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Knights of the Round Table

The Principal Knights


...then the king established all his knights, and to them that there were of lands not rich, he gave them lands,and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur evermore; and to do the ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succour, upon pain of death.  Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, nor for no world's goods.  Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Round Table, both old and young.  And every year they were sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.  
                                            Morte d'Arthur, Malory 1460

  Sir Kay-- One of Arthur's earliest companions, and his faithful Seneschal, a rough, cynical but dauntlessy loyal figure.  Was squire to Sir Kay while living with Sir Ector.

   Sir Lancelot du Lac--Lancelot of the Lake, was the son of King Ban of Benwick and Queen Elaine.  He was the greatest fighter of  all and hero of many romances. Lancelot was raised by the Lady of the Lake and his undying love for Queen Guinevere eventually destroyed the fellowship of the Round Table.  He was one of the knights in quest of the Holy Grail, but owing to his pride, was unable to see the Grail. Some of Lancelot's other adventures included the rescue of Queen Guinevere when abducted by Meleagant and the rescue of the Queen when she was sentenced to be burned to death  for the discovery of her adultry with Lancelot.  Sir Lancelot was loved by Elaine of Astolat, but she dies because her love was not returned.  Elaine the daughter of King Pelles, tricked Lancelot into sleeping with her and from that, Galahad was born.   Lancelot was probably the most famous knight of the legend of King Arthur.

   Sir Bedivere--Arthur's trusty supporter and constant companion from the onset of his reign. He was the only knight to survive the battle of Camlann, where Arthur met his demise. Before dying, Arthur asked Bedivere to return the sword Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake.  As he threw the sword into the lake, a  hand and arm came out of the water, caught the sword by the hilt and then disappeared beneath the water.

   Sir Bors--A leading figure in the quest for the Holy Grail.  Sir Bors was the only knight to survive the quest and return to the court of King Arthur.

   Sir Gawain--Nephew to King Arthur and mighty warrior.  Sir Gawain was eventually killed in battle by Sir Mordred, his half-brother.  One of the best known stories of Sir Gawain is the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


   Sir Galahad--The son of Lancelot du Lac and Elaine,  Galahad was the perfect knight for his courtesy, strength and purity.   Upon his arrival at King Arthur's court, he sat in the Siege Perilous, the seat at the Round Table that was reserved for the Grail Knight.  Being the chosen knight,  he was the one that caused the knights to set out on the quest for the Holy Grail.  Galahad was conceived when Elaine tricked Lancelot into sleeping with her, making Lancelot believe he was sleeping with Guinevere.


   Sir Percival--An earlier version of the Galahad figure, Sir Percival was the youngest and purest of Arthur's knights and stood as a symbol for holy righteousness.  Sir Percival was the one who was the hero of the Grail Quest.


   Sir Tristan--Nephew or son of King Mark of Cornwall, and lover of one Isolde while husband of another--his story has evolved into one of the great classic romances of all time. Isolde came to marry King Mark, but after drinking a love potion, fell madly in love with Tristan.  When she heard of Tristan's death, she died of a broken heart.  Although she married King Mark, she never loved him.  Tristan married another Isolde, of White Hands, but never stopped loving the original Isolde.

Tristan and Isolde drink the love potion

   Sir Mordred--As Sir Galahad was associated with good, Sir Mordred was associated with evil. According to some stories, the illegitimate son of Arthur and his half-sister Morgan le Fay, Mordred eventually destroyed Arthur's reign in civil war, and the fellowship of the Round Table went down in ruin at the battle of Camlann.

Mordred and Arthur at Camlann


Round Table--Article from the Philosopical Research Society

Middle Ages--Great online resource unit for teachers and students with knights, castles, heraldry, and more.

Camelot and Arthurian Legend-- Legend of the Knights of the Round Table and Avalon