Meleon is the elder of Mordred’s two sons in Lawman’s Brut, and variant forms of the name, Melehan and Melian, are given to the eldest son of Mordred in the French Vulgate Mort Artu and in the French Post-Vulgate Mort Artu. In other texts the two sons of Mordred are not named. They appear to be based on the two princes whom Gildas (in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae) blames King Constantine for killing. In later tales they are sons of Mordred who attempt to gain the rule of Britain after their father’s death, but are stopped by the forces of King Constantine or by the forces of Lancelot.
From the De Excidio of GildasEdit
Gildas, in his De Excidio, blames King Constantine of Damnonia (Cornwall) for the slaying of two princely youths as follows (in John Allen Giles’ translation):
Of this horrid abomination, Constantine, the tyrannical whelp of the unclean lioness of Damnonia, is not ignorant.
This same year, after taking a dreadful oath (whereby he bound himself first before God, by a solemn protestation, and then called all the saints, and Mother of God, to witness, that he would not contrive any deceit against his countrymen), he nevertheless, in the habit of a holy abbot amid the sacred altars, did with sword and javelin, as if with teeth, wound and tear, even in the bosoms of their temporal mother, and of the church their spiritual mother, two royal youths, with their two attendants, whose arms, although not eased in armour, were yet boldly used, and, stretched out towards God and his altar, will hang up at the gates of thy city, O Christ, the venerable ensigns of their faith and patience; and when he had done it, the cloaks, red with coagulated blood, did touch the place of the heavenly sacrifice.
From Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum BritanniaeEdit
Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae says that the two sons of Mordred, not mentioned previously, rose up against King Constantine, Arthur’s successor. The uprising failed and after a series of battles, the two sons fled separately, one to London and one to Winchester where they took control of those cities.
King Constantine captured both cities. He killed one of the sons in front of the altar of the church of St. Amphibalus in Winchester. Lawman says this was the son named Meleon. The other son hid himself in a monastery in London. King Constantine found him out, and slew him there, beside the altar.
From the Vulgate Mort Artu and the Post-Vulgate Mort ArtuEdit
The Mort Artu does not even mention Constantine.
The story it tells is that after Mordred had been killed and King Arthur had vanished, Mordred’s two sons appeared. Mordred had left them at Winchester when he went to battle King Arthur. They were both good knights. Leading the people of Winchester they begin to overrun the land, finding no-one capable of opposing them.
News of this comes to Gaunes where Lancelot and his kinsmen are living. Bohort advises that he, Lionel, and Hector should summon their people and go to Great Britain to oppose Mordred’s two sons. With a host of more than 20,000, they cross the sea to Great Britain. The two sons of Mordred hear of Lancelot’s arrival and prepare to oppose him. They gain the sworn allegiance of most of the noblemen in Logres.
Lancelot approaches the army of the two sons in a very bad mood, for he has just learned that Guenevere has died in a convent. The battle lasts until mid-afternoon, at which point, the elder son, Meleon (Mellehen, Melian) personally attacks King Lionel and pierces him with his lance, knocking Lionel down and mortally wounding him. King Bohort, seeing this, and knowing that his brother is mortally wounded, rides toward Meleon with his sword drawn and splits Meleon’s head down to his teeth.
Now Lancelot enters the battle, meets Mordred’s younger son whom he recognizes because the younger son is wearing his father’s arms. The son flees, but Lancelot follows and strikes him so strongly on the neck that he severs his head. The men of Winchester now flee to save their lives, pursued by Lancelot and his knights.
The Post-Vulgate Mort d’Artu account is almost identical, save that Meleon is here said to be the younger brother, and the unnamed brother is the elder.
The English Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d'Arthur omit the Vulgate Mort Artu material about Mordred’s sons. Lancelot’s forces have come to Dover to aid Arthur against Mordred. They learn that Mordred is dead and that Arthur has vanished. Lancelot rides out alone to look for Guenevere, bidding his men remain at Dover. After days of no Lancelot, Lionel sets out with fifty men to London, and is slain. (Malory says Lionel had fifteen lords with him.)
Some Name VariationsEdit
FRENCH: Melehan, Melian; ENGLISH: Meleon, Melou, Melaeones; SPANISH: Meliel; PORTUGUESE: Meliam, Miliam.