Medieval Arthurian Legend

Chrétien de Troyes: The Knight of the Lion

12th century, Old French.

Tell Sir Gawain that it was the Knight of the Lion who has rescued his nephews and that he knows me well, and I him, although he would not recognise me.

Since a spell of madness overtook him, the Knight of the Lion, who is Sir Yvain, has not seen his good friend Sir Gawain at all. Sir Yvain has lived like a derelict in the forest and was cured at last by some ointment that the lady of Norrison gave to him; ointment that had some marvellous properties of healing.

Since then, he has befriended a lion and chosen to be known as the Knight of the Lion. Sir Gawain and he were the best of friends before Sir Yvain’s flight into the forest and his madness. And now he has chanced upon a castle in which Sir Gawain’s own sister is mistress; she and her husband and their children – Sir Gawain’s niece and nephews – are being terrorised by a giant. The Knight of the Lion is only too happy to fight this giant for them and to free them from his unwelcome attentions.

'Send word to my friend Sir Gawain,' he urges them, after killing this monster, 'and tell him of my battle to release you from the menaces of this giant.'

'Who shall we say has helped us? Tell us your name.'

'Tell Sir Gawain that it was the Knight of the Lion and that he knows me well, and I him, though he would not recognise me.

Story fragment recounted from: Kibler, William W., and Carroll, Carleton W., 1991. Chrétien de Troyes: Arthurian Romances. Translated from Old French with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. The Knight with the Lion (Yvain), p 348.

See for yourself

Ywain – Wikipedia

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion – Wikipedia

Chrétien de Troyes – Wikipedia

Gawain – Wikipedia

King Arthur – Wikipedia


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