Armorican Connections looked into the legend in Brittany.
|Oral Tradition and Writing|
During the classical period, the Romans had given the name of the peninsula in Brittany as Armorica. The coastal peninsula that jutted out of ancient Gaul (France) in the Atlantic Ocean, has strategic importance to the Romans because it would give them naval control over the Atlantic and the English Channel. So when Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) embarked on a conquest of Gaul (59-50 BC), he set about occupying the Armorican peninsula in 56 BC. This was before Caesar's first campaign into Britannia (Britain).
The Celts had arrived in Gaul and possibly settled in this peninsula as early as 6th century BC. Armorica (Brittany) was inhabited at that time, by several Celtic tribes, the most best known tribe was Veneti. The other Armorican tribes were Coriosolites, Essuvii and Osismi. The Veneti tried to resisting Caesar's legions.
At first, the Veneti was quite successful, because they had island strongholds around Brittany. When one stronghold was threatened, they evacuated the island and moved to another stronghold. This frustrated Caesar, who was force to take the next island. So Caesar had to build a navy for the strong tides of the Atlantic. Once the Romans conquered the Veneti, it paved the way for Caesar brief campaigns in Britain. Armorica was the last region in Gaul to fall to Caesar. Armorica like the rest of Gaul became part of the Roman province (Gaul Lugdunensis), but unlike the rest of the Gallic provinces, Armorica was never fully Romanized, retaining strong Celtic culture and custom.
There is not much information about Armorica after the region became part of the Roman province of Gaul Lugdunensis.
When the the Roman Empire was weakened by a series of civil war, rebellions and the barbarians encroaching on their frontiers, between 3rd and 5th century AD, Armorica was able to gain some sort of independence.
Armorica was the last Celtic frontier in Gaul. The Visgoths had taken the southern part of Gaul, while the Franks settled in northern part of Gaul. In the east, the Burgundians had occupied around the Rhine valley.
The invasion of the province Britannia (Britain) by the Angles and Saxons during the 5th and 6th century AD, many of the Britons fled across the English Channel to Armorica, seeking refuge. The name Armorica was changed to Brittany, which means "Little Britain", as opposed to Great Britain of the British Isles.
Today, the Welsh and Breton are not mutually comprehensible, though the two languages were historically linked because of the migration of the Britons. During the late 12th century, a traveller named Giraldus Cambrensis had remarked that Breton was more closer to the now extinct Cornish than to Welsh.
Despite, the linguistic different between the two people, Wales and Brittany were definitely linked culturally and by their oral traditions. Their legend and folklore were closer as we can see in the legend of Tristan and King Arthur. However, I am not going to discuss about Arthur and Tristan in this article.
(Please note that I have been informed by one of my visitors that some archaeologists and linguists believed that the Veneti were not Celtic; that they were people who spoke an ancient form of Slavic language, according to the some inscriptions found on some stones, known as the Toponyms. Some of the Veneti names found seemed to resemble names from language spoken in Slovenia. Caesar sometimes referred the Veneti as Gauls, so most people would assume that they were Celtic tribe. I had not taken the time to investigate this yet, so I don't know whether this is true or not.)
|Oral Tradition and Writing|
The people of Brittany (Armorica) used a Celtic language, called Breton. Breton belonged to Brythonic branch or family (also known as P-Celtic), like Welsh and Cornish (extinct). Brythonic is the language of the "Britons". The other Celtic family was called Goidelic (also known as Q-Celtic), which is the language of the "Gaels", such as Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx.
Though, Breton was related to Welsh and Cornish, Breton had become incomprehensible to the other two languages in Britain. This was mainly due to regional influences from the French language over an extended period of time.
There are a small number of medieval Breton lais or "lays" that have survived, but not in Breton. These are only extant in translation or adaptation in French or English. Contemporary historians, like Giraldus Cambrensis, have praised the professional singers and storytellers in Brittany, yet nothing had survived in writing at this period. The only Breton literatures that have survived, come from no earlier than 1450.
A French poetess, named Marie de France, who flourished in the mid-12th century, said that she had translated some Breton songs or poems into Old French (in the Anglo-Norman dialect). One lai has an Arthurian background, which was titled Lanval. The other is a treatment of the Tristan legend, called Chevrefoil ("The Honeysuckle").
