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Gaheris

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For the knight Gaheris in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, see Gaheris (Malory)

Gaheris of Carhaix (Gaheris de Karaheu) is a minor Knight of the Round Table in a few of the late French prose romances. In the English Stanzaic Morte Arthur Gaheris is simply known as the Scottish knight. Sir Thomas Malory names him Patrise in his Le Morte d’Arthur. The only important material related about him is in the French Vulgate Mort Artu which tells how Gaheris was poisoned at a banquet. In all versions Mador of the Gate is a kinsman of the slain knight and seeks vengeance for the death.

Gaheris’ CareerEdit

According to the Prose Lancelot Gaheris is one of the Knights of the Round Table found imprisoned in the Dolorous Prison near Dolorous Gard and rescued by the White Knight, that is Lancelot (Lanc:Mich 27a.6). Gawain goes alone to rescue Gaheris in the war with Galehaut (Lanc:Mich 52a:20). Later Gaheris is found imprisoned in the Valley of No Return with Aiglin of the Vales and Kay of Estral. (Lanc:Mich 23:12). As given below, Gaheris’ death is described in the Vulgate Mort Artu.

Gaherist does not appear in the later prose romances, save as one of the Knights of the Round Table in a list of Knights of the Round Table in some versions of the Prose Tristan.

The Mort Artu VersionEdit

According to the French Vulgate Mort Artu, a knight named Avarlan hates Gawain (no reason given), and one night, when Gawain and some other knights are sitting at the Queen’s table and Avarlan is in an adjacent room, Avarlan sends some poisoned fruit to Guenevere, believing that Guenevere will give the poisoned fruit to Gawain first, and that Gawain will die at once. The Queen, however, gives the fruit instead to Gaheris of Carhaix, who dies immediately after eating it. Gaheris’ body is laid in a tomb in St. Stephen’s church in Camelot, wat do they think. and by common consent the knights have written on the tomb:

HERE LIES GAHERIS THE WHITE OF CARHAIX, THE BROTHER OF MADOR OF THE GATE, POISONED BY THE QUEEN.

When Gaheris’ brother Mador comes to the church some days later, Mador sees the tomb and the inscription, asks a certain Scottish knight who is there about what happened. When Mador learns about the poisoning, Mador formally renounces his allegiance to King Arthur and accuses the Queen of treachery.



English Stanzaic Morte Arthur VersionEdit

In the English Stanzaic Morte Arthur, it is a squire who hates Gawain (no reason given). One day, the Queen is sitting at dinner between Gawain and a Scottish knight, and the squire brings her a bowl of fruit, with the poisoned fruit conspicuously at the top. The squire believes that Guenevere will give the fruit to Gawain, but Guenevere instead gives it to the Scottish knight because the Scottish knight is a foreign guest. The knight dies at once and is buried in a nearby chapel in a forest in a ravine. Mador, the Scottish knight’s brother, comes to the chapel by chance, reads the inscription, and heads back to court, crying aloud and challenging the Queen for his brother’s death.

Le Morte d’Arthur VersionEdit

According to Malory, Guenevere, wishing to show that she has joy in all Knights of the Round Table, not just in Lancelot and his kin, holds a private dinner in London for 42 Knights of the Round Table, especially including Gawain and his brothers. But one of the knights present, Pinell le Savage, is a cousin of Lameroke (= Lamorat) whom Gawain and Gawain’s brothers treacherously slew. Knowing that Gawain loves fruit, and that anyone who feasts Gawain will have fruit especially for Gawain, Pinell poisons some of the apples at this dinner. But another knight, Patrise, a knight of Ireland, is a little heated by the wine and takes one of the poisoned apples for himself. He eats it, swells up until he bursts, and falls down dead. The Queen protests that she is innocent, but Mador, who is cousin to Patrise, and who is also at the dinner, formally accuses the Queen.

Malory, after Lancelot has defeated Mador and so disproved Mador’s challenge, brings in Niniane, the Lady of the Lake, who tells openly that Pinell was responsible. Only then is Patrise buried in a tomb in the church of Westminster, with an inscription that explains that Pinell le Savage’s attempt to poison Gawain was the cause of Patrise's death. Pinell flees the country.

Some Speculation on this TaleEdit

According to William of Malmesbury in Book III of his Gesta Regum Anglorum (as translated by Richard L. Brengle in his Arthur: King of Britain):

There, as certain people claim, he [Walwen] was wounded by his enemies, and cast forth from a shipwreck; by others it is said that he was killed by his fellow citizens at a public feast. Therefore, knowledge of the truth falls in doubt, although neither of these stories would fail in defense of his fame.

It is possible that this story of Gawain being killed at a public feast lies at the bottom of the tale of Gaheris of Carhaix. If the author has another death story set for Gawain, then Gawain cannot die at the feast, but the death could be given to Gawain’s brother Gaheriet. And if Gaheriet has another death, then the story might be told of a knight of similar name.



Indeed the name Gaheris might be seen to be too close to English forms of the name of Gawain’s brother Gaheriet whom the author of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur usually calls Gaheries while in Malory Gaherys is the name of another brother of Gawain. So the name Gaheris is replaced by the Scottish knight in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur and by Patrise in Malory.

This story is expanded upon greatly in the 1982 novel The Idylls of the Queen.

Some Name VariationsEdit

FRENCH: Gaheris, -riz, Gaharis, Gaheriet; ENGLISH: Scottysshe knight, Scottisshe knight, Shottysshe knight, Scottishe knight; MALORY: Patryse, Patryce; ITALIAN: Giufredi.

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