Logres is an Old French name corresponding to Latin Loegria and Welsh Lloegyr referring approximately to the country within Britain known as England in modern English and Angleterre in French. Logres is usually the name of Arthur’s home country but is sometimes an outlying region.
Origin of the Name “Logres”Edit
The name Lloegrwys (‘Men of Loegyr’) appears in the early Welsh poem Gododden and in an early poem in praise of Urien by Taliesin [BT 57]. It is applied to the northern Angles who are enemies of the Britons. Lloegyr as the name of their country also appears in the early poems. Possibly it was originally a name of only some of the Angles, perhaps the men of Leicester, that is Ligore-chester, Ligore being an early name of the river which runs though Leicester, now known as the Soar. Bur linguists can’t make the words equate.
In later Welsh, Lloegyr just means England.
The Country of LogresEdit
In Pseudo-historical WorksEdit
Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae renders Welsh Lloegyr as Latin Loegria. According to Geoffrey, Brutus first settles in Britain with descendants of the Trojans and has three sons: Locrine, Camber, and Albanact. They divide the island of Britain between them and each names his portion after himself, hence Loegria (later England), Cambria (later Wales in English), and Albany (later Scotland).
From that point onward Geoffrey almost only relates the histories of the Kings of Logres, usually assumed to also be high kings over Cambria and Albany.
In Verse RomancesEdit
Logres then appears in the Arthurian romances first in Chrétien de Troyes’ Lancelot. Lancelot meets a damsel who asks him to conduct her through Gorre following the customs of the kingdom of Logres; that is, Lancelot must attempt to protect the damsel from abduction, but she may be legally taken from Lancelot in a fair fight. Later Lancelot later claims to have been born in the kingdom of Logres. The captives who are from Arthur’s kingdom are also later said to be from Logres.
In Chrétien’s Perceval (line 6169), Gawain is compelled to seek the lance that bleeds by itself. A vavasour tells Gawain that in the future, the entire kingdom of Logres, which was once the kingdom of ogres, will be destroyed by that lance. The mention of ogres, may come from the story in Geoffrey’s Historia that Britain was inhabited by some giants when Brutus first came there. The reference to the destruction of Logres is unexplained by Chrétien or by his continuators. In some later accounts the lance is responsible for the infertility of the Waste Land and for causing many hard adventures to arise within the kingdom of Logres.
Chrétien also introduces the Haughty Maid of Logres (French: ‘l’Orgue(i)lleuse de Logres’) (line 8639) who is said to be so called because she was born in Logres and came from there as a child. (Some manuscripts have Nogres instead of Logres.)
Logres is occasionally mentioned in other verse romances, particularly in the Lay of Tyolet where Tyolet’s lady-love, who sends him on his quest, is the unnamed daughter of the unnamed King of Logres, and a queen herself of her own unnamed land.
In Prose RomaancesEdit
Logres Appears OftenEdit
In the prose Arthurian romances, Logres is mentioned often casually, perhaps because it has become better known as a place name to both hearers and tellers of tales. Also, Lancelot has a prominent role in the Perlesvaus and is the protagonist in the Prose Lancelot, and it is in Chrétien’s Lancelot that Logres is first mentioned in surviving romances, and so often mentioned. Possibly those who told tales of Lancelot, or a particular version of the story of Lancelot, also spoke more of Logres than some other tale-tellers.
In the PerlesvausEdit
The Perlesvaus makes much mention of Logres, but tells little. The Perlesvaus introduces a knight named Meliot of Logres, but does not explain the reason for his epethet. The Perlesvaus explains that the castle of Camelot stands at the entrance of the kingdom of Logres and is right on the edge of King Arthur’s land so that from there King Arthur might control the lands which bordered on his.
In the Lancelot CycleEdit
In the Prose LancelotEdit
In the Prose Lancelot and its sequels Logres is mentioned again and again. In the first fiew pages the tale tells us that after Uther Pendragon came to Little Britain to aid King Aramont against King Claudas, from then on Little Britain was subject to the kingdom of Logres. Later a damsel from the Lake prophesies to Gawain that the knight who conquered the Dolorous Gard will be found at the First Tournament to be held in the kingdom of Logres, and at the second and third. And so it goes on.
In the Quest of the Holy GrailEdit
In the Quest of the Holy Grail Galahad is led away from Lancelot and the ship where they have been together by a mysterious knight who tells Galahad it is time to leave the ship and to seek and fulfill the adventures of the kingdom of Logres. Later, just before Galahad and Perceval meet Bohort before all three go to the Grail castle, the story tells, that Galahad had complete all the adventures of the kingdom of Logres.
In the Vulgate Mort ArtuEdit
In the Vulgate Mort Artu, when Lancelot is exiled from Britain, he gives a moving eulogy of the country of Logres (as translated by Norria J. Lacy in his Lancelot-Grail, Volume 5):
“Oh, sweet land full of all happiness, in which my spirit and life remain completely, may you be blessed by the mouth of the one called Jesus Christ, and may all those who remain here be blessed as well, be they my friends or my enemies. My they have peace! May they have repose! May God give them greater joy than I have. May God give them victory and honor over all who try to harm this land. And surely He will do so, for no one could be in such a sweet land as this without being happier than all others. And I am speaking for myself, for I have experienced it for as long as I was here. I had happiness more abundantly than I could have had anywhere in the world.”