But what we do know of the Breton storytellers has greatly enriched the Celtic folklore and the Arthurian literature.
Take the Arthurian literature for example. Geoffrey of Monmouth and a number of other writers had written how Arthur fell in battle. Geoffrey, who had relied on Welsh sources of the battle, had also relied on the Breton oral traditions. Though, he was born in Wales, Geoffrey's parents were most likely of Breton descent. Geoffrey had travelled to Brittany and Rome, before he became bishop of St. Asaph.
None of the Welsh sources had shown that Arthur lived beyond his final battle in Camlann. Geoffrey wrote that Arthur was taken to Avalon to be healed, where he wait for a time before he would return when Britain was in great need. Most scholars believed that the relationship between Arthur and that he was still alive in Avalon, come from Breton tradition, not Welsh.
I have already talked about Celtic romance of Tristan, here and in the Tristan page. By the time the Tristan legend was fully developed about 1150, the archetypal poem was developed by Breton tradition, which the earliest French poets, Beroul and Thomas, had relied upon when they wrote their own narratives.
Also we can't discount the number of medieval writers from all over Europe, who had claimed to use Breton sources for their own materials.
|City of Ys|
Lyonesse (Lyonnesse) was the mythical birthplace of the hero Tristan. The legend of Tristan was originally a popular medieval romance of the Celts, before it became popular among the French, English and German kingdoms. The legend was originally independent of King Arthur.
Please note, before you continue further, that I do not intend to write about the legend of Tristan and Isolde, here. You will find this medieval romance in the Arthurian Legends section, under the page titled Tristan and Isolde.
It was said that Lyonesse lies between west of the region of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The region became submerged when the water rose.
The poet Beroul (fl. c. 1160) says that Tristan's father, Rivalen, ruled Lyoness. Beroul was the earliest person who had mentioned Lyoness, but he was rather vague of where it was located.
While in the Prose Tristan, the kingdom was called Leonois, ruled by Meliadus, Tristan's father. Leonois could very well be another name for Lyonesse. Sir Thomas Malory, who wrote Le Morte d'Arthur (1469), had used the Prose Tristan as his main source for Tristan, called the kingdom Liones and the king Meliodas.
According to other various sources on the tale of Tristan and Isolde, Tristan's place of birth has variously placed in Brittany, like Armenye by the poet Thomas, while the German Gottfried von Strassburg had called Rivalen's kingdom, Parmenie.
None of the legends which I have, in regarding to Tristan, say anything about the kingdom of Lyonesse being submerged.
One thing you must understand is that Tristan had not originally come from Brittany at all. Tracing the sources back further in time from the 12th century and moving north of Cornwall, you will find that Tristan was called Drystan in Wales. But there are older sources, which moved the scene, even further north. Tristan could very well be the Pictish prince, named Drust.
The Picts lived in Britain, perhaps long before the Celts arrived from the Continent in the 6th century BC. They lived in the region, which was known as Caledonia, in northern Britain, a region that we now called Scotland. The Picts were fierce warlike tribe that had clashed against the Celtic Britons and later with the Romans between 1st century AD and early 5th century AD.
Drust was believed to be a historical figure, who lived in mid-8th century BC. But as time went by, the historical Drust was almost lost and displaced with a legendary hero. Drust had changed from rescuing a princess from pirates, to killing an Irish giant, named Morholt, and slaying dragon that we are now familiar with in the Tristan legend.
As the legend of Tristan moved further south and the tale evolved over a period of time, so does the spelling of the name of a kingdom. Also considered that the legend had to tranverse four linguistically Celtic regions before the French and English given us the finished works: Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.
By the time the legend had arrived in Brittany, the archetypal poem has being fully developed, perhaps before mid-12th century, but is has long being lost. The early French poets, like Beroul and Thomas, derived their tales of Tristan from this lost archetypal poem, and perhaps from Breton oral tradition, namely from the Breton storytellers or singers.
