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The Galehot section of the Prose Lancelot extends from the beginning of the romance until the death of Galehot.

VersionsEdit

Long RedactionEdit

This is the most common version of the Galehot. It is covered by volumes VII–VIII and volume I of Alexandre Micha’s Lancelot (PLGal:Mich VII–VIII, I) and by volume III of H. Oskar Sommer’s The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances.

Special Redaction (Non-Cyclic Version)Edit

This version of the Galehot has a different and shorter ending. Elspeth Kennedy refers to it as the Non-Cyclic version, as it does not leading up to a Grail quest and to the other adventures in the long version. The prophesy of Galehot’s death leaves out some references to the Galahad Grail quest, the story of the false Guenevere, leaves out entirely Lancelot and Guenevere spending two years together in Sorelois, and leaves out the story of Caradoc’s abduction of Gawain and following material. It does include a very short account of the death of Galehot similar to that in the long redaction.

This redaction is found in Elspeth Kennedy’s Lancelot do Lac: The Non-cyclic Old French Prose Romance and in volumes VII-VIII followed by La rédaction spéciale in volume II of Alexandre Micha’s Lancelot.

Elspeth Kennedy is convinced that the shorter ending is the proper original ending to the Prose Lancelot and that this version corresponds to the original version of the Prose Lancelot. Alexandre Micha and some others think not.

One point that Kennedy does not deal with is that both redactions place the death of Galehot about the same amount of time in the future. In the long redaction Galehot is told he will live for somewhat more than three years which is consistent with what follows. In the special redaction Galehot is destined to die within three years. But the following account does not tell of Lancelot and Guenevere spending two years with Galehot in Sorelois and does not include months following that in which Lancelot is wandering, forbidden by Morgain to remain with any of Arthur’s folk. So when Galehot’s death is told, it appears to happen in the same year that it was prophesied which is inconsistent with the prophesy.

It appears that the special redaction has suppressed some material at this point, material which the standard version has retained.

Kennedy also considers the unlikelihood that the special redaction might derive from the long redaction and rejects this. But she never considers that possibly both redactions might originate from a common telling, perhaps an oral biography of Lancelot common at that time.

Short RedactionEdit

A short redaction of the last part of the Galehot and most of the following Charette is also included by Micha in Volume III of his Lancelot. This version Micha calls the short redaction or β. It is mostly a simple abridgement of the long redaction.

Connection to the Grail StoriesEdit

The Galehot contains an odd passage beginning at PLGal:Mich VIII.VIIIa.8 (PLGal:Som III.2836) which lists the three most beautiful women in Logres during Arthur’s reign, these being Queen Guenevere, Heleine the Peerless and a third named Amite of whom two different accounts are given.

In his edition, Micha provides twenty-eight extra versions of the list of the three damsels, in nineteen of which Amite is sister of Perceval, in six of which Amite is mother of Galahad, in two of which Amite is the mother of an unnamed knight, and in one of which Amite is cousin to “Percevau Galaad”. The choice between Perceval or Galahad cuts across manuscript families.

Here are literal translations of two of the passages as they appear in B.N. 768 (which is that used by Kennedy) and in Add 10293 used by Micha and Sommer in their editions:

And the other was daughter to the maimed king, that was the king Pelles, who was father to Perlesvax, to he who saw openly the great wonders of the Grail and accomplished the dangerous seat of the Round Table and brought to an end the adventures of the dangerous adventurous kingdom, that was the kingdom of Logres. She was his sister, who was of such great beauty that none of the tales tells that anyone of that time could compare to her in beauty. She had the name Amite for her surname and for her proper name Heliabel. ... and the other was daughter to the Maimed King, that was the king Pellés, who was father to Amite, mother to Galaad, to he who saw open­ly the great wonders of the Grail and ac­comp­lished the dangerous seat of the Round Table and brought to an end the adventures of the dangerous and adventurous kingdom, that was the kingdom of Logres. She was his moth­er, and was of such great beauty that none of the tales tells that anyone who was of that time could compare to her in beauty. She had the name Amite for her surname and for her proper name Helizabel.

The Perceval version of this passage has usually been considered the earlier version but Micha suggests as an opposition theory that early copyists of this story replaced Galahad with Perceval because they did not recognize Galahad as a Grail hero.

It is notable that King Pelles is in no other place identified as the Maimed King or ever said to be maimed except occasionally when confused with the proper Maimed King Pellehan. In no other place is the father of Perceval named Pelles. In the Perlesvaus King Pelles is the younger brother of the king who corresponds to the Maimed King in other romances. In the later Prose Lancelot: Agravain section of the Prose Lancelot and in the Vulgate Quest, King Pelles is son of the Maimed King. In the Vulgate Merlin and Book of Arthur, King Pelles is brother to two Maimed Kings but not a Maimed King himself.

