at once the best and the worst of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table: As the king's champion, he bests all challengers and wins many a battle for his king; as the king's cuckolder, he wins the queen's love and creates an irreparable rip in the fabric of the High King and his shiny Camelot. Click here and here and especially here for more.
  • Leodegrance: king of Cameliard and father of Guinevere. He is also said to have given the Round Table to Arthur as a wedding gift. In Tennyson, it is to his aid that Arthur rushes at the beginning of his reign. Click here for more.
  • Lohengrin: son of Perceval in Wolfram, he went in a boat drawn by an angel disguised as a swan. He married Elsa and told her not to ask his name; several years later when she did, he left. Click here for more.
  • Loholt: son of Arthur and Round Table knight. Click here for more.
  • Lot: He is given many names and many faces as well. Was he King of Lothian? Was he King of Orkney? Was he King of Gododdin? He is also alternately a supporter and opposer of King Arthur.
  • Lucius: Roman emperor whom Arthur defeats on the Continent.
  • Lynette: high-born lady whose heart is eventually won by Gareth. Click here and here for more and here to read Tennyson's idyll Gareth and Lynette.
  • Mark: legendary king of Cornwall. He is thought have been based on the historical figure of Cunomorus of Cornwall. He is inextricably woven into the tale of Tristan and Isolde. Some legends confuse his story with Gorlois's. Click here and here and here for more.
  • Melegraunce: abductor of Guinevere, who was rescued by Lancelot. He is named Melwas in the Welsh version, in which Gildas mediates the queen's release. Click here and here for more.
  • Meliodas: king of Liones and father of Tristan. Click here and here for more.
  • Merlin: Robert de Boron's Merlin portrays Merlin as the prophet of the Holy Grail, a role he was to repeat in the Vulgate cycle. This set of manuscripts fleshes out the role of Merlin as advisor: He tells Uther to establish a knightly fellowship (Round Table, anyone?), and he assures Uther that his true heir will be revealed as the one who could draw the sword from the stone. Finally, Merlin's infatuation with the Lady of the Lake (in most cases Nimue) is introduced. Click here and here and here for more.








  • Modred/Mordred: Arthur's bastard son who, according to whom you read, either killed Arthur himself or merely seized the kingdom while Arthur was away. Some traditions have Mordred marrying Guinevere in Arthur's absence. Most sources say that Mordred's mother was Morgause, although some say it was Morgan. Click here and here and here and here for more.
  • Morgan: Geoffrey of Monmouth (in the Vita Merlini) introduces her as the ruler of Avalon and the healer of Arthur after his great defeat at Camlann. Chretein de Troyes's Erec tells us that she is Arthur's sister. The Vulgate cycle features her as instigator of trouble between Arthur and Guinevere. She is almost always portrayed as having magical powers, which some sources say she learned from Merlin. Indeed, the Avalon legends say it is Morgan who heals Arthur when he is brought to the magical Isle. Click here and here and here and here for more.
  • Morgause: wife of Lot and mother of Gawain, Gareth, Gaheris, and Agravaine. Some traditions have her as Arthur's sister or half-sister; most say she is the mother of Mordred. Click here and especially here for more.
  • Nentres: King of Garlot, he married Arthur's half-sister, Elaine. He was one of the 11 rulers who rebelled against Arthur when the latter was first crowned king.
  • Nimue: alternately the Lady of the Lake and the sorceress who learned Merlin's secrets and then imprisoned him. Click here and here for more.
  • Orguelleuse: woman of standing who made a name for herself by stating that deeds of daring were the only way truly to achieve courtly love. She is featured in Chretien de Troyes and Wolfram, the latter of whom says she caused the wounds of Anfortas, the Fisher/Grail King.
  • Owain: son of Urien and Morgan; English version of Yvain
  • Palamedes: pagan knight who fell in love with Iseult of Ireland. He fought Tristan for her and became a Christian when Tristan knocked the sword out of his hand. He later became Duke of Provence.
  • Pellam: King of Listinoise, he saw his brother killed by Balin and attacked the latter, knocking his sword free, and chased him around his castle. Balin found the Lance of Longinus and used it to stab Pellam; this was the Dolorous Stroke.
  • Pelleas: knight who fell in love with Ettard, who did not return his favors. Nimue made Ettard fall in love with him while at the same time made him fall in love with Nimue.
  • Pellinore: father of Perceval and Lamorak. He killed Lot and was killed by his son Gawain. In T.H. White, he is a comic character who pursues the Questing Beast.

  • Parsival/Perceval: knight who found the Holy Grail. Versions differ on where he found it (Was it the Grail Castle?) and where he had to go to get it (Through the WasteLand?). Grail and Round Table knight whose childlike innocence rendered him almost impervious to worldly temptation. His great adventure, in Chretien de Troyes's poem "Le Conte du Graal," is a visitation with the Fisher King, who showed him (depending on tradition) either a dish or the Holy Grail. He proved unable to ask the question that would heal the Fisher King and was sent packing; consequently, he sought the Grail. In some legends, he finds it; in others, he does not.
  • Priamus: Sracen knight who was descended from Joshua, the Maccabees, Alexander the Great, and Hector of Troy. He fought Gawain and then asked Gawain's help in converting to Christianity. He healed them both with water from the four waters of Paradise. He later became a Round Table knight.
  • Rivalin: the father of Perceval in Gottfried, he married Blanchefleur, the sister of Mark.
  • Rummaret: king who paid homage to Arthur in Iceland. Wace calls his land Weneland; Layamon calls it Winetland.
  • Sagremor: Round Table knight whose father was the King of Hungary.


  • Taliesin: sixth-century poet whose name has mingled with that of Merlin through the mists of time. He figures as a character in early Welsh tales of Arthur and returns as the Merlin, a title, in Marion Zimmber Bradley. Click here for more.
  • Tristan: nephew of King Mark of Cornwall. Supposedly on a mission to bring Isolde back to Cornwall for Mark to marry, Tristan and Isolde drink a love potion themselves and fall hopelessly in love. Tradition has Isolde marrying Mark. Some legends have Tristan marrying another woman named Isolde; others say the two lovers were banished by the vengeful Mark; others say that Mark killed Tristan and Isolde died of grief. Click here and especially here for more.
  • Urien: husband of Morgan and king of Gore. The Vulgate Cycle says his wife was Brimesent.
  • Uther Pendragon: legendary father of Arthur. He is said to have impersonated Gorlois of Cornwall and impregnated Gorlois's wife, Igraine, with the child that became Arthur. Some traditions have him as brother of Ambrosius and High King of Britain for a time. Geoffrey of Monmouth says he is buried at the Giants' Dance. Click here and here for more. Click here to see Howard Pyle's illustration. Click here for a discussion of Uther and the Seven Swords of Waylund. Uther's grip on Britain remains. Modern Cumbria has a Pendragon Castle.
  • Viviane: alternate name for the Lady of the Lake.
  • Vortigern: the man who started it all. It was he, the ruler of Powys (according to the Pillar of Eliseg), who invited the Saxons to England to fight against the Picts. Mary Stewart returns to Vortigern's story in telling of the youth of Merlin. Click especially here for more information on Vortigern.
Other relevant links

Encyclopedia of the Celts

Celtic Twilight's Arthurian Infopedia

Mystical WWW: Arthurian A2Z Knowledge Bank

Transformations of Celtic Mythology in Arthurian legend

The Changing Role of Women in Arthurian Legend


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