My point, is that Lyonesse may very well had little to do with submerged kingdom between Cornwall and the Scilly Islands, or even with a duchy or kingdom in Brittany. Since Drust came from northern Britain, then is it not possible that Lyonesse is really Lothian, a kingdom in Scotland, between the walls of Hadrain and Antoninus Pius. Lothian because this was where it all original Tristan had started.
But if the legend of Tristan had nothing to do with the inundation of Lyonesse, then where does this inundation come from?
As far as I can tell, the earliest source come from William Camden, an English traveller and geographer, who wrote Britannia, in 1586. It was he who said that Lyonesse was located between St Michael's Mount (an island near Cornwall) and the Scilly Isles. Camden says that this form one landmass, with forest and many prehistoric monuments. Here, Lyonesse had nothing to do with Arthur or Tristan.
However, the inundation didn't happened overnight, like Atlantis or the city of Ys. Increasing rises of the sea level over a long period of time had caused the inundation, so that the water had covered more and more land.
We can blame Alfred Tennyson (died in 1892), for connecting the inundation of Lyonnesse with the Arthurian legend. Tennyson wrote a series of poems about King Arthur, one of them was the Morte d'Arthur (1842). Tennyson says that Lyonesse was the final battle of Arthur, where the king met his death. Merlin had caused Lyonnesse to vanish beneath the sea, drowning Mordred and his entire army.
|City of Ys|
There have been several legends of city or civilization that was wiped out by flood or tidal wave, never to be seen again, except through long forgotten lore. The earliest was that of Atlantis, which a philosopher of the 4th century BC, named Plato, had first written about in his two dialogues: Timaeus and Critas. Then during the medieval period, there were the lost kingdom of Lyonese or Leonois, the home of the Celtic hero Tristan (Tristram).
However, nothing was more inspiring than the city of Ys, a city that disappeared off the southwest coast of Brittany. The legend indicated that it sank into the Bay of Douarnenez. Ys was city of Gradlon the Great and the princess Dahut.
Gradlon was the king of Armorica (Brittany), well at least the ruler of the most western kingdom.
According to one version, Gradlon fell in love with a sorceress/druidess (or even fairy woman), who followed the old, pagan religion. At first they were happy together until the King met St Guénolé, was baptised and became a Christian. This angered his wife, who decided to leave him.
Gradlon, who still love her, followed her, pleading with her not to abandon him. When she crossed the river, she warned that he would die if tried to cross. Heedless of her warning, Gradlon tried to wade across the deep, swift-flowing stream. The King would have drowned, but the woman saved him, proving that she was still in love with him. She stayed with him long enough to become mother of Dahut. In some legend, she was called Ahes.
This crossing the stream and saved by the woman, was similar to Breton lai, titled Graelent. Though, in this tale, there was no Dahut and no city called Ys.
Another version, which was quite popular, says that the beautiful sorceress was named Malgven, who was already married to an old King of Sjælland (island of Denmark), by the name of Sverðlun. Malgven seduced the young Gradlon, to become her lover. Together they conspired to have Sverðlun murdered. Gradlon drove his sword through Sverðlun's body as he slept. The two lovers then fled.
It was while they were drifting at sea, when Malgven became pregnant and died after giving birth to a daughter, while on board the ship. Gradlon named her Dahut (Dahud) or Ahé (Ahés).
In yet another version says that Gradlon had met Malgven in Alban (Scotland), the land of the Picts. Gradlon brought her back with him to Brittany, along with his magical horse, Morvarc'h. Morvarc'h have a wondrous ability to travelled on the surface of sea, as if the steed was running on dry land.
Dahut grew into a beautiful young woman, and her father was quite besotted with her. Like his mother, Dahut followed the old pagan religion rather than the new religion, Christianity. Either Gradlon built the city in honour of Malgven or Dahut, or his daughter asked him to build the city, so that she could be near the sea or to avoid persecution from Christians.
Whatever was the cause of the city construction, it was the most beautiful city in the world, with great white palaces and temples to the old gods. The city was called Kér Is or simply as Ys. Because of the location, the city was striving, because it became the centre of trade. Wealth and luxuries were pouring into Ys.
But Ys was located in low-lying land, so Gradlon constructed tall dikes to protect his capital from the unpredictable sea. There was a bronze door or floodgate, which only he had the key to. The gold key was attached to his necklace. A different version says that city was protected by magically oak tree.