SummaryEdit

Death of King BanEdit

The story begins with the birth of Lancelot, actually Christened with the name Galahad, and the war of Lancelot’s father King Ban of Benwick against King Claudas. When King Ban sets off to Arthur’s court to seek aid from Arthur with his wife and infant son, the seneschal whom Ban has left in charge betrays Ban’s castle of Trebe to King Claudas. Seeing the castle going up in flames from a distance, King Ban dies of sorrow. Lancelot is then abducted by the fay Ninienne and taken to a magical lake. Lancelot’s mother becomes a nun.

Lancelot’s ChildhoodEdit

Lancelot’s uncle King Bohort of Gaunes dies of illness and Claudas conquers that kingdom as well. Bohort’s two sons, Lionel and Bohort are hidden in safety for a time by one of Claudas’ vassals named Pharien. When Claudas discovers this, he imprisons the two son along with Pharien and Pharien’s nephew Lambegue in a tower. They are rescued by Ninienne. A civil war breaks out between Claudas and the lords of Benwick and Gaunes. Claudas eventually wins, but Lionel, the younger Bohort, Pharien, and Lambegue now live in Ninienne’s lake.

Lancelot is KnightedEdit

Lancelot, at the age of eighteen has not yet been told his true name of ancestry. Lancelot is taken by Ninienne to Arthur’s court to be knighted. At court Lancelot first sees Queen Guenivere and immediately falls hopelessly in love with her. During the knighting, Lancelot removes weapons from a wounded knight, and in the confusion Arthur’s neglects to finishing the knighting ceremony, not striking Lancelot with his sword.

Lancelot sets off to aid the Lady of Nohaut in a duel. Lancelot sends his sword back to Guenevere and requests that she then resend it to him, thus fulfilling the knighting ceremony but making Lancelot now knighted by the Queen, not by Arthur.

Lancelot Conquers Dolorous GardEdit

After some minor adventures, Lancelot conquers the castle of Dolorous Gard using magical shields sent to him by Ninienne. He learns his true identity. Further adventures follow in which Lancelot is sought for by Gawain.

Galehot’s WarEdit

Galehot challenges Arthur to battle. Lancelot, at that time, is imprisoned by the Lady of Malohaut whom he persuades to allow him to go free for a time to fight on Arthur’s side in the battle. He proves himself the best knight on either side. Forty of Arthu's knights seek the unknown champion but are unable to find him before Galehot again challenges Arthur. Lancelot is again set free, this time for good. He again proves to be the greatest champion on either side. Galehot sees this a tries to win Lancelot’s friendship and Lancelot agrees in return for an undefined boon. When named, the boon is that Galehot surrender to Arthur. Galehot agrees, thinking the friendship of a man like Lancelot to be worth far more than the conquest of Arthur’s kingdom.

Lancelot Gains Guenevere’s LoveEdit

During the peace negotiations, Galehot learns that Lancelot loves Guenevere and arranges for Lancelot and Guenevere to meet. Guenevere, agrees to become the beloved of greatest knight in Logres, who has just saved the kingdom. Lancelot and Guenevere kiss.

Search for LancelotEdit

Twenty knights again set out to find the unknown champion. Gawain instead finds a knight named Hector who seems to be almost as good a knight. Many adventures of Gawain and Hector are told. Lionel is sent to Lancelot by Ninienne to serve as Lancelot’s squire.

War Against the SaxonsEdit

The Saxons attack Britain. Arthur is imprisoned by a Saxon lay named Camille. Then Lancelot, Gawain, Galehot, and Hector are also imprisoned by her. But Lancelot goes made in prison, and for that reason is freed. Still made, Lancelot stumbles upon the British forces and is recognized by Guenevere. Lancelot is finally healed by a magical shield sent by Ninienne and Lancelot finally consummates his love for Guenivere. Lancelot, in Arthur’s armor, leads an attack against the Saxons. The Saxons are defeated, Arthur and Lancelot’s three companions are rescued, and Camille is killed.

The Round TableEdit

Lancelot, Galehot, and Hector are now made Knights of the Round Table.

Omens and Portents of Galehot’s DeathEdit

From this point there are two redactions of the tale. For a time they tell much the same story. All the castles in Galehot’s kingdom suddenly fall down in ruin. When seeking an answer from clerks at to why this should be, Galehot learns that he has not long to live. The long version only, at this place, includes some prophecies which relate to the story of the Holy Grail as it appears in later sections of the Prose Lancelot and in the Vulgate Quest of the Holy Grail.

