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Medieval Arthurian Legend

Sir Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur

15th century, late-Medieval English.

And then Sir Lancelot told Queen Guinevere everything, how he had been made to lie with Elaine "because she looked like you, my lady the queen." And so Queen Guinevere forgave him.

Sir Lancelot has caught a glimpse of the Holy Grail. It is fated that the knight destined to achieve the adventure of the Holy Grail shall be the son of Sir Lancelot and the maiden Elaine, daughter of King Pelles. King Pelles is at this moment entertaining Sir Lancelot in his castle; but fate may need to be helped along a little. Dame Brusen, an enchantress, cautions King Pelles: 'Sir, be aware that Sir Lancelot loves no lady in the world except for Queen Guinevere. But I can make him lie with your daughter – and he shall nat wyte [know] but that he lyeth by quene Gwenyver.

Dame Brusen arranges the deception and Sir Lancelot rides to a castle, five miles away, where he has been led to believe that Queen Guinevere is staying. He is told that she is in her bed, is shown to her room and given a - cuppe of wyne.

And so they lay togydir untyll underne of the morne...

And so the noyse sprange in kynge Arthurs court... – and so it was rumured in King Arthur’s court that Sir Lancelot had given a child to Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles. Queen Guinevere was furious and cast angry words at Sir Lancelot: - And than sir Launcelot tolde the quene all, and how he was made to lie by her, 'in the lyknes of you, my lady the quene'; and so the quene hylde [held] sir Launcelot exkused.

Story fragment recounted from: Vinaver, Eugene, 1971, reprinted in paperback, 1977. Malory: Works. Oxford University Press. The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyones. XIV. Launcelot and Elaine, pp 479–85.

See for yourself

Sir Thomas Malory – Wikipedia

Le Morte d'Arthur – Wikipedia

Elaine of Corbenic – Wikipedia

Queen Guinevere – Wikipedia

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

King Arthur – Wikipedia

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