One person who was against the riches and luxuries was St Guénolé, who denounced the people as wicked, including Gradlon's own daughter. Guénolé accused Dahut of following the old religion, and of leading the people into sins, through nightly revelries and debauchery.
There are number of different accounts of how the city was destroyed.
The earliest account says that Dahut and her lover were drunk, when she stole the key to the dikes, so that the entire city became submerged in the water. Dahut died along with countless people of Ys.
Another account says that a boy, named Kristof, had caught a magical fish, using stick and stone. This fish would have given Kristof anything he wished for, in return for its liberty. Dahut scornfully laughed at this exchange, so the fish used its magic so that the princess became pregnant. Kristof angrily stole the enchanted oak tree, which protected Ys.
One night, Dahut met a red knight who offered his love to the princess. The red man told her to steal her father's key for him. With the key, he opened the dikes, letting the sea to engulf the city. This man was said to be the Devil himself.
Guénolé woke the king, telling to flee. Gradlon got on his horse Morvarc'h and tried to gallop to safety. Dahut cried out to her father to save her. Seeing his daughter running for her life, Gradlon took his daughter on to his horse and rode as hard as he could. Morvarc'h should have easily brought them all to safety, but tonight Gradlon found that Morvarc'h could not outrun the rising water.
Guénolé urged the king to fling the princess aside, since she was the cause of the city's destruction. Gradlon refused to sacrifice his daughter. However when water was reaching the level of his waist, the voice of God ordered Gradlon, to "cast aside the fiend". Gradlon sorrowfully obeyed and flung his daughter into the water. The water immediately receded so that he managed to safely reach the hill, outside of city.
However, Ys was completely engulfed, and now Ys became the Bay of Dourarnenez. Gradlon left his capital and headed southeast, where he settled in Quimper.
Dahut, though, did not die. Dahut was transformed into a sea-sprite or mermaid, where she was sometimes seen sitting on a rock brushing her long beautiful hair. Like the Sirens, her voice lured sailors to wreck their ships on rocks.
As to the city of Ys, when the tide is particularly low, some of the high towers could be seen below the surface. Bells from the beautiful cathedral could sometimes also be heard.
As I had said in Oral Tradition and Writing (Background), there's no Breton literature that have survived the medieval period. Most of what we know about Breton legend come from the French and English writers who had used and translate the songs sang by Breton storytellers into their own languages.
A number of famous writers had testified of the great skills of the Breton singers or storytellers, known as trouvères. They were like the Provençal troubadours from southern France. They recited songs or poems, which were accompany with music, all from memory and practice.
Some medieval writers calimed that their sources for the legend of Arthur come from, not Wales, but in Brittany.
The Anglo-French poetess Marie de France (flourished between 1160-1180) had claimed that she had faithfully translated a number of lais into French.
|Lai of Lanval|
|Lai of Lanval|
According to the Breton source, the poet Marie de France had translated Breton songs, known as lais, which one had mentioned the Queen Guinevere's infidelity. This lais was titled Lanval (c. 1170), which was the name of the knight. Lanval was a knight of the Round Table, handsome as well as strong and brave. Lanval was of royal lineage, yet he left his father's kingdom to serve as Arthur's knight.
At the feast of Pentecost, Arthur was staying in his castle at Carduel. The King was known for his generosity who freely give his bounty to his loyal knights but he either forgot about Lanval or Arthur was not as noble as we thought. Soon, Lanval was poor and penniless, having spent all his money that he had brought with him.
One day, Lanval went out riding and decided to rest in the meadow, reflecting on his plight when he encountered two lovely damsels. One damsel was carrying a golden bowl of water, while the other maiden bore a towel. They greeted the knight and brought him to a tent, where they served their Lady. This lady was more beautiful than the two damsels that he had met in the meadow. The Lady knew his name. Though, the Lady's name was never revealed throughout the tale.
Lanval fell in love with the Lady, and succeeded in wooing her. In return for her love, Lanval received gold and other wealth. She warned her lover not to reveal her identity to anyone; or else she would leave him forever. Lanval stayed with his Lady for several days, before he departed from her pavilion. The Lady would joined him whenever he desire her company, but only he would be able to see her when she visit him.