Lancelot spoke these words when he left the kingdom of Logres; and he gazed at the land as long as he could see it. and when it was lost from sight, he went to lie down in bed.
Extent of Logres?Edit
The boundaries of Logres are not given. Are Cornwall and Northumberland part of Logres, perhaps sub-kingdoms of Logres, or separate? If Northumberland is a separate land, corresponding to English Northumbria rather than to Norman Northumberland, it would border on the Humber. But Lancelot’s castle of Joyous Gard stands on an island in the Humber, and so could reasonably be understood as subject to neither kingdom.
In Later Prose RomancesEdit
In later prose romances Logres remains the common name for Arthur’s kingdom, though Cornwall is definitely outside it. Indeed, in the Prose Tristain Cornwall is not even regarded as being within the realm of Britain. It is important to at least some of the writers of these tales of Lancelot that neither Lancelot nor his kin hold any fiefs from Arthur.
The City of LogresEdit
In the Story of MerlinEdit
Logres also appears on some romances as the name of a city. The Story of Merlin uses Logres as the name of a country in its earlier sections, but starting at section 79 (in Micha’s edition), the story brings in the city of Logres when King Uther Pendragon orders a horse litter to be made for him and summons his barons to Logres. After Uther’s death, it is to the city of Logres on Christmas Eve that the barons go to pray for God’s guidance in choosing a new king, and it is in an empty place in front of the church of the Archbishop within Logres that the stone with the sword miraculously appears.
In some mansucripts of the Story of Merlin the scribes have replaced “Logres” with “Londres” (“Londres” being even today the normal French form for London). The scribes may have known that there was no city of Logres, but that Logres meant England and that the chief city of England was London. Also, a quick look in Geoffrey’s Historia would show that there was, at that time, an Archbishop of London who could quite well be the Archbishop of Logres in the Story of Merlin. The only other choices for a city where there was an archbishop would be York and Caerleon. Sir Thomas Malory, in this Le Morte d’Arthur based the earliest part of this story on a manuscript where the city of Logres had been replaced by the city of London.
In the Didot PercevalEdit
In the Didot Perceval the name Logres occurs three times in the Modena manuscript. In the Didot manuscript, it is replaced by Londres on the first occurrence and by Longres on the second and third occurrence.
A Different City in Wolfram’s ParzivalEdit
In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, Chrétien’s Logres appears as Lôgroys and Logrois. But Wolfram presents l’Orgue(i)lleuse de Logres (‘the Haughty Maid of Logres’) as Orgeluse de Lôgroys and Lôgroys is for Wolfram not a place far off where the maid was born, but is the place where she now lives. Orgeluse is the Duchess of Lôgroys and her husband, Cidegast of Lôgroys was slain by the Guiromelant (Gramoflanz). Logres as King Arthur’s country is also known to Wolfram who renders it as Löver.
In the Prose LancelotEdit
In the Prose Lancelot, the city of Logres is again an important city in the kingdom of Logres. When King Claudas journeys to Britain in disguise, he finds King Arthur in his city of Logres. The Lady of Malehaut, seeking to learn who her prisoner is, goes to King Arthur’s court at Logres, which is then said to be the capital of Arthur’s kingdom. Just after Lionel is first sent to Lancelot by the Lady of the Lake, the story tells that Arthur journeyed about and visited Logres and Camelot and Caerleon and many good cities. When Lionel first visits King Arthur’s court, the court is then in the city of Logres, then called King Arthur’s principal city because it was the capital of his kingdom. When a damsel serving the False Guenevere reminds Arthur of his marriage to Guenevere, she tells him the he took Guenevere from the land of Carmelide to his own city of Logres, and there they were married.
A few other mentions are less revealing. Logres here may well seem to be London, being the chief city of the kingdom; but London also appears as a city where Arthur holds court. See London. No text in the Prose Lancelot explicitly identifies the city of Logres with the city of London. But no text denies their identity.
In the Vulgate MerlinEdit
In the Vulgate Merlin, after Arthur has won his first battle against the five rebel lords (as translated by Rupert T. Pickens in Norris J. Lacy’s Lancelot-Grail. section 96):
It happened on time that he [Arthur] held court in the city of Logres, which is now called London in England, on the feast of Our Lady in September.
The author here makes the identification of the city Logres with London very clearly.
Logres appears often later in the text as the city in which Arthur most often holds court. It is in the city of Logres where King Arthur receives King Ban and King Bohort. It is to the city of Logres that Gawain and his brothers first go when they abandon their father’s kingdom to serve King Arthur. It is in the city of Logres that King Arthur first meets Gawain and his companions and dubs them knights. It is to the city of Logres that Arthur takes Guenevere after he has married her in Carmelide. It is in the city of Logres that twelve ambassadors from Rome challenge King Arthur on behalf of Lucius, Emperor of Rome. It is in the city of Logres that Gawain and twenty-nine other knights vow to seek for the missing Merlin.
In the Livre d’ArtusEdit
Arthur also often holds court in the city of Logres in the Livre d’Artus.
Some Name VariationsEdit
WELSH: Lloegyr; LATIN: Loegria; FRENCH: Logres, Logrez, Logre, Lougres, Longres, Loengre, Nogres; ENGLISH: Logres, Logres, Logris; MALORY: Logres, Logrys, Logris, Logrus, Logurs, Logus; GERMAN: Löver; SPANISH: Londres; PORTUGUESE: Logres, LLogres; ITALIAN: Longres, Logres.