Confusion with GaherietEdit
Guerrehet is sometimes confused with his similarly named brother Gaheriet.
Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte d’Arthur renders French Guerrehet as Gareth and French Gaheriet as Gaheris from Book I to Book X, chapter 8 (ignoring book VII, “The Story of Sir Gareth” which is of unknown origin). But from Book X, chapter 24 to the end of the romance Malory reverses this practice and renders French Guerrehet as Gaheris and French Gaheriet as Gareth.
Guerrehet is the least mentioned of the brothers, being less proud and murderous than his brother Agravain but also less virtuous and generally moderate than his brother Gaheriet.
There is a description of Guerrehet in the Prose Lancelot but the details given there for Guerrehet are mostly applied in other texts to Gaheriet, and so the description is given in the article Gaheriet.
In the Post-Vulgate Arthurian Cycle, Guerrehet is quite willing to be knighted by his brother Gaheriet, unlike Agravain. Also, when Gaheriet has killed his own mother in anger, Guerrehet does not join Gaheriet’s other brothers in seeking vengeance on Gaheriet, but rather, though sadened by Gaheriet’s deed, Guerrehet seeks him out and warns him of their brothers’ plains to kill Gaheriet. Guerrehet comforts Gaheriet until Gaheriet feels somewhat better. Then Guerrehet departs to go to court to attempt to make peace between Gaheriet and their brothers, Gawain, Agravain, and Mordred.
Guerrehet Avenges a Dead KnightEdit
Guerrehet is DefeatedEdit
Guerrehet is the protagonist of an episode in the First Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval. There, Guerrehet, in a garden, at the command of a wounded knight, is defeated by a pigmy knight on a pigmy horse, and made to choose between returning to fight again in a year’s time or allowing himself to be made into a weaver like many other prisoners of the wounded knight. Guerrehet chooses to return.
A Mysterious Dead KnightEdit
Meanwhile, a ship has come to Arthur’s court, pulled by a swan, with a dead knight within from whose breast a lance stub protrudes. A letter says that he who can remove the lance will avenge the knight or suffer the shame that Guerrehet suffered in the garden. When Guerrehet returns to court, he is asked about this shame. Guerrehet lies and claims to know nothing about any shame. But when viewing the dead knight in the boat, Guerrehet’s hand falls on the lance, a splinter sticks in his finger, and the lance-head comes out of the body. Guerrehet takes the lance-head and fastens it to one of his own lances. As the day approaches when he had promised to return to the garden, Guerrehet becomes more and more gloomy. Finally Arthur gets the whole story out of him in private, and Guerrehet sets off.
Guerrehet Accomplishes his QuestEdit
In the garden, Guerrehet defeats and kills the pigmy knight with his lance. The master of the garden, the knight who is the wounded knight of Guerrehet’s previous visit, challenges Guerrehet, and is also defeated and slain by Guerrehet and his lance. A damsel appears and tells Guerrehet that he has avenged the dead knight. She takes Guerrehet to a castle that had belonged to the avenged knight, and its people make great joy. Guerrehet goes to sleep in a beautiful bed, but wakes the following day on a bed in a swan-drawn boat below Arthur’s court at Carlion. The damsel is with him, and she explains to Arthur that the dead knight is King Brangamor, son of the mortal Guingamor and the fay Brangepart and that when Brangamor’s body leaves the court, Arthur will see something wonderful. The body is returned to the ship and the ship leaves, at which point the First Continuation comes to an end with nothing wonderful being recorded.
Guerrehet Abuses a WomanEdit
Guerrehet Gets in Bed with a WomanEdit
Guerrehet is the subject of an unpleasant adventure in the Prose Lancelot. He is one of the knights in quest for Lancelot, and has a number of adventures with damsels of great beauty. But although Guerrehet attempts to seduce most of them, each one whom he tries to make love to rejects him. Riding alone in the early night, Guerrehet comes upon some tents set up in a clearing. One tent has a table filled with food, from which Guerrehet satisfies his hunger. In one of the other tents, Guerrehet finds a beautiful woman sleeping. She is sleeping with her husband, but Guerrehet doesn’t notice this, because of the darkness, and because the husband’s face is hidden by a pillow which had fallen over it. Guerrehet decides to sleep in bed with the woman. The woman half-awakens, feels Guerrehet’s body against hers, and assumes it is her lover. She embraces Guerrehet, who responds in kind and is able to do whatever he wishes to the half-asleep damsel.
Guerrehet Kills the Woman’s HusbandEdit
They both then fall asleep. But the husband awakens, feels that Guerrehet is in the bed, thinks his wife has taken a lover, and curses her. Guerrehet leaps out of bed, seizes his sword, and splits the husband in half from the shoulders to the hips. The woman weeps bitterly over her husband’s body.
Guerrehet Abducts the WomanEdit
In the morning, the body is buried in a white abbey, and Guerrehet forces the woman to accompany him, most unwillingly. A knight sees the woman weeping, and asks what the matter is. She tells him. The knight attacks Guerrehet to free the woman, but Guerrehet kills the knight.
The following day, the woman’s four brothers try to free the woman, but Guerrehet incapacitates three of them and is about to kill the fourth, when the woman calls halt. Guerrehet promises to spare him if she will agree to be is, and she promise with an oath that if she ever leaves Guerrehet, she will never keep company with another knight. This satisfies Guerrehet, who spares the fourth brother. It turns out that the other three brothers are still alive also, although one is very badly wounded. This brother is left with a physician. Apparently the other brothers stay with him.
