Sir Mador de la Porte (Mador of the Gate) is a minor Knight of the Round Table in the late French prose Arthurian romances and in romances in other languages derived from them.
The Vulgate Mort Artu says that Mador was exceptionally tall and that there was hardly a knight in Arthur’s court who was stronger. Version I of the Prose Tristan describes how Mador appears to Tristan (PT.V.I I.31):
|Mult regarda cele nuit, misere Tristan celui chevalier qu’il avoit leanz trové, car il estoit li greignor chevalier qu’il oncques eüst veu, fors seulement Galeholt, le filz a la bele Jaiande, et estoit mult bien fet de cors selonc la grandesse de lui.||That night Sir Tristan greatly examined that knight whom he had found therein, for he was the biggest knight that he had ever seen, save only Galehot, the son of the Fair Giantess, and was very well shaped in his body according to his height.|
Mador of the Gate may be identical with the knight Mado who is twice mentioned as taking part in the tournament at Caerleon in the story of Caradoc Stout-arm in the first continuation to Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval (CP IT: 5098,5211; CP IE: 8680,8793). In both lines Mado is mentioned along with well-known Knights of the Round Table. Mador of the Gate may also possibly to be identified with the Mador mentioned once as a knight of Arthur’s in the romance Florient et Florette, line 4772. This Wiki assumes these identifications for redirection purposes.
Mador of the Gate is also mentioned in the Prose Lancelot, in the Vulgate Mort Artu, in the “Tournament of Sorelois” episode found in some versions of the Prose Tristan and the Prophecies of Merlin, in the Post-Vulgate Arthurian Cycle, in Guiron the Courteous, and in the Compilation of Rusticien de Pisa. The Livre d’Artus mentions Madoc li Noirs de la Porte, that is “Madoc the Black of the Gate” among the knights of Arthur who come to the aid of Agloval to fight against the forces of Agrippe. This might then refer to Maduc the Black, but Maduc the Black never appears elsewhere as an Arthurian knight.
Mador’s sole mention of any importance is in the French Vulgate Mort Artu, and in the derived romances the English Stanzaic Morte d’Arthur and Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, where his battle with Lancelot is told. Mador also has a battle with Tristan in the V.I version of the Prose Tristan.
Battle With Lancelot in the Vulgate Mort ArtuEdit
In the Vulgate Mort Artu, Mador learns that his brother Gaheris of Carhaix has been poisoned at a banquet and that Queen Guenevere is commonly blamed for the death. Mador formally renounces his homage to Arthur, although he claims to have been Arthur’s knight for 15 years, and then accuses the Queen of treacherously causing the death. Arthur accepts the challenge, but says that the Queen must be allowed forty days of grace to find a knight to defend her.
During these forty days, word travels about Guenevere’s helplessness. Lancelot, whom the Queen has previously driven from court, hears of it in the hermitage at Alfain where he is staying, recovering from a wound. Hector, Lancelot’s brother, and Bohort, Lancelot's cousin, who come to the hermitage have heard of it. Four days before the deadline, Lancelot sends Hector and Bohort to Camelot. Lancelot plans to come on time secretly, to aid Guenevere, even though he thinks her guilty. At court, Guenevere speaks to Bohort and Hector, but Bohort lies to her and claims that he has not been able to find Lancelot whom she drove away. Bohort pretends to think Lancelot is dead, for which he pretends to blame Guenevere and claims that he should make every effort to destroy Guenevere.
King Arthur has not been able to find any knight to fight for Guenevere. Gawain refuses, for he also thinks Guenevere to be guilty. Arthur, who loves Guenevere deeply, is very disturbed. He asks her to seek help from Bohort and Hector. The Queen says she has not asked them because neither Bohort nor Hector hold any fiefs from Arthur; they are foreign knights. Arthur urges her to ask them.
The following day the Queen throws herself at the feet of Hector and Bohort and asks for help in Lancelot’s name. Bohort relents, and promises to help her, provided no better knight comes who will aid her.
The following day Lancelot comes to Camelot, but only Hector and Bohort recognize him. Lancelot claims that, though Guenevere gave the fruit to the knight, she must have done so with no thought of dishonour or treachery. Gawain is convinced by this argument. He bears the lance of the unknown knight down to the jousting field, and Bohort takes the shield. Lancelot knocks Mador down in the joust, and then jumps down and fights him on foot with the sword. Mador is badly wounded. But Lancelot does not wish to kill Mador, and says that if Mador will surrender, he will guarantee that the Queen and King will forgive him. Mador recognizes Lancelot, and gives up his sword.
The Queen thinks herself foolish for having been angry with Lancelot and driving him away.
Mador later appears among Arthur’s knights and so it may be presumed that he has once again done homage to Arthur.
Battle With Lancelot in the English Stanzaic Morte ArthurEdit
The English Stanzaic Morte Arthur account mostly follows that in the Vulgate Mort Artu. All that is left out is Hector and Bohort’s visit to Lancelot. In the English Stanzaic Morte Arthur Hector and Bohort just happen to be in court then. The point at which the Queen falls down on her knees to ask Bohort’s aid is where Bohort’s speech comes in. Then the Queen asks in succession, Gawain, Hector, and Lionel for aid. all three refuse her. Finally Bohort pities the Queen’s grief and agrees to help her, unless a better knight comes. Bors tells Hector and Lionel that he has agreed to defend the Queen. Hector and Lionel say that they had refused because Guenevere had forced Lancelot to flee the court.