Lanval was laden with rich clothes and other gifts as he returned to his hostel. His men, who had faithfully served him even though he had no money to pay them, were now dressed in rich clothing. Lanval enjoyed a great feast among his comrades that night, and every other night. Neither Lanval nor his followers had to worry about food and money, which had appeared mysteriously.
It was on the Midsummer's Day that Gawain, nephew of Arthur, felt terrible that Lanval had being ill treated in the King's court, invited Lanval to a great feast.
While he was alone in the royal garden, Queen Guinevere, wife and consort of King Arthur, came before Lanval and expressed her love for the young knight, but he rebuffed the Queen. Lanval told the Queen that he would never dishonour or betray the King, her husband. Guinevere in anger retaliated with a strong hint that Lanval must be was gay; why else that he never seemed to enjoy the company of women. The Queen also accused him of being a sinner and coward.
The accusations and lies from the Queen hurt him that he had forgotten his promise to the Lady that he loved. Lanval revealed that he did love a woman was fairer and more gracious than the Queen. Lanval also rebuffed the Queen saying that even the beauty of his Lady's two maids had surpassed Guinevere. Guinevere fled to her chamber in anger and shame.
When Arthur returned that night from his hunting trip, his wife weeping, accused Lanval of making unwanted advances upon her, and it was she who had rejected his lust. She also told her husband that Lanval laughed at her, claiming a chambermaid was more beautiful than she was. Enraged by his knight's boast, Arthur sent three knights to arrest Lanval.
When Lanval returned that night to his hostel, he realised that he had broken his vow to his Lady when he revealed of her presence to Queen Guinevere. Lanval thought that he would die, since he thought that he would see the Lady again. When three knights arrived, Lanval didn't resist when they detained him and brought him before the King.
Lanval sorrowfully denied all charges concerning him making advances to his liege lord's consort. However he admitted that the Lady he loved and her maids were indeed fairer and courteous than the Queen.
The jury advised Arthur that Lanval should be able to prove his innocence, so Lanval was allowed free until the trial, provided if he could produce a hostage to Arthur, as a bail. But Lanval had left his homeland, so he had no member of his family or friend to be the King's hostage. Sir Gawain believed Lanval's innocence, so he offered himself as the King's hostage.
So Lanval waited for the day to arrive for his trial. During that time, Lanval was suffering for longing for the Lady, who would no longer visit him at his hostel.
Some of the jury (they were all nobles and knights) were ready to hand the guilty verdict against Lanval, while most of them pity the poor accused wanted to support Lanval, but without angering the king. So they advised the king that unless Lanval could his mistress for all to see, the King could set any punishment against Lanval. If the Lady that Lanval was in love with was more beautiful than their Queen was, then Lanval would be vindicated.
Arthur agreed to the jury's advice. However, Lanval told them it was not possible, since he told them that he had broken his vow to the Lady, he would not get any help from her.
It was at this moment, that two fair damsels arrived, each riding a white palfrey. Gawain hoped that one of them was Lanval's mistress, since they marvelled that they were both so fair. But Lanval recognise neither of them nor did he know they were. They dismounted before the King and greeted him with fair words. They told the King that their Lady would soon come to their presence. Everyone in Arthur's court, including the King himself, was captivated by maidens' beauty.
Knowing that Lanval had admitted of knowing who these two damsels were, the King demanded verdict and punishment upon Lanval.
Then two more damsels arrived in the same manner as the first two maidens, in rich, silken gowns, but this time riding on mules. The whole court looked upon these maidens with great delight. Sir Yvain asked Lanval if either one of these women were the mistress that he loved. Lanval denied loving either one or the other, nor does he recognise the two newcomers.
The two damsels dismounted from their mules, and greeted the King. All who saw them agreed that both maidens surpassed Guinevere's beauty. Arthur gave them accommodations along with the first damsels.
Once again, Arthur demanded that the jury give Lanval the guilty verdict so he could punished the boasting knight, who had shamed his wife. Before the knights could pronounce judgement upon Lanval, they were once again interrupted by a third arrival.
