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Medieval Arthurian Legend

Sir Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur

15th century, late-Medieval English.

'What is your name?' asked King Arthur. 'I could not tell you,' replied the young man.

It is the morning of the feast of Pentecost. King Arthur has a custom on this morning of the year that he will not eat his midday meal in the hall with all his knights of the Round Table until he has seen a marvellous thing happen.

Sir Gawain looks out of the window and sees three men arrive on horseback. Sir, go to your mete for here at hande commyth strange adventures, he advises the king.

Three men and a dwarf enter the hall. One of the men is being propped up between the other two, although he stands head and shoulders above them. The hall quietens and the strangers make their way to King Arthur. The tall man asks three favours from the King, one to be granted now and the other two in exactly a year’s time.

'Now aske ye,’ seyde kyng Arthure, 'and ye shall have your askynge.’

The man asks only for food and drink until the year is up.

‘Well,’ seyde the kynge, ‘ye shall have mete and drynke inowe [enough], I nevir forbade hit my frynde nother my foo [foe]. But what is thy name?’

‘Sir, I can nat tell you.’

‘That is mervayle,’ seyde the kynge, ‘that thou knowyste nat thy name, and thou art one of the goodlyest yonge men that ever I saw.

Story fragment recounted from: Vinaver, Eugene, 1971, reprinted in paperback, 1977. Malory: Works. Oxford University Press. The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney, that was called Bewmaynes by Sir Kay, pp 177–178.

See for yourself

Sir Thomas Malory – Wikipedia

Le Morte d'Arthur – Wikipedia

Gareth – Wikipedia

Sir Thomas Malory's 'Le Morte Darthur' – British Library, online exhibition

King Arthur – Wikipedia

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artwork, clay figures ascending from the ground

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