The Woman Becomes a NunEdit
Guerrehet and the woman spend the knight in a white abbey. In the morning, while Guerrehet is at Mass, the woman explains her situation to the abbess and asks to be made into a nun. So the abbess receives her, gives her a nun’s habit, and has her hair cut. Returning from Mass, Guerrehet sees that his woman has become a nun.
The Woman Reveals She is Kin to LancelotEdit
Guerrehet is ImprisonedEdit
Guerrehet departs, only to end up defeated in combat by Sorneham of the Hill of Wretches, who had already defeated and imprisoned Guerrehet’s brother Agravain. They will soon be released by the third brother Gaheriet, who defeats Sorneham.
Bohort is Told What Guerrehet Had DoneEdit
Nothing more to told of the unfortunate woman who became a nun, or of her brothers, save for an account in a series of adventures found only in Harleian MSS. 6342. These appear to be mostly adventures designed to clear up loose ends in the Prose Lancelot. They have been published as an appendix to Oskar H. Sommer’s The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances, Volume 5. Lionel, Bohort, and Hector, while lodging in a castle for the night, meet a damsel who turns out to be cousin to the daughter of King Brangore on whom Bohort had fathered Helain the White. She blames Bohort for not taking King Brangore’s daughter as his wife, and for not avenging the wrong which Guerrehet had done to Bohort’s cousin and summarizes the story.
Bohort Begins to Hate Arthur’s KinEdit
Bohort says that, as a young knight, Bohort honestly did not understand what he should have done, and claims ignorance of the woman wronged by Guerrehet on behalf of all Lancelot’s kin. Bohort then reveals who he is, and promises to seek out King Brangore’s daughter, once his current quest for Lancelot is accomplished. That night, Bohort thinks much of the woman who took the veil because of Guerrehet, and begins to feel a great hatred for Guerrehet, and for all his kindred, which explains why he was later so ready to strike off King Arthur’s head in the siege of Joyous Gard, though Lancelot prevented him. The following morning, Bohort asks and receives the name of the abbey where the woman serves as a nun.
The Death of GuerrehetEdit
The Standard VersionEdit
In the Mort le Roi Artu and in Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, Guerrehet/Gaheris is one of Gawain’s three brothers who reveals to Arthur that Lancelot is Guenevere’s lover. In the English Stanzaic Morte Arthur Guerrehet does not take part in the revelation. Guerrehet and his brother Gaheriet/Gareth only join the guard at the looked-for burning of Guenevere when Arthur insists on it (pushed by Agravain in the Mort le Roi Artu). Malory has them compromise by going unarmed. According to the Mort le Roi Artu, Bohort slew Guerrehet. The Stanzaic Morte Arthur merely mentions the death of the two brothers without giving details. Malory has Lancelot kill both brothers unaware in the press of the fighting.
When King Arthur finds Guerrehet dead, he grieves uncontrollably. As described in E. Jane Burns’ translation in Norris Lacy’s Lancelot-Grail:
In his sorrow he [Arthur] said that he had lived too long when he saw that those whom he had nurtured had died a terrible death.
Guerrehet’s body is buried in a very rich tomb in the church of St. Stephen in Camelot.
The Death of Guerrehet in CarduinoEdit
An alternate account of Guerrehet’s death occurs in the Italian poem Carduino dated to 1370 or somewhat later, perhaps authored by Antonio Pucci. Carduino is the only son of an Arthurian baron named Dondinello, apparently Dodinel the Wild. But in this version Dodinel has been treacherously poisoned. Carduino’s mother tells her son that Dodinel was killed by Mordred and his brothers.
Carduino, accompanied by a damsel and dwarf, is challenged by Guerrehet (Agueriesse) who demands either the damsel or Carduino’s head. Carduino kills Guerrehet (Agueriesse) in battle, whereupon the dwarf says, “Alas, what have you done? This is a nephew of King Arthur; but he was an adept at treachery, always setting his skill in betraying; and I will tell you now what was once done by him: he had a knight poisoned who was called Dodinel.” At the end of the romance Gawain and his surviving brothers (unnamed here) beg Carduino’s pardon for Dodinel’s death, although Guerrehet (Agueriesse) was the one who slew Dodinel. There is complete reconciliation.
Some Name VariationsEdit
FRENCH: Guer(r)ehet, -hés, -hes, Gerrehés, Gueheret, -rés, Gueherriet, Guereés; Guerh(e)és, Guereet, Guerreheés, -heez, -hers, Guerrehetz, -hier, Guerret, Guerriés, Guirrés, Gareés, Generez, Guinereth, -rez, Guinrez; ENGLISH: Guerehes, Gwer(r)ehes, Gveheres, Gueheres, Gwerrers, Gwerers, Guerrers, Gwerriers, Guerreiers, Gwerreieȝ, Gwer(r)ehers, Gwerreheres, Gwerreheȝ, Gwerrehys, Gweherers, Gueheres, Garrers, Gueharet, Gaheret, Gaharet, Geheret, Gaheries, Gaheryes, Gaherys; MALORY: See Gaheris (Malory), Gareth; SPANISH: Garres; PORTUGUESE: Guer(r)ees, Guarechis; ITALIAN: Gariens, Galiens, Gariet, Garies, Agueriesse.