Here, they saw a maiden arrived upon a white palfrey. Everyone was delighted by her peerless beauty and her. Here, Marie de France went into great detail into describing the Lady's beauty.
Everyone was delighted, except Queen Guinevere who fled from the royal court in shame that her beauty was no match to the Lady.
All of the sudden, the melancholy that Lanval was suffering from had vanished with her arrival.
The Lady dismounted before Arthur, and claimed that she was Lanval's lover, and she had come to save him from wrongful punishment. She told Arthur that Lanval had no unwanted advance upon his wife. However, she told him that Lanval did boast of her, so the King and his court must judge if Lanval had lie about her beauty. Everyone in court agreed that she was indeed more beautiful than the Queen, so the court found Lanval innocent to all charges. So Arthur had graciously set Lanval free.
The Lady refused to stay. So as she rode away, Lanval who refused to be left behind. The young knight leaped and mounted on her steed, so they rode away. The poetess says that they were never seen again, because Lanval had gone with her to the fair Isle of Avalon.
This tale resembled the anonymous tale of Graelent of the mid 13th century, such as the hero being loved by a fairy woman, a queen tried to seduce the hero but he faithfully refused, thereby falling foul with the King. And the fairy woman rescuing her lover from the trial, proving her beauty was greater than the King's unfaithful wife.
Marie's Lanval is of course older of the two tales.
The tale of Lanval had being rewritten several times in English in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
In the 13th century, there was a Breton lais, titled Graelent, where the identity of the author is unknown.
This tale has nothing do with Dahut and the city of Ys, but the similarity between the hero knight Graelent and the Breton king Gradlon is striking, particular about their love for the mysterious fairy woman.
In Brittany, there was a king who fought in the war against his neighbouring kingdom. Among the king's vassals was a knight named Graelent. Graelent proved himself the best knight in battle and tournament. Yet, at the same time, he was also humble and wise; he was very loyal to the King.
But the Breton king's wife and consort fell in love with the young knight. The Queen was famous for her beauty. The Queen thought that she could easily seduce Graelent, but discovered that the knight was completely loyal to the King, her husband. Graelent refused to dishonor the King.
Despite his refusal to return her love, the Queen sought his love through messages and gifts, but he continued to ignore her advances and entreaties, until her love for him turned into anger. She advised her husband not to pay Graelent for his services so that Graelent could not leave the King's court.
Graelent became poor and couldn't pay his followers and servants. Graelent even had trouble keeping his horse. He was forced to stay in the king's court.
One day, his host's daughter took pity on him. The damsel loaned him a horse and saddle. Graelent was riding through the forest, where he met a beautiful fairy-woman bathing at a fountain, with a couple of damsels, who were servants and companions. Graelent fell in love with the Lady.
Graelent took a rainment from the lady, seemingly to steal her clothes. When the damsels saw Graelent, they cried out in fear. The Lady recognising the young knight. Seeing that her dress was in his hands, the Lady rebuked Graelent. Graelent persisted that he was not stealing; that he only wanted to woo her.
At first, the Lady didn't trust Graelent, and telling the knight to leave. But his sweet words and promises, as well as good looks and courage, the Lady finally returned his love. The Lady gave the young knight a kiss.
However, she had a condition she set upon Graelent, in order to prove his worth. The Lady told him that he must returned to the king's court and to his lodging, and she would visit him either day or night. The Lady offered to furnished with clothing, armour and weapon, as well as money to pay his squires and servants, but he must not mention where he got the new possession or wealth from. And most important of all, Graelent must not reveal to anyone about her. In another word, Graelent must not boast about her.
Graelent agreeing to her terms, and returned to his lodging. It was at night, when a valet arrived. The valet told the Good Knight that he had come from the Lady that Graelent loved. The valet presented to Graelent, his new destrier (warhorse), completed with new bridle and saddle. The valet would be taking his service with him, caring for his lodging and paying Graelent's servants. Graelent also received other gifts from his Lady. Graelent was now living in comfort and luxury.
The Lady also frequently visited him, so Graelent was quite happy.
However, a year had passed, and his fortune had changed.