Guenevere is AccusedEdit

A messenger comes to Arthur’s court claiming that Arthur’s queen Guenevere is not the true Guenevere but another woman who was substituted for the real Guenevere on Arthur’s wedding night. Arthur is then kidnapped by the supposed real Guenevere who drugs him and persuades him that she is indeed the true Guenevere.

In the long version, Lancelot is attacked at a tourney by King Bademagu’s son Meliagant, obviously intended to lead up to Meliagant’s later appearance in the Charette. The long version also at this point states that the false Guenevere is the half-sister of the true Guenevere, fathered by Guenevere’s father Leodegan on Leodegan’s seneschal’s wife. The false Guenevere looks almost identical to the true Guenevere. The short version at no point provides any explanation other than the she was woman who looks almost exactly like Guenevere and Bertelai has chosen her for his attempted fraud.

Guenevere is CondemnedEdit

Arthur, drugged and convinced that the false Guenevere is his true wife, holds a court in Camelide where he and a council of barons condemn the true Guenevere. In the both the short and long version, Guenevere is condemned to have her hair and scalp removed as punishment for wearing the crown and the skin of her palms removed for being falsely annointed.

The short version also condemns Guenevere to be burned.

Guenevere is Shown to be RightEdit

Anyone who wishes to fight for Guenevere must battle with three knights at once. Lancelot accepts the challenge and wins.

In the short version, Bertelai and the false Guenevere now confess their trickery and they are burned. In the long version, Guenevere has only won freedom from threat of burning. She goes to reside in Galehot’s kingdom of Sorelois. Lancelot accompanies her but Guenevere, fearing that this misfortune has fallen on her for her sins, forbids Lancelot to lie with her. Meanwhile the Pope puts Arthur’s kingdom under interdict because Arthur has exiled his wife. Then the false Guenevere and Bertelai fall ill and become paralyzed with a wasting disease. They begin to stink. Arthur meets Amustan who was once his chaplain. Amustan claims he will know which Guenevere is which. Bertelai and the false Guenevere confess their guilt and die.

In both versions Arthur seeks to reconcile with the true Guenevere and peace is made.

Lionel is Knighted and Defeats the Lion of LibyaEdit

At Easter (short version) or Pentecost (long version) Arthur holds court. The short version tells a how Lionel is knighted and fights the crowned lion of Libya and made a Knights of the Round Table.

Gawain is Abducted by Caradoc the TallEdit

The long version tells this with less detail later, but first tells how Gawain is abducted by a tall knight and how Lancelot, Yvain, and Duke Galeschyn of Clarence go after him.

All three have many adventures. In particular, Lancelot learns that Gawain has been abducted by Caradoc the Tall and imprisoned in Caradoc’s castle of the Dolorous Tower. On his way to the Dolorous Tower, Lancelot sets free the knights imprisoned in the Valley of No Return by Morgain the Fay, but Morgain imprisons Lancelot and only agrees to let him continue on to the Dolorous Tower if Lancelot will return to her immediately. Lancelot enters the Dolorous Towers, slays Caradoc in a single combat, frees Gawain, and then returns to Morgain. (This story seems to be a version of that shown on the famous Modena Archivolt).

Morgain Makes Lancelot Swear to Avoid the Comapny of Arthur’s Folk for a YearEdit

Morgain sends a messenger to Arthur’s court to persuade Arthur that Lancelot and Gunevere are lovers, but the story is not believed. Lionel, Galehot, and Yvain search for Lancelot. Meanwile Morgain sets Lancelot free on condition that he not go to Arthur’s court or spend a single hour in the company of man or woman from Arthur’s household. Lancelot wanders about and finally goes to Sorelois to seek Galehot’s company. But Galehot is not there. Galehot is off searching for Lancelot. Lancelot, at night, undergoes some sort of fit, bleeds a lot of blood from his nose, and then, at least half-mad, wanders off in his tunic, shirt, and underclothes.

Death of GalehotEdit

Those who find the blood think that Lancelot has been slain. When Galehot returns to Sorelois and hears this, he believes that Lancelot has slain himself. He most refuses to eat, a wound he had received at a tournament worsens, and he dies of sorrow in the last week of September. The short version tells that sometime after the court when Lionel was knighted, Galehot returns to his own kingdom of the Out Isles where a damsel tells him that she saw Lancelot killed in the Forest of Adventures. Galehot, who has just been bled, becomes fatally ill when he hears this and dies in three days.

ReferencesEdit

CommentaryEdit

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