The three kinsmen go to a chapel in the forest to pray for Bohort’s success, when suddenly Lancelot appears. Lancelot sends them back to court, and says that he will take on the fight himself, disguised as a foreign knight.
Mador comes again with his challenge, and it seems to be unmet, but Arthur insists that the day in not over until sunset. Bohort goes off, arms himself, and returns to fight. The King is very grateful to him. Then Lancelot appears in disguise and claims the fight. Lancelot finds it a harder battle than he had ever fought before. But at last Lancelot strikes Mador down with such a blow that Mador must yield. Mador cries, “Mercy”, and asks to know who has finally defeated him. Lancelot rises his visor and Mador recognizes him and is content.
The squires who served in the hall are now put to torture until one of them confesses to the poisoning of the fruit. The squire who confessed is disemboweled, hanged, and burnt in front of Mador.
Battle with Lancelot in Malory’s Le Morte d’ArthurEdit
In Malory the King is more active in trying to calm the irate Mador, saying that although his position as king forbids him from doing so, some good knight will come forward. But Mador resorts to the other knights at the banquet, none of whom will excuse the Queen. The King allows a respite of fifteen days for Guenevere to find a protector.
The King asks the Queen where Lancelot might be, for Lancelot would protect her. But all she can answer is that Lancelot’s kinsmen say he is not in the kingdom. Then the King asks her to seek help from Bohort and quite ironically asks: “What aileth you that ye cannot keep Sir Launcelot upon your side?”
The Queen approaches Bohort alone, but Bohort refuses her because she has driven Lancelot out of the country. The Queen falls on her knees in desperation, the King walks in just at that moment, and Bohort pulls the Queen up. Thereupon the King also urges Bohort to aid the Queen, and Bohort agrees, unless a better knight comes to her aid. Then Bohort goes to see Lancelot in the hermitage, for Bohort alone has known all along where Lancelot is hiding out. Lancelot tells Bohort that he will come secretly to defend the Queen, and that he is to delay Mador has much as he can, for Mador is reckless when he is angered. Bohort supports his decision to defend the Queen to the other knights, noting the Queen’s past kindness, and asserts that the Queen has never been a destroyer of good knights. Some of them are convinced by Bohort's speech.
Bohort prepares to battle Mador, but delays until at last Lancelot appears. Lancelot finally knocks Mador flat, but Mador in getting up, wounds Lancelot in the thighs. When Lancelot sees himself so wounded, he knocks Mador flat again and pulls off Mador's helm from his head. Then Mador yields. Lancelot makes Mador promise that no mention of the Queen’s guilt will appear on the dead knight’s tomb.
Then Lancelot takes off his helm to drink and he is known.
Some time later Niniane, the Lady of the Lake, comes to court and reveals the truth about the poisoning. The guilty knight flees the country.
Joust with Tristan in Version I of the Prose TristanEdit
Tristan lodges at an abbey where Mador is also lodging. They begin to talk. Mador his name and reveals that he is a Knight of the Round Table but Tristan will say of himself only that he is a knight of Cornwall, for at that time Tristan wishes to travel through Logres unknown.
Mador makes some scathing remarks about the poor reputation of Cornish knights, making an exception only for Tristan whom he knows from Tristan’s reputation to be surpassed only by Lancelot. Tristan relates that he is indeed a Cornish knight of poor prowess, but thinks he could at least hold his own against any knight he has seen in Logres, save Lancelot. Mador responds by claiming that he might truly be a good knight, but the the Knights of the Round Table would never fight against a knight of Cornwall from shame.
The following day, Mador refuses Tristan’s suggestion that the should journey together for he would be dishonored if he were found with a Cornish knight as his companion. By chance the two knights meet later in the day and Tristan jousts with Mador by force, Mador having no wish to battle with a despised Cornish knight. Tristan knocks down Mador, horse and man, and then mocks Mador for having lost all his honor because he has been defeated in a joust by a knight of Cornwall.
Mador, angrily agrees and claims that because he has been defeated by a knight of Cornwall, he is no longer worthy to be a knight and will forsake knighthood. Mador disarms himself, throws his armor onto the road, and sits on the ground, making great sorrow.
One may assume that Mador later learned that it was Tristan who had unhorsed him and recognized that he had not been shamed at all.
An Irish TaleEdit
It it is possible the Mador in the 16th century Irish Arthurian tales Eachtra Mhelóra agus Orlando (‘The Adventures of Melora and Orlando’) is based on this Mador. But in the Irish tale, Mador is the son of the King of the Hesperides and an evil knight who is in love with Arthur's daughter Melora. Melora loves another of Arthur’s knights, Orlando, Prince of Thessaly. So Mador persuades Merlin to magically imprison Orlando. Melora suspects Mador, and pretends to care for him and not for Orlando. She tricks Mador into revealing that Orlando can only be freed when three treasures are found which no man born of woman can get. Then Melora disguises herself as a man, the Knight of the Blue Surcoat, and not being a man born of woman, but a woman born of woman, she at last gets the treasures. Orlando is released, and Arthur orders that Mador and Merlin be put to death. But Melora asks Arthur, her father, as her reward that the sentence be commuted to banishment and that she might marry Orlando.
Some Name VariationsEdit
FRENCH: Mador, Amador, Mado; ENGLISH: Mador; MALORY: Mador, Madore, Madors; SPANISH: Mador; PORTUGUESE: Mador; ITALIAN: Amadore; IRISH: Mador.