At Pentecost, the King invited all his barons for a feast, including Graelent. During the meal, the King told his wife to stand on a dais, and announced to the barons have any man had a more beautiful woman than his queen. All the barons except Graelent praised the Queen's beauty.
Graelent offended both the Queen and her husband, when he heedlessly boasted of a Lady more than the Queen of Brittany. Graelent had broken his promise to the Lady.
The King, at his wife's urging, had Graelent arrested and thrown in prison, until he could produce the woman fairer than his wife. Graelent was kept in confinement for a whole year, before he had parole to seek out the fairest woman he could find or else face the King's justice.
However, he could not find the woman he loved. So Graelent returned to the King without the woman he had boasted about. Just as Graelent was about to face the verdict and sentence from the King, two damsels arrived at court, appealing to the King and lords to delay their sentence, until their Lady come to deliver the unfortunate knight.
While the Court waited for the Lady, they admired the two fair damsels, and wondered about the beauty of their Lady.
The Lady arrived at the King's Court on her white palfrey. The King and the barons had never seen a woman more lovelier than the Lady on the palfrey. The Lady was as gracious as she was fair. The Queen fled to her quarters in shame that both the Lady and the two damsels had surpassed her in looks.
The Lady pleaded for the King's mercy upon Graelent. The Lady publicly rebuked her knight for boasting of her beauty, but nevertheless, she had come to prove Graelent's words as true.
The King could not deny the Lady's beauty over his wife, graciously acquitted Graelent of all charges, and had him released.
With the acquittal, the Lady left the court with her damsels. Graelent quickly had his horse saddled and rode after his love. Graelent followed the Lady, begging for forgiveness for his boasting and broken promise, but the Lady ignored his pleas.
Finally the Lady ordered him not to follow her any further, for he would meet his death if he tried to cross the swift-flowing river. Graelent refused, and tried to wade across the deep water, while mounted on his steed. The Lady had to pull his horse out, by the rein.
She again, ordered him turn back. Then the Lady and her damsels safely crossed to the other side of the river. Again, Graelent heedlessly tried to follow her, and the force of flow swept him and the horse away.
The Lady's companions had pity in their hearts when they saw that the reckless knight was about to drown, they pleaded to the Lady to save Graelent from his plight. The Lady moved by his reckless courage and his love for her. His perilous condition had now forced her to save him.
The Lady entered the raging river, and pulled her young knight, by the belt, to the riverbank. By rescuing Graelent, it proved that she was still in love with him. So the Lady took Graelent home with her. Graelent was still alive, but he was never seen again in Brittany, for he lived in Otherworld.
As to Graelent's horse, it managed to escape from the river. The noble steed, however, grieved for his master. It sought to find Graelent as it roamed the wild forest. Those who had seen this wondrous destrier, desired to possess it, yet no other hand master the noble steer.
So end the Lay of Graelent.
Though, this tale had nothing to do with Submerged City, nevertheless, it is related to Gradlon, if not with Dahut and the city of Ys. It is related because the two legends are similar.
Here, we had the hero, Graelent, who is a knight, while Gradlon is a king. They both loved a beautiful, fairy woman. With Graelent, the woman left Graelent because of his broken promise and his indiscretion in the King's Court. While in the legend of Ys, the woman (Malgven?) left Gradlon because he had converted to Christianity, while she was believer of the Old Religion. Graelent/Gradlon followed the woman he loved, ignoring her warning, which was not follow her across the river. Graelent/Gradlon would have drowned, but the woman still love him, so she saved his life.
The woman took Graelent back and lived in the Land of the Fairy (Otherworld), where he was not seen again, and the story ended here. Whereas with Gradlon, she stayed with the king long enough, to give birth to Dahut; the woman either left or died shortly after.
As you can see, the legend of Graelent and that of Gradlon was similar, yet different. The motive and causes of the Fairy leaving her lovers were different. One left because of Graelent's broken promise when he bragged of knowing more beautiful woman than the Queen. While the other left because of Gradlon favouring Christianity than her own pagan religion.
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Copyright: Timeless Myths (Celtic Mythology) © 1999, Jimmy Joe. All Rights Reserved.
First Created (Armorican Connections): 20/05/2002.
Last Modified: 24/06/06.